New research is uncovering that hearing loss is much more widespread that we had previously thought. In addition to genetics and old age, which are facts of life, hearing loss is frequently caused when a person’s occupation or hobby involves noisy environments.
Environmental Causes of Hearing Loss
Here are just some of the environments and occupations that are regularly loud enough to cause hearing loss:
- Construction sites
- Public transportation
- Shooting ranges
- Bartenders and bouncers
- Motorcycle riders
85dB is the level of loudness that OSHA (the Occupational Safety and Health Administration) has established as having the potential to cause permanent hearing loss. You may surprised to find out that this isn’t actually very loud at all.
If you regularly experience noise in your workplace, you should be able to ask your employer for information regarding the loudness of your working environment. However, if the loud environment is your hobby, there’s no good way to establish whether it’s regularly loud enough to cause hearing loss.
The Value of Hearing Protection
We are all familiar with the standard foam hearing plugs. They’re cheap, disposable, easy to find, and relatively comfortable. However they’re also not customized to the task at hand, easy to lose or damage, and not custom fitted for all-day wearing comfort.
Many people who are regularly exposed to loud environments in their occupation or recreation and have been informed about the risks of hearing loss opt for custom hearing protection that is comfortable, effective, and calibrated to provide maximum protection for that particular activity.
Example: Custom Protection for Musicians & Music Fans
When using the standard foam hearing plugs, the way sound attenuation works is that the treble is reduced more than bass and mid frequencies. This often has the effect of making the sound “muffled” through the earplugs, and many musicians and fans would rather go without hearing protection than having the experience be ruined by sub-optimal sound. However, a new generation of music-friendly hearing protection has been designed to attenuate all frequencies equally, so that the quality of the sound in the ear is the same, just at a lesser volume.
This is just one example. Many of these same types of modifications exist for other fields such as construction, athletics, and shooting.
Chicago Hearing Services strives to provide pertinent education to musicians and others exposed to noise about hearing loss prevention as well as providing them with exceptional products. Dr. Marie Vetter is certified and has extensive training and can help direct you to the best quality sounding custom ear protection.
Reach out to us today to start saving your hearing with custom ear protection!
A new type of hearing device has come on the market recently that isn’t regulated by the FDA and is available over-the-counter. To find out more about this type of device, read our article on the difference between hearing aids and hearables.
These devices are often billed as cheaper and hassle-free alternatives to traditional hearing aids. They also have one other “advantage” over traditional hearing devices: they can be purchased easily online.
There are federal regulations stating that one needs to have had a recent hearing exam in order to purchase a hearing aid, similar to having to undergo an eye exam to purchase prescription glasses. According to Title 21, Section 801.420 of the Code of Federal Regulations, hearing aids can only be sold to those individuals who have first obtained a medical evaluation from a licensed physician within the six months prior to the sale. There rules are there for the protection of consumers, who may not understand the complexity behind purchasing.
But ultimately, even if eventually the government does allow over-the-counter sales of hearing aids (there is current legislation in Congress to do just that), the real issue isn’t the legality of the matter. It’s about correctly diagnosing hearing loss and finding the best hearing device for each patient, complete with correct setup, fitting, and ongoing adjustment for an optimal hearing experience.
Better hearing isn’t just about the device. It’s also about the expertise of programming and adjustments, and those are exactly the things a trained audiologist can help you with.
Getting any hearing device to function optimally requires testing, fitting, and an ongoing conversation with your audiologist. This is just as true about traditional hearing aids as it is about the latest high-tech hearable. Be skeptical of any claims that a hearing device doesn’t require input from an audiologist and can simply be set up by the consumer.
Even in the best case scenario, if you purchase one of these device and experience some relief from hearing loss right off the bat, you still can’t be sure how that compares with the hearing correction you would have received had you made an appointment with an audiologist who has the experience and training required to help patients hear better.
If you need help deciding on which kind of hearing device will work best for your kind of hearing loss, we’re here to help! Get in touch with us to schedule an appointment!
If you’ve never used a hearing device, you may be surprised to find out that the audiologist is a key part of every hearing success story.
When you first visit an audiologist, you’ll undergo a series of tests that are designed to identify the type of hearing loss you’re experiencing, which audio frequencies you’re having most trouble with, and what type of hearing device will work best for your particular case.
Once that’s done, your audiologist will summarize his or her findings and then make recommendations about which types of hearing devices would work best for your case. You will then be able to go over the features of the different devices and make a choice based on features, price, fit, and any other relevant factors.
The audiologist will then fit the hearing aid, adjust it, and go over the device features with you so you know how to work with the device day-to-day.
But the work of the audiologist isn’t done when you leave the office with your new hearing device. As scientific as it is, hearing correction is not an exact science and it’s very hard to be able to predict how the hearing device will perform once you’re back to doing your day-to-day activities. That’s why your audiologist will usually follow up with you to check how the device is performing and what if anything can be improved. Your brain also requires an acclimatization period to adapt to the new sounds it has long not heard.
The audiologist will see you for a follow-up visit a few weeks after the initial fitting. To get the most out of this visit, it’s a good idea to take notes on the performance of your new hearing device so you can be sure to cover any issues with your audiologist, and they don’t slip your mind.
Remember, your audiologist needs your personal input in order to make the tweaks to improve the functionality of the device. If verification and/or validation measures have not been done by this time, they will also be performed to better adjust the amplification your device does.
A word about hearables: the ongoing work that needs to happen to have your hearing device set up optimally should make you skeptical of any device that advertises to work without the need of an exam or setup by an audiologist. Usually, such devices are promoted as being cheaper and easy to use, but hearing is a medical issue and you’ll have the biggest benefits if you can consult with an audiologist.
Have questions about the process of getting fitted for your first hearing device? We’re here to help! Contact us today to set up a consultation!
Hearable technology has made leaps and bounds in the past few years, and patients are the beneficiaries of these advances. At Chicago Hearing Services, we’re proud to offer a new hearing device that offers many of these new technologies into one convenient and easy to use pair of headphones. The device is called the Dash Pro, made by Bragi and Starkey Hearing Technologies.
A Custom Fit
Wireless and Seamless Connectivity
A Multitude of Features
- Automatic fitness tracking -using nine built-in fitness sensors, the earpieces can track running, swimming, cycling or walking, and can automatically identify the activity. Fitness tracking doesn’t require having a smartphone along with you during the activity.
- 4 GB of storage – a smartphone also isn’t required to listen to music. The headphones have enough memory for the user to store up to 1,000 songs and use them as a stand-alone music player. This allows the wearer to be completely hands free!
- Audiophile-quality sound – extra care was taken to make the Dash Pro into a fully functional pair of headphones, using Knowles Balanced Armature Speakers with a back vent for elevated bass and EQ optimization.
- Multi-lingual use – integration with iTranslate app allows the user to communicate in over 40 languages with translation directly to their headphones.
- Waterproof up to 1 meter – a device that goes everywhere with you on a daily basis should be sturdy. The Dash Pro is fully waterproof up to 1 meter.
- Long battery life – the Dash Pro allows up to five hours of playtime and an additional 25 hours of use via recharging using the portable charging case.
Effective communication is of the utmost importance in childhood development. That’s why hearing loss needs to be identified as soon as possible after a baby is born so that if there are any hearing issues, they can be corrected with the use of a device and the child won’t experience a gap in the ability to perceive his or her environment and will be able to develop normal speech and language.
Hearing loss occurs in 1 to 3 out of 1000 babies. Thankfully, universal newborn hearing screenings have made it much easier to identify hearing loss in a child. All states have regulations about babies undergoing this test before they leave the hospital and receiving follow-up and diagnosis before they reach 3 months of age. Any necessary intervention takes place before the baby reaches 6 months of age.
Children are constantly perceiving, analyzing, and reproducing their environment. It’s how they learn. They usually learn to speak by copying the sounds coming from adults around them. That’s why early diagnosis and early intervention are crucial for uninterrupted development.
There are two types of hearing loss in children: congenital and acquired.
Congenital hearing loss is present at birth, and can reliably be diagnosed during newborn hearing screening exam.
Acquired hearing loss is a bigger problem, because parents whose children have passed the newborn hearing exam may think they’re out of the woods and may not be able to correctly identify the problem when it does occur.
Some potential causes of acquired hearing loss are:
- Ear infections
- Ototoxic drugs
- Chicken pox
- Head injury
- Noise exposure
Here are some signs to watch out for that may indicate your child is experiencing acquired hearing loss:
- The child turns up the TV too high
- The child does not turn his or head toward sounds
- The child’s speech development is not age appropriate.
- The child ignores you when you call him/her
- The child doesn’t speak like others the same age
- The child has articulation issues
- The child responds inappropriately to questions
- The child has difficulty following along in class
- The child complains of earaches or hearing noises
The good news is that some hearing loss in children can be temporary, and be alleviated by using the correct medication or via minor surgery. The key is to become aware of the problem as soon as possible so a doctor or audiologist can then monitor your child’s hearing and test if it’s improving.
If you think your child may be experiencing hearing loss, it’s best to get him or her tested right away. That way, you can gain some peace of mind and also tackle the problem sooner rather than later, which could make all the difference in your child’s successful communication habits. Contact us today to set up an appointment!
We are lucky to be experiencing a hearing device renaissance at the moment. Advances in technology have enabled hearing device manufacturers to come out with more and better devices, and especially, devices that cater to particular lifestyles like never before.
Here are just some of the hearing device enhancements that can contribute to your lifestyle:
Active – if you lead an active lifestyle, you may have previously been frustrated at hearing devices that didn’t stay put while you were on the move. Now, devices are available that are designed particularly for active pursuits and that will take almost anything you throw at them. Most hearing aids also have sweat protection allowing you to continue active activities without compromising your hearing.
Discreet – Don’t want others to know that you’re wearing a hearing aid? New IIC (invisible in-canal) hearing devices sit deep within the ear. They wouldn’t have been possible a few years ago, but technology has come far enough that a much smaller device can have the same level of functionality that an outside-the-ear device had a few years ago.
High-Tech – Are you always on-the-go? Do you need a hearing device with bluetooth and different modes so you can easily talk on the telephone and hear well in a variety of situations such as sporting events or busy restaurants? A new class of devices come standard with bluetooth integration and a mobile phone app that allows you to switch between different modes for improved hearing in a wide variety of situations.
Audiophile – Do you love listening to hi-fi music? There are hearing aids on the market now that cater specifically to users who want to have as full of a hearing experience of the entire audio spectrum (bass, mid, treble) as possible.
Key in selecting the right device for your needs is the role of the professional. There is also a trial period with hearing aids, and that is why the relationship between patient and audiologist is so important. If something about a particular device isn’t for the patient, the audiologist will work to adjusting the device and potentially try out a different model until the patient’s needs are met.
Here at Chicago Hearing Services, we ask in-depth lifestyle questions so we can better understand the needs and wants of our patients. When looking for help, go to a professional you can trust and who can answer your questions. Contact us today to set up an appointment!
Like any other medical device, hearing aids don’t last forever. Even if you’re happy with the performance of your hearing device, eventually, you’ll have to replace it. But how do you actually know when it’s time to replace your hearing device?
One general rule is that most hearing devices last, on average, 5-7 years. However, we need to stress that each case is unique, and only you, in consultation with your audiologist , can determine when the time is to replace your existing hearing device.
If you experience one of these 4 scenarios, it’s probably time to replace your hearing aid:
Your hearing device is over 5 years and has been sent in for repair.
When it’s that close to the end of its useful lifespan, your hearing aid should be replaced instead of being repaired. That way, you don’t have wait for your hearing aid to be repaired only to have it potentially operate unreliably and have to be replaced. You might as well upgrade when you have the chance. Repairs on hearing aids greater than five years can also be very costly and do not have a long repair warranty. Sticking money into an old device instead of saving it and purchasing new technology is not always the best thing.
You are noticing you aren’t hearing as well as you or your family expect.
Problems with hearing, relative to what you’re used to, could mean that your hearing device is malfunctioning. Or, it could mean that your hearing has deteriorated and you need to be evaluated for a hearing aid again. In any case, you should visit an audiologist to get evaluated and figure out the cause of the problem and a new solution that will work well for you.
Your hearing aid isn’t comfortable anymore.
As we live, our bodies are always undergoing change. Likewise, a medical device you use every single day may eventually bend or warp from the constant use. If you’re noticing a lower level of comfort, you may be able to get your audiologist to re-mold the hearing device for a better fit or find you a new hearing device that fits more comfortably.
Advances in technology have changed the effectiveness of hearing devices.
You may be perfectly happy with your hearing device, but things in the hearing industry are changing so quickly that devices go through entire life cycles in 5 years. You may think your hearing device is functioning adequately, but you’ll never know what you could be missing out on with the newest generation of devices currently available on the market. So, during your regular checkup, it pays to ask your audiologist about how technology has advanced and how you may be able to benefit from these changes.
Thinking it may be time to replace your hearing device? Contact us to set up an appointment and we can help you decide if there may be a better device for your needs!
If you’ve heard of the new market of hearables, then you might be wondering how this new technology compares to more traditional hearing aids. We hear this question a lot, so we thought we’d cover some of the basics.
First, a couple of definitions: a traditional hearing aid or hearing device is a medical device meant to improve hearing for those who are suffering from hearing loss. A hearable, on the other hand, coming from the word wearable, is a recent type of over-the-counter technology meant to enhance hearing for anyone who is interested in such a device. A hearable, for instance, can be used to improve hearing at a sporting event by an individual who doesn’t suffer from hearing loss.
One great thing about hearables is that by coming from the tech industry, they’ve introduced things like bluetooth integration, automatic hands-free phone use, and mobile app interfaces that help you customize the device and the hearing experience to your needs and to the environment you’re in. Now, traditional hearing aid manufacturers also understand how important these features are to patients, and these features are being incorporated into many traditional hearing devices as well.
Obviously, there is middle ground between these two types of devices, because they both aim to enhance hearing. With that being said, each excels at different sides of the spectrum.
For those with moderate to significant hearing loss, traditional hearing aids offer more options for customization and have specialized technology that is too niche to be included in mass-market hearables. They also have the power and strength to provide enough amplification to aid someone’s hearing so that conversations will be easier.
On the other hand, if you suffer from mild hearing loss and consult with a doctor of audiology, you may be able to use a hearable to achieve the same effect as a traditional hearing aid, and possibly at a lower cost.
So, it all comes down to the question, does this hearable offer sufficient customization to work with my particular type and severity of hearing loss?
Only an audiologist has the expertise to make that call, so, while it may be tempting to purchase an affordable hearable device over the counter, you may ultimately be doing your hearing a disservice. An audiologist can provide you with the proper recommendations as well as the proper devices to help you hear at your best.
Have a question about traditional hearing aids or hearables? We’re here to help! Contact us today to set up a consultation!
Being diagnosed with hearing loss can seem daunting and overwhelming. There is a lot of information out there, but we are here to make that process easier for you. Here are some things to consider when choosing amplification.
- Choosing the right professional. Choosing a Doctor of Audiology (AuD) is an important first step in your journey. They are the best qualified to diagnose your hearing loss and providing you the help you need. Audiologists are uniquely qualified to diagnose and non-medically treat hearing loss. When calling a business regarding hearing and hearing loss, make sure you will be seeing a Doctor of Audiology such as Dr. Marie Vetter. The expert you will work with is much like choosing your primary care physician. It will be an ongoing long-standing relationship. Be wary of those offering “free hearing tests” as they are dispensaries that make their cost up in the final price of the hearing aid.
- An expert is vital in the process. In the age of the internet, many people turn first to the Internet for research and information. Yes, hearing aids can be purchased online.
However, it is missing one important component, which is the expert of hearing and hearing care. Just like you can choose to have your taxes done online or professionally done by an accountant, hearing aids work the same way. An audiologist knows about hearing and hearing loss and how best to adjust the hearing devices for each unique patient. This ensures the patient can communicate at their best. A process called “real ear measurement” is the only way you can know if your hearing aids are set appropriately for your hearing loss. Choosing an expert that listens to your needs will be the important puzzle piece to ensure you are hearing optimally.
- The service provided. Choosing the proper amplification is just one component in receiving hearing help. Hearing aids need adjustments and personalization. Once you have utilized amplification for some time, fine tuning adjustments or repairs will also have to be made. The service provided by the office will play a vital role in that ongoing process. Here at Chicago Hearing Services, we have different service plans to best meet all of our patient’s needs. Some additional things to consider include what their office hours are, do they provide loaners when your hearing aids go for repair, and can they see you within a short amount of time.
- Your lifestyle does matter. Your hearing is important—it allows you to experience your life! Because of this, choosing a hearing aid that is right for your lifestyle, not only your hearing loss is important. A trustworthy professional will work with you to recommend and provide you the best hearing devices for your hearing loss, lifestyle, and budget.
- Technology is important. The technology of the computer chip is important when choosing a hearing device. Better computer chips do much better in complex noise environments such as church, restaurants, and meetings. All major hearing aid brands have hearing devices that are able to do this. The audiologist will work with you to choose what brand and technology level is most appropriate. However, one thing to be careful of is the branding limitations that may accompany hearing aids. Some companies may “lock” their hearing aids in which, you, the patient is unable to go elsewhere for adjustments. This can become a headache if the business closes, you move or are traveling, or you are dissatisfied with the care provided. When making a decision, choose an office that works with several manufacturers and is able to make adjustments as well.
Our goal at Chicago Hearing Services is to have you hearing at your best. We want to help amplify your hearing, so that you may experience YOUR life! For questions or to book an appointment, call us at (773) 685-9202 or click here.
After clearing the hurdles of realizing you may have hearing loss, going to a Doctor of Audiology and getting a hearing test, and choosing a suitable hearing aid, comes the real challenge: figuring out how to pay for your new hearing device. Here’s what you need to know about hearing devices and insurance policies. More