Blog

Hearing Aids…Which One is Right for Me?

Deciding to purchase hearing aids feels like a big step and a large commitment for many. There are several hearing aid styles to choose from, a vast difference in price from low end to high end hearing aid technology, several options for accessories and options for rechargeable hearing aids. There are also made for iPhone hearing aids, and ones with Bluetooth capabilities to allow the end user to stream audio from a compatible device. The decision of picking a hearing aid, and deciding what features you need can feel extremely overwhelming. While this blog may not provide all the answers, hopefully it will provide some guidance and help you navigate through some of the questions you might have.

What hearing aid technology level should I select?

This is one of the most common questions we hear as audiologists at The Hearing Room. The decision on which technology level to select is determined by the type of hearing loss you have, what type of results you are hoping to achieve with your hearing aids, the environments you are in, and what your personal desires are when it comes to advancements in technology. Higher end hearing aid technology has more advanced features within the processing chip to help the end user extract speech out of background noise in a greater variety of environmental situations. As you move down in technology levels, some features that help a user understand speech in noise are not present and therefore, the user might have a more difficult time in some challenging listening environments (e.g restaurants or busy sporting events).  Please be advised that this explanation is oversimplified as hearing aids are quite complicated devices. Your audiologist will be able to describe feature breakdowns between hearing aid brands or even within the same brand in a if you are interested in learning more. If finances are not a concern, the majority of patients would perform significantly better if they chose a high-end hearing aid. If financial constraints exist, audiologists believe that “something is always better than nothing” and a suitable hearing aid within the patient’s budget can still be selected and prescribed.

 

Which hearing aid style is right for me?

Hearing aid technology has advanced significantly over the last decade.  When the time comes to choose a style of hearing aid, almost all of them can accommodate the majority of hearing losses. There are essentially two types of hearing aid styles: custom hearing aids and behind-the-ear hearing aids. The receiver-in-the-canal (RIC) type or receiver-in-the-ear (RITE) style are very popular and compose approximately 80% of the market. They can accommodate almost all degrees of hearing losses, they are small, and extremely comfortable. Most people become accustomed to the RIC/RITE more readily than custom hearing aids. This is because custom hearing aids are generally made of acrylic material, resulting in the patient being able to “feel” it more while it is in the ear canal.

However, there are certainly reasons to select a custom hearing aid. If dexterity is a concern, then a custom hearing aid is often a suitable choice. Custom hearing aids are composed of just one piece that is easy to insert in the ear and can be made large enough for arthritic fingers to grasp. One important thing to note is that style does not dictate price! This is an important myth that should be debunked. A very discrete hearing aid can be purchased for the same price as a large hearing aid as it is the technology on the inside that counts, and determines how well the hearing aid will work in a variety of different environments.

 

What about rechargeable hearing aids?

Rechargeable hearing aids can be a great option for those who do not want to change hearing aid batteries. Currently, rechargeable hearing aids are only available in the RIC/RITE behind-the-ear hearing aid described above. Dexterity issues could make changing batteries a challenge, and if you are capable of putting on a behind-the-ear hearing aid, then this might be a great option for you. Whether you choose disposable hearing aid batteries or rechargeable, it is important to note that the cost usually evens out over time. While you will pay initially more upfront for a rechargeable hearing aid, the cost of purchasing batteries over the life of the hearing aid will add up to the same amount.  Of course, there exist variations in this as battery life is dependent on the amount of time the hearing aids are worn, how much the user streams audio with hearing aids, the amount of hearing loss the patient has, and if the patient uses the aids while sleeping to address tinnitus concerns. The majority of rechargeable hearing aids provide 12-30 hours on a full charge.  Click on the rechargeable hearing aids tab to learn more about this topic.

 

Accessories, Bluetooth and Made for iPhone… what do I need to know?

The add-on accessories available for hearing aids are bountiful and can be very helpful once you are comfortable with using them.  They are typically easy to use and involve streaming the sound from your TV, phone, and so on,  to the hearing aid accessory and then, into the hearing aids. This improves the overall comprehension of the streamed signal as it is being relayed directly into the user’s hearing aids. The usual add-on accessories include TV devices, remote microphone options and phone devices for both landlines and cell phones. Typically these add-ons connect with some sort of Bluetooth connection or a wireless signal.

Made for iPhone hearing aids are quite are an excellent option due to their ability to connect directly to TV devices, iPhones, iPads, and remote microphones. If you are an Android user, many manufacturers have released a small and discreet clip to allow streaming phone calls. If the accessory options sound overwhelming, a demonstration in the clinic might help as overall, the devices are designed to be user-friendly. Your local audiologist will be happy to help!

 

Do I really need hearing aid accessories?

Hearing aid accessories can be very helpful and if used correctly, can vastly improve a person’s hearing and quality of life. The amount of hearing loss and how much a user struggles in certain environments can help determine the need for a hearing aid accessory. Your local audiologist would be a good person to walk you through the various options if you are considering any of the add-ons discussed above.

Hopefully this brief overview of the hearing aid selection process was helpful. If you have more detailed questions, call The Hearing Room. Audiologists, Irene Nicholaou and Natasha Manji, would be happy to assist!

Oshawa Phone: 905-571-1999
Stouffville Phone: 905-640-8999
Email: info@thehearingroom.ca

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Share:

Living With Your Hearing Loss

 

 

Hearing loss can be a large barrier to everyday life. Expressing your feelings, needs, wants, or simply having a conversation with a loved one or grandchild when you have a hearing loss can be difficult or impossible. It is easy to take your hearing for granted until it is impaired and a hearing loss is acquired. Feelings of isolation, depression, anxiety, frustration, and loneliness are very common in those who have a hearing loss. While the effects of hearing loss can be devastating to a person’s overall social, cognitive, and emotional well being, it is important to remember the positive: there are treatment options to address hearing loss, including communication strategies and hearing aids. Taking the first step to accepting your hearing loss and then proceeding with treatment options can significantly improve your quality of life.

 

One question that arises is: Why is depression more common in those with an untreated hearing loss?

Feelings of depression are higher in those who have untreated hearing loss. When communicating with loved ones becomes challenging and your hearing loss creates an obstacle, people with hearing loss have a tendency to isolate themselves and choose to participate less socially and conversationally. Communication becomes frustrating for all parties involved. The person with a hearing loss can feel frustrated with himself or herself, knowing that they are frustrating those they are trying to communicate with.  Overtime, these feelings of defeat and frustration can build up and it becomes easier for a person with hearing loss to detach themselves from social activities and conversation. This can sometimes lead to depression.

 

Accepting hearing loss can help you to take charge and improve your quality of life.

The first step to improving your quality of life is acceptance of your hearing loss. It is absolutely okay to admit you have a hearing loss! Admitting you have a hearing loss is the first step to improving your overall quality of life. Admitting your hearing loss to friends and family will help them communicate with you better. There are several communication strategies that can be used in order to make conversation easier. Family members and friends can be taught some of these strategies if they aware of the hearing loss and know that you have accepted it and would like help. Acceptance will also bring you one step closer to seeking help from your audiologist.

 

What are my options?

When you have a hearing loss, there are many options available when it comes to amplification. The first step is addressing your hearing loss, and while this is a big step, please be assured it is a positive one. Your local audiologist will be able to thoroughly assess your hearing and locate where in the hearing system the problem exists. Most hearing losses are permanent, and arise from issues in the inner ear. Based on your hearing test and your lifestyle needs, your audiologist will help you make a decision regarding the best course of action to treat your hearing loss. If your hearing loss is permanent, hearing aids are likely the best treatment option as no other medical intervention is available except in rare cases. An audiologist can help you with selecting a hearing aid, ensuring successful outcomes with hearing devices, as well as providing communication strategies. Hearing aids have come a long way and satisfaction with hearing aids is over 80% for devices purchased in the past 3 years according to recent studies (1). With guidance and care, your journey to better hearing will be a gratifying one!

 

Would you like to learn more? Call or email The Hearing Room today, they would be happy to help!

 

Telephone: 905-575-1999
Email: info@thehearingroom.ca

 

1.http://www.hearingreview.com/2015/05/introduction-marketrak-ix-new-baseline-hearing-aid-market/

Share:

Do Hearing Aids Help in Noise? The Results are IN!

 

The Hearing Room was interested in trialing out new hearing aid technology in the very environment patients with a hearing loss mention struggling in the most -a restaurant environment. Ninety eight percent of participants in the study noted that they struggled most with their hearing loss when immersed in a ‘crowd’ type setting.

How did the Hearing Aid Field-Study Work?

Participants with a hearing loss were asked to fill out a questionnaire during the trial.  Information regarding hearing aid technology, aesthetics of hearing aid technology, the importance of connectivity to other devices, the importance of a rechargeable hearing aid option, and the motivation of the participant to improve their hearing health was collected via the questionnaire.

Current research dictates that motivation to use hearing aids and improve hearing health is one of the key elements determining hearing aid success. One hypothesis for this subjective study was: does an increased motivation for hearing health affect the overall outcome in hearing aid benefit?

What was the Outcome?

In this subjective field trial, of the participants that completed the trial, 70% said they were extremely motivated to improve their hearing. Of those 70%, the average improvement in noise for participants wearing the trialed hearing aid technology was 90%; or participants felt they heard ‘satisfactory’ 90% of the time according to the validation questionnaire. The average improvement for those highly motivated hearing aid wearers in a quiet, one-to-one type setting, was an 88% improvement. When this was compared to less motivated hearing loss participants, results for hearing ‘satisfactory’ in noise was 88% on average and 87% in quiet situations. The difference here is slight and likely not significant; therefore in this subjective field trial, motivation to hear better did not drastically affect the perceived benefit of hearing aids. This is likely due to the fact that hearing aids are performing better than they ever have due to the advancements in hearing aid digital chip technology, and participants with hearing loss did not realize how much they were missing until trying hearing aids.

Industry research derived in 2015 indicates that 91%1 of people were satisfied with hearing aid technology purchased within one year of being surveyed, and 77%1 report high satisfaction ratings with hearing aids purchased 2-3 years prior. If hearing the desired speaker in noise is a primary complaint of hearing aid users, and digital hearing aid technology is constantly improving, it is hypothesized that participants would have high satisfaction ratings in noisy environments when wearing hearing aids versus in the same environment, without hearing aids. On average, participants in this trial reported hearing ‘much better’ using their hearing aids in a noisy environment and on average, reported hearing ‘satisfactory’ 90% of the time with hearing aids on versus hearing aids off in noisy situations. While 90% seems very high, this value coincides with industry research.

The Hearing Room would like to thank everyone who participated, we appreciate your help!

Are you interested in this technology or in a complimentary hearing assessment?

Call The Hearing Room for more details: 905-571-1999

 

1.       Abrams, H.B. and Kihm, J., (2015, June) “MT9 reveals renewed encouragement as well as obstacles for consumers with hearing loss” The Hearing Review, Retrieved from: http://www.hearingreview.com/2015/05/introduction-marketrak-ix-new-baseline-hearing-aid-market/
Share:

What is this Ringing in my Ears???

hearing lossTinnitus is often characterized as the perception of a ringing, chirping, whooshing or humming sound in the ear. It can be a constant sound in someone’s ear or it can be intermittent.  Tinnitus is a sound that originates from the brain, but stems from a problem in the inner ear. When the tiny cells inside the inner ear are damaged, a person may begin to notice this ringing or humming sound.   Tinnitus can be quite bothersome for many individuals and may often cause feelings of stress, anxiety and frustration.

While many people find tinnitus annoying or bothersome, it is often not indicative of any serious or dangerous medical condition. It is usually a symptom of an underlying condition, such as hearing loss, exposure to noise, or injuries to the ear. Although tinnitus can worsen with age, many people find relief or improvement with different treatment options currently available.  For example, if the underlying condition causing the tinnitus is hearing loss, treating the hearing loss with hearing aids can offer improvements with the perception of tinnitus and minimize these annoying sounds. This is accomplished through the brain’s newfound focus on processing real sounds once again instead of paying attention to the tinnitus.

On January 18, 2018, Dr. Raj Bhardwaj provided an extremely informative tinnitus lesson on CBC radio to all their listeners. He explained why tinnitus is related to both the ear and the brain, and the importance of treating it. Ten to fifteen percent of all Canadians suffer from tinnitus, with this number growing daily as the population ages. Dr. Bhardwaj describes common causes of tinnitus, including age-related hearing loss, and explains clearly how hearing aids can compensate for this loss and allow our brains to pay attention and process real sounds instead of focusing on the random electrical impulses it may be receiving causing the perception of tinnitus for so many individuals. If interested, we encourage you to take a listen to his interview at the following link:

http://www.cbc.ca/listen/shows/edmonton-am/episode/15437789

Other treatments for tinnitus, apart from hearing aids, include masking the bothersome noise, which can make the tinnitus less noticeable for the patient. This can be accomplished by using a white noise masker at night, or anytime where the tinnitus is especially perceptible. Another option available is to use the masking function present in certain hearing aids. Certain hearing aid brands and technologies contain a tinnitus masker feature, allowing the patient to control the type of masking tone as well as the volume of the masker to their individual preferences.

Lastly, certain types of food as well as our overall psychological health can also influence the perception of tinnitus. Here are some tips relating to these categories that you may find helpful:

1. Avoid salty foods. For some people, salty foods can increase the tinnitus sounds. This is because salty foods change the fluid concentration in our bodies as well as in the ear, resulting in an increased perception of the tinnitus.

2. For some individuals, caffeine can increase tinnitus sounds. Caffeine is a diuretic and can change the fluid concentration in our bodies as well as in our ears. This may result in the tinnitus sounding louder to the person afflicted. Caffeine can also increase anxiety and stress hormones, causing the tinnitus to seem louder for certain individuals.

Note: New evidence has shown that caffeine may in fact have positive effects on tinnitus. If you are unsure on how caffeine affects your tinnitus, it might help to keep a tinnitus log and monitor caffeine intake and tinnitus severity to determine any correlation.

3. Alcohol. For some people, alcohol can make tinnitus sound louder as it changes the fluid concentration in our bodies as well as in the ear. Conversely, for some people, alcohol has no negative effect on tinnitus. If you are unsure whether alcohol is affecting your tinnitus, we recommend keeping a log of alcohol consumption and tinnitus severity to determine any correlation.

4. Decrease Anxiety. Anxiety can cause the tinnitus sounds to be perceived louder because they trigger our stress hormones. For some people, meditation or exercise can be helpful to reduce anxiety and as a result, decrease overall tinnitus perception.

If tinnitus is affecting your life and you would like more information on how to treat your tinnitus symptoms, do not hesitate to call your local audiologist for more help. The first step in determining any treatments or solutions for tinnitus is to have a diagnostic hearing test performed.

Call The Hearing Room for hearing test and tinnitus consult.

 

Telephone: 905-571-1999

Email: info@thehearingroom.ca

Share:

Breaking The Barrier to Hearing

Hearing LossPrice can be a barrier when it comes to hearing aids. As audiologists, we have seen the positive and profound impact hearing aids can make in a person’s life and we know how important hearing aids are to an individual’s overall social, emotional and cognitive health.

With continuous advancements in technology, digital hearing aids today are intelligent, sophisticated and function as more than just amplifiers. Hearing aids attempt to locate the speech sound or signal the patient wants to hear, and amplifies it more. The hearing aid does this while decreasing unwanted background noise, ensuring that the patient is hearing optimally in most listening environments. The more advanced the hearing aid technology, the more successful the hearing aid is at amplifying desired speech signals, and decreasing unwanted noise signals. Advanced hearing aid technology is a result of extensive investigation from engineers, scientific studies, and increased man hours in the research and development field of sound processing. This means that premium hearing aid technology is more costly than lower end hearing aid technology.

At The Hearing Room, we understand the significant impact untreated hearing loss can have on a person’s quality of life, as well as on their cognitive and emotional health. If you have a hearing loss, have been recommended hearing aids, and simply cannot afford them, please contact The Hearing Room to discuss entry level hearing aid technology. While advanced technology is more sophisticated and can provide optimal hearing for more listening environments, entry level hearing aid technology will offer more benefit than not wearing hearing aids at all. If you feel that price is a barrier to hearing aids, contact The Hearing Room as a special promotion could help break that barrier and help you hear the way you deserve! As audiologists, we would like the financial barrier to hearing removed to ensure that as many people with hearing loss can start enjoying the beautiful sounds of life again 😊

Call or email the The Hearing Room to learn more.

Telephone: 905-571-1999
Email: info@thehearingroom.ca

Share:

Hearing Aid Technology-Good, Better and Best!

 

Hearing aids have drastically improved over time alongside the improvements in computer chip technology. One question we often hear is why are hearing aids so expensive? Hearing aids vary with respect to the technology inside them. The more advanced the hearing aid, the better the hearing aid is at improving the speech signal and filtering out noise in an intelligent way.

GOOD: ‘Good’ hearing aids are entry level and have some filtering systems and advanced microphone features to enhance speech and filter noise. The audiologist programming the hearing aid has some flexibility to fit the hearing aid to your specific hearing needs and hearing loss. Entry level hearing aids allow you to hear best in environments that have some noise, for example at home, and allow for hearing in one-on-one conversations and quiet group conversations.

BETTER: Advanced technology in hearing aids would be considered a ‘better’ technology. Advanced hearing aids have more filters, better microphone systems to enhance speech, and your audiologist has more flexibility in the software to fit the hearing aids to your specific hearing needs and hearing loss. Advanced hearing aids work better in more environments and can better allow you to hear in small group situations, for example, at a small family gathering.

BEST: The ‘best’ type of hearing aid you can purchase is a premium hearing aid. Premium hearing aids have the most technology in them to filter out noise and intelligently enhance speech. Your audiologist also has the greatest ability to program the hearing aids to you specific hearing needs and to your hearing loss with premium hearing aid technology. Premium hearing aids are the best at handling many different noisy situations and can best handle hearing in larger group situations, coffee shops, in large dining areas or at restaurants/cafeterias.

If you’re interested in trying hearing aids we currently have a promotion across a variety of hearing aid technology levels!

Book Now! Promotion ends Thursday March 1, 2018 or while quantities last.

Share:

Strategies for Dining Out During the Holidays!

With Christmas and the holidays fast approaching, you may be attending or even hosting a bunch of delicious brunches, lunches and dinners to celebrate this joyous season. The Hearing Room thought it would be a wonderful idea to present some strategies to use while attending these dinner functions if you have a hearing loss, or will be hosting people with a hearing loss. When hosting a dinner or lunch party, it is extremely important to be mindful of guests that have a hearing loss and wear hearing aids. A very challenging environment for people with a hearing loss is a restaurant or large dinner gatherings held at someone’s home. This kind of listening environment can be especially difficult for a person with hearing loss due to the high levels of background noise present in these venues (e.g, music or sounds emanating from the kitchen) and the conversations of all the guests present.

Even while wearing hearing aids, some people with hearing loss will still need to use additional strategies to hear well during holiday dinners. Whether you’re hosting someone with hearing loss , or you are a guest at a dinner party with hearing loss, it is important to keep the following considerations in mind for optimal hearing:

1) Choose a restaurant that can absorb noise. This means looking for widely spaced tables, carpeting, fabric covered furniture, and curtains. Carpeting, fabric, and curtains all reduce reverberation and allow sounds to be absorbed more effectively. If hosting at home, reduce reverberation as much as possible by draping the chairs and table, and choosing a room with carpet.

2) Timing, timing, timing! Proper timing is essential to help those with a hearing loss hear better. If you are celebrating the holidays with a loved one who has hearing loss at a restaurant, avoid going at peak hours. An ideal time to make a reservation is between 4:30 pm- 5:00 pm. We know this may seem early, but it will certainly be a more enjoyable experience for everyone if the people with hearing loss are able to effectively contribute and participate in the dinner conversation 😊

3) Selecting proper seating! Do not be afraid to tell the hostess that you or someone you are dining with has a hearing loss and request a table in a quieter part of the restaurant. Additionally, if you have a hearing loss or still struggle a little bit in background noise with your hearing aids, try sitting with your back to the wall. This can eliminate any noise distractions that would have occurred from behind you, and ensure you are hearing optimally throughout the meal.

4) Focus on conversations with people next to you or across from you. This is particularly important for individuals with hearing loss if they are dining in a large group at a restaurant or at home. It may be increasingly difficult to hear someone at the end of the table; focusing on those closest to you or across from you will ensure better hearing all around.

The holidays are an exciting time, filled with family gatherings, decadent meals, and social outings. The Hearing Room would like to ensure everyone with a hearing loss can enjoy the holidays by providing tips on how to hear better in challenging listening environments. Pre-planning an outing, specifically a restaurant or dinner outing, can eliminate many of the challenges and frustrations that can lead to ineffective communication. Utilizing some simple communication strategies, with careful planning, can be a great way to improve comprehension and hearing abilities of any guests with a hearing loss.

Please contact the clinic by email (info@theheairngroom.ca) or by telephone (905-571-1999) if you have any further questions about hearing loss, hearing aids, or how to employ communication strategies in your daily life! Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays from The Hearing Room!

Share:

Participants in need

We are seeking 15 participants with a hearing loss! Selection process ends Dec 1, 2017.

You might feel that people have been mumbling more lately, the tv is at a high volume, or maybe you are struggling more in background noise? If this sounds like you, you are not alone; and I hate to break it to you, but you might have a hearing loss.

If you have ever considered hearing aids, this might be the time to try them out. The Hearing Room is seeking 15 participants with hearing difficulties to participate in a hearing aid field trial. A leading hearing aid manufacturer will be releasing new technology that will break barriers in hearing aid acceptance and listening quality. Participants will be invited to test new technology in a busy restaurant setting. This location was chosen because individuals with hearing loss often struggle to hear speech in the presence of background noise. Eligible participants can purchase the hearing aids following the trial at a discounted rate. The lunch will be held on December 6th at Shrimp Cocktails where own voice ratings, and overall improvement in hearing quality will be studied.

As keen and curious audiologists, the promise of a hearing aid that can increase patient satisfaction and still maintain audibility in difficult listening environments, like restaurants, intrigued us.

If you think you have a hearing loss and could benefit from a hearing aid, or if you are an existing hearing aid user who is due for a new pair of hearing aids, we encourage you to contact us and determine eligibility for participation. If you love how the hearing aids work (we are confident you will!), the hearing aids are available for purchase after the trial. Please contact The Hearing Room for more details.

Share: