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Hearing Health at Work: How to Protect Your Ears at Your Workplace?

Saturday, July 6, 2019 7:53:33 PM Asia/Calcutta

One’s workplace needs to be noise-free and a calmer atmosphere, to enable one to stay focused on one’s job. Loud noises are hazards for one’s workplace - not only for the overall prosperity of the company but for personal health as well. However, we know that noise is inevitable at places like a factory, construction site, or mining sites. The best defence mechanism against noise-induced hearing loss is to avoid and stay away from hazardous noise situations.

The good news is that noise exposures at work are being reduced due to the advanced and improved technological devices. For example, the manufacturing companies are introducing more sound-free machines and singers and music composers are working with more and more improved, stronger and powerful sound systems. However, some newer companies are still exposed to noises. Whether or not you are a user of hearing aids, you need to protect your ears and take care of them, not only at home but also in your workplace.


How to Reduce Noise in the Workplace?

The first and foremost thing is to reduce the noise levels at your workplace more than anything else. It is quite natural for professionals to suggest wearing earmuffs or earplugs to lessen the intensity of your exposure to loud noises, but this might often lead to more problems. Because people are often unaware of how to use them properly. It is always better to stay as noise-free as possible. In this way, you can not only stay focused on your work but can also maintain your hearing and overall health.

The Noise Regulations 2005 obliges employers to prevent or reduce exposure to noise at work and provide safety to all employees. Being a responsible employer, it is your duty to maintain a healthy environment for your workers. Here are some tips to reduce noise levels at your organisation -

  • Assess the possible risks of noise exposure which might affect the wellbeing of your employees.

  • Create or build strong walls between the employees and the sources of any noise.

  • Keep all the machinery and devices well-lubricated to avoid any annoying and unexpected noises.

  • If you find a piece of machinery producing loud noises that is beyond your control, then repair or replace it immediately. Not only will it protect the hearing health of your employees, but will also increase productivity. After all, an old and faulty machine is bound to work inefficiently, thereby reducing productivity!

  • You can also consider replacing your old and noisy devices with low-noise ones.

  • The best solution would be to eliminate all possible sources of loud sounds or at least lessening their intensity.

  • Do try to create separate and quiet areas for your employees to be at ease and gain relief from excessive noise.

  • Limit the number of employees near the noise source and at the same time limiting the duration of the exposure.

  • The best way would be to isolate or enclose the sound source.

  • If possible control the noise from a distance.

  • Make sure that the legal limits of noise are not exceeded.

  • Carry out health surveillance and hearing checkups on a regular basis to ensure that your employees are working in safety.

The health and wellbeing of the employees is the most important thing that an organisation should take care of. It determines the prosperity of your company.


When Should I Be Concerned?

If you find the following situations at your workplace, then you are exposed to a possible risk of acquiring hearing loss.

  • Is the noise intrusive such as a busy street near your office, a vacuum cleaner running on near you or a crowded restaurant? Are you exposed to these noises for most of your working day?

  • Do you work in a noisy industry, such as a construction site, woodworking industry, engineering, plastics processing and textile manufacturing factory, pressing or stamping, paper or board making or in the canning or bottling plants?

  • Do you feel that you have to raise your voice in order for at least part of the day to carry out a normal conversation even while at an about 2 m distance from the person you are trying to converse with?

  • Do you have to use noisy powered tools or machinery for more than half an hour each day?

  • Are you exposed to noises like hammering or other such noisy and explosive sources such as cartridge-operated tools, guns or detonators?

If you face these conditions almost regularly then it’s high time that you should get your hearing tested and if you are diagnosed with any hearing loss, do consider going for a proper hearing loss treatment to avoid further damage - be it hearing aids or cochlear implantation. Because exposure to loud noises generally causes sensorineural hearing loss which is permanent. You need to take good care of your ears in such a case and wear your hearing aids regularly.

Comments | Posted in Hearing Aid Devices Hearing Aids By Phalguni Bannerjee

5 Common Hearing Aid Disasters: How to Deal With Them?

Wednesday, May 29, 2019 2:47:03 PM Asia/Calcutta

You have finally realised that you have hearing loss and accepted your hearing problems. You have decided to take an appointment with your Audiologist and have started wearing hearing aids as recommended by him or her. You have also developed an excellent habit of taking care of them like cleaning them and keeping them in a safe case as advised, whenever you are not using them - such as at night or while you are having a shower.

Congratulations you are on the right track! You are following the care and maintenance rules for your hearing aids regularly and perfectly. But life isn’t always the way you want. What if you happen to drop your ear machine accidentally? What if you forget taking them off at the time of bathing? Or what if you realised that you left your hearing aids at home when you needed them really badly?

Anything can happen! No matter how careful you might be, you are sure to drop your hearing aids at least once in your lifetime. Panicking won’t be the solution. You need to know some tips to handle situations like these.


What if...

You drop your hearing aids in water, such as the bathroom?

Sadly, this happens to a lot of people, especially those who have the habit of taking them off in the bathroom. If you accidentally drop your hearing aids in the bathroom and if the toilet or the sink is clean enough, stop all sources of running water. Grab it as fast as you can. If you can’t do it, quickly call someone and ask the person to help you retrieve it, especially someone who is handy with a pipe wrench.

After you have retrieved your device successfully, immediately remove the batteries and leave open the battery compartment for the internal parts of the device to dry.

Don’t worry about the device getting damaged, as nowadays most of the modern hearing devices have a protective nano-coating which can be disinfected by a simple alcohol wash. However, if you drop your ear machine in the unflushed toilet and end up ruining it, then consider it as a biohazard and you should not use it further.

How to avoid this?

Before you enter the bathroom, find a place in your bedroom, preferably the centre of your bed, sit down and take off your hearing aids and keep them on a soft and dry surface. Using a soft towel will be a good idea to take your hearing aids off as it will act as a cushion the blow and reduce the bouncing in case you drop them off. Make sure to carefully put them back in the hard protective case provided with your product. However, if the bathroom is the only option for you to take your hearing device off, then close off all the taps and other sources of running water and clog the sink with a tissue or handkerchief. Always remove your hearing aids on a dry surface, and if possible do it on a soft cloth or a tissue.


What if…

You wear your ear machine in the shower or the pool?

Yes, we understand that today’s digital hearing aids are so comfortable that you often forget that you are wearing them! Naturally, you forget to take them off before going for the shower or jumping into the pool. You may have developed the habit of removing your device if you have a fixed schedule for bathing or swimming. However, this habit might break sometimes, especially if you are out on your vacation.

So here’s what you should do if you accidentally get your hearing aids wet. Immediately remove them from your ears, dry them with a soft and dry towel and as mentioned above, remove the batteries and keep the battery doors open for an hour or so, and if possible, overnight. Use a hearing aid dryer (if you are carrying one), to dry the internal parts of the device. Never ever use a hair dryer, an oven or the microwave to dry your hearing device, as they would destroy your precious hearing aids. If in the morning, however, you find that your device is not working, contact your Audiologist immediately.

How to avoid this?

Make it a habit to feel for your hearing aids with both of your hands before entering the pool or going for a shower. You can also remind yourself by setting alarms or posting notes by the shower or attach one with clips to your swimsuit or towel. Having a hearing aid case handy is also a good idea.


What if…

You accidentally drop your hearing aids outside?

The moment you realise that your hearing aids are gone, pause right there with whatever you are doing! Don’t panic or start searching for it in a rush. Keep calm. Ask everyone who is with you to stand still without moving anywhere. Feel your body right from your head to your feet to search for it and to check whether the device is attached to any of your garments. Try to recall what may have caused it to go off your ears. Did you wear a scarf, a cap or other such head garments? Or did anything get brushed against your ears? When did you last pull it off and where was the place? From when did you start having a muffled hearing?

Simply relax and start retracing your steps. Most probably you will find your device.

How to avoid this?

If you wear caps, scarfs, earmuffs or other garments in and around your head and neck region, do take great care while taking off the garment, especially if you are wearing a behind-the-ear (BTE) hearing aid, so as to avoid your device coming off along with it. Hearing aids are really necessary when you are outside your house, not only for entertainment purpose but for your safety as well. Check from time to time whether your hearing devices are right in the place they are meant to be. Also, nowadays specially-designed earmolds or ear-grips are available which are designed to keep your ear machine in their proper place, without getting displaced. Consult your Audiologist and ask for one. They are really helpful and would help you stay relaxed when you are on an outing! Just chill out and have fun!


What if…

You left your device at home when you really needed it?

Everyone is always on the rush and most hearing aid users are sure to miss out their hearing aids some day or the other. Again don’t panic if this happens to you! Yes, of course, it is the most common hearing aid disaster among all others. If you can, immediately return to your home, because hearing is very important for just anything you do! Try to retrieve them. If you have the habit of keeping them at a safe place, well and good! If not, do take the help of someone to find it for you.

How to avoid this?

Wearing hearing aids is a must for your general health, your communication ability as well as to keep our brain active and stimulated all the time. Your hearing loss is not intermittent, so your hearing aid wearing schedule shouldn’t be intermittent as well. You need them every time (except of course in the shower or the pool and while you are asleep)!

The best way to avoid wearing your ear machine when you are going out is to set up a routine as prescribed by your Audiologist and make it a habit to wear it accordingly.

You can also make it a habit to put your hearing aids (stored in the protective case) in your bag which you take with you daily while going out.

Another way is to post notes beside the door on the inside to remind you of wearing your hearing device before you leave your house. You can also tell someone at your home to remind you before you step outside.


What if…

Your hearing aid is eaten!

Yes, it can be true, however strange it might seem! Do you have pets in your house? Or small children? Pets or small children are often curious to explore new things with their mouth. Forget pets or children! You will be surprised to know that even adults have swallowed hearing aids by mistaking them for food, especially if they have kept them near some nuts or candies. Because the digital hearing aids of today are so tiny and colourful that often can confuse you with some yummy tidbits!

Anyway, what’s done cannot be undone! What you can do is to check whether your pet or your kid has swallowed the device. If not, then try to retrieve it from its mouth and check for any broken parts or batteries. Swallowing batteries is really dangerous! If the device is already been ingested, rush your pet or your child to the doctor (a veterinarian in case of a pet) immediately, as first of all, it is toxic to health!

After you have ensured the safety of your pet or your kid, claim for the hearing aid. If you find that all the parts are intact along with the battery, clean it with an alcohol wipe and check its performance. If it fails to work or if you find that your device is broken, contact your Audiologist. Be sure to take with you each and every part that you retrieved from your damaged hearing aid.

How to avoid this?

The very important thing that you should do is to keep your hearing aids out of reach of pets and small children. Always keep it at a level much higher from the ground. Also, make it a point to store them in the hard protective case provided with the device to avoid losing or falling the device from heights.

You can also make small enclosures or home for your pets so that they don’t loiter around the house and mess up with things. Also, do engage some time in training your pet.


Anything can happen anytime. Of course, it’s good to know about these tips, but the most important thing that you must do is to ensure at the time of purchase that you are getting a good warranty period and ask your dealer whether that would cover repairing or replacing facilities.


Which do you think is the most common hearing aid disaster?

Which of the above have you faced in your day-to-day lives?

Are you aware of any other hearing aid disaster which the hearing aid wearers must be careful about?

Kindly tell us in the comments section. We would love to hear from you!

Comments | Posted in Hearing Aids By Phalguni Bannerjee

Does Hearing Loss Affect Balance?

Saturday, May 11, 2019 12:36:40 PM Asia/Calcutta

Hearing loss is a serious problem that affects a person not only at the physiological level but at the psychological level as well. Do you know that your hearing loss can cause balance problems? Yes, you heard it right! The ear is a very complex organ. We know that the human ear is responsible for processing the sound signals and sending them to the brain, thus enabling us to ‘hear’, but the less known fact is that it is also responsible for maintaining the balance of the human body.

Hearing loss is often linked to balance disorders. Studies show that treating hearing problems - either with the help of hearing aids or other devices or medications - can reduce the risks of falling to a great extent, especially in older people.


The Balance Mechanism of the Human Body

Before discussing how the ears are responsible for maintaining the body balance, let us see how the whole balance mechanism works.

The sense of balance, technically known as equilibrioception, is one of the physiological senses related to balance. In short, it is a mechanism which prevents human beings and animals from falling while standing or moving. But behind this apparently-simple phenomenon, there is a complex process of several systems working together.

The balance mechanism of the human body works in strong coordination of several organs and systems. It works in a constant process of position detection, feedback and adjustment, with the use of communication and coordination between the inner ear, eyes, muscles, joints and the brain.

First and foremost, let us discuss the mechanism of the human ear. The ear comprises three main parts -

  • The outer ear

  • The middle ear

  • The inner ear

The inner ear serves two main functions - a) one part of it enables us to hear, and b) the second part, known as the vestibular system, is responsible for maintaining the body balance. The latter part, about which we are concerned right now, is designed to send information about the position of the head in a given point of time, to the centre of the brain which controls movement - that is the cerebellum.


What is the Function of the Cerebellum?

The cerebellum is a small part of the brain situated at the back of the head, where it meets the spine. The cerebellum is primarily responsible for coordinating voluntary movements such as body posture, balance, body coordination and speech, thus maintaining in a smooth and balanced muscular activity.

The cerebellum receives information in the form of signals about the body’s position from the inner ear, the eyes, muscles and joints. The cerebellum after understanding the meanings of these signals further sends messages to the muscles to make any positional adjustments necessary to maintain the body balance, thus ensuring that the individual does not fall while making any movements. The cerebellum is also responsible for coordinating the timing as well as the force of the muscle and joint movements which are initiated by other parts of the brain.


What is the Significance of the Vestibular System?

The vestibular system, seen in most of the mammals, is a sensory system, is responsible for maintaining the body’s balance, movement and equilibrium. It contributes to the sense of balance and spatial orientation, thus enabling smooth coordination of movement with balance.

A vestibule, which is oval-shaped, is referred to the central part of the bony counterpart in the inner ear. It is situated medial to the eardrum or the tympanic membrane, behind the cochlea and in front of the three semicircular canals (the horizontal, the superior and the posterior).

There is a structure in the inner ear, called the labyrinth, which is responsible for the body’s sense of balance. As the name suggests, it is a maze-like complex structure which is a combination of tissues and bones and is very delicate. The labyrinth comprises the semicircular canals and the otolithic organs.

Any movement is composed of two phases - rotations and translations. The vestibular system is therefore designed to control these two aspects, and thus comprises two components - the semicircular canals, which indicate the rotational movements, and the otoliths, which indicate the linear accelerations. The vestibular system after receiving these signals about the type of movement made by an individual, transfers them to the neural structures which control the eye movements, as well as to the muscles which control the individual’s posture, thus helping him/her to stay upright.

The brain then receives these useful information about the person's position and movements from the vestibular system, and enables an individual to understand his/her position and acceleration (that is the dynamics and the kinematics of his or her body) each and every moment, especially when there is a change in the body position and movement.


Semicircular Canals

The semicircular canals are the main tools which detect the rotational movements. Since the world is three-dimensional, the vestibular system contains three semicircular canals in each of the labyrinth, placed at right angles to each other. The bony labyrinth, which is located in the temporal bone (that which is situated at the sides and the base of the skull), is referred to the rigid and bony outer wall of the inner ear, which consists of three parts - the vestibule, the semicircular canals and the cochlea.

The three sections of the semicircular canals are known as the lateral, the anterior or the superior and the posterior or the inferior semicircular canal. The lateral is considered the horizontal semicircular canal, and the anterior and the posterior are collectively known as the vertical semicircular canals.

Each of the semicircular canals consists of a fluid called perilymph. While the movement of the fluid present inside the horizontal semicircular canal corresponds to that of the rotation of the head around the neck - which acts as a vertical axis, the movement of the fluid inside the vertical semicircular canals corresponds to the movement of the head along the sagittal plane, which is felt during nodding, and in the frontal plane, which occurs during cartwheeling.


Otolithic Organs

The second part of the vestibular system, that is the otolithic organs are responsible for sensing the linear accelerations. The otoliths enhance the sense of gravity and motion in an individual, by adding to the weight and inertia of the otolithic membrane.


All of these mechanisms contribute to the experience of equilibrioception in an individual, that is having a sense of balance and spatial orientation. It is due to the vestibular system that we experience the sense of self-motion. For example, if you are sitting in a chair in a dark room and if your chair is turned to the left, you will be able to realise that you have been moved to the left side - even if you are not able to see it. Similar is the case if you are in an elevator - such as you will be able to realise that you are descending if the elevator descends.

The vestibular system and the visual system work together to maintain the body position and posture of an individual with respect to the gravity of the earth. The muscles and the joints on receiving instructions from the brain via special sensory receptors, help in keeping the body in an upright position.

What Happens if the Vestibular System Breaks Down?

Any disease caused to the vestibular system can lead to vertigo and instability or the loss of balance, sometimes even accompanied by nausea or vomiting tendency. If the vestibular system and the visual system fail to work in coordination with each other, such as in a case in which the vestibular fails to report any movement while the visual system does, it leads to motion sickness. Any problems in the vestibular system cause balance problems, along with other conditions like vertigo, dizziness, nausea, diarrhoea fluctuating heart rate, blood pressure changes, anxiety or depression.


Symptoms of Balance Problems

Let’s brief up the common symptoms of balance disorders -

  • Having a sensation of motion or spinning like dizziness or vertigo

  • Increased risks of falling or having the feeling as if you are going to fall

  • Staggering while walking or moving unsteadily

  • Confusion or disorientation

  • Having a sensation of lightheadedness, faintness, or floating

  • Vision changes such as blurriness

Look up for more valuable information in this link:

Does Hearing Loss Affect Balance?

Hearing loss by itself does not cause balance problems, but if there are any problems in the inner ear, the vestibular system might get affected. This means that hearing loss might occur together with the symptoms of balance problems since the inner ear is responsible for both hearing and maintaining body balance. Certain common inner ear or other health conditions are also associated with balance issues, vertigo which includes -

  • Meniere’s disease

  • Otosclerosis of the middle ear

  • Ear infections, like labyrinthitis

In these cases, balance problems can be accompanied by hearing loss.


Can Hearing Aids Help Manage Balance Disorders?

People with hearing loss often find that wearing hearing aids can equalize hearing in both the ears and make you have a feeling of a natural and balanced hearing. This lessens the symptoms of balance problems such as vertigo or dizziness, risks of falling and disorientation. Additionally, hearing aids can also help reduce the impact of hearing loss to a great extent. Although this area of how far are hearing aids responsible in helping to manage with balance problems still needs proper research, yet the initial results are quite impressive and promising.

An interesting and proven fact is if the older people start wearing hearing aids instead of leaving their hearing loss untreated, their risks of falling reduces with a significant improvement in body balance and equilibrium. In short, an enhanced hearing makes way for maintaining proper body balance and posture.

According to the senior author Timothy E. Hullar, professor of otolaryngology at the School of Medicine, hearing aids allowed people to use the sound information coming from all the directions which acted as auditory reference points or landmarks which help to maintain balance.

Prof. Hullar compares it to our eyes when we use it to tell us where we are in space. If the lights are turned off, we tend to lose our balance a bit. Similar is the case with hearing and balance. Hearing properly can help you stay up without losing balance.


What are the Causes of Balance Disorders?

Although there can be numerous other causes of balance disorders apart from hearing loss, yet the ears play an active part in this system. The common factors that cause balance problems include -

  • Ear infections

  • Head or neck injuries

  • Tumours

  • Blood circulation problems in the inner ear

  • Low blood pressure

  • Certain medications

  • Arthritis

  • Eye muscle imbalance

  • Meniere's disease

To determine the exact cause of balance disorders, consult an Audiologist, who would perform the necessary tests to determine whether there is a problem in the inner ear. He or she might also refer you to an ENT specialist to perform the necessary steps to analyse the cause of the problem and to determine whether there are any other conditions responsible for the balance problems.

So if you are facing any balance problems, do consider visiting a skilled and trained Audiologist and get your ears tested.

Do check out this link to learn more about balance disorders and their causes:

We will add another blog about the tests done to diagnose balance problems.

Till then do let us know whether we missed out any fact.

Or are you aware of any other links between hearing loss and balance disorders?

We would like to know from you! Do share your valuable opinions in the comments below.

Comments | Posted in Hearing Aids By Phalguni Bannerjee

9 Tips to Handle Hearing Loss at the Workplace

Thursday, May 2, 2019 1:52:51 PM Asia/Calcutta

Have you been in those situations where you had an important meeting with your CEO and you couldn’t follow much of the discussion? Or in that situation where you had been struggling hard to listen to what others are saying but due to your inability to do so, you prefer to fake it, ending up in responding inappropriately with people getting irritated? You find your colleagues speaking to you or even reaching out to you for help, and end up making them feel strange about you. You often find yourself in such embarrassing situations and yet you prefer not to disclose your hearing loss to anyone because you consider it as a shameful secret.

We understand what you are going through. But do you know that ignoring your hearing loss is only aggravating your problems leading to critical situations? Won’t it be more stressful and strenuous for you to try so hard to listen to and get what your colleagues and/or clients are saying? This would make you feel tired almost for the whole day, resulting in low energy levels and lesser concentration and productivity at work.

It might also happen that you are might feel ashamed of your hearing aids and hence want to hide them or even avoid wearing them. But this won’t help! Ignoring your hearing loss would only add to your complications.

So here are certain tips to handle your hearing problems at your workplace.

  • Talk to your colleagues and team leaders. The best way to avoid these annoying situations is to talk! Discuss your problems and open up to the ones near you. Whenever you have difficulties hearing, do tell the person you are speaking with that you have hearing loss and that you need to be spoken to a bit louder. Trust me, sharing would only make your stressful situation a lot easier and people would really cooperate.

  • No, your reputation won’t be affected if you have a strong and good work record. Often you might feel that people might ignore you or stay away from you, or that your reputation may be affected. But the truth is if you have a good record of your performance then people will definitely cooperate, and even offer to help.

  • Talk with your HR manager for sitting arrangements or other requirements that would make you feel better. For example, you might need special accommodation or a good sound set-up such as a better conference room with a good speakerphone. Also, make sure that your workspace is well-lit so that you can at least understand many things depending upon lip-reading. Because you really don't want the trouble to frequently ask people to repeat themselves. Even if you are a new user of hearing aids, and having some difficulties understanding speech, do discuss that too. Your HR will make special arrangements for you.

  • Take the help of an interpreter if required. If you find it very difficult to hear well till you get your hearing problems treated, or because you are wearing hearing aids for the first time, do appeal for assigning a sign-language interpreter for you.

  • Speaking up the truth is rewarded. People will definitely cooperate with you if you share the difficulties you are facing due to your hearing problems. This might even make them share their own vulnerabilities when such an atmosphere is built. This will boost up the environment and you will feel at ease.

  • Sharing your problems will lessen out your stress. The truth is hearing loss does not remain hidden. People will soon get to understand that something is wrong with you. Although not everyone would realise that you are having hearing problems, the worse thing can be that people might think you are not intelligent enough or that you are a poor listener.

  • Learn about hearing loss. Do make sure to consult a professional Audiologist who will perform a series of hearing tests and determine the intensity of your loss. Accordingly, your Audiologist will suggest the best treatment. Your Audiologist will also guide you on how to understand speech when you opt your hearing aids for the first time.

  • Generations are changing. Nowadays, almost all the schools have special care section which helps to ease out those individuals who have some kind of special needs. Today, most children know how to take everything positively and confidently and they know how to learn each other’s differences. Also, hearing aids are becoming so cool looking these days with so many advanced features.

  • Use digital hearing aids. The latest digital hearing aids are quite advanced and updated which are designed to make your life a lot easier and pleasant. You will soon adapt yourself to your workplace environment or to any listening situation for that matter. The hearing aids of today have excellent directional systems to help you stay focused on speech so that you can participate in conversations better and listen to group discussions well. The digital hearing aids also come with so many other features which would make you feel good and not feel like an isolated being.

So without thinking much or getting puzzled too often, do consider getting your hearing loss treatment and don’t shy away from wearing hearing aids. If you think that wearing hearing aids would make others mock at you, then you are wrong. It’s your life, so you have to decide what’s best for you. Moreover, hearing loss is more visible than your hearing aids.

Comments | Posted in Hearing Aids By Phalguni Bannerjee

Want to Keep Your Brain Sharp Even in Old Age? Take Care of Your Ears!

Tuesday, March 19, 2019 4:01:53 PM Asia/Calcutta

Brain and Hearing

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Comments | Posted in Hearing Aids By Phalguni Bannerjee
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