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Thursday, September 16, 2010

What is a hearing aid? A closer look

What is a hearing aid?


A hearing aid is an electronic, battery-operated device that amplifies and changes sound to allow for improved communication. Hearing aids receive sound through a microphone, which then converts the sound waves to electrical signals. The amplifier increases the loudness of the signals and then sends the sound to the ear through a speaker.

What are the different kinds of hearing aids?

There are several types of hearing aids. Each type offers different advantages, depending on its design, levels of amplification, and size. Before purchasing any hearing aid, it is necessary to ask whether it has a warranty that will allow one to try it out.

There are four basic styles of hearing aids for people with sensorineural hearing loss:
In-the-Ear (ITE) hearing aids fit completely in the outer ear and are used for mild to severe hearing loss. The case, which holds the components, is made of hard plastic. ITE aids can accommodate added technical mechanisms such as a telecoil, a small magnetic coil contained in the hearing aid that improves sound transmission during telephone calls. ITE aids can be damaged by earwax and ear drainage, and their small size can cause adjustment problems and feedback (a whistle sound caused by the fit of the hearing aid or by buildup of earwax or fluid). They are not usually worn by children because the casings need to be replaced as the ear grows.

Behind-the-Ear (BTE)hearing aids are worn behind the ear and are connected to a plastic earmould that fits inside the outer ear. The components are held in a case behind the ear. Sound travels through the earmould into the ear. BTE aids are used by people of all ages for mild to profound hearing loss. Poorly fitting BTE earmoulds may cause feedback.

Canal Aids fit into the ear canal and are available in two sizes. The In-the-Canal (ITC) hearing aid is customised to fit the size and shape of the ear canal and is used for mild or moderately severe hearing loss. A Completely-in-Canal (CIC) hearing aid is largely concealed in the ear canal. Because of their small size, canal aids may be difficult for the user to adjust and remove, and may not be able to hold additional devices, such as a telecoil. Canal aids can also be damaged by earwax and ear drainage. They are not recommended for children.

Body Aids are used by people with profound hearing loss. The aid is attached to a belt or a pocket and connected to the ear by a wire. Because of its large size, it is able to incorporate many signal processing options, but it is usually used only when other types of aids cannot be used.

Do all hearing aids work the same way?

The inside mechanisms of hearing aids vary among devices, even if they are the same style. Three types of circuitry, or electronics, are used:
Analog/Adjustable: The audiologist determines the volume and other specifications one needs in the hearing aid, and then a laboratory builds the aid to meet those specifications. The audiologist retains some flexibility to make adjustments. This type of circuitry is generally the least expensive.
Analog/Programmable: The audiologist uses a computer to programme the hearing aid. The circuitry of analog/programmable hearing aids will accommodate more than one programme or setting. If the aid is equipped with a remote control device, the wearer can change the programme to accommodate a given listening environment. Analog/programmable circuitry can be used in all types of hearing aids.
Digital/Programmable: The audiologist programmes the hearing aid with a computer and can adjust the sound quality and response time on an individual basis. Digital hearing aids use a microphone, receiver, battery, and computer chip. Digital circuitry provides the most flexibility for the audiologist to make adjustments for the hearing aid. Digital circuitry can be used in all types of hearing aids and is typically the most expensive.

What should one expect from hearing aids?

Using hearing aids successfully takes time and patience. Hearing aids will not restore normal hearing or eliminate background noise. Adjusting to a hearing aid is a gradual process that involves learning to listen in a variety of environments and becoming accustomed to hearing different sounds. One should try to become familiar with hearing aids under nonstressful circumstances a few hours at a time. Programmes are available to help users master new listening techniques and develop skills to manage hearing loss.

What questions should one ask before buying them?

Before buying a hearing aid, one should ask the audiologist (technician who tests your hearing with the help of a special equipment) these important questions:
Are there any medical or surgical considerations or corrections for hearing loss?
Which design is best for hearing loss?
What is the total cost of the hearing aid?
Is there a trial period to test the hearing aids? What fees are nonrefundable if they are returned after the trial period?
How long is the warranty? Can it be extended?
Does the warranty cover future maintenance and repairs?
Can the audiologist make adjustments and provide servicing and minor repairs? What instruction does the audiologist provide?

What problems might one experience?

The audiologist will teach one to use and care for the hearing aids. One should be sure to practice putting in and taking out the aids, adjusting volume control, cleaning, identifying right and left aids, and replacing the batteries with the audiologist present.

The hearing aids may be uncomfortable. One should ask the audiologist how long one should wear the hearing aids during the adjustment period. Also, how should one test them in situations where one has problems hearing, and how to adjust the volume and/or programme for sounds that are too loud or too soft.

One’s own voice may sound too loud. This is called the occlusion effect and is very common for new hearing aid users. The audiologist may or may not be able to correct this problem; however, most people get used to it over time. The hearing aid may ‘whistle.’ When this happens, one is experiencing feedback, which is caused by the fit of the hearing aid or by the buildup of earwax or fluid. One needs to see an audiologist for adjustments. One may hear background noise. One needs to keep in mind that a hearing aid does not completely separate the sounds one wants to hear from the ones one do not want to hear, but there may also be a problem with the hearing aid. One needs to discuss this with the audiologist.

Tips for taking care of hearing aids:

The following suggestions will help one care for hearing aids:
Keep hearing aids away from heat and moisture
Replace dead batteries immediately
Clean hearing aids as instructed
Do not use hairspray or other hair care products while wearing hearing aids
Turn off hearing aids when they are not in use
Keep replacement batteries and small aids away from children and pets


Center For Hearing Aids

E-32, Hauz Khas Market,
New Delhi-110016
E-mail : ramavision@satyam.net.in
            ramavision@hathway.com
 24X7 Contact no: +91 9810074489

What is hearing loss and types

What are the types of hearing loss?

Hearing loss can be divided into 3 categories:

Conductive hearing loss: occurs because of problems in the middle ear. In a normal ear, the sound hits on an intact eardrum (like hitting a dholak). Three small bones work as a lever mechanism to increase the movement, and the third bone (stapes) works as a piston to convey this amplified vibrations to the fluid system of the inner ear. Some mechanical problem, such as fluid in the ear, perforation of the eardrum, or damage to the lever mechanism of the three bones which amplify the sound, or fixity of the eardrum or the bones or piston or new bone formation may result in a hearing loss, where the amplified sound is not reaching the inner ear. However, if the inner ear is stimulated directly by the bone, the nerves, hearing organ and hearing is normal. This is called conductive hearing loss. This is often reversible, and may be corrected by surgery.

Sensory-Neural hearing loss: Here there is a damage to the inner ear (sense organ), or damage to the auditory nerve which conducts the signals to the brain (Neural Hearing Loss) These occur when there is physical or other damage to the end organ or the nerve. Mostly sensory-neural hearing loss is not reversible (except for sudden onset hearing loss due to certain causes). No surgery can correct this loss and a hearing aid is the only solution. Sudden onset sensory-neural hearing loss can be due to a viral infection, or a "mini stroke": blockage of blood supply. This can be reversed by urgent medical management.

Mixed hearing loss: Is a combination of conductive loss, with sensory-neural loss also present. The conductive part may be correctable.

Screening for hearing loss is now recommended in all newborns. In children, hearing problems may cause speech to develop slowly, along with other learning handicaps. By early screening, congenital hearing loss (sensory-neural hearing loss present from birth) can be detected early and suitable measures like Hearing aids, or cochlear implantation can be done at an early age, so that the child does not also become mute. In childhood, ear infections are the most common cause of temporary hearing loss. Fluid can linger in the ear following an ear infection. Although this fluid can go unnoticed, it can cause significant hearing and learning problems. Any fluid that lasts longer than 8-12 weeks is cause for concern, and needs to be treated by a minor surgery to drain the fluid.

What are the causes?
Common causes of hearing loss with type of hearing loss:Genetic: sensori-neuralCongenital or birth defects: sensori-neural, or fixation of the ossicles (conductive)Infections: mainly conductive, maybe sensori-neuralTraumatic: mainly conductive, maybe Sensori-neural (especially bomb blasts)Toxic: sensori-neuralAge-related: sensori-neural (presbiacusis)Occupational: sensori-neuralAny occupation with prolonged exposure to loud noises on a day-to-day basis can result in hearing loss due to nerve end damage.

Temporary hearing loss (Conductive Hearing Loss) can also be caused by:
The build-up of wax in the ear canals (hard wax can cause up to 40% hearing loss)Foreign body lodged in the ear canal Injury to the head Allergy Blocked Eustachian tubes Scarred or perforated eardrum Ear infections, often after a coldReaction to medications such as aminoglycosides, chloroquine, quinidine (sensori-neural)

What are the symptoms?
Signs and symptoms of hearing loss may include:Muffled quality of speech and other sounds Difficulty understanding words, especially against background noise or in a crowd of people Asking others to speak more slowly, clearly and loudly The need to turn up the volume of the television or radio Withdrawal from conversations Avoidance of some social settingsDischarge from ears due to infectionsBlockage of earsBuzzing/ringing sounds in the ears (may feel hearing is normal, but there is a loss at some frequencies)Giddiness/vertigo may be associated with hearing lossPoor academic performance in children without any reasonSpeaking loudly/ or in a very low tone (depending on the cause)

What are the risk factors?
Factors that may damage the inner ear include:Ageing: Presbiacusis. Normally over 60 years, some hearing loss especially at higher frequencies starts. The normal wear and tear of sounds over the years can damage the inner ears cells.

Loud noises: Occupational noise, such as construction or factory work, and recreational noise, such as loud music in concerts, the engine of a snowmobile or motorcycle, airplanes, can contribute to the damage. Sudden Loud noises, like bomb blasts, or even Diwali Crackers, can cause sudden and permanent hearing loss.Heredity: The genetic makeup may make one more susceptible to ear damage. The age related hearing loss may also start earlier.
Medicines: Ototoxicity, drugs such as the antibiotic gentamicin can damage the inner ear. Temporary effects on ones hearing - ringing in the ear or hearing loss can occur if one takes very high doses of aspirin. Some illnesses: Diseases or illnesses that result in high fever, such as meningitis, may damage the cochlea. Viral diseases like mumps, and measles can also result in deafness.For some people, hearing loss may result from a gradual build-up of hard wax, which blocks the ear canal and prevents conduction of sound waves. Wax blockage is one of the most common causes of hearing loss among people of all ages

How is it diagnosed?
To determine ones ability to hear and the extent of hearing loss, the doctor may administer a hearing audiometry test. At first, he may conduct a general screening test to get an overall idea of how well one can hear. He may ask the patient to cover one ear at a time to see how well he hears words spoken at different volumes and how he responds to other sounds. Tuning fork tests are carried out, which indicate the type of deafness and which ear is more affected.
During a more thorough test called audiometry, the patients are asked to wear earphones and hear sounds directed to one ear at a time. The audiologist presents a range of sounds of various tones and asks him to indicate each time he hears the sound. Each tone is repeated at faint levels to find out when the patient can barely hear. This is carried out for both Air Conduction and Bone conduction.
Tympanometry confirms the presence or absence of fluid behind the eardrum, and the normalcy or otherwise of the movement of the eardrum and the ossicles, accoustic reflexes also help in determining the type of hearing loss.
Special Hearing tests, including speech tests and recruitment give an idea if the hearing loss is sensory or neural. BERA (Brain stem evoked Audiometry) shows the normality or otherwise of the hearing nerves, and indicate the site of damage.

The various diagnostic tests include:Audiometry (an electronic hearing test) Speech audiometry with special tests, CT/MRI scan of the head (if a tumour or fracture is suspected) Tympanometry Caloric test/ENGEvoked response audiometry (BERA)

What is the treatment?
The treatment of hearing loss depends on the cause. If hearing loss is due to damage to the inner ear, the only treatment is a hearing aid.

Hearing aids
The doctor can discuss the potential benefits of using a hearing aid. Hearing aids cannot help everyone with hearing loss, but they can improve hearing for many people. The louder sounds help stimulate nerve cells in the cochlea so that one can hear well. Getting used to a hearing aid takes time. The sound one hears is different because it is amplified. One may need to try more than one device to find one that works well. Hearing aids come in a variety of styles. Some hearing aids rest behind the ear with a small tube delivering the amplified sound to the ear canal. Other styles fit in the outer ear or within the ear canal.

Earlier hearing aids used to amplify all frequencies of sounds equally, and often the patient would complain of discomfort, and excessive noise, especially in noisy surroundings like parties or meetings. The newer Digital hearing aids amplify sound according to the frequencies, which are affected, and so are not uncomfortable in these situations. They are computer controlled, and can be adjusted according to the patients individual situations.
If one cannot hear as well as one used to because of wax blockage, the doctor can remove the wax and improve hearing.

The doctor may remove the earwax by loosening the wax. He uses an eyedropper to place a few drops of baby oil, mineral oil or glycerin in the ear to loosen the wax, then squirts warm water into the ear using a bulb syringe. As one tilts the ear, the water drains out. The doctor may need to repeat the process several times before the wax eventually falls out. Alternatively, the doctor may loosen the wax, then scoop it out with a small instrument called a curette. Wax softeners may be needed if the wax is hard and impacted. The doctor may ask the patient to use these drops for a few days at home, and return to suck/syringe out the wax. In case one uses a bud to try and remove this wax at home, it will only result in pushing this hard impacted wax further inside, and cause more pain and blockage, beside making removal more difficult. Some people tend to form hard wax, and need this attention intermittently. For most people, gently cleaning the external part of the ear canal with a bud after using olive oil or substitute is adequate. Do not use sharp instruments to remove wax or foreign bodies

Surgery for deafness
Myringoplasty, Tympanoplasty, Ossiculoplasty and Mastoidectomy. Stapedectomy: If there is a perforation in the eardrum, it can be repaired by a minor surgery. One takes the Donor graft from either behind the ear (Temporalis Fascia), or from the soft part in front of the ear (Tragal perichondrium), and by either working through the ear canal, or by making a cut behind the ear (depending on training and expertise). The surgeon repairs the eardrum (Myringoplasty). If the lever mechanism (3 bones) is also damaged, this is repaired by using either cartilage, or bone, or an artificial prosthesis (Tympanoplasty/Osiculoplasty). If the bone behind the ear is also destroyed, and there is danger of the infection spreading to the brain, or affecting the nerves, then a more serious surgery, Mastoidectomy, needs to be done where all the diseased bone is cleaned. In case the last lever bone, which is the piston (Stapes), is fixed by new bone formation, a very delicate surgery, Stapedectomy is needed, but there is a small risk of causing further damage to hearing in this surgery.

Cochlear implants
In case there is no useful hearing, even with the best hearing aids, and especially where the hearing has been lost after speech development is complete, cochlear implantation can be considered. In this surgery, electrodes are inserted into the inner ear, and the hearing aid (speech processor) fitted behind the ear thus sends electrical signals straight to the hearing nerves. This is not suitable if the nerve itself is damaged. The implant is very expensive (the whole process costing a few lakh rupees) and has its own share of complications. It should only be considered in the specific indications.


Center For Hearing Aids

E-32, Hauz Khas Market,
New Delhi-110016
E-mail : ramavision@satyam.net.in
            ramavision@hathway.com
 24X7 Contact no: +91 9810074489

Cell phones can cause another kind of ringing

Regular cell phone use may increase the risk of developing persistent ringing in the ear - a condition known as tinnitus.

Tinnitus is often described as ringing in the ears. It may also be described as the sound of hissing, escaping air, running water, whistling, buzzing, or humming noise. While tinnitus can be associated with diseases and disorders of the ear, brain of blood vessels, there are few known risk factors for tinnitus. There has been no systematic study to link mobile phone use and tinnitus earlier.

To investigate the association between tinnitus and mobile phone use, researchers studied 100 people of Austria treated for chronic tinnitus and 100 healthy controls. The participants were asked a variety of questions about their cell phone usage.

Based on the participants' responses, it was found that participants who used a cell phone before the first symptoms of tinnitus appeared were 37 percent more likely to develop the condition than those in the control group. Also, people who used their cell phone for at least 10 minutes a day were 71 percent more likely to develop tinnitus as compared to other study participants. Most people in the study used their cell phones on both ears, but tinnitus typically affected one ear - 38 percent of participants mentioned the left ear and about the same percentage said it distressed them most of the time. Twenty-nine percent reported also suffering from vertigo, or dizziness.

Loud noise is the main risk factor for tinnitus. High intensity, long duration of mobile phone use is likely to be associated with occurrence of tinnitus, as a high amount of microwave energy is absorbed by the cochlea in the inner ear during cell phone use, and this might explain the possible connection.

Though this study shows a relationship between tinnitus and cell phone use, a much larger study would be needed to determine whether cell phones really cause tinnitus.

Center For Hearing Aids

E-32, Hauz Khas Market,
New Delhi-110016
E-mail : ramavision@satyam.net.in
            ramavision@hathway.com
 24X7 Contact no: +91 9810074489

What is tinnitus?

What is tinnitus?

Tinnitus is often described as ringing in the ears. It may also be described as the sound of hissing, escaping air, running water, whistling, buzzing, or humming noise.

What is the cause?

The exact cause of tinnitus is not known. Problems that can cause tinnitus or make it worse are wax buildup or foreign objects in the ear canal, ear or sinus infections, ear, head, or neck injury, otosclerosis (which is growth of the bone surrounding the middle and inner ear), exposure to loud noise or hearing loss due to aging. It could also be due to diseases of the central nervous system such as multiple sclerosis, tumours, depression and stress and thyroid disorders.

What is the diagnosis?

The doctor asks about symptoms and does an examination. Depending on the symptoms, the following tests may be done - hearing test, X-ray of the head, an angiography (blood vessel studies), CT or MRI scan of the head.

How is it treated?

Tinnitus usually lessens or goes away with time. If it persists, the following treatments are recommend -
Medicines, including anti-anxiety drugs and antidepressants, which can help adjust to the irritation of the tinnitus.
Medicines, including antihistamines, anticonvulsants, an anaesthetics.
Tinnitus retraining therapy (TRT), which combines low-level, steady background sounds with counselling. This combination helps grow unaware of the sounds of tinnitus.
Hearing aids for hearing loss
Biofeedback, which is a relaxation technique that teaches one to control certain body functions such as pulse, muscle tension, and brain wave activity.

What is the prevention?

The common cause of tinnitus can be avoided by staying away from loud noises. One can try using ear protectors if in a noisy environment.

Center For Hearing Aids

E-32, Hauz Khas Market,
New Delhi-110016
E-mail : ramavision@satyam.net.in
            ramavision@hathway.com
 24X7 Contact no: +91 9810074489

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

What are Hearing Aids?

What are Hearing Aids?
A hearing aid is a small electronic device that you wear in or behind your ear. It makes some sounds louder so that a person with hearing loss can listen, communicate, and participate more fully in daily activities. A hearing aid can help people hear more in both quiet and noisy situations.
A hearing aid has three basic parts: a microphone, amplifier, and speaker. The hearing aid receives sound through a microphone, which converts the sound waves to electrical signals and sends them to an amplifier. The amplifier increases the power of the signals and then sends them to the ear through a speaker.

Types of Hearing Aids :
  1. Digital Hearing Aid
  2. Programmable Hearing Aid
  3. Conventional Hearing Aid



    Center For Hearing Aids

    E-32, Hauz Khas Market,
    New Delhi-110016
    E-mail : ramavision@satyam.net.in
                ramavision@hathway.com
     24X7 Contact no: +91 9810074489

MOVE - TAKE THE FIRST STEP

Hearing loss has been called the hidden disability. Typically, hearing begins to fade so gradually that you may not realize you have a problem until it becomes too big to ignore. In fact, the people you communicate with every day may notice the change before you do. With the MOVE hearing system, communication can be easy once again.

                                                                                     
Say goodbye to loud conversation  

Do them a favor
When you don’t hear well, the people in your life naturally adapt in an effort to help. This means that your hearing loss becomes a problem for your spouse, your children, your friends and your colleagues. When you get hearing help, these are the people who will sigh with relief – and be first to congratulate you!


Do yourself a favor
Statistics show that people wait an average of seven years before seeking help for their hearing loss. Seven years is a long time for lost conversations, misunderstandings, and struggling to communicate. With the MOVE hearing system from Bernafon, getting help is easier than ever before.

Technology for Communication
MOVE is a highly sophisticated mini-computer designed to analyze the changing soundscape and provide the correct amount of amplification every time. Based on Bernafon’s Lifestyle Technology, MOVE is programmed to focus on the listening situations that are most important to you.
MOVE’s Automatic Program constantly adjusts amplification, noise reduction, directionality and feedback protection to provide the best hearing response in every situation. With MOVE, communication is easier – for you and for those around you!                
MOVE also offers a choice of two additional listening programs, available at the touch of a button. The Music program provides the optimum hearing instrument response for music enjoyment. The Auditorium program is designed for the special acoustics in public spaces. The Telephone program enhances communication over the phone. A special accessory is also available to allow external sound sources such as TV, computers and music players to connect directly to the MOVE hearing system.

Comfort and Style
MOVE is available in a variety of styles including models that fit inside the ear and small behind-the-ear styles. Thin listening tubes with soft domes offer a light and comfortable solution that keeps the ear canal open, providing natural sound quality. MOVE is also available in a variety of attractive colors and patterns.

A full array of styles, colors and options
Multiple style and control options are available to personalize MOVE for every client. MOVE offers a complete family of instruments from CIC to power BTE.


Center For Hearing Aids

E-32, Hauz Khas Market,
New Delhi-110016
E-mail : ramavision@satyam.net.in
            ramavision@hathway.com
 24X7 Contact no: +91 9810074489

Brite - LISTEN TO LIFE

At Bernafon, your hearing is our passion. That is why we develop hearing systems that not only look good but deliver the hearing results you expect.

Combining form and functionality
Brite combines the best in advanced automatic sound processing with a pleasing rounded design that fits very comfortably on the ear. Brite has excellent, natural sound quality for both conversation and everyday sounds. Try Brite today. You will like what you hear!

Brite technology – individualized performance
Brite instruments use advanced automatic signal processing to bring you authentic sound in every listening situation. Brite is designed to enhance speech sounds whenever conversation is detected. Bernafon’s Lifestyle technology allows Brite to be customized to help you hear better in the listening situations that you most often encounter. Whether you are at home, at work or socializing, Brite can make communication easier.




Brite colors – brighten up your life
Although we don’t usually think of hearing instruments as fashion accessories, Brite’s selection of 10 earthy colors allows you to express your own style. Whether you prefer to be subtle or bold, there is a Brite color for you!

Brite - the perfect hearing solution
A perfect match to your hearing needs, Brite helps you in challenging listening situations. Brite’s pure, natural sound connects you to the world. Brite is more than just a hearing instrument. It is a communication device that can help you enjoy the pleasures of life.


Center For Hearing Aids

E-32, Hauz Khas Market,
New Delhi-110016
E-mail : ramavision@satyam.net.in
            ramavision@hathway.com
 24X7 Contact no: +91 9810074489