How to prolong hearing aid battery life

As an Audiologist we do hearing aid fittings on a daily basis and the reaction when discussing the lifespan of hearing aid batteries is always the same.  People are very shocked to hear that most hearing aid batteries will not last longer than two weeks.  Due to the advancement in hearing aid features, battery usage will increase with the increasing processing of the hearing aids.

Hearing aid batteries come in different sizes due to different power needs and features. The size of hearing aids are largely dependent on the degree of the hearing loss and the power the hearing aid must provide. Larger hearing aids require larger batteries and visa versa.  The average lifespan of hearing aid batteries is as follows:

  • Size 10 – three to seven days
  • Size 312 – three to 10 days
  • Size 13 – six to 14 days
  • Size 675 – nine to 20 days

There are a few variables that may have an effect on the lifespan of hearing aid batteries like the amount of hearing aid use, streaming and how you take care of your hearing aids.  Therefore it is difficult to provide a patient with the precise lifespan of their hearing aid batteries.

While there are no definite way of prolong battery life, thanks to Starkey’s blog post we have a few tips that can be incorporated into your everyday routine to prolong battery life.

  • Let the battery “breathe” for 3-5 minutes. After removing the tab (sticker) from the battery, let the battery sit for 3-5 minutes before installing it in your hearing aid. This “activation” time allows air to reach all the materials inside the battery and activate them completely.
  • Wash your hands thoroughly before changing batteries.  Grease and dirt on the batteries may damage the hearing aid. Also, grease and dirt can clog up the air pores in the battery.
  • Open the battery door at night. When you’re not wearing your hearing aid, turn it off or open the battery door to minimize battery drain.  Leave the battery compartment of your hearing device open at night so moisture can escape.  Doing so will keep the battery from corroding and damaging the hearing aid.
  • Use a hearing aid dehumidifier.A hearing aid dehumidifier will help absorb moisture out of your hearing aid and battery. This will allow the battery power to be used more efficiently. The dehumidifier is also a great place to store your hearing aids.
  • Remove the batteries entirely if you won’t be using the device for an extended period of time. This also helps to avoid corrosion and damage from trapped moisture.
  • Check the expiration date on the batteries. The further out the batteries are, the fresher they are. Over time, batteries will drain slightly while sitting on the shelf. Ideally, you should buy batteries that have an expiration date a year or further from your purchase date.
  • Use the oldest pack of batteries first. The newest packs will have the furthest expiration date than your older packs of batteries. You want to ensure that you use the oldest batteries first, so that you are getting the most life out of them.
  • Keep the stickers on the battery. The sticker tab on the battery keeps the battery “fresh.” As soon as the sticker is removed, the battery is activated and starts draining. You want to make sure you don’t peel the sticker tab off until you need to use that battery.
  • Keep the batteries in a cool dry place. Storing new, unused batteries in extreme temperatures can cause the battery to drain/have a shorter life.  Therefore never place hearing aid batteries in the refrigerator or in direct sunlight.
  • Batteries shouldn’t be carried loose in pockets, a purse or a backpack. The battery may come into contact with other metal objects like coins or keys that can short-circuit the battery.

For more information about hearing aid batteries and to purchase the perfect battery for your hearing aid visit Your Hearing today!

 

 

Myths and Facts: Hearing Loss and Hearing Aids

ANF_HearingAidMyths

As we consult with patients on a daily basis, we have realized that there are a lot of misconceptions about hearing loss and hearing aids.  The information that is available to the public are often outdated or incorrect, which leads to these misconceptions. It is important to consider the facts before making any significant decisions about hearing loss and its treatment for yourself or a loved one.  For this reason we thought to give you an insight into the facts behind the myths.

MYTH: If I had a hearing loss, I would know it.
FACT: Most hearing loss happens gradually and goes unnoticed. We adapt and
compensate without realizing how much information we are truly missing. If you’re
having difficulty hearing female and children’s voices, that is well over 50% of the
population you are struggling to hear.

MYTH: My hearing loss is normal for my age.
FACT: Hearing loss at any age is not normal. It is like telling an overweight person
that is normal to have high blood pressure but not treating it. Hearing loss should be
diagnosed and rehabilitation options should be given.

MYTH: I only have difficulty hearing certain sounds. I can hear everything else just fine, so I don’t need hearing aids.
FACT: Being unable to hear certain sounds is still hearing loss, and it can significantly impact your daily life and conversations with people. Hearing loss often becomes worse over time, so getting a hearing evaluation done by a professional early on will give you a clear indication of your hearing range capabilities. Today’s digital hearing devices are advanced, allowing professionals to program them for your specific needs and bring sounds back into your hearing range.

MYTH: I can get by—my hearing loss is not bad enough that it affects me.
FACT: Your hearing loss is MORE noticeable when you are not wearing a hearing
device. Asking people to repeat themselves, missing the punchline, or responding
inappropriately may have people questioning your ability to effectively communicate.
Even a mild hearing loss can affect the nuances of speech resulting in frustration and
exhaustion. Untreated hearing loss has been linked to withdrawal, depression, anxiety,
and dementia.

MYTH: My hearing loss is not extreme enough for a hearing aid.
FACT: Hearing loss often develops slowly. Because of this, you may not notice how bad your hearing has gotten. If loved ones are often commenting on how you cannot hear, then you should strongly consider having your hearing tested. An audiologist will be able to determine the extent of your hearing loss and what device is best suited for it.

MYTH: Hearing aids are noticeable and will make me look incompetent.
FACT: The goal of a hearing device is to help you function like a normal hearing
person. This stigma is removed when you are able to communicate effectively. Hearing
device manufacturers are aware of the importance of cosmetics and have made them
virtually unseen.

MYTH: Only old people wear hearing aids!
FACT: Contrary to popular belief, hearing loss isn’t restricted to the older population. Only 35% of people who have hearing loss are over the age of 64, and more and more young people are in need of treatment because of prolonged exposure to loud music and noise. About six million people between the ages of 18 and 44 have hearing loss.

MYTH: My friends have hearing aids and don’t like them.
FACT: Nothing will replace your natural hearing. You can expect 30 –60 days of
transition as your brain adjusts and filters the new information. It is important to
establish realistic expectations, to wear your devices daily, and communicate with
your provider your questions or concerns as they arise.

MYTH: Good hearing devices are not affordable.
FACT: Better hearing is available in all price ranges and is dependent on your hearing and lifestyle needs. The real issue is quality of life and what it is worth to you. Hearing aids range in price from R6 000 – R48 000 per ear.  Investing in better hearing is no different than investing in your vision.

MYTH: My husband doesn’t wear two hearing aids, so I don’t need to either.
FACT: What works for your husband may not work for you, especially when it comes to your health. Everyone’s hearing difficulties are different and require individualized care, just like many other medical treatments. Have you ever tried on a friend’s prescription glasses out of curiosity or for fun? Did they correct your vision perfectly? Again, a hearing healthcare professional has undergone training to provide you with expertise and the best options for your treatment. The brain is designed to use information coming from both ears, so if you have difficulty hearing in both ears, wearing two hearing aids can significantly help with localizing sounds, hearing in noisy environments, and improving your overall hearing experience. Being able to fully reconnect with your friends and loved ones in conversations is worth it!

MYTH: My ears will get lazy and my hearing will get worse when I wear hearing aids.  
FACT: On the contrary.  Hearing aids provide your ears with sound otherwise not heard without hearing aids. Without a hearing aid, your ears do not receive sounds that they used to and your brain “forgets” what those sounds were like. It is important to stimulate your ears and brain with sound. Your hearing will therefore not get worse by wearing a properly fitted hearing aid, but will actually be preserved. You should depend on your hearing aid. Because most people loses their hearing gradually, they probably did not notice a big difference from day to day. Once you get used to hearing well with a hearing aid, you will notice a bigger difference (not hearing as well) when you take it off.

It is important to look at all the facts, and then taking ownership of your hearing loss.  If you are ready to improve your quality of hearing, visit your audiologist sooner than later.

Smoking can be harmful to your hearing

We all know that smoking can be harmful to your health and no matter how you look at it, smoking is one of the most dangerous habits.  There are no safe substances in any tobacco products, from acetone and tar to nicotine and carbon monoxide. The substances you inhale don’t just affect your lungs, it can affect your entire body.  According to Prof. Richard van Zyl-Smit Smit of the University of Cape Town’s Lung Institute, smoking increases your risk for heart attacks and stroke, lung cancer, pneumonia and emphysema – and also doubles your risk of tuberculosis.  In South Africa nearly 8 million adults are lighting up 27 billion cigarettes every year.

Unfortunately smoking will also negatively affect your hearing.  According to an article in the June 1998 Journal of the American Medical Association, smokers are 70 percent more likely than non-smokers to suffer hearing loss.  Non-smokers living with a smoker were twice as likely to develop hearing loss as those who were not exposed at all.

Because cigarettes contain dangerous chemicals it affects our hearing in the following ways:

  1. The nicotine and carbon monoxide that result from smoking tighten your blood vessels, including the vessels in your ears. This restricts the blood flow and thus the life-giving oxygen in the inner ear. The tiny hair cells in the cochlea that are responsible for translating sound vibrations into electrical impulses for the brain are then susceptible to damage due to asphyxiation.
  2. The nicotine can affect the neurotransmitters in the auditory nerve and interferes with the accuracy in communication between the brain and the cochlea.
  3. Smoking unleashes free radicals in our bodies. If these radicals speed into the tissue and hair cells in our inner ear, permanent damage can result.

The above mentioned study also indicated that the risk of hearing impairment often increases with the number of cigarettes smoked – or the time exposed to cigarette smoke.  The good news is however, that quitting can improve your overall health and hearing health.  According to the American Lung Association, 20 minutes after your last cigarette, your blood pressure decreases and your circulation improves.  Within 8 hours, your carbon monoxide and oxygen levels return to normal.  In 48 hours, your sense of smell and taste improve and your nerve endings begin to regenerate.  While you can’t reverse any sensorineural hearing loss you’ve developed during your smoking years, you can prevent any future nicotine-related damage to your hearing once you quit.

If you suspect that you have a hearing loss, make an appointment for a hearing evaluation today and let us help you address your hearing needs.

 

How do I take care of my hearing aid?

Maintenance of Hearing Aids

Caring for hearing aids

  • Maintaining your hearing aids through daily cleaning and regular service is extremely important.
  • The environment for in-the-ear hearing aids is moist and warm with relative humidity between 40-70%. Earwax, which is a combination of salt and corrosive body acid, can accumulate in the ears and on the hearing instrument.
  • Moisture, heat and ear wax can be harmful to electronics. Proper hearing aid care helps retain optimum hearing conditions, extends the life of your hearing aid, and ensures healthy ear hygiene.
  • Remove earwax. It is important to remove earwax from your hearing aid to prevent temporary malfunction or permanent damage. When you purchase your hearing aids, you should receive cleaning tools including a soft brush and small picks or loops. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions for cleaning your hearing aids. If you cannot remove all the earwax, your hearing professional can help.
  • When you remove your hearing aids at night, wipe them with a dry soft cloth. Do not use water, alcohol swabs or cleaning solvents as they can break down or damage your hearing aids.
  • Don’t drop your hearing aids. Dropping your hearing aids on a hard surface can damage the instruments. When you’re learning how to correctly place and remove your hearing aids, do it from a seated position with a towel or pillow on your lap.
  • Proper storage. When not in use, keep your hearing aids away from heat and moisture and store them in a dry, cool place. Ask your hearing specialist about a dehumidifying box for storage. These boxes are designed to safely and effectively remove moisture that can corrode sensitive circuitry.
  • Leave the battery door open to preserve battery power when not in use.

When not to wear your hearing aids:

While most new hearing aids today are designed for water resistance, don’t wear your hearing aids:

  • In the shower or sauna
  • Swimming
  • When using a hair dryer
  • While applying hair spray or other types of spray on products. Apply hair products first, and then insert your hearing aids

 

Auditory degeneration

Reduced hearing acuity is frustrating for people with hearing loss as well as for those around them. In fact, a 2009 study showed that relationships are failing because of unmanaged hearing loss. The survey of 1,500 hearing-impaired people over 55 revealed that almost half (44 percent of people) said that relationships with their partner, friends or family have suffered because they can’t hear properly.

Hearing loss isn’t just an ear issue; it’s a quality of life and health issue. Untreated hearing loss can have serious consequences. A decrease in hearing sensitivity is associated with diminished cognitive function, poorer mental health, and social withdrawal. A nationwide survey of 4,000 adults with hearing loss compiled by the National Council on Aging (Kochkin & Rogin, 2000) found significantly higher rates of psychosocial disorders including depression and anxiety in individuals with untreated hearing loss — those who were not wearing hearing aids.

A separate study at Johns Hopkins found that cognitive diminishment was 41 percent greater in seniors with hearing loss. The study identified a link between the degree of hearing loss and the risk of developing dementia. Individuals with mild hearing loss were twice as likely to develop dementia, those with moderate hearing loss were three times as likely, and those with severe hearing loss were five times as likely to develop dementia when compared to individuals with normal hearing.

Researchers and hearing care professionals have long understood the link between cognition and hearing acuity. When you are listening to someone speak your brain is processing the sound so that you can understand it.  A listener with untreated hearing loss is trying to understand degraded speech signals therefore their brain has to work harder to process those sounds. While your brain is busy working to understand incoming speech signals other tasks like memory and comprehension can suffer.

Fortunately, hearing loss is treatable. According to the Better Hearing Institute, 95 percent of individuals with hearing loss can be treated with hearing aids and individuals who treat their hearing loss early have shown significant benefit. Hearing aids help process incoming sound making it easier for your brain to understand them. Other benefits of hearing aids include reduced mental fatigue, decreased feelings of social isolation and depression, improved ability to do several things at once, improved memory, attention and focus, as well as improved communication skills.

Hearing care professionals often work in tandem with other medical professionals. If you or someone you love is experiencing cognitive or emotional problems schedule a physical exam with your doctor as well as a hearing evaluation with your hearing care professional. Hearing aids can lessen mental fatigue and feelings of isolation.

Contact us for a hearing test today to limit auditory degeneration and to design a personalized treatment plan.  (012) 348 2177 or http://www.yourhearing.co.za

Middle ear infection (Otitis media)

What Is a Middle Ear Infection?

A middle ear infection, also called otitis media, occurs when a virus or bacteria causes the area behind the eardrum to become inflamed. The condition is most common in children.   Research suggests that middle ear infections occur in up to 80 percent of children by the time they reach age three.

Most middle ear infections occur during the winter and early spring.  Often, middle ear infections go away without any medication.  However, if pain persists or if you have a fever, you should seek medical treatment.

Types of Middle Ear Infections:

There are two types of middle ear infections:   acute otitis media (AOM) and otitis media with effusion (OME).

  1. Acute Otitis Media

This type of ear infection comes on quickly and is accompanied by swelling and redness in the ear. Fever, ear pain, and temporary hearing impairment often occur as a result of trapped fluid and/or mucous in the middle ear.

  1. Otitis Media with Effusion

After an initial infection has gone away, sometimes mucous and fluid will continue to build up in the middle ear.   This can cause the feeling of the ear being “full” and affect your ability to hear clearly.

What Causes a Middle Ear Infection?

There are a number of reasons why children get middle ear infections.   They often stem from a prior infection of the respiratory tract that spreads to the ears.   When the tube that connects the middle ear to the pharynx (Eustachian tube) is blocked, fluid will collect behind the eardrum.   Bacteria will often grow in the fluid, causing pain and infection.

What Are the Symptoms of a Middle Ear Infection?

There are a variety of symptoms associated with middle ear infections. Some of the most common are:

  • ear pain
  • irritability
  • difficulty sleeping
  • tugging or pulling at the ears
  • fever
  • yellow, clear, or bloody discharge from the ears
  • loss of balance
  • problems hearing
  • nausea and vomiting
  • diarrhoea
  • decreased appetite
  • congestion

How to diagnose Middle Ear Infections?

Your audiologist will first want to make sure they have your or your child’s medical history.   During the otoscopic examination, your audiologist will look at the outer ear and eardrum using a lighted instrument called an otoscope to check for signs of redness, swelling, pus, and fluid.

Your audiologist will also conduct a test called tympanometry to determine whether the middle ear is operating properly.   For this test, a device is put inside your ear canal, changing the pressure and making the eardrum vibrate. The test measures these changes and records them on a graph.   Your audiologist will interpret the results.

In older children, a full diagnostic hearing test will be done in order to confirm whether the middle ear infection is affecting your child’s hearing ability (usually a temporary hearing loss will be noticeable).

Based upon the results of the examination the audiologist will refer to the doctor or ENT for the appropriate treatment of the middle ear component.

Contact us for a hearing test today to identify if otitis media is present and to design the correct treatment plan for you. (012) 348 2177 or http://www.yourhearing.co.za

Noise Hazards

insights

Many enjoyable sounds that we hear every day are at safe levels that won’t damage our hearing. However, sounds can be harmful when they are too loud—even for a short time—or when they are long-lasting, even if they are not quite as loud. These sounds can damage part of the inner ear and cause permanent hearing loss. This permanent hearing loss can then worsen over a lifetime.

Noise-induced hearing loss

Noise-induced hearing loss happens when tiny hair-like structures (stereocilia) that sit on top of hair cells in the inner ear are damaged by noises that are too loud and/or last for too long. When stereocilia are damaged, the hair cells can’t send information about the sound to the brain. This leads to noise-induced hearing loss. This type of hearing loss is permanent.

How Sound is Measured

Sound is measured in units called decibels. Decibel levels begin at zero, which is near total silence and the softest sound the average young person can hear. By comparison, a whisper is 30 decibels and normal conversational speech is about 60 decibels. An increase of 10 decibels means that a sound is 10 times more powerful. The sound of an ambulance siren at 120 decibels is about 1 trillion times more intense than the weakest sound the average person can hear. Sounds that reach 120 decibels are painful to our ears at close distances and are dangerous to our hearing.

The louder the sound, the shorter the amount of time it takes for possible hearing loss to occur. For example, firecrackers can reach 150 decibels, and will cause hearing damage much more quickly than exposure to a power lawn mower at 90 decibels.

Causes and Effects

Hearing loss from noise can be caused by exposure to constant loud sounds over a long period of time, such as noise in a woodworking shop. Many everyday activities can put kids at risk for hearing loss caused by noise. These activities include:

  • Listening to music at high volume through earbuds or headphones.
  • Playing in a band or orchestra.
  • Attending loud concerts.
  • Being around loud noises at home for a long period of time, such as lawnmowers or leaf blowers.
  • Riding motorcycles.

Hearing loss caused by noise can be temporary. For some people, hearing returns to its normal levels after 16 to 48 hours after exposure to loud noises. Recent research suggests, however, that there still may be long-term, permanent damage even if it isn’t noticeable/detectable immediately.

Hearing loss due to loud noises can also build over time, so you may not readily notice the signs. As hearing loss progresses, people might:

  • Complain of ringing or buzzing in the ear—called tinnitus. Tinnitus may go away over time, but it can sometimes continue for a long time or throughout a person’s life.
  • Say “What?” more often or ask others to repeat what they’ve said.
  • Turn up the sound on the TV or other devices.
  • If you or someone you know experiences any of these signs regularly, you should get your hearing checked to determine if you have a hearing loss.

Prevent Noise-Induced Hearing Loss

Hearing loss from noise can often be prevented. The best way to make sure that your children continue to enjoy the sounds they love throughout life is to teach them practical ways to protect their hearing. These include:

  • Lower the volume
  • Move away from the noise
  • Wear hearing protectors, such as earplugs or earmuffs

Enquire at YourHearing about our range of custom hearing protection options (012) 348 2177