Occupational Hearing Loss
Wednesday, August 31, 2011
Prolonged exposure to loud noises, or even brief exposure to very loud noises, can permanently damage the sensory nerves of the inner ear, a condition known as noise-induced hearing loss. Unfortunately, many people are exposed to loud noises on a daily basis due to their nature of their jobs. In the US, a federal law known as the Occupational Safety and Health Act (OSHA) requires employers to minimize such risks to their employees’ hearing. If you have been experiencing increased difficulty understanding others or enjoying audio entertainment, you may be suffering from a hearing impairment.
High Risk Jobs for Occupational Hearing Loss
Noise-induced hearing loss can happen to anyone, but some employees are at an increased risk for this problem due to the nature of their jobs. You may want to learn more about ear protection if you or a loved one works in a field such as:
- Airline work, especially jobs that entail mechanical work on planes or on the landing strip
- Construction jobs, especially if heavy machinery is often used
- Music careers that involve frequently attending concerts
- Agricultural work that involves heavy machinery
- Factory jobs
- The armed forces
- Working in or near emergency response vehicles with loud sirens
If a job requires exposure to sounds above 85 dB, OSHA requires the employer to provide some kind of ear protection to workers. This includes providing education about hearing loss and any equipment required to protect their ears. When these regulations are not followed, employees may suffer permanent damage to their hearing abilities.
Contact a Hearing Aid Professional
If you or a member of your family is suffering from noise-induced hearing loss, HearingPlanet can help you learn more about potential solutions. Contact our hearing aid specialists at 1-800-432-7669.
Introducing the Decible
Wednesday, August 24, 2011
Noise-induced hearing loss (NIHL) is one of the most common forms of hearing impairment. In order to prevent it, we need to understand what level of exposure to loud noises is safe. But how can you measure something as abstract as a sound’s volume? The solution audiologists use is an interesting unit of measurement called a decibel (abbreviated as dB).
Most people have heard of decibels, and know that more decibels mean a louder noise. Beyond that, however, the decibel is widely misunderstood. We hope you find the following introduction helpful in understanding how the decibel system works.
Decible Ratios versus Amounts
The important thing to know about the decibel is that it represents a ratio, not an amount. In other words, there is not an amount of energy called a decibel that can be added or subtracted to achieve a different volume. Instead, a decibel compares the loudness of two different sounds. When we want to determine a noise’s decibel level, we must compare it to a certain predetermined baseline.
When measuring a sound’s intensity, audiologists use a baseline they call “zero decibels.” This is the lowest volume that a sensitive human ear can hear. There is no mathematical reason to call this volume zero decibels; audiologists have simply selected it for convenience. The decibel level of a sound tells you how many times louder it is than the lowest audible noise.
Now, does that mean a 5 dB sound is 5 times louder than zero decibels? Actually, no. The formula for determining decibel levels uses a mathematical function called a logarithm, which follows very different rules from a linear scale.
Understanding Decibel Levels
You do not need to know everything about logarithms to understand a decibel level. All you need to know is that a 10 dB sound is 10 times more intense than a zero decibel sound. Therefore, a 20 dB sound is 100 times more intense than zero (10 x 10). A 30 dB sound is actually 1,000 times zero dB. It may sound confusing, but just remember that you are not working with a linear scale.
The average human range of hearing is about zero decibels to 120 decibels. Past this point, sound becomes painfully loud and may cause permanent damage to the ears.
Contact a Hearing Health Consultant
HearingPlanet’s mission is to help hearing impaired people find the information and technology they need. To speak with a HearingPlanet hearing aid professionals, contact us today at 1-800-432-7669.
Upgrading Hearing Aids
Wednesday, August 17, 2011
If you have been experiencing problems with your hearing aid, or only suspect it could be performing better, it may be time to contact an audiologist about new technologies that may be able to help you. If you are concerned about paying for a whole new device, you do not need to worry. Sometimes a hearing aid’s performance can be greatly improved with an upgrade of its existing components.
Hearing Aid Upgrades that Could Help You
Even hearing aids that work very well when new can become dirty or wear down over time. Additionally, your hearing level and even the shape of your outer ear can change with age. Lastly, new technology may have been introduced since you purchased your hearing aid that could be very beneficial.
A few examples of hearing aid upgrades that many manufacturers and hearing clinics offer are:
- Adjustments to the hearing aid shell to help it fit your ear better and reduce feedback
- Replacement of older circuitry or parts with more high-tech options
- Cleaning the casing, microphone, and other parts that can trap dirt or moisture
- Repairs of broken casing, circuitry, or other parts
- Corrections of potential mistakes made when your hearing aid was originally fitted
Our hearing aid experts can tell you more about new technologies in hearing assistance that could be greatly beneficial for your condition.
HearingPlanet’s hearing aid consultants strive to make purchasing effective hearing aids as quick and simple as possible. Contact us today at 1-800-432-7669.
Hearing Aids and Direct Audio Input
Wednesday, August 10, 2011
For decades, hearing aid manufacturers have been looking for solutions to the challenge of using a hearing aid in conjunction with telephones, headphones, or other such devices. This can be problematic in several ways, including the difficulty hearing a somewhat removed sound, such as a voice through a telephone, even with the use of a hearing aid. Another problem is the electromagnetic interference that phones and other electronic devices can create.
Telecoils are one common solution to this issue. Others prefer a solution known as direct audio input, or DAI. If you are researching your hearing aid options, DAI is one of the many features you may want to consider.
What is DAI?
Direct audio input involves plugging your hearing aid directly into a phone, CD player, MP3 player, or other audio device. It is currently only available for behind-the-ear hearing aids with DAI capability. (Sometimes people with DAI-capable hearing aids do not even realize it - check the literature provided with your hearing aid or ask your audiologist to see if you can use this feature with your current hearing device.)
In order to use DAI, you will need a cord that connects to your phone or other device at one end and to your hearing aid at the other end. The part of the cord that plugs into your hearing aid is often known as the “boot” or the “shoe.” Your audiologist will probably sell these devices, or should be able to inform you about where you can buy one.
Fans of DAI technology enjoy it because it creates less interference than telecoils, leading to a clearer and more understandable sound. It is particularly useful for people who work around computers or machinery that can create a lot of electromagnetic interference. If you think DAI technology might be a good option for you, we would encourage you to contact the hearing aid experts of HearingPlanet.
Contact a Hearing Aid Consultant
At HearingPlanet, we strive to make the hearing aid selection process simple and informative. To schedule a consultation with an experienced hearing aid specialist, contact us at 1-800-432-7669.
Do You Need Hearing Aid Insurance
Wednesday, August 03, 2011
Hearing aids are helpful devices that employ some fascinating technology. Unfortunately, they are also small, delicate, and expensive to replace. While most high quality hearing aids will come with warranties in case of accidents, you also need to plan for what you will do when the warranty expires. One option is to look into having your hearing aid covered by an insurance policy.
Hearing Aid Insurance Options
If you want to insure your hearing aid against damage, theft, or being lost, you have three basic options:
- Add a hearing aid rider to your homeowner’s insurance policy
- Add your hearing aid to your health insurance (sadly, few companies offer this option)
- Purchase separate coverage for your hearing aid
Research your options carefully before deciding on hearing aid insurance coverage. Your financial situation, lifestyle, and hearing aid needs will all influence the kind of coverage you need. For example, your policy may or may not cover your expenses in case of the following:
- Damage from smoke or fire
- Damage from storms, hurricanes, or hail
- Misplacement of device
- Building collapse
- Riots or “civil commotion”
It is important to read your policy carefully, to make sure you fully understand what is covered and what is not.
Contact a Hearing Aid Consultant
Hearing loss is a highly frustrating medical condition, but help is available. To review a wide range of hearing aid models and brands, contact HearingPlanet today at 1-800-432-7669.
Hearing Aid Hygiene
Wednesday, July 27, 2011
A hearing aid can be a very useful device for a person who is hard of hearing. Unfortunately, if users and audiologists do not practice good hygiene, it can also be a breeding ground for bacteria and fungi. A recent study at the St. Louis University School of Medicine found that opportunistic diseases can easily enter the body through the ear canal when a hearing aid is not correctly cleaned and handled.
Protecting Your Health with Clean Hearing Aids
While anyone can suffer from illness spread by a poorly cleaned hearing aid, senior citizens and small children are especially vulnerable to potentially dangerous infections. To keep you or your loved one safe, follow these hygiene tips:
- Keep your hearing aid clean. Every night, you should wipe down the device using a soft piece of cloth. In addition, you should occasionally wash the ear mold with soap and water. Leaving the battery case open when you are not using the device can prevent moisture from accumulating, which can damage the device and can even allow mold to develop.
- Make sure your audiologist washes his or her hands before touching your hearing aid or examining your ears. Unfortunately, recent studies have found that few audiologists take this important step for their patients’ health.
- Do not allow friends or family to handle your hearing aid unless they have washed their hands. If you help your child or older loved one with his or her hearing aid, you may even want to wear gloves while handling it.
Caring for your hearing aid will not only help it function better; it is important for your health. For more information about hearing aid maintenance, call one of our experienced hearing aid consultants.
HearingPlanet provides accessible and reliable support to hearing aid users. Contact our experienced hearing aid specialists today at 1-800-432-7669.
Hearing Loss Among Musicians
Wednesday, July 20, 2011
Who would value hearing more than a person who earns his or her living creating music? Even if music is only a passion, and not a source of income, losing the ability to hear it can be devastating. Sadly, people who play instruments or attend concerts frequently may be at an increased risk for hearing loss. A 1999 study suggested that up to 30% of pop artists and 52% of classical musicians may develop some degree of noise-induced hearing loss. On the plus side, suffering from hearing impairment does not have to severely interrupt your life.
Hearing Health Dangers for Musicians
Exposure to high decibel (loud) noises for extended periods of time can cause damage to the hair cells of the cochlea, which play a very important role in processing sound. As this damage becomes more extensive over time, people may begin experiencing symptoms like:
- An inability to hear high frequency (high pitched) noises
- Tinnitus, or a ringing in the ears
- Decreased ability to tell the difference between different pitches
- Difficulty understanding speech
- Uncomfortable sensitivity to certain pitches
Unfortunately, damage to the ear’s hair cells is permanent. People with this condition may need to cope with the problem by using speech reading, hearing aids, and other technology.
Protecting Your Ears as a Musician
Every musician and music fan needs to understand the risk to their ears. A large orchestra can reach 112 decibels or more, while a rock concert can reach 120 – 130 decibels. In contrast, factory machinery is usually around 100 decibels.
If you enjoy performing or hearing live music, please take steps to protect your ears. Wear earplugs to any loud event (specially developed earplugs are available for musicians). Of course, you should also be careful to keep headphones, stereos, and other entertainment at a reasonable volume.
Contact a Hearing Aid Consultant
If you have been diagnosed with noise-induced hearing loss, assistive technology can help you manage this change in your life. To discuss your options with an experienced hearing aid specialist, contact HearingPlanet at 1-800-432-7669.
How Loud is Too Loud
Wednesday, July 13, 2011
It is important to know that exposure to very loud noises can damage your hearing; however, that is not the entire story. If you are interested in protecting your ears from noise-induced harm, you may be wondering exactly what volumes you need to be worried about. After all, exposure to loud noises is an unavoidable part of most people’s lives, so how can we know when to be concerned?
Hearing health researchers have established the range which an average person can hear, from the barely audible to the uncomfortably loud. This article will look at this range in more detail, with advice on protecting yourself from dangerous noise levels.
The Sound Spectrum
In the measuring system used by most audiologists, the point labeled “zero decibels” does not actually represent a lack of sound. It represents the lowest volume that the average healthy ear can perceive. As the number of decibels increases, sounds become exponentially louder. An example of this spectrum, with examples of each decibel level, is below:
- 0 dB: Lowest audible sound (Safe)
- 20 dB: A whispering voice (Safe)
- 60 dB: Normal conversation (Safe)
- 85 dB: Heavy traffic (Can become dangerous with continuous exposure)
- 95 dB: Lawn mowers (Can become dangerous with more than 2 hours of exposure)
- 110 dB: Loud concert (Can become dangerous with 1/2 hour of exposure)
- 120 dB: Ambulance siren (Can become dangerous with 15 minutes of exposure)
- Above 120 dB: Shotgun fire, jet engine (Can be dangerous at any amount of exposure)
Whenever you will be exposed to sounds above 90 decibels for more than a few moments, doctors recommend using ear plugs or taking other protective measures for your ears.
Contact a Hearing Aid Professional
Sadly, noise-induced hearing loss is usually permanent. However, it does not need to interfere with your relationships or career. To discuss affordable hearing aids that may benefit you, contact HearingPlanet today at 1-800-432-7669.
Treating Ear Infections
Thursday, July 07, 2011
The medical term for a middle ear infection (the most common kind) is otitis media. Many people with otitis media experience a temporary reduction in hearing while they are sick, often accompanied by a “full” feeling in the ear. Unfortunately, if left untreated, this hearing loss can become permanent. This is more common with severe infections such as meningitis.
Recognizing Ear Infections
Ear infections are a very common health problem, particularly among children. Doctors estimate that about 75% of children have experienced ear infections by the age of three; about 50% of them have experienced three or more. Of course, adults can also develop ear infections, although they are less likely to because of their more advanced immune systems.
Common symptoms of ear infection in both adults and children include:
- Ear ache
- An itching sensation in the ear (This may case a child to tug or rub at his or her ear.)
- A sensation of fullness in the ear
If you or your child is experiencing symptoms of otitis media, you need to make an appointment with your doctor soon. An untreated infection can spread to the inner ear and even the brain. There is no need to panic, as lasting harm caused by an ear infection is rare, but there are many reasons to consult your doctor.
Contact a Hearing Health Consultant
If you or a loved one is suffering from hearing impairment, HearingPlanet can help you find an affordable solution. Contact our hearing aid experts today at 1-800-432-7669.
Disposable Hearing Aids
Friday, July 01, 2011
While hearing aids can reduce the complications of hearing loss, such as struggling to hear conversations with friends, they can also come with some complications of their own. Some people find it difficult to replace the small batteries these devices require, particularly if they have limited vision or manual dexterity. For some, the solution may be the use of disposable hearing aids.
Potential Advantages of Disposable Hearing Aids
Fans of disposable hearing aids claim they have several advantages over conventional designs, including:
- No need to replace batteries. A disposable hearing aid’s batteries are a permanent part of the casing; when they die, you simply replace the device.
- Low maintenance. Because they are only worn for a short time (usually around two months), disposable models do not need to be adjusted over time.
- Easy replacement. If you lose or damage a conventional hearing aid, it can be expensive to replace. In contrast, disposable hearing aids usually cost under $100.
However, this kind of hearing aid is not for everyone. They also have their downside.
Potential Disadvantages of Disposable Hearing Aids
Some people who have experimented with disposable hearing aids ultimately decided that conventional models are worth it, citing problems such as:
- Poor fit. Disposable models are not custom fitted; instead they have a flexible design to help them fit the majority of adult ears. For some users, however, the fit is simply uncomfortable.
- Standardized settings. While disposable hearing aids can usually be adjusted to some extent, their settings are mostly one-size-fits all. For people with severe hearing loss or other complications, these models may not provide adequate help.
- Frequent replacement. Disposable hearing aid batteries are designed to be long-lasting, but they do die eventually. Some people simply do not want to buy several hearing aids per year.
Before you spend money on a disposable hearing aid, discuss the matter with a qualified audiologist. He or she can help you decide if it is right for you.
Need to learn more about hearing aids? HearingPlanet provides efficient, courteous, and knowledgeable assistance to each of our clients. Contact our hearing aid professionals at 1-800-432-7669.
Choosing the Right Hearing Aid for You
Wednesday, June 22, 2011
There are many factors that can contribute to hearing loss including hereditary issues, chronic exposure to loud noises, and gradual hearing loss that often comes with advanced age. Persons who are suffering from hearing loss often notice that they have trouble recognizing speech and sounds and may be confused when interacting with others in social and professional settings.
It is important to treat hearing loss as early as possible to prevent serious loss of hearing function and correct the issue before it becomes too late. While some types of hearing loss may be corrected by surgery or medication, individuals who are suffering from certain other types of hearing loss may choose to turn to electronic devices like hearing aids for assistance. The hearing loss professionals of HearingPlanet are happy to bring you the following information about hearing aids and how to choose the hearing aid that is right for you.
Testing for Hearing Loss
Before choosing a hearing aid, it is recommended that individuals visit an audiologist to determine the type and severity of their hearing loss. Doctors can usually determine the type and level of hearing loss the patient is suffering by analyzing tests including:
- Hearing tone tests
- Middle-ear function tests
- Pure tone audiometry
- Speech audiometry
Once a diagnosis has been made, the medical professional usually can recommend the proper course of action for treatment and remedy of the hearing problem.
Types of Hearing Aids
Hearing aids come in different shapes and sizes and often vary based on their placement in or around the ear. The most common types of hearing aids include:
Hearing aids will typically feature either analog or digital electronics and may be adjustable based on the electronics inside. Hearing aids that are analog-based convert sound waves into amplified electrical signals. The user may be able to adjust the hearing aid to fit different environments depending on the size of the room and the level of noise surrounding the individual.
Digital hearing aids amplify sound waves for the user after converting the sounds into numerical codes. These hearing aids may be programmed to amplify only certain pitches while reducing the sound level of others. Digital aids may also be set to pick up sounds coming from certain directions, in the event that the user wants to focus on concerts, performances, or conversations.
What to Consider when Buying a Hearing Aid
Before purchasing a hearing aid, it is important to consider what type of hearing aid will best suit you, as well as aesthetic considerations. Other considerations include:
- Which features are most important to the user
- The costs associated with certain types of hearing aids
- If the vendor offers trial periods for testing the use and comfort of a specific hearing aid
- Difficulty of adjusting settings and programs
- Proper care and maintenance
- Warranty periods and repair requirements
Hearing aids can often help individuals with progressive hearing loss and other issues detect and amplify important sounds and conversations. While hearing aids may vary in design, function, and price, there are many different types and styles to choose from, so individuals who need assistance should be able to find one that fits their specific needs.
For more information on choosing the best options for your hearing health, contact the hearing professionals of HearingPlanet today at 1-800-432-7669.
Reduce Stress Reduce Tinnitus
Wednesday, June 15, 2011
People suffer from tinnitus (a persistent ringing in one or both ears) for many reasons. Noise-induced nerve damage, cardiovascular disease, the side effects of certain drugs, and some conditions that affect the ear can all create this irritating problem. Research shows that even elevated levels of stress can contribute to - and may even cause - some cases of tinnitus.
Stress-Relieving and Tinnitus Reducing Tips
Many people with chronic tinnitus report that their symptoms increase drastically during periods of stress, such as a difficult week at work or a major life change like marriage. Even when things get hectic, however, you may benefit from simple stress-reducing techniques such as:
- Meditation: Whether you practice it for an hour, or just take five minutes to close your eyes and breathe deeply, meditation can help you relax and unwind. There are many breathing and stretching techniques that can enhance the benefits; you may want to look into literature or classes that could help.
- Exercise: You do not need a strenuous workout routine to benefit from exercise. A half-hour of simple aerobics or a walk around the block can help you de-stress and stay healthy.
- Watch what you eat: A diet rich in vitamins and minerals will boost your energy and help you meet challenges head on. As an added bonus, vitamins A and B have been linked to healthy hearing (just be careful not to take too much).
If you are having a difficult time coping with tinnitus or a different hearing problem, our hearing aid professionals can refer you to a qualified audiologist in your area. He or she will have more recommendations suited to your needs.
HearingPlanet provides important information, useful referrals, and competitive deals on a variety of hearing aids. Contact a Hearing Consultant today at 1-800-432-7669.
Behind The Ear Hearing Aids
Wednesday, June 08, 2011
Anyone in need of a hearing aid has a wide variety of brands, features, and models to choose from. The best choice for any individual will depend on his or her level of hearing, lifestyle needs, and personal preferences. The behind the ear (BTE) model of hearing aids is one of the oldest still in use today. It is particularly recommended for children and people who have difficulty manipulating small objects. However, its effectiveness in treating many kinds of hearing loss and ease of use make it popular with many hearing impaired people.
BTE Hearing Aids
This kind of hearing aid has a plastic casing that hooks behind the ear and connects to an amplifier fitted within the ear. It is helpful for people with mild to severe hearing loss, and may come equipped with more features than smaller models. Its larger size makes it easier to handle and keep track of, although some people feel self conscious about its visibility.
A more recent variation on behind the ear hearing aids is the “open fit” design. Its behind-the-ear casing is very small, and connects to a thin tube that leads into the ear. As a result it does not create the “plugged up” feeling that bothers some hearing aid users. However, it is only effective in treating high frequency hearing loss, and its small batteries may not last very long.
Choosing a hearing aid from the many available styles can be difficult. For courteous and efficient guidance through the large world of hearing loss solutions, contact HearingPlanet at 1-800-432-7669.
Red Flags of Hearing Loss
Wednesday, June 01, 2011
Hearing loss is an often frustrating condition that can have many different causes. Sometimes these causes are otherwise harmless, such as nerve damage associated with aging or certain genetic abnormalities. In some cases, however, hearing loss is only a symptom of a serious underlying medical problem. This article will review some red flags that need to be evaluated by a doctor.
If you suspect you have a hearing impairment, it is important to see an audiologist for a full evaluation. To learn about qualified audiologists in your area, or to explore hearing aids and other technology that may help, call HearingPlanet at 1-800-432-7669.
When to Call a Doctor about Hearing Loss
You may need to see a physician as well as an audiologist if you have experienced symptoms such as:
- Sudden deafness
- Pain or drainage from the ear (otorrhea)
- Fluctuations in your hearing abilities
- A feeling of pressure or “fullness” in the ear
- A head injury or exposure to very loud sounds
These can be signs of an ear infection or other medical condition that requires medical attention. If left untreated, the condition may progress into a much more serious problem. When in doubt about whether or not you need to see a doctor, it is always wise to make an appointment for a check-up just to be sure you are healthy.
Contact a Hearing Aid Specialist
If you have been diagnosed with a hearing impairment, HearingPlanet can help you find solutions. Contact our hearing aid experts today at 1-800-432-7669.
Hearing Aid Technology Inspired by Flies
Wednesday, May 25, 2011
You just never know where inspiration is going to come from. As researchers work on new medical innovations, they incorporate concepts from many different fields along with their own ideas and sparks of creativity. For example, consider the new role model for enhanced directional hearing: the Ormia Ochracea, a tiny yellow fly.
Directional Hearing and Hearing Aids
Directional hearing is the ability to recognize and focus on sounds coming from a particular direction. It is a beneficial skill for humans in many ways: following a conversation despite background noise, identifying the source of warning alarms like ambulance sirens, and following sounds such as a person calling from another room.
Directional hearing is rooted in time differences between the ears’ reception cells. When a sound reaches one ear sooner than the other, your brain uses this information to determine where the sound came from. The human mind can use time differences of mere microseconds when making this determination. Unfortunately, this principle has been very difficult to apply to hearing aids.
One of the primary problems involves scale. For any device - mechanical or biological - to determine the source of a sound, it must be larger than the sound waves themselves. This is why directional microphones in hearing aids do not work as well as people would like, and why most small insects cannot have directional hearing; or so scientists used to think.
Hearing as Inspired by the Ormia Ochracea
The ormia ochracea is a very small fly, usually about two millimeters wide. Yet, to the surprise of many biologists, its directional hearing rivals that of humans. This amazing ability seems to be linked to a special hearing organ within this fly’s head: a direct connection between the two ears.
In other hearing organisms, each ear has its own tympanic membrane, or ear drum, In the Ochracea, the ears are connected at a kind of hinge; the arrangement has been said to look like a seesaw. This connection magnifies the ear drum vibrations caused by sound waves. The Ochracea can analyze pressure differences between each membrane in a matter of nanoseconds.
Hearing aid technicians are very excited about this breakthrough as a means to help understand the mechanisms of the ear. Changes in hearing aid designs, construction materials, and more can all lead to greatly enhanced directional hearing for the hearing impaired in the future.
Innovations in hearing aid technology are being made every day. To learn more about current hearing aids, including the best design for you, contact a hearing aid expert from HearingPlanet at 1-800-432-7669.