How Hearing Loss Can Affect Your Holiday Gatherings

There is a health crisis that is facing the holiday season this year. No, it is not poinsettias or high sodium, it is hearing loss in individuals. On the surface, hearing loss may appear to be nothing more than an inconvenience for some; however, there are more dangerous elements to the hearing loss during the holiday season. We will examine the different ways that hearing loss can negatively affect social life, how to balance it out through the year, and how you can help those closest to you through the holiday season.

Hearing Loss For The Holidays

The problems associated with the holiday hearing health are generally confined to the social realm, but there are also medical drawbacks. In terms of the social impact that hearing health can have on the holidays, it is important o understand that it does not always manifest outwardly. The most common negative effect of hearing loss during the holidays is a more withdrawn attitude and an inability to speak with other people in their social circle. Not being able to speak to one another is a significant drawback of hearing loss and can cause a more severe type of sadness than the winter blues.

Specifically speaking, the negative social attitudes can manifest in dangerous health maladies such as depression. Being unable to reach out to family members and share new and old stories can result in sullen attitudes, social withdrawal, and a feeling of sadness that cannot be shaken off easily. This will make them even more unwilling to go to social events, even if they are invited to them. While depression and anxiety disorders are certainly difficult to overcome, the possible solutions which combine social interactions and medical treatment can help a great deal.

What Can We Do About It?

There are ways to conquer this social anxiety and depression that have been caused by hearing loss. The first way to go about this is to provide a proper situation to make your family and friend with hearing loss a proper and friendly environment. This can be done by warmly greeting and introducing your hard of hearing friends and guests to others. Involve them in conversations and ask or their input in a variety of situations. Make them feel welcome, speak loudly, and most importantly, be patient with them. This will ensure that everyone has a good, fulfilling time during the holidays.

Another one of the ways that people with hearing loss can be helped is through the consultation of a hearing specialist. These professionals have the ability to examine someone who suffers from hearing loss and to create a solution that will help them become reintegrated into society. Generally, they have two means of helping people with hearing impairment. They can advise, schedule, or perform surgery on the person with hearing loss to give them a positive hearing outcome. While this is not an option for everyone, another way that hearing loss can be mitigated in people is by fitting them with a hearing aid device. While these devices are not always able to restore full hearing, they have a high success rate in giving back enough hearing to make life, and the holidays, much more enjoyable for the individual with hearing loss.

How Hearing Aids Are Programmed

Don’t assume you can simply get fitted for a hearing aid without going through the programming part. This part is actually crucial to the proper operation of your device. Your device will need programming by a certified audiologist skilled in this field. This is important because your hearing aid needs to conform to your ears and your existing hearing capabilities, which is why no two hearing aids are the same because everyone has different requirements. How your hearing aid is programmed depends on your degree of hearing loss, comfort level and other personal considerations.

What Factors Can Be Adjusted?

Many factors come into play when programming a hearing aid. Depending on the model type you have, along with the software contained in it, an audiologist can adjust elements such as volume, frequency, intensity levels, compression ratios, max power output, noise reduction, microphone parameters and the like. If one setting is too sensitive in regards to noise, it can be changed to accommodate the user’s comfort level. Many can be adjusted to filter out certain levels of background noise as well.

Processing Time

Most hearing aids manufactured today are digital in nature. Older devices used to be adjusted with a simple screwdriver. You got what you got – there weren’t too many adjustments available. Now, hundreds of elements can be fine tuned within digital hearing aids to accommodate the hearing needs of someone with hearing loss. Programming takes place as a result of a complete hearing evaluation with the user on his or her subjective preferences. Also, once a hearing aid is programmed, this doesn’t mean it can’t be adjusted again in the future. In fact, most people come back to their doctor with suggestions on how the device could work better or complaints about what the device can’t do for them. This is because the brain has to take time to adjust to the new sounds emitted by the device, which can only be determined over time in various listening situations. The audiologist can then fine tune the device based on those recommendations. This trouble shooting approach is what’s so great about digital hearing aids.

Programming Hearing Aids

During the actual programming process, many doctors use a surround sound system to simulate real noise from the outside world and make adjustments based on real-time feedback. Through the innovative use of real ear measurements, visual mapping and environmental simulations, a hearing aid can be customized to the individual user. Real-ear probe microphones can detect how much sound is reaching the eardrum so the doctor can be the most accurate in his programming. Visible speech mapping (VSM) tells the doctor how various sounds of speech hit the eardrum. This is a great alternative to traditional measurements because today’s hearing aids can now help with noise reduction and feedback reduction algorithms. This surround sound system can simulate crowd noises to determine how they will go about noise reduction. This is a helpful feature because so many people with hearing aids say they work great when all is quiet but as soon as they are in a restaurant, or even at a train station, they have to work hard to compete with all that background noise. You need the right hardware, software and cables to connect to the hearing aid. Some hearing impaired individuals can program their own hearing aids but the equipment can get expensive and the level of accuracy is reduced. You should always have a qualified audiologist perform this important task.

Brain Hearing Restores Optimal, Natural Hearing

Today’s devices are definitely sleeker and nearly invisible. They also work as intended, and then some. With hearing aid technology outpacing its former reputation for clunky, cumbersome models, it’s harder for people to catch up with the level of technology that is immersed in this industry. It’s important to realize that the hearing aids of today are not associated with the unattractive, burdensome contraptions years ago any longer. The past 10 to 15 years have brought a lot of growth in the industry.

Hearing aids that were once bulky, expensive, and ineffective are now discreet, affordable, and capable of reproducing the subtleties of natural sound. What makes them work isn’t just technology but the basic shift in a better method of research and design. This is called “brain hearing.”

How do brain-focused hearing aids work?

Basically, brain hearing leads to a huge improvement in hearing aid performance. By modifying only the sounds that the inner ear cannot already hear well, the natural quality of sound is preserved, and the brain is not fatigued and overwhelmed with unnecessary amplification. By preserving a natural, clear signal that is full of detail, brain-focused hearing aids work with the brain’s four main functions used to make sense of the sound it receives:

1. Speech recognition – brain hearing preserves the natural characteristics of speech, making it easier to focus on conversations and switch between speakers.

2. Spatial recognition – brain hearing preserves the difference in sound between the two ears, allowing for the ability to accurately locate sounds.

3. Sound filtering – brain hearing preserves the ability to identify and separate relevant information from background noise.

4. Sound focusing – brain hearing preserves the ability to focus on relevant sounds and speech, even in noisy environments with abrupt changes in background noise.

Consumers love brain-focused hearing aids/

Companies like Oticon, a global leader in the hearing industry, are currently producing brain-focused hearing aids and receiving outstanding feedback. Oticon, for example, reports that while average hearing instrument user satisfaction is 79%, user satisfaction associated with one of its brain-focused hearing aids is 96%.

“Brain Hearing is a natural evolution of Oticon’s long-standing commitment to putting the needs of people first,” says Søren Nielsen, President of Oticon. “This comes back to our research from our Eriksholm research facility, where we have understood that treating hearing loss is much more than presenting sound through amplification. We have known for some years that the brain has a unique ability to process sound if it receives a robust signal that is full of detail.”

So what is brain hearing, exactly?

By considering the entire hearing process, brain hearing research is leading to the development of some incredible hearing aids. Traditional hearing aids amplify any and all sounds, pushing through a mass of noise directly to the brain. This results in bad sound quality that makes the brain become overwhelmed and fatigued. And that, unfortunately, equals the majority of the history of hearing aids. Brain hearing begins with the simple acknowledgment that sound actually occurs in the brain, and not in the ears.

There’s a silver lining though: researchers have finally figured out that the processing of sound within the brain, and quality of the signal the brain receives, are just as critical as the amplification of sound in the ear.

How you can benefit from brain hearing

Are you wondering how you can get your hands (and ears) on this new brain hearing technology. While hearing aids are not off-the-shelf products and need to be professionally fitted and programmed, the process is likely to be easier than you think. Enjoy your life again, free from the burdens of hearing loss courtesy of brain hearing.

See your your audiologist who will take the time to measure your level of hearing loss, using that information in the custom programming of your new state-of-the-art hearing aid.

Electric Cochlear Implants: Functions and Benefits

You may have thought all hearing impaired people can benefit from hearing aids but this is not entirely true. In fact, some people have such a bad hearing problem that they must resort to the use of an electric cochlear implant. This is becoming even more popular for individuals with high degrees of hearing loss [...]

[Continue reading…]

Advancements in Digital Hearing Aids

When you think about it, digital hearing aids have only been around for about 15 years. Before that, analog hearing aids were all the rage. But advancements in technology have brought about the advent of digital capabilities. Let’s take a look back, shall we? The initial hearing aids were called ear trumpets and they came [...]

[Continue reading…]

10 Ways Good Hearing can Help Keep Seniors Young

Did you know you can stay young by protecting your hearing? It’s true. Check out these many ways in which you can grasp onto your youth a little longer. From better interactions at work to easier daily interactions with people around town, you can maintain your youth with positive hearing health. It’s the same as [...]

[Continue reading…]

Digital Hearing Aids

Digital earplugs are quickly gaining attention in the realm of hearing protection. With the latest reports of people having an unprecedented amount of hearing loss by the time that they reach their senior years, more people are taking steps to protect their hearing. That is why digital ear plugs have used new technology to help [...]

[Continue reading…]