Hearing Aids: The Basics

Three Basic Parts of a Hearing Aid

The National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders (NIDCD) explains how the basic parts of a hearing aid work: “A hearing aid has three basic parts: a microphone, amplifier, and speaker. The hearing aid receives sound through a microphone, which converts the sound waves to electrical signals and sends them to an amplifier. The amplifier increases the power of the signals and then sends them to the ear through a speaker.”

Visit NIDCD’s page on hearing aids for more information.

Types and Styles of Hearing Aids

An article by Healthy Hearing goes over the different Hearing Aid Types and Styles that are available. There are two main styles of hearing aids: In-the-Ear (ITE) and Behind-the-Ear (BTE) and there are multiple sizes available in each style.

In-the-ear (ITE) Styles: “Worn in the ear and are usually custom-fit, based on an impression that is taken by the hearing care professional at the time of the hearing aid consultation.”

  • Invisible-in-the-canal (IIC) or completely-in-the-canal (CIC) hearing aids
  • In-the-canal (ITC) hearing aids
  • Low profile hearing aids

Behind-the-ear (BTE) Styles: “Sit behind or on top of the outer ear with tubing that routes the sound down into the ear canal via a custom-fit earmold or an ear tip that doesn’t block the entire ear canal opening.”

  • Mini BTE hearing aids with slim tubes and tips
  • Receiver-in-the-ear (RITE) or receiver-in-canal (RIC) hearing aids
  • BTE hearing aids with earmolds

Read Healthy Hearing’s article for more information about each style and the advantages and disadvantages of each, as well as a flowchart to help you decide which style might fit you best.

Selecting a Hearing Aid: Things to Consider

Your hearing care professional will help you find the perfect fit by assessing your hearing needs as well as talking with you about a variety of things.

Healthy Hearing’s article on Hearing Aids lists some things to consider when you and your doctor are selecting and fitting a device, including:

  • Budget
  • Cosmetic preferences
  • Social preferences
  • Career demands
  • Hobbies
  • Other physical challenges and dexterity issues
  • Attitudes about technology
  • Any needed accessories

If you have recently been diagnosed with hearing loss, or perhaps you need to update your current device, contact us at Center for Hearing. We will work with you to help you find a hearing aid that fits your unique needs.

Link Between Hearing Loss and Other Health Issues

Research shows that there is a link between hearing loss and many other health issues and diseases.

Cardiovascular Disease and Hypertension

Healthy Hearing’s article Reasons for Hearing Loss names some of the medical conditions that have a strong link with hearing loss. One of these is cardiovascular disease (CVD).

“Wisconsin researchers found that people with a history of heart disease were on average 54 percent more likely to have impaired cochlear function than adults without CVD.” Studies show that the link between the two is “all about blood flow” which is explained further in Healthy Hearing’s article Hearing Loss and Heart Disease.

Research also shows that there is a link between hearing loss and some of the factors that cause CVD including high cholesterol, obesity, and high blood pressure. As explained in a post by Starkey Hearing, hypertension (high blood pressure) can accelerate hearing loss. This is based on a study which “confirmed that hypertension does effect hearing by accelerating the degeneration of the ‘hearing apparatus’ due to aging.”

Diabetes

Healthy Hearing’s article Hearing Care is Health Care talks about the strong link between diabetes and hearing loss: “According to the American Diabetes Association, individuals with diabetes are twice as likely to experience hearing loss as those who do not have the disease.”

Why? “Researchers suspect the high glucose levels associated with diabetes cause damage to the blood vessels in the inner ear.”

Chronic Kidney Disease

The same article explains the findings of a study done on the link between chronic kidney disease and hearing loss: “An Australian research team discovered older adults with moderate chronic kidney disease (CKD) have a higher prevalence of hearing loss than those without CKD. Of the 2,900 participants in the study age 50 and older, more than 54 percent of the participants with CKD reported some level of hearing loss, compared to 28 percent of participants without the disease.”

Why? “Researchers believe this is because of structural similarities between tissue of the inner ear and that of the kidney.”

Other Medical Conditions and Diseases

There are several other medical conditions that are related to hearing loss as well, such as osteoporosis. Common chemotherapy medications and other ototoxic drugs have also been linked with hearing loss, and smokers are nearly two times as likely as nonsmokers to have hearing loss.

What Can You Do?

Healthy Hearing’s answer to that question is “Get Pro-active!”

First, be aware. Be aware of the link that exists between hearing loss and other health conditions. If you suffer from any of the issues mentioned, have your hearing checked regularly, and get treated if necessary.

Second, maintain a healthy lifestyle. You can prevent or reduce the risk of developing some of these medical conditions by: eating a healthy diet, exercising regularly, and cutting out bad habits such as smoking.

Having your hearing checked is always a good idea, but even more so if you suffer from other medical conditions. Contact Center for Hearing today!

 

How Loud is too Loud?

We live in a noisy world. But did you know that many noises you hear on a regular basis could potentially damage your hearing?

Sound is measured in decibels (dB) and according to the CDC, “Noise above 85 dB over a prolonged period of time may start to damage your hearing. Loud noise above 120 dB can cause immediate harm to your ears.”

Common Noises Over 85 dB

The CDC lists some of the common noises with decibel levels that exceed 85 dB. Familiarize yourself with these noises and pay attention to the amount of time you would need to be exposed to that sound before it could potentially cause hearing damage. (For a more complete list, visit the CDC’s website.)

Safety depends on both the noise level and exposure time. To learn more about the relationship between noise level and exposure time, and how to determine what’s safe, visit NIOSH’s website.

What can you do?

There are easy ways to protect your hearing whenever you are exposed to dangerously loud noises for an extended period of time:

  • Wear earmuffs or earplugs: Disposable earplugs are effective and cheap. Another option is custom fit musician plugs, which “provide protection while preserving music fidelity”.
  • Keep the volume at a safe level
  • Be aware of how long you are being exposed to loud noises and adjust accordingly to protect your hearing. Consider downloading a smartphone app that measures noise levels and schedule regular appointments with a hearing professional.

Loud noises are a part of everyday life, so it may not seem like a harmful thing. But the reality is, being around loud noises for too long can cause damage.

The audiologists at Center for Hearing can help you protect your hearing and would be happy to answer any questions you may have about noise-induced hearing loss, earplugs and protective devices. Contact us today!

Three Types of Hearing Loss

There are three types of hearing loss, each with its own causes, symptoms and treatment options. Healthy Hearing’s article Types of Hearing Loss and Starkey Hearing’s post on the types, causes and treatment of hearing loss discuss the qualities of each.

Sensorineural and Conductive Hearing Loss

Sensorineural Conductive
Status Most common (more than 90%) Permanent Less common

May be permanent or temporary

Healthy Hearing Definition; Types “Occurs when there is damage to either the tiny hair-like cells of the inner ear or the auditory nerve itself, which prevents or weakens the transfer of nerve signals to the brain.”
Two types: Congenital (happens during pregnancy) and
Acquired (occurs after birth)
“Occurs when there is an obstruction or damage to the outer or middle ear that prevents sound from being conducted to the inner ear.”

– Causes differ, depending on whether the outer or middle ear is affected.

Causes – Genetic syndrome

– Infection passed from mother to fetus in the womb (toxoplasmosis, rubella, herpes)

– Aging

– Diseases and viral infections

– Traumatic injuries

– Exposure to loud noises

– Medications

– Tumors, growths and malformations of the inner ear

– Meniere’s Disease

– Fluid in the middle ear

– Ear infections

– Allergies

– Perforated eardrum

– Ear wax impaction

– Swimmer’s ear

– Obstructions caused by foreign bodies

– Blockages in the Eustachian tube

– Tumors, growths and malformations of the outer ear, ear canal or middle ear

– Traumatic injury

Symptoms Loudness AND clarity of sounds is affected Loudness of sounds is affected
Treatment Hearing aids, cochlear implants Medication, surgery, hearing aids

 

Mixed Hearing Loss

The third type of hearing loss is mixed- a combination of sensorineural and conductive hearing loss. Therefore, the causes, symptoms and treatment for mixed hearing loss is a combination of those true of sensorineural and conductive hearing loss, and depend on your unique condition.

For more information about the causes, symptoms and treatment of each kind of hearing loss, visit healthyhearing.com.

If you’ve been struggling with your hearing, make an appointment with one of our audiologists today. We can determine which type of hearing loss you suffer from, and then find the best treatment option for you.

 

Listening Training Programs

Healthy Hearing recently posted a report about how Brain Training may Help Seniors Understand Better in Noisy Places. This is based on the findings from a new study conducted by Massachusetts Eye and Ear Infirmary researchers.

In the study, elderly subjects trained on a closed-loop computerized audio game for eight weeks. For these subjects, “speech-in-noise intelligibility in challenging listening conditions improved by 25%,” whereas speech intelligibility was unchanged in the subjects in the placebo group who did not train on the audio game.

Fortunately, there are several programs and games designed to improve your speech-in-noise intelligibility. Healthy Hearing lists three great programs in their report:

Listening Training Programs

  1. LACE (Listening and Communication Enhancement): These programs are designed to “retrain the brain to comprehend speech up to 40 percent better in difficult listening situations”.
  2. clEARWorks4EARs: “This customized program trains your ability to recognize speech in noisy and quiet environments while exercising cognitive skills necessary for speech, word memory and attention.”
  3. Angel Sound: “People with auditory processing disorders, cochlear implants or hearing aids can practice identifying and discriminating sounds and speech components through a series of PC-based, interactive, self-paced modules which cover different aspects of the listening process.”

In addition to these programs, there are several apps and games designed for adults and children with hearing loss. Healthy Hearing lists some of these in their article Exercise your Ears: Apps and Games to Keep Hearing Sharp:

Apps and Games

  1. Advanced Bionics: AB, a developer of cutting-edge cochlear implant technology, offers a variety of hearing rehabilitation apps for adults and children.
  2. Forbrain: Speaking out loud while wearing specialized Forbrain headphones help adults and children improve in many areas.
  3. HAPPYneuron: This customized brain training program uses games that are designed to improve cognitive functions.
  4. Luminosity: This brain training program has daily workouts and games adapted to your cognitive level.

Healthy Hearing also suggests doing exercises at home such as having conversations with the TV or radio on and trying to focus on the conversation while tuning out other noises. Another good exercise is to close your eyes and practice identifying and then isolating individual sounds. Meditation and yoga can also be beneficial.

Of course, listening training programs, apps and games won’t cure hearing loss, and they shouldn’t be used as a substitute for hearing aids. However, studies show that these programs and games can be beneficial for those with hearing loss. Not only are many of these programs fun, but when it comes to exercising your brain, there are no downsides. So why not try it?

ReSound LiNX 3D Hearing Aid

Introducing ReSound LiNX 3D – ReSound’s latest and most advanced digital hearing aid. It uses advanced technology for better hearing, it’s smartphone compatible, and has a convenient and comfortable design.

Advanced Technology for Better Hearing

  • Surround Sound: Hear everything around you without having to adjust your position
  • Spatial Sense Technology: Get a clear and natural sense of the sounds around you
  • Binaural Directionality III: Focus on certain sounds without being cut off from your surroundings
  • Sound Processing: This technology emulates the performance of the natural ear to make speech seem clearer and deliver a richer, more vibrant sound

Smartphone Compatible

The ReSound Smart 3D App is compatible with a number of Apple devices and Android devices. *For a complete list of compatible devices and more information on compatibility click here*

The ReSound Smart 3D App makes it easy to:

  • Adjust your hearing aid settings
  • Personalize your hearing by creating and saving your favorite settings
  • Pick and save settings designed for your location
  • Find lost hearing aids
  • Manage tinnitus
  • Request assistance from your hearing health professional through ReSound Assist and receive the updates you need
  • Stream calls, music and movie/tv dialogue from your device to your hearing aid

Convenient Design

ReSound LiNX 3D is one of many hearing aids we have available at Center for Hearing. If you think ReSound LiNX 3D could be the right hearing aid for you, make an appointment with one of our audiologists. We want to help you find the perfect hearing aid that best fits your lifestyle and your unique needs. So call us today! (479) 785-3277

Tinnitus

The American Tinnitus Association (ATA) describes tinnitus as “the perception of sound when no actual external noise is present.”

This condition is extremely common and, according to the ATA, more than 50 million people suffer from some form of tinnitus.

More than 99% of those people suffer from Subjective Tinnitus, which the ATA defines as “head or ear noises that are perceivable only to the specific patient”. The other type, objective tinnitus, is “head or ear noises that are audible to other people, as well as the patient,” and is experienced by less than 1% of total tinnitus cases.

What are the symptoms of tinnitus?

While most people who have experienced tinnitus describe it as a “ringing in the ears”, there are a variety of sounds that can be perceived, which the ATA categorizes into three groups:

  • Tonal Tinnitus: near-continuous sound
  • Pulsatile Tinnitus: pulsing sounds, often in-beat with heartbeat
  • Musical Tinnitus: music or singing (very rare)

What causes tinnitus?

Tinnitus can be caused by a number of conditions or illnesses. The ATA explains, “While tinnitus is often associated with hearing loss, there are roughly 200 different health disorders that can generate tinnitus as a symptom.”

Some of the more common causes associated with tinnitus include:

  • Noise-induced hearing loss and age-related hearing loss (presbycusis)
  • Ototoxic medications
  • Hearing conditions (otosclerosis and Ménière’s disease), blockages in the ear (excessive ear wax, head congestion) sinus pressure and barometric trauma
  • Head and neck trauma, TBI, and TMJ disorder
  • A variety of diseases and health conditions

Can tinnitus be treated?

Unfortunately, there is currently no known cure for tinnitus.

However, there are ways to manage tinnitus. Some patients experience relief after improving their general wellness. There are also hearing aids and a variety of treatments and therapies that may give a patient relief.

Keep in mind, every patient is unique, and every case of tinnitus is unique. That means every treatment plan is unique.

If you are suffering from tinnitus, make an appointment with one of our doctors at Center for Hearing, so we can find the right treatment for you.

The Dos & Don’ts of Ear Cleaning

If you have a habit of using cotton swabs or other small items to clean your ears, it’s time to stop.

Why? Because inserting things in your ear does more bad than good. In a blog post about ear cleaning, audiologist Stephanie Loccisano said, “Cotton swabs can push the earwax deeper into the ear, causing an impaction and preventing the eardrum from vibrating properly”.

Healthy Hearing’s article Why you Shouldn’t Clean Your Ears with a Cotton Swab said medical experts have seen punctured eardrums, badly impacted wax, and many other issues caused by cotton swab ear cleaning. Inserting things into your ear could damage your ear canal or eardrum, and could lead to hearing loss.

Earwax is not a bad thing to have. In fact, it’s there for a reason, and it does a lot of good. According to Loccisano, earwax prevents unwanted foreign bodies from entering the ear, keeps the ears from getting dry and itchy, and acts as an antifungal and antibacterial.

Earwax is a natural thing, and it usually exits the ear naturally too.

Loccisano said earwax can work its way out through jaw motions like talking and chewing. Healthy Hearing explains that the skin in the ear canal grows in such a way that earwax will usually loosen and fall out on its own.

So, for most people, a shower is all the cleaning your ears ever need. Wash your outer ear, but leave your inner ear to clean itself.

However, some people do experience more wax buildup than others, and it is more common among older adults and people who wear hearing aids.

Still, it is important to avoid self-cleaning using cotton swabs.

The symptoms of earwax buildup, which are listed in Loccisano’s blog post, include difficulty hearing, fullness or ringing in the ears, ear pain, an odor coming from the ear, and dizziness.

If you are experiencing any of these symptoms, you should visit your audiologist. If earwax removal is needed, Loccisano said your doctor can use water irrigation, suction or a curette to scoop out the earwax. They can also talk to you about safe ways to clean your ears at home if needed.
Keep your hearing healthy by leaving the cleaning to your ears, or your audiologist.

Hearing Protection for Hunters

Hunting season is a much-anticipated time for some. Now that it’s here, hunters are eager to start the season with a bang. But gunshots can result in hearing damage without the proper protection.

Dr. Linton, who is a hunter herself, and all the doctors at Center for Hearing recommend that hunters use SoundGear protection products.

“Hearing damage can occur with exposure to sounds 90dB and up — yet a typical gunshot generates 140dB of sound. SoundGear electronic hearing protection provides proven, effective noise reduction during each gun blast and superior environmental monitoring between every shot.”

Benefits of SoundGear:

  • Effective protection: Depending on the model, devices deliver a Noise Reduction Rating of 24-26dB
  • Hear your surroundings: Devices provide 100% digital sound enhancement designed to deliver superior environmental monitoring between gun shots
  • Better than earmuffs: Unlike most earmuffs that are bulky and reduce all sounds, SoundGear devices are small enough to fit in your pocket and are designed to protect your hearing from gun blasts while simultaneously enhancing environmental awareness

SoundGear Products:

  • Instant Fit Electronic: The smallest and lightest on the market, and rests discreetly inside the wearer’s ear to deliver natural wind reduction and superior 100% digital sound quality.
  • Custom Fit Electronic: Custom molded to each wearer’s ear, and features the most advanced 100% digital electronic hearing protection and enhancement technology on the market.
  • Behind-the-Ear Electronic: For the customer looking for the classic look and feel of a Behind-The-Ear product, a great solution for just about any recreational hunter or shooter.

Both the Custom Fit Electronic and Behind-the-Ear Electronic devices are available in two technology levels- platinum and silver. Platinum is for the more avid hunter or professional shooter and comes with four distinct memory modes, while Silver, although just as effective, is for those who may not shoot as often, and comes with one memory mode.

SoundGear also offers custom earplug solutions and accessories.

Before your next hunting trip, make an appointment with us. We would be happy to talk with you about the SoundGear products we offer, and help you find and order the right product for you.

Center for Hearing Promotes Better Hearing and Breast Cancer Awareness with “Hear in Pink” Campaign

Celebrating 10 Years of Support for Breast Cancer Research

Everyone knows someone – a mother, daughter, sister, grandmother or friend – who has been diagnosed with breast cancer, the most common cancer in American women. That’s why, during October, National Breast Cancer Awareness Month, Dr. Kelley Linton of Center for Hearing in Fort Smith, Arkansas joins with leading hearing care manufacturer Oticon, Inc. to promote the national “Hear in Pink” campaign. Celebrating its tenth year in 2017, the annual campaign combines Dr. Kelley Linton’s commitment to hearing health with support for life-saving breast cancer research.

Throughout September and October, Oticon will donate a portion of the sales of a special edition pink Oticon Opn™ and all Opn hearing aids to the National Breast Cancer Coalition to fund critical research. In 10 years of “hearing in pink,” Oticon has donated more than $100,000 to non-profit breast cancer organizations.

“The ‘Hear in Pink’ campaign allows me to continue my focus on improving the hearing health of people in Fort Smith and at the same time, support research to end breast cancer,” said Dr. Kelley Linton. “For everyone, ‘Hear in Pink’ is an opportunity to show support for individuals, families and friends who are touched by a disease that represents one of every three cancers diagnosed in women.”

At the heart of this year’s “Hear in Pink” campaign is Oticon Opn. The small, discreet hearing aid offers advantages that even the most sophisticated hearing solutions of today can’t deliver – the ability to manage listening to multiple speakers in noisy environments, like restaurants or social gatherings.

Opn not only opens a world of sound for more people with hearing loss, it brings additional benefits, like the convenience of rechargeable batteries, built-in tinnitus relief sounds and the ability to connect to the Internet. Opn also connects directly to iPhone® and other Bluetooth-enabled devices. The optional TV Adapter turns Opn hearing aids into a pair of wireless headphones for TV listening.

For more information on the special edition pink Oticon Opn, contact Dr. Kelley Linton at (479) 785-3277 or visit centerforhearing.net.

 

Oticon Opn is compatible with iPhone 7 Plus, iPhone 7, iPhone SE, iPhone 6s Plus, iPhone 6s, iPhone 6, iPhone 5s, iPhone5c, iPhone 5, 9.7 -inch iPad Pro, 12.9- inch iPad Pro, iPad Air 2, iPad Air (4th generation), iPad mini 4, iPad mini 3, iPad mini 2, iPad mini, and iPod touch 5th and 6th generation). Devices must be running iOS 9.3 or later.  Please visit www.oticon.com for more details.