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Can You Use Headphones And Hearing Aids Simultaneously?

Hearing aids and headphones

Using headphones with hearing aids can sometimes be a difficult task for many hearing aid wearers. That’s because the fit of the hearing aid can interfere with the placement of the headphones. Other problems can entail the microphone of the hearing aid sitting too close to the headphone speakers causing audio feedback.
These problems create a frustrating aspect of wearing hearing aids for many users who are accustomed to enjoying music on a long car ride, plane ride, or during their typical exercise routine. But, in actuality, most audiologists would argue that there is a headphone selection available for most everyone living with hearing aids. The challenge is identifying the one that’s most compatible with your hearing aid type and placement.
Good News For Headphone Wearing
Wearing headphones with hearing aids poses no additional risk to your hearing as long as you’re responsibly using them at normal volume levels. The most challenging hearing aids to work with when it comes to headphone selections are those that sit behind the ear. Behind The Ear (BTE) and Receiver In The Canal (RIC) hearing aids both have at least some part that lies behind the ear. The best kind of headphones for these style hearing aids are those that fit over the ear instead of on top or in the ear. This configuration will keep the hearing aid microphone properly positioned an adequate distance from the headphone speaker to avoid audio feedback.
Noise Canceling Headphones
Noise canceling headphones may also be a good option for hearing aid wearers because they help block out ambient sound so that the user can focus more on the music. These kinds of headphones do put out a soft hissing sound, so it’s best to try these before you buy these to make sure your hearing aid doesn’t pick up on that.
More Possibilities
In The Canal (ITC) hearing aid wearers are fortunate because their microphones are placed further away from the ear exterior. This fact opens up options for the kinds of headphones they can wear. Both on the ear and over the ear headphones are appropriate for this hearing aid.
Completely In The Canal (CIC), hearing aid wearers will experience the most luck with headphones. These users should be able to use over the ear, on the ear, or even in the ear headphones with little problem. As always, the best bet is to try these headphones before you buy them. Ask your friends and family if you can try on their existing headphones to get a better feel for what works and what doesn’t. Chances are you know someone with all three types of headphones.
While expense is not necessarily a good indicator of quality, there are some makers of headphones that are better than others. Noise canceling headphones may be a good option, but if you are better off with standard headphones go with a pair that has a good reputation and are comfortable on your head. Comfort is especially important if you wear BTE or RIC phones.

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Semicircular Canal Dehiscence Explained

Sounds and dizziness

We’ve all heard of and probably know someone who gets motion sickness easily if it’s not ourselves who deal with this problem already. Motion sickness is that familiar feeling of dizziness or nausea when our brains receive confusing signals about the world around us when we are in the car, on a boat, or enjoying (or not) an amusement park ride. But did you know that some people also deal with dizziness caused by certain frequencies of sound, such as a piano, another musical instrument, or a simple conversation?
These people are more likely to be living with a genetically caused thinness or hole in the bone encasing the inner ear. This deficiency in the bone causes fluid within the inner ear to move incorrectly when certain sounds are heard. This condition is called semicircular canal dehiscence.  In fact, researchers believe this condition affects one in every 100 people across the world. The feeling perceived when these anomalies occur described as being similar to the feeling you have when drunk.
The Cause
So what exactly causes the feeling of dizziness or vertigo? A study conducted by researchers at the University of Utah discovered eye-movements that are triggered to counteract the normal movement of the head perceived by inner ear fluid movement, are incorrectly triggered by the movement of inner ear fluid caused by the changed perception of sound in people with the hole in the bone casing of the inner ear.
In other words, our eyes move to counteract the movement of the head. Everytime our heads move, our eyes move to stabilize the picture and keep us from feeling dizzy or nauseous. When do our eyes know to move? They depend on messages from the brain that has been received from the inner ear.
The fluid of the inner ear moves when the head moves. This movement results in a signal sent to the processing centers of the brain, telling the brain the head is moving. Consequently, the eyes are told to countermove to avoid feelings of dizziness. If the brain is getting false reads from the inner ear fluid, it will send false movement commands to the eyes, causing a countermovement to a head movement that never happened and thus a perception of spinning. This unnecessary movement of the eyes results in dizziness, vertigo, or nausea.
The Difficulty of Semicircular Canal Dehiscence
For people who have semicircular canal dehiscence, the feeling of dizziness can occur within seconds after hearing a trigger sound. Now that researchers understand the connection between the pathological holes in the bone housing and the nature of the condition that results from it, care providers can be better equipped to address and treat the condition.
Surgery to repair the dehiscence is one viable option that remedies the condition with a high degree of confidence. Other treatment options and coping techniques are also available. For more information about semicircular canal dehiscence, please call our office today to speak with a hearing health professional.

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The Stigma of Hearing Loss

Hearing loss stigma

Hearing loss is an increasingly common diagnosis, and yet, it remains a diagnosis with a stigma. Millions of people worldwide are affected by hearing loss. These people are of all ages, come from all different backgrounds and still have to overcome certain ingrained beliefs about hearing impairment.
Common beliefs about hearing loss
Whether they are the things we tell ourselves, the well-meaning comments from friends and family or the impressions we get from strangers, there are many common beliefs about hearing loss that often prevent us and others from seeking treatment. Some of the most commonly cited beliefs include:

  • I’m too young for hearing loss
  • It’s not bad enough for hearing aids
  • People will treat me differently

What experts and many who are now comfortable with their loss agree on is that, the stigma of hearing loss needs to end.
The research into hearing loss stigma
As hearing loss becomes more common, researchers have begun to take a closer look at people’s commonly held views and personal experiences. The results show that beliefs and perceptions may be affected by many things and that these beliefs and perceptions could have serious consequences when they prevent people from treating their hearing loss.
One study found that “perceived stigma emerged as an important theme influencing decision-making processes at multiple points along the experiential continuum of hearing loss.” In other words, it was found to prevent individuals from accepting that they may have hearing loss, scheduling hearing evaluations to diagnose hearing loss and even if hearing aids were purchased and used. Untreated hearing loss has been linked to even more serious conditions including cognitive decline.
Another study suggested that something as simple as age or use of a hearing aid could affect one’s view on hearing loss. The results found that “Younger women perceive greater stigma than older women. Less stigma is associated with hearing aid use than hearing loss, suggesting a positive effect of hearing loss management.”
There is no doubt from anecdotal evidence and more formal surveys and studies that views on hearing loss, our own views and those of others, can play a significant role in treating hearing loss.
Opening the lines of communication
What experts see as most important in battling the stigma of hearing loss is open communication about it. Hearing healthcare providers are leading the way to dispel the myths and doing away with the stigma. Here’s how:

  • Changing the conversation: Questions about the effect that hearing loss can have on life can make all the difference. How does hearing loss impact life? How would life change with treatment?
  • Encouraging responsibility: Treating hearing loss is as much about the individual with hearing loss as it is about those around them. Treatment strategies such as hearing aids can reduce frustration and improve communication for everyone, building stronger relationships along the way.
  • Discussing difficult situations: There will still be times when hearing can be difficult. Open discussion between patients and hearing healthcare providers about these types of situations and strategies to navigate them can help patients feel more comfortable and confident.
  • Connecting with others: Regularly connect with others managing hearing loss, hearing aids and the stigma around both. These connections can help diminish the internal stigma as a reminder of just how common hearing loss is.

If you believe you have hearing loss, don’t give in to the fear of stigma. Schedule an appointment for a hearing evaluation today.

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Hearing Loss and the Holidays

Hearing family during the holidays

With Halloween now behind us and Thanksgiving on the horizon, there is no doubt that the holiday season is here. While the fully stocked store aisles and endless TV and radio ads may focus on the things we “need” to get for ourselves and others, it’s the people we spend time with that really make it special. And chances are, at least some of those family and friends will have hearing loss.
Hearing loss is all around us
According to the National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders (NIDCD), almost 38 million Americans have at least some trouble hearing. Those are just people 18 and over, too. The number is even higher when accounting for children with hearing loss. With statistics like that, if you don’t have hearing loss, you most likely know someone who does.
With plenty of holiday gatherings on the calendar in the weeks to come, now is a great time to plan and prepare with hearing loss in mind.
Holiday hearing tips
Whether it’s talking over turkey, catching up at a festive cocktail party, debating with Dad or gabbing over gifts, tips like these can help you connect and communicate even when family and friends have hearing loss:
Tune in and turn up: Whether you’re the host or a guest, stay tuned in to those you know (or think) have hearing loss. Do they seem to be having trouble joining in the conversation? Are they staying on the outskirts of the activity? Try engaging them in conversation on their own or bring them back into a group conversation to keep them feeling connected and part of the festivities. Everyone appreciates feeling engaged, cared for and part of the action, regardless of hearing ability.
Create the best setting: Considering candlelight and spirited holiday music for your get together? Keep in mind that it could make communicating more difficult for guests with hearing loss. Instead, opt for a brighter setting with minimal background noise to make it easier for those with hearing impairment to see lip movement, facial expressions and gestures and hear more of the conversation around them. This can also help those with hearing loss avoid extra fatigue from trying to listen through extra background noise.
Practice effective communication: This is crucial no matter who or where you are! Strategies like these can help everyone avoid confusion and frustration and help everyone feel heard and connected:

  • Face whoever you’re speaking with – In any situation, make sure you are face to face when speaking. This allows anyone (especially someone with hearing loss) to take in the full picture of eye contact, body language and lip movement along with the sound they hear.
  • Speak clearly – Avoid rushing, mumbling, talking too loudly or too softly. For someone with hearing loss, these can make speech more difficult to understand and lead to frustration.
  • Rephrase instead of repeat – It can be easy to just repeat exactly what you’ve said when the person you’re speaking with hasn’t heard or understood. Instead, rephrase what you’ve said. In some cases, different words may be easier to hear and understand. A re-phrased statement may also offer deeper context for the listener helping them grasp what’s being said.

Tips like these can help keep everyone connected this holiday season, even with hearing loss. If you’d like to learn more about hearing loss and help family and friends who have hearing loss, contact our office. Scheduling a hearing evaluation may be the best gift you could give them or yourself this year!