Health and Lifestyle

Life Hacks for Better Hearing

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How Can Hearing Loss Make Communication Difficult?

The American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA) has named May Better Hearing and Speech Month. It’s an opportunity to raise awareness about communication disorders and life altering treatments. This year’s theme is Communication Across the Lifespan. To help promote awareness, we’re looking at the 3 main ways that sensorineural hearing loss can make communication difficult.

Reduced sensitivity

This is what causes a sufferer to turn up the volume on the television or radio etc. It’s a progressive loss of the softer sounds, such as a softly spoken voice. It may initially be a close friend or family member who first notices the issue when highlighting how loud the volume is set.

High frequency loss

This makes understanding conversation very challenging. It’s more specific, with certain letter sounds within speech getting missed due to being at a higher frequency. These are typically the consonants s, t, f, p, k and the combinations of ‘th’ and ‘sh’. Female or children’s voices can also be more challenging.

Discrimination of sounds

Communicating in noisy environments can be difficult with a sensorineural hearing loss. It becomes very difficult to filter out background noise in order to distinguish conversation sounds separately. As such, it can be relatively easy to converse within quiet settings and therefore easy to dismiss a potential hearing loss just because you find noisy settings challenging.

General Tips

The above issues may all occur at the same time with varying severity. Here are some simple communication tips to help you.

  • Face the person you are talking with and make eye contact. Non verbal cues and gestures are extremely helpful when interpreting speech.
  • Make sure there is adequate lighting, this will enable you to lipread more easily.
  • Try to limit background noise and the size of the group you are communicating with.
  • In public venues look for ‘T’ coil technology etc. Consider a transcribing app or amplification products.
  • Set your hearing aid to suit the environment.
  • Be patient and open about any difficulties you have, repeat back what you heard and ask the other person to rephrase or write down what you missed.

Regular hearing assessments can highlight any changes to your baseline hearing. Seeking appropriate treatment can boost your confidence and communication abilities. At Smithtown Sayville Hearing Services, we find solutions tailored to your individual needs. Call us today to discuss any difficulties you have been experiencing (631) 993-4719 or book a consultation here.

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Life Hacks for Better Hearing

Navigating a world full of people can be difficult when you have the benefit of optimal hearing, but what about as a person with a hearing impairment? Dining out, talking on the phone…even being in public spaces can prove challenging if you’re experiencing any sort of hearing loss. With the advancement of technology and improved hearing aid devices, the world for people with hearing impairments can be improved with these life hacks for better hearing.

  • Talking on the phone. Among our tips for better hearing, communication on audio devices like telephones are an intrical part of our society. To assist with more clarity and less issues, consider utilizing headphones with a microphone built in. These types of accessories are often noise cancelling, so they cut out the ambient sounds not relevant to your conversations. You might also consider using video chat platforms like Skype or Facebook video messaging.
  • Detecting hearing impairment early. If you’re straining to hear, have ringing in your ears, or simply think something is not quite right in regards to your hearing, it can weigh heavily on you. While we always recommend seeking medical professional advice if you think you might be suffering from any sort of hearing loss, but there are apps available that can at least help reassure you. SoundCheck uses a variety of tones and exercises to determine how optimal your hearing may be.
  • Use the correct ear! Research from the University of California, Los Angeles and the University of Arizona showed that our ears are not created equal. Your left ear processes music and sound more proficiently while your right ear does better with speech. So point the correct ear at the correct sound and it should help your hearing.
  • Play hearing game.– Like any part of our bodies, exercise is important to longevity and health. There are apps and other training tools like ReadMyQuips available that allow you to put your hearing to the test. From ambient noise, to focusing on background speech and other tones and sounds, flexing your “auditory muscles” can help you maintain and prolong optimal hearing.
  • Use white noise. This is one of those hearing life hacks that goes for everyone under the sun. White noise, even if you’re hearing impaired, can help deactivate your busy brain, calm your nerves and put your body and mind at ease. It’s one of those auditory life hacks that can positively affect people of all levels of hearing.
  • Music? Protect your hearing. There are lots of life hacks for better hearing that apply to enjoying music and attending music events. Utilize custom hearing protection – this will ensure you can still hear the music without obliterating your ear drums. Use the 60/60 rule; if utilizing headphones, do not exceed 60% volume for more than 60 minutes a day. Employ some good old fashioned physics perspective by applying the inverse square law. This rule of physics dictates that doubling your distance from the source of the sound reduces the strength of the sound by 75%.

If you notice a hearing impairment, obtain a hearing device. While it may not seem like a “life hack”, hearing aids and devices should be counted among one of the top tips to improve hearing. As a person with a hearing impairment, obtaining and utilizing a hearing aid can make stark improvements on your quality of life. If you’d like to discuss the options available to you, come in and meet the hearing care professionals at Smithtown Sayville Hearing services on (631) 993-4719. Alternatively, click here to book a consultation today.

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How Does High Humidity Affect Your Hearing Aids?

Using a hearing aid can open up your possibilities for exploration and enjoyment of many activities this spring / summer. However, more time outdoors and participating in more strenuous pastimes can increase the likelihood of encountering humidity and other types of moisture. The downside is that delicate and intricate pieces of technology such as hearing aids do not do well when exposed to excess moisture. So how does high humidity affect your hearing aids?

What is Humidity?

Scientific American defines humidity as “a measure of the actual amount of moisture in the air compared to the total amount of moisture that the air can hold. Warm air can hold more water than cool air. But if the air (warm or cool) is holding half as much moisture as it can hold when saturated, the relative humidity is 50 percent.”

How Does Humidity Affect Hearing Aids?

Hearing aids have a level of water and dust resistance, known as the IP level. If you’re unsure of your hearing aid’s IP level, we recommend checking the manufacturer’s website.

Humidity is a little different to being caught in the rain or going to the beach. For example, condensation is created when warm air reaches the colder air around the metal parts of your hearing aid. We also tend to perspire more in humid environments, and that moisture doesn’t evaporate very easily in a humid environment.

When this collection of moisture gets trapped around or on the hearing aid ports and tubing can become clogged. The microphone or receiver could short circuit. Inner workings can be affected, such as the processing chip inside newer devices. It can often result in poor connections or corrosion,which is especially damaging for the battery.

How to Recognize Signs of Damage

If you notice your device is not performing at optimal levels, i.e. it works intermittently, sounds are distorted, static or crackling can be heard, sound fades in and out or cuts out upon loud noise or the battery is not lasting well. You may have damage from moisture/humidity.

If this is the case, some quick things that you can do to check your device include:

  • Do you need a new battery?
  • Is the compartment closed properly?
  • Is the device switched on?

If you’ve checked these and they all appear fine, check any tubing or earmolds, open the battery compartment and leave the device to air and dry out for a few hours, ideally inside a dehumidifier.

Protect Your Device

Be aware of humidity levels and what activities you will be participating in. Prepare by taking spare batteries, a towel or head sweatband that will wick away perspiration from near your hearing aid. Alternatively, remove your hearing aids when necessary and store them in a drying device.

Consider exercising during a cooler part of the day. If you are concerned about being active and perspiration why not read our working out with hearing aids blog.

If you would like to discuss upgrading to a hearing aid with a higher IP rating or you have any concerns about the performance of your current device, the team at Smithtown / Sayville Hearing would be happy to help. Call us on (631) 993-4719 or click here to request an appointment online.

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Common Problems with Hearing Aids

Hearing aids, like most electrical devices or appliances we use in our day to day lives, work most of the time. However, sometimes a hearing aid may experience problems, and it is only when something goes wrong with our hearing device that we realize how much we have come to rely on them.

We don’t want you to panic though! At Smithtown Sayville Hearing Services, we understand how important your hearing aids are. That’s why we’ve put together this blog to discuss common problems with hearing aids, and how you can troubleshoot them.

5 Common Problems with Hearing Aids

  1.  Your hearing aid has gotten wet

It’s normal for your hearing aid to be exposed to small levels of moisture. If, however, you’re concerned that your hearing aid has been exposed to excessive moisture or has gotten wet, you’ll want to try and dry it out. You can place it in a bag of uncooked rice to absorb the excess moisture, or leave it out in a dry room to air. Remember, to preserve your devices avoid exposing them to water, so ensure you remove them when you’re showering, bathing or swimming.

  1.  Your hearing aid is making noises

If your hearing aid is making a whistling noise or you can hear feedback, it could mean that your hearing aid is not fitted well. Your hearing aid should fit snugly when you are wearing it. To determine if this is the case, turn the volume down. If this stops the noise, it means that it’s likely a poor fit causing a sound leak. Try to remove and refit your device, or book in an appointment with your local hearing care clinic to check on the fit. While there, ask your hearing care professional to check for any build up of wax in your ears which can also affect the fit of your hearing aid.

  1.  Your hearing aid is not working

Make sure your hearing aid is definitely turned on.

  1.  The sound is weak

If you feel like the sound in your hearing aids is weak, is it possible that your hearing has changed? When was the last time you had a hearing assessment and baseline hearing established? If it’s been over a year, it’s time to book in a hearing assessment to ensure your hearing hasn’t changed.

  1.  Sounds come through distorted

If the sound coming through your hearing aid sounds distorted, check for any corrosion on the battery or contact points. If you do find corrosion, speak to your local hearing care professional for advice on how to safely clean your hearing aid.

If you are experiencing these 5 common problems with hearing aids, this checklist can help you troubleshoot:

✓ Is the battery in correctly? It should be easy to close the door, and the aid should then switch on.

✓ Try to replace the battery.

✓ Check the microphone, tubing, mold and dome for any moisture or waxy blockage.

✓ Is the volume set correctly? Check it’s not too low.

✓ Is your hearing aid on the correct setting/program?

✓ Does the device appear damaged? Is the tubing, squashed or cracked? If it is damaged, we recommend coming in to speak with the team.

Most problems with hearing aids are easy to resolve. If you’re still having issues with your devices even after troubleshooting, the hearing care professionals at Smithtown Sayville Hearing Services would be happy to take a look. Call (631) 993-4719 or click here to book a consultation today.

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