How Hearing Aids Work

Hearing aids are basically very small amplifiers. However, with modern digital technology, digital hearing instruments can be very precisely manipulated to customize a specific patient's hearing loss and hearing lifestyle. Every analog and digital aid has a microphone, a small loudspeaker (receiver), and a battery.

All hearing instruments are powered by a zinc-air battery. Zinc-air batteries are small, button-like batteries with a beveled edge on one side and a flat side. The flat side has a small color coded sticker that indicates what size battery it is. Zinc-air batteries are activated by exposure to air. Once the colored sticker is removed, the battery immediately begins to drain. Placing the tab back on the flat side will not prevent the battery from continuing to drain. This power allows the other parts (eg, microphone, receiver, etc.) to work.

Sound enters the hearing instrument through the microphone port (s) on the outer case of the aid. On-the-ear styles, microphones are typically located around the battery door. On behind-the-ear styles, the microphone port (s) are typically located near the top of the aid where the instrument sits over the ear. Incoming sound waves are converted to an electric signal, amplified, and converted back into an audible sound. The receiver, sitting in the outer ear canal, plays the amplified sound to your ear. If the hearing instrument is digital, a computer chip is also a main component. This computer chip converges incoming sound into digital codes (ie, strings of numbers). This sampling and coding allows for the sound to be easily modified to suit an individuals hearing impairment.

While modern digital aids are very sophisticated pieces of technology with noise reduction algorithms, feedback (whistling) cancellers, and the like, they are still an amplifier at their core and can not restore hearing to normal. Sound must still pass through a damaged system, and the brain will need time to adjust to its new-found sounds. Your hearing decrements may have been so gradual that you may not realize all the sounds you have lost. Small, insignificant sounds like the hum of your air conditioner, the noise of the road, the birds chirping early in the morning – your brain will have to re-learn all of these now “new” sounds. Initially, these sounds may seem particularly bothersome, but with consistent wear, acclimation and benefit should increase. Most people will notice an almost instantaneous benefit during one-on-one conversations, in quiet and overall greater ease when listening with their hearing aids.

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What to Expect From Your Hearing Specialist

Before you experienced hearing loss, you may have never even thought about the role of a hearing specialist. Once you begin to notice difficulty hearing, setting up an appointment is the first step toward getting on the road to regaining your ability to hear during your everyday life. Let's take a look at what you can expect from your specialist during the initial appointment and subsequent follow-ups.

Detailed Hearing Test
Your hearing professional will run you through a detailed hearing test to assess what you can and can not hear in a variety of settings. You may have a traditional test that has you estimate whether you hear tones at particular frequencies to determine whether your hearing loss is restricted to especially high or low noises. You also may have to identify particular spoken words with varying levels of background noise. Sometimes you will be asked to bring someone with a familiar voice to your appointment to test whenever you're able to identify speech by a familiar voice.

Learning How Your Ears Work
Through your appointment, you'll learn a lot about how your ears work. The specialist will likely explain the role of each part of the ear, including the ear canal, eardrum, each bone in your inner ear, and the cochlear nerve. After all, the hearing professional is a medical doctor with detailed experience learning how everything in your ear works. You'll learn which parts of your hearing are impaired and what was likely to have caused the hearing loss you are experiencing.

Explanation of Treatment Options
The last phase of your appointment includes an explanation of what treatment options are available to you. Although most people assume that they'll need to get hearing aids, there are other treatments available as well. For example, cochlear implants are ideal for some patients who have damage that can not be corrected by hearing aids. Your provider can also explain a wide range of assistive listening devices that are available to supplement or replace hearing aids in some situations.

Follow-Up Appointments
Getting help from a hearing professional is not just a one-time event. After getting your hearing aids or other treatments, you'll likely go through additional tests to determine how much of your hearing you have regained. The hearing aid provider can also help explain your hearing aids to you to ensure that you know how to use all of their features to get the most out of them. Lastly, you will also want to schedule periodic follow-up appointments to test your hearing and recalibrate your hearing aids if you go through additional hearing loss in the future.

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Can My Balance Be Affected By My Hearing Loss?

A lot of people are not aware of how confusing the ear anatomy is, especially when you think about the fact that the ear is responsible for more than just being able to hear. It is also responsible for our balance. The ear is composed of three different components: the outer, middle, and inner ear. All of these components work together to enable us to hear, but the inner ear is the only one that controls our balance.

The Outer Ear

There are multiple parts that make up the outer ear, such as the pinna, ear lobe and the external canal. Both of these structures are capable to funnel the sound waves in the direction of the ear drum or towards the tympanic membrane, which is going to allow for the necessary vibrations. The pinna also helps to protect the ear drum from any potential damage. Ear wax is formed within the ear canal through sweat glands that have been modified.

The Middle Ear

Within the temporal bone of the skull you are going to find a space filled with air that is known as the middle ear. The Eustachian tube helps to regulate the amount of pressure within the middle ear. It ends up draining through your nose and throat, as well as through the nasopharynx. Next to the tympanic membrane there are three smaller sized bones, also known as ossicles. These three bones, called the malleus, stapes, and incus, are connected together in a chainlike fashion to the tympanic membrane to help convert all of the sound waves that go through the membrane. They form a sort of mechanical vibration out of the three smaller bones in the middle ear. The oval shaped window, which is considered the gateway to the inner ear, is composed of the stapes.

The Inner Ear

There are two separate functions for the inner ear. The first one is hearing and the second role is that of balance. There are numerous tubes inside of the ear that are filled with fluid. All of these tubes are surrounded by the temporal bone that composes the skull. Within those bony tubes there are also cell membranes that line the tubes. These tubes are known as the bony labyrinth that will be composed of a perilymph fluid. The labyrinth tubes are also filled with endolymph. It is in this part of the ear that the cells are located for our hearing.

The remaining components of the inner ear are the eighth cranial nerve and the round window. The eighth cranial nerve is compiled of the nerves that control hearing and balance.

Bony Labyrinth

There are three separate sections of the bony labyrinth.

• Cochlea – This part of the structure controls our hearing.
• Semicircular Canals – These canals are directly linked to our balance.
• Vestibule – This structure connects the cochlea and the semicircular canals. There are multiple balance and equilibrium structures within this component, known as the saccule and the utricle.

Hearing

A lot of people often wonder exactly how the hearing process really works. Our ears will funnel the different sounds within the environment through the outer ear canal, which in turn will cause the tympanic membranes to vibrate. Those vibrations are then transferred into the ossicles for mechanical vibrations. It is the mechanical vibrations that allow the oval window to be able to move around, which in turn causes the perilymph in the inner ear to form motions that are like waves of sound. The fluid of the perilymph will then be sent to the endolymph where the wave motions are then formed into an electrical impulse that will be detected by the hairy cells of the Corti. They are then sent back to the brain through the cochlear nerve. It is the round window that is responsible for the absorption of the fluid wave vibrations to be able to release any increase in pressure for the inner ear that has been caused by the wave-like motion.

Balance

In order to maintain proper balance, our bodies are going to take a variety of sensory information from multiple organs. That process will then begin to let the body know where it is at in relation to the Earth and its gravity. The vestibular system in the inner ear will send the information to the brainstem, cerebellum and the spinal cord. The cerebrum in the brain does not need to provide a continual input for any potential balance problems to occur. If there is an abnormality in the vestibular signal, your body will try to compensate itself by making the necessary adjustments with your post in the limbs and trunk of the body. This helps to make the necessary changes for your eye move to give your brain the signals needed for sight.

In the inner ear there are three different canals that are all nearly positioned against each other. These canals help to detect any changes in movement for your body. When there are changes that occur, the endolymph will create waves within the ear canal to promote movement at the base of the hair cells. The hair cells are capable to sense what position your head is in through the utricle and saccule, which are then stimulated each time there is a change in the position of the head and the gravity needs to be readjusted.

Within each of the saccule and the utricle there is a small area of ​​nerve fibers known as the macule. The macule for the saccule is positioned vertically; whereas, the macule for the utricle is positioned horizontally. Every one of the macules will contain bundles of fine hair that are covered by the otolithic membrane, which is almost like jelly and it is covered by a layering of calcium crystals.

It is the calcium crystals that will ultimately determine the position of the hairs and provoke the nerves to help create a change in position, as well as transmit the information to the cerebellum and the brainstem.

If there are abnormalities in the vestibular system, there may be different conditions including:

• Vertigo, which is the feeling that the room is spinning around you
• Meniere's Disease
Labyrinthitis and
• Benign Paroxysmal Positional Vertigo

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Strategies to Improve Communication With the Hearing Impaired

In the 1966 Motown hit duet, It Takes Two , Marvin Gaye and Kim Weston sing of all the many things in life that are better with two people instead of one. The same is true when it comes to communicating effectively. To be successful, the speaker and the listener must follow strategic guidelines to maximize understand.

The person with hearing loss does not suffer alone. Family and friends experience frustration and impatience as a result of communication breakdown. The communication strategies issued below go a long way to reduce many of these common communication difficulties.

Communication strategies for speaking to the hearing impaired:

  1. Is your listener paying attention? Make sure you have the attention of the hearing impaired person before you begin to speak.
  2. Consider the obvious. If you are speaking to someone who wears hearing aids, uses an assistive listening device or who tells you he has difficulty hearing: slow down! Speak clearly and just a little louder without dropping the volume at the end of a sentence. Do not shout or over-enunciate your words.
  3. Be aware of your environment. Is there distracting background noise? Does the room echo? Is there enough lighting for the hearing impaired person to see your face when you talk.
  4. Help the hearing impaired person “listen with their eyes.” Face the person at all times. Do not talk with anything in your mouth. Keep your hands and other objects away from your mouth.
  5. A positive attitude gets results. Remain patient. Never talk about the hearing impaired person in his presence … as if he can not hear. Ask what you can do to assist communication.
  6. If at first you do not succeed, try, try again. If something you say is not understood, do not just repeat it again. Instead try rephrasing the message using different words.

Communication strategies for the hearing impaired listener:

  1. Get motivated. The more motivated you are to improve your hearing, the more willing you are to wear your hearing aids or use an assistive listening device. In addition, motivation brings it to an openness to change. Out of that openness comes a willingness to discuss your feelings about your hearing loss and to explore new solutions.
  2. Do not deny that you have a hearing loss. Denial of your hearing loss will only make things worse. Notify the speaker of your hearing difficulties and suggest ways to improve your ability to understand.
  3. Face the speaker. Speech reading skills will develop more quickly if you focus on facing the speaker during communication. Watch the speaker's mouth and try to focus on the topic of conversation, even if you think you are missing a lot.
  4. Make eye contact. Communication improves when you combine listening with looking. Take note of gestures, facial expressions and body language to help with understanding.
  5. Do not be a pretender. Pretending you understand when you do not only only exacerbate the problem. Nothing draws attention to the fact that you have a hearing loss than laughing in the wrong places or answering a question you did not understand.
  6. Confirm your understanding. If you think you have missed part of the conversation, ask for it to be repeated. To help with the flow of the dialogue, repeat the portion of the conversation you did understand.
  7. Be aware of your surroundings. Can you position yourself to see the faces of the speaker? Is there distracting background noise? Is the room reverberant?
  8. Be specific with your requests for help. If the speaker is talking too quickly, request that he slow down. If the speaker is speaking too softly, request that he speak louder. If the speaker covers his mouth with a hand or paper, request that he remove it. If the speaker turns away from you while speaking, request that he face you.
  9. Be patient. If you are patient, the speaker will be more likely to be patient as well.

“It takes two” hearing aids too!

Not only does “it take two” to improve communication, but studies show wearing two hearing aids has many benefits. According to Sergei Kochkin, Ph. D. President of the Better Hearing Institute in Alexandria, VA, “it is important that the person with the hearing loss be given the chance to experience binaural (two hearing aids) amplification before a decision on [wearing] one or two hearing aids is Similar to the way refractory problems in both eyes are treated with a pair of glasses, it makes sense that bilateral hearing loss should be treated with binaural hearing aids. ”

Some of the benefits of binaural hearing are:

  1. Those who wear two hearing aids routinely understand speech and conversation significantly better than people who wear one. Additionally, speech understanding is improved in difficult listening environments.
  2. Sound quality improvements when wearing hearing aids binaurally because the hearing range increases from 180 degrees to 360 degrees.
  3. Wearing two hearing aids generally requires less volume than one, reducing distortion and resulting in better reproduction of amplified sounds.
  4. Often, with just one hearing aid, many noises and words sound alike. But with two, sounds are more easily distinguishable. The origin of the sound is also more easily determined.
  5. Research has shown that when one hearing aid is worn, the unaided ear tends to lose its ability to hear and understand. Wearing two keeps both ears active.
  6. Hearing is less tiring and listening more pleasant because binaural wearers do not have to strain to hear with the better ear.
  7. Two-eared hearing results in a feeling of balanced reception of sound whereas monaural hearing creates an unusual feeling of sounds being heard in one ear.
  8. A lower volume control setting is required with two hearing aids than is required with one. The result is a better tolerance of loud sounds and reduced chances of feedback.
  9. About 50% of tinnitus (speaking in the ears) sufferers report improvement when wearing hearing aids. If a person with tinnitus wears a hearing aid in only one ear, there will still be ringing in the other ear.
  10. An overwhelming major of hearing aid users with hearing loss in both letters choose two over one, when given the choice to hear binaurally. A survey of over 5,000 consumers with hearing loss in both ears indicates that binaural fit wearers are more satisfied than those fit with one.

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Help – I Think I Suffer From Hearing Loss

I think I have some hearing loss … where should I go for help?

If you suspect some difficulties with your hearing, the decrease in hearing sensitivity is likely a slow progress over time. You may be observing some difficulties with understanding others in noisy situations, or you may struggle to understand your loved ones if they speak from a different room. You may also have trouble comprehending others on the telephone and may not be able to understand television shows or movies. You may feel like you can still “hear”, but that the crispness and clarity is gone, which makes misunderstandings quite common.

This type of hearing loss is known as progressive loss, which means it has gradually worsened over time. It is common in people who have been exposed to high noise levels through their lifetime (ie veterans, gun enthusiasts, industrial workers, those in construction / carpentry, musicians etc). These people do not realize that the many years they were exposed to extreme noise levels have slowly affected and damaged the fragile hair cells in the inner ears. It is such a slow progress that they typically do not even realize how bad their hearing has become, or how much they are struggling. Usually, it is their loved ones who notice it first and foremost, and they are the ones who encourage the person to seek help.

If you have acknowledged and accepted the fact that you may indeed have some hearing loss, you may not know where to go for proper help. You may get a free hearing screening at a retail shop or strip mall location, but this only tells you that you have failed a simple screening. This is not a thorough examination and can not tell you the type and degree of your hearing loss. The best place to go for a full assessment is an audiologist's office, preferably a doctor of audiology (Au.D.) as he / she will have the most education and training. Many times, a medical evaluation by an otolaryngologist (ENT – Ear Nose Throat doctor) or Neuro-otologist is warranted, so it is often handy to find an office that already has both an audiologist and an otolaryngologist / neuro-otologist in the same setting . This saves you the trip of going to two different offices, and it assures that you have been completely and fully evaluated by both types of hearing experts. Going to a combined office may also help you to get better insurance coverage for the testing.

The best advice is to search your insurance company's database for otolaryngologists, neuro-otologists, and audiologists (Au.D.-doctor of audiology). Make some phone calls and try to find an office that has both a medical doctor and an audiology doctor in the same office. Explain to the office staff that you would like a medical evaluation as well as full diagnostic testing by an audiologist. The audiologist will also be able to discuss treatment options with you, which will vary depending on the type and degree of hearing loss that you have. There is no “one” best treatment for everyone. Hearing loss is very subjective and there are no two sets of ears that are exactly the same. Even if two people do have very similar hearing losses, they may still have varying perceptions of how they hear and in the difficulties they encounter. Just remember, we hear with our brains … just like we process all of your senses. So, each person's perception will be different depending on how his / her brain processes the incoming signal.

Lastly, and very importantly, if by chance you have a “sudden” hearing loss (ie you wake up one morning and can not hear or something similar), or if you have one ear that hears very different from the other, then you absolutely NEED to call an otolaryngologist or neuro-otologist immediately! These are major red flags and can indicate very serious problems, sometimes even a tumor. The sooner you seek help, the better the output. Do not delay.

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What Is the Purpose of the Eardrum?

As the sound makes its way inside of the ear canal, it ends up vibrating the tympanic membrane, which is also known as the eardrum. Your eardrum is essentially a very fine piece of skin, which is less than a half of an inch wide. It is located in between the middle ear and the ear canal.

The Eustachian tube connects the middle ear into the throat. Due to the amount of air from within the atmosphere, your outer ear and the air pressure upon both of your eardrums will remain consistent. It is because of this balance that your eardrums are able to move back and forth with ease.

The eardrums are extremely sensitive and rigid. Even the smallest of fluctuations in air pressure will cause it to move back and forth. It is connected to the tensor tympani muscle, which is constantly working to pull it inside. This action helps to keep the whole membrane tight so that it will vibrate, regardless of what direction the sound wave is coming from.

This miniscule piece of skin acts identical to that of the diaphragm within a microphone. The drum is pushed back and forth because of the rarefactions and the compressions of the different sound waves. Louder sounds cause the eardrum to move at an increased distance, while the higher pitched sounds cause it to move at an increased rate of speed.

Your eardrum also works to protect your inner ear from being exposed to any loud and low pitched sounds. Whenever the brain receives any signals for noises, the eardrum will have some form of a reflex. The stapedius and tensor tympani muscles will end up contracting all of a sudden.

Due to the contracts, the eardrum will end up pulling the bones within the ear in opposite directions, which causes the eardrum to become more rigid in nature. Whenever this occurs, the ear will not receive the level of noise needed at the lower end of the speech spectrum, which causes the loud noises to be lowered in sound.

Beyond just protecting your ear, this reflex ends up helping you to concentrate on your hearing. It helps to mask out the loud noises in the background to allow you to focus your attention on the higher pitched sounds. Amongst other factors, this also helps you to carry on a conversation whenever you are in an extremely noisy environment, such as a rock concert or an auditorium.

The reflex also jumps into motion to help you hear when you begin talking. Otherwise, you would only end up hearing the sound of your own voice and it would cancel out anyone else who may be talking around you.

The eardrum is essentially the main element for sensing sounds in your entire ear. All of the other components of your ear only work to pass the information along that have already been assembled at the eardrum. As complex as the hearing process is, this is only a portion of it and there is a lot more that goes into allowing us to hear the sounds in the environment on a regular basis.

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Hearing Loss Attributed to Noise

If you think about it, you are surrounded by some type of environmental sound at all times. As you make your way through a typical day, sounds of the television, the radio or traffic noise are constantly bombarding your precious sense of hearing. Normally, we hear all of these sounds at levels that are safe for our ears with little chance of damaging our hearing. However, when we are exposed to harmful levels of sound – those that are too lengthy or extremely loud – our ears can become damaged, resulting in noise induced hearing loss. The extremely sensitive hair-like nerves or hair cells, deep inside the inner ear known as the cochlea, convert sound energy into electrical signals that travel to the brain.
What are the Effects of Hearing Loss Brought on by Noise?

Being exposed to high levels of sound can cause damage to the hair cells within your inner ear. If loud environmental sanctions damage or destroy these hair cells, they do not grow back.

Loud impact sounds (such a gunfire) may only cause a temporary hearing loss. If you are able to regain your hearing, the temporary loss is reclassified as a temporary shift in your hearing threshold. This temporary shift will disappear within 16 to 48 hours after exposure to loud sounds. You can prevent this type of hearing loss by using hearing protection, such as earmuffs or earplugs on a regular basis.

On the other hand, if you are exposed to loud sounds (including machine noise and loud music) over extended periods of time, the damage done to your hearing system usually causes a permanent loss that lasts a lifetime. Gradual hearing loss occurs much slower and is usually not reversible. Being exposed to loud noises on a regular basis over the years, damages those delicate hair cells, and can result in both hearing loss and possible tinnitus. Tinnitus is a ringing or buzzing sensation that can be “heard” in either one or both of your ears. This ringing is usually indicative that some trauma has been done to the hearing system.

Today, noise-induced hearing loss is occurring more frequently and more rapidly. Loud rock music has taken its toll on baby boomers. However, it's the personal listening devices that young people and teenagers are plugged into for hours at a time that are causing so much damage and destruction to their precious sense of hearing.

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Analog Hearing Aid Benefits

Everyone thinks that the analog hearing device is a thing long gone, but they are still being produced around the globe. More and more you will see digital technology being incorporated into the hearing aid, yet there are consistent improvements within the circuitry for analog hearing aids. There are a lot of people who are dealing with a hearing impairment of one type or another. In the end there are plenty of people who choose an analog hearing device over a digital one.

Significance of Analog Hearing Aids

The term analog actually reflects to the circuitry within the hearing device and the way the sound is processed internally right before it is amplified. People hear sounds around them in analog. Sounds that are processed digitally and then adjusted will need to be converted back to their original analog state in order for the human ear to be able to hear the sounds.

Analog Units Effects

The analog units are able to produce a signal that is much louder and stronger than their digital counterparts. If the sound is deemed loud enough, the analog hearing aid will no longer amplify the sounds. They also work to amplify the sounds in the distance more than what a digital hearing device is able to do. People who are dealing with different levels of hearing loss and deafness will find a lot of use in an analog hearing aid.

Benefits of Going Analog

Once you have lost the majority of your hearing you need to be able to hear as much around you as possible. An analog hearing aid will be able to give you that awareness of the sounds going on around you and give you an improved sense of hearing capabilities.

Analog Units Potential

Anytime you are in a quiet situation, an analog hearing aid will be able to provide you with a much clearer level of hearing. When you are having a conversation with another person or watching television you will enjoy all the benefits that an analog hearing aid will be able to provide. In a quiet environment, digital hearing aids will actually turn down the volume of everything around them and block out essential sounds in your environment. Television can also become distorted with digital units.

Insight by the Experts

During a play, musical or loud concert the digital hearing aid will compress the sounds and as a result they turn out muffled. Analog units are able to amplify the sound without having to go through any compression, which in turn makes the sound much clearer for the user.

An Interesting Little Tidbit About Analog Units

Most of the digital hearing units have a program within the memory that is designed to help deliver the best sound quality available as you are listening to any type of music, whether it is a play or on the radio. If you were to select music mode on your digital unit, all the features that make it digital will be turned off, which ends up making the unit an analog device.

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What You Should Know About Swimmer’s Ear In Children

Swimmer's ear in children basically reflects to infection that is caused by excess water that gets into the ear. However, swimming is not necessarily the sole cause of this infection. Other causative factors could include scratching the ear roughly, eczema, cleaning the ear canal with a Q-tip or any other foreign object such as a hair pin.

Signs & Symptoms

If you see your child tugging at his or her earlobe and complaining of pain, it could be a sign of swimmer's ear or otitis externa, which is the medical name. Other indications could be swelling in the canal or the outer ear or a discharge from the canal. While there are a few effective home treatment measures that can help alleviate the symptoms, you should seek immediate medical help if your child has intestinal pain in the ear with or without a fever, abnormal discharge from the ear or lowered hearing in one or both ears .

Effective Home Treatment

While waiting to see the doctor, there are a few things you can do to ease the pain and make your child more comfortable.

The best thing to do is to place a warm cloth or a heated pad against the affected ear. An appropriate pain killer or anti-inflammatory will help reduce the pain.

Professional Treatment

The course of treatment that your doctor suggests will depend upon the extent of the pain and the severity of the infection. In most cases, treatment will consist of eardrops that contain antibiotics to help fight off the infection. Some of these drops also contain steroids, which help bring down the swelling of the ear canal. These drops typically have to be given continuously for about 7 days to 10 days.

If the infection is more severe, the doctor may prescribe oral antibiotics and get a lab test done of the discharge to help identify which fungi or bacteria are causing the infection.

A Few Important Things You Should Know About Ear Infection

The most effective way to prevent infection is by keeping water out of the ears not only while swimming but also when bathing and showering. Immediately dry their ears using a dry towel and getting them to turn their heads to drain off the excess water.

Poorly maintained pools increase the incidence of infection and are best avoided.

Ear wax offers some amount of protection against infection and you should never attempt to remove it aggressively.

Sometimes the swelling of the canal or the accumulated pus can block the passage of sound and cause temporary deafness. Hearing will return once these symptoms have cleared.

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What Is the Proper Way to Rate Your Hearing Aids?

It used to be that rating your hearing aids was simply simple because there were only a couple of choices. In today's day and age, there are literally hundreds of styles to choose from and finding the perfect solution can pose quite a challenge. Ratings can be based upon technology, pricing, available features and your individual lifestyle. If you take the time to prepare yourself ahead of time, the decision will be that much easier in the end.

Begin your search by rating how advanced their technology is. The more advanced technology will be able to provide you with a much clearer level of sound, not to mention they are a lot more comfortable for the user to wear. One of the biggest issues is that they have trouble hearing speech over the noise in the background. Due to the recent technology advances, users will have an improved level of hearing and be able to differentiate between the noise in the background and what the person is saying.

In the end, rating the technology all boils down to how much technicality there is in the hearing aid, how many features are available on the unit and how well the unit will be able to control different listening situations. Most of the hearing aid companies are able to make a hearing aid that compares to their competitors in terms of technology. Some of the highly advanced units will be able to offer you Bluetooth technology, artificial intelligence, recognition for various sounds and wireless features to name a few. When you start looking into the top models you can expect to spend upwards of $ 7,000 per pair, which can prove extremely beneficial if you are using all of the features that they have to offer.

Take a moment to consider what type of lifestyle you are currently living when it comes to choosing your hearing aid. This will help you determine exactly what features you are going to need and which ones you can live without. If you live a reliably quiet life with limited social gatherings, you will probably never end up using all the features that the highly advanced units have to offer you. Before making the decision on which unit to purchase, decide how active your current lifestyle is. You can plan on replacing your hearing aid every five years or so. With that being said, take into consideration how active you think you are going to be over the next five years.

Hearing aid technology tend to be presented at various tiers: high, middle and low end. Depending on what features are available in each tier, you may notice a difference in how well you are able to hear in different situations. If you are someone who spends a lot of time at home, lower level technology may be the perfect solution for you. However, if you are the type of person who spends a lot of their time in an environment that is extremely noisy, you may want to consider one of the higher level devices. Sometimes you may be right in the middle, which is when you can take advantage of the middle level hearing aids. It does not matter where you fall in because there is something for everyone when it comes to hearing aids.

Do not just rate your device by the size or what it looks like. It's what you find on the inside of the hearing aid that matters the most. You can get the technology you need in any size or shape, so make sure that the technology is at the forefront of your mind before making the final decision. Make sure that you discuss your preferences and dislikes with the specialist. This will allow them to help you find the perfect hearing aid to meet your needs. Once they know what they are looking for, they can help determine which style is going to work for your degree of hearing loss and your anatomy.

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Using a Remote Control With Your Hearing Aid

As the hearing aid becomes smaller and more advanced in terms of technology, the wireless remotes have been replacing the volume wheels and buttons that the hearing aids once had. Some of the aids provide you with the ability to be able to connect your Bluetooth device to the unit with a specialized remote control. This allows your hearing aid to serve as a cell phone or speaker for your computer with the push of a single button. Hearing aid remotes can prove extremely valuable once you have mastered how to use them, as well as when. How many people do not like being able to have another piece of technology to play with?

Simple Remote Controls

All of the manufacturers can offer you a simple remote control for your unit. However, not all of the different types will be compatible with a remote control. If your device comes equipped with wireless features, you will be able to get a remote control for it. The remote control provides you with a lot more hearing capabilities than that of the traditional aids from years ago with buttons and controls on the device.

When you choose aids that have wireless features built-in, you will be able to program it just like a computer. Any adjustments that you make will be stored onto the computer chip that is found within the hearing aid itself, as well as through your provider's computer system. The simple wireless remotes provide you with the option of making any necessary adjustments to the volume, tone and overall sound quality in the hearing aid itself.

A simple remote control will provide you with volumes for adjusting both ear buttons, changing the tone or overall pitch, program buttons to customize your hearing for later use, numbered buttons that allow you to recall anything you have programmed into the remote and an indicator to let you know when your battery life is getting low. Most of the simple remotes will have the same sets of features, although there may be a couple more added in there depending on the manufacturer.

Some of the remotes will come equipped with buttons for quiet, party, telephone and restaurant. Each one of the buttons allows you to be able to change the memory on the inside of your device to one of the programs that are pre-set for various listening situations. If you are having difficulty singing at a restaurant or party, you can try pushing the button on your remote that relates to that specific environment to see if you are able to hear everything around you better. Once you have made the changes on your hearing aid remote, you need to wait a few minutes to allow your brain to adjust to the different settings. Slowly go through the options until you find the one that works for your specific situation. Every one of the settings on your remote can be adjusted by your provider, including the one that allows you to change your volume levels.

Always make sure that you have your remote control on you. If you have forgotten what you have programmed on your remote, you will need to make an appointment with your provider to discuss all of the features on your remote and hearing aid.

Remotes Capable of Bluetooth Technology

Some of the hearing aid remotes are equipped with Bluetooth technology. However, you will need to have the remote control to be able to access all of the Bluetooth features. You will need to sync the remote with a few of your favorite devices that are Bluetooth capable by designating a button for each one of your devices. Whenever you want to connect to one of the devices that you have programmed into your remote, simply press the button and the signal will make its way through the device and into your hearing aid all via your remote. You are only able to utilize one device at a time. If you have your cell phone linked to your hearing aid remote, you will be able to answer any phone calls through your hearing aid and hear everything crystal clear right through your unit.

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Tinnitus Treatment

When seeking the different options for tinnitus treatment, there are a couple of options that one can consider. The ringing in the head (tinnitus), is not something that is serious to one's health in many cases, but can be very annoying andothersome; therefore, finding the right treatment is something that has to be done to get rid of the issue.

Tinnitus can occur in the inner ear, outer ear, the middle ear, or in some cases due to abnormalities in the brain. Depending on the root cause, the tinnitus treatment varies will vary. Causes include:

  • Fluid buildup, infections.
  • Disease in the middle of the ear or ear drum.
  • Damage to the microscopic endings in the ear's nerves.
  • Hearing Loss.
  • The aging process.
  • Loud levels of noise.

So, depending on which of these issues leads to tinnitus, the tinnitus treatment options will differ for each case; Also, the severity of the problem is going to dictate which treatment options are the best ones to consider for the problem. There are medications which can be used as a form of tinnitus treatment. Niacin has been used to treat the problem in many patients; another option is the drug gabapetin, which has been shown to reduce the high pitch noises one hears if they have tinnitus. Acamprostate (a drug used to treat alcoholism), was also used to treat the condition, after a study was conducted which showed it did help in lessening the hearing heard by those who do have tinnitus.

The tinnitus treatment options are going to depend on what your doctor finds after doing a thorough examination of the ears. If the doctor is able to pinpoint the cause of the tinnitus, there might be different recommendations that give, or different treatment options that they can offer in their office, which is going to treat the ringing in the ears. In many cases, the medications (listed above) are given to patients or recommended to them, in order to treat the tinnitus. And, in many cases, there is no specific tinnitus treatment; in some cases it may simply go away on its own, and in other cases a doctor may determine that the individual is going to have to live with and deal with the problem for the rest of their life.

If no treatment is found or offered, there are certain products which have been used for relief. Some suggestions include: reducing caffeine in intake, quitting smoking, lowering the amount of zinc ingested, and ginko biloboa are some of the options that one can consider, in order to reduce the ringing, or find some form of relief if there are no tinnitus treatment options for their condition.

If the problem can not be considered, considering these options for relief is something that has to be done. Either way, those who have tinnitus must get a thorough exam, in order to determine whether or not there are any tinnitus treatment options, and if not, what can be done as a form of relief for the ringing.

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Sudden Hearing Loss – Symptoms, Causes and Treatment

Sudden hearing loss which is medically termed as Sensorineural Hearing Loss or SSHL, is a condition where a person loses their sense of hearing over a very short period of time. Hearing loss can occur progressively over a span of 3 days or it can sometimes occur instantaneously. Visiting the doctor immediately could enhance the chances of recovery.

Symptoms

In almost 90% of the cases, only one ear is affected by SSHL. People may begin to notice it when they exclusively use the affected ear for certain purposes such as talking on the phone. A loud popping sound might occur for some people just before their loss of hearing. They may also experience Tinnitus, a condition where the person hears a ringing sound in the ear.

SSHL mostly affects people between the ages of thirty and sixty. In many cases, the symptoms disappear within three days without any medication whatever. In certain people, it can take a week or two before the symptoms go away naturally.

Causes

There are a number of causes for SSHL. Infectious diseases, immunological diseases, abnormal tissue growth, neurological disorders, head or brain injury, and exposure to extreme levels of noise are some of the common causes of the condition.

Most often it is difficult to pinpoint the real cause of the problem. Only in about 15% of the cases, the actual cause of the hearing loss is identifiable. The patient's medical history is given importance while diagnosing the condition.

Treatment

There are several treatment methods available for treating sudden hearing loss. However, medical science is not yet decided about the appropriate treatment procedure for each specific cause of the disorder. Most often, antibiotics are administrated to combat infection. If a certain medication that is taken for another ailment looks to be the cause of SSHL, the patient would be advised to stop taking that medication.

When the cause of the condition is not identifiable, most doctors resort to stereoids to reduce possible swelling and inflammation which could be causing the hearing loss. Steroids can also help the body fight the ailment by boosting the immune system. Patients who are known to have a weak immune system are mostly administrated steroid treatment for SSHL. Some patients find a diet that is low in salt helps in recovery.

Like almost any disease, early detection, diagnosis, and treatment could help the person have a better chance of recovering from sudden hearing loss.

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Easing a Child’s Fears Before Ear Surgery

Getting any type of operation can be frightening; it does not matter how old you may be. However, things that tend to invoke fear often cause a much stronger reaction in young people. For a child, undergoing a procedure such as ear surgery can seem extremely overwhelming. The good news is that there are several things parents can do to help make this process go as smoothly as possible for their young one.

One of the first things a parent can do is to help their child understand why the ear surgery procedure is important. They should talk to them directly, giving them specific examples of how the procedure can help to improve their lives. For example, they may reference a child's experience at school, explaining that if the child is having hearing problems they will eventually be able to fit in with the other students.

Without being able to hear properly, they might have trouble easily communicating with others. This could leave them feeling rejected. What they may not realize is that many of the other students are not communicating with them because they do not know how. When someone has an ear impairment, one of the best ways to connect with them is by using sign language. This is something that not many people know how to do, particularly children. This lack of ability can cause a communication block, and getting ear surgery is one way to demolish those barriers. After the procedure a child would be able to understand and be understood by their peers. This would help them to make new friends and connect more with existing ones.

Another thing a parent can do to help their child is to arrange a meeting with the surgeon beforehand. It does not have to be a long encounter. However, they should see to it that their child spends sufficient time with the specialist to become comfortable with them. Of course, the physician will probably be quite busy, but they will most likely agree to share at least 10 minutes of their time. This opportunity will allow the youth to get a better sense of what will take place during the procedure along with a chance to ask any pressing questions.

Lastly, a parent can ease their child's fears by working to be a constant support. For instance, instead of trying to downplay a child's fears or worries, the adult should instead be encouraging. Sometimes, parents tend to disregard some of the emotions that child may be feeling. However, a supportive and loving approach will best help the child deal with their feelings of anxiety about a future ear surgery.

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Battery Acid and Hearing Aids

Every once in a while something unexpected happens to your hearing devices. One of the more rare instances of damage is when you're hearing aid batteries are either exposed to steam and so malfunction or burst because they needed to be replaced or had a manufacturing defect. While consider rare these accidents can happen.

If you should notice that your hearing devices are not working quite right or there appears to be some whish or greenish fluid coming from the hearing instruments battery compartment, DO NOT PUT THE HEARING DEVICE in! This is battery acid, and it's highly corrosive and very dangerous when it comes in contact with human skin.

Even more dangerous if you have some in the ear canal as the inner ear drum and tissues are very delicate and it does not take much to upset their balance or injure them. Think of it like car batteries and the corrosion that they get on the positive and negative poles. Sometimes the battery does not work and the corrosives that have discharged into a calcium powder are deadly. On a much smaller scale that is what it would be like if you ignore fluid of this color coming from the battery compartments of your hearing aids.

Your best bet is to take them and wrap them in some paper towels and place inside a Ziploc baggie. Wash your hands immediately after handling them. Take them as soon as you can to your hearing aid provider. Explain what you see and ask them to check the hearing instruments. They will be able to carefully clean up the mess and check to see if the hearing aids are still safe to wear. In addition to a safety check, they can check to make sure the hearing aids still function properly. With any luck the damage will be minimal or the fluid was nothing to worry about. The device will be returned to you. If not, you will find yourself in need of a new pair or the one depending on how they were affected.

Note to the wise; check your hearing devices batteries often. Check them out even before you place them into your hearing aids. If you can not see defects in something so tiny all that well, consider asking a youngger relative, friend or caregiver to handle this routine maintenance at home. You will be glad you took the time to make sure everything was right right ahead of time. Defective batteries and old batteries can be tossed, but there may be some local or state codes that dictate how to proceed. Expired batteries should be deal with in the same way.

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