Q: What’s the difference between a cochlear implant and a hearing aid?
A: Cochlear implants and hearing aids are both medical devices used to treat sensorineural hearing loss, the most common type of hearing loss.
While both devices treat hearing loss, hearing aids are much more common than cochlear implants. Hearing aids are used to successfully treat varying degrees of hearing loss, from mild to severe. Most people with hearing loss are candidates for and can benefit from hearing aids, which work by amplifying sound frequencies affected by hearing loss.
Cochlear implants are used when hearing aids are insufficient, typically to treat severe-to-profound sensorineural hearing loss due to absent or reduced cochlear hair cell function. Implanted surgically, they work by replacing the function of the damaged cochlea (inner ear) and stimulating the auditory nerve directly.
One cochlear implant for every 16,000 hearing aids
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) estimated in 2012 that roughly 58,000 adults and 38,000 children use cochlear implants in the USA, compared to the more than 12 million Americans who wear hearing aids. To put those statistics into perspective, for every person wearing a cochlear implant, there are roughly 125 who wear hearing aids. Only half of 1 percent of those seeking treatment for sensorineural hearing loss will be fit with cochlear implants.
How cochlear implants work
A cochlear implant has both internal and external parts. The internal parts — the electrodes and the receiver-stimulator — are implanted by a surgeon. The surgeon places the electrode array in the cochlea, bypassing the damaged hair cells, and the receiver-stimulator is implanted just behind the ear. INSERT IMAGE
The external portion consists of a microphone, processor, and transmitter that sit behind the ear, similar in style to a behind-the-ear hearing aid. The microphone picks up sounds from the environment, and the speech processor selects and arranges those sounds. The transmitter receives signals from the speech processor and converts those into electrical impulses, transmitting them to the surgically implanted electrode array. The electrode array then stimulates the auditory nerve, sending impulses to the brain where they’re interpreted as sounds.
- Who is a candidate for a cochlear implant?
- Most cochlear implant recipients try hearing aids first, prior to surgery. If hearing aids do not provide maximum benefit, due to reduced cochlear function or poor speech discrimination, cochlear implant surgery is considered. Determining cochlear implant candidacy often involves audiologic testing, medical examination, and imaging studies (X-rays/MRI). Children as young as 12 months can be implanted. Most recipients have profound sensorineural hearing loss or congenital deafness.
Rehabilitation services following implantation are provided by speech language pathologists and audiologists. The cost for one device varies greatly, ranging anywhere from $40,000 to $100,000. Health insurance companies provide varying degrees of benefit for the surgical procedure, device and follow-up services.
This blog was originally published on Starkey.com.
One of the most annoying things that can happen with hearing aids is when you hear the tinny voice say “Low Battery.” But a lot of factors play into how quickly your hearing aid batteries are used. The quality of your hearing aid batteries can affect a lot of things: how long the batteries last before needing to be changed, the overall performance of the hearing aid, the sound quality of speech and even the quality of streamed audio.
To help you get the most out of your batteries, we’ve gathered together some things that can influence hearing aid battery life:
- Your hearing loss. The greater your hearing loss, the stronger the amplification the hearing aids need to provide. The harder your hearing aids work to provide amplification, the faster the battery drains.
- How often you use your hearing aids. Just like your cell phone battery drains the more you text or use social media apps, the quicker your hearing aid batteries will drain the more you use your hearing aids. More specifically, the number of hours and days you use your hearing aids play into how long you can go before changing batteries.
- What you do with your hearing aids. Hearing aids at their simplest provide you with the ability to hear lost frequencies better. When you add on cool capabilities such as wireless streaming of phone calls, music and movies, you also increase the battery drain. Wireless streaming can increase the drain rate by up to 300 percent. Furthermore, if you use FM or looping technology, you could see a 100 percent increase in drain rates.
- If your hearing aids include tinnitus technology. Tinnitus can be an ongoing bother for many. Today’s hearing aids often include tinnitus technology designed to help provide relief from tinnitus symptoms. This is typically done by using sound to mask the symptoms. When your hearing aids work to battle tinnitus, they are adding to their overall workload, thereby increasing the use of the hearing aid batteries.
- The weather. As the seasons change and bring hot and cold temperatures, humidity or snow, your hearing aid batteries may function differently. Two big weather factors that can impact battery life include humidity and temperature.
- Low humidity can cause higher battery drain due to batteries drying out faster.
- High humidity can result in moisture issues that lead to swelling, leakage and reduced battery life.
- Low temperatures can shorten battery life as voltage can dip and deplete earlier, especially for users who work outside in the winter months. [A side note: Our hearing aids can function in -40 degrees Fahrenheit]
- High temperatures can affect battery performance when temperatures start to hit between 90-100 degrees Fahrenheit and/or when humidity is greater than 50 percent.
- How far above sea level you are. Your elevation are can impact hearing aid battery life. Higher altitudes may cause batteries to reach their endpoints sooner due to reduced oxygen in the environment. Users living in higher altitudes will most likely experience faster battery drains, and if you are flying with a battery that is already low, you may see it drain faster.
- Do we want something about remembering to take the battery out at night? – or how leaving batteries in when not worn drains them faster??
Have more questions about hearing aid batteries? Contact us today to learn more!
What are the differences in today’s hearing aid styles?
There is a wide variety of hearing aid styles available in the market, especially in regards to their size and the way they’re placed in or around your ear. When looking for hearing aids, all the information and options available can be overwhelming!
To help, we’ve listed the most common styles of hearing aids available, along with some plusses and minuses. Please note, not all styles are right for every individual, so your hearing healthcare provider should help you determine which style is best for you based on your needs and budget.
Hearing aids come in two categories, custom and standard.
Custom hearing aids
Custom hearing aids are hearing aids that are individually made for each patient by taking earmold impressions and “molding” the hearing aids to fit each unique ear shape. Starkey Hearing Technologies was one of the first manufacturers to introduce and perfect custom hearing aids, and is considered the industry leader in this category.
Standard hearing aids
Standard hearing aids are hearing aids that can be fit “off the shelf” while you’re in the hearing professional’s office (impressions and earmolds aren’t always required). The fitting/programming is still customized for each patient, although the device may not be.
Let’s look at the four types of custom hearing aids that Starkey Hearing Technologies and other manufacturers offer, from smallest to largest:
Invisible-In-the-Canal (IIC) hearing aids rest in the second bend of the ear canal, where virtually nobody can see them.
- Smallest and least visible type
- Completely invisible in most ears
- Deep placement of the hearing aid in the ear improves overall sound quality and the sound of the hearing aid wearer’s own voice
- Uses small batteries, which can be difficult to handle for those with dexterity concerns
- Due to small battery size, batteries need to be changed more often than those in larger hearing aids
- Due to small size, cannot include controls (i.e., volume and memory) on the device
Completely-In-Canal (CIC) hearing aids fit deep inside the ear canal, and are slightly larger in size than an IIC.
- Among the smallest and least visible type
- Uses small batteries, which can be difficult to handle for those with dexterity concerns
- Due to small battery size, batteries need to be changed more often than those in larger hearing aids
In-The-Canal (ITC) hearing aids fit partially in the ear canal, and are slightly larger than CIC hearing aids.
- Less visible in the ear than larger custom styles
- Can include controls (i.e., volume and memory) that won’t fit on smaller custom hearing aids
- Patients with poor dexterity may experience difficulty using the controls (i.e., volume and memory) on these devices
- Partially visible in the ear
In-The-Ear (ITE) hearing aids can be made in two styles or sizes, one that fills most of the outer ear (full shell), and one that fills only the lower portion of the outer ear (half shell
- Can include controls (i.e., volume and memory) that don’t fit on smaller style hearing aids
- Easier to handle/manipulate
- Larger battery provides a longer battery life
- May pick up more wind noise than smaller custom devices
- More visible in the ear than smaller custom devices
Starkey Hearing Technologies offers two types of standard hearing aids:
A BTE hearing aid hooks over the top of your ear and rests behind the ear. All of the mechanics of the hearing aid, including the receiver (or speaker), are housed in the device that fits behind the ear. A tube connects the device to an earpiece that fits in your ear.
- Larger external controls, helpful for patients with dexterity problems
- Useful for children because of their durability and ability to connect to assistive listening devices
- Can offer a longer battery life
- Less susceptible to damage by earwax or moisture
- Least discreet hearing aid style
A RIC hearing aid is similar in appearance to a BTE hearing aid except the receiver, or speaker, is in the ear canal. Instead of a tube, a small wire connects the hearing aid to the earpiece. Sometimes you’ll see a RIC hearing aid referred to as a Receiver-In-The-Ear (RITE) hearing aid.
- Because the receiver is not housed in the device, RICs are typically smaller and more discreet than BTEs
- Offers a comfortable open-fit, allowing for a natural sound quality of the hearing aid wearer’s own voice
- Susceptible to earwax and moisture clogging the speaker
Remember that the key to a good hearing aid fitting is not the hearing aid alone, but working with a professional you trust and who can help you choose and fit the right hearing aid for your unique needs.
This blog was originaly published on Starkey.com.
Q: What is a hearing aid dryer and do I need one?
A: Following your hearing professionals’ recommendations on the care and maintenance of your hearing aids is important and can reduce the number of repairs required during the life of your hearing aids. Storing your hearing aids in a safe, dry place overnight can help prevent hearing aid malfunction caused by moisture and debris.
That is why many hearing professionals recommend storing your hearing aids in a Dry & Store® container. This dehumidifying storage box provides a safe, inexpensive nighttime storage option for your hearing aids while not in use. The storage system is designed to safely remove moisture from your hearing aids.
There are many types of Dry & Store containers. Some require electricity, while other non-electric models use a desiccant or gel to absorb moisture. Discuss these at-home dehumidifying options with your hearing healthcare provider to see which type is recommended for your style of hearing aids.
You can purchase the Dry & Store system from your hearing professional or from a number of online retailers. Once you’ve decided which model is best for you, keep your Dry & Store in a convenient spot that reminds you to put your hearing aids inside while not in use.
Remember to clean the battery contacts of your hearing aids and remove any visible wax or debris before placing your hearing aids inside the dryer. Leave the battery doors of your hearing aids open while storing them inside. Leaving the battery doors open will allow air to circulate through the hearing aids, permitting any moisture that is trapped inside to escape. Leaving the battery doors open while they are not in use will also help preserve the battery life of your hearing aids.
Water is necessary for human survival but remains the number one enemy when it comes to hearing aid function and performance. Water can result in malfunction, corrosion, and it can reduce volume by blocking sound from entering the acoustic ports of the microphones. The performance of zinc air batteries can also be adversely affected when airflow is obstructed by moisture.
“Damage incurred from high heat or cold may adversely affect a hearing aid’s performance. Much of this damage is caused by the changes in temperature which causes a condensation of moisture within the aid, rather than the temperature itself. This change can occur many times a day, as someone goes from hot to air-conditioned comfort and back again,” warned Dr. Mark Ross in a winter article on hearing aid troubleshooting.
Interestingly, the tiny components inside hearing aids are not susceptible to damage due to freezing temperatures alone, in fact, we’ve done winter testing on our hearing aids and know that they will function in temperatures as low as -40 degrees Fahrenheit. So, the problem isn’t the cold temperature, but rather, as Dr. Ross noted above, the change in temperature. Consider during the winter how many times a day you move from a warm office or your cozy home out into the blustery cold? Changes in temperature result in a buildup of moisture inside the hearing aid, and unlike eyeglasses, the condensation inside a hearing aid is not quite as easy to remove.
So what can we do to protect our hearing aids from the condensation caused by extreme temperature changes? First it is important to remember that our research engineers and scientists have worked tirelessly to create our HydraShield2 technology which delivers optimal water resistance and the highest performance in extreme conditions. Second, here are a few things you can do at home to ensure that your hearing aids function optimally this winter.
- #1. Avoid storing your hearing aids in the glove box or on the dashboard of your car. Extreme temperature changes in your car (cold when off outside and heated when on and running heat inside) can create condensation and adversely effect performance.
- #2. Skiing, snowshoeing, and sledding are popular winter activities. But, if you enjoy exercising outside during the winter months just remember to remove your hearing aids to protect them from excessive moisture caused by sweat and snow.
- #3. If your hearing aid does stop working after you come inside from the cold be sure to open up the battery compartment and let your hearing aid rest for a while. Opening the battery doors will give moisture a chance to escape and allow dry, fresh air to circulate.
- #4. Store your batteries in a cool, dry place.
- #5. Use a hearing aid dehumidifier daily to remove condensation inside the hearing aid caused by fluctuations in temperature. It’s best to leave hearing aids to dry overnight while you sleep so they’re ready to go first thing in the morning.
- #6. Remember to protect your hearing from loud sounds like snow blowers this winter. If your hearing aids are programmed with multiple memories, you can activate an increased noise reduction program, before you are exposed to loud noise. You can also wear noise reducing earmuffs over your hearing aids or opt to wear earplugs instead.
Keeping your hearing aids clean and dry will go a long way toward preserving and maintaining optimal hearing aid performance so you can enjoy your best hearing for many years.
This blog originally appeared on www.starkey.com.
“Immediate difference in clarity.”
“The quality and performance is really beyond anything I’ve seen.”
“Patients have experienced a significant improvement in sound quality when comparing hearing aids, even to recent technology.”
“Patients have noticed improvement when listening to music and improvement for clarity of softer voices.”
The above are just a few things people have said after trying the latest hearing aid technologies from Audibel.
Audibel’s new products (Audibel A4 iQ, A4i iQ and Invisibel iQ Synergy) represent years of research and clinical trials all aimed at providing better audibility and speech understanding as well as comfort.
Built with the new Synergy platform, these hearing aids are designed so that you can hear all the subtleties of life. Understand the subtle tone or accent in a loved one’s voice and enjoy nuances in the notes of your favorite song.
So with all this new and exciting technology, is it time to consider upgrading?
Here are three reasons you may want to consider an upgrade:
- To accommodate a change in hearing: Updating to new technology may be necessary to accommodate a significant change in hearing. If you begin to notice more difficulty understanding speech, TV, or hearing in noise, your hearing may have changed.
Keep in mind that age-related hearing loss does change over time. Changes in hearing are expected and hearing acuity often diminishes over time. Upgrading to more sophisticated technology can help compensate for these changes.
- To accommodate a change in lifestyle: Changes in occupational requirements, living situations, and outside interests often require better or different performance from your hearing aids. Conference calls, meetings, or an increase in social activities may require more advanced technology. An active lifestyle can take you from one difficult listening situation to another.
Recent advancements in mechanical algorithms help tackle one of the biggest challenges hearing aid wearers face: hearing and understanding speech well in noise. Treating your hearing loss with the most sophisticated technology available will allow you to hear well in a number of challenging environments.
- To improve overall listening performance: Experienced hearing aid wearers often develop specific listening preferences. New advancements give listeners more control over hearing aid settings and functionality. For example, with Audibel A4iiQ hearing aids and the TruLink Hearing Control App, unique listening preferences for specific environments such as a favorite restaurant or coffee shop can be saved and easily accessed as geotagged memories.
Changes in wireless technology allows you to seamlessly stream audio from your phone or other media devices directly to your hearing aids. Our newest technology even features a specific prescription designed uniquely for music for a high-definition audio experience.
Ear-to-ear technology also allows your hearing aids to make environmental decisions by communicating with each other, making listening in difficult environments more comfortable. Advanced feedback technology provides stable gain without whistling, andSurface Nano Shieldtechnology protects your hearing aids from water and oil, reducing the need for repairs.
Ready to consider upgrading your hearing aids? Contact us today for more information!
This blog originally appeared as a fun, personal story on www.starkey.com.
I love how comfortable my hearing aids are, but sometimes I forget they are there. And while this is a wonderful thing — and there is little I can’t do while wearing hearing aids — there are a few times when remembering you have incredibly advanced technology in-or-on your ears is important.
We all have “oops!” moments though.
And when “oops!” moments happen, the best thing to do is call us for what to do next. Every “oops!” moment is different, and we are always happy to help!
We put our hearing aids through a lot—earwax, sweat, dust, oil and sometimes water. While daily cleaning and regular service can help retain optimal hearing conditions and extend the life of your hearing aids, sometimes hearing aid repair is necessary. But before sending your hearing aids off for repair, check these common troubleshooting errors and solutions.
My hearing instrument is “dead”
A “dead” hearing aid is most often the result of a dead hearing aid battery or a blocked receiver tube. Try inserting fresh hearing aid batteries or cleaning the receiver tube of any earwax or other debris. If the problem persists, then the hearing aid could be damaged or defective and might require professional hearing aid service.
My hearing instrument is not loud enough
As you adjust to your hearing aids, you will begin to notice when changes in volume occur. First, check to ensure the hearing aids are free of any debris or blockage. Second, check your batteries. A low battery can also result in fluctuating performance. If neither of these are the cause of the perceived change in volume, it is possible that your hearing has changed and you need to schedule an appointment with your hearing professional.
My hearing aids aren’t performing consistently
When your hearing aids seem to be inconsistent in sound quality or volume, it’s important to check your battery life. A hearing aid battery running low can result in inconsistent performance. Simply replace the battery with a fresh one to fix the issue.
The sound is distorted or unclear in my hearing aids
When sound becomes distorted or unclear, it may be the result of a low battery, or something may have damaged the device. It is key to see your hearing professional as soon as possible if a new battery doesn’t fix a sound quality issue.
For other hearing aid care and maintenance tips contact us today!
Dating is already complicated. You have to pick a restaurant, an outfit, and you have to plan what do if you don’t like your date. And if you have hearing loss, chances are you are planning other things too. Making sure the restaurant has enough lighting. How you’re going to talk about your hearing loss with a new person. What to do if the person speaks softly or covers his or her mouth when talking.
Thus, with all that in mind, here are five helpful dating tips to keep in mind!
- Plan your location carefully! Take the time to scope out potential spots ahead of time with lighting, background noise and overall ambience as main considerations. And, even if it’s a first date, don’t be afraid to recommend something besides a restaurant or to take control of choosing the location.
- Make up a fun, creative date. With gorgeous summer weather, there are an abundance of outside summer date ideas. Have a picnic in the park or go see a baseball game. If you live somewhere where the weather is too hot, grab your favorite films and snacks and have a movie marathon!
- Early arrival at a restaurant means better choices. When you get to the location early, you have a better chance at choosing a spot in the restaurant that you know you’ll enjoy.
- Do I have to tell them I have hearing loss? It’s up to you! While hearing loss is nothing to be ashamed, we totally understand that it’s a personal decision. Often times though, being upfront about it from the start leads to a better date because your partner knows how he or she can best help you keep the conversation flowing and not miss out on any of the fun!
- Communicate between date nights! We live in a digital age where smartphones and tablets are all the rage. Take advantage of technology by texting, emailing, or using things like Skype or FaceTime to chat when you’re not physically with each other. This keeps your relationship growing and offers you a way to communicate easier!
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Hearing loss happens. It’s the third most common health problem in the U.S., according to WebMD. Hearing loss is also very treatable – even more so when detected early. If you suspect you have hearing loss, why not find out for sure?
- It’s free, painless and takes less than an hour.
- Hearing loss has been known to foreshadow cardiovascular events.
- When it comes back negative for hearing loss, you can tell your friends to get off your back.
- The Mayo Clinic recommends every adult get a baseline hearing test.
- Untreated hearing loss is known to contribute to dementia.
- People with untreated hearing loss are more likely to fall.
- Most hearing clinics serve free cookies and coffee.
- Treating hearing loss by wearing hearing aids is proven to reduce the risk of cognitive decline.
- Untreated hearing loss is known to contribute to depression and social isolation.
- Hearing loss treatment has been shown to improve earning power.
- Because you’re proactive about your health and care about your quality of life.
Think you may have hearing loss? Find out for sure by scheduling a hearing test with us today. You’ve got nothing to lose and your quality of life to gain.