American Hering & Balance

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Electric Cochlear Implants: Functions and Benefits

Historically, hearing aids, which have gone through many iterations over the last couple of hundred years, have been the traditional solution to hearing loss. Recent technology has shown that cochlear implants are becoming even more popular for individuals with high degrees of hearing loss. Those who can’t benefit from a simple hearing aid can opt to get a cochlear implant, which has several parts that are implanted beneath the skin. They are meant for both children and adults. These devices essentially are attached surgically to the wearer’s skull, allowing for a special bypass that helps interpret sound waves by the auditory nerve. These devices are ideal over hearing aids because they address much more severe forms of hearing loss.

How Do Cochlear Implants Function?

Cochlear implants are crucial for many people in which a hearing aid simply won’t provide the help they require. They operate through the use of four major components that simulate hearing, resulting in crisp, clear sound waves for optimal enjoyment. The microphone is located on the outside of the ear, which detects sounds and sends them to the speech processor that sits near the microphone. Consequently, this can be worn in other places on the body, and the place where interpretation and digitization of sound occurs. This puts it in a great place to be picked up by the transmitter. The transmitter, which fires off signals to the receiver underneath the skin, sends the signals to the electrode cluster within the cochlea. This component sits directly behind the ear and under the skin, where electrodes activate fibers on the auditory nerve for processing.

What Makes A Cochlear Implant?

Cochlear implants have many fine tuned components, most of which are located on the outside of the ear. Other components are anchored under the skin and behind the ear. The microphone, speech processor, and a transmitter comprise the external parts of the device, but the receiver and an electrode cluster comprise the parts underneath the skin.

Benefits of Cochlear Implants

Cochlear implants allow the individual to clearly pick up on sounds such as speech and surrounding environmental sound, leading the user to feel safe and secure on a daily basis. In regards to the most integral hearing devices available to the hearing impaired community, these devices are excellent for people kids and adults who live with a high degree of hearing loss.

Advancements in Digital Hearing Aids

Move over, analog hearing aids. Today, about 90 percent of all hearing aids are digital, which is lucky because audiologists can now program each device according to the wearer’s degree of hearing loss. The first primitive hearing aids came out in the 1800s with the introduction of the ear trumpet. But now, digital hearing aids are available with remote controls that allow the user to adjust volume controls, along with omni-directional microphones to detect sound from several directions. From filtration of background noise to connections to Bluetooth devices, today’s digital hearing aids are making quite a stir. Digital hearing aids have the ability to remove fuzzy and loud background noise, but they can also do a whole lot more.

The First Digital Hearing Aids

The initial digital hearing aids helped spike processing speeds which improved the ability to hear. Range of amplification was also greatly improved. The first digital hearing aids featured DSP for digital noise reduction, technically standing for digital signal processing. 1996 was the first year that saw this advancement.

Self-Learning

Today’s hearing aids boast self-learning or regulating tendencies. These are truly “smart” hearing aids that adjust settings like volume automatically after a period of time according to user preferences. This puts control into the hands of the wearer. Self-learning hearing aids are integral to modern devices because they have self-learning or regulating tendencies.

Single Sided Deafness

Technologies such as CROS devices and bone conduction devices allow the good ear to receive signals from the bad ear to increase amplification to an acceptable level. Prior to big advancements in digital technology, people who had single-sided deafness had to deal with the frustration of background noise and were relegated to using their “good ear” to hear conversation.

Better Connections

People who incorporate digital hearing aids benefit from digital noise reduction and better frequency transposition, as well as increased range. With the advancement of digital hearing aids, users can now make a connection to Bluetooth and other wireless technological services to expand their ease of use.

The First Digital Hearing Aids

The first digital hearing aids, introduced into the medical community, came out in 1996. They utilized DSP, which stands for digital signal processing. Ideal for digital noise reduction, DSPs provided a boost in processing speeds which improved the ability to hear as well as the range of amplification for individuals wearing the hearing aid.

DNR

Digital noise reduction technology surpasses that of directional microphones because it is based on the physical characteristics of noise and speech rather than the separation of space, taking into account speech modulation.

The Outlook

The outlook for digital hearing aids is superior over other types, as the technology will only continue to grow and improve. For improved ease of use and flexibility, hearing impaired individuals can count on digital hearing aids to take advantage of innovative wireless technology and microelectronics to propel to more sophisticated abilities.

10 Ways Good Hearing can Help Keep Seniors Young

In this article, we’ll learn how good hearing can help you maintain your youth, leading to increased self-esteem and even a better social life. By maintaining your hearing, you’ll experience many ideal side effects that make you feel younger. The formula is quite simple: stay young by protecting your hearing. You realize how good exercise  can be for your overall health, staving off cancers, heart diseases and extra pounds: it’s the same with your hearing.

  1. Speedier reaction time. When you have a healthy hearing level, you can better react to fire alarms and sirens so you can get out of the way and not get hurt

  2. Have better sex. Hearing impaired seniors who wear hearing aids, along with seniors who have no hearing loss, tend to have an improved social life and sex life, plus better overall mental health and a sense of independence.

  3. Interact better in school. Are you back in school after many decades away? You won’t learn as well if you constantly have to sit up front and ask the teacher to repeat herself. Maintaining a healthy level of hearing means you can understand the teacher’s instructions more clearly, plus you can interact with your classmates and participate in projects.

  4. Engage in productive interactions in daily life. Hearing loss has a tendency to alienate people from getting the information they need to go about their daily lives. It’s tough to effectively communicate with anyone from the librarian to the check-out clerk when you suffer from hearing loss.

  5. Increase blood flow to your ear canals. Exercise is great for the ears. Via aerobic activity, you send oxygen-rich blood flow to the ears which protects them from additional hearing loss.

  1. Stay out of the hospital. Hearing loss can boost your risk of going to the hospital due to falls and other events, can actually lead to inactivity, which in turn leads to depression.

  2. Enjoy less risk of falling. Individuals who can’t hear well don’t have as much of a stable awareness of their surroundings, and can trip and fall easier. People with a 25-decibel hearing loss are three times more likely to fall than others with no hearing impairments, says Johns Hopkins Medicine.

  1. Hear better in the workplace. You can’t hear important instructions or safety precautions when lacking sufficient hearing, and you certainly can’t readily participate productively in coworker discussions or meetings. The result is an impact on your job performance. You may even become obsolete in your own profession.

  2. Stave off dementia. Brain shrinkage gives you an increased risk of developing dementia in old age, and no one wants that. The National Institute on Aging has linked hearing loss with dementia, thanks to the brain shrinkage we experience as we get on in years.

  3. Boost in confidence. Those with difficulties in hearing can have a lack of self confidence or self-esteem. Why? They don’t have as easy a time interacting in social situations. This may result in a reluctance to go to parties, meetings and get-togethers.

Digital Hearing Aids

Being that up to a third of people over the age of 60 are believed to suffer from hearing loss, it is now more important than ever to take measures to prevent hearing loss. One of the most basic ways that people have attempted to help their hearing is by wearing ear plugs to prevent sound from entering their ears. Now technology has caught up to these simple devices and improved them so that they have multiple benefits that can keep your hearing safe. In this article we will take a look at the different benefits of digital ear plugs, how they work, and the industries in which they offer protection.

How Do They Work?

Digital ear plugs take on the most basic property of the ear plugs that we have used in industry for the last few centuries- they block out all sound if you need them. Another one of the functions of a digital ear plug is that they are able to alter the type of frequencies that are allowed to pass through the plug and into the ear canal. Finally, these ear plugs are also capable of altering the amount of decibels that are ultimately passed through the device.

What Are The Specific Means They Use?

These digital ear plugs use a variety of technology in order to make this possible. The first thing that they do is make sure that the ear plug is fitted completely to the user. This allows them to have almost no room for sound to come through and get past the ear plugs. In terms of allowing some sounds through and not others, the ear plugs use a frequency response alteration device, making sure that there is only a certain range that is allowed through. Also, these digital ear plugs have a stop-gate technology built into them so that they can reach a sound threshold before shutting off. This prevents large amounts of sudden sound as well as prolonged sounds from entering the ear.

The Professions That Benefit From This

There are many professions that can benefit from these ear plugs. One of the professions that sees the greatest benefits is first responders and soldiers. Both of these groups are exposed to long term, tremendous amounts of noise at any given time. The stop-gate technology allows the individuals to work in a loud environment without being distracted by painful amounts of noise. Another way that digital ear plugs can help people is by amplifying the sounds that are involved in conversation, while still muting the other noises in the environment. This allows people under the duress of alarms to communicate more effectively while protecting their hearing abilities. For all of these reasons and more, digital ear plugs are becoming more and more popular.

 

Hearing Loss Diabetes

Because various conditions tend to play off each another, it’s really no surprise that diabetes and hearing loss – the top two health problems in America today according to the American Diabetes Association – have been linked. Take a look at the statistics are incredible: 30 million people suffer from diabetes, while 34.5 million people have some degree of hearing loss. Recent studies have shown that you are twice as likely to have hearing loss if you have diabetes than other people without the disease. The recent studies in question concentrated on 20,000 people from various places around the globe, including the U.S., Asia, Brazil and Australia.

Correlation Between Diabetes and Hearing Loss

Certainly these many studies have drawn a link between diabetes and hearing loss, but the fact remains that researchers still aren’t sure exactly why diabetes causes hearing loss or vice versa. One theory as to curbing this correlation? Diabetics should better control their blood sugar levels to reduce the risk of hearing impairment, but this is not proven yet. Even though loud noises contribute hearing loss in many people, a noisy workplace has also been ruled out as a factor in the above studies. The medications and diuretics diabetics take to keep their blood pressure could actually bring on the hearing loss, so that’s something to look into. Could it involve high blood glucose levels that come with the territory with diabetes? These levels can damage the small blood vessels in the inner ear, known to cause hearing impairment. Researchers don’t assume age plays a role in these links, even though it’s been known for awhile now that hearing loss occurs as we age.

Signs and Symptoms of Hearing Loss

Be on alert when looking for signature signs and symptoms of hearing loss so you can get diagnosed and begin treatment immediately. You could suffer from some degree of hearing impairment if you have trouble keeping track of conversations with two or more people, constantly only hear mumbling from others, put the volume on the TV or radio way up, or can’t easily pick out the voices of small children or women. Other signs to look out for include if you can’t distinguish words within a large noisy crowd, if words are muffled rather than clear, and if you have others repeat themselves over and over. You don’t want this to lead to the avoiding of certain social situations just so you don’t get embarrassed, so take action and see an audiologist for diagnosis and treatment so you don’t put yourself or others at risk. Usually, your spouse, partner, friend or family member will alert you to these displays of hearing impairment.

Testing for Diabetes

Hopefully, the results of the studies outlined above will spur more doctors to test for hearing loss in their diabetic patients. This is why you should get your hearing tested at the doctor’s office during your annual diabetic checkup and alert him to the correlation you’ve heard between diabetes and hearing loss. If the results come back showing you need further evaluation, your doctor can send you to an audiologist. Hearing tests are often overlooked at doctor’s visits for adults, but they shouldn’t be any longer in light of these findings.

 

Hearing Loops

There is a new technological wonder that is helping people with hearing loss throughout the world. They are called hearing loops, and they may be coming to a place near you in the future. These two part systems take advantage of preexisting tools and tech to make an amalgam that is perfect for providing several individuals with hearing benefits at the same time. This article will take a closer look at what a hearing loop is, where they are being used already, and, most importantly, how they function.

What Is A Hearing Loop?

A hearing loop is a two part system that allows people who wear hearing aids or cochlear implants to hear more clearly in certain situations. The first part of the design involves having a modern hearing device that is fitted with a t-switch, or a telecoil receptor. The other part of this design is based on having a specific cable looped around a room so that it can act as a receiver and transmitter of certain signals. Together, these components make it easy to transmit sound data from the room to the user.

Where Can I Find Them?

At the current time there are several of these hearing loops in use in places that you probably frequent every day. Meeting rooms, convention centers, and even many office buildings have these hearing loops installed in them so that you can hear certain information, like a speech, in complete clarity. Many politicians and advocate groups want to expand the program seeing as they are rather inexpensive and take advantage of pre-existing technology. Some hearing loops are even being used in mass transit vehicles such as taxis and buses right now, and it appears as though there will be more to come in the future.

How Does A Hearing Loop Work?

A hearing loop requires the two basic parts of a cable and a hearing aid. Essentially, there is a sound receiver at some point in the room that picks up sound and transmits the sound in the form of an electromagnetic signal to the wire. Many of the receivers can be placed at important areas of the room such as where speeches are given, or even patched into a microphone. The hearing loop then broadcasts the information throughout the room so that it can be picked up by a telecoil.

Most hearing aids that have been made in the last decade come equipped with a telecoil receiver piece that can be activated by turning on the t-switch in the hearing aid. Once activated, it will interpret the sound from the cable, allowing the individual to hear sounds clearly and with few obstructions. That is why it is so important to spread this technological wonder throughout the world, so that hearing impaired individuals can get better, clearer information in public places.

Evolution of Hearing Aids

From Clumsy to Comfortable: The Evolution of Hearing Aids
While hearing aids are now extremely comfortable with efficiency at the forefront, technology has come very far in the last two centuries thanks to lots of forward thinking and advancements. Those devices you’re wearing weren’t always so versatile and efficient: you’ll have to thank all the inventors over the last 200 years for their part to advances in technology spanning the last two centuries. Consider that millions of people each day (about 17 percent of the population) wear hearing aids, realizing that hearing aids started out so rudimentary.
Ear Trumpets Make the Scene
The first hearing aids, known as ear trumpets, actually looked quite a bit like trumpets that you would play in a band. The the first of their kind, these earliest hearing devices didn’t do the best job of amplifying sound. Instead, they were quite cumbersome and only provided only the most basic level of amplification, so people with true hearing impairments didn’t really benefit from them. Boasting virtually no size uniformity, the incremental acoustic improvement was great for those with limited hearing loss by capturing and amplifying sound. Filtered to the inner ear where it would be interpreted, sound came out of the large end.
Carbon Hearing Aids Make Their Move
Those with limited hearing loss were the only ones to reap the rewards from this new technology, which offered only the bare minimum of sound quality due to the carbon moving through the hearing aid, carbon hearing aids could only detect a few frequencies. As such,. With the advent of the late 19th century hit, this device took a lot from Alexander Graham Bell’s telephone invention to inspire the establishment of the carbon hearing aid. It worked through the use of a carbon microphone along with a magnetic receiver and battery to send sound to the outside of the microphone, where the carbon pieces were redirected. They then crowded against the diaphragm in accordance with how much sound came out in a similar way to sound waves.
Vacuum Tube Hearing Aids
These first came about in the 1920s, but they were later adjusted by Bell Labs thanks to the invention of the first transistor that could be used to operate hearing aids. Amplified sound would generate as it motioned through the receiver end. First, the telephone transmitter changed sounds and gathered them into electrical signals. This truly unique discovery spurred electronic hearing aid design – despite the fact that it weighed seven pounds. This didn’t stop people from becoming excited about the possibility of helping the hearing impaired. Before the advent of the hearing aids we know today, vacuum tube hearing aids were the popular choice.

Why A Professional Audiologist Can Help More Than Big Box Stores

Millions of people around the world are making some of the most detrimental choices for their hearing health. Rather than going to a professional audiologist, they are determined to go to the fast-food equivalent of hearing health markets for a quick solution to their impairment. There are many reasons that this is fallacious, which is why we will examine the different reasons that you should only go to an audiologist for your hearing loss solutions.

Lower Costs

One of the most important aspects of healthcare is that you are paying a price that balances affordability with the overall service that is provided. When you go to an audiologist, you will be able to use your insurance to lower the costs that are associated with getting your hearing loss examined. This will result in an affordable device and quality examinations from your hearing professional.

While it may be tempting, it is important not to be drawn in by the offers that are given by the individuals at big box stores. They may present you with a low initial cost, but it will be inflated through many different means such as device fitting and shipping costs.

Professional Hearing Care

The most important reason that you should go to an audiologist rather than a big box store is that an audiologist is a trained and certified doctor. They can look into your inner ear and find the cause for your hearing loss before giving you a certified diagnosis. You can take this diagnosis and find out whether the cause of your hearing loss is something that is curable. If it is, then you will not need to have a hearing aid at all.

If you go to a big box store, not only will you not get a diagnosis, but they will not try to persuade you to do what is right for your health, only what is right for their sales. After all, that is their ultimate goal: to make sales and money off of you.

Quality Products

The last reason that you should consider avoiding a big box store is the fact that they do not have access to the latest hearing aids and other hearing devices. While they will be able to give you a device that will improve your hearing, they will not have the deep knowledge that is required to adjust the settings to optimize your hearing.

An audiologist will not only have access to the very best items on the market today, but they will be able to program them to work in an optimized setting. For all of these reasons and more, you should always go to an audiologist.

Ways in Which 3D Printers are Changing the Hearing Aid Industry

With 35 million people in the U.S. suffering from hearing loss, many are touting the relatively new technology of 3D printing for hearing aids to be a savior of the industry. While it’s not a brand new approach, it allows for a more efficient process of making and fitting hearing aids to each person. It’s also referred to as additive manufacturing and it’s called 3D printing. This process is pretty cool and more and more people are standing up to take notice due to the customization factor. It’s called additive manufacturing because it involves adding to the finished product rather than taking away, as in the case of specialized tools like lathes. 3D printing, used in many industries such as manufacturing and art, has been utilized in the manufacture of hearing aids for several years now. It’s’ gaining momentum as a revolutionary way to construct custom hearing devices.

Operation

Did you know that 10 million 3D printed hearing devices are being used by deaf or hearing impaired individuals right now? It’s true. While you may think that science has taken over what was once considered to be an art form, you simply can’t dismiss the accuracy, speed and efficiency that this technology has afforded the hearing device industry lately. Thanks to the highly customized nature of these devices to each person’s ear, 3D printing represents a big step forward in the industry. That’s because they’re made using a process called additive manufacturing, ensuring a snugger overall fit and a higher comfort level for users. When used with 3D laser scanning, the process can incredibly take only one day – something that used to take weeks. First, an audiologist creates a digital image of the ear canal using a special laser scanner to develop what’s known as a pointcloud, then he quality checks everything. When the model is ready to be made, the printer spits out a shell or mold of the hearing aid in a resin form. Then, it’s possible to add the right acoustic vents, electronics and other components, with 150,000 points of reference created through digital cameras to apply the template to the mold. Amazingly, countless geometric patterns and combinations are put through testing prior to printing the final product. This product, which boasts efficiency and quality, features  complicated circuitry that acts as the hearing aid’s road map to project the sound.

Why 3D Printed Hearing Aids?

Thanks to the many benefits of 3D printed hearing aids, customization is at the forefront of the many benefits, which is imperative because no two ear canals are the same. As such, each and every hearing aid made in this manner is truly a custom fit. If you were to go with traditional manufacturing processes to create hearing devices, it would be extremely difficult to achieve that perfect fit across the board. The high-impact effect of this technology on the hearing impaired and medical communities has turned a formerly labor-intensive process into a more efficient, automated one.

Foods That Can Prevent Hearing Loss

One of the most overlooked parts of your health is your hearing. What many people do not know is that hearing health is connected to many other parts of your overall health. As a result, it is very important to protect your hearing from sustaining losses over time. Fortunately, there are many different foods that you can use to help combat hearing losses over time. Here we will take a look at some of these delicious foods and see the positive effects they have on your health.

Citrus Fruits

Some of the tastiest and most healthy fruits for your body are citrus. Whether you are eating an orange or a lemon, there are many benefits that are offered to people who eat them. The first benefits is that they are chock-full of vitamins C and E. These help to keep the consumer’s healthy and safe from infection. As a result, the fewer infections that affect someone’s ears, the less damage they are likely to sustain.

Vegetables

As it turns out, our parents were right. Vegetables are an essential part of your body’s health. They have many different vitamins and nutrients that you cannot find anywhere else. More importantly, they are able to bind free radicals within your system, and prevent them from causing major illnesses such as cancer. These are a great way of keeping your hearing health intact throughout your life.

Bananas

Another one of the fruits that can keep your hearing healthy throughout your life is bananas. They have many different nutrients in them such as magnesium that can help your body build up an immunity to the damage that is caused by chronic exposure to loud sounds. Another one of the best parts about these fruits is that they are tasty and can be added to a variety of different meals.

Chocolate

Many people are worried that they will need to eat bland foods to save their health. However, with the zinc and antioxidants that are found in dark chocolate, you can have a tasty treat that will help you keep your hearing at the best levels. The zinc will allow your ears to recover from short term damage more easily, and the delicious taste will remind you to keep watching what you eat.

Eating Fish

Another wise choice for your overall body health is to eat fish. Salmon, tuna, and a variety of other fish have the valuable Omega-3 fatty acids. This acid helps to keep your heart healthy well into your senior years. With the additional bloodflow to the ears, you will not have to worry about your ears suffering from losses from lack of oxygenation or nutrients.