Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Gift Ideas for People with Hearing Loss

This is an excerpt from our December E-newsletter.
To read the entire newsletter, click here. 
Gift Ideas for the Holidays!
Sometimes it's difficult to know what to buy for someone with hearing loss.  Those who wear hearing aids can also find it challenging to inform loved ones of gift ideas that would be beneficial and compatible with their hearing instruments. Here are some simple gift ideas we believe you'll find helpful:
Stocking Stuffers!
  • Premium Hearing Aid Batteries
    • Premium batteries last longer than drug store hearing aid batteries. A thoughtful stocking stuffer for around $5. 
  • Gift Certificate for Custom Ear Molds
    • Custom ear molds are used for sound protection, sleep improvement, swimming, motorcycle communication, and music listening. (Custom ear molds are exponentially more comfortable than ear buds!)
    • Don't hesitate to contact us if you would like more information about custom ear molds. 
  • Amplified telephones for people who struggle to hear on the phone but aren't ready to wear hearing aids.
    • The CapTel Phone provides captioning for phone conversations.
  • Bluetooth accessories that stream the audio of a television, cell phone, and handheld music device directly to both hearing aids. (see below)
  • KidzSafe Ear Buds by Westone
    • An inexpensive way to protect your children or grandchildren from damaging their hearing as they're listening to their iPods. KidzSafe ear buds limit the decibel level to 85dB.
  • The Hearing Aid Pillow
    • Do you know anybody who needs to wear their hearing aids while they sleep?  The Hearing Aid Pillow features a "trench" that positions the ear so you can rest comfortably and still receive sound without feedback.
If you need help finding or asking for the right gift for your loved one with hearing loss, please don't hesitate to call our office and speak with one of our clinical audiologists.

Monday, December 16, 2013

Guidelines for Attending Family Holiday Gatherings... When Hearing Affects Cheering!

Below is an excerpt from our December e-newsletter entitled: "Guidelines for Family Holiday Gatherings and Gift Ideas." To read the entire newsletter, click here.

Just ask anybody with hearing loss: the biggest challenge is hearing in noise, and by definition, family gatherings are noisy. Here are some "rules of engagement" for hosting or mediating a family gathering during the holidays:
  • Before the gathering begins, give each part of your hearing aids a thorough cleaning. Use wet wipes to remove external debris, change the tips or domes, replace the wax traps and/or filters, use your "wire" to clean the tubing. Also, change the batteries. Be sure to check your stash of batteries early, so you always have a supply. The more noise, the greater the battery drain.
  • When dining in, turn down the music during dinner. A tablecloth and linen napkins act to reduce reverberation or echo in the dining room. Echo always reduces clarity. Try to place a cloth cover on the buffet, on the coffee table, and add fabric pillows to a leather sofa to help absorb, rather than reflect sound.
  • Sit at the end of the table so you can SEE everyone. Visual cues always reduce the auditory effort.
  • When dining out, always pick a seat with your back to the room. A table near a wall is best, and sit facing your friend who is seated with her back to the wall. This positioning helps the hearing aids do their best: raise the speech in front of you and lower the noise behind you. All of you folks who like to sit facing the entrance, you will pick up too much noise, and not enough conversation. This worked for cowboys, but not anybody else.
  • Consider making a restaurant reservation for a booth. This captures the immediate conversation and helps to lower the conversations from the next table.
  • At your place of worship, arrive early enough to sit one third back. This place usually works best with a PA system. DO NOT sit in or under the balcony. If your place of worship has a new PA system, inquire about the accessibility for those with hearing challenges: it may be compatible with the telephone program in your hearing aids.
  • Most hearing aids now accept a remote mic to improve noisy conversations (the clarity not the content!). Check with your audiologist to try a trial with a remote mic over the holidays. The remote mic is great for Christmas Eve services, noisy restaurants, "Hail Mary" football games.

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Monday, December 9, 2013

Research Findings Could Lead to Improved Hearing Aids

Research findings from Dr. Elizabeth Olson and Dr. Wei Dong of Columbia University could lead to advances in hearing aid technology.  This research sheds new light on how the ear processes and amplifies what it hears. Tiny hair cells within the ear "move" when they receive auditory stimuli. How and when the hair cells "move" ultimately transmits frequency-specific information to the brain. Today's hearing aids currently send auditory stimuli to the entire hearing organ of the ear (cochlea) and cannot replicate how a healthy ear works with the brain to amplify sound. However, researchers hope these new findings will eventually lead to advanced hearing instruments that more naturally amplify sound in line with the ear's hearing abilities.

For more information about this research, click here.

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Friday, November 15, 2013

Help for Tinnitus Without Using Hearing Aids

Widex, a manufacturer of premium hearing aids, has introduced a device to help people with tinnitus who do not have an accompanying hearing loss. The Zen2Go device provides relief from tinnitus by playing random harmonic tones. It fits behind the ear and looks similar to a hearing instrument. While it is not necessary for an audiologist to program the device in order for it to work, it is highly recommended that an individual consult with a hearing professional before purchasing it. Seeking counsel from an audiologist who is professionally trained to manage tinnitus will greatly enhance the effectiveness of the Zen2Go device.

To hear what Zen2Go sounds like, click here.

Image provided courtesy of David Castillo Dominici.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

An App to Help You Hear Better on a Smartphone

Difficulty conversing on the phone is a common problem for individual's with hearing loss. The quality of the transmission and the presence of background noise complicate the ability to understand what is being said. This often leads the individual with hearing loss to avoid phone conversations almost entirely. 

In October, SoundFest released the RealClarity app to help those with hearing loss hear conversations more clearly on a smartphone. The app is designed to filter out background noise and promote the speaker's voice. The user can also create programs for different listening environments. The RealClarity app is available for Android devices and iPhones®.

For more information, visit SoundFest's RealClarity app page by clicking here.

iPhone is a trademark of Apple, Inc. Android is a trademark of Google, Inc
Photo provided courtesy of scottchan of

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

GN ReSound LiNX™- the Made for iPhone® Hearing Aid

The GN ReSound LiNX™ is the world's first made for iPhone® hearing aid. This means the audio of the iPhone can wirelessly stream to both hearing aids without the use of an intermediary device like a streamer. The GN ReSound LiNX™ also contains several features:
  • Enhanced bluetooth (wireless) connectivity without additional battery consumption
    • Improved 2.4 gHz transmission technology makes this possible
  • GN ReSound's new strategy for frequency compression     
    • This feature promotes the audibility of higher frequencies without causing distortion.
  • Programming options to make voices clearer and more understandable in difficult listening environments like restaurants
  • Whistle-free technology
    • Feedback is eliminated before it becomes audible
  • User-friendly programming that gradually acclimates the individual to amplification
GN ReSound plans to make LiNX hearing aids available for purchase within the first quarter of 2014.
For more information, click here to visit GN ReSound's website.
iPhone is a trademark of Apple, Inc.
Photo provided courtesy of

Monday, November 4, 2013

Read Conversations on Your Smartphone with the CapTel® App

Do you have difficulty participating in conversations on a smartphone? Would you benefit from having the words of your conversation scrolled on the phone as you talk? The Hamilton CapTel® App was designed for this purpose. Available on both Android devices and iPhones®, the Hamilton CapTel App provides captioning for your conversations. The text of your conversation scrolls on the screen of the smartphone as you speak.

For more information on the Hamilton CapTel App for iPhonesclick here.

For more information on the CapTel App for Android devices, click here.

iPhone is a trademark of Apple, Inc.
Android is a trademark of Google, Inc.
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Monday, October 28, 2013

Should I buy wireless accessories for my hearing aids?

Most modern hearing aids are bluetooth compatible devices. This means the hearing instruments can wirelessly connect to multiple devices through the use of a streamer. A streamer is a small device that transmits the audio of a device directly to the hearing aids. Wireless accessories can provide numerous benefits to the hearing instrument user:
  • The audio of a television, smart phone, cell phone, landline phone, mp3 player, and computer can be streamed directly to both hearing aids. Hearing the audio in both hearing aids can dramatically improve the clarity of what is heard.  
  • The settings of the hearing aids can be adjusted using a remote control. Siemens, Oticon, Phonak, Unitron and other Tier 1 hearing aid manufacturers have remote control devices that can access and adjust the settings of hearing aids. This empowers the hearing aid user to adjust the settings of the hearing aids in multiple listening environments. 
  • Siemens and Phonak hearing aid manufacturers have released a small bluetooth microphone that can be worn by a family member or friend of the hearing aid user. When the individual uses the microphone, the audio is sent directly to both hearing aids in distances beyond 30 feet! This is ideal for conversations in difficult listening environments like restaurants, places of worship, etc.
Wireless accessories are inexpensive devices that can be used to help individuals hear better in noise, listen to the TV without extreme volume adjustments, participate in phone conversations, and promote the clarity of conversations in difficult listening environments. If you feel you would benefit from these features, investigate the wireless accessories available for your hearing instruments by clicking on the links below:

For information on wireless accessories compatible with Siemens hearing aids, click here.

For information on wireless accessories compatible with Phonak hearing aids, click here.

For information on wireless accessories compatible with Oticon hearing aids, click here.

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Friday, October 18, 2013

The World's First "Made for iPhone" Hearing Aid

GN ReSound has announced the world's first truly "made for iPhone®" hearing aid. The GN ReSound LiNXTM is the first hearing aid to earn the "made for iPhone" label. This means that the audio from an iPhone can be directly transmitted to both hearing aids without the use of a streamer or intermediary device.

More details (such as when the hearing aid will be released for purchase and what other features it will contain) will be forthcoming as GN ReSound makes them available. 

To read more about the world's first "made for iPhone" hearing aid, click here.

iPhone is a trademark of Apple, Inc.

Image provided courtesy of sippakorn

Friday, October 4, 2013

The Link Between Hearing Loss and Heart Disease

Numerous studies point to a link between heart health and hearing health. If the cardiovascular system shows signs of restricted blood flow, the individual's hearing can be detrimentally impacted. In fact, many experts are beginning to call the ear a "window to the heart" because of the correlation between cardiovascular and hearing health. Researchers are unclear as to which condition comes first- heart disease or a loss of hearing. However, many physicians are now calling for patients over 40 to have their hearing evaluated as a normal part of a routine medical exam.

For more information on the link between hearing loss and heart disease, click on the links below:

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Wednesday, October 2, 2013

How to Know if You Have Noise-Induced Hearing Loss

In a recent interview with the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association, Dr. Sandra Gordon-Salant suggests that about 50% of adults over the age of 60 have some form of hearing loss. Of this 50%, it's estimated that only 20% actually take action to address their hearing health. That's why the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association decided to launch the "Identify the Signs" Campaign- a publicawareness program designed to help people recognize the signs of untreated hearing loss and learn how to address it. 
Here are some signs of noise-induced hearing loss as presented by ASHA and the "Identify the Signs" campaign: 

  • You feel like people are mumbling all the time
  • It's difficult to understand conversations over the phone
  • People tell you the television volume is too loud
  • It's difficult to follow conversations in a group or a crowded room
  • Children and women are particularly hard to understand
  • You frequently ask for people to repeat themselves
If you feel like you or a family member are experiencing one or more of these signs, visit our website for information on how to address your potential hearing loss.

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Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Hearing Aids, iOS7, and the New iPhone® 5s and 5c

With the release of the new iOS7 operating system and iPhone® 5s and 5c models, Apple appears to be taking another step closer to "made for iPhone" hearing aids.

iOS7 provides a few advances with the hearing impaired in mind:
  • Additional support for “made for iPhone” hearing aids (in preparation for when they become available)
  • Support for stereo audio for iPhone 5 and iPod Touch (5th generation)
  • Improved integration with Bluetooth® 4.0 accessories (BLE or Bluetooth Low Energy)
Bluetooth 4.0 technology could eventually lead to three important advances in hearing instrument and iPhone compatibility:
  • Direct connection between hearing aids and iPhones (without the use of a streamer)
  • Clearer, more natural sounding audio (due to improved wireless transmission of the audio)
  • Lower power consumption (leading to improved battery life)
Jordan Kahn of “9to5 Mac” predicts that hearing aids and Apple designed hearing aid technology with Bluetooth 4.0 will be released by the end of 2013. Click here to read his blog on how advances in Apple's new operating system could pave the way for “made for iPhone” hearing aids.
Bluetooth 4.0 technology is not currently available in hearing instruments. However, GN Resound has released technology featuring a 2.4 gHz low-power communications protocol in line with Bluetooth 4.0 functionality. Also, Oticon's new Inium technology boasts of faster processing speeds and lower power consumption than the 2.4 gHz protocol. Three hearing aid manufacturers- GN Resound, Oticon, and Starkey, are working with Apple to release technology with the “made for iPhone” label by the end of 2013.
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iPhone, iOS7, iPhone 5s, 5c, 4s, and 4 are trademarks of Apple, Inc.
Bluetooth is a registered trademark of Bluetooth SIG.

Friday, September 13, 2013

An App to Analyze Your Hearing

Novasa has introduced the Better Hearing app. This app helps you discover where you have difficulty hearing. By examining the frequencies where your hearing may decrease, the Better Hearing app can help you determine if you need to have your hearing evaluated by a licensed audiologist. A unique aspect of this app is that it provides a method to help you optimize your remaining hearing in the frequencies where a loss may be present.

This app is free and can be found here.

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Friday, September 6, 2013

An App to Improve Cell Phone Clarity

SoundID has created an app to help improve voice clarity on smart phones. EarPrint allows the user to change the sound quality and listening level of the caller's voice while conversing on the phone. When not in use, it also acts as a sound meter to determine the volume level of the surrounding environment. For more information on EarPrint, click here.

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Wednesday, August 21, 2013

What does hearing loss "sound" like? An App that shows you...

Have you ever wondered what hearing loss "sounds" like? Red Deluxe has created an App to help you find out. Play It Down is an app that accesses your music files and lets you listen to a song the way someone with varying degrees of hearing loss would hear it. This app can even estimate how old your ears are by administering a type of hearing screen. 

Play It Down is free and can be found by clicking here.

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Monday, August 19, 2013

An App to Help You Hear in Noise

Do you have difficulty understanding conversations in noisy environments like restaurants? If so, research has shown that "brain training" can improve your ability to hear in noise. Starkey Laboratories has created an App to help you sharpen your ability to follow conversations in difficult listening environments. HearCoach is a free App that features multiple listening "games" that introduce varying degrees of background noise. As your listening ability improves, HearCoach allows you to advance to more challenging listening environments. The aim of the App is to improve your ability to clearly distinguish speech in a variety of challenging environments.
To read more about HearCoach or to download it, click here.
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Friday, August 16, 2013

How old are your ears?

Our hearing usually changes as we age. A simple test from AsapSCIENCE will help you determine if your hearing within the normal range for your age.
Click here to take the test! 
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Wednesday, August 14, 2013

How Loud Noise Exposure Causes Hearing Loss & Tinnitus

Exposure to noise levels greater than 110 dBs has been shown to cause both temporary and permanent hearing loss and tinnitus (ringing in the ears). However, the damage caused by this level of noise exposure can oftentimes be partially (or completely) reversed. Research led by Dr. Martine Hamann of the Department of Cell Physiology and Pharmacology at the University of Leicester has shown both how noise exposure causes hearing loss and tinnitus as well as how the body can repair itself. 

A ScienceBlog article detailing the research describes how loud noise exposure damages hearing: 

Nerve cells that carry electrical signals from the ears to the brain have a coating called the myelin sheath, which helps the electrical signals travel along the cell. Exposure to loud noises – i.e. noise over 110 decibels – can strip the cells of this coating, disrupting the electrical signals. This means the nerves can no longer efficiently transmit information from the ears to the brain. However, the coating surrounding the nerve cells can reform, letting the cells function again as normal. This means hearing loss can be temporary, and full hearing can return.
In response to the research findings, Dr. Hamann notes:
We now understand why hearing loss can be reversible in certain cases. We showed that the sheath around the auditory nerve is lost in about half of the cells we looked at, a bit like stripping the electrical cable linking an amplifier to the loudspeaker. The effect is reversible and after three months, hearing has recovered and so has the sheath around the auditory nerve.
Researchers hope this information can be used to find potential cures to noise induced hearing loss and tinnitus.

For more information on this research and the source of this blog post, click here.

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Monday, August 12, 2013

The Alarming Rise of Tinnitus in Teenagers

According to a study conducted at Antwerp University Hospital in Belgium, one in five high                                 school students have permanent ringing in the ears. Three in four students reported temporary episodes of tinnitus. The implications of these findings are important. Tinnitus is typically caused by repeated exposure to loud noise. It is no coincidence then that nearly 90% of people with tinnitus also have a hearing loss. Therefore, the sources of repeated loud noise exposure for teenagers (such as personal listening devices) must be identified. Dr. Roland Eavey, an ear, nose and throat specialist at Vanderbilt University in Nashville, Tennessee, believes this information can be used to help teenagers understand the potential risks of hearing loss and personal listening devices. He states: "Hearing loss from noise used to be from external sources such as loud industry and the military... Nowadays the loud volume is from self-inflicted sources such as personal listening devices... Perhaps [the presence tinnitus] might be like warning smokers to heed the cough before lung cancer is found..."

The individual must also be educated on safe listening volumes and sound protection. Over-the-ear headphones usually block out surrounding noises better than ear buds and allow the individual to listen to music at lower volumes. Also, the volume level of most personal listening devices can be limited to a safe listening level. Limiting the volume to 80% of it's maximum level is generally a good guideline. An individual should be safe listening to volumes of 85-90 dBs for a period of 90-120 minutes per day.

For more information on this research and the source of this blog post, click here.

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Wednesday, August 7, 2013

A "Bionic" Ear?

Researchers at Princeton University have created a fully-functional "bionic" ear. Using a 3D printer, scientists have created an ear that hears radio frequencies a million times higher than the human ear. Michael McAlpine, lead researcher on the project, had this to say about its purpose:   
The idea of this was: can you take a normal, healthy, average human and give them superpower that they wouldn't normally have?
To create the ear, McAlpine and team used a 3D printer to print the cells and combine them with a small coil antenna. The materials were then placed in a petri dish where the cells cultured for 10 weeks. The end result: a "bionic" ear with embedded electronics. To see how the ear was created or for more information, read this article. 

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Friday, August 2, 2013

Apps That Help With Tinnitus

Apps for tinnitus
Developers have created multiple Apps to help with tinnitus (ringing in the ears). Here are a few examples:
The Tinnitus Balance App enables the user to select sounds from a mobile device's music library. It also contains a list of default sounds divided into three categories: soothing, background, and interesting. The user can rate how well each sound provides relief or distraction from the noises generated by tinnitus and share this information with the audiologist or treating physician. The App also contains a timer that can be used when the individual is about to fall asleep.
For more information on Phonak's Tinnitus Balance App, click here.
This App was designed by Neonix to help people match the tonal frequency of their tinnitus. As long as the sound of the tinnitus is tonal in nature, Tinnitus Measurer can match the frequency level and help the individual aid the audiologist in creating a treatment protocol. This App is free of charge and can be found here.
Tinnitus Masker provides a variety of sounds to help the individual "mask" (drown out) the noises generated by tinnitus. Sounds include white noise, pink noise, crickets at night, waves on the beach, and more. It costs $5.99 and is located here.
This App employs a unique strategy to change the perceived level of tinnitus by "mixing" the noises it generates with actual sounds of nature and music. With continued use, the goal of this treatment approach is to gradually diminish the individual's awareness of the noises generated by their particular type of tinnitus. Tinnitus Help costs $15.99 and can be found here.
Relax Melodies OP features 102 different sounds ranging from white noise to nature sounds. It is often used to facilitate relaxation, meditation, and sleep. This app costs $2.99 and can be found here.

What causes tinnitus?

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Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Hearing Aids and Phone Use

hearing aids and telephone use
Modern hearing aids enable the listener to hear conversations clearly over landline and cell phones. Here's a list of different strategies hearing aid manufacturers utilize to promote speech understanding while conversing on the phone:
  • AutoPhone: Everytime you pick up a landline and hold the phone up to the hearing aid, it automatically converts the hearing aid to a telephone amplifier with no whistle or feedback. When you hang the phone up, the hearing aids automatically resume their normal function.
  • DuoPhone: Phonak premium hearing aids have an automatic duo phone feature. When you hold the phone in one ear, the hearing aid transfers the caller's voice to the other ear as well.
  • Hands-Free Phone: Using bluetooth technology built into the hearing aid, the caller's voice wirelessly connects to both ears simultaneously. The volume of the hearing aid is lowered slightly permitting you to focus on the caller's voice in stereo.
  • Manual Phone Use: A custom telephone listening program can be set in almost any hearing aid in 2013.
For more information on modern hearing aid features, visit our website!

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Monday, July 29, 2013

A Hearing Aid to Reduce the Annoyance of Tinnitus

Because there is currently no proven cure for tinnitus, ways of managing the condition generally focus on relieving the symptoms and helping the individual learn effective coping strategies. If a hearing loss accompanies the tinnitus, an audiologist may fit the individual with a hearing aid designed to provide a form of therapy for tinnitus if the level of hearing loss can be properly addressed with a hearing instrument. 

Phonak Hearing Instruments has released a new generation of hearing aid technology equipped with a "Tinnitus Balance Noise Generator." Activated by the audiologist, the Audeo Q generates a sound with the purpose of directing attention away from the noises of tinnitus and reducing its annoyance. The Audeo Q also features advanced technology including wireless connection to televisions and cell phones and automatic adjustments in various listening environments.

For more information on the Audeo Q, visit Phonak's website.

Friday, July 26, 2013

Setting Your iPhone to Hearing Aid Mode

Currently, iPhone 5 and 4 models comply with the FCC’s hearing aid compatibility standards. However, to maximize the clarity of your particular model of iPhone, you will need to activate the “Hearing Aid Mode.” To do this on an iPhone 4 or 5 with the iOS 5 or later, go to Settings > General > Accessibility and make the appropriate adjustment to turn the Hearing Aid Mode to “on.” For more information on iPhones and hearing aid compatibility, visit Apple’s hearing aid compatibility page.
iPhones and Automatic Hearing Aid Detection
Apple has also applied for a patent for new technology that would enable an iPhone to automatically detect whether or not the user is wearing a hearing aid. The technology features two types of sensors that detect a hearing aid and its distance from the iPhone. If a hearing aid is detected, the iPhone would automatically change its audio configuration to a hearing aid compatible mode. This would eliminate the need for an iPhone user to manually switch the iPhone to the "hearing aid mode" of operation. It is unknown when this feature will be available. Until it's released, iPhone users will have to manually switch to hearing aid mode to promote a higher degree of voice clarity. For more information on the automatic hearing aid detection technology for future versions of the iPhone, click here.
Many hearing aid manufacturers have released smartphone and tablet APPs for their devices. Click here for APPs from Siemens, Phonak, Oticon, and GN ReSound.

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