American Hering & Balance

Learn How To Avoid
The Most Common Mistakes
With Hearing Aids
In 3 Easy Steps!

When it comes to better hearing,
it pays to be selective
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People that often go to see the newest and best movies often forget how difficult it is for some people to interpret what is going on in the film. In fact, hearing impaired or deaf people are unable to enjoy the movies when they are released in theaters since they do not have captions in them until they are released to the public. However, there is a new promising new technology that will allow the hearing impaired to wear a special pair of glasses to show closed captions on the screen in the theater. Let us take a look at what these revolutionary glasses are all about.

Behind The Glasses

This new technology gives the hearing impaired user many benefits. This includes customizable brightness settings that are set for personal use. This will allow the wearer to see the captions on the screen in lighting that is beneficial to their vision needs. The glasses also have a technology that helps you see the captions better no matter where your seat is located.

When the movie has started and your glasses are setup for use, the device will use special sensors from either side of your head to start transmitting data from a transmitter on the device and display the captions in front of you. Basically, the captioned text will appear in front of your face allowing you to watch the movie in theaters instead of having to wait for it to be released. This is a major advancement for people who are hearing impaired, and with enough support, hopefully this technology will be more readily available in the future.

The Design

The product name for the glasses is officially known as Sony Entertainment Access Glasses, and for years this has been the tireless work of the chief administrative officer of Regal Cinemas, Randy Smith. It has been announced recently that the glasses have finally been released and have plans to have the readily available at over 6,000 theaters by the end of the summer.

Comfort Counts

Sony has a completed revolutionary design for the Access Glasses. They are very user friendly, and are made to fit everyone. The frames look like a normal pair of glasses, just larger, and have a sensor on each side. Best of all, they are designed to fit over the glasses you may be wearing, and are made to fit comfortably throughout the entire movie.

Where Can I Buy One?

At this current time, they are being put through a trial at Regal Cinemas across the United States. It is not known how long the trial phase will last, or if they will expand it further. The general opinion on the future of these glasses is whether or not it brings enough attention and viewers to the theaters.

Hearing Dogs – Assistance for hearing loss and the deaf

Hearing dogs are the latest form of helpful pet companion that have come about in recent decades. While most people are familiar with seeing-eye dogs, these pooches are trained to help individuals with hearing loss and deafness. The most popular breeds so far are Labradors and Retrievers, but others are being trained to provide aid to people as well. In this article, we will examine the training that each dog goes through as well as the benefits that they can offer their owners.

A Tough Road

The training that the hearing dogs go through before they are sent to homes is not easy. It involves between four and six months of training to ensure that they have they behave properly. During their period of training, they are taught to recognize upwards of seven unique sounds, from door knocking to smoke alarms. After they have been placed in a caring home, they will be able to be trained to hear specific sounds for one’s home.

The Help They Offer

After the hearing dogs are put into a home with their partner, they must have weeks of personalized care that helps them get used to their new surroundings. Once they have been trained correctly, they will be very capable of helping people who are deaf or hearing impaired. However, their training does not limit them to only helping in side of the home.

One of the best examples that come to mind about additional services provided by these dogs is understanding their body language. They can let you know if an emergency vehicle is coming your way if you are walking outside or they can even detect the presence of another dog. Given enough time, you will be able to train them for life-specific alerts that are applicable to you.

How To Obtain A Hearing Dog

The process to get a hearing dog is not exactly easy. You have to be at least 18 years old in order to apply for one of the applications. You must also furnish proof that you are going to have a person that is able and willing to help you train the dog. The application process will need to examine that you are able to give the dog enough living space and also provide a loving environment for them. Once you have the dog, you will need to attend specialized canine training and then go through yearly follow-up training in order to keep your pet dog sharp.

5 Unhealthy Habits That Can Cause Hearing Loss

Most people do not understand that there is a powerful connection between hearing loss and the overall health of the body. This notion has been proven in many different studies which examined the correlation between hearing and health. This means that poor health habits can cause some forms of hearing loss. In this article we will explore these unhealthy habits with particular emphasis on their impacts on your hearing.

Loud Noises

One of the most common unhealthy habits that cause hearing loss is due to exposure to loud noises over long periods of time. Many people put themselves in a situation that can result in harm every day without realizing it. From going to concerts to frequenting bars and clubs, there are many ways that you can expose yourself to loud sounds that will damage your hearing.

Listening To MP3

Another one of the unhealthiest decisions that you can make in terms of your hearing is by listening to an MP3 or similar music player throughout the day. The headphones that are used by these devices often direct the sound into the ear canal, and since it has no place to go but deeper into your ear, it causes damage to your ear structures.

Not Going To The Doctor

While going to the doctor’s office is a chore for most people, the simple fact of the matter is that it is a necessary part of your health. A doctor will be able to check your living arrangements for certain signs of diminishing hearing and then offer you help in maintaining it. They can also keep track of your health so that you can notify them of any changes and then begin treatment.

Smoking

Another unhealthy habit that can cause hearing loss is smoking. While this may seem very surprising to some people, this is only due to the fact that it has been linked to so many other negative areas of health. However, the chemicals from smoking can build up in your body and then cause your ears to lose the ability to pick up on small vibration sounds in the inner ear.

Sedentary Lifestyle

One of the other unhealthy habits that people exhibit that can harm hearing is by having a sedentary lifestyle. Not exercising regularly can lead to obesity and diabetes, both of which disrupt healthy circulation. This means that the areas of the brain that interpret sound are starved of vital nutrients and begin to lead to irreparable damage to the hearing ability. These are all unhealthy habits that can lead to hearing loss over time.

Why Not to Buy a Hearing Aid Online

The online markets have provided a significant amount of benefits for people all over the world. You have the ability to seek information or have products delivered to your doorstep without ever stepping foot into a shop. Yet, some people are beginning to make the mistake of using the web to take their health into their own hands. From supplement purchases to the more serious hearing aid purchases, people are skipping the doctor and self-medicating. In this article we will take a look at this folly and see why you should never buy a hearing aid online.

Non-Specific Treatment

When you go to a professional consultant for your hearing loss, they will run a series of tests in order to determine the exact problem with your hearing. These can figure out whether your hearing loss is a result of failure to pick up certain frequencies, pitches, or volume. Once they have the results they will be able to make a hearing aid that is configured to your needs. Yet, when you purchase a hearing aid device online, you lose this form of specificity and most use a generic hearing aid device.

Removing The Doctor

Another one of the drawbacks to buying a hearing aid online is that you will not have your hearing loss diagnosed. There are a variety of causes for hearing loss which your doctor can look for, from something as simple as an object in the ear canal to a neurological disease. A doctor can check to see if you have a treatable cause of hearing loss and whether you actually need a hearing aid.

Custom Hearing Aids

A problem that many people run into when they buy a hearing aid online is that they are not made to fit everyone’s ears. A hearing aid that is made by a professional company and with consultations takes specific measurements to make sure that there is a snug fit that will not be uncomfortable. A loose fit or a painful fit can both have serious drawbacks to your hearing and will certainly not make you wish to wear your device.

Low Quality Products

Many people who go online to purchase their hearing aids are trying to avoid the moderate prices that are associated with professional medical devices. However, the products that you can find online have none of the high quality materials in them that make prescribed hearing aids superior. Not only can they fail to produce helpful levels of hearing, but the poor craftsmanship can fall apart within months are you begin using the product. For all of these reasons and more, you should never buy a hearing aid online.

Common Summer Sounds That Cause Hearing Loss

Summer is one of the most enjoyable times of the year. The kids are out of school, the weather is warm, and there are many venues to go to in order to have a good time. However, when you are out enjoying a concert or watching fireworks on the Fourth of July, you may not realize that you are doing permanent damage to your hearing. In this article we will examine the ways that common summer sounds can cause hearing loss and what you can do to prevent it.

Fireworks

One of the best things about summer is hanging out on a warm summer night and watching the sky light up to celebrate the nation or town. However, there are some very significant risks involved with watching fireworks because they can produce up to 150 decibels of sound when the hearing threshold for humans is about 85 decibels. This poses a significant risk to the ability to hear for all individuals who watch fireworks.

Concerts

Another one of the most enjoyable experiences during the summer months is going to a concert. These outdoor festivals offer the benefit of live music and being surrounded by people like you. However, the speakers at these events can often generate a constant flow of 115 decibels, more than enough to inflict acute hearing damage as well as chronic hearing loss. While enjoying the music, it is important to take steps to safeguard your hearing.

Sporting Events

Another one of the best common summer sounds that causes hearing loss can be found at sports venues. While a roaring baseball crowd is not likely to inflict too much hearing loss, motorsports pose a true threat to your hearing. With hours of 115 decibel engines ripping around the arena, you can lose hearing temporarily and suffer long term effects.

Outdoor Machinery

One of the other dangers that are posed by the summer sounds come from something as simple as mowing your lawn. Lawnmowers, edgers, and even weed whackers can produce a great deal of noise that, when taken in over time, causes significant damage to hearing. This hearing loss usually occurs when the lawn is cut over the period of an hour or more.

How To Protect Your Hearing

There are generally two different ways available to protect your hearing from the common summer sounds which cause hearing loss. The first way is to begin utilizing ear plugs in all different facets of your everyday life. When you go to a sporting event, concert, or even when you are mowing your lawn, you should wear these plugs. They can be found in many locations and are very inexpensive.

The other easiest way to save your hearing is to reduce the amount of time that you spend in a noisy environment. Cut your lawn in shorter bursts rather than all at once, and do not stay for the entire duration of a music festival. These basic steps can keep your hearing at a high level throughout your life.

How Hearing Loss can Lead to Brain Atrophy

According to research that was done by Johns Hopkins, it has never been more important to protect your hearing. Of course, there are some very obvious benefits to hearing well into your senior years, but the research has found that hearing may be more intricately tied to the health of your brain than previously known. In fact, there have been links that suggest that your ability to hear is directly tied to your brain mass. Here we will take a look at the studies, their results, and also ways to conserve your hearing.

How To Protect Your Hearing

One of the best ways to ensure that you have a good level of hearing throughout your life is to go to regular doctor’s checkups. They will be able to establish the baseline for your hearing health, and track it throughout your life. This means that, regardless of age, everyone should begin seeing their doctors with some degree of consistency. For people who already suffer from hearing loss, the findings that suggest that brain size is tied to hearing loss should serve as motivation to be more stalwart about their health. After all, having your hearing checked can be the difference in your mental capacity throughout your later years.

The Tie Between Hearing And Your Brain’s Health

The study that has brought all of this attention was performed by Johns Hopkins in a combined effort with The National Institute on Aging. They used a sample of 126 individuals and followed them throughout two decades. They performed annual physicals, complete with MRIs, and began to notice that there was a correlation between hearing loss and the brain size of the individuals. While brain size is known to decrease with age, the rate at which these subjects’ brains were decreasing was cause for alarm. After all, a decreased brain size is a known mechanism in dementia and diminished cognitive function.

As the study came to an end, the researchers found that there was a positive correlation between hearing loss and brain shrinkage. It confirmed their hypothesis that hearing loss was a determinate factor of decreased levels of grey matter. Thus, hearing loss puts all of the patients at a high risk for brain atrophy, which can trigger a wide variety of cognitive disorders.

This entire phenomenon of brain damage as a result of hearing loss was explained rather simply by the researchers. They say that when the brain receives damage, such as hearing loss, it attempts to compensate for the damage by rerouting necessary cell components. However, this action results in grey matter cells being deprived those components, leading to degradation. In the end, the researchers noted that individuals should take charge of their hearing health, as it could be the difference between good and bad mental health.

Avoiding Long Term NIHL in Musicians

What do Phil Collins, Brian Wilson, Barbra Streisand, and Ludwig van Beethoven have in common, besides all being musicians? All of these musicians experienced – as a result of playing the music they love – permanent hearing loss.

When musicians come to me for treatment, I feel obliged to inform them of a lamentable fact of life – playing music may damage their hearing. Exposure to loud music causes noise-induced hearing loss (NIHL), which can produce a temporary ringing in the ears (tinnitus); if you continue to expose yourself to the loud music, the condition can become permanent.

The hearing loss can happen to any musician, whether they play in a rock band, in a symphony orchestra, in a chamber music group, or just play at home when rehearsing. You can experience hearing loss when exposed for a prolonged period of time to any sound over 85 decibels (dB). An electric guitar played onstage generates 120dB, but a violin can produce 103dB, and thus cause almost as much hearing loss. In fact, audiologists researching hearing loss in musicians have found that overexposure to sound while rehearsing adds up to more hours than they spend on stage performing.

By investing in a pair of earplugs – high-quality musicians earplugs, not the cheap foam earplugs you find in pharmacies – you can take steps to protect your hearing. The first musicians earphones were invented by Etymotic Research, and other manufacturers still use their design to create specialized ear protection for musicians. Unlike the cheap Styrofoam earplugs that simply block sound, musician ear protection customized for you by your audiologist allows you to hear your normal full range of sound, just at a reduced volume ensuring your hearing is protected. You can find universal-fit musicians earplugs in most stores that sell musical instruments, starting at about $15 a pair. But for the musicians I see – whether they play professionally or just for fun – I recommend custom-molded musicians earplugs with Etymotic filters, because of the greater protection they provide. These will be more comfortable to wear for long periods of time, more effective at blocking undesirable levels of noise while allowing you to hear the music properly, and easier to clean and care for. Yes, they’re more expensive than the earplugs sold in music stores, but since hearing damage is irreversible, how much is your ability to hear the music you play worth to you?

Ways Your Hearing is Impacted by Crowds and Background Noise

A frequent question from patients relates to the ability to hear in crowded rooms. They report that they don’t seem to have any problem hearing people and understanding what they say when they are speaking to them one-on-one, or even in small groups. Not so in crowded situations. Whether in large public space outdoors such as a football game or indoors at a party, they report being unable to distinguish the speakers’ voice over the background noise. This is true even when the speaker is close by and addressing them directly. The same people that have difficulty with crowds, will often also express that they find it challenging to hear and distinguish certain consonants especially H, F, and S.

If you are experiencing these symptoms, there is a possibility that you may have suffered some form or high-frequency hearing loss. Sound comes in different frequencies, and human speech – especially the consonants mentioned above – tends to fall into the range that scientists define as “high-frequency,” between 3000 and 8000 Hz. In crowds, there is a mix of frequencies, ranging from the low frequencies of background music or people walking or dancing to the higher frequencies of human speech. Those suffering from high-frequency hearing loss tend to perceive the low-frequency sounds (which in this case qualify as noise) as sounding louder than the high-frequency sounds they are trying to focus on – the voices of people speaking to them.

High-frequency hearing loss is common, afflicting at least 18% of the population. One of the possible causes for this condition is aging, but high-frequency hearing loss has in recent years been increasing in teenagers and younger adults as well, possibly as a result of being exposed to overly loud music, and suffering noise-induced hearing loss. There are other potential causes, including genetic factors, diabetes, exposure to toxic drugs such as chemotherapy agents, and other diseases.

The important thing to remember is that if you have suffered some degree of high-frequency hearing loss, it can be effectively treated. We can prescribe hearing aids that have been adjusted to reduce the volume of low-frequency sounds and boost the volume of the higher frequencies, so that you can hear better in crowds.

Before we get too far into treatment options, it is critical that you have a proper diagnosis. To find out if high-frequency hearing loss is the root cause behind your difficulty hearing in crowds, call and make a first appointment. Our audiologist can perform a variety of tests to identify the underlying cause of the problem and recommend the best treatment options for your specific situation.

Picking the Right Mobile Phone if You Use a Hearing Aid

Hearing aids have not previously always worked well with cellular phones, because of electronic interference between the two devices that caused static, whistling or squealing noises, or lost words. Thankfully, improvements in technology and new government regulations have made the issue “Will this phone work with my hearing aid?” easier to answer. The regulations mandated new labeling requirements and ratings that help you to find a cell phone that works well with your hearing aid.

Understanding the rating system requires a bit of knowledge about the modes that hearing aids can operate in. There is an M mode (which stands for microphone) and a T mode (which stands for telecoil). In M mode, your hearing aid uses its built-in microphone to pick up audible sounds from the environment and amplify them so that you can hear them. In T mode, the hearing aid uses telecoil technology instead. The hearing aid is able to pick up the electromagnetic signals from inside the phone directly. Roughly 60 percent of all cell phones sold in the US have a telecoil (T) mode.

The rating system for these two modes of hearing aid operation uses a scale that ranges from the lowest sensitivity (1) to the highest sensitivity (4). To be sold in the United States as hearing aid compatible (HAC), a mobile phone or cordless handset must have a rating of at least M3 or T3.

In addition, many hearing aids (and cochlear implants) have a similar M and T rating to measure their sensitivity and their resistance to radio frequency interference. When shopping for a phone, to determine its compatibility with your hearing aid, simply add its M and T ratings together with those of the phone to create a combined rating. A sum of 6 or more makes a solid pairing. That hearing aid and mobile phone combination should work well for you. A sum of 5 is considered normal and should work fine for typical cell phone users. If the combined rating is 4, this is thought of as acceptable but not very usable if you make a lot of extended phone calls.

If you are shopping for a mobile phone online, you can usually use this combined rating to determine how compatible the phone you are interested in buying will be with your hearing aid. A better approach, of course, would be to go to a store that allows you to “try before you buy,” and actually use the phone you want while wearing your hearing aid, in both M and T modes.

Averting Common First Time Hearing Aid Purchaser Mistakes

Shopping for and selecting your first hearing aid is a daunting task, and not just for you. The publication Consumer Reports followed a dozen people over a period of six months as they shopped for their first hearing aid, and reported on it. After six months the disappointing results were in: these first-time hearing aid owners were left with ill-fitting hearing aids with volumes either too loud or too soft. Even within this small group of people the price range for these hearing aids was huge and they were not always provided the best information by the retailers. That said, there are tips that can help you when shopping for your first hearing aid, and in this article we’ll cover a few of them. We can’t provide all of the information that would be useful to cover in such a short set of tips, so we refer you in advance to an excellent set of guidelines at Your Guide to Buying Hearing Aids. These guidelines are provided on the website of the Better Hearing Institute (BHI), a non-profit corporation that educates the public about hearing loss and what can be done about it. Here are our tips:

Consult a professional hearing specialist

Make an appointment with us or with another certified hearing specialist in your area, and read the information in the BHI guidelines before you go. It will help you to ask the right questions and know what the right answers are.

Select the hearing aid that best suits your needs and lifestyle

This depends on the type and severity of your hearing loss, and should have been determined by tests performed by specialists during Step 1. Which type of hearing aid is best for you depends on the nature of your hearing loss, combined with your budgetary constraints.

Do your homework

After determining the type of hearing aid you need, use the Internet to look up information about different models. Look for price comparisons from different vendors, reports on the frequency of problems and repairs, and most important, reviews from users as to the unit’s comfort and reliability.

Search for and select a vendor you can rely on

This vendor may be your hearing specialist from Step 1 or someone they referred you to. Your hearing aid vendor should be trained and equipped to make molds of your ears to fit your hearing aid properly. While it is possible to buy hearing aids on the Internet, this is not recommended because most models have to be custom-fitted.

Ensure proper fit and performance

The vendor should perform tests to make sure of a proper fit and that everything is working correctly during your first fitting. A “satisfaction guaranteed” warranty and free follow-up appointments for fine-tuning and adjustments are standard with reputable vendors.

We are here to help you as you make the purchase of your first hearing aid and we wish you good luck on this exciting journey to better hearing!