Category: Audiology


What You Need to Know about Hearing Aids

If an audiologist has recently diagnosed you with hearing loss, you’re not alone. Hearing loss affects a significant number of Americans, so don’t be alarmed. With the help of ENT & Audiology’s Raleigh audiologists, you’ll be able to find the best solutions for your hearing loss.

If your audiologist confirms that your hearing problem stems from damaged hair cells found in the inner ear, you may have what is known as sensorial hearing loss, which is treated with hearing aids.

Why Do You Need Hearing Aids?

Hearing aids are small electronic devices worn inside or behind the ears, which consist of a microphone, speaker, and amplifier, and are useful for making sounds loud enough for the ears to hear clearly and the mind to comprehend in order for an individual to communicate effectively. Hearing aids also make it possible for people with hearing loss to hear clearly both in noisy and quiet environments.

As mentioned, hearing aids consist of three basic parts, each with a vital role to play.

i. Microphone – The microphone is what receives external sound. It then changes these sound waves into electrical signals before transferring them to the amplifier.
ii. Amplifier – Once the amplifier receives the electric signals, it multiplies the intensity of the signals accordingly.
iii. Speaker – The amplified sound is transferred to the ear through the speaker and once the remaining hair cells picks the sound, they convert them into neural signals which the brain is able to pick

The strength of a hearing aid amplification required by an individual is determined by the level of damage to the inner ear. However, there is a level at which even the largest amplification a pair of hearing aids can offer will not be of any assistance. In this case, your audiologist will make alternative recommendations e.g. having a cochlear implant.

Hearing Aid Styles

Hearing aids are classified into two major categories based on where they are worn.

  1. In-the-ear (ITE) Style Hearing Aids – These are designed to fit inside the outer ear and generally come with a hard plastic to house the hearing aid parts. They are ideal for mild to severe hearing loss complications with some having extra features such as a telecoli; a tiny magnet through which sound is received from the circuitry of the aid rather than through its microphone. They are good for telephone conversations and in places with induction loop systems.
  2. Behind-the-ear (BTE) Style Hearing Aids – BTEs on the hand are also designed with a hard plastic case that fits behind the ear. This case is attached to a plastic earmold which is what is fitted in the outer ear and transmits sound to the hair cells in the inner ear.  These too are ideal for mild to severe hearing loss cases.

Types of Hearing Aids

In-the-ear (ITE) Style Hearing Aids

ITE style hearing aids include:

  • In-the-canal Hearing Aids – these are placed on the lower side of the outer ear bowl. People prefer them because they are comfortable and do not block the ear canal.
  • Invisible-in-the-canal (IIC) and Completely-in-the-canal (CIC) Hearing Aids – These happen to be the smallest in size and as their names suggest, are not meant to be visible.
  • Low Profile Hearing Aids – unlike the IICs and CICs, the Low profile Hearing aids are for those who desire simple handling, therefore, they are slightly larger in size. They are designed to cover half or the entire outer ear bowl. A noteworthy advantage is that they can incorporate added features like volume controls and directional microphones.

Behind-the-ear (BTE) Style Hearing Aids

BTEs are more popular now than before because current hearing aids now come in a smaller size for those who prefer being discreet, which represents a significant percentage of people with hearing loss problems. Despite their size, they can still accommodate different features to suit specific hearing loss challenges.

Some include:

  • Mini BTEs – these come with a discreet ultra-slim tube to transmit sound into the ear.
  • Receiver-in-the-ear (RITE) or Receive-in-the-canal (RIC) hearing aids – The most distinct feature about the RITEs and the RICs is the fact that their speakers are designed to fit into the ear tip placing them at a closer distance to the eardrum.
  • BTEs with earmolds – these come with a longer shape and fits behind the entire outer ear. A distinctive advantage they have over the others is that they can accommodate more added features.

To ensure the best fit,  here are some things to consider:

Generally, hearing aids will vary with the extent of the hearing loss. However, other factors will certainly come into play.

These include:

  • Price
  • Ease of handling
  • Size Preference
  • The additional accessories required
  • Career

All in all, one needs to first get a recommendation from the doctor and then weigh the pros and cons of each option available before settling on what’s best for their specific needs.

How to Keep Your Hearing Aids in Good Condition

The most basic hearing aids maintenance practice is professional cleaning, you need to rid it of dust, moisture or wax using a soft dry cloth at least daily. Making regular appointments with your audiologist are also crucial to ensure your hearing aids are operating at the optimal levels.

What is Tinnitus?

Tinnitus can be diagnosed as hearing noise when there is no external noise present. It commonly affects 1 out of every 10 adults aged 60 and above. It is generally a symptom to an underlying ear complication, most likely a damaged cochlea.

The noise manifests as buzzing, whistling, roaring, clicking, hissing, or other noises that vary in pitch and frequency from one person to another. Continuous tinnitus can be very bothersome and cause stress for the patient.

Tinnitus is divided into two categories

Subjective Tinnitus: This is the most common form of tinnitus in which only the patient can hear the noises.


It has several causes including:

  • An affected inner, middle, or outer ear
  • The auditory nerves or pathways

 

Objective Tinnitus: Objective tinnitus can be heard by the patient and their medical doctor during check up. This form of tinnitus is not as common as subjective tinnitus.

This can be caused by:

  • A problem with a blood vessel
  • Muscle contraction

Some Common Causes of Tinnitus are

  • Aging accompanied by damage to the inner ear
  • Continuous exposure to noise
  • Injuries to the head or neck
  • Infections inside the ear
  • Change to the ear bone structure
  • Blockage of the ear by excess earwax

 Effects of Tinnitus

Those suffering from tinnitus can experience symptoms of:

  • Depression
  • Insomnia
  • Anxiety
  • Lack of concentration
  • Irritability

Treatment of Tinnitus

Tinnitus currently has no cure, however, there are some new treatments available to help control tinnitus and drastically improve a patient’s life.

Some tinnitus management tips include:

  • Avoiding medications like aspirin or ibuprofen that are known to damage the inner ear.
  • Address conditions linked to tinnitus such as insomnia, depression, and anxiety.
  • Coping with the noise if the tinnitus is caused by age.

When is it time to see the doctor?

  • If tinnitus is causing symptoms of anxiety or depression.
  • If tinnitus is noticeable after an infection, particularly ENT related.
  • If the noise causes hearing loss.

Some of the causes of tinnitus can easily be prevented, like smoking or exposure to loud noise. It is better to address risk factors early before they cause permanent damage.

May is Better Hearing & Speech Month

Leisure Activities Rife With Loud Noise

With more than half of Americans who experience noise-induced hearing loss not working in noisy jobs, the spotlight turns to what Americans are doing in their leisure time. May 1 marks the beginning of Better Hearing & Speech Month—a time to assess lifestyle habits that may be contributing to hearing loss as well as schedule a hearing evaluation for anyone with concerns about their hearing.

About 40 million U.S. adults aged 20–69 years have noise-induced hearing loss, a form of hearing damage that results from exposure to loud noise. This could be cumulative harm that developed from exposure over time, or it could occur from one severe episode. Although completely preventable, once it occurs, it is irreversible. Far from simply being an annoyance, hearing loss can affect almost all aspects of life, including physical health, mental health, employment status and success, social functioning and satisfaction, and much more. Hearing loss can be treated through various technologies and techniques under the care of a certified audiologist, but hearing is never fully restored.

In addition to the dangers posed by listening to ear buds or headphones at too-loud volumes and for too long, noisy settings are commonplace in today’s society, including in Raleigh. Many restaurants are specifically designed to elevate noise levels to make establishments feel more energetic. Similarly, some sports stadiums have been built with sound elevation in mind, thought to improve the fan experience and serve as a home-team advantage. Coffee shops, fitness classes, and more all make modern society a collectively loud place.

“Although many people report concern about noisy environments, not nearly enough take protective steps,” said Raleigh-based audiologist Lena Kyman, AuD. She offers some simple ways that the public can take charge of their hearing health—this month and always:

• Wear hearing protection. Earplugs and earmuffs are cheap, portable, and (with a good fit) offer excellent hearing protection. Bring them along when you know you’ll be in a noisy setting. Better yet, keep them on you at all times!

• Reduce exposure. Take steps to reduce your exposure to noisy settings. Visit noisy establishments during off times, consider quieter settings, and talk to managers if you find the noise level uncomfortable.

• See a certified audiologist for a hearing evaluation. A recent government report stated that 1 in 4 U.S. adults who report excellent to good hearing already have hearing damage. Many adults don’t routinely get their hearing checked, and even those who are concerned often delay treatment for years. Postponing treatment can have serious medical and mental health repercussions in addition to reducing a person’s quality of life, so visit a certified audiologist if you have any concerns.

“This advice about hearing protection goes for just about everyone, from the youngest of children to older adults, from those with excellent hearing who want to maintain it, to those who already have some hearing loss and don’t want to make it worse,” notes Lena Kyman, AuD. “As a society, everyone needs to prioritize hearing protection.”

World Hearing Day 2017

Every year on March 3, the World Health Organization (WHO) celebrates World Hearing Day. This day was created to help raise awareness and draw attention to the importance of prevention, screening and rehabilitation of hearing loss. The theme for this year’s World Hearing Day is ‘Action for hearing loss: make a sound investment’.
Read More »

Auditory Brainstem Response (ABR)

auditory-brainstem-response
What is an Auditory Brainstem Response (ABR) Test?

The Auditory Brainstem Response (ABR) test provides both quantitative and qualitative data for doctors who want to assess the status of a patient’s brainstem pathways and auditory nerves.

Read More »

Tinnitus Evaluations

tinnitus-evaluationWhat is a Tinnitus Evaluation?

It is important to have your tinnitus evaluated by a professional who can help you manage the irksome symptoms. Primary Tinnitus is a medical symptom that is characterized by persistent noise in one or both ears that can only be heard by the affected individual.

Read More »

We’re Excited to Announce Our New Partnership with Puro Sound Labs

ENT & Audiology Associates is proud to announce that we are officially one of the first ENT & Audiology groups in the United States to partner with Puro Sound Labs.

Puro’s Bluetooth headphones feature studio-grade audio quality, plus advanced volume monitoring and interactive reporting to guide users to safer listening. These headphones are packed with technology.

With the Volume Monitoring Bluetooth headphones, we put you in control of protecting one of your most valuable senses – hearing. These headphones are uniquely engineered to continuously monitor volume levels as you listen, and deliver that information to you through the LED indicator on the ear cup. No more wondering, “How loud is too loud?” To boot, the 82% noise-isolation and studio grade audio quality ensure that your listening experience is never compromised, even in noisy environments.

If you are interested in purchasing a pair for yourself or a loved one, visit: http://bit.ly/BuyPuroSound

Quick Read: Babies Don’t Need Smartphones

Since May is Better Speech and Hearing month, we’ll be posting interesting articles and relevant facts throughout the month. Although the story is a year old, the USA Today article written by The American Speech-Language-Hearing Association 2015 President, Judith L. Page is even more relevant in 2016.

With an increase in technology use being observed at younger and younger ages, children are beginning to show signs of suffering from delayed speech and social development. Click here to read more

America must confront hearing loss: Column

Hearing loss is a larger problem than one may think. It’s not just about not being able to hear noise at certain levels but how it impacts the daily life of an individual. Hearing loss is associated with depression, lower incomes for adults, and learning difficulties for children, yet the Center for Disease Control doesn’t recognize it as a disability with the hardship it causes someone. Read the article from USA Today to learn more about how Americans must confront this issue.

The United States is approaching a tipping point in terms of hearing loss and how it is treated under current policy.

10 Tips to Preserve Your Child’s Hearing during the Holidays

Children’s ears are very sensitive to loud noises and even the most innocent toy can cause hearing loss. Monitor the level of noise that occurs during the holidays around children and how closely they hold toys and devices to their ears. Following these ten easy steps can keep your children’s little ears safe from harm.

https://www.healthychildren.org/English/health-issues/conditions/ear-nose-throat/Pages/Tips-Preserve-Childs-Hearing-Holidays.aspx

Holiday Hearing Loss Gift Guide

From baby to adults with hearing loss, we have a holiday gift guide with some clever gift ideas to bring a smile to their face. They’ll be filled with joy, knowing you thought of their needs.

Holiday Hearing Loss Gift Guide

America Must Confront Hearing Loss

america-must-confront-hearing-loss

Hearing loss is a larger problem than one may think. It’s not just about not being able to hear noise at certain levels but how it impacts the daily life of an individual. Hearing loss is associated with depression, lower incomes for adults, and learning difficulties for children, yet the Center for Disease Control doesn’t recognize it as a disability with the hardship it causes someone. Read the article from USA Today to learn more about how Americans must confront this issue.

The United States is approaching a tipping point in terms of hearing loss and how it is treated under current policy.

Breaking the Stigma of Hearing Loss – The Who, What, Why and How

hearing loss patient

It’s unfortunate that hearing loss has such a bad stigma when it affects so many people both old and young. It doesn’t seem to be a major concern to health insurance providers, that it makes the person suffering less inclined to take action to better their hearing. The lack of action tends to lead to depression and surprisingly many other health concerns. This article will open to your eyes to who suffers from hearing loss, what other major health issues they many have, and the steps you can take to not let hearing loss define your life.

Breaking the Stigma of Hearing Loss – The Who, What, Why and How

A Safer Way To Listen: Addressing The Teen Hearing Loss Epidemic

The numbers are staggering. According to the CDC, as many as 16% of teens have reported some degree of hearing loss that could have been caused by loud noise. The Journal of Pediatrics reports that 12.5 % of kids between ages 6 and 19 suffer from hearing loss as a result of using earphones/earbuds turned to a high volume. This is millions of teenagers.

how loud too loud

How? How is it that so many of are youth are able to damage their hearing right in front of us? Because it’s easy. The average MP3 player has a potential output of 105 decibels. The risk of noise-induced hearing loss starts at 85dB, with long and repeated exposure.

What can be done? Education! Our kids and teens need to learn the value of our sense of hearing, and how noise-induced hearing loss occurs. Noise-induced hearing loss is permanent, but completely preventable. This is the first step. But how do you know if your volume is too loud? Get Puro Sound headphones that will not let the sound reach a dangerous level.puro phones

These new headphones are stylish, sleek, high quality, and SAFE. They connect wirelessly to any Bluetooth capable device, (with a wired option for non-Bluetooth devices), they are noise attenuating (reducing the need to increase the volume), and they have a limited output. Sounds will not exceed a safe listening level.

These headphones are perfect for any kid who listens to music, watches movies on a mobile device, etc. They are very high quality, reasonably priced, and acceptable for standards of hearing health. We now have these in our office, so please call or stop by for a free demonstration, and to pick up a pair today. We have two colors, and are expecting adult sizes by the end of the year!

collage-fodder1

The Real Problem With Hearing Aids Being Portrayed In The Media

UP While it’s rare for hearing aids to make appearances in mainstream movies, when they do, they make big ones. And by big, I don’t mean prominent, or important to the plot or character development, I mean big, ugly, usually squealing hearing aids. Ones that immediately come to mind are Up, and The Wrestler. While I appreciate that ‘bad press is better than no press’, this is not doing hearing impaired people that are on the fence about hearing aids any justice. Most times hearing aids are portrayed in a movie, they are a negative connotation.

The problem is, this is completely unrealistic! While feedback (whistling, squealing) used to be a problem with older hearing aids, due to advances in digital technology, this hasn’t been an issue in years. Further, hearing aids today are so small, they are virtually invisible. I understand they need to be seen to have a presence in the movie, however there has to be a better way.

ant-man-stoll Take Ant Man for instance! He has this incredibly high tech ear piece that can literally control ants. However, it doesn’t even have a custom earpiece! If the movie industry invested just a little research into the hearing aid industry before their next production, I think it would be a win-win for everybody.

HAs and EARsIn addition to the accuracy of the portrayal of hearing aids, the frequency also needs to reflect a more accurate adult population. According to the Hearing Loss Association of America, about 20% of Americans report some degree of hearing loss. That’s 48 MILLION Americans! Further, hearing loss is not just for the ‘grumpy grandpa’ characters. The Better Hearing Institute reports that the majority (65%) of people with hearing loss are younger than age 65. In fact there are more than SIX MILLION people in the U.S. between the ages of 18-44 with hearing loss.

HER_Graphic
This means we need to see more average middle aged working adults with hearing loss being represented in the movies, wearing modern, digital technology. And it doesn’t have be be a completely deaf character; something as simple as needing a few things repeated occasionally, and maybe a scene where they wirelessly stream a phone call to their hearing aids using bluetooth would suffice. That is real technology, and not just for futuristic movies like Her. Today, in 2015, you can connect your hearing aids wirelessly to your iPhone, and stream phone calls, music, and more!

 

I would love to see a movie with a scene where a character takes his or her hearing aids out at night before going to bed, and maybe the audience didn’t even realize that character wore hearing aids until that scene. They don’t have to be directly addressed or talked about, they’re just there, like they are for millions of Americans.

Kyman_Headshot2Lena Kyman is a clinic audiologist at ENT & Audiology Associates in North Carolina. She is passionate about global audiology, and breaking down the stigma and stereotypes associated with hearing aids and hearing loss. She can be reached at Dr.Kyman@entandaudiology.com.