WHAT ARE INVISIBLE HEARING AIDS?

When deciding to get hearing aids for the first time, many people list their top concern is how they look, and what people will think of them when they notice the hearing aids.

The stigma attached to having hearing aids can be a big deterrent to getting them at all.

If you could get all of the benefits of hearing aids: better communication, easier hearing, noise cancelling…and the hearing aids themselves were invisible, would that change your perspective?  

Well, now this is not just a daydream. Invisible hearing aids have become a reality, and they are helping more people than ever improve their hearing without the self-consciousness and stigma attached to using hearing aids.

Invisible-in-the-canal (IIC) hearing aids are now available and once inserted, are practically invisible to everyone.

The Benefits of IIC Hearing Aids:

They’re invisible. IICs are so tiny that once inserted in the ear canal, they are not noticeable or visible. Because they are so small, they fit deep into the ear canal and most people will not be able to see them. If the stigma of hearing aids has been stopping you from getting them, IICs could be right for you.

They’re comfortable. Because IICs fit so snugly deep within the ear canal, they don’t trap sound and cause an echoing called the occulusion effect like larger hearing aids can. Sounds are more natural, less hollow, less distorted.

They preserve battery life. The power output for IICs is lower than other hearing aids because they sit so close to the ear drum. This proximity to the ear drum also effectively prevents feedback, especially when talking on the phone. 

The sound quality is superior. Natural sound quality is another benefit of IICs. It sits so deep in your ear canal that it is can leverage the natural acoustics of your ear to funnel sound, giving it a more natural tone as a result.  There are no tubes or wires, so there is nothing to block the sound. An easier adjustment to using hearing aids has been reported, as well as better localization of sound.

IICs do have some drawbacks, however, which should weigh into the decision you make.

The Drawbacks of IIC Hearing Aids:

They only have one microphone. Most hearing aids are larger, so they can support multiple microphones, which allows for advanced directionality (the ability to focus on a sound in a certain direction and reduce background noise in that direction). Because IICs are so tiny, they can only support one microphone and therefore cannot offer the same directionality.

They preserve energy, but can only support very small batteries. The small size of IICs can only support a smaller battery that is depleted more rapidly than the larger batteries of other devices. The battery will therefore require more frequent charging.

IICs cannot accommodate severe hearing loss. People with mild to moderate hearing loss will benefit most from IICs. The small size can only offer limited capabilities.

IICs don’t fit some people’s ears. Occasionally IICs don’t work for people because of the shape of their ears. People with short ear canals or that are small or of an irregular shape may not be able to use IICs.

While IIC hearing devices are a marvel of modern technology and can be the perfect solution for some, especially people with mild to moderate hearing loss who are worried about bulky hearing aids, they are not right for everyone. Consult with your audiologist to weigh the pros and cons before deciding one way or the other.  

Here at California Hearing Center we are committed to your hearing health. Call us today to set up an appointment for a hearing screening. We can discuss hearing aid options with you and work with you to find one that fits your budget.

DEBUNKING THE MYTHS OF HEARING LOSS

Hearing loss is an incredibly common disability, but it is one that is invisible. That makes understanding it or accommodating to people who suffer with hearing loss a bit more difficult. There is also a stigma attached to hearing loss (and the need for hearing aids): so much so, that only about 20% of people who could benefit from hearing aids actually use them. Additionally, people suffering from hearing loss wait an average of 10 years before addressing it with hearing aids or other intervention.

Hearing aids are expensive and usually not covered by medical plans, so that is one reason that hearing loss sufferers shy away from them. Another reason is that they are afraid they will be ugly or obvious to others, or they may be afraid to admit there is a problem.

There are a few misconceptions about hearing loss, however, that will be helpful to address so you can better understand the challenges and navigate to solutions.

Misconceptions About Hearing Loss

1.    Hearing loss only affects older people.

Though hearing loss is more common in the elderly, hearing loss affects people of all ages and can be caused by a variety of factors, including birth complications. Most commonly, hearing loss is a result of loud noise exposure, which can come from a loud work environment, or even listening to music too loudly.

2.    Hearing aids are an instant fix.

Hearing aids are a tool that help the brain recognize and interpret sound. If a person has vision problems, putting on a pair of glasses can often immediately restore sight. With hearing aids it’s a little bit more complicated. Once the right hearing aids are chosen, the audiologist may need to do a bit of adjustment before the best hearing experience is achieved.

3.    Talking louder can help deaf people to hear you.

Often people think that hearing loss is just like the volume is turned down on a person’s hearing, but that isn’t exactly the case. For someone suffering from hearing loss, it is as if you are speaking into a broken microphone: the sound is distorted no matter what the volume. Speaking louder will usually not help.

4.    Hearing loss can be reversed with surgery or medicine.

As of now, permanent hearing loss is unfortunately irreversible by any method. This makes it all the more crucial to protect your hearing and prevent hearing loss in the first place. Annual hearing screenings can catch hearing loss long before you notice it yourself—so that is another important way to intervene before hearing loss begins to interfere with your life.

5.    Deaf people only listen when they want to.

If a person with hearing loss seems like they are ignoring you, it may just be because they really didn’t hear you! Also, people who struggle with hearing loss also struggle with listening fatigue because they have to concentrate to understand sounds that are effortless for other people. When listening fatigue sets in, they may need to take a break.

6.    Deaf people are good lip readers

Lip reading is hard! Depending on how long a person has been deaf, they may or may not be very good at lip reading. Even the best lip readers are playing a guessing game, so help them out by augmenting your speech with as much body language and gesturing as possible!

7.    Sign language is the same everywhere.

Many people don’t know it, but there are about 130 different sign languages, and different spoken languages and countries have their own versions of sign language!

8.    Deaf people can’t drive automobiles.

Deaf people can drive too! They do need to be much more cautious of their surroundings and pay very close attention visually to what is happening around them.

9.    Deafness is hereditary.

Hearing loss and deafness come from a wide variety of factors, including childhood illness, accidents, loud noise exposure, congenital defects or ototoxic medication/chemicals. Deafness is rarely genetic.

10. Hearing aids are big and ugly with unsightly wires.

Modern hearing aids are much smaller than ever before and can even be controlled by your smartphone. Many of them are so tiny they fit deep into the ear canal and are virtually invisible! They also come in all shapes, sizes and colors and can be wireless.

Here at California Hearing Center we are committed to your hearing health. Call us today to set up an appointment for a hearing screening. We can discuss hearing aid options with you and work with you to find one that fits your budget.

TWO LOCATIONS TO SERVE YOU BETTER

San Mateo

88 N. San Mateo Drive
San Mateo, California, 94401

Phone: (650) 342-9449
Fax: (650) 342-4435
Email: info@calhearing.com

San Carlos

1008 Laurel Street
San Carlos, California, 94070

Phone: (650) 342-9449
Fax: (650) 342-4435
Email: info@calhearing.com

HEARING RESOLUTIONS FOR 2019

With a new year comes a time to reflect on our old patterns and how to update our habits and improve ourselves. Do you typically make New Year’s Resolutions, and what is your track record at sticking to them?

Personally, I don’t make New Year’s Resolutions. I educate myself throughout the year and when I see changes that need to be made, I don’t wait for a new year to make them. Even so, I have been reflective on my habits and patterns this new year, thinking about things that I might like to change.

We all value our hearing. From conversing with friends and family to watching TV or listening to music, we use hearing almost continuously. Hearing health is something we take for granted, but when we begin to experience hearing loss we realize what a gift our hearing health has always been.

Fortunately, there are ways we can protect our hearing. Here are a few easy things you can do right now to ensure your hearing health lasts as long as possible.

1.    Yearly hearing screenings are key. One of the easiest things you can do to protect your hearing is to get annual hearing evaluations at your audiologist. Since hearing damage is irreversible, it’s important to catch it early: even before you notice it. Hearing screenings are quick, easy, and often covered by insurance.

2.    Wear protective gear. Since the most common type of hearing damage is noise-induced hearing loss, it is important to protect your ears whenever you are in a noisy environment. Whether you are at work in a factory, at a firework show, or at a concert, be sure to protect your ears from loud noises. It’s a good idea to always carry earplugs. You never know when you will be in a noisy environment, so it’s good to be prepared.

3.    Keep the volume low. When we listen to music or watch TV on mobile devices using ear buds, it’s easy to have the volume at a level above 80 decibels, which is the threshold for hearing damage. It’s best to keep the volume at less than 60% of the maximum, and if you can use over-the-ear earphones with noise-canceling technology, that can prevent you from needing to turn the volume up as loud to hear your device.  

4.    Get custom-made. If you listen to a lot of music or if music is your business, it’s a good idea to get custom-made earplugs or earphone molds. They are relatively inexpensive and a great way to protect your hearing from noise-induced hearing loss. They are customized to fit your ear canal exactly. Not only do they deliver superior sound, they allow for better quality listening, so you can listen at a lower volume and prevent hearing damage.

The first step to halting hearing loss and preventing further damage is to recognize your situation. Come in today for a hearing screening and formulate a strategy to train your brain to listen actively and effectively.

PROTECTING YOUR DEVICES AND YOUR HEARING ALL YEAR LONG

If you live in a cold, wet or snowy climate, the winter weather can do a number on all of your devices. This includes hearing devices, so special care should be taken during the colder season to adequately protect your hearing aids and your hearing. Here are a few things to keep in mind as winter approaches.

Earmuffs Are Your Friends

Earmuffs have a bigger use than just keeping your ears warm: there are earmuffs that can also protect your ears from excessive noise that can damage your hearing. The best way to combat hearing damage is prevention, even if you already suffer from hearing loss.

Luckily, prevention is often fairly easy with just a little foresight and planning.

Limiting your exposure to loud noises is key to preventing the majority of hearing damage. Purchasing a pair of noise-reducing earmuffs is a wise investment: they can reduce noise exposure by as much as 30 dB (anything over 80 dB can damage hearing and cause hearing loss). They aren’t only for winter, either: you can use them year round, from noisy football games to mowing the lawn or 4th of July fireworks shows. Noise-reduction earmuffs are affordable; they start at about $10.

Sweat Bands Can Protect Your Devices

If you engage in activities in which you sweat, including sports activities year-round, an inexpensive sweat band can help protect your hearing aids from damaging moisture. Hearing aid sweat bands are specifically designed to protect hearing aids worn outside the ear, and they start at about $20. They are available in many colors and sizes, and are easily washable and easy to wear. They can also serve as a wind screen to prevent wind feedback in your microphone when you are outside.

Your Memory Settings Can Protect Your Hearing

Many hearing aids have memory settings that adjust the volume on your hearing aids if you come in contact with very loud noises. In the winter, snow blowers and snow mobiles can expose you to high levels of noise: louder than 100 dB! Check with your audiologist to see if your hearing aids have memory settings and find out how you can use them to protect your ears against excessive noise year-round by programming them for aggressive noise reduction.

Dry Batteries Last Longer

Humidity, moisture, and changes in temperature can affect the life of your hearing aid batteries. When you turn your hearing aid off at night, take a look at the battery compartment, ensuring it is free of moisture, and wipe it with a soft, dry cloth before storing.

Dehumidify for Longer Life

Like the batteries, the other components of hearing aids are sensitive to temperature changes and moisture. These factors can affect the performance and the lifespan of your hearing aids. A hearing aid dehumidifier is inexpensive and can prolong the life of your hearing devices by removing moisture at night while you are sleeping; some even sanitize them as well! Hearing aid dehumidifiers range from $5 to $100 and can be purchased through your audiologist, online or even in some drug stores.

With just a little bit of planning, your hearing devices and your hearing can be protected from damage in the winter and throughout the year.

Here at California Hearing Center we are committed to your hearing health. Call us today to set up an appointment for a hearing screening.