If you have a hearing loss, the ‘new normal’ has likely left you saying ‘Pardon?’ more than you are used to. Masks, face shields and plexiglass dividers are even creating challenges for those with normal hearing levels. For people who are experiencing a hearing impairment, these new (and albeit very important) measures, likely don’t feel like your friend.
Masks and Face shields, welcome to the ‘new normal’
The ‘new normal’ means masks and other face coverings which can make communication cumbersome. When it comes to speech, masks and face coverings create a two-fold problem. Firstly, masks muffle speech due to the barrier they create, and they also decrease the level of high-pitched consonants. For example, think of an ‘s’ sound, how quiet it is, and how it might be decreased in volume behind a mask. High-pitched consonants are already soft sounds to begin with and adding a protective barrier to someone’s mouth makes them more difficult to pick up. Consonants also provide meaning to everyday conversation and once they are removed from the picture, speech clarity can diminish significantly.
Take a look at this example:
‘_a_ _ou _ea_ _e ?’ is much harder to make out than ‘C_n y_ _ h_ _r m_?’
In addition to lowering the sound of consonants, masks also cover the mouth and quite literally, mask facial cues that are required for speech understanding and communication.
Face shields are another addition to daily life in our ‘new normal.’ We see people working in health care and grocery stores wearing face shields now, and this is required to protect shoppers and customers. While they prove to be a bit better than a face covering when it comes to facial cues and lip reading, they still add a barrier which can muffle speech cues, particularly for those with hearing loss!
If this is the ‘new normal,’ how can we cope?
Communication-friendly masks with a plastic sheath covering the mouth exist and can aid in understanding very important facial cues when it comes to communication. Currently, Health Canada has not mentioned a ‘face shield only’ option but our ‘new normal’ is always changing. If we stay tuned, we may see face shields become acceptable on their own. If you’re finding it difficult to hear or pick up conversation, masks or face shields may indeed be the culprit. As audiologists, our recommendation is to make an appointment for a hearing test to see if there is any loss at certain frequencies (or pitches) which could be adding to the difficulty in communication.
Hearing Aids and Apps that help!
For people who already wear hearing aids, certain manufacturers are quickly adapting to the ‘new normal’ and are realizing the importance of offering a solution to the mask dilemma. For example, Signia hearing aids users now have an option on their Signia phone app to tap into a ‘mask mode.’ This means if someone uses Signia hearing aids, they no longer need to remove their mask or get closer to their communication partner to hear, which is excellent as social distancing is still strongly recommended. By switching into mask mode, the hearing aid accentuates high-pitched consonants, allowing for improved clarity of speech even with the barrier. This is much more effective than the hearing aid user trying to adjust the volume on their own. With Signia being the first to release ‘mask mode’ through the phone apps, we can’t wait to see what other manufacturers release in the next few months to address the ‘new normal’ and help those around the world with hearing loss.
Get a Hearing Assessment!
Even with normal hearing, the ‘new normal’ can make speech understanding more difficult. If you have a hearing loss, give yourself a fighting chance when it comes to communication! Hearing aid satisfaction levels are increasingly high and with all the added barriers to communication our ‘new normal’ is bringing, now is a good time to try a hearing aid. If you’re hesitant, see what sort of options your audiologist can provide in terms of a hearing aid trial. You might be surprised with the outcome.
Does the ‘new normal’ have you questioning your hearing? It might be time for a hearing assessment! Audiologists at The Hearing Room would be happy to help answer any questions you might have. Call The Hearing Room to learn more!
North Oshawa: 905-725-1999
There has been a trend in “at home” workouts as people continue to stay safe during the pandemic. At The Hearing Room, we have compiled a list of things you can do to help keep your ears (and brain) active as well! Whether your home is usually quiet or bustling with children chasing each other, here are some things you can do to perk up everyone’s ears. If you are a hearing aid user, these activities will be especially important and will keep your brain and ears active and stimulated.
Try a new radio station each day!
We can definitely get into habits and forget there are options outside of our daily routines! Genre specific stations can add a nice change to a daily routine; some of our favorite stations include:
94.1 – CBC Radio 2
107.7 – CKDO Durham’s Classic Hits
95.9 – KX96 New Country
91.1 – Jazz FM
96.3 – The New Classical FM
Put on your hearing aids, and start listening 🙂
Go through old music collections!
Maybe you will rediscover an old favourite in a dusty pile of records, CDs or cassettes! You could make a journal entry reflecting on what memories the songs bring back and where you were when you first heard them. Some hearing aid users may even have music programs, tailored to ensure music sounds natural.
Create a music exchange with friends or family!
Think of a recipe exchange but with music! You can do a simple trade with your best friend over the phone or an email exchange amongst a bigger group. You just pass-along your beloved recommendations and receive some new ideas in return. With computers and the internet, it can be simpler than you think to find and listen to music, whether it be the newest platforms such as Spotify, Apple Music, or good old Youtube.
With advancements in hearing aid technology, it is possible to stream music directly to your hearing aids! Many hearing aid users are familiar with this or can consult their audiologist if they are having trouble.
Name That Tune!
Games can spice up a quiet evening at home, and this is one of our favourites – play with someone at home, over the phone or in a video chat. Play a short clip of a song and see if your partner can guess the name of it! You can make it as friendly or competitive as you like.
To really get things going, start with a list of ten songs and tally up your points after. You can each take a turn being the “clue-giver” (the person playing the songs).
Here’s another game you can play over the phone, in a video chat or with people in your home. I-Hear is like I-Spy, but with sounds. Take turns making a sound with an object around you while the other person has their eyes closed! You can guess until you figure it out, or ask for clues!
Audiobooks and Podcasts!
Both are great budget friendly options to keep your ears and brain working to digest a story. You can listen while you walk, cook or relax on the couch. Audible.ca offers a free 30 day trial for audiobooks and podcasts can be found on spotify, in Apple Podcasts or Google Podcasts for Android, all at no cost!
Try streaming these into your hearing aids for the best listening experience.
We hope these activities can help add a little fun to your day, and motivate you to keep wearing your hearing aids while at home. Feel free to check out our previous blog post about the benefits of wearing your hearing aids, even if you are staying home. Please call the clinic closest to you if you have any questions about the information you just read. Happy Listening Everyone!
North Oshawa: 905-725-1999
While we wait for it to be safe to leave our homes again, some hearing aid users might be wondering “Do I need to wear my hearing aids during a quiet day at home?” This blog will address this very important question, and provide you with all the reasons why it is important to still wear your hearing aids, even if you’re spending a quiet night indoors.
“How often do I really need to wear my hearing aids?”
This is a question we often get asked by our patients. They see the importance of wearing hearing aids when they are out doing their daily activities, but aren’t so sure they need to wear their hearing aids when having a quiet day at home. If you are new to hearing aids, or not so new but find yourself not wearing them at home, keep reading below, and we hope to change your mind!
Hearing aids in your ears means: things at home are easier to hear!
Let’s start with the main reason you got hearing aids….to help you hear better! Just because you aren’t going out of your home on a particular day, it does not mean you don’t need to hear the sounds around you. You might have an unscheduled phone call with a family member, or perhaps a neighbor stops by to say hello. If your hearing aids aren’t in, chances are you won’t want to make the other person wait while you put your hearing aids in. This means you could end up struggling to hear during these conversations. When you put your hearing aids in each morning, you don’t run into this challenging scenario. It also means if you decide to run an errand or step out for a walk, you won’t forget your hearing aids at home. Wearing your hearing aids also helps you hear the radio or television more clearly, and you won’t need to turn up the volume (others at home or neighbors down the hall will thank you for this)!
Hearing aids in your ears means: your brain is more active!
Brain stimulation is a huge benefit of treating hearing loss. When you are hearing sounds at home, whether it be in the garden, the kitchen, or a car door closing outside, you are staying connected to your world! Your brain is getting more input than without your hearing aids in. If the brain isn’t hearing sounds at a normal volume, this means those regions of the brain are not being as active as they should be, and over time these regions of the brain can actually shrink because they are not being stimulated. Over time, this can have an impact on your cognition and how your brain functions. Giving the brain sounds to process means it has work to do… think of it like doing a word search puzzle but with your ears! An active brain is better than a sleepy one!
Hearing aids in your ears means: help with your tinnitus!
As many of you who experience tinnitus know, it can be more noticeable when in quiet, and a big strategy is to avoid silence. What a perfect time to use your new tools (also known as your hearing aids) to help you avoid silence while at home. Hearing aids help our auditory system focus on external sounds instead of our internal sounds. In addition, when your hearing aids are in, you can access your tinnitus masker program (if you have one) to help shift your focus from your tinnitus to other sounds.
Hearing aids in your ears means: an easier time learning to handle your hearing aids!
We humans are creatures of habit, so when there is something new to adopt into your daily routine, it only makes sense to do it….daily! Your audiologist knows it can be intimidating putting your hearing aids in the first time not in the clinic, so take your time, sit at a table with good lighting, and don’t worry if it takes a few tries. We suggest choosing a time to put your hearing aids in when you are doing other daily routine items, such as brushing your teeth, or making your coffee. A friendly sticky note reminding yourself to put them in can be helpful as well. If you put them in everyday for the first two weeks, you will have your routine down pat! Every night when you take your hearing aids out, you can practice cleaning off the hearing aids with your soft cloth and brush. Practice does really make perfect!
Hearing aids in your ears means: an easier time adapting to the new sound!
Not only will you have practice putting the hearing aids in and out, but having your hearing aids in at home helps you adapt to the new soundscape of your life! For many of our patients, it has been several years since hearing sounds around your home at a normal volume. Sounds such as: footsteps, floors creaking, cutlery on dishes, zippers zipping, clocks ticking. These small background sounds may seem overwhelming or loud at the beginning, but the more hours you clock wearing your hearing aids, the more times you hear these sounds, and your brain will start to re-label them as background sounds and pay less attention.
We hope you read along and found yourself nodding in agreement with all these encouraging reasons to wear your hearing aids at home and when you are out. In short, our answer to the question at the start of this blog is “All waking hours”. If you think you would benefit from an extra appointment in the clinic with your audiologist to review how to handle your hearing aids, please give us a call!
North Oshawa: 905-725-1999
We are living in an unprecedented time with the Covid-19 virus. The novel virus has brought the world to it its knees, and it feels like we are navigating a time of chaos and uncertainty. This is one of the few times in history we can think of where staying apart (literally) means working together. Social distancing is imperative in keeping the spread of Covid-19 at bay, but this can also mean increased feelings of loneliness amongst vulnerable populations.
Communication and Social Distancing
The reality is our seniors are more at risk for Covid-19 complications, and social isolation is important in keeping them safe. Unfortunately, the senior demographic is also a group who is prone to increased feelings of loneliness and depression, Coronavirus aside. The good news is technology can help! Skype, Facetime, or just a simple phone call can help people feel connected even though they are apart. Telephone conversations can be difficult if your loved one has hearing loss. If a video chat is an option, this is in fact a better option when compared to a phone call as your loved one can not only see you, which will help them feel more connected (bonus!), but they can use your facial expressions and lip-reading to help with communication and speech understanding.
Phone Use with Hearing Aids
Hearing aids work with phones in a variety of different ways, so it’s important to have an understanding of how your loved ones’ hearing aids function with telephone use. If your loved one is using a landline phone without accessing a speaker phone, be sure they lift the receiver of the telephone over the microphones of their hearing aids! This can help improve the signal. Here are the most common ways hearing aids work with phones:
Telecoil Phone Programs: While telecoils are less common in hearing aids as technology changes, it is possible your loved one uses a telecoil phone program to help with hearing on the phone. The telecoil helps the hearing aid latch onto electromagnetic waves from the phone in order for a clearer signal to be heard. The telecoil is sometimes accessed via a separate program on the hearing aid or through a switch that can automatically turn on during a phone call. The auto-switch, which is called an Auto-T, or an Auto-Telecoil, will often switch better automatically if a magnet is attached to the receiver of the landline phone.
Phone Programs: A phone program works similarly to the telecoil program mentioned above, except without the telecoil. This type of phone program provides a boost in the mid-frequencies of the hearing aid, allowing the hearing aid user to hear better whilst preventing feedback. Phone programs can also be accessed by a manual program or by the same auto-switch mechanism described previously.
Bluetooth Connections: Connecting hearing aids to cell phones via Bluetooth is a very common way to improve phone signals with hearing aids. They stream any signal coming from the phone and work much like a wireless headset. This means Skype and Facetime calls would stream directly and clearly to the hearing aids as well, with the added benefit of facial cues. Some cell phones allow for direct connectivity to a cell phone without an intermediary device, while others require a small streaming device to make the connection. This depends on what cellphone is being used. Almost all hearing aids have the capability of connecting to a cell phone by either mechanism described.
Be sure to connect with your loved ones, even while you are social distancing! We are lucky to live in a time where technology can help us feel close even while we are at least 6 feet apart. Stay safe, stay clean and stay connected!
If you are unsure how your loved ones’ hearing aids work with phones, call their audiologist as they should be able to tell you how to best communicate. If you want more communication tips, call The Hearing Room, we are always happy to help!
North Oshawa: 905-725-1999
There’s nothing quite like itchy ear canals! While grabbing a q-tip might be what you’re itching to do, as audiologists we do not recommend this. Here are a few reasons why your ears might be scratching, as well as some tips and tricks to calm the itch in your ears.
Eczema/psoriasis: If you suffer from either of these conditions, your ear canals may also be affected. The itch might be accompanied by flaking, cracking and dry skin. Both of these conditions are caused from an overactive inflammatory response. Believe it or not, attempting to relieve the itch in your ears through scratching will actually increase the inflammatory reaction and increase the itchy sensation! The take-home message here is to drop the q-tip and step away from your ear canals, and perhaps take a trip to your family doctor. There are ways to treat these skin conditions and your family doctor is a good place to start.
Earwax build-up and Over-cleaning your Ears: Ear wax is a healthy substance in the ear which can protect vital parts of the middle ear from foreign bodies and has anti-microbial and anti-fungal properties. Too much ear wax can cause discomfort, pain, temporary hearing loss, and you guessed it, itchy ears. While you might be tempted to go for the q-tip, ear drops from your local hearing clinic or a pharmacy can help break up the wax and help excess ear wax migrate out on its own. You can also schedule a visit to your local audiologist or family doctor for wax removal if the ear wax is excessive or impacted. One thing to keep in mind is that not enough ear wax can also cause itchy ears, so be careful not to go overboard on ear wax removal. In addition to the anti-microbial properties of ear wax, it also serves to ‘waterproof’ and lubricate the canals. Like everything else in life, balance is key and this includes your ear wax.
Allergies/Irritants or Ear Infection: Allergies or ear infections can cause itchy ears. Infections also often come along with other symptoms such as otalgia (ear pain), otorrhea (ear discharge), odor and an ear itch. A visit to your family doctor is your best bet if you have symptoms like the ones above. As audiologists, we hear a lot about people putting different substances in their ears, but this is not recommended. Using harsh creams in your ear canals for dry skin, peroxide or rubbing alcohol to break-up wax, or using fragrant soaps to clean your ears can also irritate your canals and make them itchy. This type of reaction often goes away once the substance which caused the reaction in your ear is removed.
While itchy ears are not dangerous, they can certainly be irritating. If your ears are itchy don’t hesitate to go to your family doctor if you are concerned. If you think ear wax is your problem your local audiologist can help or at the very least steer you in the right direction. Call The Hearing Room if you would like to learn more!
North Oshawa: 905-725-1999
“How is your hearing?” Even though this sounds like a simple question, it may not be a simple answer…do you find your answer changes based on where you are? Us too! It’s common for people to say they hear pretty well in certain places, but struggle to hear in others.
In reality, the answer to the question “how is your hearing?”changes based on where you (and your ears) are! Are you in your home? Are you at a busy and bustling coffee shop? A restaurant with soft music playing? A grocery store? Walking on a busy street? All environments like the ones listed, have many changing variables that impact how easy or difficult it might be to hear what someone is saying. Rarely are we communicating in quiet, one-on-one situations, such as your audiologist’s office. The real world is a loud and busy place! There could be music playing, low lighting, and more than one voice talking at once. These factors all contribute to what we call a complex listening environment and can create a difficult space for communication.
The main four factors that lead to a complex listening environment are:
- Background noise (music, machine noise, other voices)
- A person’s voice (especially the consonants of speech which provide clarity) can be drowned out by competing sounds in the same room.
- Lack of visual cues (not being able to see the face of the person you are speaking with)
- We often use visual cues, such as speech reading (or lip reading) to help us when it is hard to hear…we often do this without realizing it and people with normal hearing do it too!
- Distance from a sound source (being far away from the person you are speaking with)
- The power in someone’s voice lowers as it travels across a room…picture how clear someone sounds when they are 1 meter away from you compared to down the hall or in another room.
- Reverberant space (like a kitchen or hockey arena)
- The power in someone’s voice can also fade when it bounces off smooth, hard surfaces in a space before reaching your ears.
When someone has hearing loss, hearing in any of these four situations can be extra difficult! This goes for our current patients who already have hearing aids, and our future patients who have never had a hearing test. It can often be confusing when deciding if you need to come to an audiologist for a hearing test or not. You might think back to a group dinner where you had a lot of difficulty hearing, but also remember a phone call or one -on-one visit that you could follow along just fine. The truth is, if you find yourself struggling in even one scenario, it is best to come for a hearing test, establish a baseline, and learn about your hearing. Audiologists are full of information and tools to help minimize communication breakdowns, which is a fancy way of saying we can help you hear better! These tools can be as high tech as the latest hearing aids, and as low tech as communication strategies. When in doubt, fill up your toolkit to help yourself hear better.
When you come to your first appointment at The Hearing Room, before your hearing test you will complete a case history. The audiologist you see will ask you about your hearing experience in many different scenarios, as well as how you think your hearing is overall. This is a very important conversation for us to have with you, as we want to understand how easy or difficult (or somewhere in the middle) communicating is for you in your day to day life.
Do you find yourself struggling to hear in complex listening environments or are interested in communication strategies to help you hear? Call The Hearing Room to learn more!
North Oshawa: 905-725-1999
The holiday season can mean travelling to visit loved ones near and far. This may mean taking a long drive to a family dinner, or getting on a train or plane for some time away to relax and reconnect with loved ones. Whatever your plans this holiday season, travelling with your hearing aids takes some extra time and thought, so we hope this blog post will help ease any stress during an already busy time of year! A question we often hear from our patients is , “Should I even bother bringing my hearing aids?”
Our answer is: “Of Course!”
As audiologists, we want our patients to get the most out of their hearing aids, which means wearing them all waking hours, especially when they are visiting family and friends!
Here are some helpful hints for travelling with your hearing aids. Whether you use zinc-air batteries or have a rechargeable system, scroll down to the appropriate section after reading through the general tips.
General Tips for all hearing aids
Pick a safe spot to keep your hearing aids!
Suitcases and carry on baggage often have several handy compartments, sometimes too many to remember what went where! Be sure to pick one dry compartment for your hearing aid case and supplies and use that the whole trip. Pro tip: tell someone you are travelling with where you packed your hearing aid supplies.
Bring cleaning supplies with you!
Even if you don’t normally need to change your wax guard once per week, you don’t want wax to be the reason you can’t hear well on vacation. Be sure to stop by the clinic if you need an extra pack of wax guards or a new cleaning cloth before you go.
Going through airport security in Canada? Leave your hearing aids in!
Hearing aids are medical devices, therefore the Canadian Air Transport Security Authority (CATSA) does not require individuals to remove hearing aids or other hearing devices while going through security at the airport. They ask that you let the agent on duty know you are wearing hearing aids and they can be visually inspected. Of course if you wish to take them out and place them in the bins with your other belongings, be sure to place them in your protective case.
Consider bringing a spare case, maybe even make it waterproof!
Since vacation can often mean time on a beach, we really want to keep hearing aids dry and sand free. Make sure your hearing aid case closes properly and perhaps is in another bag to keep it off the ground. People often find a waterproof utility case helpful for things like keys, wallet, or phone – make some room for your hearing aids in there as well!
Make time to put in your hearing aids each morning!
Routines are often different when travelling, be sure to allow yourself time to put in your hearing aids before heading out for your day of adventures!
Rechargeable Hearing Aids:
Bring your charger!
You want to be sure to power up overnight, just like when you are at home – Pro tip: your charger will work in any country with the appropriate international power adapter, similar to what you would use to charge a cell phone.
Charge on the go!
Taking a road trip with your hearing aids or want some extra battery life before your reach your evening destination? Most chargers have a USB end that you can plug into your car by simply removing the wall plug section from the end of the cord.
Bring your hearing aid protective case – just in case!
There may be a time while you’re away when you need to take out your hearing aids in the middle of the day but you aren’t putting them into the charger. For example, when going for a swim. Should this happen, be sure to place your hearing aids safely in the case. Pro tip: ask your audiologist about how to power off the hearing aids, so you aren’t using up the charge while the hearing aids are out!
Bring back-up batteries!
Do you use rechargeable hearing aid batteries? Some people with this style of rechargeable hearing aid prefer using disposable batteries on vacation. This can be a handy and helpful suggestion if you are travelling to many different places on your vacation or if you forget your charger!
Non-rechargeable Hearing Aids:
Bring back up batteries…more than you think!
You never know if a bag will be misplaced while travelling, or a local shop that sold batteries has moved, or perhaps you get delayed coming home. To avoid stress, always bring enough batteries for your trip, plus some spares.
Travelling light? No problem!
Save some space by cutting off the cardboard top of your hearing aid battery card. Keeping batteries in the wheel ensures the stickers stay on (keeping the batteries new) until you need the batteries.
Don’t forget, these tips apply for any time of year travel! Need more supplies before boarding time? Call The Hearing Room location nearest to you before you begin your adventures!
North Oshawa: 905-725-1999
Fall is here, but if you reside in Canada, it’s feeling a lot more like winter! Along with artists continuing their tour sessions, sports are back! The Toronto Maple Leafs and the Toronto Raptors are in season! The Oshawa Generals, a team we are so excited to support, also opened their season at the Tribute Communities Centre on Sept 29. While the return of basketball and hockey, and attending concerts are fun activities, it is important to be mindful of hearing health as these environments can expose people attending to unsafe noise levels.
At concerts, people in attendance are likely to experience noise levels for too long. This can cause permanent damage to the hair cells in the inner ear, meaning hearing permanent, irreversible hearing loss. Rock concerts are often used as an example in a noise chart for ‘very loud sounds’ coming in at 115 decibels (dB) or more!
In Ontario, the limit of safe noise exposure for an 8-hour duration is 85 dBA. For every increase of 3 dBA to the noise level, the safe listening time decreases by half. Following this exchange rate, at a dB level of 97 dBA, your safe listening time before damage occurs is only 30 minutes. If we use this tool for the 115 dB example of the rock concert, the safe listening time at the concert before permanent damage takes place would be less than thirty seconds!
What does noise damage look like? After one concert, a person can experience tinnitus, or a ringing in the ears, which indicates their ears were exposed to too much sound. Eventually over time, noise at concerts can cause this ringing in the ears to become more frequent, and also show up in later years as noise induced hearing loss. Noise induced hearing loss (NIHL) is the second most common cause of sensorineural hearing loss. The factors of NIHL include the level (how loud), duration (how long), and frequency (how often) of exposure.
Arenas are also notorious for becoming extremely loud! For example, during the 2015 NBA finals, the arena for the Golden State Warriors was estimated to be around 100-120 dB! This loudness level was likely attained several times during the game, putting people in attendance at risk for damage to hair cells and permanent hearing loss.
When attending your favourite concert or sporting event, remember the following hearing tips.
1) Always pack earplugs! Bring an extra pair for a friend or family member. If you forget yours, keep an eye out, some concerts and arenas now sell earplugs to protect you from noise!
2) Stand away from the speakers! Choose your listening spot wisely, make sure you aren’t near any speakers as this will increase your noise exposure and almost guarantee permanent hearing damage without hearing protection.
3) Take listening breaks! Step away from the noise to give your ears a break if listening for a long period of time.
4) Children are often in attendance at sporting events, so be sure to apply these tips for everyone in the family!
If you have any concerns about noise at concerts or sporting events you have attended and how they have impacted your hearing, it is important to get a hearing test. Even more important, is if you plan on attending more loud events in the future, invest in hearing protection! This can be as simple as purchasing a foam earplug from the drug store, as long as it is inserted properly and the correct size for your ear. Alternatively, you can have custom noise plugs made for a perfect fit every time. In particular, musician’s plugs have a sophisticated filter in them that maintains the quality of the music you are listening to, but lowers it to a safe listening level. Not sure what the right solution is for you? Give us a call at The Hearing Room and our audiologists will be happy to help you.
If you have questions about your hearing and want your hearing assessed before the holidays, do not hesitate to call The Hearing Room. We would be happy to help!
North Oshawa: 905-725-1999
Thanksgiving is here and the holidays are around the corner! ‘Tis the season for seeing friends and gathering together with those we care about most. This is always an exciting time of the year, but if you have a hearing loss, being part of a busy, social gathering and communicating with others can be difficult and you may feel as if you are missing out on some of the conversation. If you have a hearing loss and notice people sound unclear, or as if they are mumbling while speaking, a hearing test is strongly recommended. The good news is hearing tests are often complimentary! If you have hearing aids, be sure they are working in proper order prior to the festivities, and keep the following simple tips in mind to help you communicate better at the dinner table. Don’t forget to pass these tips along to your loved ones too!
If you have hearing loss, be sure to face the person you are speaking to.
Hearing aids work best when the user is facing the person they are communicating with. This is because the microphones in the hearing aids work to amplify the strongest speech signal and decrease surrounding noise. Facing the person you are speaking with will also make it easier for you to focus on the conversation better, while also allowing you to use visual cues to understand what is being said better. If you do not wear hearing aids and find you struggle in these situations more than before, it might be time for a hearing test. Hearing tests are complimentary if you are over 65 at The Hearing Room!
Adequate lighting is important for lip reading.
We all lip read to a certain extent. Even people with normal hearing use facial cues and body language to understand what is being said and follow conversations. More light enables stronger visualization of what is being said resulting in better conversations at the dinner table. This is especially important when more than one conversation is happening at once and greater focus is required.
If communicating with someone with a hearing loss, do not talk with your mouth full!
Not only is talking with your mouth full impolite, but it also makes it harder for those with hearing loss to understand what is being communicated. When talking with your mouth full, the listener will find it more difficult to lip read as the intonation of your voice, the shape of the words being said, and how well you can project speech all change dramatically. As the speaker, it is also beneficial to those with hearing loss if you sit up straight, and speak clearly and loudly. However, it is important not to yell as this actually causes speech to become distorted, prohibiting lip-reading.
If speaking to someone with hearing loss, get their attention before you start a conversation.
Saying a person’s name is very powerful, and it can also let them know you are starting a conversation with them. This allows the listener to face you and become attentive. Hearing loss requires increased attention to hear, especially in noise. Obtaining someone’s attention before speaking with them can help them better follow the conversation and make their dining experience, usually during the holidays, much more enjoyable! It can also decrease overall fatigue levels, as those with a hearing loss are already using more resources than average to be able to follow conversation.
If you have questions about your hearing or hearing aids and want your hearing assessed before the holidays, do not hesitate to call The Hearing Room. We would be happy to help!
North Oshawa: 905-725-1999
When we ask our patients if they are excited about new hearing aids, the response we get is lackluster, to say the least. Hearing aid technology has never been better and manufacturers are always looking to make improvements, spending millions of dollars on research and development to improve patient outcomes. Patient satisfaction ratings have been dramatically on the rise, with 84% of patients reporting high satisfaction with their hearing aids in the most recent mass patient survey conducted in 2014 (see link below for details). If you need a hearing aid, it’s ok to become excited! In this blog, we will outline what to expect while going through the hearing aid selection and fitting process.
Hearing Aid Selection
A wide variety of hearing aids, technology levels, and styles exist in the hearing industry. The options might seem overwhelming, but an audiologist’s job is to help simplify this process! Technology selection is based on patient needs, preferences and lifestyle. Hearing aid style depends on the hearing loss, manual dexterity, options for rechargeability and aesthetics, just to name a few. Hearing aids now have the potential to be quite technical as well if the patient is interested. Hearing aids are able to connect to cell phones, be controlled and adjusted by apps, and allow for direct streaming from televisions for more pleasurable viewing. If technology does not interest you, that is ok too. Hearing aids can also be as simple as putting on a pair of glasses. With that being said, you should know that your first hearing aid fitting will be very different than getting a pair of glasses!
Hearing Aids are Not the Same as Glasses
Some patients seem surprised to hear their first hearing aid fitting will take almost an hour! Hearing aids are comparable to micro computers that need to be programmed to a patient’s unique hearing thresholds and then further adjusted to the patient’s comfort levels. Noise management strategies, the physical fit and comfort of the hearing aid, the patient’s lifestyle and the need for programs are all taken into consideration during the hearing aid fitting. The hearing aid is then checked using a “verification system” to ensure it was fit based on the patient’s hearing loss. Smart phone and tablet apps or other accessories are reviewed and how to clean the hearing aid is also discussed at the appointment. Many aspects are involved in a patient’s first hearing aid fitting!
Another significant difference between wearing glasses and hearing aids is the amount of adaptation required by the brain when new and wonderful sounds are being heard for the first time in a long time. Truthfully, some patients may not agree that the sounds they are hearing are wonderful. For example, the sound of a clock ticking may sound alarming initially. However, it is important to remember that the patient’s brain has not heard many of these sounds in a long time, and the regions of the brain that previously heard those sounds need to re-adjust. Rest assured however, because as a person’s brain becomes used to hearing again, these sounds will start to sound normal. Patients often come back to The Hearing Room and express their wonder at ever living without hearing them!
Follow up and Maintenance
Audiologists strive to see their hearing aid patients quite regularly in order to re-assess hearing thresholds and ensure their patients’ hearing aids are being maintained properly. Hearing clinics have equipment, such as a small hearing aid vacuum cleaner, used to deep clean the hearing aids more than the patient is able to do at home. It’s extremely important for this reason to maintain regular follow-up appointments (usually scheduled every 6 months), to ensure the hearing aids are kept in fine condition. While hearing thresholds usually do remain quite steady, a gradual decline is expected over time and adjusting the patient’s hearing aids to their hearing as it changes ensures optimal hearing.
If you have questions about your hearing or hearing aids, do not hesitate to call The Hearing Room. We would be happy to help!
North Oshawa: 905-725-1999