Hearing Tips

4 Important Sounds You’re Missing With Hearing Loss

By: Jeannette Hait : October 1, 2015

Hearing Loss

Here’s one thing most people are surprised to discover: in most cases of hearing loss, people can hear a number of sounds just fine, and have trouble only with specific sounds.

In particular, if you have difficulty only with high-pitched sounds, you may suffer from the most common type of hearing loss, known as high-frequency hearing loss.

With high-frequency hearing loss, you can in all probability hear lower-pitched sounds normally, creating the perception that your hearing is normal. Higher-pitched sounds, however, may not be detected at all.

So which frequencies should you be able to hear with normal hearing?

To begin with, sound can be defined both by its loudness (measured in decibels) and by its frequency or pitch (measured in Hertz).

With standard hearing, you’d have the ability to hear sounds inside the frequency range of 20 to 20,000 Hertz, but the most worthwhile sounds are inside the range of 250 to 6,000 Hertz. Inside of that range, you would be able to hear most frequencies at a relatively low volume of around 0-25 decibels.

With high-frequency hearing loss, you might be able to hear the lower frequencies at reasonably low volumes (0-25 decibels), but you wouldn’t be able to hear the higher frequency sounds without increasing the volume (by as much as 90 decibels with profound hearing loss).

So which higher-pitched sounds, in particular, would you have trouble hearing with high-frequency hearing loss?

Here are four:

1. Consonants

Speech incorporates a blend of both low and high frequency sounds.

Vowel sounds, such as the short “o” in the word “hot,” have low frequencies and are normally easy to hear even with hearing loss.

Problems surface with consonants like “s,” “h,” and “f,” which have higher frequencies and are much harder to hear. Since consonants present most of the meaning in speech, it’s no wonder that those with high frequency hearing loss have difficulty following discussions or TV show plots.

2. The voices of women and children

For the large number of men who have been accused of ignoring their wives or of having “selective hearing,” they might for once have a valid defense.

Women and children tend to have higher-pitched voices with less amplitude, or loudness. Because of this, those with hearing loss may find it easier to hear the male voice.

Many of our patients do complain about not hearing their grandkids, and this will often be the key incentive for a hearing test.

3. The chirping of birds

The sounds of birds chirping are in the higher frequencies, which means you might stop hearing these sounds entirely.

Indeed, we’ve had patients specifically point out their surprise when they could hear the sounds of birds again with their new hearing aids.

4. Certain musical instruments

The flute, the violin, and other musical instruments capable of generating high frequency sounds can be difficult to hear for people with hearing loss.

Music as a whole does tend to lose some of its power in those with hearing loss, as certain instruments and frequencies cannot be distinguished.

How hearing aids can help

In addition to the above, you may have trouble hearing several other sounds, like rustling leaves, rainfall, and the sound of flowing water.

But it’s not impossible to get these sounds back.

The key to treating high-frequency hearing loss is in amplifying only the specified frequencies you have trouble hearing. That’s why it’s important to select the right hearing aids and to have them programmed by a knowledgeable professional.

If you amplify the wrong frequencies, or worse yet amplify all frequencies, you’re not going to get the results you want.

If you believe you might have high-frequency hearing loss, give us a call today. Our seasoned hearing professionals will comprehensively test your hearing, pinpoint the frequencies you have trouble with, and program your hearing aids for optimal hearing.

Are you ready to start enjoying your favorite sounds again?

The Health Benefits of Better Hearing

By: Jeannette Hait : September 25, 2015

Family at the beach

It’s commonly said that we don’t completely appreciate the things we have until they’re gone, and this appears to be specifically true of our ability to hear. Hearing loss is not only difficult to detect; it’s also tough to appreciate just how much hearing enhances our lives.

As one of our main senses, along with vision, hearing influences our mental, social, and physical health, so when we compromise our hearing, we put our overall wellness in jeopardy. But repairing our hearing can have many health benefits that we never really stop to think about.

Here are three ways enhancing your hearing can improve your social, mental, and physical health.

Hearing and Relationships

The foundation of any healthy relationship is communication, and with hearing loss, that foundation is destabilized. Miscommunication, hard-feelings, and avoidance can all occur from hearing loss and the barrier to communication it creates.

Hearing loss can be especially troublesome to a marriage, as Julie and Charlie Kraft had to find out the hard way.

For the majority of Charlie’s adult life, he has had a common form of hearing loss known as high-frequency hearing loss, in which he has trouble hearing high-pitched sounds. And since the female voice is higher-pitched than the male voice, Charlie had an especially challenging time hearing his wife.

But because Charlie wasn’t conscious of his hearing loss, he thought his wife Julie simply spoke too softly, which was frustrating for him. At the same time, Julie thought Charlie talked too loudly—not to mention that she always had to repeat herself—which was aggravating for her.

In this way, hearing loss builds a frustrating barrier to communication where both parties harbor bad feelings towards each other.

In Charlie and Julie’s example, they had the awareness to identify the hearing loss and to take action to address it. After Charlie started wearing hearing aids, he no longer had to talk so loud, and he started hearing new sounds, like the sounds of birds on the golf course. But the one benefit he reported he cherished the most was the improved communication he had with his wife.

Julie concurred, and both expressed how much stronger their relationship is without the burden of hearing loss.

Hearing and Physical Health

Does using hearing aids tend to make you more active?

The answer is yes, according to a survey conducted by Hear The World Foundation, which discovered that 21 percent of those interviewed stated that they exercised more after purchasing hearing aids. In addition, 34 percent said they regularly take part in sports at least once per week, and 69 percent believe that their hearing aids have a favorable effect on their general health.

Hearing loss can make communication challenging to the point where people tend to avoid the social events and activities that they used to love. With hearing aids, you can pursue these activities with confidence, resulting in more exercise and better physical health.

Hearing and Mental Health

In a recent study, researchers from the National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders (NIDCD) discovered a strong link between hearing loss and depression among US adults of all ages.

Other studies by Johns Hopkins University have linked hearing loss to general cognitive decline, including memory problems as well as an increased risk of developing dementia and Alzheimer’s Disease.

Clearly, the lack of sound stimulation to the brain with hearing loss produces several negative effects, leading to an increased risk of depression, social isolation, and mental decline. But the good news is, studies have also shown that wearing hearing aids can reverse or prevent many of these issues.

How Has Better Hearing Improved YOUR Life?

Statistics are one thing; stories of actual people reaping the benefits of better hearing are quite another.

If you wear hearing aids, let us know in a comment below how your life, relationships, and/or physical or mental health has improved! You may find yourself inspiring someone else to take the first steps toward better hearing.

6 Encouraging Things Wearing Hearing Aids Says About You

By: Jeannette Hait : September 18, 2015

Family at the beach

It remains a mystery as to why wearing a pair of glasses—which correct vision impairment—is perceived as an indication of intelligence, while wearing hearing aids—which treat hearing impairment—has been perceived as an indication of old age.

Perhaps it’s about time the stigma of hearing loss is corrected, and we redefine what it means for our bodies to engage with technology.

The question is, when you look at someone wearing a pair of hearing aids, what do you think?

Here are 6 of the favorable things we think wearing hearing aids says about you.

1. You prefer living an active life

Most social gatherings and activities require healthy hearing, while hanging out by yourself at home does not. Wearing hearing aids is therefore a sign that you like to be active and social, and that you’re not going to allow hearing loss stop you from pursuing your favorite experiences.

2. You’re an open-minded, proactive problem solver

When you’re confronted with difficult challenges or obstacles, you find ways to overcome them. You don’t wait around feeling sorry for yourself or maintain a stubborn denial of the issue—you’re open-minded enough to admit to your hearing loss and proactive enough to correct it.

3. You’re tech-savvy

Today’s digital hearing aids are like miniature computers, equipped with amazing capabilities like wireless connectivity, bluetooth streaming, directional microphones, and background noise reduction.

By wearing a pair of modern hearing aids, it shows that you are on the leading-edge of technology, ready to reap the rewards that new technology has to offer.

4. You’re health conscious

Several new studies, especially from Jonhs Hopkins University, have connected hearing loss to severe medical ailments including depression, general cognitive decline, memory problems, dementia, and Alzheimer’s disease.

Wearing hearing aids shows that you value living an overall healthy lifestyle, proactively taking the steps necessary for a lengthy, healthy life—physically, mentally, and emotionally.

5. You treasure your relationships

You understand that the groundwork for any healthy relationship is strong communication, and you’re not going to let hearing loss create a barrier between you and the people you love.

Your relationships are just too important to permit hearing loss to produce occasions of miscommunication, misunderstanding, and the stress of others always needing to repeat themselves.

6. You’re self-confident

You’re not trying to conceal the reality that you wear hearing aids—you’re proud of it. You love to live an active, sociable life and you’re proud that you’ve taken the steps to secure your own quality lifestyle.

In fact, many hearing aid users have reported greater performance at work, and research by the Better Hearing Institute reveals that hearing aid users reported higher household income than those with untreated hearing loss.

What do hearing aids say about you?

What did we leave out? What would you include in the list?

There are numerous reasons to wear hearing aids with pride: Tell us in a comment some of the reasons you wear hearing aids so we can keep the list going.

When Should I Upgrade My Hearing Aids?

By: Jeannette Hait : September 11, 2015

Hearing Aids

When should I upgrade my hearing aids?

This is a common question we hear from our patients, and the answer requires some thought. While hearing aids typically have a life-span of 3-7 years, there are a few circumstances in which you may want to upgrade sooner.

Here are 4 reasons you may want to consider an upgrade.

1. Your hearing aids are no longer working well

If your hearing aids are not operating as effectively as they used to, the first thing to look into is cleaning or repair.

Hearing aids are subjected to earwax, moisture, and other particles, so your hearing aids may simply need a cleaning. In other cases, the electronics within the hearing aids need repair, but otherwise the hearing aids remain effective.

If your hearing aids are compromised beyond repair, on the other hand, or if they are beyond their regular life-span, you may want to upgrade to a new pair.

2. Your hearing needs are not being met

Let’s say you secure a new job that will require a lot of talking on the phone, which has regularly been a problem for you with your present hearing aids. You hear about a new model of hearing aid that can stream calls wirelessly from your iPhone straight to your hearing aids, producing clear sound that you can freely adjust. In this scenario, you may want to upgrade your hearing aids to cater to your new hearing requirements.

It’s a great idea to create a list of all the scenarios in which your present hearing aids are not functioning to your liking. Then, by consulting with a hearing specialist, you can find the hearing aids that can better fulfill your needs.

3. Your hearing has changed

Hearing can and does change throughout the years, and it’s a possibility that your current hearing aids, while initially sufficient, are now not capable of handling your hearing loss. If this is the case, you will need a new hearing examination and a new set of hearing aids programmed to match your hearing loss.

4. You want to reap the benefits of cutting edge technology

Hearing aid technology is advancing quickly; just ten years ago it would have sounded like science-fiction to imagine that you could stream music wirelessly from your iPod to your hearing aids. Each year, powerful new functionality is added to new hearing aid models, and you may find that you’d like to take advantage of the new technology.

For instance, maybe you just purchased a new Apple Watch and you learned that a few of the new hearing aid models are compatible. If you want to control your hearing aids with the watch, you would need to upgrade to a suitable model.

The decision to upgrade your hearing aids in the end boils down to answering two questions:

  1. Are my current hearing aids meeting all of my listening requirements?
  2. Is there new technology or functionality that I would like to benefit from?

Hearing aid technology is evolving rapidly, and most of our patients are amazed to learn what the new hearing aid models are capable of. And the fact is, you can’t really answer the second question without knowing what’s available to you.

If you would like to learn about what some of your options are, give us a call today and we’ll explain to you all the available technology and how it could make your life better and easier. You might be surprised at what you find.

10 Ways to Control Your Hearing Aids With the Apple Watch

By: Jeannette Hait : September 4, 2015

Apple Watch
By Joho345 (Own work) [CC BY 4.0], via Wikimedia Commons

Just imagine being able to fine-tune the volume, treble, and bass on your hearing aids as discretely and easily as checking the time on your wrist. Or imagine fine-tuning your hearing aids for any listening situation without ever having to touch your hearing aids.

Sound too good to be true? A few years ago, it was; but with the Apple Watch, hearing aid owners are redefining the way they interact with their hearing aids.

With Apple’s most personal product to date, you can now leave your hearing aid remote control at home, your cell phone in your pocket, and your fingers out of your ears. All hearing aid controls and settings can be accessed from a software program within the watch—meaning you’ll never have to touch your hearing aids or habitually fumble through your cell phone again.

Here are 10 cool things you can do with your Apple Watch and compatible hearing aids.

1. Ditch the hearing aid remote control

The problem with modern hearing aids is that as they come to be smaller, more powerful, and loaded with more capabilities, they become harder to handle. This makes a remote control a must, but who wants to lug around yet another device?

Even using your cell phone as the remote control can get tedious, but with the Apple Watch, if you want to adjust a setting, you just raise your wrist. It can’t get any simpler than that.

2. Easily adjust the volume, treble, and bass

Need the hearing aid volume adjusted? No problem, just discreetly raise your wrist, tap the hearing aid app on the watch, and swipe your finger to adjust the volume control slider. You can also quickly fine-tune the treble and bass to produce the best sound quality in any listening scenario.

3. Mute your hearing aids

Scenarios occur when you don’t want to amplify sound, and with the Apple Watch, you can turn off the hearing aids with the press of a button.

Although we don’t encourage using this feature on your spouse.

4. Create and save custom sound settings

Having a discussion in a restaurant is very different than having a quiet conversation at home; that’s why hearing aids have what are known as “environmental presets,” or settings that amplify sounds in accordance to the environment.

With the Apple Watch, you can effortlessly access and change among presets, adjusting settings on the fly depending on your location. And as you make your changes, if there is a particular setting that works especially well, you can save the setting, name it, and access it at a later time.

5. Stream music and phone calls

You’re out for a jog and you want to listen to your favorite album. That would typically call for you to take out your hearing aids, but with Apple Watch, you can stream music wirelessly from the watch to your hearing aids. In this regard, your hearing aids have the double purpose of a sound amplification device and a pair of high-quality headsets.

You can also effortlessly answer or forward phone calls straight from the watch, as the audio is directed wirelessly to your hearing aids just like the music.

6. Find your misplaced hearing aids

We all lose valuable things, like our car keys, and we use up a lot of time trying to find them. But when we lose our hearing aids, it’s not only inconvenient—we risk harming the gadget that connects us to sound, which can be distressing.

With the Apple Watch, if you lose your hearing aids, you can immediately find them as the watch can detect their location and display it on a map.

7. Focus on speech and filter background noise

Most digital hearing aids include directional microphones and other background-noise eliminating capacities. With the Apple Watch, you have access to these capabilities on the fly, with the capacity to narrow the focus in a noisy room, for instance, by tuning in to the person you’re talking to while filtering the background noise.

8. View your battery and connection status

You no longer need to worry about running out of battery power and being stranded without audio. You can easily track your hearing aid battery life right on the Apple Watch.

9. Make your hearing aids invisible

You can’t really make your hearing aids invisible with the Apple Watch, but with the appropriate hearing aid, it will look that way to the people around you. The Apple Watch, in combination with a completely-in-the-ear-canal hearing aid, will be fully out of sight. And when you’re modifying your hearing aid controls on your watch, people will think you’re checking the time.

10. Regulate your tinnitus

Sound therapy in the form of white noise, music, or nature sounds can be streamed wirelessly to your hearing aids, and the sounds can be adjusted to fit the frequency of your tinnitus—all from the Apple Watch.

Tailor your hearing experience

While the Apple Watch is not compatible with every type of hearing aid, several hearing aid models currently are, and we expect additional models to be made in the near future. The Apple Watch is the ideal answer to several of the problems expressed by our patients and provides for a level of interaction and control like never before.

Give us a call today to learn more about this extraordinary technology.

Do you own an Apple Watch? Do you use it to control your hearing aids? Let us know about your experience in a comment.