Newsletter - March 2011

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ITAC: Illinois Telecommunications Access Corporation

Residents of Illinois who have difficulty using the telephone due to hearing loss are eligible for an amplified telephone or TTY through ITAC. This is not a financial needs based program. An application form can be obtained at Barrington Hearing Center or at http://www.itactty.org . A current hearing test is required to confirm the hearing loss and the audiologist will need to sign the application.

Loop Systems For The Hearing Aid User

Going to the theatre, church or museum may cause concern for hearing aid users. Even the most up-to-date circuits cannot completely separate the sounds you want to hear from background noises, or pick up sounds from a distance.

Most hearing aids have a telecoil that can be paired with a loop system in many of these facilities. The telecoil is a small copper coil inside the hearing aid that can be activated by the audiologist during the programming of the hearing aid. To connect to the loop system, the hearing aid user will need to select the telecoil program in the hearing aid. When the loop system’s microphone is used, the hearing aid user is able to hear the speaker as if they are talking directly into their hearing aid. The telecoils in a hearing aid can also be used in conjunction with a handheld assistive listening device or in a venue that has been looped. If a venue is looped it will often have the ear symbol shown below to let the public know:

Common venues that are looped:

  • Theaters
  • Places of worship
  • Airports
  • Banks
  • Mass transit systems
  • Doctors’ offices
  • Hospitals
  • Government buildings
  • Auditoriums

If you are unable to hear with a loop, your audiologist may recommend other hearing assistive listening devices to use to enable you to hear better in noise and/or from a distance. If you go to facilities that have a loop system, be sure to discuss this with your audiologist, when deciding on hearing aids. If you would like to be an advocate for the installation of loops in your community, discuss this with Dr. Hansel or visit www.HowsYourHearing.org to obtain the needed information. To learn more about telecoils and your hearing aids/cochlear implants, contact our office at (847) 382-5700 and Dr. Hansel will discuss options with you.

Hearing Loss and Hearing Aids Myths

Hearing Loss Means You Are Old.

It is estimated about 31.5 million Americans report hearing difficulty. The majority (65%) of people with hearing loss are younger than age 65.

My Hearing Loss Is Not That Bad.

Helen Keller stated, “When you lose your sight, you lose contact with things. When you lose your hearing, you lose contact with people.” Hearing loss begins gradually and often affects understanding of speech, especially in noisy settings.
Many people wait 7-9 years before seeking help for hearing loss. During that time, the ear and brain forget the everyday sounds that are no longer heard. The television volume, requests for repetition, your agitation level, your withdrawal in social gatherings and depression all increase during this time.

For those who are still working, the hearing loss can create resentment by coworkers in having to frequently repeat in stressful settings. Supervisors may feel that you are ignoring them or incapable of following directions.

Many times people are overlooked for promotion because of these behaviors.

They Will Try To Sell Me A Hearing Aid.

Although many individuals who are tested for hearing loss will be advised to consider hearing aids, many times the option is in the form of medical intervention.

The Background Noise Will Drive Me Nuts.

Hearing aids will re-introduce the sounds that have been forgotten. Once the ear and brain have adapted to these re-introduced sounds, they will begin to ignore them.

New computer chip technology continues to improve and the background noise becomes less and less. The use of digital circuits, multiple memories, multiple microphones, and Bluetooth technology has all contributed to improved sound quality.

An Ounce Of Prevention is Worth A Pound Of Cure

Much of the emphasis in the field of healthcare, including the field of audiology, has shifted to a proactive and preventative mode. As implied in the title of this article, the prevention of a condition requires much less time and cost than any cure. This article will look at the Do’s and Don’ts that will help you and your family in avoiding hearing loss.

Noise Induced Hearing Loss (NIHL):

One third of hearing loss is caused by noise exposure. NIHL can be caused by a one-time exposure to loud sound as well as by repeated exposure to sounds at various loudness levels over an extended period of time. Noise induced hearing loss is one of the most preventable health problems in today’s society. But, unfortunately, with today’s advances in technology and the portability of high volume producing devices, noise induced hearing loss has increased and appeared at younger ages. There are three things to consider about noise:

  1. How loud;
  2. How long;
  3. How close.

For example, a single exposure to an extreme noise such as a firecracker at close range can damage hearing permanently in an instant.

  1. Don’t play your personal listening device at high volumes. If someone standing three feet away from you needs to raise his or her voice to be heard by you, your personal listening device is doing damage to the ear.
  2. Don’t use your personal music device when mowing the lawn.
  3. Do use ear protection: Custom noise reduction molds/ear muffs. Sound limiting ear phones Musician Ear Molds
  4. Do help kids understand hearing and how it is damaged.
  5. Do limit exposure time to noisy activities.
  6. Do turn down the volume on the TV, radio, stereos, iPods.

Foreign Bodies And Damage To The Ear Drum:

Remember the saying “Don’t put anything in your ear smaller than your elbow.

  1. Don’t poke cotton swabs (Q-tips) into the ear canal.
  2. Don’t allow toddlers near items that are small enough to be placed in the ear canal.
  3. Don’t use bobby pins, hatpins or any other stick-like items to clean your ears.  
  4. Do ask your physician how to clean your ears safely.

Following these simple steps will help you in reducing the effects of noise exposure and physical damage your ears. Please contact Dr. Hansel with any questions concerning this article.

“Our aim is to provide the Barrington area with modern audiological and hearing aid services and, working in partnership with our patients, to offer solution options for their specific hearing difficulties. We strive to provide prompt and courteous service from our entire staff so that we can make the experience here a pleasant one.”

How to Improve Listening Environments for Better Speech Understanding

Individuals with hearing loss often state that they experience a great difficulty in noisy environments. Many hearing impaired individuals will find themselves frustrated and may eventually begin to retreat from social settings because of this difficulty. The use of hearing aids will assist those with hearing loss, but the use of proper communication etiquette, some of the new technology and assistive listening devices will enhance the listening experience much more.

People must understand that there are some environments in which even normal hearing listeners will experience difficulty. All of us, whether hearing impaired or not, could benefit by following simple suggestions to optimize the speech understanding in noise.

  • Let others know you have a hearing loss.
  • Be sure your hearing aids are in good working order and seated appropriately in your ear.
  • Use of available assistive listening devices
  • Loop systems
  • Personal assistive listening devices
    • Captioning
  • Eliminate/reduce distractions
  • Arrive early at restaurant for a greater choice of seats.
  • If making a reservation at a restaurant, request to be seated in a quiet area of the dining room. (Quiet corner with back to the wall)
  • Turn off television/radio when visiting with others.
  • Be sure to face the person to whom you are speaking.
  • Wear your glasses.
  • Position yourself for the best possible view.
  • Make sure the lighting is adequate.
  • Do not allow the speaker to sit in front of a window/light.
  • If you do not understand what was said, ask the speaker to reword the sentence.
  • Repeat back what you heard.
  • Give suggestions that will help others communicate with you more easily.
    (i.e. “Do not yell.” — “Speak more slowly.” — “Face me when talking.”)

Conversations in noisy environments are difficult for all of us. Being human, we are constantly looking for ways to improve our encounters. This article has shown the reader that with a little bit of environmental adjustments and some assertiveness, conversations in noisy environments can definitely be more productive and enjoyable.

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