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October 18
All You Need to Know About Different Types of Hearing Loss and its symptoms

Hearing losses decoded: Types 101

When any part of the hearing path of an ear is damaged, the sound information is not able to travel properly to the brain, causing in a relevant degree of hearing loss. There are mainly three types of hearing losses. But when it comes to delving deep into the symptoms, it can almost always seem to be overwhelming. So we bring to you a short and easy to understand descriptions of the three main types.

Read on to know.

Conductive hearing loss

Conductive hearing loss refers to a state or condition that curbs the smooth flow of sound in its very mechanical form from the middle ear cavity to the inner ear. This can be caused as result of nay blockage in the external ear canal, or can be caused by any disorder which unfavourably affects the middle ear’s ability to transmit the mechanical energy to the stapes footplate. This results in the reduction of one of the physical attributes of sound intensity, which we commonly know as loudness. So the energy reaching the inner ear, is lower or less intense than in its original stimulus. More energy will thus be required for any individual with conducive hearing loss to hear sound. The ear will only work fine next if the once the sound is loud enough and the mechanical impediment is over.

Generally a case of conducive hearing loss can be identified and thereby treated resulting in a partial or even complete improvement in hearing. Following the completion of this medical treatment, that cause conductive hearing loss, hearing aids will be effective in correcting the rest of the troubles. An audiometric profile indicates, a conductive hearing loss is the result of the presence of ear-bone gaps, excellent word recognition at any comfortable listening level, together with evidence of a middle ear dysfunction or immittance. In situations, where the blockage is deferred in the external ear canal, the hearing test is deferred until the canal is cleared.

Sensorineural hearing loss

To achieve more clarity in terms of its two components we can divide the word – sensor and neural. A comprehensive audiometric assessment and supplemental test can provide you the much needed information needed to differentiate between these two types of hearing losses, although possibly they can co-exist in the same ear. Retro cochlear hearing loss is another name for this disease.

This type of hearing loss is caused from the inner ear or auditory nerve dysfunction. The sensory organ can be damaged to the organ of Corti, giving you an inability of the hair cells to stimulate the nerves of hearing or a metabolic issue in the fluids of the ear. Severe damage to the Corti can be a cause of this loss, which causes the nerves to degenerate or an inability of the hearing nerves themselves to conveying neurochemical information through the central auditory pathways.

Reasons complying to this sort of hearing loss often cannot be determine. They further do no respond to medical treatment, making the problem irreversible or permanent. Just like conductive situation, this type reduces the intensity of sound, further also brining in adistortion and making hearing impossible even when sounds are generated at a higher pitch. Patients are only left at the mercy of hearing aids, once all medical treatment possibilities have been rules out.

Mixed Hearing loss

This is a situation of having symptoms of both conductive and sensorineual hearing loss overlaying the entire part of the audiometric range tested. Additionally to some irreversible hearing loss caused by the inner ear or auditory nerve disorder, there also happens to be a disorder in the middle ear mechanism, making hearing worse than any of the above mentioned issues. The conductive component can be docile to nay medical treatment followed by reversal of the associated hearing loss. The sensorineual part almost always will be permanent.

For any person with this sort of a hearing loss, aids might come to be of use, but after enough caution is exercised by the patient and also the hearing care professional if the conductive component has arisen out of an active ear infection.

In case you or your loves ones, happen to be a victim of any of the above, it is important to get into touch with a hearing care professional immediately. The causes have to investigate thoroughly and the treatments must begin immediately. Many of these cases have been seen to have eradicated with the usage of proper aids, assistive listening devices and implantable devices. It thus becomes important to have the treatment started almost immediately.​ 

October 12
This Diwali Celebrate with Hearing Aids On!

Diwali is a busy festival celebrated with family members, friends and fire crackers. No other festival is celebrated with so much happiness and participation from all family members. Friends meet up their friends and distribute gifts and sweets. Fire crackers are lit up and the entire family jointly celebrates this fete.

Many hearing aid users are apprehensive to wear them for the fear of loud crackers. Fire crackers emanate a variety of sounds not all of them are loud bursts/ blasts. This article shall provide solutions and options to this problem so that you can continue to wear hearing aids even on a Diwali day. In general, as recommended by the Environment Protection act (1999), it is safe to maintain 3 meter distance from loud crackers. Apart from that use the following options and participate in the Diwali celebrations.

1.       Lower the volume when bursting crackers. Many wireless hearing aids today come with a volume changing option in android/ apple App. While non-wireless hearing aids may still have a toggle/ wheel to lower the volume. Make sure the volume is restored (switch off and then on) as soon as you get back to conversing with someone.

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1.       Locate your nearest branch and visit one of our audiology clinics and ask them to create a special program only for Diwali week. He can help you program your aids with a new program that maximises noise reduction and reduces overall output. Use the program button or smartphone App to select this program. This will help you enjoy all types of sounds without a sign of discomfort.

2.       There are some users bothered a lot by all types of brief (impulse) noises –knock at the door, chopping vegetables, vessels and crockery noise while washing, blast noises etc. Hearing aid technology is now advanced to provide a solution to this small set of users too. This special feature called, impulse noise management/ control, is available with several manufacturers. Many users find it very comfortable with this feature on. This feature acts turbo fast on these impulse noises and puts them within the comfortable hearing range. In some cases it marginally improves speech understanding also, after all, speech sounds such as /k/, /t/, /p/, /t/ have a soft impulse noise in them. This feature doesn’t need a special program to be created and is on as long as the hearing aid is on.

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Now that we have learned of the ways to get rid of uncomfortable sounds, hearing aids are very important while conversations are on and family/ friends gather on the occasion. Those wearing two hearing aids will find it extremely convenient to follow conversations and won’t miss a bit. This Diwali, there is no celebration without hearing aids on.​

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September 26
How to find which hearing aid suits me the best

​Hearing aid is a digital-electronic device that amplifies sounds to meet the reduced hearing power. Hence it has a bundle of amplifiers (channels) and they can be adjusted (bands) using a software by trained audiologists. Hearing aids come with a variety of special features and the price varies with the number of features. The best hearing aid may not be expensive at all, or cheaper, as predicted by some. Though there are different ways in which the best hearing aid is selected, the method described here is accepted and followed in best audiology clinics across the world.

You can select the best hearing aid for you in 3 stages – Thorough hearing test, Detailed counselling basis your listening requirements and Experience the sound and features. Also, try and keep a room for knowing what special accessories are available with the hearing aids. Sometimes, you may need an accessory that connects hearing aids with your TV or mobile phone or even the class teacher.

Role of a trained Audiologist

Audiologist has an eye to see the detail in your audiogram. The audiogram values help us selecting the sound power, channels, vents in hearing aids, special features that can bend high pitch sounds. Some audiograms are so challenging that it needs discussion among 2-3 experienced audiologists.

Audiologist is also trained to identify the listening needs and match them with correct features in hearing aids. Even the Identification of communication situations that cause you the most difficulty is a critical first step in solving your problems. Audiologist’s knowledge, expertise and access to multiple brands will make this easier and better for you.

After successfully completing these 2 stages, it is the time test the proof of the pudding by wearing the hearing aids. The hearing aids are programmed and the required features are activated. Most of the times the demonstration and experience can be completed within the clinic premises. In some cases, because of special listening needs, the experience is given in the real-life situation.

Special features in Hearing Aids

It is now proven that the hearing aid users are more satisfied with new programmable technology. Advanced programmable technology allows the audiologist to adjust the hearing aid to your specific hearing loss​ with more precision. The following description helps in knowing some new features in programmable hearing aids.

Multiple Channels

The majority of today’s hearing aids have multiple channels. Each channel represents a portion of the frequency range important for understanding speech. One advantage of multiple channels is that features such as gain and compression can be programmed differently to reflect changes in the patient’s hearing across frequencies.

Directional Microphones

Using two microphones it is possible to configure a hearing aid so that sounds from the side, and especially the back of the hearing aid user are amplified less than sounds originating from the front. The user can easily hear conversations coming from front and ignore the rest. Directional technology is available on all hearing aid styles except CICs (because of size constraints). Importantly, directional technology does not improve localization of sounds.

Noise Control

With digital hearing aids, it is possible for the hearing aid to analyze an incoming signal and differentiate speech from a noise signal. This can be accomplished simultaneously in several channels, hence, works better in hearing aids with more channels. 

Stop Whistling

Acoustic feedback (whistling from the hearing aid) can be annoying, embarrassing, and in some cases, prevent the hearing aid wearer from using the correct amount of gain. Many of today’s hearing aids have an automatic feature that quickly detects acoustic feedback and cancels it.

Wireless Hearing Aids (with Bluetooth)

They have a special Bluetooth in them which can amplify the ‘streamed’ sound also. Sounds picked up directly from TV, mobile phone, music system etc (with the help of an accessory) and amplified by hearing aids with little distortion or interference from noise.

Hearing Aid could be your Style Statement

Hearing aids are available in atleast 4 different styles. The most popular ones are worn behind the ear – BTE (behind the ear) and RIE (receiver in ear). They are available in a variety of colour options and can help you surely make a style statement.

The less popular ones are worn inside the ear – ITC (in the canal) and CIC (completely in canal). They are tucked inside the ear and have few options to express your style. They also have several limitations interms of feature availability.

All said it is good to be realistic in having expectations even from these miniature and most sophisticated computerised devices. Hearing aids will not permit you to hear the flapping of hummingbird wings near a jet engine. Remember that it takes time to get used to hearing aids, especially if you're a new wearer. Keep in mind that background noise is almost always part of your environment, and adjustment to it is required. In time, you will tune out many of these everyday sounds. It's important not to become disappointed or frustrated while your brain begins to adjust to a whole new world of sound. 

Author: Dr M. Reddy Sivaprasad PhD

Designation & Affiliation: Head- Training & Clinical Development, Amplifon India


May 11
How Hearing loss affects your Driving

Although it is true that driving is associated with vision and a steady hand, we often forget that it is not the only sense organ that we use. The ability to hear is essential for safe driving. Be it the parking lot, the highway or the sudden honk from a sharp corner. Time and again, clear hearing has proven to be a lifesaver. So what happens when drivers are hearing impaired?

Studies show that drivers suffering from hearing loss are often more attentive and responsible. As the brain receptors are deprived of information from one sense organ, they try to compensate by increasing the capabilities of the others. According to a study in the Journal of Neuroscience, the brain becomes more sensitive to the remaining sense organs. As a result, senses like vision and touch get enhanced. Thus, drivers that are hearing-impaired are more cautious and observant while driving than regular drivers. Still, driving with hearing loss can be very difficult, especially in India.

Numerous tests and experiments have shown that a lot can be done to give a hearing impaired driver an advantage to counter his disability. Enhanced panoramic mirrors provide a greater vision for the driver. Implementation of multiple light panels on the vehicles may help the hearing-impaired driver distinguish between the different sounds and keep him alert.

It has also been reported that people with hearing loss while driving miss out on conversations that happen with co-passengers. Even, they miss an opportunity to enjoy the music inside their vehicles. They have these atypical challenges that prevent them from enjoying long rides or outings with family or friends. With the use of appropriate hearing aids they can overcome the same.

In recent years, digital hearing aids have proven to be a very useful device. Most experts agree that drivers suffering from hearing loss should consult an Audiologist or a Hearing Instrument Specialist in regard of their own safety and the safety of others. And even though there have been considerable progress, we still have a lot to overcome before hearing-impaired drivers can experience the roads like their regular counterparts.

Also, some people used to avoid wearing hearing aids while driving because they let keep the windows open which lets the hearing aids exposed to lot of wind noise. Special features in modern digital hearing aids can bring down the wind noise significantly without a compromise on the conversations or music inside the vehicles.​

 

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Hearing loss is a common problem. More than 60% of people over the age of 60 suffer from some grade of hearing loss. In India, the statistics suggest 1/12th of the whole population. While not many realize they have a problem, using a hearing instrument at an early stage can help resolve many issues. Amplifon has always looked towards providing excellent client care in hearing loss diagnosis and... read more

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