Tag: 2021

8 Back-to-School Communication Tips

Make Hitting the Books Even Easier With These Helpful Tricks

It’s practically back-to-school time! Whether the students in your life are heading back to class in person or online, keep these helpful tips in mind.

  1. Maximize lipreading. Hearing and lipreading work together to enhance communication, making clear masks an important tool for teachers if using protective equipment for in-person learning. It also helps for speakers to appear on camera during virtual classes so that participants can see their lips.
  2. Turn on live captioning during virtual lessons, or ask the host — if applicable — to activate the option. Free apps and web-based services are also available for live transcribing of speech.
  3. Curb background noise. Learning from home can be challenging amid the everyday sounds of household life, but setting up in a quieter room, wearing connected headphones, and closing the door to shut out distracting background noise can help facilitate speech understanding.
  4. Use the chat function — if available when using an online virtual platform — to help clarify any missed points. And remember: There’s a good chance others may need clarification, too, and will appreciate the request.
  5. Pair a compatible wireless multimicrophone with your hearing device to enhance hearing in one-on-one and group environments.
  6. Stream audio directly to your hearing technology. Modern hearing aids can receive audio directly from sources such as smartphones, computers, stereos, and more — depending on compatibility — and make it easy to personalize sound for specific listening and learning needs.
  7. Help your hearing aids and mask coexist. If wearing hearing aids, help keep them undisturbed and working their best by choosing masks that wrap around the head rather than the ears.
  8. Choose the mask setting on your hearing aids — if the option is available — to help clearly and confidently communicate with others who are wearing face coverings.

 

How’s Their Hearing?

Schedule regular hearing checkups for the schoolkids in your household — just as you would for their eyes and teeth — and recognize some of the signs of potential hearing loss:

  • Struggling to understand people speaking through masks
  • Trouble following lessons or instructions from teachers
  • Frequent responses of “Huh?” or “What?”
  • Complaints of noise or earaches
  • Turning up the television volume
  • Failing grades or reports that your child doesn’t respond in class
  • A gut feeling that something’s off with your child’s hearing

Improved hearing can play a big role in helping students perform their best in class. So don’t wait. Schedule back-to-school hearing evaluations for the whole family today!

Summer Noise: 4 Ways Your Hearing Aids Can Help

Turn Up Summer Fun With Hearing Aids

People don’t often think “Fun!” when they think of hearing aids. But today’s hearing aids are designed to meet your needs no matter what’s going on. Let’s check out a few ways your hearing aids can actually enhance your fun this summer.

Enjoy Group Conversations Outdoors

Most hearing aids today have a set of built-in capabilities ideal for highlighting speech in conversations. Directional microphones are designed to focus on whatever you’re facing. This is because you usually speak to someone in front of you. Some models of directional microphones do switch positions based on speech and sound cues.

Today’s hearing aids also do a very good job filtering out background noise. You can devote your energy to your conversation, not on cutting through clatter. It’s also becoming more and more feasible to use your smartphone as a microphone. For example: You place your smartphone on the picnic table, it picks up what everyone is saying, and it streams the audio to your hearing devices. It’s almost like you’re wearing conversation-enhancing headphones!

Muzzle Fireworks

Many of today’s digital hearing aids have a function called transient-noise suppression, impulse-noise reduction, or something similar. It’s a fancy way of saying that the hearing aid will lower the volume of sudden, brief noises — like dishes being dropped. You can still enjoy fireworks, but at a safe listening level. Check your hearing aid’s instructions, or check with your provider to find out if you have this functionality.

Change Settings Automatically

Many hearing aids now use a smartphone app. From controlling the volume to nudging the settings on your hearing aids, you can do a lot by utilizing these apps. One exciting capability is geotagging, or assigning a geographical “bookmark” to your favorite spots. Simply optimize your hearing aids for a location (for example, a park, baseball diamond, or your favorite restaurant), and apply a geotag. When you return to that spot, your settings will switch automatically!

Banish Wind Noise

Hearing aid microphones are placed just outside your ear canal or behind your ear. This means they may pick up a lot of wind noise. But ReSound has developed a breakthrough with the ReSound ONE device, which allows an extra microphone to be placed inside your ear canal, where the wind can’t reach it.

Contact us today to learn more about the built-in ways your hearing aids can boost your summer fun!

Q&A: Upgrading Your Hearing Aids

Q: How often should I update my hearing devices?

A: That’s a good question we’ve addressed with many patients and their loved ones. The short answer is that a hearing device should typically be replaced about every three to six years or so.

Really, however, the answer is a bit more involved. Several factors may figure into whether it’s time to update your hearing instruments. They include:

  • Level and sophistication of the hearing technology
  • Quality of upkeep and maintenance throughout use
  • Potential changes in your hearing ability or listening lifestyle
  • Condition and performance of your existing hearing devices

Here are five potential signs you need fresh hearing technology:

Device Malfunctioning

You do all the recommended maintenance, but things still aren’t right: Replaced batteries drain quickly; sound is still muffled after you change wax guards. The occasional repair is one thing, but regular malfunctions mean it’s time to replace your devices.

Hearing Level Has Changed

Your hearing changes over time because of age, loud sounds, or other health issues. Often we can adjust your programming to meet your new needs, but sometimes your hearing changes so much that you require a different level of technology.

Often we can adjust your programming to meet your new needs, but sometimes your hearing changes so much that you require a different level of technology.

Repairs Seem Costly

With older devices, the parts are often scarce or the model is discontinued. Sometimes repairing your devices costs enough that it makes more sense to replace them with new hearing aids.

Technology Evolving

Devices have advanced significantly — with better filtering of background noise, rechargeability without the hassle of disposable batteries, tinnitus management, wireless streaming from smartphones and other audio sources, and even fall detection and built-in translation capabilities, depending on the device.

New Interests or Environments   

When your lifestyle changes, your tech might need to also. Took up a sport? You’ll probably need moisture resistance. Switched from an office job to a gig outdoors? You’ll likely experience a different  noise level now.

Hearing your best is more critical than ever in our changing world — with in-person and virtual communication both playing important roles in today’s new normal. If you think it might be time to update your hearing devices, please don’t wait. Contact us today to get your questions answered or to schedule a consultation and tech demo. We’re ‘HEAR’ to help!

Illustration of a park bench on a snowy winter day

How Does a Pandemic Affect Noise Pollution? | The Apple Hearing Study

In this first-of-its-kind study, researchers set out to see how the sound levels we’re exposed to in our day-to-day lives can impact health.

We live in a noisy world. Dr. Richard Neitzel, of the University of Michigan, knows this only too well. In November 2019, his team at Michigan, along with a team at Apple Inc., set out on a two-year mission to measure some of the health effects of our noisy planet.

What they got was an unprecedented collection of information that answered an impossible-to-anticipate question — how does a pandemic affect noise pollution?


The Apple Hearing Study

 

The noise pollution problem

Around 1.1 billion young people worldwide are at risk of hearing loss simply because of their recreational habits. Occupational noise exposure affects up to 25% of American and 15% of Canadian workers. Plus, there’s traffic, daily construction in major cities, and a host of other sources of constant noise.

All this unwanted sound affects more than your hearing. It can disturb sleep, worsen patient outcomes in hospitals, even affect schoolchildren’s cognitive abilities. That’s on top of the already well-established effects hearing loss has on overall health.

In the face of this public health challenge, wouldn’t it be handy to measure just how much noise we’re all exposed to?

This is where Dr. Neitzel and his team come in.


The study

In this first-of-its-kind, two-year study, volunteers downloaded the Apple Research app to their iPhone. Headphone and sound-exposure data were regularly collected from their iPhone and Apple Watch (if applicable). The aim of the study was to measure how the sound levels we’re exposed to in our day-to-day lives impact hearing, cardiovascular health, and stress levels.

The COVID-19 Connection

A few months into the COVID-19 pandemic, they realized they had a unique, timely, privacy-centric opportunity: They could harvest data from their Apple Hearing Study to measure how social distancing affected sound-exposure levels.

They selected four states based on geographic and cultural diversity — California, Florida, New York, and Texas — and compared the data from two time periods. The first was January 8 to February 21, reflecting pre-COVID-19 conditions. The second period began for each state when that state first issued its social-distancing recommendations, and ended April 22, soon before the first states began loosening restrictions. They ended up with over half a million daily noise level measurements from almost 6,000 participants.

The Surprising Results

They published their findings in the journal Environmental Research Letters. Their analysis revealed that, compared to the pre-COVID-19 time period, daily average noise exposure was cut nearly in half during the social-distancing period, from just over 73 decibels to around 70.5 decibels.

One important piece of this decrease is the sound level at which it happened — 70 decibels. That’s well above the point at which noise can affect heart health, hypertension, and brainpower.

At those decibels, cutting sound exposure in half can have meaningful health benefits. In the words of the authors, “[T]he COVID-related reduction in sound exposures among study participants likely represents a meaningful reduction in overall risk of sound-related health effects.”

A Noisy World

The unforeseen — a pandemic — resulted in nearly halved noise levels, but you don’t have to wait for such extreme circumstances to take charge of your sound-exposure levels. From specialty earplugs to hearing devices, there are simple ways to take charge of how much noise you’re willing to put up with.

Contact us today to learn more about options for curbing noise pollution, regardless of the social-distancing situation you find yourself in!