Can The Weather Hurt My Hearing Aids?

Hearing aids are essentially mini computers with a lot of technology packed onto a chip housed inside the casing. Any extreme swing of temperate and/or humidity can have an effect on the components of a hearing aid. Hearing aids are comprised of a chip, microphone, speakers, a receiver, a battery and sometimes rubber tubing. Changes in humidity can cause rubber tubing to become hard, brittle and even crack. If the integrity of the tubing changes, the individual is not hearing the sound quality that they were intended to hear because the tube in which the sound passes through is compromised. Electronics are also subject to negative effects when temperatures change. Electronics tend to run slower when the temperature is too high or too low. Too much humidity in the environment can cause moisture to build up on the hearing aid and the components causing the electronics to malfunction and corrode. The best way to combat those environmental changes is to store the hearing aids in a hearing aid dry box when not in use and to keep the batteries out of extreme cold or hot temperatures. By maintaining proper conditions of the hearing aid and the components, the lifespan of the electronics will be much longer than devices that have been subjected to more harsh conditions.

Hearing Loss Increases Fall Risk

Our ears play a very important role in our daily lives by helping us with hearing and vestibular (balance) function. There are two organs in the ear. One is called the Cochlea and it collects vibrations and pressure waves to determine which sounds we are hearing and then the information is sent to the brain for processing. Three semicircular canals and two otolith organs make up the vestibular system that provides input to the brain about our equilibrium, motion and spatial orientation. The brain uses different sounds that it hears to help process where we are in relation to other objects. The ears detect sounds and the brain can compare the volume and speed at which those sounds reach each ear. If our ears have hearing loss and do not hear well, the sounds will not be detected correctly and therefore, the brain will think we are in a different place than we actually are in relation to those other objects. Studies have shown that individuals with even just a mild hearing loss have an increased accidental fall risk by one-third over those with no hearing loss. Furthermore, the studies have also shown that for every 10 decibel increase in hearing loss, the fall risk increased by 140%. Greater amounts of hearing loss are very taxing on the brain and it’s ability to process information. Spatial awareness and balance control is also very demanding on the brain. With hearing loss that is not addressed, the brain has a difficult time ...Continue Reading

Is All That Technology Worth It?

There is a common misconception amongst individuals with hearing loss that if you are not very active, you do not need all of the great technology available in a premium hearing aid. Hearing aids are tools to help the ears hear sound and the brain process the information. Hearing aids are available in several different levels of technology. Each level up will have more technology available to the user to help with speech and noise processing. The goal is for the hearing aid to do most of the work before the user’s brain tries to process the information. Individuals, especially those with hearing loss, tend to not realize how much information the brain is processing even in what they consider to be a quiet environment. It is rare that someone is truly sitting in silence and not involved in any type of task. Even in a quiet environment it is likely that an individual with be listening to environment sounds around their home, the TV or their telephone. The brain is constantly processing the sounds it is picking up in the environment, therefore it is important for the hearing aid to be able to properly process all of those sounds. Premium hearing aid technology will give the user the best opportunity to hear speech sounds clearly and easily in a variety of dynamic environments. If the hearing aid cannot keep up with level of processing needed, then the user will become frustrated because they cannot understand information clearly or because ...Continue Reading

Why Do I Have Difficulty Understanding Conversations in Noise?

Hearing and understanding conversations in a dynamic environment can be very difficult. The brain uses several cues to help it focus on the sound source you are trying to listen to while trying to suppress the sounds you want to ignore. Social situations can be very dynamic. They often consist of multiple people talking, music and other background noise coming from items such as silverware or dishes. Our brain compares all of those sound sources by detecting time and volume differences at which they meet our ears. Interaural Time Differences (ITD) is difference between when a sound source reaches one ear compared to the other. For example, if a sound source was on the right hand side, it would reach the right ear quicker than the left ear because it has less distance to travel. Interaural Level Differences (ILD) is the same as the ITD except that the volume level is compared across the ears. When the ear detects a sound source coming from the right hand side, the volume level, would be louder on the right compared to the left because a sound’s volume level dissipates over the distance it travels. It would have to travel a longer distance to reach the left ear than the right. There are several studies that show significant differences in a normal hearing individual’s ability to detect ITDs and ILDs compared to the ability of individuals with hearing loss. Individuals with hearing loss have greater difficulty detecting ITDs and ILDs when there are ...Continue Reading