Better Hearing Tips

What Makes Someone Successful With Their Hearing Aids?

What Makes Someone Successful With Their Hearing Aids?

A hearing aid is a life changing device that can significantly improve the way someone interacts with the world and the people around them. It is important to strengthen a few key skills to make your investment in better hearing work for the long run.  What makes someone with hearing aids a successful user?  Here are a few of our top picks!

  1. Feeling confident in getting the hearing aid in (and out) of your ear: I often tell my patient’s that this skill is the most important skill to practice and learn.  Properly inserted hearing aids will provide the most appropriate sound levels into the ear, and will ensure the hearing aid stays snug in the ear. Practice makes perfect with this skill. Using a mirror can help ensure your hearing aid is in your ear properly.
  2. Proper Fitting and follow up care: Getting hearing aids is not a onetime event such as buying a kitchen appliance or choosing a new toilet paper. Regular hearing aid follow-up appointments are essential for a successful hearing aid user. These appointments can consist of hearing aid adjustments, maintenance, learning new skills, and hearing aid cleaning.  Being fit with hearing aids should be seen as a gradual and rewarding process, where the hearing aids are tweaked and adjusted over time, depending on how your brain adapts to the new sound it is hearing.
  3. Consistent Use: Wearing your hearing aid consistently is important for your brain to adjust to the new sounds you are hearing.  Consistency of use can continue to keep your ears “working”, which can in turn help prevent your hearing from deteriorating further.
  4. Communication Strategies: Hearing Aids can improve your ability to hear, but they will not restore your hearing to normal. It’s important to learn communication strategies that can help you better understand speech, such as learning effective listening strategies, practicing speech reading skills, and asking people to speak more clearly.

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Posted by hearingbeyond in Better Hearing Tips, Hearing Aid Tip, Hearing Aids, Top List, 0 comments
Diabetes and Hearing Loss

Diabetes and Hearing Loss

Hearing loss and diabetes are two health conditions that have been found to be connected in several studies. People with diabetes are at a higher risk of developing hearing loss than those without the disease.

One of the main reasons for this connection is that diabetes can damage the blood vessels in the ear, which can lead to hearing loss. High blood sugar levels can damage the small blood vessels in the inner ear, leading to a loss of blood flow to the hair cells that are responsible for converting sound waves into electrical signals. This can cause permanent damage to the hair cells and lead to hearing loss.

Another reason for the connection between diabetes and hearing loss is that diabetes can cause nerve damage, which can affect the nerves in the ear that are responsible for transmitting sound signals to the brain. This can result in hearing loss, as well as tinnitus (ringing in the ears).

Additionally, people with diabetes are more likely to have high blood pressure, which can also contribute to hearing loss. High blood pressure can damage the small blood vessels in the ear, leading to decreased blood flow and hearing loss.

To prevent hearing loss associated with diabetes, it is essential to manage blood sugar levels and blood pressure. Regular checkups with a healthcare professional, as well as regular screenings for hearing loss, can also help identify and address any hearing issues early on.

It's important to note that there are other factors that can contribute to hearing loss, such as age, exposure to loud noises, and certain medications. However, the link between diabetes and hearing loss highlights the importance of managing diabetes and its associated risk factors to prevent hearing loss.

In conclusion, diabetes and hearing loss are connected in multiple ways, mostly due to the blood vessels and nerves damage that diabetes can cause. It is important for people with diabetes to take steps to manage their condition and to monitor for signs of hearing loss, in order to prevent permanent damage.

Posted by hearingbeyond in Better Hearing Tips, 0 comments
Children with Hearing Loss: What Services Do They Need?

Children with Hearing Loss: What Services Do They Need?

Approximately 2 to 3 babies out of 1000 are born with a detectable hearing loss in one or both ears. What do children with hearing loss need?

1) Early detection of a hearing problem. The earlier the better! This means that a child can get faster services that they need, like hearing aids or sign language intervention. The 'just-wait-and-see' mentality for audiological services and hearing testing is not acceptable or effective.

2) Early intervention. A child with a hearing loss (even a mild one) will miss a lot of communication opportunities if no intervention is taken. The child should be fit with appropriate hearing aids or families should get in contact with a sign language instructor to begin intervention. Kids need a lot of communication input to learn!

3) Routine check-ups with your healthcare professionals and audiologist is important to keep your hearing aids up to specification, and monitor any changes in hearing! Aural rehabilitation sessions with an audiologist can also help improve communication strategies and listening skills!

4) Speech language pathology intervention.  Children with hearing loss can benefit greatly from the help of an SLP. Effective spoken language is important for healthy communication development!

5) Evaluation of any other learning concerns by a school psychologist. Set up an assessment with a school psychologist to determine if there are any additional accommodations a child needs at school. A child's learning can be greatly enhanced through an evaluation like this!

Posted by hearingbeyond in Better Hearing Tips, 0 comments
Keeping Hearing Aids out of the Drawer

Keeping Hearing Aids out of the Drawer

The following post is a summarized version of our newest article on AudiologyOnline, "Keeping Hearing Aids out of the Drawer: Emphasizing Effective Patient Education to Improve your Practice"

Let's dive in!

Hearing aids can bring many benefits to patients with hearing loss, but if patients are not given proper and effective instruction on their appropriate use, frustration and discouragement will ensue, and the hearing aids will end up in a drawer.

As an audiologist, I am always trying to find innovative and effective ways to improve my patient’s hearing ability and efficacy with their hearing devices. I have interacted with a variety of patients in various audiological environments, including private practice, hospital units, and busy ENT clinics. I’ve observed a spectrum between individuals who are excited to finally hear better with their new devices and others who may feel embarrassed of their hearing loss and thus not take full advantage of their hearing aids. Some patients are excited to stream podcasts and music with their new devices, whereas other patients may find their hearing aid app confusing and intimidating and therefore not want to use it. Finally, some patients may nod their head and claim they understand all of their new hearing aid features during the fitting appointment, but when they get home and try to use it on their own, they discover “It sounded easy when the clinician showed me how to use it, but now I’m lost.” How do we best support patients with their hearing aids, with a goal to maximize hearing aid usage from day one?

I believe the answer to the million dollar question is better education. Helping patients use effective educational tools can lead to a big win for my patients.

Remember what it is like to learn something new - whether it was learning how to swim or learning how to solve a math equation in grade 8 - it wasn’t as easy as a teacher telling you how to do it, and immediately being able to apply it. Typically, you had to enter a period of ‘trying it for yourself before you felt comfortable doing it on your own. For swimming, that may mean practicing with a flutter board or floaty until you get the strokes right while an instructor supervises you. The same goes for learning how to use a hearing aid! Patients need a collaborative, effective, and patient-centered approach to learning hearing aid related skills, one in which they can get hands-on training and experiment with the hearing aid, all with the clinician present before they go home.

There are several tasks that patients need to do in order to successfully utilize their hearing aids. Some of these tasks are quite complicated, and include multiple steps, tiny parts, and strengthened manual dexterity skills. Let’s focus on one of these issues - hearing aid insertion. I’m going to make a bold statement here: The most important part of a hearing aid dispensing appointment is properly teaching a patient how to put hearing aids on their ears. Properly placing a receiver-in-the-canal hearing aid is a deceivingly difficult task. During this task, patients cannot directly see what they are doing, and they may even have dexterity issues or loss of feeling in their fingers.

What I like to use are scaffolds, or educational aids, in teaching this skill.  Simply explaining how to put a hearing aid into an ear and expecting a patient to do it effectively is unrealistic! I like to ease a patient into this learning experience, starting with easier tasks, and working our way up to more difficult tasks. By using a display ear and manikin head, I can have patients get much needed practice inserting a hearing aid into an ear.  A hand-held display ear model is a very useful tool. A patient is able to easily manipulate the prop ear, look at the hearing aid from different angles, and use different leverages to properly insert the hearing aid into the model. Using a realistic model ear is also very helpful in showing patients how an ear canal can change in shape depending on how the pinna is pulled or manipulated. The display ear is an excellent introductory scaffold for most patients.

With so many looming changes in the industry (which may or may not come to fruition), one thing can be for certain - providing a unique and tailored patient experience that emphasizes education first and utilizes these models will differentiate you and your practice better than any new technology.

Posted by hearingbeyond in Better Hearing Tips, Buyer's Guide, Hearing Aid Tip, 0 comments
Are All Ear Plugs the Same?

Are All Ear Plugs the Same?

The goal of an effective ear plug is to provide enough attenuation, or sound dampening, to protect your ears in noisy environments. Different ear plugs are meant for different environments. When you need to protect your ears, but sound quality is still important, foam ear plugs or ear muffs often result in a lowered, but muffled and distorted sound. They protect your ears, but make the various important nuances of speech and music hard to hear properly. Have you ever listened to music with foam ear plugs? The music doesn’t sound right. That’s because certain pitches are reduced more than others with standard foam ear plugs.

High-fidelity ear protection fixes this! Specially crafted filters are used to decrease surrounding sounds equally, so all the pitches still sound the same, just lower. Musicians often choose this type of hearing protection, as it is important to hear the different notes they are playing. People who work in noisy environments also like filtered ear plugs, as they can hear co-workers speak more clearly.

Also, custom fitting ear protection helps with comfort, ease of use, noise reduction, and life of the ear protection!

Looking for a pair of custom fitting ear protection? Book an appointment today with Hearing Beyond!

Posted by hearingbeyond in Better Hearing Tips, Noise Exposure, 0 comments