Providing hearing aid solutions in Nashville,TN

Listen up, Music City; your hearing is about to take center stage!

Let’s start with the basics. You’re hearing is what drives your life, enlivens your relationships, keeps you in the loop and at the top of your game.

The quality and clarity of your hearing is essential to living your life to the fullest. If your hearing is suffering even just a little bit, if you’ve felt frustrated, isolated or left out because you can’t make out the conversation, Audiology Associates and Hearing Aids Today can change all that with a lifestyle solution just for you.

We’re here to help you understand your hearing loss, and help you take back the life you’ve been missing. You don’t have to miss another sound, the solution to your hearing problems is right around the corner.

Hear more – anywhere, anytime!


Want to be a part of the conversation again?

Dr. Jina Scherer has built a practice that is 100% focused on you – your family, your work and your life. The conversations that start in our office are about building relationships of trust, and finding solutions that inspire.

We know how hard it can be to struggle with hearing loss and feel like there’s nowhere to turn. Audiology Associates & Hearing Aids Today is dedicated to helping people hear better everyday. Our clients, friends and family in Nashville have come to trust us for exceptional care and service, and we take that trust very seriously.

Nearly 36 million Americans report some degree of hearing loss, and every one of them has a family, a job and a lifestyle that can also be significantly affected. That adds up to a lot of people suffering, losing hope and missing out on things when they don’t have to.

The comeback your hearing deserves, is here today!

  • Hear Better, Live BetterClick here to see how our Audiology Services can help you hear and live better.
  • Acoustic or Electric – Turn It Up! – Check out our full line of musician’s earplugs, tips to protect your hearing and prevent hearing loss. Click here to find out more.
  • A Tip of the Hat to TechnologyClick here to see just how far hearing aid and hearing assistance devices have come – We guarantee you’ll be surprised!
  • Testing, Testing – One, Two… – Already have a hearing aid? We can test any hearing aid you have and see that it’s delivering the best sound possible. Click here to set up an appointment today.

Your Ears…Only Better!

“I was a pretty good imitator of Roy Acuff, but then I found out they already had a Roy Acuff, so I started singin’ like myself.” – Hank Williams

Rediscovering your hearing is like finding your own voice, it will change your life overnight!

People come to Nashville to become a star; they stay because of the family they find here. Audiology Associates and Hearing Aids Today is part of that family, and the relationships we’re building everyday are far better than a single night on stage at the Grand Ole Opry.

When you struggle with hearing loss, your relationships suffer, your business suffers and your life is a little less than it could be. When the chips are down, the relationships in your life are more important than anything else; isn’t that what all those songs are really about?

Before we help people to hear better…We Listen! Our amazing staff of audiology and support professionals know what they’re listening for, so when you step into our office, you’ll know you’ve come to the right place.

It’s time you did something about your hearing loss, and we’re here to help!

  • Meet the TeamClick here to meet the best audiology professionals and support staff anywhere in Music City.
  • Contact Us – Nothing beats getting your questions answered face-to-face. Click here to get in touch and schedule an appointment today.
Natural, effortless listening pleasure…
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615-457-8600

How to Read Your Audiogram at Your Hearing Test

Audiogram

You’ve just completed your hearing test. The hearing specialist is now coming into the room and provides you with a chart, like the one above, except that it has all of these symbols, colors, and lines. This is intended to show you the exact, mathematically precise features of your hearing loss, but to you it might as well be written in Greek.

The audiogram creates confusion and complexity at a time when you’re supposed to be focusing on how to strengthen your hearing. But don’t let it trick you — just because the audiogram looks confusing doesn’t mean that it’s difficult to comprehend.

After looking through this article, and with a little vocabulary and a handful of basic principles, you’ll be reading audiograms like a pro, so that you can focus on what really is important: better hearing.

Some advice: as you read the article, reference the above blank audiogram. This will make it easier to understand, and we’ll address all of those cryptic marks the hearing specialist adds later on.

Understanding Sound Frequencies and Decibels

The audiogram is essentially just a diagram that records sound volume on the vertical axis and sound frequency on the horizontal axis. (are you having flashbacks to high school geometry class yet?) Yes, there’s more to it, but at a fundamental level it’s just a chart graphing two variables, as follows:

The vertical axis documents sound intensity or volume, measured in decibels (dB). As you move up the axis, the sound volume decreases. So the top line, at 0 decibels, is a very soft, faint sound. As you go down the line, the decibel levels increase, representing progressively louder sounds until you get to 100 dB.

The horizontal axis records sound frequency, measured in Hertz (Hz). Starting at the top left of the graph, you will see a low frequency of 125 or 250 Hz. As you continue along the horizontal axis to the right, the frequency will progressively increase until it gets to 8,000 Hz. Vowel sounds of speech are usually low frequency sounds, while consonant sounds of speech are high frequency sounds.

So, if you were to begin at the top left corner of the graph and sketch a diagonal line to the bottom right corner, you would be increasing the frequency of sound (shifting from vowel sounds to consonant sounds) while raising the intensity of sound (moving from fainter to louder volume).

Assessing Hearing and Marking Up the Audiogram

So, what’s with all the markings you usually see on this simple chart?

Simple. Start off at the top left corner of the graph, at the lowest frequency (125 Hz). Your hearing professional will present you with a sound at this frequency via headphones, beginning with the smallest volume decibel level. If you can hear it at the lowest level (0 decibels), a mark is created at the junction of 125 Hz and 0 decibels. If you can’t perceive the 125 Hz sound at 0 decibels, the sound will be presented once more at the next loudest decibel level (10 decibels). If you can hear it at 10 decibels, a mark is made. If not, advance on to 15 decibels, and so on.

This equivalent process is duplicated for every frequency as the hearing specialist moves along the horizontal frequency axis. A mark is created at the lowest perceivable decibel level you can perceive for each individual sound frequency.

As for the other symbols? If you see two lines, one is for the left ear (the blue line) and one is for the right ear (the red line: red is for right). An X is most often applied to mark the points for the left ear; an O is employed for the right ear. You may see some other characters, but these are less crucial for your basic understanding.

What Normal Hearing Looks Like

So what is considered to be normal hearing, and what would that look like on the audiogram?

People with standard hearing should be able to perceive each sound frequency level (125 to 8000 Hz) at 0-25 decibels. What might this look like on the audiogram?

Just take the blank graph, locate 25 decibels on the vertical axis, and sketch a horizontal line completely across. Any mark made beneath this line may reveal hearing loss. If you can hear all frequencies beneath this line (25 decibels or higher), then you most likely have normal hearing.

If, however, you can’t perceive the sound of a specific frequency at 0-25 dB, you very likely have some type of hearing loss. The smallest decibel level at which you can perceive sound at that frequency establishes the level of your hearing loss.

As an illustration, consider the 1,000 Hertz frequency. If you can hear this frequency at 0-25 decibels, you have normal hearing for this frequency. If the smallest decibel level at which you can hear this frequency is 40 decibels, for example, then you have moderate hearing loss at this frequency.

As an overview, here are the decibel levels connected with normal hearing along with the levels linked with mild, moderate, severe, and profound hearing loss:

Normal hearing: 0-25 dB

Mild hearing loss: 20-40 dB

Moderate hearing loss: 40-70 dB

Severe hearing loss: 70-90 dB

Profound hearing loss: 90+ dB

What Hearing Loss Looks Like

So what might an audiogram with signals of hearing loss look like? Seeing as the majority of cases of hearing loss are in the higher frequencies (referred to as — you guessed it — high-frequency hearing loss), the audiogram would have a downwards sloping line from the top left corner of the graph sloping downward horizontally to the right.

This indicates that at the higher-frequencies, it requires a progressively louder decibel level for you to perceive the sound. And, given that higher-frequency sounds are connected with the consonant sounds of speech, high-frequency hearing loss weakens your ability to comprehend and pay attention to conversations.

There are some other, less familiar patterns of hearing loss that can turn up on the audiogram, but that’s probably too much detail for this article.

Testing Your New-Found Knowledge

You now know the fundamentals of how to read an audiogram. So go ahead, book that hearing test and surprise your hearing specialist with your newfound talents. And just imagine the look on their face when you tell them all about your high frequency hearing loss before they even say a word.

How to Persuade Someone to Get a Hearing Test

We don’t need to tell you the symptoms of hearing loss; you already know them all too well. You have a different kind of challenge: persuading someone you care about to get their hearing evaluated and treated.

But exactly how are you expected to get through to someone who denies there is even a problem, or that merely shrugs it off as “just part of getting old”?

It turns out that it’s not as easy as just telling them that they need their hearing tested. They won’t see the need, and you won’t get very far with threats, ultimatums, or other coercive tactics.

While it may seem like a hopeless situation, there are other, more subtle strategies you can employ. In fact, you can draw from the massive body of social scientific research that signifies which strategies of persuasion have been found to be the most consistently successful.

This means, you can use tested, researched, and validated persuasive techniques that have been shown to actually work. It’s worth a shot, right? And perusing the techniques might enable you to think of additional ideas.

With that in mind, the following are 6 scientifically tested techniques of persuasion and how you might use them to persuade a loved one to get their hearing tested:

1. Reciprocity

What it is:

The basic principle of reciprocity is simple: if someone does a favor for you, you’re powerfully motivated to return the favor for them.

How to use it:

Timing is everything. You plan on requesting your loved one to get their hearing examined at some point anyway, so why don’t you render the request soon after you’ve done something special for them?

2. Commitment and Consistency

What it is:

We all have a strong psychological need to think and behave consistently.

How to use it:

The trick is to begin with small commitments before making the final request. If you begin by ordering your loved one to get a hearing test, you likely won’t see much success.

Alternatively, ease into the subject by casually sharing an article on hearing loss and how widespread it is. Without mentioning their own personal hearing loss, get them to disclose that hearing loss is a more prominent problem than they had believed.

As soon as they concede to a few basic facts, it may be easier to discuss their own specific hearing loss, and they may be more likely to admit that they have a problem.

3. Social Proof

What it is:

We are inclined to think in terms of “safety in numbers.” We tend to conform to the crowd, and we assume that if a number of other people are doing something, it must be trusted or effective.

How to use it:

There are at minimum two ways to make use of this method. One way is to share articles on the many advantages of using hearing aids and how hearing aids heighten the quality of life for millions of individuals in the U.S. and across the world.

The second way to use the approach is to arrange a hearing test for yourself. Tell your loved one that you want to confirm the health of your own hearing, but that you would feel better if they went with you and had their own test.

4. Liking

What it is:

You’re more inclined to be persuaded by individuals you personally like than by either a stranger or by someone you dislike.

How to use it:

Enlist the assistance of people you know your loved one likes or respects. Try to find that one particular person whom your loved one consistently seems to respond to, and have that person talk about and recommend a hearing test.

5. Authority

What it is:

We are inclined to listen to and have respect for the feedback of those we perceive as authority figures.

How to use it:

Share articles on how celebrities, professional athletes, and other distinguished figures wear and benefit from hearing aids. You can also share articles from reputable sources that describe the advantages of having your hearing tested. For example, the World Health Organization recently published an article titled “1.1 billion people at risk of hearing loss.”

6. Scarcity

What it is:

Scarcity generates a sense of urgency when what we want is perceived as limited or in short supply. Scarcity creates the perception that, if we don’t act promptly, we may lose something on a permanent basis.

How to use it:

The latest research has connected hearing loss to a great number of dangerous conditions, including Alzheimer’s Disease, dementia, memory impairment, and accelerated cognitive decline. Hearing loss also gets worse as time passes, so the earlier it’s dealt with, the better.

To employ scarcity, share articles, such as our previous blog post titled 8 reasons hearing loss is more dangerous than you think, with your loved one. Show them that every day spent with untreated hearing loss exacerbates the hearing loss, deteriorates health, and increases the risk of developing more dangerous conditions.


If all else fails, just give it to them straight. Describe to your loved ones how their hearing loss affects you, in conjunction with how it’s impacting your relationship. When you make it about your needs and feelings rather than theirs, the response is usually better.

Have you had success persuading someone to have their hearing tested? Let us know your approach in a comment.

Source

The six principles of persuasion were developed by Dr. Robert Cialdini, and can be found in his book titled “Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion.”

5 Reasons Why People Deny Hearing Loss

It takes the average person with hearing loss 5 to 7 years before getting a qualified professional diagnosis, in spite of the fact that the warning signs of hearing loss are crystal clear to other people. But are those with hearing loss just too stubborn to get help? No, actually, and for a couple of specific reasons.

Perhaps you know someone with hearing loss who either denies the condition or refuses to seek out professional help, and although this is unquestioningly frustrating, it is very likely that the indications of hearing loss are much more apparent to you than they are to them.

Here are the reasons why:

1. Hearing loss is gradual

In most scenarios, hearing loss appears so slowly and gradually that the afflicted individual simply doesn’t detect the change. While you would become aware of an rapid change from normal hearing to a 25 decibel hearing loss (classified as moderate hearing loss), you wouldn’t notice the minor change of a 1-2 decibel loss.

So a slow loss of 1-2 decibels over 10-20 years, while creating a 20-40 total decibel loss, is not going to be noticeable at any given moment in time for those affected. That’s why friends and family members are nearly always the first to notice hearing loss.

2. Hearing loss is often partial (high-frequency only)

The majority of hearing loss cases are categorized as high-frequency hearing loss, meaning that the afflicted individual can still hear low-frequency background sounds normally. Whereas speech, which is a high-frequency sound, is challenging for those with hearing loss to understand, other sounds can usually be heard normally. This is why it’s not uncommon for those with hearing loss to claim, “my hearing is fine, everyone else mumbles.”

3. Hearing loss is not addressed by the family doctor

People struggling with hearing loss can obtain a mistaken sense of well-being after their annual physical. It’s common to hear people state “if I had hearing loss, my doctor would have told me.”

This is of course not true because only 14% of physicians routinely test for hearing loss during the course of the yearly checkup. Not to mention that the primary symptom for most cases of hearing loss — difficulty following speech in the presence of background noise — will not present itself in a calm office atmosphere.

4. The burden of hearing loss can be shared or passed on to others

How do you remedy hearing loss when there’s no cure? The answer is straight forward: amplify sounds. The issue is, while hearing aids are the most effective at amplifying sounds, they are not the only way to accomplish it — which those with hearing loss quickly identify.

Those with hearing loss commonly turn up the volume on everything, to the detriment of those around them. Tv sets and radios are played excessively loud and people are made to either scream or repeat themselves. The person with hearing loss can get by just fine with this method, but only by passing on the burden to friends, family members, and co-workers.

5. Hearing loss is painless and invisible

Hearing loss is mainly subjective: it cannot be diagnosed by visible evaluation and it usually is not accompanied by any pain or discomfort. If people with hearing loss do not recognize a problem, largely because of the reasons above, then they probably won’t take action.

The only method to accurately diagnose hearing loss is through audiometry, which will quantify the specific decibel level hearing loss at numerous sound frequencies. This is the only method to objectively say whether hearing loss is present, but the difficult part is needless to say getting to that point.

How to approach those with hearing loss

Hopefully, this article has manufactured some empathy. It is always exasperating when someone with hearing loss refuses to admit the problem, but remember, they may legitimately not grasp the severity of the problem. Rather than demanding that they get their hearing examined, a more productive strategy may be to educate them on the properties of hearing loss that make the condition essentially invisible.

What to Expect at Your Hearing Exam

If the unfamiliar generates anxiety, then a trip to the hearing specialist is particularly stressful. While the majority of us have experience with the family physician and the local dentist, the trip to the hearing specialist could be a first.

It sure would be beneficial to have someone illustrate the process ahead of time, wouldn’t it? Well, continue reading, because as you’ll see, the process of having your hearing examined is normally easy, comfortable, and pain-free — with portions that can actually be fun.

So here’s how it will go:

After you arrive at the office, you will check in with an employee at the front desk who will give you a couple of forms to complete. Shortly after filling out the forms, a hearing specialist will escort you into a room to get started on the hearing assessment, which is composed of four parts:

Part 1: Case History

case history

The hearing specialist will start the process by getting to know you, your medical history, and your hearing loss symptoms. Preparing for this step is critical, because this is where you get to describe to the hearing specialist the specifics of your hearing loss, what you would like from treatment, and your unique hearing needs.

This part is all about you: what do you want to accomplish with superior hearing? Do you have the desire to play a music instrument again? Do you desire to be more engaged in work meetings? Do you desire to be more involved at social gatherings? The more you can reveal to your hearing specialist the better.

Next comes the testing.

Part 2: Otoscopy

otoscope

The initial diagnostic test to be completed is referred to as an otoscopy. An otoscope is used to visually assess the ear canal and eardrum to find out if your hearing loss is connected with infections, earwax buildup, or blockages. If the explanation for your hearing loss is something as uncomplicated as earwax accumulation, you could potentially start hearing better within minutes simply from expert earwax removal.

Part 3: Tympanometry

tympanometry

The second test is known as tympanometry, used to test the eardrum and middle ear. A device is inserted into the ear that will change the air pressure, calculating how your ear reacts to various pressures.

To fully grasp this test, you have to first know that hearing loss is categorized into one of two broad types:

  1. Sensorineural hearing loss — this is the most widespread hearing loss. It is also described as noise-induced hearing loss and it involves damage of the nerve cells of hearing.
  2. Conductive hearing loss — this hearing loss results from blockages or obstructions that limit sound conduction before the sound hits the nerve cells of hearing.

Tympanometry is a test that can help to rule out conductive hearing loss, to establish that there are no blockages, infections, or middle-ear-bone complications. Conversely, Audiometry, which is tackled next, will measure sensorineural hearing loss.

Part 4: Audiometry

audiogram

The last group of tests will be completed in a soundproof room. These tests are jointly referred to as audiometry and will measure your hearing range and sensitivity. Audiometry is the best method to quantify sensorineural hearing loss.

With the use of an audiometer, the hearing specialist will be able to pinpoint:

  • Which frequencies you can hear comfortably and which you have a hard time with.
  • The minimum decibel levels, at a range of frequencies, at which you perceive sound.
  • The precise calculations associated with your hearing loss (as documented on an audiogram).
  • Your capacity to recognize speech, with or without background noise.

The test on its own, from your viewpoint, will be comfortable and straightforward. You will be presented with sounds and speech through earphones and will be instructed to identify when you can hear the sounds by pushing a control or raising your hand.

Assessing results and planning treatment

After the testing is complete, your hearing specialist will review your results with you. If your hearing loss necessitates medical or surgical treatment (due to infections or middle-ear-bone problems, for instance), your hearing specialist can make the applicable referral.

If your hearing loss can benefit from assistive listening devices or hearing aids, your hearing specialist will work with you to identify the best solution for you, your finances, your lifestyle, and your cosmetic concerns.

Pretty painless for a lifetime of better hearing, isn’t it?

Exploring a Career in the Hearing Care Profession

Even though many of us keep up to date with our yearly physical, dental cleaning, and eye examination, we generally forget to think about the health of our hearing. And when our hearing does start to deteriorate, it takes place so slowly that we scarcely notice and neglect to do something about it. It’s this lack of interaction with hearing care professionals that makes people want to know what the occupation actually entails.

And that’s a shame, because hearing care professionals serve as a critical component of the healthcare system. It’s through the hearing care professional that the proper performance of one of our principal senses — one in which we have a tendency to take for granted — is preserved or repaired.

Considering the fact that we take hearing for granted, we often fail to recognize just how valuable hearing is. With precise hearing, we can greatly improve attention, appreciate the details of sound, converse better, and strengthen relationships. And the hearing care professionals are the ones who make sure that this essential sense is functioning properly.

If you’d like to learn more about this crucial but little-known healthcare field — or if you’re thinking of entering the field yourself — read on.

Attraction to the hearing care field

Hearing care professionals are attracted to the field for a variety of reasons, but a couple different principal motivating factors are frequently present. First, many practitioners have endured, and continue to suffer with, hearing complications themselves. Considering that they were themselves helped by a hearing care professional, the need to repay the favor for other individuals is powerful.

For instance, Zoe Williams, a hearing care professional in Australia, has moderate to profound hearing loss in both ears. This could have caused an inability to communicate, but thanks to cochlear implants and hearing aids, Zoe is now able to communicate normally. Knowing from experience how enhanced hearing leads to a much better life, Zoe was inspired to enter the field and to assist others in a similar manner.

Other practitioners are driven into the hearing care field on account of its unique mixture of counseling, problem solving, science, and engineering. In combination with learning about the science of hearing and the design of hearing technology, practitioners also learn how to work with people in the role of a counselor. Dealing with hearing loss is a delicate situation, and patients present a number of emotions and personalities. Practitioners must be able to employ the “soft skills” necessary to manage these challenges and must work with patients on a personalized level to beat hearing loss.

Training and education

Part of the attractiveness of working in the hearing care profession is the fascinating combination of subjects included as part of the schooling and training. Those pursuing a career in the field learn fascinating topics in several fields such as:

  • Biology – topics include the anatomy and physiology of hearing, balance, the ear, and the brain, as well as instruction in hearing and balance disorders and pharmacology.
  • Physics – topics include the physics of sound, acoustics, and psychoacoustics (how the brain processes sound).
  • Engineering – topics include the production and functioning of hearing technology such as assistive listening devices, hearing aids, and cochlear implants, along with the programming of digital hearing aids.
  • Counseling – topics include how to interview patients, how to teach coping skills, and how to train on the use of hearing aids, as well as other interesting topics in psychology and counseling.
  • Professional practice – topics include diagnosing hearing problems, conducting and interpreting hearing tests, developing hearing treatments, fitting and programming hearing aids, professional ethics, and starting a business.

Job functions

Hearing care professionals work in a wide variety of settings (schools, hospitals, private practices) performing diverse activities such as research, teaching, and diagnosing and treating hearing and balance problems.

Common duties consist of conducting diagnostic tests, interpreting hearing tests, and working with patients on determining the most effective hearing treatment, very often including the use of hearing aids. Hearing care professionals custom-fit and program hearing aids to best match the individual and will instruct the patient on how to use and maintain them. Hearing care professionals also work with employers and companies to reduce the risk of hearing injuries in noisy work locations.

Benefits

The benefits quoted most regularly by individuals in the hearing care profession revolve around the capacity to positively influence people’s lives on a very personalized level. Lifelong friendships between patients and hearing specialists are also prevalent as a result of the personal nature of care.

When patients report that they can hear again for the first time in ages, the emotions can be intense. Patients commonly report a feeling of reconnection to the world and to family, as well as improved relationships and an enhanced overall quality of life.

How many occupations can claim that kind of personal impact?

Avoiding the Biggest Mistake in Treating Your Hearing Loss

Do you recall the Q-Ray Bracelets? You know, the magnetized bracelets that promised to provide immediate and significant pain relief from arthritis and other chronic diseases?

Well, you won’t find much of that advertising anymore; in 2008, the producers of the Q-Ray Bracelets were legally required to repay customers a maximum of $87 million as a consequence of deceitful and fraudulent advertising.1

The problem had to do with rendering health claims that were not endorsed by any scientific studies. On the contrary, powerful evidence was there to suggest that the magnetized bracelets had NO impact on pain reduction, which did not bode well for the manufacturer but did wonders to win the court case for the Federal Trade Commission.2

The wishful thinking fallacy

Ok, so the Q-Ray bracelets didn’t show results (outside of the placebo effect), yet they sold amazingly well. What gives?

Without delving into the depths of human psychology, the easy response is that we have a strong inclination to believe in the things that appear to make our lives better and quite a bit easier.

On an emotional level, you’d love to believe that donning a $50 wristband will get rid of your pain and that you don’t have to bother with high priced medical and surgical treatments.

If, for instance, you happen to suffer from chronic arthritis in your knee, which choice seems more attractive?

        a. Booking surgery for a total knee replacement

        b. Going to the mall to purchase a magnetized bracelet

Your natural inclination is to give the bracelet a chance. You already desire to trust that the bracelet will do the job, so now all you need is a little push from the marketers and some social confirmation from witnessing other people using them.

But it is exactly this natural tendency, along with the inclination to seek out confirming evidence, that will get you into the most trouble.

If it sounds too good to be true…

Bearing in mind the Q-Ray bracelets, let’s say you’re suffering from hearing loss; which choice sounds more appealing?

       a. Arranging a consultation with a hearing practitioner and acquiring professionally programmed hearing aids

       b. Ordering an off-the-shelf personal sound amplifier via the internet for 20 bucks

Just like the magnetic wristband seems much more desirable than a trip to the doctor or surgeon, the personal sound amplifier seems to be much more appealing than a visit to the audiologist or hearing instrument specialist.

Nonetheless, as with the magnetic bracelets, personal sound amplifiers won’t cure anything, either.

The difference between hearing aids and personal sound amplifiers

Before you get the wrong idea, I’m not saying that personal sound amplifiers, also referred to as PSAPs, are fraudulent — or even that they don’t deliver results.

On the contrary, personal sound amplifiers often do work. Just like hearing aids, personal sound amplifiers consist of a receiver, a microphone, and an amplifier that receive sound and make it louder. Reviewed on that level, personal sound amplifiers work fine — and for that matter, so does the act of cupping your hands behind your ears.

But when you ask if PSAPs work, you’re asking the wrong question. The questions you should be asking are:

  1. How well do they function?
  2. For which type of individual do they function best?

These are exactly the questions that the FDA addressed when it issued its recommendations on the distinction between hearing aids and personal sound amplifiers.

As reported by the FDA, hearing aids are defined as “any wearable instrument or device designed for, offered for the purpose of, or represented as aiding persons with or compensating for, impaired hearing.” (21 CFR 801.420)3

On the other hand, personal sound amplifiers are “intended to amplify environmental sound for non-hearing impaired consumers. They are not intended to compensate for hearing impairment.”

Despite the fact that the difference is transparent, it’s simple for PSAP manufacturers and sellers to avoid the distinction by simply not mentioning it. For instance, on a PSAP package, you may find the tagline “turning ordinary hearing into extraordinary hearing.” This statement is obscure enough to skirt the matter entirely without having to describe exactly what the phrase “turning ordinary hearing into extraordinary hearing” even means.

You get what you pay for

As reported by by the FDA, PSAPs are simple amplification devices meant for those with normal hearing. So if you have normal hearing, and you wish to hear better while you are hunting, bird watching, or tuning in to remote conversations, then a $20 PSAP is ideally suited for you.

If you have hearing loss, however, then you’ll require professionally programmed hearing aids. While more costly, hearing aids have the power and features required to correct hearing loss. Listed below are some of the reasons why hearing aids are superior to PSAPs:

  • Hearing aids amplify only the frequencies that you have trouble hearing, while PSAPs amplify all sound indiscriminately. By amplifying all frequencies, PSAPs won’t make it easy for you to hear conversations in the presence of background noise, like when you’re at a party or restaurant.
  • Hearing aids have integrated noise minimization and canceling functions, while PSAPs do not.
  • Hearing aids are programmable and can be perfected for optimal hearing; PSAPs are not programmable.
  • Hearing aids contain several features and functions that minimize background noise, permit phone use, and provide for wireless connectivity, for example. PSAPs do not normally contain any of these features.
  • Hearing aids come in a variety of styles and are custom-molded for optimum comfort and cosmetic appeal. PSAPs are generally one-size-fits-all.

Seek the help of a hearing professional

If you feel that you have hearing loss, don’t be tempted by the low-priced PSAPs; instead, book a visit with a hearing specialist. They will be able to accurately appraise your hearing loss and will make sure that you get the correct hearing aid for your lifestyle and needs. So despite the fact that the low-priced PSAPs are enticing, in this scenario you should listen to your better judgment and seek professional help. Your hearing is worth the effort.

Sources

  1. Federal Trade Commission: Appeals Court Affirms Ruling in FTCs Favor in Q-Ray Bracelet Case
  2. National Center for Biotechnology Information: Effect of “ionized” wrist bracelets on musculoskeletal pain: a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial
  3. Food and Drug Administration: Guidance for Industry and FDA Staff: Regulatory Requirements for Hearing Aid Devices and Personal Sound Amplification Products

8 Reasons Hearing Loss is More Dangerous Than You Think

warning sign

Hearing damage is dangerously sneaky. It creeps up on an individual through the years so slowly you scarcely become aware of it , making it easy to deny or ignore. And afterwards, when you finally recognize the symptoms, you shrug it off as inconvenient and frustrating because its true effects are hidden.

For close to 48 million Americans that say they experience some level of hearing loss, the effects are substantially greater than only aggravation and frustration.1 Here are 8 reasons why untreated hearing loss is more dangerous than you may think:

1. Link to Dementia and Alzheimer’s disease

An investigation from Johns Hopkins University and the National Institute on Aging indicates that those with hearing loss are significantly more liable to develop dementia, including Alzheimer’s disease, in contrast with those who sustain their hearing.2

Even though the explanation for the association is ultimately undetermined, scientists think that hearing loss and dementia could possibly share a common pathology, or that several years of straining the brain to hear could result in damage. A different theory is that hearing loss quite often leads to social solitude — a leading risk factor for dementia.

No matter what the cause, repairing hearing may very well be the optimum prevention, which includes the use of hearing aids.

2. Depression and social isolation

Researchers from the National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders (NIDCD), part of the National Institutes of Health, have discovered a strong association between hearing damage and depression among American adults of all ages and races.3

3. Not hearing alerts to danger

Car horns, ambulance and police sirens, and fire alarms all are specifically created to alert you to potential hazards. If you miss out on these types of alerts, you put yourself at an higher risk of injury.

4. Memory impairment and mental decline

Findings show that individuals with hearing loss suffer from a 40% larger rate of decrease in cognitive performance in contrast to people with normal hearing.4 The head author of the study, Frank R. Lin, MD, PhD, of Johns Hopkins University, stated that “going forward for the next 30 or 40 years that from a public health perspective, there’s nothing more important than cognitive decline and dementia as the population ages.” that is the reason why raising awareness as to the connection between hearing loss and cognitive decline is Dr. Lin’s top priority.

5. Lower household income

In a survey of more than 40,000 households performed by the Better Hearing Institute, hearing loss was discovered to adversely impact household income up to $12,000 annually, dependent on the level of hearing loss.5 Those who used hearing aids, however, limited this impact by 50%.

The ability to communicate on the job is critical to job performance and promotion. The fact is, communication skills are routinely ranked as the top job-related skill-set targeted by managers and the top factor for promotion.

6. Auditory deprivation – use it or lose it

When considering the human body, “use it or lose it” is a motto to live by. For instance, if we don’t make use of our muscles, they atrophy or shrink with time, and we end up losing strength. It’s only through physical activity and repetitive use that we can reclaim our physical strength.

The equivalent phenomenon is applicable to hearing: as our hearing deteriorates, we get stuck in a downward spiral that only gets worse. This is often referred to as auditory deprivation, and a developing body of research is confirming the “hearing atrophy” that can manifest with hearing loss.

7. Underlying medical conditions

Despite the fact that the most common cause of hearing loss is related to age and enduring direct exposure to loud sound, hearing loss is every now and then the symptom of a more significant, underlying medical condition. Possible ailments include:

  • Cardiovascular disease, high blood pressure, and diabetes
  • Otosclerosis – the hardening of the middle ear bones
  • Ménière’s disease – a condition of the inner ear affecting hearing and balance
  • Traumatic injuries
  • Infections, earwax buildup, or obstructions from foreign objects
  • Tumors
  • Medications – there are more than 200 medications and chemicals that are known to cause hearing and balance issues

Due to the severity of some of the ailments, it is imperative that any hearing loss is rapidly examined.

8. Greater risk of falls

Research has revealed various connections between hearing loss and serious conditions like dementia, Alzheimer’s disease, depression, and anxiety. An additional study conducted by researchers at Johns Hopkins University has uncovered yet another disheartening connection: the connection between hearing loss and the risk of falls.6

The research reveals that individuals with a 25-decibel hearing loss, characterized as mild, were nearly three times more likely to have a history of falling. And for every added 10-decibels of hearing loss, the chances of falling increased by 1.4 times.

Don’t wait to get your hearing tested

The optimistic side to all of this negative research is the suggestion that protecting or repairing your hearing can help to lower or eliminate these risks completely. For those of you that currently have normal hearing, it is more critical than ever to protect it. And for all those suffering with hearing loss, it’s vital to seek the services of a hearing specialist immediately.

Sources

  1. Hearing Loss Association of America: Basic Facts About Hearing Loss
  2. Johns Hopkins Medicine: Hearing Loss and Dementia Linked in Study
  3. National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders: NIDCD Researchers Find Strong Link between Hearing Loss and Depression in Adults
  4. Medscape: Hearing Loss Linked to Cognitive Decline, Impairment
  5. Better Hearing Institute: The Impact of Untreated Hearing Loss on Household Income
  6. Johns Hopkins Medicine: Hearing Loss Linked to Three-Fold Risk of Falling

Professional musicians at greater risk of developing hearing loss

Fame, fortune, and screaming fans — these are a few of the words and phrases you’d employ in order to describe the reality of a professional musician. In spite of this, what you most likely wouldn’t think about is “hearing loss” or “tinnitus,” the not-so-enjoyable side-effects of all that celebrity, fortune, and screaming. The bittersweet paradox is, a musician’s hearing is what is most subject to injury from the performance of their art.

The truth is, musicians are nearly four times more likely to suffer from noise-induced hearing loss when compared with the average person, as stated by scientists at the Leibniz Institute for Prevention Research and Epidemiology. The research study also determined that professional musicians are up to 57% more likely to experience tinnitus — an ailment associated with a repeated ringing in the ears.

The cause: repeated exposure to loud noise. Over the years, loud noise will irreparably destroy the hair cells of the inner ear, which are the sensory receptors responsible for sending sound to the brain. Like an ample patch of grass worn out from frequent trampling, the hair cells can also be wiped out from repeated overexposure to loud noise – the significant difference, of course, being that you can’t grow new hair cells.

Just how loud are rock concerts?

To show the problem, hearing loss starts with recurrent exposure to sounds at or above 85 decibels (decibels being a unit used to measure loudness). That may very well not mean very much to you, until you take into account the decibel levels associated with typical events:

  • Whisper at 6 feet: 30 decibels (dB)
  • Standard conversation at 3 feet: 60 – 65 (dB)
  • Motorcycle: 100 dB
  • Front row at a rock show: 120 to 150 dB

In non-technical terms, rock shows are literally ear-splittingly loud, and repetitive unguarded exposure can cause some serious damage, which, regretfully, many notable musicians have recently attested to.

Chris Martin, the lead vocalist for the music group Coldplay, has suffered with Tinnitus for many years. Martin said::

“Looking after your ears is unfortunately something you don’t think about until there’s a problem. I’ve had tinnitus for about 10 years, and since I started protecting my ears it hasn’t got any worse (touch wood). But I wish I’d thought about it earlier. Now we always use moulded filter plugs, or in-ear monitors, to try and protect our ears. You CAN use industrial headphones, but that looks strange at a party.”

Other notable musicians that suffer from hearing loss or tinnitus include Neil Young, Ozzy Osbourne, Phil Collins, Eric Clapton, Jeff Beck, Pete Townshend, Bono, Sting, Ryan Adams, and more, many of which convey regret that they hadn’t done more to take care of their ears through the course of their careers. Lars Ulrich from Metallica stated::

“If you get a scratch on your nose, in a week that’ll be gone. When you scratch your hearing or damage your hearing, it doesn’t come back. I try to point out to younger kids … once your hearing is gone, it’s gone, and there’s no real remedy.”

How musicians, and fans, can protect their ears

Even though musicians are at greater risk for developing hearing loss or tinnitus, the threat can be considerably lessened by employing protective measures. Considering the specialized needs of musicians — and the importance of protecting the detConsidering the unique needs of musicians — and the importance of preserving the fine details of sound — the first step is to make an appointment with an hearing specialist.

Here’s a classic mistake: musicians will frequently delay seeing an audiologist until they experience one or more of these symptoms:

  • A ringing or buzzing noise in the ears
  • Any pain or discomfort in the ears
  • Difficulty comprehending speech
  • Trouble following discussions in the presence of background noise

The concern is, when these symptoms are present, the damage has already been done. Therefore, the leading thing a musician can do to prevent long-term, permanent hearing loss is to schedule an appointment with an audiologist before symptoms are present.

If you’re a musician, an hearing specialist can recommend custom musicians’ plugs or in-ear-monitors that will give protection to your hearing without limiting your musical performance. As a musician, you have distinctive needs for hearing and hearing protection, and audiologists or hearing specialists are the professionals specifically trained to provide this custom made protection.

Additionally, bear in mind that it’s not only musicians at risk: concert-goers are just as vulnerable. So the next time you’re front row at a rock show, remember that 120 decibels of hair-cell-killing volume is pumping directly from the speakers right into your ears.

 

Preventing work related hearing loss with high fidelity, custom-fit ear plugs

85 decibels. That’s the sound intensity at which repetitive exposure can result in significant hearing damage.

100 decibels. That’s the noise level reached by a rock show, which is not-so-good news for music players or concert goers.

It’s also a portion of a much bigger problem: According to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), approximately 30 million individuals in the U.S. are subjected to damaging noise levels, representing one of the biggest occupational risks over the recent 25 years.

And musicians aren’t the only ones at risk; here are some of the decibel volumes linked with ordinary work related activities: a power saw can reach 110 decibels, a newspaper press 97, a chain saw 120, a sporting event 105, and a jet takeoff 150. Musicians, factory workers, construction workers, airport employees, emergency staff, plumbers, and carpenters are all at risk of developing significant hearing loss and tinnitus.

Work-related hearing loss affects tens of thousands

Kevin Twigg of Stockport, England knows all too well about the work-related risks of sound. Twigg worked on analyzing and fixing law enforcement car sirens — which range between 106 to 118 decibels — for more than 30 years.

After retiring, Twigg started to experience intense tinnitus in addition to intense hearing loss that required the usage of hearing aids. Having failed to take the preventative methods that would alleviate the noise levels, Twigg’s employer was found accountable in court, losing a case in which Twigg would secure a large settlement.

This is a experience that is all too familiar: according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, in 2009 only there were 21,000 occurrences of work-related hearing loss reported.

How to protect your ears at work

So here’s the problem: the world needs music players, contractors, and emergency and construction workers, but you can’t really make power saws and law enforcement sirens any quieter.

The solution? decrease the intensity of sound that comes in through your ear. straightforward, right? Well…not so fast.

You could just travel to the local store and pick up some disposable foam ear plugs, but as it turns out, there is a much more suitable alternative.

The optimum solution requires the use of custom-fit ear plugs, often times referred to as musicians plugs, that your hearing practitioner can tailor specifically to you, your occupation, and your requirements.

4 reasons why custom-fit ear plugs are significantly better than the off-the-shelf foam variety

Here are four reasons why custom-fit ear plugs are superior to foam ear plugs.

1. maintenance of sound quality

Regular foam ear plugs muffle speech and music. By limiting noise primarily in the high frequency range, rather than in the mid-to-low frequency range, music and voices sound unnatural and unclear. Foam ear plugs also reduce sound by 30-40 decibels, which is excessive for the prevention of hearing injury.

Custom-fit ear plugs will minimize sound more symmetrically across frequencies while lessening sound volume by a lower decibel level, thereby preserving the organic quality of speech and music.

2. avoidance of the “Occlusion Effect”

With foam ear plugs, the wearer will hear a hollow or boomy sound in their speech when talking, singing, or playing an musical instrument. This annoying noise is known as the “occlusion effect.”

Custom-fit ear plugs are molded to the ear, forming a deep seal that prevents this distracting sound.

3. Price & convenience

Custom ear plugs can last up to four years, almost always at a price of well under $100.

Let’s do some calculations on the throw-away foam plugs:

$3.99 for 10 pairs equals $0.39 per pair

$0.39 per pair X 5 days per week X 52 weeks per year X 4 years = $405.60

With custom-fit ear plugs, you will save money in the long run and will avert all of those journeys to the store. No one looks forward to buying ear plugs, so while the first visit to the audiologist seems like a pain, in the long run you will also save yourself time.

4. Protecting the environment

Throw-away ear plugs generate a lot of waste:

5 days per week X 52 weeks per year = 260 pairs of foam ear plugs thrown out each year.

 

Schedule a consultation and protect your ears

The benefits of custom-fit ear plugs speak for themselves.

If you work in a industry that exposes you to a high risk for hearing damage, or if you participate in loud live shows or sporting events, schedule an appointment with a hearing specialist today. Custom-fit ear plugs will protect your ears, and unlike the disposable foam varieties, will also preserve the quality of sound.

 

A Brief History of Hearing Aids

Today, millions of people make use of hearing aids on a daily basis in order to hear better. This is nothing new, although the technology has definitely evolved quite a bit. Offered in a variety of shapes, sizes, and even colors, the hearing aids of today weigh only a fraction of what they used to. They’re not only more manageable these days, but they provide the user plenty more advantages, such as the capability to link up to Bluetooth and even clean out background noise. Here we present a short history of hearing aids and just how far they have come.

Primary Innovations

Way back in the 17th century, something termed the ear trumpet was invented. ear trumpets were most helpful to those who only had partial hearing problems. They were large, awkward and only worked to amplify sound in the immediate environment. Envision an old phonograph with the conical sphere and you’ll understand what they looked like. They were more commonplace as the calendar ticked over to the 18th century, with a range of models made for the very wealthy, such as the Reynolds Trumpet custom made for the notable painter Joshua Reynolds. This horn-shaped instrument basically just funneled sound into the inner ear.

New Possibilities

The hearing instruments of the 17th and 18th centuries supplied only limited amplification qualities. When the 19th century rolled around, more possibilities appeared with electrical technologies. In fact, it was the development of the telephone by Alexander Graham Bell in 1876 that established the advancement leading to electrical transmission of speech. Stimulated by this invention, Thomas Edison invented the carbon transmitter for the telephone in 1878 which improved upon the basics of the telephone and actually boosted the electrical signal to greatly enhance hearing.

Vacuum Tubes

Next in line were vacuum tubes, put out by Western Electric Co., in New York City in 1920. This company improved upon the technology inherent in Lee De Forest’s development of the three-component tube just a few years earlier. These devices provided not only improved amplification but also improved frequency. The early models were quite large, but the size got pared down to the size of a small box attached to a receiver not many years later. It was still pretty inconvenient and didn’t offer the versatility and comfort of the hearing aids to come.

First Wearable Products

The first hearing aids that could actually be put on semi-comfortably were constructed by a Chicago electronics manufacturer in the late 1930s. The hearing aids featured a thin wire hooked up to an earpiece and receiver, along with a battery pack that connected to the user’s leg. More portable models became available during World War II which posed a more dependable service to the user thanks to printed circuit boards.

Modern Models

Behind-the-ear hearing aids became available in 1964 by Zenith Radio; digital signal-processing chips, hybrid analog-digital models, and finally completely digital models hit the market in 1996. By the 21st century, programmable hearing aids were all the craze, making it possible for expanded flexibility, personalization and comfort. Today, 90 percent of all hearing aids are digital, and that number is only expected to grow. The question is, what will the future bring?