Hearing TV – Episode 1: Which Hearing Aid Should I Buy

WHICH HEARING AID SHOULD I BUY?

Hearing loss affects one in seven Australians, and three out of four people aged over 70. Hearing aids won’t restore hearing but can make an enormous difference in being able to maintain employment and an active social life.  A big question for anyone needing hearing aids is “Which hearing aid should I buy?”​

To answer this question, you need to understand what technology is available in hearing aids today.  Hearing aids are computers and have various levels of artificial intelligence. Depending on your lifestyle you may need more or less of the features offered by the various levels of artificial intelligence.

For example, if you regularly go out to dinner in noisy restaurants, you would benefit from the highest level of noise control features in hearing aids.  The highest artificial intelligence will automatically reduce the noise in the restaurant, while lower levels of hearing aid technology require you to manually choose to reduce background noise by pushing a button on the hearing aids.

This is an example of the type of discussion you will need to have with your audiologist, when deciding which hearing aid you should trial before deciding to buy.  It’s all about what best suits your lifestyle needs.

Episode 2: Which Hearing Aid Should I Buy? [Part 2]

In our last conversation we discussed how “which hearing aid to buy” will depend on what
level of artificial intelligence best suits your lifestyle needs.  Today we are going to discuss
the different levels of technology in hearing aids.

Hearing aid manufacturers have large Research and Development Teams working on ways to
improve people’s ability to hear with their devices.  This results in the development of the
next “you beaut’ ” artificial intelligence MICRO CHIP which then becomes a new MODEL of
hearing aid.

The new MODEL of hearing is then made available to the public for purchase.  But not
everyone has the budget to buy the best “you beaut’ “ hearing aid, so the manufacturer will
dumb down the microchip to allow lower price points of the same hearing aid.

Therefore the new model of hearing aid will have a hierarchy of technology levels and
corresponding prices.  Which hearing aid you buy will depend on your lifestyle needs and
budget.  Sometimes your budget may over-ride your life-style needs!

Episode 3: BTE Style of Hearing Aid

In our last conversation we discussed how “which hearing aid to buy” in terms of technology
level and budget.  Today we are going to discuss the STYLE of your hearing aid.

Within each TECHNOLOGY LEVEL and BUDGET, a model of hearing aid may allow you to
choose a style of hearing aid.  In the next 4 episodes we will discuss the 4 major styles, their
pros and cons.

Today we are looking at the largest STYLE of hearing aid, the BEHIND-THE-EAR or BTE for
short.

The BTE is in two parts: the actual hearing aid which sits behind your ear which is connected
by tubing to a custom-made ear mould.

This hearing aid has been around for many years, but is fitted less often than in your mother
or grandmother’s time.

The ADVANTAGES of the BTE are​:

  • It can provide the best benefit for severe-profound hearing losses, as it can house a large
    battery to drive the sound.
  • The large battery is less fiddly to manage and lasts longer
  • The electronics of the aid are well away from moisture and ear wax, and the earmould can
    be pulled off the hearing aid to be washed.​

The DISADVANTAGES of the BTE are:

  • The aids are larger
  • ….And therefore more visible and uncomfortable to wear.

Episode 4: Open Fit Style of BTE Hearing Aid

 

WHICH HEARING AID SHOULD I BUY? (Levels of STYLE OF HEARING AIDS – Open Fit BTE)

In our last conversation we discussed the Behind-the-Ear (BTE) and earmould STYLE of
hearing aid.
Today we are looking at the smaller BTE option, the Open Fit BTE.

The Open Fit BTE is in two parts: the actual hearing aid which sits behind your ear which is
connected by slim tubing to a custom-made shell or a disposable dome.

The ADVANTAGES of the Open Fit BTE are​:

  • The slim tubing is much less visible than the wider tubing of an earmould
  • The custom made shell is smaller than the classic earmould
  • The domes are smaller again
  • The electronics of the aid are well away from moisture and ear wax, and the slimtube and
    shell can be pulled off the hearing aid to be cleaned with wire.

Episode 5: Custom Fit Style of Hearing Aid

 

WHICH HEARING AID SHOULD I BUY? (Levels of STYLE OF HEARING AIDS – Custom Fit)

The final STYLE of hearing aid we’re going to discuss is Custom Made hearing aids.  These are
hearing aids that are CUSTOM MADE for your ear.

To do this a silicon impression is made of your ear.  This is a 5-minute procedure to obtain
the ear’s INDIVIDUAL SHAPE.  The ear impression is then used to make a CUSTOM FIT
hearing aid by the manufacturer using a 3-D printer.  Then the MICROCHIP, SPEAKER,
AMPLIFIER, MICROPHONE and BATTERY HOUSING is fitted into this CUSTOM MADE shape.

The final size of the CUSTOM FIT hearing aid is dictated by (1) the physical shape of your ear
that is, HOW MUCH hardware can FIT in your ear;
(2) your hearing loss SOoo the bigger the hearing loss, the larger size the SPEAKER needs to
be;
(3) your preference of size, for example the smaller CUSTOM aid size has very small batteries
and need nimble fingers to physically manage them.  A larger size may be preferable for
those who have less movement or feeling in their fingers.

The ADVANTAGE of CUSTOM FIT aids include the fact that…:​

  • No technology needs to be housed behind the user’s ear​
    This can make the aid easier to manage and does not compete for space with glasses
  • Another advantage is that the aid’s microphone can be located in line with user’s ear canal,
    which has advantages such as standard placement of a phone to the ear

The DISADVANTAGES of CUSTOM FIT aids include:

  • The electronics of the aid are close to the MOISTURE and EAR WAX of the ear canal and
    therefore the device needs to be well maintained.
  • Not all hearing losses suit having a solid aid in the ear, especially when your low pitch
    hearing is good – as the aid in your ear canal can than make your own voice sound
    unnaturally loud and uncomfortable.

Well, that’s a brief overview of the CUSTOM FIT hearing aid.  Join us next week for more
insights.  Happy Hearing from the HEARING TV team.

Episode 6: RIC Style of Hearing Aids

Hello, and welcome to Hearing TV.  My name is Phillippa, and today we’re talking about RIC hearing
aids.

Receiver in the canal aids, otherwise known as RIC, or RIE, are an excellent option for many reasons.

The RIC Comprises a small hearing aid which sits behind the ear, to which is connected a speaker, or receiver, which goes into the ear.  On the end of the receiver you can use either a disposable silicon dome, or a custom made hard acrylic tip.  So, by separating out the various components of the hearing aid, the device becomes modular and parts are easily replaced.

Let’s start with the part behind the ear. This incorporates the microphones, which pick up the sound coming through the air and send them to the computer chip inside.  The computer chip analyses the sound using the features you have chosen – meaning that it will apply more or less sophisticated
noise management and replication of the sound you want to hear depending on what level of technology you have chosen.  Then, the signal is sent down the wire to the speaker, or receiver, which sits in your ear.

The receiver comes in different strengths, from normal to super-power, which is dictated by your degree of hearing loss.  Then, we put aa disposable dome, or a custom-made shell, over the receiver so that it sits comfortably in your ear.

The RIC aid is our favourite option for various reasons:

Firstly, because the aid is modular, the parts can be easily replaced if they break.  The receiver wire is the weakest part, most prone to blockage or breakage, so we simply take it off and replace it either under warranty or at a small cost.

Secondly, if your hearing drops, the receiver can be replaced by a stronger one, which means that you don’t have to buy a new hearing aid.

Thirdly, the apparatus is almost invisible as the receiver wire sits against your skin, and the hearing aid is hidden behind your ear – most people will not even notice you have one on!

Then because your ear is not blocked, we have much less difficulty with what we call an “occlusion effect”, where your voice echoes in your head.  The open design means that you can hear sounds naturally, combined with amplification only where you need it.  The whole sound experience is much more natural.

Then, because the receiver, or speaker, is close to your eardrum, the range of high frequency sound that can be delivered is greater, resulting in clearer speech.  And because of that distance between the speaker and the microphones, you are less likely to get the dreaded whistle, or feedback which was one of the most offputting features of older hearing aids.

Overall, the RIC is a lightweight, virtually invisible, and versatile hearing aid for most people.

Episode 7: How The Ear Works

 

Hello and welcome to Hearing TV.  My name is Merren Davies.

In recent episodes we have been talking about Styles of Hearing Aids. But what if something has happened to your ear and hearing aids are of no help?
Before we look further into this, let’s have a look at the human ear and understand how it works.

Sounds around us reach our ears by a relay of air molecule vibrations.  These vibrations reach our eardrum, which transmit the VIBRATION of sound through to the INNER EAR via the interconnection of the 3 smallest bones in the body:​ the malleus, the incus and the stapes.

This mechanical vibration causes the fluid inside the inner ear to move, and this movement causes sensory cells inside the inner ear to TRANSDUCE the mechanical Vibration into an Electrical signal, which is picked up by our Hearing Nerve and transmitted up to the BRAIN – where the true ‘HEARING” happens.

People with a hearing loss can either have a problem with the Mechanical part of the ear – or the Electrical part of the ear – or both!

These are usually overcome by hearing aids, which can increase the volume of the sound to overcome the hearing loss.

In our next episode we will start looking at what can be done if hearing aids are no longer enough to overcome the hearing loss.

Stay tuned to Hearing TV to hear about implantable hearing devices.

Episode 8: Bone Conduction Hearing Implants

Hello and welcome to Hearing TV.  My name is Merren Davies.

In the last episode we discussed how the human ear works.  Today we are going to look at Bone Conduction hearing implants which are an option for people who cannot benefit from a conventional hearing aid.

Some people cannot use a conventional hearing aid as their ear canal, ear drum or the space just beyond the ear drum has repeat infections, …. So much so that the mechanical VIBRATION part of the ear no longer works well.

For some people their history of ear infections is so long and difficult to cure, the use of a conventional hearing aids may PROMOTE ear infections. If this is the case, then they are advised not to use normal hearing aids for medical reasons.

Some people are born without fully formed ear canals and therefore they simply cannot use a conventional hearing aid.

These are some of the MAIN reasons why people choose to obtain a Bone Conduction hearing implant.

For all these reasons there is a problem with the delivery of sound through the mechanical part of the ear, such a s the eardrum and the tiny bones behind the eardrum.

While the electrical part of the ear, the INNER EAR,  is in good working order.

SO HOW DOES THE BONE CONDUCTION HEARING IMPLANT WORK?
It works by picking up sound by an outside sound processor, and the sound is delivered to the INNER EAR by vibration.

So rather than the eardrum and the tiny bones vibrating against the cochlea, the vibration is transmitted by bone conduction directly to the INNER EAR.

In our next episode we will look at MIDDLE EAR HEARING IMPLANTS.

So, STAY TUNED to Hearing TV to hear about implantable hearing devices.

Episode 9: Middle Hearing Implants

 

Hello and welcome to Hearing TV.  My name is Merren Davies.

In the last episode we discussed bone conduction hearing implants.

Today we are going to look at Middle Ear hearing implants which are another option for people who cannot benefit from a conventional hearing aid.

Like the Bone Conduction Implant, the MIDDLE EAR implant has an internal part that is surgically implanted behind the ear,  and an external part.  The external part powers up and controls the internal implant.  The external device looks like a disk which is worn under the hair.

A Middle Ear implant is a device that is usually considered as the person’s inner ear needs help but something is not allowing them to use a conventional hearing aid.  Unlike the Bone conduction implant, the Middle Ear implant can provide amplification even when the inner ear has a MODERATE hearing loss.  And if there is a blockage in the Middle Ear as well the MIDDLE EAR implant can even help with a combined severe-profound hearing loss.

The MIDDLE EAR implant is designed to make the most of residual hearing and do the work of a conventional hearing aid – but without the need to wear anything in the ear canal or over the ear.

It is important that anyone considering a MIDDLE EAR implant that their rate at which their hearing loss is progressing is well understood as this will help predict the suitability of the device.  If someone has a moderate to profound hearing loss that is steadily getting worse year on year, then it may be better to consider a COCHLEAR IMPLANT.

We will discuss the COCHLEAR IMPLANT in the next episode of HEARING TV.

So, STAY TUNED to Hearing TV to hear about more about implantable hearing devices.

 

Episode 10: Cochlear Implants

Hello and welcome to Hearing TV.  My name is Merren Davies.

In the last episode we discussed Middle Ear hearing implants.

Today we are going to INTRODUCE the COCHLEAR IMPLANT.

The cochlear implant could be described as the ULTIMATE SOLUTION for people who cannot benefit from a conventional hearing aid.

To understand how the COCHLEAR IMPLANT works we need to remind ourselves of how normal hearing works:

Sounds around us reaches our ears by a relay of air molecule vibrations. These vibrations reach our eardrum, which transmit the VIBRATION of sound through to the INNER EAR via the interconnection of the 3 smallest bones in the body, which CONNECT the EARDRUM to the INNER EAR –  the COCHLEA.

The COCHLEA changes the mechanical Vibration into an Electrical signal, which is picked up by our Hearing Nerve and transmitted up to the BRAIN – where the true ‘HEARING” happens.

Most permanent hearing losses are due to a malfunction of the INNER EAR.  The COCHLEAR IMPLANT is designed to replace the function of the INNER EAR.

There are two parts to the COCHLEAR IMPLANT : an EXTERNAL and an INTERNAL part, which is why we often call it a “COCHLEAR IMPLANT SYSTEM” – as each part is needed for the system to work.

The EXTERNALLY worn part of the SYSTEM is called a SPEECH PROCESSOR.  It is the BRAINS of the cochlear implant.  It picks up the sounds of the world and determines what the INTERNAL PART should do.  It sends INSTRUCTIONS AND POWER to the INTERNAL part via
RADIO TRANSMISSION.  The INTERNAL part of the COCHLEAR IMPLANT is fully surgically implanted in the area behind the person’s external ear. And there is an electronic lead which runs from this space to inside the INNER EAR.

This ELECTRONIC LEAD then communicates to the person’s HEARING NERVE ….which transmits the signal up to the BRAIN – where ‘HEARING” happens.

We will discuss the COCHLEAR IMPLANT in more detail in the next episodes of HEARING TV.

So, STAY TUNED to Hearing TV to hear about more about implantable hearing devices.

 

Episode 11: How Long Will The Hearing Aid Last?

A question we are often asked is “how long will the hearing aid last?”
These days development of technology is very fast, so new hearing aids are being released all the time,. However, previous hearing aids won’t become obsolete just because there are new ones available. In fact, you can expect the hearing aids to last about 5 to 7 years, or even longer if they are well looked after.

The next question is “how long will it take to get used to hearing aids?”
A modern hearing aid should sound quite natural, so you can start wearing them all day every day if you want to. But because you will hear sounds that you haven’t heard for a long time, especially the high frequency sounds, the hearing aides may seem to sound sharp or hissy. But don’t worry! – the manufacturers recognised that the brain needs time to adjust to the new sounds, so hearing aids have a built-in automated interpretation system which means they adjust themselves slowly to optimal levels without you even noticing.

Everyone’s experience is different so don’t be influenced by what someone else says …just go and try it out for yourself. And remember the most important thing, is to tell your audiologist everything that’s happening with your hearing aid, so that they can be informed enough to make the adjustments that you need for your particular listening environment.

Episode 12: Do I Need Hearing Aids

Welcome to Hearing TV. I’m Stewart and today I’m answering one of the more common questions we get about hearing aids.

One often asked question is, do I need 2 hearing aids. The answer is, if you have hearing loss in both ears, then yes you do. Think of it like wearing glasses – you wouldn’t wear a monocle in one eye only. The same applies to hearing aids. If you can hear in one ear only because you only have the one hearing aid, then you lose important information needed by the brain to understand speech in noise. When it’s quiet, you might get by with one hearing aid only. But as soon as you’re in a noisy place, you will not be able to understand what someone is saying. This is because the brain uses both ears to make decisions about what is speech, and what is noise.

Another important thing we are able to do only if both ears are working, is to localise sound, or tell where sound is coming from. For example without two ears, you cant tell where someone is calling from, or which side a car is coming from, so it can be a real safety issue if you do not have both ears hearing properly.

So although it is completely up to you whether you buy one aid or two, we would always recommend two if you have hearing loss in both ears.

Episode 13: Hearing Aid Myth Exposed

Hi I’m Stewart, and today I answer another common question that we get about Hearing Aids. Sometimes people ask: “will hearing aids make my hearing worse?”The answer is no, correctly-programmed hearing aids will not make your own hearing worse. But, because listening and understanding people becomes so much easier with hearing aids…then, when you’re not wearing them, the contrast makes you feel as if your hearing is worse.

Before you got the hearing aids, you were unconsciously working hard to “fill in the gaps” when people were talking. But the Hearing Aids take a lot of that effort away, so when you go without them you suddenly notice how hard it is.So hearing aids don’t make your natural hearing worse, but they do give your brain a holiday when you’re wearing them!

More questions answered next week, at Hearing TV: brought to you by Edgecliff Hearing, and Mac Hearing

Episode 14: How Do I know If I Need Hearing Aids (or a Hearing Test)

Today we’re going to answer one of the most frequently asked questions about hearing aids.
The number one question is how do I know if I need one?

The first thing to do is to find out whether you have a hearing loss. If you find that you have to work hard to hear somebody, especially in background noise or perhaps your family is commenting or making jokes about you being deaf then it’s time to have your hearing tested.

If you are working hard to communicate with your usual speed and efficiency and it means you have to fill in the gaps of what people are saying which is tiring, this is a good reason to try out hearing aids to see if they can make your life easier.

Another question we get is: “will hearing aids make my hearing normal again?” The answer is no they will not repair the damage to your ears but they will go a long way towards helping you maintain good communication and social interaction, which is important to enjoying a normal lifestyle and to safeguarding against cognitive decline, which intern contributes to brain diseases such as dementia.

Episode 15 – Tips for communicating with those with hearing loss

Did you know that one in six Australians have some type of hearing loss? And that doesn’t even include those of us whose hearing is just starting to deteriorate (so that we have more trouble than usual in noisy places)

But there are other things we can do to improve our communication with others who may be hard of hearing… and will save you and your loved ones a lot of pain and frustration. The most important change you could make to help effective communication with someone who is hard of hearing, is to make sure you look straight at them and make eye contact, so that they can see your face. If you get into the habit of doing this, it will help.
Once you have made eye contact, here’s some things you can do:

First of all, speak naturally, and don’t shout. If you raise your voice, thinking it will help them hear, it will distort the sound. And your body language will change with the effort of shouting, so that you look angry. Also, don’t rush your speech, just speak naturally and clearly.

If they still have problems, and the listener asks you to repeat, don’t say the same thing twice.Try saying it a different way. For example, if you said “ Let’s go to the 6 o’clock showing of the movie”, and the listener asks you to repeat, say instead: “ The movie is on at 6 o’clock, shall we go to it?” It’s harder to do than you think, but if you practise, always repeating something in a different way, it will soon become a habit.

Another tip… be aware of background noise. If you try to have a conversation from the other end of a table in a noisy restaurant, it will be an exercise in frustration. Gauge your moment and your environment. Wait until the noise stops, or move to a quieter place, or move closer to the listener and make sure they can see your face.

The other important thing to remember is never to try and speak from another room – even someone without hearing loss will struggle to hear you in this situation, so try to restrain that impulse to yell out, and go into the room where your listener is.

If you can make these small changes a habit, people will think you’re a wonderful communicator!

Episode 16: How To Communicate More Effectively If You Have A Hearing Loss

If you have hearing loss there are always situations where you have difficulty making out what someone is saying. If you want to avoid frustration for both of you, it pays to develop some good communication strategies. Not many people know instinctively how to communicate with someone with a hearing loss; they think they have to shout!

First, if it is an important or lengthy conversation, let the speaker know you have a hearing loss. Don’t think of this as embarrassing; think of it as being helpful…helping you both out as much as possible. Don’t be afraid to own the fact that you have difficulty hearing.

Be sure to look at the speakers face. Some people say they don’t like doing this, because the other person will think they’re staring. But its quite the opposite. If you are watching the person speaking, it shows that you are paying attention. When you look at the person speaking, your brain is using language cues to “fill in the gaps”… Not just lip-reading, but other information from the structure of language – such as word order, the sounds which can go together in English, the meaning or context, and the intonation of the voice. Your brain has an innate knowledge of the rules of language, like a computer, and uses these without you even realising it.

Another tip …when you have to ask someone to repeat something, let them know what you HAVE heard, so that they can repeat the part you missed. For example, if someone says to you “We thought we’d go on a world trip next year”, and all you heard was, “ We thought we’d go” and “next year”, then say instead, “Where are you going next year?”

These are powerful tools you can use to reduce the frustration of faulty communication, and once you practice them, they will become a habit, and an effective way to help with your communication.

Episode 17: How A Cold Or Flu Can Cause (Usually Temporary) Hearing Loss

Everyone is familiar with the symptoms of a cold or flu, but did you know that those symptoms can include hearing loss? The hearing loss usually comes as a result of the congestion build up in the sinuses and ears. Like the other symptoms, the hearing loss is usually temporary but can add to the misery of being sick.

When you have a cold or the flu, congestion builds up in the middle ear which makes it hard for the sound waves to travel through the ear. In addition, the eustachian tubes in the back of the throat can become blocked and their function is to help regulate air pressure in the middle ear. Either of these issues can muffle sound and make it difficult to discern speech. Other related ear related symptoms during a cold or flu can include balance problems and/or tinnitus (ringing in the ears).

The resulting conductive hearing loss usually dissipates along with all the other cold and flu symptoms. However on rare occasions, the flu virus can affect the nerves in the ear and cause permanent hearing damage.

If you do experience hearing loss, keep your doctor or audiologist in the loop, especially if the hearing loss isn’t getting better when other symptoms begin to go away.

Episode 18: Ways To Prevent Hearing Loss If You Are Sick

The ideal thing for your hearing health is to never get sick in the first place by following a sensible daily routine of healthy food, exercise & rest. However, if you do get sick there are ways to protect your hearing and your ears.

First, take these steps to prevent getting a cold or flu in the first place:

  • Get the flu shot. This will minimise or mitigate symptoms of a regular flu in the event of being exposed.
  • Take extra vitamin C to boost your immune system as much as possible. Your immune system is truly amazing, and your best friend for fighting sickness.
  • Wash your hands often & thoroughly for at least 20 seconds and before you touch any part of your face, or hearing aids.
  • Practice social distancing, at least 2 metres distance to avoid exposure as much as possible to others who are sick.

If you do get a cold or the flu, then you should get tested by your doctor to see if an antiviral prescription can help you, or what types of antibiotics or decongestants are best for you.

Keeping the virus at bay and minimising congestion will help protect your ears and your hearing, during a cold or the flu.

Episode 19: How To Clean Your In-Ear Hearing Aids

Your hearing aids are a big investment. It’s well worth taking a few minutes each day to clean them. Your ear canal produces earwax, which serves the purpose of protecting and lubricating your ear. But wax build-up is one of the main reasons why hearing aids need repairing.  Wax clogs up the sound outlet and the ventilation opening, resulting in weak, distorted sound or absence of sound.

Most hearing aids come with a filter to stop wax from getting into the hearing aid. Check that wax filter and replace it if necessary. Your audiologist can tell you about the specific wax protection system in your hearing aids.

To clean your hearing aid, make sure to hold it over a ]soft surface to avoid damage if you happen to drop it. Do not use water, cleaning fluids, solvents or alcohol, as this could damage your hearing aids.

Locate your hearing aid brush then clean the ventilation outlet by pressing the brush through the hole while twisting it slightly.
To clean the sound outlet, carefully brush away visible signs of dirt from the openings while twisting the brush. I recommend you google “how to clean your hearing aids” to get further information on how to do this.

If you need a new brush, your audiologist will have these.

More next week on this subject… brought to you by Edgecliff Hearing and Mac Hearing.

Episode 20: Advice For Caring For Your Hearing Aid

Hearing aids are a significant investment, so we recommend you to learn how to clean and maintain them.

The tiny marvels of technology operate in conditions that are far from ideal: the inside of your ear canals where they collect earwax and moisture. Regular cleaning, that you can do yourself, along with routine maintenance provided by your hearing care professional, will give you years of reliable and better hearing.

Here are some tips for looking after your hearing aids:

  • Always wash your hands well before cleaning your hearing aids
  • Leave hearing aids out when you shower so water and soap can’t damage them.
  • If applying hair products like sprays or gels, do this first, and then put in your hearing aids
  • Clean your hearing aids just before bedtime. This gives them several hours to air out before you put them in again in the morning.
  • Avoid wipes with chemicals or alcohol when cleaning hearing aids as they could damage the devices.
    keep them out of extreme hot or cold.

Next week I’ll talk about how you actually clean the hearing aids once they build up wax. Until then, stay safe