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Symptoms of hearing loss creep up gradually and are often much more apparent to other people than to us.
4:30 a.m. CST, March 5, 2014
KNOW YOUR OPTIONS
Hearing loss may indicate that you’re a candidate for hearing aids. The devices have come a long way technology-wise, with significant improvements in miniaturization and circuitry development.
Generally, hearing aids are now smaller and therefore barely visible. They are available in many different styles, such as in-the-ear and over-the-ear, and have a wide range of programmable digital and analog features.
Some insurance plans pay for the devices, though Medicare generally does not. Prices for hearing aids range from hundreds to thousands of dollars. — Harvard Health Letter
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CAN LEAD TO MORE DIFFICULTIES
Hearing Instruments Are More Discreet Than Hearing Loss
Can you hear the sound of:
A bird singing in the garden?
Your sister’s voice on the phone?
A car’s turn signal?
Friends’ conversation at a favorite restaurant?
Your neighbors’ knock on your front door?
A child’s giggle?
The theme song to your favorite TV show?
In 90 percent of all cases, hearing loss occurs because the delicate hair cells in the inner ear are irreparably broken or do not otherwise function properly. This means that the brain does not receive all the sounds and frequencies it needs to provide a complete soundtrack. It is like removing all the high keys on a piano and asking somebody to play a well-known melody. Even with only six or seven keys missing, the melody might be difficult to recognize and simply wouldn’t sound right.
Hearing instruments are more discreet than hearing loss
Long gone are the days when hearing instruments were large, obvious and embarrassing. Just like computers and cellular telephones from a decade ago, hearing instruments are now much smaller and offer amazing technological performance.
In fact, the technology and cosmetics of modern hearing instruments make wearing them far more discreet than having to ask another person to repeat their question, unintentionally ignoring them or pretending you have heard them only to give the wrong answer.
Untreated hearing loss has many consequences
Living with untreated hearing loss means difficulties in conversations with others, social gatherings, and perhaps lost performance at work.
You may suffer side effects from hearing loss such as:
Sadness and depression
Worry and anxiety
Less social activity
Emotional turmoil and insecurity
By not seeking help for your hearing loss, you are missing out on enjoying all that life has to offer.
April 25, 2013
A surprisingly common source of hearing trouble is a buildup of earwax (cerumen). That normal combination of glandular secretions and dead skin in the outer third of your ear canal ordinarily gets ferried out by migrating skin cells and washes away when you bathe.
It’s important stuff: Earwax blocks foreign bodies and protects the delicate eardrum from injury. But some people make excessive wax that can occlude the ear canal and impair hearing. And hearing aids can interrupt the natural conveyer belt that removes cerumen, leading to buildup (and damage to the device). In those situations, wax removal is called for.
How best to get it out? Don’t use a cotton-tipped swab, cautions Peter Roland, M.D., professor of otolaryngology at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas. It can push in the wax farther.
Instead, turn your head so that the affected ear is facing upward, then gently pour a small amount of hydrogen peroxide into the ear canal (provided your eardrum is intact). “Let it sit for 5 minutes, then turn the ear downward to drain it out,” Roland said. You can buy over-the-counter earwax softeners that also work, but peroxide is cheaper and just as effective, he says. If wax still remains, you can have it manually suctioned out by your doctor with the help of an otoscope—that illuminated conical device doctors have poked into your ear since you were a kid.
Hearing loss can progress so gradually, you might not realize you’re experiencing it. Heed these early warning signs so that you can get the treatment you need to stay connected and engaged in your life:
• You strain to hear conversations and grow tired of asking people to repeat themselves.
• You have trouble understanding words on TV except at high volume.
• You have trouble hearing over the telephone.
You can find many “self-tests” online to assess hearing loss. But research suggests it may be sufficient to ask yourself the simple question, “Do I have trouble hearing?” If the answer is yes, it’s worth seeing a doctor. There are also 12 questions you can answer that help gauge the extent to which hearing problems are causing you difficulty and frustration.
What not to use: Screening tests done over the phone or online that ask whether you can hear specific tones. Our experts say they may not be accurate and might have no control for background noise.
This article appears in the March 2014 issue of Consumer Reports on Health.
Where else can hearing loops be utilized?
Hearing loops can be used in private homes or in larger public environments. In most public places, hard of hearing people hear the broadcast sound, but only after it has traveled some distance from a loudspeaker, reverberated off walls, and gotten mixed with other room noise. Induction loop systems take sound straight from the source and deliver it right into the listener’s ear, drastically improving hearing in these large venues. In addition, the Americans for Disabilities Act Accessibility Guidelines for Buildings and Facilities require that buildings with fixed seating for 50 or more persons “have a permanently installed assistive listening system” plus signs “installed to notify patrons.” Loops have been installed in many churches, theatres, courts and auditoriums. In addition, banks, pharmacies, or other venues where detailed information must be transmitted and understood can be terrific applications for inductive loop systems.
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Why are hearing loops good for home Television use?
Television can be difficult for viewers that are hard of hearing, even when they have been fitted with new state-of-the-art digital hearing aids. Distance from the sound source, room acoustics and background noise can all interfere with intelligibility. Moreover, the viewer does not have the opportunity to have dialogue repeated and much of the conversation on television goes by very quickly. Any person with diminished speech recognition will have trouble in this type of hearing environment. As everyone has witnessed, this usually means that the hard of hearing viewer turns the volume up to uncomfortable levels in the home to better hear the television. A loop system can provide a solution to all of these issues as it isolates the sound from the television and transmits it equally into both ears through telecoil equipped hearing aids. The volume control can be set to a level that is comfortable for all listeners. Not only is the hearing aid wearer happier, other family members can sit in the same room and enjoy television again at a reasonable volume.