Welcome! We would like to discuss and answer your questions here about hearing loss, hearing loss device technology, hearing conservation, and any related matters. Please email your questions and comments to: info@vancouverhearingcentre.com

Audiologists at the Vancouver Hearing Centre specialize in hearing loss management, hearing conservation, and aural (re)habilitation. We serve children and adults of all ages in the Vancouver area and from around British Columbia, Canada.

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Hearing Protection with Hearing Loss

Hearing protection is still absolutely needed if you have hearing loss.  To help prevent further hearing loss it is extra important that hearing protection is worn when in noisy environments for extended periods of time.  This issue is complicated if you are wearing hearing aids to help you hear better.  There are many things to consider when choosing the best option for you. For example, issues associated with various hearing aid/protector combinations are noted below.  These will shed light on the best solutions.

Wearing hearing aids turned OFF and kept in the ears as a noise blocker is NOT sufficient to protect your ears from further hearing loss.  The piece in the ear can not effectively block all the sound out because it typically has holes in it for venting and fits less snuggly than a regular plug.  This makes it a poor hearing protector even when the instrument is turned off.

Wearing a hearing aid turned OFF and ear muff hearing protection on top of hearing aid is also probably not the best option either.  Although sound is attenuated from both the muffs and the hearing aids, the combination of the two could block out too much sound for a hearing impaired individual. One may not hear warning signals or other essential sounds and this would be hazardous.

Wearing a hearing aid turned ON with no hearing protection on is probably the poorest option here. If the noise in an environment is loud enough for a certain period of time to permanently damage hearing, amplifying the noise with a hearing aid could cause more hearing loss.

Wearing a hearing aid turned ON and wearing hearing protection overtop is unlikely to be effective as well as sound will be muffled and feedback will likely occur.  Ear muffs are typically Class A protectors and cause too much attentuation.  If Class B protectors, which are not as strong, were worn hearing would be easier and the hearing aid is unnecessary since it would be easier to hear.  Also, perspiration under ear muffs can be a problem and can damage hearing aid electronics.

Therefore, solutions to problems with hearing protection in noisy environments for hearing impaired individuals are needed.  Some options are listed below.  Please discuss these options with your audiologist to determine which would best serve your needs:

Use Class B earplugs or muffs since they don't attentuate sounds as much making it easier to communicate in these environments and hear warning signals.

Use vented custom molded earplugs for these same reasons as noted above.

Use communication headsets for radio communication with earplugs or earmuffs.

Use electronic hearing protection which amplify sound a bit but not to a hazardous level.

*adapted from WSBC

Blogger:  Sarah Helmel, AuD, RAUD, Registered Audiologist

Thought I would share this compelling report by one of our patients recently.

"The saddest part of getting a hearing aid is that you begin to fully appreciate what you've been missing without having realized it.  The best part of getting a hearing aid is regaining a quality of life that is improved."

blogger:  Sarah Helmel

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Getting Started With a Hearing Device- Suggestions

Hearing aids can take some getting used to.  Plan on it taking some work typically to get to a point where you can wear your hearing aid/s full-time with the exception of during sleep and bath time.

Tips to help the transition go smoothly:

1)  Wear the hearing aid for short periods of time at first.  An hour or two hours may be enough for the first couple of days.  Gradually increase the amount of time the hearing aid is worn each day.

2)  Start using the hearing aids in quiet environments.  Plan some quiet, pleasant activities where you are only interacting one-on-one with someone.  Avoid using the hearing aids in noisy situations (aka.  busy traffic, at the mall, a noisy restaurant) until you are used to them in quieter places.

3)  During the transition period, remove the hearing aids as soon as you become tired or restless wearing them.  Don't let frustration interfere with your progress. You want to keep the experience as positive as possible. Try again wearing them later when you have had a rest.

4) If questions regarding insertion and or removal of hearing aids, battery use, or cleaning of the hearing aid come up then contact your audiologist to assist you with these issues or wait to ask at your next appointment. 

5) Persevere with your hearing aids.  Sometimes it will take months to adjust to hearing aids.  Remember that you will eventually become accustomed to wearing your hearing aids and be pleased with how much better you are able to hear.

blogger: Sarah Helmel, AuD, RAUD
Registered Audiologist

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Adult/Teen's Zone: Making The Most Out of Health Care/ Getting Proper Care

It is important that when you see your audiologist or other health care professional that you are aware that we are there for you and would like to support your needs the best we can.

Here are some tips to help you communicate with us:

Plan ahead: Make sure all your health care records are up to date. Think about all the questions you have had since your last appointment.

Write stuff down: Have your questions or concerns written down in a place easy to get to during your appointment. Leave space to write down the answers you receive later.

Be a team player:
Remember to communicate clearly and politely. Expect the same from your audiologist or other health care professional. If something is unclear keep asking until you understand. You have every right to get all the information you need. Being open and honest with yourself is an essential part of communicating your needs appropriately.

Everyone is different:
Some professionals will seem cool and distant, others will be warm and comforting. Learn about your care providers - who to rely on for what.

The best bet is you: You are the best person to look after your own interests. You need to be in control of your health and personal life goals. If you know what you want to do with your life, your audiologist or other health care providers can help direct you to the best treatment plans to meet your goals.

blogger: Sarah Helmel

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Adult/Teen's Zone: Reminders When Talking to People with Hearing Loss

1) Get the person's attention before you speak.

2) Do not put obstacles in front of your face. This includes coffee cups, hands, pencils, etc.

3) Do not have things in your mouth. This includes gum, candy, etc.

4) Speak clearly and at a moderate pace. Speak slowly, but naturally. Do not shout.

5) Use facial expressions, gestures, mimes, and whatever else helps make your message visible.

6) If you are not understood, try to say the same thing using different words. If that doesn't work, writing a few key words may help the person with hearing loss understand. If that doesn't work, write the whole sentence.

7) NEVER EVER say "It is not important."

8) When you change the subject, be sure the person with hearing loss knows what the new subject is.

9) Do not stand with your back to a source of light.

10) When in doubt, ask the person with hearing loss what you can do to improve communications.

blogger: Sarah Helmel, M.Cl.Sc., AuD, RAUD
Registered Audiologist

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Adult/Teen's Zone: Wireless Communications

Many hearing device users with hearing impairment would like to connect wirelessly to listen to their favorite electronic devices such as cell phones, computers, music players, and televisions. This is possible now with the new BLUETOOTH technology available from many leading hearing aid manufacturers.

This technology enables the sound from devices such as music players, televisions, cell phones, and computers to be transmitted wirelessly transparently through to the hearing devices either binaurally (through both hearing aids) or monaurally (through one hearing aid). This means that the digital audio signal provided from these sources remains clear and a high-fidelity sound is maintained for the hearing device user. The audio signal does not undergo the degradation that would typically occur if the signal had to pass through the air and over a distance to the hearing device wearer. For example, if a person with hearing impairment is wearing hearing aids and talking on his/her cell phone, he or she using this technology would simply push a button on the hearing device when a call comes in and the call would be transmitted directly through their hearing devices wirelessly. Also, one would not have to hold the cell phone up to one's ear to talk. One could simply talk into the microphone of the cell phone or into the microphone of the BLUETOOTH device on the hearing device to talk, whichever is easiest. As such, cell phone use becomes handsfree, heard more clearly, and heard through both hearing devices binaurally if desired.

Getting a clear audio signal is of utmost importance to a person with hearing impairment wearing hearing devices for ease of understanding and to help facilitate easier communication. This is what makes this interesting to the person with hearing impairment as does the fact that the technology is wireless aka. cord free!!!! When you have hearing impairment you are working with a damaged auditory or hearing system so the "cleaner" the audio signal coming in through the hearing aids and the less messy cords to deal with the better!!! This is why people love this technology! At this point, this wireless BLUETOOTH hearing aid device technology for pairing to various electronic communication/audio devices seems to be most useful/beneficial for people whom have more significant hearing impairment aka. moderate to severe-profound hearing loss and for those whom are active, and technologically savvy.

blogger: Sarah Helmel, M.Cl.Sc., Au.D, RAUD
Registered Audiologist

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Adult/Teen's Zone: Gaining Communication Access

For most people with hearing loss, including teenagers, the primary communication challenge is gaining access to what is being said. This access assumes that the person has the speech and language abilities to understand the message once access is provided. If deficits exist to access this information, the language that is communicated must be modified to a level that can be accessible to the receiver. Without full access, people with hearing loss are at a distinct disadvantage by needing to rely on only partial information to derive correct meaning from the message being delivered.

Ways to obtain full communication access are through listening and visual cues. For instance, hearing technology can maximize audition, visual displays can verify content of messages, and sign language can provide full visual interpretation of the message. Using these sources helps one access information just as well as one's normal hearing peers. Basically, it makes it more fair and helps "level the playing field" with one's normal hearing peers. It does not provide an advantage over normal hearing people. People with hearing impairment can not be expected to be held accountable for information to which they do not have access.

The real barriers are in assuring that accommodations are available readily when needed. This applies to students, people in the workplace, and socially.

For example, for students, making sure all information is accessible is often difficult for teachers. Teenagers, in particular, more than anything want to fit it. They do not want to be noted for their hearing loss. They don't want to draw attention by requesting accommodations such as asking for repetition or clarification. Therefore, when a student with hearing loss requests a specific accommodation, recognize the courage that it may have taken to make the request and accept the responsibility to comply in return.

Some tips for teachers for monitoring students with hearing impairment are as follows:

1) Check in with the student with hearing loss frequently to determine if they are understanding. Conduct the checking in a way that does not single out the student as being different.

2)Implement common sense rules of communication etiquette in the classroom. Encourage turn taking in class whereby students should identify themselves, speak loudly, and clearly so that everyone can hear and understand them. When necessary, help by repeating what other students are saying.

3) Repeat public address announcements or provide them to all students in writing.

4) Be conscious of minimizing classroom noise levels and maintaining good lighting.

5) Be an enthusiastic user of FM and other assistive device technology.

6) Use captioning AND audio with videos and films. This is helpful to all students
not just hearing impaired students. Media should never be used if it is not
accessible to all students.

7) When a sign language interpreter is involved in the classroom, respect their
primary role as an interpreter. Work closely with this person especially when
new content is being delivered.

blogger: Sarah Helmel, M.Cl.Sc. , Au.D, RAUD
Registered Audiologist