Hearing Aid Tip

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
How do Hearing Aid Batteries work?

How do Hearing Aid Batteries work?

Hearing aids are tiny, amazing devices that can provide a world of sound to individuals with hearing loss.  Hearing aids use power from a battery to make it's various parts function. From the microphone, to the amplifier, to the receiver, these parts rely on a battery to function.

Even though rechargeable hearing aid batteries are becoming more and more popular, some hearing aids, especially custom hearing aids, still use disposable batteries. How do these disposable batteries work?  The science is very interesting, but let's start with the basics!

Disposable hearing aid batteries come in 4 sizes, ranging in size and battery life.  From small to large, they are named size 10, 312, 13, and 675. Size 10 are marked with a yellow tab, size 312 are marked with a brown tab, 13 with an orange tab, and 675 with a blue tab. Usually, very small hearing aids (Invisible in the canal, IIC, or completely in the canal, CIC) will use the size 10 battery, whereas larger hearing aids (Traditional Behind the Ear) use the larger 13 or 675 battery.  The size 312 is the most popular size, and is often used in most Receiver in the Ear hearing aids and custom fitting hearing aids.

Disposable hearing aid batteries are considered Zinc-Air batteries.  That's because there is Zinc inside the battery to make power.  Batteries provide power to a hearing aid by using this Zinc inside the battery and oxygen from the surrounding environment.  Zinc is ‘oxidized’ by the oxygen around you, and this chemical reaction produces zincate.  When this chemical reaction happens, power is made, which is then provided to your hearing aids!  When you pull off the tab from your batteries, air rushes into the battery and starts the reaction.

It is important to remember that whether you use the battery or not, once you pull off the tab, the battery starts working, so make sure you only pull off the tab when you’re ready to put the battery into the hearing aid.  I recommend leaving the battery out for one minute after pulling off the tab to get chemical reaction process started.

Posted by hearingbeyond in Hearing Aid Tip, Hearing Aids, 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 Hearing Aids Waterproof?

Are Hearing Aids Waterproof?

Got caught in the rain? Sweating from your workout? Dropped your hearing aids in the toilet? How do hearing aids fare when they are exposed to water damage? Are they waterproof?

Most modern hearing aids come equipped with a water-resistance rating of IP68. An IP68 rating means that, in testing trials, the device has survived continuous immersion in 1.5 meters of water for 30 minutes. How do companies make their hearing aids water-resistant? Well, the hearing aid is usually made with some sort of protective coating or sealant that protects them against moisture.

In practical terms, if a hearing aid comes in casual contact with moisture for a short amount of time, its water-resistant capabilities will likely protect it. However, long-term moisture exposure will definitely damage a hearing aid.  Therefore, it’s not safe to shower or swim with your hearing aids.

If your hearing aids are exposed to moisture, it’s recommended to put them in a hearing aid dehumidifier, regardless of their IP rating.  Dehumidifiers can come in different styles, including plug-in electric dehumidifiers or passive desiccant bead dehumidifiers.

Are there any hearing aids that are truly waterproof (not just water-resistant)?  Currently, no.  However, in 2011, a hearing aid company called Siemens created a truly waterproof hearing aid, but this model has since been discontinued.

Let us help you find the hearing aids for YOU! Personalized hearing health care, only at The Hearing Beyond Audiology Clinic.

Posted by hearingbeyond in Hearing Aid Tip, Hearing Aids, 0 comments
Helpful Hearing Tips for the Holidays

Helpful Hearing Tips for the Holidays

Hear well for the holidays!

This blog post discusses several tips and strategies for hearing well during the holidays.  The holiday season can be an excellent time for relaxing, spending time with family and friends, and great conversation.  Promoting a better hearing environment can allow you to have a more enjoyable holiday season.  Not hearing well during family and friend gatherings can cause anxiety, undue stress, and a reluctance to attend future gatherings and events.

Let’s discuss my top holiday hearing tips!

To start, seating arrangements play a vital role in better hearing. Circular seating arrangements allow guests to see one another better, increasing their ease of communication. Reading facial expressions and mouth movements can provide up to a 30% increase in understanding; why not take advantage of that boost!  If it's available, use a circular seating arrangement.

If you wear hearing aids, make sure to have them cleaned and tuned-up by your audiologist before the holiday season.  Always carry spare batteries with you, and make sure your hearing aids are charged! Having spare hearing aid filters and domes readily available is also an excellent idea.  Hearing aids only work well when they maintained and taken care of.

Are you planning on entertaining guests with board games? Play board games and party games that encourage turn taking. A poor communication setting is made when everyone is yelling answers and directions for a game all at the same time. Turn taking games are much more listening friendly.  Also, games that rely on whispering and music are not good choices for individuals that have a hearing loss, even a mild loss. Put the musical chairs away, and take out Apples-to-Apples!

Some parties (especially for young children) can have festive masks, face-painting, and other fund stations. Try a face-painting station for your holiday party instead of using festive masks. Masks can make voices sound muffled and distorted, and also hide very useful facial expressions and lip moments. Further, masks can bother children who use hearing aids, causing unnecessary discomfort. Face paint, temporary tattoo stickers, or face stickers are a better solution to communication, and the festive spirit can still be embraced!

Also, appropriate festive head wear can be important for better hearing. Imagine wearing a woolen Santa hat all day: Your head would be hot and sweaty!  Cloth hats are not optimal party headwear for people with hearing aids. Sweat can affect the hearing aid, and the sound quality can be diminished. Also, some cloth hats can knock off hearing devices from an ear when taken off. Paper hats (crowns) and festive headbands are a much better alternative.

If you feel like your hearing isn’t as great as it used to be, get your hearing tested.  Give yourself the gift of better hearing this holiday season!

Contact us for a hearing assessment today!

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