For a long time, those with hearing impairments had a difficult time finding telephones that were designed with their needs in mind. Then, in 2011, new regulations made things easier.
New rules adopted by the Federal Communications Commission required cell phone manufacturers to design phones that are more useful for people who use hearing aids. Among other things, these rules required that phones have less static, less interference, and have better telecoil connections—all crucial features for compatibility with hearing devices.
Phone Label Designation
To find out if a cell phone is hearing aid compatible (HAC), look for the label in one of these places: on a card displayed next to the phone at the store, directly on the cell phone packaging, or in the phone’s user manual.
If the label isn’t in any of these places, the phone is not hearing aid compatible.
Hearing Aid & Phone Ratings
Did you know phones and hearing aids have ratings based on how well they work with each other? First, it’s important to see if your hearing aid is compatible with the phone’s microphone. Hearing aids come with ratings from M1 to M4, with a higher rating meaning a clearer sound.
Cell phones that are hearing device-friendly have a microphone that will work with a hearing device in the microphone position. Look for microphone rations of M3 or M4, with higher numbers being better, because they offer a clearer sound.
Adding it All Up
To find out overall functionality of the hearing aid / phone system, all you have to do is add up the M or T ratings for the cell phone and the hearing aid.
- A combined rating of 6 is considered excellent, and means the hearing aid / phone system is a great match.
- A combined rating of 5 is considered average, and is acceptable for normal phone use.
- A combined rating of 4 is not great but is still usable. The quality may not be sufficiently high to comfortably conduct longer phone calls.
Cell phones that comply with the FCC’s hearing aid compatibility rule must receive a minimum rating of M3 for RF emissions and T3 for telecoil coupling. Ask your audiologist about the rating of your hearing aid.
How to Tell a Good Fit
Adding up the M and T ratings is fine as a general indicator of system compatibility, but it will ultimately be up to you, the user, to confirm that the system works well together. Conduct several test calls with the new phone in the types of environments you’re likely to find yourself in, and watch out for the following factors:
- Sound clarity
- Any excessive static or extra noise on the line
- General ergonomics
- Other helpful features for those with hearing loss, including incoming call alerts, speech-to-text, and and easy-to-use accessibility menu
Have a question about the compatibility of a particular phone and hearing aid? We can help you make sense of the situation. Contact us today for more details.
Have you ever heard a ringing noise in your ears that went away after a few seconds? If so, you’ve experienced what 25 million Americans have — tinnitus is a ringing in the ears that can happen very rarely, or be so prevalent that it interferes with daily activities. If you’ve ever experienced it, you probably know how distracting it can be.
Tinnitus is a symptom associated with many forms of hearing loss. It can also be a symptom of other health problems. If you’re experiencing tinnitus on a regular basis, here are some strategies that may be able to help:
- Over 60% of patients with tinnitus find relief from amplification and hearing aids. So, if you’ve experienced tinnitus on an ongoing basis, the first step you should take is to visit an audiologist and get a hearing test that can help to identify the cause of the symptoms.
- If nothing hearing-related is uncovered, your audiologist can also point you to a general doctor who can explore other potential causes such as obesity or environmental stressors.
- If you find that the tinnitus recurs on a regular interval after a particular activity, such as being at a loud concert, share the information with your audiologist and get some hearing protection, or avoid the environment that causes the symptoms.
- Occasionally, tinnitus can be caused by stress. Relaxation exercises, such as meditation, have been show to help in certain cases.
- Noise machines, including specially designed pillows that create background noise may help with the reduction of your tinnitus symptoms.
- Special tinnitus apps generate a variety of background sounds that are helpful in the alleviation of tinnitus symptoms and can be used on-the-go with headphones.
- Cognitive behavioral therapy has been identified as one potential avenue for reducing the impact of tinnitus on a patient. Since there is no known cure for tinnitus, CBT attempts to instead change the person’s perception of tinnitus to make it less distracting and easier to live with.
- Nicotine, alcohol and caffeine use makes tinnitus worse by reducing blood flow to the structures of the ear. Stop smoking and drinking coffee, and see if symptoms improve.
- Limit your use of aspirin, products containing aspirin, and other nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) such as ibuprofen or naproxen, all of which can exacerbate tinnitus symptoms.
- Exercise regularly. Exercise improves blood flow to the structures of the ear. However, extended periods of exercise that keep your neck in a hyperextended position, such as bicycle riding, should be avoided because they can temporarily make symptoms worse.
Having issues with tinnitus? Follow step #1 above and get in touch with an audiologist for a hearing test! Reach out to us today to set up your consultation!
You’ve made a big step. You’ve talked with a loved one and convinced him or her that getting a hearing test and possibly being fitted with a hearing device would increase his or her quality of life. The next step is to find an audiology office that you can trust to take care of your loved one and do the best job possible. What are some things to look for in an audiologist office?
Find a referral
If you have friends or family members who have been to an audiologist and have had a good experience, you may be able to use that information to your advantage. If you have an older parent, there’s a good chance that one of his or her peers have already had experience with an audiologist.
Longevity of the practice
A practice that has been in business for a long time is usually a good sign, because it shows that the audiologist has returning patients who are happy with the level of service. This also is important because there is no worry about them leaving suddenly and closing their business.
Check the audiologist’s website, and see if it has helpful information and client testimonials you can read through. That is not to say that the quality of the website reflects on the quality of service, but a modern and frequently updated website does reveal that the audiologist is “with the times” and probably follows the latest developing trends in the field. In this same category of things to research are other reviews from third party websites such as Yelp, where you’ll know you’re getting feedback straight from the patient.
Expertise of the Audiologist
Hearing devices are a big investment. You want a professional who has the training necessary to fit you with the best technology. You should feel you are being helped instead of just pushed a product. Treating hearing issues goes beyond the product. You will be with this person for a long time so having someone you can trust and feel comfortable with is vital. Are they able to explain your hearing loss and how hearing aids will help you? Are they knowledgeable about devices to help you hear better? Do they explain everything thoroughly and take time to make sure everything is answered?
Not all hearing aid practices are created equal. Some offices may be owned by hearing aid dispensers, large corporations, or even insurance companies. The result is not quality care and customer service. You may also experience high turnover with the employees. Hearing devices purchased at these places can be locked so that the patient can only return to that location to have anything reprogrammed, adjusted, or repaired. A privately owned practice will allow patients to receive the upmost service, patience from the staff and audiologist, and hearing aids that are unlocked.
Though proximity may be your first search criteria when looking for an audiologist, it shouldn’t be your main deciding factor. Finding someone who is a great fit nearby is always a plus, but don’t choose an audiologist simply because they are the closest to your home. Consider the other factors in this post and be willing to go a little further if necessary to get the best quality care.
Helpfulness of the staff
Once you think you’ve found the right place, what is your experience like when you walk in? Is the staff welcoming and helpful? Do they take care to answer all your questions, from ones about hearing health and hearing devices to more routine questions about insurance billing and industry trends?
Chicago Hearing Services was established in 1990 to enhance the lives of the patients we serve in Chicagoland. Our office is built upon high standards, training and expertise, patient education, and most of all a positive patient experience. The entire team is dedicated to providing you with excellent, personalized care and service to make your or your loved one’s visits as comfortable and pleasant as possible.
Get in touch with us today to schedule your appointment!
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!