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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Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Realistic Expectations for Hearing Aids

siemens micon
What can you realistically expect a hearing aid to do?
  1. Hearing aids do not restore normal hearing- they "aid" your ability to hear.
  2. Hearing aids do not "take over" your hearing. In fact, today's devices do not amplify everything equally. Today's technology permits the audiologist to selectively amplify only what you need. For example, if you hear low pitched sounds normally, they are not programmed to be amplified.
  3. Loudness growth is not linear. This means that soft and average sounds may be increased but loud sounds are not.
Benchmarks for real success include:
  • Soft sounds should be audible
  • Speech should be clear in difficult listening environments
  • Loud sounds should be in your range of comfort

  • With this in mind, how does your budget impact the choice of hearing aid?

    Monday, July 22, 2013

    Alternative Approaches to Tinnitus Treatment

    As research into tinnitus  management continues to grow, effective treatment strategies continue to emerge. Two treatment approaches are showing promising results:
    Cognitive Behavioral Therapy
    Even though tinnitus is not a psychological disorder, cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) is being researched as an effective method for helping individuals cope with its perceived severity. In research conducted by the Department of Otolaryngology of the Tubingen University Medical Center, 84% of participants reported a change in the perceived level of tinnitus by up to 50% after receiving multiple sessions of cognitive behavioral therapy. This led to the conclusion that structured, tinnitus-specific CBT can be an effective individual therapy for patients suffering from tinnitus.
    Mindfulness Meditation
    Mindfulness meditation has also garnered support as a potential method of coping with tinnitus. Dr. Jennifer Gans of the University of California, San Francisco created and implemented an 8-week program entitled "Mindfulness Based Tinnitus Stress Reduction" (MBTSR). MBTSR is comprised of group instruction on mindful meditation, a 1-day retreat, supplemental readings, and audio tracks for guided meditation practiced at the individual's residence. The results of this approach demonstrated a substantial decrease in the patient's perceived level of tinnitus handicap. It also helped reduce the depression and anxiety that often accompany life-disrupting levels of tinnitus.
    For more information about tinnitus, visit our website.
    Image provided courtesy of

    Wednesday, July 17, 2013

    How is tinnitus treated? Is relief possible?

    How do I get relief from tinnitus?

    The sound of tinnitus can vary in pitch and loudness or stay the same. It may be a tone or a noise, a roar like a seashell roar, a chirp, hiss, or click or a combination of some of these. It may "beat" as your heart beats. The sounds may be louder in one ear or occur only in one ear. It may prevent sleep, or wake you from a sound sleep. It may be louder in the morning and late at night. However bothersome your experience of tinnitus may be, there is hope for relief from this condition. Tinnitus treatment varies and, at Appalachian Audiology, is highly individualized.
    Treatment varies based on the status of hearing, the presence of hyperacusis or mysophonia, phonophobia or recruitment, evidence of Meniere's Disease, suggestion of chronic Eustachian tube dysfunction, TMJ problems, history of vascular disease, deficiency in B-12, zinc, and/or magnesium. Additionally, vertigo or dizziness may shape treatment options.
    These treatment services result in a success rate of 85-90%:
    1. Information and counseling. Often, learning that tinnitus is a symptom and not a disease, what makes it so bothersome, and how you can get relief is enough. But not for all.
    2. Current tinnitus treatments focus on sound sensitization and efforts to shape the brain sound generator.
    3. One theory advances a masking strategy. For some, the sound should be steady and very soft, for others, the amplitude should vary. Different devices/signal generators are demonstrated. The idea is that sounds wired together fire together, and certain sounds will break the unity, create "chaos" in the site and cause the tinnitus to subside.
    4. Those who have experienced chronic disease, pain or illness will recognize the potential value in Mindful Meditation. This, in fact, is the treatment primarily recommended by Harvard Medical School and implemented at the Tinnitus Clinic at Mass General Hospital. Some will choose to learn this centuries old method of dealing with a variety of intrusions to the body as an additional asset in reducing tinnitus.
    The treatment can focus on the sounds, and/or the effects of the sounds, such as interrupted or poor sleep, concentration dificulties, depression and anxiety, and stress.    

    For more information, visit the tinnitus section of our website.

     Image provided courtesy of Free Digital Photos.

    Monday, July 15, 2013

    Bluetooth (Wireless) Technology for Hearing Aids

    Bluetooth compatible hearing aids allow you to wirelessly connect to televisions, cell phones, landline phones, and mp3 players. This provides better speech comprehension and sound clarity because the sound is delivered wirelessly to the hearing aids with no issue of sound decay or reverberation.

    Cell Phone and Landline Use

    Bluetooth Compatible Hearing Aids
    Bluetooth technology advances permit you to listen on the telephone through the hearing aids in both ears simultaneously. This allows the hearing aid wearer to talk on the phone hands-free. With the push of a button, the phone is answered. Answer the phone without leaving your seat! 


    You may have "discussions" at your home about the volume of the television. This can result in the family watching the same show on different televisions. Most manufacturers of hearing aids now provide a plug-in accessory for your television which wirelessly sends a comfortable sound to the hearing aid wearer and also permits a comfortable sound for friends and family 

    iPod and mp3 Players

    The hearing aids can receive music and other signals from an iPod or mp3 player making those uncomfortable earbuds unnecessary! 

    Remote Control and Hearing Aid Adjustments

    Remote controls for hearing aids vary in sophistication. Some simply change the volume and listening programs. Others teach the hearing aids how to "behave" in any listening environment so the user becomes the teacher.
    Each hearing aid manufacturer utilizes different accessories to make wireless streaming possible.
    If you currently own hearing aids, chances are good that your hearing aids are already bluetooth compatible. 

    Friday, July 12, 2013

    Hearing Aids That Treat Tinnitus

    phonak audeo q
    Tinnitus ("TIN-a-tus" or "Tin-EYE-tus") is commonly described as "ringing in the ears".
    Currently, 85% of patients with tinnitus have a hearing loss. Four manufacturers of hearing aids- Siemens, Phonak, GN Resound, and Widex have released products that provide therapy for tinnitus. The circuit in each model of hearing aid includes a variety of white noise, pink noise, or "Zen" noise. Activated by the audiologist, the customized sounds are mixed into the hearing aid at a loudness level that attenuates the tinnitus and amplifies speech. Over time (six to eighteen months) the user reports diminished perception of tinnitus (the perceived volume level of the tinnitus begins to lessen). A control can be provided to change the ratio of the tinnitus noise to the gain of the hearing aid for those who report fluctuating tinnitus.
    Three hearing aid models that feature tinnitus therapy are:
    For individuals with hyperacusis (misophonia), devices are programmed to systematically increase tolerance to sounds. More than 90% of individuals are helped with this strategy.
    For more information on tinnitus treatment, click here.

    Thursday, July 11, 2013

    Swimmer's Ear: Cause, Treatment, & Prevention

    "Swimmer's Ear" is one of the few maladies of summertime. Properly referred to as "otitis externa," swimmer's ear is actually an infection of the outer ear canal. The most common cause is moisture that gets trapped in the outer ear canal. The moisture becomes a breeding ground for bacteria or fungus resulting in an infection that can be very painful. 

    Signs of swimmer's ear include redness, swelling, or pain in the outer ear (particularly after swimming). If you are having any of these symptoms, it's important to see your local family doctor or ENT. They will prescribe ear drops to treat the infection. Sometimes the ear canal can become so inflamed that a cotton swab soaked with medicine must be inserted to begin treatment. A mild pain reliever may also be helpful to relieve any discomfort.

    There are several ways to prevent swimmer's ear. After you've gone swimming, check your ears for excess moisture. Purchase an over-the-counter ear drop solution that can quickly evaporate excess moisture. Wear custom fit swimmer's ear molds. These are usually inexpensive and come in a variety of colors. We charge about $15 per ear to make impressions that are then sent to a manufacturer who makes the actual mold. If you are interested in having custom ear molds, please don't hesitate to call our offices for an appointment.

    For more information on swimmer's ear, click here.

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    Monday, July 8, 2013

    Hearing Aids in 2013

    These aren't your grandfather's hearing aids! Today's hearing aids continue to advance in technology, features, colors, and usability. Did you know that hearing instruments in 2013:
    • Can be adjusted using a smart phone or tablet?
      • Click here for more information on hearing aids and smartphone compatibility.
    • Are waterproof and dust proof?
    • Provide solutions for single-sided deafness?
    • Stream the audio of the telephone and television directly to both ears to promote clarity and understanding?
      • Hearing aid manufacturers have created bluetooth compatible devicesthat wirelessly connect to hearing aids. If you are tired of blasting the television volume, avoiding phone conversations, or asking someone to interpret what others are saying, these devices can change your life.
    • Automatically focus on and amplify the source of speech in a crowded room?
      • New technology enables hearing aid users to participate in conversations in difficult listening environments like restaurants, community centers, and places of worship. Hearing aid manufacturers employ different strategies to promote speech intelligibility in noisy environments.
    • Automatically adjust to multiple listening environments?
      • The Siemens Micon has 48 adjustable channels. This promotes an exceptional level of speech intelligibility in challenging listening environments. Click here for more information on the Siemens Micon.
    • Learn the user's listening preferences in up to six different acoustic environments?
      • Hearing aids “memorize” and automatically adjust to the individual’s listening preferences in multiple environments. Find out more here.
    • Automatically detect and eliminate feedback (whistling) before it begins?
      • Modern hearing aids should never whistle. New technology empowers the hearing device to stop feedback before it begins.

    Wednesday, July 3, 2013

    Hearing Aids and Smartphone Compatibility

    iPhone, iPad, and Android developers are working with hearing aid manufacturers to create seamless connectivity between hearing aids and smartphones. This will give hearing aid users the ability to adjust their instruments' settings using Apps on an iPhone, iPad, or Android powered device. Currently, two hearing aid manufacturers have released Apps that turn a smartphone into a remote control for hearing aids:
    Siemens introduced the miniTek Remote App in March 2013. This App transforms an Android powered smartphone or tablet into a remote control that can be used to adjust hearing aid settings.
    Click here for more information on the Siemens miniTek Remote App.
    GN Resound has released the Resound Control App. This App enables Verso and Alera hearing aid wearers to adjust the volume of their hearing aids, choose between programming options, and adjust streaming volume by using their smartphone.
    Click here for more information on the Resound Control App.
    iPhone and Hearing Aid Compatibility
    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.

    For more information on the future of "made for iPhone" hearing aids, click here.

    Image provided courtesy of

    Monday, July 1, 2013

    What does hearing loss "sound" like?

    The five most common types of hearing loss are:

    1. Conductive – occurs either in the outer or middle ear – common to children and often correctable with medication or surgery.
    2. Sensory – involves damage in the cochlea, typically the inner and outer hair cells or the stria vascularis in the scala media. Typical causes are presbycusis, noise exposure, ototoxic medications, inner ear infections, and heredity.
    3. Neural – affects the auditory branch of Cranial Nerve VIII. Causes include presbycusis, tumors, multiple sclerosis and infection.
    4. Sensorineural – this term identifies hearing loss resulting from both sensory and neural sites, even including the brainstem and cortical pathways. In addition to causes previously described, vascular lesions may cause this.
    5. Mixed – a combination of conductive plus the others
    Sensorineural hearing loss is the most common type of loss and varies in degree. Someone with a mild degree of sensorineural hearing loss would find it difficult to understand speech in noisy environments like restaurants and places of worship. Someone with a moderate degree of sensorineural hearing loss would find it more difficult to hear soft sounds as well as speech in difficult listening environments. It's difficult to comprehend how someone with hearing loss interprets sound in various acoustic environments. The Better Hearing Institute features a hearing loss simulator on their website that helps people with normal hearing understand what different environments sound like to an individual with hearing loss.  

    To access the hearing loss simulator, click here.

    Image provided courtesy of Jeroen van Oostrom of