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

Are Q-tips Safe for My Ears?

Everyone produces wax and oils in their ear canals. There are glands within the ear canal that produce the wax and oil on a regular basis. Some individuals produce wax at a very fast pace while others produce a minimal amount. There are also different consistencies of the wax. Some individuals produce a very thick and sticky wax that builds up and blocks the ear canal. Other individuals produce a thinner sticky wax that tends to stay around the sides of the ear canal. There are also some individuals that produce a very hard wax that is similar to a pebble that sometimes adheres to the ear canal walls. So, Are Q-Tips safe to use in my ears? The answer is NO! The reason is because you cannot see in your own ear canal and you cannot tell if you are going to push the debris and wax in your ear canal in deeper causing a blockage or even injury. The deeper the wax is pushed down into the ear canal, the more difficult it becomes to remove. Wax can be removed by a hearing care professional that can see in your ear with an otoscope. There are 3 methods that are safe for the hearing care professional to use to remove the wax. The first method is by curette. The curette is used to help pull the wax and debris out manually. The second method is by suction. The suction is used to help pull the wax and debris ...Continue Reading

How To Keep Your Hearing Aids In Good Condition

Hearing aids require simple, but very important, maintenance. Remaining diligent with keeping the hearing aids clean can increase the lifespan of hearing aids. There are several different types of hearing aids and each type will have different replaceable parts. On traditional Behind The Ear hearing aids, there will be tubing in the earmolds and filters that protect the microphones on the hearing aids that can be replaced. Those pieces should be replaced every 4 to 6 months. On custom In The Ear hearing aids, there will most commonly be a wax guard on one end that should be replaced about once per month. There will also be an air vent that runs the entire length of the hearing aid. It is important to keep that vent clear of debris. A good way to do that is to brush it out or run a small piece of line though it similar to fishing line. The vent helps control the sound quality that person will hear from the hearing aid. When it is blocked, that individual’s sound quality will be compromised and they may not hear as well. A third style of hearing aid is called a Receiver In the Canal. While it is similar to a standard BTE, its components are rearranged and the hearing aid receiver is seated in the ear canal. RIC hearing aids most commonly have a wax guard at the end of the receiver as well as a silicon dome that covers the receiver. Both the wax ...Continue Reading

Household Items Contributing To Hearing Loss

Aging is not the only cause of hearing loss. The amount of noise exposure someone has over his or her lifetime is also a factor that contributes to the amount of hearing loss an individual has. Noise exposure is most commonly thought of as only work-related. However, we experience noise everywhere. Social settings and household items can also be sources of noise exposure. Social settings such as restaurants, theaters and gyms can be very noisy. The volume level of the noise and amount of time spent in that environment can have varying effects on a person’s hearing abilities. The louder the noise level and the longer the exposure, the greater the chances are of someone acquiring permanent hearing loss. In those environments, it is best to try to sit in a quieter area. At home, there are many items that are used often that produce a great amount of noise exposure. Some items include the TV, hair dryer and yard equipment such as a lawn mower, edger, weed eater and leaf blower. Some of that equipment can cause permanent hearing loss in less than 20 minutes of use if hearing protection is not used.  By using proper hearing protection, individuals can use loud equipment for a longer period of time with less risk of permanent hearing loss.