Thursday, November 8, 2012

Hearing Better in Noisy Rooms

One of the biggest complaints of the hearing aid wearer is hearing in noise.  Communication is challenging in noisy situations, and given that we are often distracted by multiple voices.  Restaurants wanting to give their business a slick modern look, create an acoustic nightmare with all hard smooth surfaces.  (which creates echos, loudness, and even more echos) What is a person with hearing impairment to do?  While these quick fixes will help, there is no substitution for visiting a professional for your hearing health. 

  1. Make sure you have your hearing checked every year after the age of 55.  If you wear hearing aids, this is critical for the performance of your hearing aid.  When you have hearing aids, you need to see your hearing center at least once a year for a new audiogram and fitting.  I recommend that my patients do this around their birthday to make the anniversary easy to remember. 
  2. Avoid sitting in the middle of the room.  Acoustically, this is the most challenging place to hear.  Try to sit in a corner or in a booth with a high back.  Soft surfaces reduce the echo effect, so look for them when choosing a seat in a restaurant.  
  3. The hearing impaired brain process sound differently in noise than those without hearing loss.  According to a recent study at Perdue University, the auditory neurons of persons with hearing loss process sound differently than persons with normal hearing.  Past studies showed no difference, "...but when the same tests are conducted in a noisy environment, there is a physical difference in how auditory nerve fibers respond to sound." (  What this all means is, that hearing in noise is more challenging if you have a hearing impairment due to the nature of the way the sound is processed in noise.  More research is necessary to find out its affect on real world noises
  4. Auditory Training or LACE is ideal for re-teaching the brain to hear in noise.  This program is new and so far it seems to work very well.  It does require a small financial commitment, (about $75-$100) and you must use the program about three days a week for 6 weeks.  You can find more information about this program at 
  5. If your hearing aid is wireless, you can ask your hearing professional if there are any accessories that can help you in noisy rooms.  Many manufacturers now have special microphones that can connect to your hearing aids with out wires!  Hearing aids can also connect to other devices such as Bluetooth phones, televisions, Ipods, your computer, and just about any other media device.  
  6. How old are your hearing aids?  Your hearing aids should last 5-7 years, however if your hearing changes, you may outgrow your circuitry.  For example, you have that cute little CIC in your ear and it has 35dB receiver in it.  This means that it will amplify a signal a maximum of 35dB, but if your hearing changes and you now need additional amplification you will have to change something in your hearing device.  To save money you can send it in for repair and ask if a more powerful receiver is available.  If it is not possible to change the receiver, then you must purchase a new unit.
  7. Go to fittings EVERY YEAR!  Your hearing aid cannot perform to its maximum benefit if you do not have it programmed correctly.  Your hearing aid responds to the audiogram that is inside it, and if that is off, then your instrument may not be at its peak performance.  

Make sure you communicate with your provider, and let them know if anything could be better.  The more descriptive you are, the easier it is for them to correct the problem.

Monday, September 24, 2012

Hearing Aid Maintenance

Hearing aids are relatively simple to maintain. 

Keep hearing aid free of too much wax.  If your hearing aid goes silent, a common problem would be wax blockage.  You can easily clear this by changing the wax guard, or using the brush that came with your aid. 

Keep batteries fresh and change once a week.  Use only hearing aid batteries that are free of zinc.  I would recommend an American or German made batteries. 

If your hearing aid has a slim tube, then you must occasionally blow out wax from the tube.  Unscrew the tube from the aid, and used canned air to blow it out.  Then carefully screw it back on to the aid. 

For BTE's with an ear mold, be sure to have tubes changed when they start to get hard.  Tubes should be pliable for best fit.  This should be done at a hearing aid office. 

I will post a new video on hearing aid maintenance soon on my youtube channel.  You can easily access my youtube videos from my website

Monday, September 17, 2012

What Hearing Aid is Right for Me?

Your hearing is a very personal thing, and it is difficult to say that one brand will be better for you than another...  difficult but not impossible.

Hearing aids are typically priced on two criteria, channels-bands and software.  Bands are how many times a frequency spectrum is split within a given range.  For example, say a hearing aid's range in sound is 300hz to 8000hz, if that is split 12 times it is considered 12 bands.  Channels are what you can do with the sound... compression, noise cancelling, etc...   Software is the bulk of the price of any unit, the more aggressive the noise management software, the more the cost.  Please keep in mind that this is a generality. 

As far as hearing aids are concerned, there are certain types of losses that benefit from certain styles.

RIC [Receiver In the Canal]  This style is best for sloping losses, such as high frequency losses.  If your audiogram is nearly normal in the low frequencies, then the openness of the RIC style hearing aid is really best.  The reason is because the bud on the receiver (the part that goes in the ear) doesn't typically fill the whole canal, allowing for low frequencies to leak out.  You can have this type of aid if you have more severe losses, but it will most likely require an ear mold to control feedback [aka whistling] 

ITE-HS-CIC  All these aids are in the ear styles.  These are great for flat losses.  You can have this type of aid if you have sloping losses, but it will require several extra visits to the office to get the programming just right.

Invisible Aids    These are for mild to moderate losses.  They are typically very expensive, and very fragile.  They sit on the bony portion of the ear canal, so they are not as comfortable as other aids.  The nice thing is that they are completely invisible, so no one will ever know you are wearing it. 

The bottom line is this...  Any hearing aid you are willing to wear daily is your perfect aid! 

Friday, August 24, 2012

What hearing aids can and cannot do...

Welcome to my Blog!

I am the owner of Hearing Aid Station, and this blog will post information about hearing, life, food, and other news about my industry.

For my first post I would like to introduce some sites you might find helpful.

My Website:
Helpful Youtube videos:

Hearing Aids - What they can do vs. what they cannot do...

Hearing aids amplify sounds.  Simple as that sounds that is what they do.  Your ability to hear sounds then translate that into some sort of meaning is a product of listening skills.  Hearing aids can be adjusted for comfort in noise using something called compression.  Compression is just simply how and when something is amplified. 

A through examination of your ears is necessary for a proper fitting.  An audiogram for a hearing aid fitting must include an otoscopic examination of the ear canals, threshold testing with headphones or inserts, speech testing, uncomfortable loudness testing, bone conduction, and a COSI questionnaire. 

You cannot perform a proper audiogram that includes speech outside a booth.  The standard is that the patient must be in a seperate room for proper speech testing to be performed.  The reason is that the tester's voice can be audible even with headphones on. 

I mentioned speech testing because it is the only way for the Audiologist/Dispenser to know how well someone might do with amplification.  For example, if you are understanding amplified speech at about 60% correctness then you should expect to miss about 30% of words even with a hearing aid.  It will be worse when you are in noise.

That said, there is a program out there that will help you with listening skills called LACE.  You can do this online or with a software program.  It teaches the brain how to hear better in noise.  The program requires the listener to dedicate three 20 min sessions a week.  The program lasts about two months.  At the end, you should be hearing and understanding much better.

Hearing aids will not restore your hearing!  They do not "filter" out background noise.  They can change the way that background noise is amplified, but they cannot effectively edit your life. 

What hearing aids are for is making sounds audible so you can hear them.  Currently patients can expect more connectivity with their hearing aids for technologies such as cellular phones, televisions, and other like media devices.

Hearing aids are now rechargeable, but only a few manufacturers have this feature.  You need to ask your hearing aid professional about your options.

Well that is about it...  I will post again soon.