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Why Can’t I Understand the Pastor’s Sermon?

1150137_87405924As part of the Four-Step Process that we conduct with our patients at their initial consultation, we ask our patients to tell us where they most want help hearing. One of the most common situations mentioned is church, specifically when it comes to hearing a pastor’s sermon.  While hearing aids can make improvements in this situation, patients should still have realistic expectations of the capabilities of their technology in these types of settings.

Notoriously Poor Acoustics

One reason why church auditoriums and sanctuaries can cause problems with hearing aids is that the acoustics in these rooms tend to be extremely poor.  These environments typically have high, peaked ceilings, a large volume of space, and highly reflective surfaces and walls.  The result is a prolonged reverberation time that “smears” speech by eliminating the stops and gaps that allow recognition of the end and beginning of individual words.  Additionally, any vaults or peaks in the ceiling can cause dead spots or hot spots in the room, depending on the geometry of the space.  To complicate matters, ambient noises like a cough or rustling paper reverberate through these rooms as well, making it even harder to distinguish speech sounds.

In these kinds of environments, a person’s hearing loss is compounded by the poor acoustics.  Even people with normal hearing are likely to struggle to some degree in such a situation, though their auditory processing systems are better at interpreting the sounds they hear than someone with hearing loss.   A pair of hearing aids, even those that are appropriately fit to a patient, might not be enough to help because the quality of the sound they receive is poor due to the physics of the environment.

What Can Help?

The most effective method of improving sound quality in one of these kinds of rooms is the use of an induction loop system, also called a hearing loop.  The hearing loop encircles the congregation’s seating area with a magnetic field.  In order to make use of this field, a hearing aid must be equipped with a telecoil enabled for use with a separate program from the hearing aid’s every day settings.  This method allows the audio signal of the pastor’s voice to be sent directly to the hearing aid, effectively bypassing any reverberation in the auditorium. Many churches that use a hearing loop system also have small box-shaped receivers that allow the system to be used by congregants who either don’t have hearing aids or who don’t have telecoils in their hearing technology.

Another method of managing sound in large auditoriums for a person wearing hearing aids is to use directional microphones.  Any digital hearing aid that has directional microphones can programmed to use those microphones to focus solely in front of the hearing aid wearer.  The end result is that ambient noise is greatly reduced and reverberation may be reduced slightly.  The effectiveness of this method can be increased if hearing aid wearers position themselves directly in front of the loud speakers to receive the sound before the reverberations occur.  This is not nearly as effective as a hearing loop system, but can increase the benefit of hearing aids in this situation, especially when the hearing aid does not have a telecoil.

Realistic Expectations

Even with the most sophisticated technology, relying on hearing aids alone might not be enough in a church auditorium or sanctuary.  As discussed above, it is the physics of the room that is the primary source the difficulty rather than the hearing impairment itself.  In such cases, it is very important to have realistic expectations of what a hearing system and hearing technology can do and what it cannot do.  It is also very important to inform your hearing care professional of the difficulties you encounter in these situations so that they can work with you and your technology to effectively adjust and program your technology to better meet your needs.

New Year, New You! Better Hearing Event

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Rediscover joy and put laughter back in your life!

The opportunities for better hearing have never been better, and there are more discreet and comfortable hearing aid options than ever before. The newest devices offer sleek and comfortable technology choices that conform to the shape of yoru ears do deliver sound as naturally as possible. Feedback cancellation, voice recognition, and a strong battery life are just a few of the features these devices offer in helping you experience better hearing conveniently, effectively, and discreetly.

As AudigyCertified professionals, we know that you are looking for the absolute best in hearing care. Our entire team works to provide you with solutions specific to your own personal lifestyle and hearing situation. If your solution is a hearing system, our AGX advanced digital hearing instruments provide superior performance, comfort, and, in many cases, a nearly invisible appearance. Plus, our affordable payment options make better hearing attainable.

Your hearing treatment plan is so much more than technology. It is our philosophy that when you hear well, you live well. Our team will give you the tools, advice, and personalized care to truly achieve better hearing.

Call today to schedule an appointment during our “New Year, New You!” Better Hearing Event, continuing through January 25th, and take advantage of our $500 First-Time User Credit* or our $500 Trade-Up Allowance*. Don’t wait to hear what you’ve been missing!

 


*Offers good toward the purchase of an AGX5, 7, or 9 two-device hearing system and cannot be combined with any other promotional discount.

When Hearing Aids Are Not Enough

Original content found on the Hearing Care Blog

For the most part, recent advancements in hearing aid technology have made it easier for more people who struggle with hearing loss to communicate.  Hearing aids themselves have become smaller and more adaptable to most types of hearing loss, but sometimes hearing aids are still not enough. As people continue to live longer, more vibrant lives, they may find that they have to be able to effectively listen and communicate in more diverse situations. Poor environmental acoustics, heavy background noise, listening at a distance, classrooms, boardrooms, and other difficult listening environments can sometimes overwhelm the capabilities of even the most sophisticated hearing aids and dramatically affect their efficiency.  Hearing Assistive Technologies (HATs) are a great solution in these difficult environments where hearing aids need a little help of their own.

What are HATs?

Hearing Assistive Technologies (HATs) are devices that can be used with or without hearing aids to help with daily communication. These devices make hearing and listening easier for people that may struggle with hearing and understanding speech, particularly in diverse listening environments. The various HATs can be used to help improve many situations, such as face-to-face communication and reception of electronic media, such as telephone, radio and television.

Wireless Connectivity

The most recent additions to the broad range of HATs are devices that add wireless connectivity options to hearing aid systems. Nearly every hearing aid manufacturer has developed some sort of connectivity package, and most use one of three methods: Bluetooth, near field magnetic induction, or radio signals in either the very low or very high frequencies. These systems allow hearing aid users to connect their hearing aids directly to phones, TVs, music players, and microphones to improve the performance of the hearing aids. Most of these systems require an adaptor device for the hearing aids, such as a remote or streamer, and a microphone or transmitter adaptor to attach to an audio source.  The advantages of such systems are that the wearer can set his or her own volume for television and radio, listen to phone conversations in both ears, and eliminate most background noise in one-on-one communication. Connectivity packages can sometimes be intimidating for patients who are not technologically savvy, as they can include quite a few extra gadgets.

Induction loop systems are growing in popularity and have been installed in many high-traffic areas.  This symbol indicates that an induction loop is available for the hearing impaired.
Induction loop systems are growing in popularity and have been installed in many high-traffic areas. This symbol indicates that an induction loop is available for the hearing impaired.

Induction Loop Systems

Induction loop systems are most widely used in large-scale settings, such as airports and auditoriums. They have the ability to magnetically transmit a signal directly to a personal headset or a telecoil in a hearing aid. Venues that employ induction loops typically display a notification symbol to inform patrons of the loop’s availability. Induction systems and telecoils can also be used in the home on a smaller scale to improve hearing while using a telephone or watching television. For in-home applications, the induction loop can sometimes be a more cost-effective and user-friendly connectivity option than other systems.  In order to use an induction loop system, a hearing aid must be equipped with a telecoil and programmed for its use.

Personal Frequency Modulated Systems

Personal Frequency Modulated (FM) systems can be utilized in a variety of situations in which communication is critical, including boardrooms, classrooms, and one-on-one communication. FM systems are similar to induction loop systems but are typically used on a smaller scale. These devices reduce the effects that reverberation and background noise can have on the transmission of a speech signal. The FM system consists of a microphone and transmitter worn by the speaker and a receiver device used by a listener. This receiver can either be a personal headset or a boot on the bottom of an FM-compatible BTE or RIC hearing aid. FM systems are very reliable and often have better sound quality than other systems, but they also tend to be more cost-prohibitive.

An appropriately chosen and programmed HAT system can be a very helpful component of any hearing treatment solution, particularly when a person’s lifestyle needs include situations that can easily overwhelm the capabilities of hearing aids to reduce noise and enhance speech.  Just like hearing aids, HAT systems should be customized by a qualified hearing professional to meet a patient’s lifestyle needs.  To learn more about HAT systems, call our office and schedule an appointment.

Researchers Identify Genetic Mutation Responsible for Age-Related Hearing Loss

From HealthyHearing.com

In a nine-year study that was a collaboration between University of South Florida’s Global Center for Hearing & Speech Research and the National Technical Institute for the Deaf at the Rochester Institute of Technology, researchers were able to identify the first genetic biomarker for presbycusis. The genetic mutation carried by those who ultimately suffer from age-related hearing loss is linked to speech processing abilities in older people.

In collaboration with the House Ear Institute in Los Angeles, the researchers discovered a gene that produces a key protein in the inner ear — the cochlea — called glutamate receptor metabotropic 7 (GRM7). The GRM7 protein is intimately involved in converting sound into the code of the nervous system, in the cochlea, which is then sent to the parts of the brain used for hearing and speech processing.

Now having identified the gene, the researchers said people can be tested and takes steps earlier in life — such as avoiding loud noises, wearing ear protection and avoiding certain medicines known to damage hearing — to protect their hearing.

“This gene is the first genetic biomarker for human age related hearing loss, meaning if you had certain configurations of this gene you would know that you are probably going to lose your hearing faster than someone who might have another configuration,” said Robert Frisina Jr.

The Frisinas launched their study of genetics’ role in hearing loss nine years ago in hopes of identifying the cause of one of the most common forms of permanent hearing loss. Clinically, age-related hearing loss has been defined as a progressive loss of sensitivity to sound, starting at the high frequencies, inability to understand speech, the lengthening of the minimum discernible temporal gap in sounds, and a decrease in the ability to filter out background noise. Researchers now know the causes of presbycusis are likely a combination of multiple environmental and genetic factors.

Age-related hearing loss is a very prevalent problem in our society. It costs billions of dollars every year to manage and deal with it. It’s right up there with heart disease and arthritis as far as being one of the top three chronic medical conditions of the aged,” said Robert Frisina Jr.

DNA analyses were conducted and completed at the University of Rochester Medical School and the Rochester Institute of Technology.

The study involved 687 people who underwent three hours of extensive examination of their hearing capabilities, including genetic analyses and testing of speech processing.

Overcoming the Social Stigma of Hearing Loss

From the Hearing Care Blog:

The social stigma of hearing loss

Its been with us since the beginning of time

The stigma associated with hearing loss can be a big obstacle for individuals who need help to hear better. Some individuals are afraid to take the next step because of how they think their friends, family, or acquaintances may view them. Negative stereotypes and prejudices have followed hearing loss for years, and it surprises me how many people still associate those misperceptions to hearing loss. In the past, perceptions of hearing loss were associated with “old age”, poor communicators, social awkwardness, low cognition, etc. The truth is hearing loss has been around since the beginning of time and as education and research has become more abundant, the negative stigma associated with hearing loss is starting to change.

Hearing loss does not only affect those individuals who are “older” in age; it affects infants, children, teens and adults in all age ranges. Technological advancements have helped to identify newborns with hearing loss within hours of being born. In the past, you would never see a toddler walking around with hearing aids, now they are.

Allowing the old stigma of hearing loss to influence the acceptance of help can be very detrimental to a person who needs it. Hearing loss is an invisible impairment that individuals try to conceal from others. When hearing loss is concealed, individuals can become increasingly withdrawn from social interaction with friends and family. It can also lead them on a path to depression. Most individuals who have a hearing loss will feel alone and isolated unless they confront it by getting help. Truth is, once someone has a hearing loss and uses hearing aids, they not only realize how much they were missing, but they start to notice how many other people wear them.

Overcoming the stigma associated with hearing loss can be very difficult, especially for someone who has been diagnosed with a hearing loss. If you are affected by the stigma associated with hearing loss, try to observe how the hearing loss is affecting you at home, work or in leisure time. Weigh the pros and cons of hearing better vs. missing out on conversation. Identify the main emotion that holds you back from getting help and address it. Hearing aids are continuing to shrink in size because of desire for invisibility.  Get involved with organization such as the Hearing Loss Association of AmericaHearing Like Me and local support groups. Nobody should feel alone with his or her hearing loss.

If you feel that you are having trouble hearing or accepting a hearing loss diagnosis, ask your audiologist for information on support groups, organizations or websites that can help. We are here to help and support you with all of your hearing needs.

This article re-distributed with permission from The Hearing Rehab Center blog. Visit their site to learn more about hearing care services in the Denver, CO area.

Ringing in Your Ears?

Man with ringing in ears

What causes my ears to ring?

About 50 million people in the United States and 1 of every 5 people in the world suffer from tinnitus (tin-night-us or tin-i-tus), a bothersome and sometimes debilitating condition that affects the auditory system.

Many things can cause tinnitus including wax buildup, certain medications, head or neck trauma, tumors on the auditory nerve, jaw problems, and other medical conditions. However, the most common cause of tinnitus is exposure to loud noise. For this reason, hearing loss and tinnitus often go hand-in-hand, and together they can result in a significant decrease in enjoyment of everyday life.

Protection against tinnitus.

If you don’t currently suffer from tinnitus, you can protect yourself by wearing hearing protection around loud noise, and by asking your doctor if any of your medications have a negative effect on your hearing. If you do suffer from tinnitus, there are a number of things that can be done to help you cope with, and in many cases reduce the tinnitus that you are experiencing.

Treating tinnitus.

Your first step in dealing with tinnitus is to schedule an evaluation with an AudigyCertified audiologist. During your appointment we will go through a 4-step process that will help us identify the cause of your tinnitus, and we will educate you about the therapeutic process necessary to help you gain relief from your tinnitus symptoms.

About the Author

Deborah Price Au.D.
Dr. Deborah Price

Dr. Deborah Price is one of the leading audiologists in the nation. She founded Hearing Professional Center in 1983 serving the diagnostic and rehabilitative needs of over 40,000 individuals. Dr. Price served as Chair of the Audiology Foundation of America from 2007 until it closed its door, donating all the assets to the Arizona School of Health Sciences for the establishment of the AFA Institute.

National Alzheimer’s Disease Awareness Month – Alzheimer’s and Hearing Loss

From the Better Hearing Institute

If you or someone you love has been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease or is showing signs of dementia, a thorough hearing check is in order.

Studies suggest that hearing impairment contributes to the progression of cognitive dysfunction in older adults. If not managed, as for example with hearing aids, hearing loss can interrupt the cognitive processing of spoken language and sound.

When an individual has both Alzheimer’s and hearing loss, many of the symptoms of hearing loss can interact with those common to Alzheimer’s, making the disease more difficult than it might be if the loved one has been treated for hearing loss.

When left unaddressed, hearing loss can compound the difficulties that people with Alzheimer’s and their families already face. But in many cases, the appropriate use of hearing aids can benefit people with hearing loss, including those with Alzheimer’s and their caregivers.

Numerous studies have linked untreated hearing loss to a wide range of physical and emotional conditions, including impaired memory and ability to learn new tasks, reduced alertness, increased risk to personal safety, irritability, negativism, anger, fatigue, tension, stress, depression, and diminished psychological and overall health.

A comprehensive hearing assessment should be part of any medical evaluation prior to the evaluation of dementia. By addressing the hearing loss, quality-of-life for those who have Alzheimer’s can be improved and they can live life as fully as possible.

Alzheimer’s disease is a type of dementia that causes problems with memory, thinking and behavior. Today, an estimated 5 million Americans are living with Alzheimer’s, and they are supported by nearly 15 million caregivers. Alzheimer’s disease is the sixth-leading cause of death in the United States. (Source: Alzheimer’s Association)

There are 10 Warning Signs of Alzheimer’s. If you or someone you know is experiencing any of the signs, please see a doctor. Early diagnosis gives you a chance to seek treatment and plan for the future.

o Memory loss that disrupts daily life
o Challenges in planning or solving problems
o Difficulty completing familiar tasks at home, at work or at leisure
o Confusion with time or place
o Trouble understanding visual images and spatial relationships
o New problems with words in speaking or writing
o Misplacing things and losing the ability to retrace steps
o Decreased or poor judgment
o Withdrawal from work or social activities
o Changes in mood and personality

For more information about the 10 Warning Signs of Alzheimer’s disease, early detection and diagnosis, contact the Alzheimer’s Association toll-free Helpline at (800)272-3900 or visit www.alz.org/10signs.

Two Great New Informational Resources

One of the biggest obstacles between people with hearing loss and their better hearing is finding accurate, relevant information about hearing technology, audiological services and other issues that fall under the umbrella of better hearing. Two new websites are available to help fill in those information gaps. They are hearingloss.com and agxhearing.com:

Hearingloss.com is a great tool for finding information on hearing loss, better hearing health, audiological services, and other hearing issues such as tinnitus and dizziness.  This site utilizes informational videos as well as text posts to enhance the user’s experience.

AGXHearing.com is a brand new website that offers a wealth of information on the AGX brand hearing technology.  You can look up the different styles and models of the hearing aids, as well as read patient testimonials and find a local AGX provider.

If you need even more accurate and relevant information about the journey to better hearing, call us today for an audiological evaluation.  Our 4-Step Process helps you identify and communicate when, where and how you want to hear and our experienced hearing professionals can test your hearing and make a recommendation of the most appropriate solution for your unique needs.  For most patients, we can fit you with a pair of demo instruments in the office during your hearing aid evaluation so that you can experience first-hand the difference that hearing technology can make.  With the holidays approaching, there is no better time to hear what you’ve been missing and our 75-day trial on all instruments means that you can hear with confidence at those important family gatherings.  Don’t miss this opportunity to reintroduce yourself to the world of sound!

Get the Facts Before Buying that Hearing Aid!

Watch out For Deceptive Hearing Aid Advertising

If you are over the age of 55, your mailbox has probably been flooded with ads for the latest “life changing” hearing technology or perhaps; “You have been hand selected to participate in a field trial of the latest hearing solution”.

Open the paper…”You are invited to a lunch presented by the nation’s top authority on hearing aids,” or “You triple the risk of dementia if you do not treat your hearing loss.” Another fraudulent type of advertising called the “loss leader”, or “bait and switch”, is when a company advertises extremely cheap products with little or no intention of actually selling them, e.g., the $495 to $895 hearing aid.

These are all examples of deceptive advertising currently being used by some businesses and manufacturers of hearing aids to generate hearing aid sales by preying on those with hearing loss.

The facts are that some hearing aids are extremely sophisticated medical devices which were created only after hundreds of millions of dollars of research, development and testing was invested into their creation; while others are simply older hearing technologies, repackaged as new. People interested in hearing aids become confused with the abundance of misleading advertising which ultimately creates an atmosphere of distrust and lack of confidence in all providers of hearing aids.

Do Your Research Before You Purchase

We want to take this opportunity to provide a reality check and provide information to help you make educated decisions about you or your loved one’s hearing difficulties in today’s confusing market. There are three things that are critically important to investigate before investing in hearing aids.

1. The lowest price is rarely the best value

Hearing aids are a significant investment for everyone, regardless of income level. When hearing aids are recommended, the primary focus must be to find the right technology that will enable patients to succeed in the environments they live, socialize and work in. This is a process that needs to include a dedicated professional to ensure a patient’s ultimate satisfaction with the investment that is made in hearing devices.

2. Service – Research has proven that first time hearing aid users top two desires are invisibility and price

However, the same study also shows that the next time people purchase hearing aids; the number one requirement is service. Research has also shown that professional services before, during and after the initial fitting are vital to the success of the patient. Unfortunately, many suppliers of hearing aids do not provide these services; it is simply treated as any other retail product. In addition, many people do not realize that countless professional services needed to maintain optimal hearing levels may not be included in the initial cost of the hearing aid. This is fairly common practice when purchasing hearing aids from online retailers, physician offices and in hospital based clinics. Paying for these services after the initial purchase and/or original warranty expiration can lead to significant future expenses vital to a patient’s success with the hearing aids. Additionally, some dispensers do not retain the software necessary to readjust the hearing aids after a period of time, forcing replacement of the devices in as little as two to three years. This scenario is most common in big box stores and other retailers of hearing aids. The facts are that regularly maintained hearing aids can last between four to five years, if not longer. This is a time frame that allows return from your investment.

3. Get the Doctor’s opinion

In nearly all states in America, the only necessary degree for dispensing hearing aids is a high school diploma or GED. Some require a technical two year degree which focuses primarily on dispensing hearing aids. Doctors of Audiology (Au.D.) are the most qualified, educated and uniquely trained professionals in hearing diagnosis, rehabilitation, counseling and treatment; especially in the science of fitting digital hearing instruments and managing the psychosocial aspects of hearing loss. Each person is unique, requiring personalized solutions for their specific hearing needs. We understand that all people cannot be fitted with one type, style or brand of hearing aid. What’s best for your friend or relative may not be what works best for you.

About the Authors

Neil and Shannon AielloDr. Neil & Shannon Aiello, Au.D., CCC-A, F.A.A.A

The Columbia Basin Hearing Center Doctors of Audiology advocate a patient-centered, research based rehabilitation model; which is significantly more successful than a retail sales or medical model, for appropriate diagnosis, treatment and rehabilitation of hearing loss.

Hear What You’ve Been Missing!

Some of the newest technology is so small that it is practically invisible. Whether behind the ear or deeply within the ear canal, these options fit discreetly and allow for confidence in diverse listening situations.

Now is the Time to Try!

At Advanced Hearing Care, we are very excited about some of the latest technology options available to treat hearing loss.  Some of these truly innovative developments have already made measurable impacts in the quality of some of our patients’ lives.  And we’re inviting anyone who wants to experience these truly extraordinary developments to call us for an opportunity to hear what they’ve been missing.

Save the Date:
August 20-24 and August 21-31, 2012

For two weeks, we are highlighting some of these developments in new technology.  We are reserving our available appointments for anyone who is interested in experiencing the difference that better hearing can make in his or her lifestyle.  For those who would like to take advantage of this opportunity, we will conduct a full Four-Step Process consultation appointment as well as an in-office demonstration of an appropriate hearing device system.

What’s New In Hearing Technology

There are a few trends that are currently developing in the hearing technology industry.  One trend is to expand on available wireless accessories and technology, using small wireless antennae to transmit ear-to-ear binaural sound processing signals and enable media streaming capabilities.  Another is to make the hearing aids as small and discreet as possible, whether they are fit behind the ear or deep within the ear canal.  And, of course, hearing aid manufacturers are always trying to improve how well technology performs in very diverse listening environments by refining how the hearing aids reduce background noise and manipulate various features of the technology to improve listening and understanding.

Don’t Miss This Opportunity!

If you are struggling with hearing loss, or if you’ve just started to notice that you aren’t hearing like you should, don’t miss this opportunity to educate yourself about your hearing.  As hearing health care providers, our professionals specialize in keeping you informed about how your hearing works and what can be done to help you compensate for any hearing loss you may have.  Call us for your comprehensive hearing evaluation today and let us reintroduce you to a world of sound!