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Hearing aids Keynsham Somerset

Hearing aids Keynsham Somerset

 

Hearing aids & Ear wax removal Somerset

Hearing aids in Somerset at the Keynsham hearing centre. We are a family owned truly independent hearing centre based in Keynsham Somerset.

We supply and fit the very latest digital hearing aids from all the leading hearing aids manufacturers. We also conduct ear wax removal using Microsuction and the traditional water irrigation technique.

You can find out more about our ear wax Micro-suction removal here.

 

Stephen Neal News:

GN ReSound Showcases New Partnership with Google and LiNX Quattro at EUHA 2018

ReSound LiNX Quattro.

Hearing aids and Ear wax removal Keynsham Somerset

    ReSound LiNX Quattro.

With today’s start of the European Union of Hearing Aid Acousticians(EUHA) Congress in Hannover, Germany, GN ReSound has announced a new partnership with Google that will provide a full spectrum of direct streaming to hearing aids from Android devices, and the company is showcasing what the company is calling a “premium-plus” hearing aid, ReSound LiNX Quattro,™ which was previously launched in August.

Somerset hearing aids

According to ReSound, the LiNX Quattro offers “a brilliant sound experience with unprecedented Layers of Sound.” In a direct comparison, where hearing aid users were asked to listen to music and rate the sound, the company states that 95% of respondents preferred ReSound LiNX Quattro compared to other premium hearing aids.

A new high-performing chip platform drives the extensive sound quality improvements, providing 100% faster processing, twice the memory capacity, and 35% increase in frequency bandwidth compared to ReSound LiNX 3D™. With a bandwidth of up to 9.5 kHz, a greater range of high-frequency sounds is accessible to people with hearing loss. An input dynamic range of 116 dB SPL—reportedly the highest in the industry—is designed to ensure that softer sounds are clearer and louder sounds are distortion free.

Somerset ear wax removal

GN Hearing’s recently-announced partnership with Google allows it to offer a full spectrum of direct streaming from Android devices to hearing aids. It continues GN Hearing’s record of industry breakthroughs, including 2.4 GHz wireless connectivity, Binaural Directionality, direct full streaming compatibility with Apple devices, and cloud based remote fine-tuning.

Anders Hedegaard

Anders Hedegaard

“With the launch of ReSound LiNX Quattro, as well as other major technology launches and partnerships, GN Hearing is continuing to shape the future of hearing care,” said GN Hearing CEO and President Anders Hedegaard. “We want to help people hear more, do more, and be more than they ever thought possible. We are striving to support people living with hearing loss and hearing care professionals alike access the latest technology and support the provision of high-quality care.”

GN Hearing has also recently launched Beltone Amaze™, which GN characterizes as the world’s most complete hearing solution that combines great sound quality, connectivity, rechargeability and remote fine-tuning. The company also recently introduced Interton Ready™, which is designed to offer great sound, ease-of-use, and connectivity at an affordable price.

Source: GN ReSound

Ear wax removal Somerset

Ear wax removal, Somerset

Ear wax removal Somerset, Bath, Bristol, Wells, Frome, Cheddar, Radstock

Ear wax removal Somerset

 

Do you live in Somerset?  In need of a hearing test or your hearing aid repaired? Or maybe you need your ear wax removed by a leading ear wax removal centre? Here at the Keynsham hearing centre, Stephen Neal can help with all your hearing needs.

Ear wax removal Somerset

We are experts in ear wax removal and use various techniques. Microsuction is just one way we can get out your hard impacted ear wax and the traditional water irrigation is another.  You can watch our video on Microsuction here.

 

Tinnitus therapy in Devon

DID YOU KNOW?

1 in 10 adults in the UK suffer with tinnitus.
Many of those suffering are not offered any help, and are simply told to live with it.
Tinnitus can almost always be improved for the client.

How can we help with Tinnitus?

We firstly meet with you and sit and discuss your full hearing history, work out what triggered the problem, we then talk to you about evaluating the degree of tinnitus and how it is impacting on your life, where your issues are. We normally examine the ears with our video otoscope and show you the results on our flat screen. We then carry out a puretone audiogram to assess how good your hearing is, or if there are any areas of damage (such as those caused by noise for example).

We then sit down and consult with you, armed with all the information, and work out a care plan for you, using the tools available to us as explained above.

Please call Anita or Stephen for an appointment and we will fit you in as soon as possible.  We are based in Keynsham North East Somerset but cover Bristol, Bath, Frome, Cheddar, Radstock and beyond. If you live in Devon  you can always try the Honiton Hearing Centre

Cheapest hearing aids Somerset

Cheapest hearing aids Somerset?

 

Ear wax removal, Somerset, Devon, Honiton, Exeter, Crediton, Keynsham, Taunton, hearing aids, wax, microsuction,

Cheapest hearing aids, Somerset

The latest hearing aids in Somerset

We may not be the cheapest hearing aids in Somerset but we are very competitive and an independent small family owned companies.  Your ears deserve the best, we are the best in the Somerset and Wiltshire area (according to our sons). Unlike the larger high street companies, when you visit us you will be seen by the same person each time! This make a huge difference for your treatment and dispensing. Consistency is key when it comes to ear health.  We don’t have the buying power of the major companies but we are pretty close. We offer what the majors don’t. We offer one to one ongoing treatment and advice with the same person who you will get to know and we will get to know you.  For most of our clients we are almost family as we know each other so well.

If you feel like you need advice before you buy a new hearing aid or a set of hearing aids we are happy to trial these so you are 100% happy before you purchase. Please ask Anita or Steve at the Keynsham hearing centre what their costs are at the moment.

We are both committed to make sure you are happy and content with your hearing aids, so always here to make sure you get the best from them and us. We will always try and fit you in as soon as possible if you are in need to see us urgently. Stephen at Keynsham hearing centre does an out of hours appointment service also. Click here to see the details.

Ear wax removal Devon & Somerset

We also conduct ear wax removal using Micro-suction, and the traditional water irrigation technique. You can watch our videos bellow to see how these work.

Please look at our videos to see how we work. 

Ear wax removal Somerset

Ear wax removal Devon

Hearing test in Devon

Hearing test info for Somerset

Ear irrigation in Devon

Keynsham hearing centre 

Hearing issues for Bath & Bristol

Hearing issues, Bath, Bristol. Stephen Neal

 

Stephen Neal, Hearing issues.

The Keynsham hearing centre for hearing issues, is a private hearing company based in Keynsham. Stephen Neal the lead audiologist can help with all matters relating to hearing issues, ear wax removal, the latest hearing instruments (Hearing aids) and conducts hearing tests.  Book ahead for a comprehensive hearing test and discussion on your hearing heath after he hearing test result.

If you are suffering with hearing loss and suspect that ear wax maybe the issue, Stephen neal will comduct either Microsuction or the traditional water ear irrigation technique. Microsuction is painless and is the latest way to remove stubborn ear wax from your ear canal. Watch our Microsuction video here. 

 

Stephen Neal, NEWS:

Hearing issues, Bath, Bristol, Somerset, Wiltshire, Independent, Private

Hearing issues in Somerset and Wiltshire

 

HEARING issue

News originaly taken from the Hearing Review

Hearing Technology Manufacturers Call for EU Response to Hearing Loss

Published on September 19, 2018

The British and Irish Hearing Instrument Manufacturers Association (BIHIMA) works closely with its European counterpart the European Hearing Instrument Manufacturers Association (EHIMA), and has supported their recent efforts to raise awareness of hearing loss with EU policymakers, the trade association announced. EHIMA submitted a parliamentary question to the European Commission in July, which has recently received a response from ministers.

 

The question, which was signed by the Austrian MEP Heinz K. Becker, can be read in full here. The question points to a widening gap between people that self-report hearing loss and the smaller proportion that receive treatment and/or wear devices; this “suboptimal use” of devices is estimated to cost the EU over EUR 500 billion (about USD $583.73 billion) annually. Citing the European Pillar of Social Rights—principles 16 and 17 which cover health care and the inclusion of people with disabilities—the question asks how the Commission can support best practices like early screenings, community education about the benefits of hearing devices, and research related to prevention and treatment strategies for hearing loss.

HEARING issues

The European Commission published its answer on August 24, pointing to its efforts to develop the Best Practice Portal, a website described as a “one-stop shop” for best practices in a number of public health initiatives related to the 2030 Sustainable Development Goals developed by the United Nations. In particular, the website aims to meet goal 3.4, “to reduce premature mortality from non-communicable diseases through prevention and treatment and promote mental health and well-being, by one-third.” Additionally, the Commission’s 7th Framework Program for Research (FP7) as well as Horizon 2020—an EU research and innovation program—have funded research on the auditory system, screening standards, hearing devices, diagnosis and treatment of hearing loss-related diseases, and sign language. Further, the Commission states they have proposed a EUR 7.7 billion (USD about $9 billion) health budget for Horizon Europe 2020, focusing on initiatives related to lifelong health, rare diseases, and health care technologies, among other things. To further facilitate hearing-related funding, the Commission said, “Horizon Europe will be open to research proposals on hearing loss, including prevention and rehabilitation and innovative treatments.”

According to BIHIMA’s announcement, the Commission’s response is considered a positive exchange of information. Further, they state, BIHIMA’s European hearing manufacturing partners are encouraged that a greater understanding of hearing loss is being fostered among European policymakers.

“BIHIMA stand fully behind our European partners, EHIMA, in their effort to draw much-needed attention to hearing loss and we applaud this initiative to influence EU decision-making,” said Chairman Paul Surridge.

BIHIMA and EHIMA are together committed to the work of improving the lives of people with hearing loss through promoting greater access to hearing technology.

Source: BIHIMA, EHIMA, European Commission

 

Hearing aid batteries for sale Somerset

Hearing aid batteries

How long should the hearing aid battery last after a full charge, and how does Bluetooth affect this?

Hearing aid batteries are available at the Keynsham base of Stephen Neal. Rechargeable and normal batteries of all makes are available to buy over the counter or we can send them by post.

Stephen Neal is a premier independent audiologist that specialises in ear wax removal for the Somerset and Wiltshire areas which include Bath, Bristol, Radstock, Midsomer Norton, Cheddar, Shepton Mallet, Frome, Devizes, Chippenham, Corsham, Yate, Iron Acton.

 

Q & As: This Week’s Top Selections

Q: How long should the battery last after a full charge?  How much does Bluetooth activity affect this? —Brent Spehar

A: This is a great and very important question.  Battery life is dependent on several factors including the amount of capacity of the battery, how fast the hearing aid drains the current, and the wear behaviours and habits of the user.

Much like how a car’s mileage range depends on its gas tank, the driving conditions, and the owner’s driving habits, a hearing aid’s battery life depends on the capacity of the battery, the wearer’s listening environments, and use of the various hearing aid functions, including audio streaming.

Hearing aid batteries Frome

I like to use the example of an automobile.  How many gallons of gas does the fuel tank hold or, for hearing aid batteries, how many mAh capacity is in the battery?  How many miles per gallon does the car use or how many mA does the battery drain both when streaming and not streaming?  And, finally, is the car driven on the highway or in the city and is the air conditioner on or off?  Or, for hearing aids, how many hours per day does the hearing aid stream?  Does the hearing aid use 2.4 GHz streaming or does it is use NFMI with an intermediate device that has its own battery?  And, what features are turned on or off on the hearing aid?

Please note a factor we have learned in our electronics’ lab.  Not all hearing aids are the same.  Some 2.4 GHz products have current drains averaging 4.8-5.0 mA when streaming while other 2.4 GHz products using lower power Bluetooth will drain the battery at 3.0-3.4 mA while streaming.  Some 2.4 GHz products when not streaming may have battery drains of 1.8-2.0 mA, while some of the newer products with bilateral beam-forming may drain the battery at 2.3-2.5 mA when not streaming.

The key is to know your products and know your patient’s listening habits.  This is critical to good counseling.

Q: Is the life of the hearing aid circuit reduced as a result of using the rechargeable system? It did happen when [a previous model of hearing aid] were rechargeable. 

A: The ZPower Rechargeable System has been thoroughly evaluated by the hearing aid manufacturers and there is no indication that the system will have a negative effect on the life of the hearing aid circuit. The ZPower silver-zinc battery is designed to mimic the performance of traditional zinc-air batteries and is transparent to the DSP of the hearing aids. Extensive studies of hearing aids using the ZPower System also show the system including the ZPower silver-zinc batteries have no impact on the electrophysiologic performance of the hearing aids. Therefore, the ZPower System will not have a negative impact on the hearing aid circuitry or performance.

Hearing aid batteries in Bath, Somerset

Previous Q & A’s

Q: What’s a realistic time frame for a rechargeable hearing aid battery to last?

A: Rechargeable silver-zinc batteries last about a year. They are removeable and therefore easily replaced. It is recommended that rechargeable silver-zinc batteries are replaced once a year by a hearing care professional.

Li-ion batteries are sealed within the hearing aid, and are usually removable only by the hearing aid manufacturer. They last approximately 4 to 5 years.

Watch our informative testimonial here


Q: What would happen if my patient accidentally places their hearing aids in the charger while they have zinc air batteries in them?

A: When the hearing aids are put on the charger, the charger will check to see what type of battery is in the hearing aid.  If the charger detects a disposable zinc air battery, the lights on the charger will turn red.  If the charger detects a silver-zinc battery, the lights on the charger will start blinking green; once the battery is fully charged, the lights will turn solid green.

Q: Can my patients overcharge a ZPower battery if they leave it in the charger for too long?

A: The batteries will not overcharge if left in the charger.  It is a best practice to put the hearing aids back on the charger when the hearing aids are not being worn during the day.  This will keep the hearing aids turned off and the batteries charged.  For long-term storage, if batteries will not be used for over 2 weeks, the rechargeable batteries should be removed from the hearing aids and stored in a location where they will not touch each other or other metal objects.

Q: What happens when the silver-zinc rechargeable battery is getting low on power?

A: The hearing aid wearer will hear the low battery warning.  Once the low-battery warning occurs or once a hearing aid shuts off due to a low battery condition, the battery door should not be opened and closed to reboot the hearing aid. Rebooting after the low battery warning can override the smart circuitry in the battery door into believing it has a traditional disposable battery installed and, although the hearing aid will continue to work for a short period, it may over-discharge the battery. If a low-battery warning from the hearing aids is received, the hearing aids should be placed in the charging base for charging or the batteries should be replaced with non-rechargeable batteries.  The rechargeable batteries should not be stored with metal objects such as keys or coins.

Q: How often should the batteries be charged?

A: The batteries should be fully charged every night. Once the hearing aids are finished charging, the indicator lights turn from blinking green to solid green. A full charge may take up to 7 hours—the charge time varies based on how much the battery was depleted during the day. Do not try to extend battery life by charging every other day, as this increases the chances of depleting the battery. A fully depleted battery will take longer to charge and may not fully charge in time for next use.

Q: What happens if the hearing aid wearer forgets to charge the battery at night?

A: They can use a disposable zinc-air battery until it is convenient to re-charge the batteries—ideally the rechargeable batteries should be charged the next night.  The rechargeable silver-zinc batteries are a gold color, so they will not be mixed up with zinc-air disposable batteries.  The rechargeable batteries should be stored in a safe place and should not be stored with metal objects such as keys or coins.

Hearing aid batteries available Devizes

If you live in the south of Somerset you maybe interested in visiting the Honiton Hearing centre

 

Ear wax removal in Wells Somerset

Ear wax removal in Wells Somerset

Stephen Neal is the premier ear wax removal Specialist for the Bath, Bristol, Wells and Frome areas of the south west.

Using the very latest ear wax removal technique such as Microsuction, Stephen Neal can have your blocked ears unlocked from wax in no time. Based In Keynsham, you can book an appointment now.

To see how Microsuction works click here. 

 

Stephen Neal blog news from around the world.

GN Hearing and Google Partner to Enable Direct Streaming from Android Devices to Hearing Aids

GN Hearing logo

GN Hearing and Google have announced a new technology partnership that will reportedly make GN Hearing the first manufacturer to enable a full spectrum of direct audio streaming from Android devices to hearing aids. In a future Android release, direct streaming may also become available for ReSound LiNX Quattro™ and Beltone Amaze™ hearing aid users.

“According to the World Health Organization, around 466 million peopleworldwide have disabling hearing loss,” said Seang Chau, vice president of engineering at Google. “This number is expected to increase to 900 million people by the year 2050. Google is working with GN Hearing to create a new open specification for hearing aid streaming support on future versions of Android devices.”

According to the joint announcement, users will be able to connect and monitor their hearing aids without using an intermediate device for streaming from Android phones and tablets to their hearing aids.

Watch a video testimonial here of Stephen Neals work

“We are honored to partner with Google for this important development, which will enable direct streaming for even more hearing aid users through their Android devices,” said Anders Hedegaard, CEO, GN Hearing. “This is another example of how GN Hearing relentlessly strives to drive innovation forward by developing new products and solutions with unique benefits for hearing aid users and audiologists around the world.”

Google has published the new hearing aid specification for Android smartphones available here: Audio Streaming for Hearing Aids (ASHA) on Bluetooth Low Energy Connection-Oriented Channels.

 

 

Source: GN Hearing, Google

Depression and Hearing loss

Depression and Hearing Loss

Stephen Neal the ear wax removal specialist in Somerset. News

 

Depression and its connection to hearing loss seems pretty logical and self-evident, especially if you’re a dispensing professional who experiences daily the difference that amplification can make in a person’s life. In fact, many clinicians find themselves explaining the connection as follows: a person’s hearing loss and related communication problems can lead to gaffes and social faux pas; leading to embarrassment, anxiety, and loss of self-esteem; leading to gradual withdrawal from social situations and physical activity; leading to social isolation and loneliness; and eventually bringing them down the path to depression.

Karl Strom_photo

While this is probably an adequate description for some cases, a recent webinar1 by Victor Bray, PhD, associate professor and former dean of Salus University’s Osborne College of Audiology, points to more recent scientific literature that paints a far more complex picture of hearing loss and its association with depression—one we all should be aware of. The utility of hearing aids, cochlear implants, and assistive devices is made no less important by this complexity; however, it’s vital to understand who might be most at risk for depression in your patient population, how best to administer simple screening tools (ie, the PHQ-2 or PHQ-9), and why it’s important to refer patients to a medical doctor or psychologist, when indicated. 

Depression, also known as major depressive disorder (MDD), is present in 5-10% of the general population (up to 40% in some groups), and is a serious medical illness that negatively affects feelings, thoughts, and actions. The primary risk factors for depression are co-morbid chronic medical conditions (hearing loss is a pervasive chronic condition, especially among seniors) and recent stressful events. And, as with cognitive decline and dementia—the subject of my editorial last month—the stakes in treating depression are high for society and healthcare professionals. As Hsu and colleagues (2016) pointed out:

Depression is a common mental disorder, which affects 350 million people in the world. Unipolar depressive disorders and adult-onset hearing loss, the most common neuropsychiatric conditions, and sense organ disorder, respectively, are the first and second leading nonfatal causes of year loss due to disability among adults in high-income countries.2

Several of the studies reviewed by Dr Bray tend to suggest that the odds ratio for acquiring depression increases by a factor of about two if you have untreated hearing loss. However, a lot of the studies also show that a variety of chronic illnesses—ranging from cirrhosis to diabetes mellitus—can be associated with depression, so there could be some underlying neurophysiological common cause in hearing loss and other health problems that hasn’t been discovered yet. Dr Bray also looks at some very intriguing research about how dual-sensory loss (ie, hearing and vision loss) and sudden sensorineural hearing loss (particularly among young people) can greatly increase the risk for depression, as well as studies that are shedding light on how treated hearing loss might positively affect those suffering from anxiety, loneliness, and depression. 

As Dr Bray explains, the linkage of hearing loss to depression could come from both a social (downstream) effect, as described at the beginning of this article, and a biological/neurological (upstream) effect, as proposed in a model by Rutherford et al.3 If that were the case, an effective treatment plan could involve therapy and/or medication from a psychologist, in coordination with a hearing device and/or auditory and cognitive retraining from a hearing care professional. 

Dr Bray’s webinar was sponsored by Hamilton CapTel, and the company also sponsored an exceptionally interesting and well-viewed webinar last year about hearing loss and associated co-morbidities (including depression) by Harvey Abrams, PhD.4,5 When viewed together, they put an exclamation point on the fact that hearing loss isn’t just about the ears, it’s about health, the brain, quality of life, healthy aging, and so much more—while underscoring the crucial role of the hearing care professional in general healthcare.

To see Dr Bray’s webinar, visit https://bit.ly/2Lpt4AW

Citation for this article: Strom KE. Depression and hearing loss. Hearing Review. 2018;25(8):6.

References

1. Bray V. Depression, hearing loss, and treatment with hearing aids [Webinar]. July 13, 2018. Available at: http://www.hearingreview.com/2018/07/new-webinar-depression-hearing-loss-treatment-hearing-aids

2. Hsu W-T, Hsu C-C, Wen M-H, et al. Increased risk of depression in patients with acquired sensory hearing loss: A 12-year follow-up study. Medicine. 2016;95(44):e5312.

3. Rutherford BR, Brewster K, Golub JS, Kim AH, Roose SP. Sensation and psychiatry: Linking age-related hearing loss to late-life depression and cognitive decline. Am J Psychiatry. 2017;175(3):215-224.

4. Abrams H. Hearing loss and associated comorbidities: What do we know [Webinar]? May 31, 2017. Available at: http://www.hearingreview.com/2017/05/new-webinar-hearing-loss-associated-comorbidities-know/

5. Abrams H. Hearing loss and associated comorbidities: What do we know? Hearing Review. 2017;24(12):32-35. Available at: http://www.hearingreview.com/2017/11/hearing-loss-associated-comorbidities-know/

Heading a football could create Balance issues

Heading a Football May Be Linked to Increase in Balance Problems

Stephen Neal News:

Somerset. WSM, Cheddar, Radstock, Keynsham, Warmley, Bath, Bristol

Ear-wax removal in Somerset. WSM, Cheddar, Radstock, Keynsham

Soccer players who head the ball more often may be more likely to have balance problems than players who do not head the ball as often, according to a preliminary study released today that will be presented at the American Academy of Neurology’s (AAN) Sports’ Concussion Conference in Indianapolis July 20 to 22, 2018, the AAN announced on its website.

“Soccer headers are repetitive subconcussive head impacts that may be associated with problems with thinking and memory skills and structural changes in the white matter of the brain,” said study author John Jeka, PhD, of the University of Delaware in Newark, Del. “But the effect of headers on balance control has not been studied.”

For the study, 20 soccer players recruited from the community in Newark took a balance test where they walked along a foam walkway with their eyes closed under two conditions: with galvanic vestibular stimulation (GVS) and without GVS. For GVS, electrodes placed behind each ear stimulate the nerves that send messages from the balance system in the inner ear to the brain. So the stimulator can make you feel like you are moving when you are not. In this case, it made participants feel like they were falling sideways.

The soccer players, who had an average age of 22, also completed questionnaires about how many times they had headed the ball during the past year. The number of headers over a year for each participant ranged from 16 to 2,100, with an average of 451 headers. Those numbers were calculated by asking participants for the average number of headers during a practice and game, the average number of practices and games per week, and the average number of months per year that the player participated.

The study found that the players with the largest number of headers had the largest balance responses to GVS in both foot placement and hip adduction during the walking test, which indicated that they had vestibular processing and balance recovery problems. Researchers found for every 500 headers, foot placement response increased about 9 millimeters and hip adduction response increased about 0.2 degrees.

“Soccer players must have good balance to play the game well, yet our research suggests that headers may be undermining balance, which is key to all movement, and yet another problem now linked to headers,” said study author Fernando V. Santos, PT, of the University of Delaware. “It is important that additional research be done to look more closely at this possible link with balance and to confirm our findings in larger groups of people.”

A limitation of the study was that participants relied on memory when reporting how many times they headed the ball. The study was supported by the National Institutes of Health (NIH).

Learn more about concussion at www.BrainandLife.org, the American Academy of Neurology’s free patient and caregiver magazine and website focused on the intersection of neurologic disease and brain health. Follow Brain & Life on FacebookTwitter, and Instagram.

To learn more about the AAN’s Sports Concussion Guideline and access resources, visit https://www.aan.com/concussion.

Original Paper: Santos FV, Caccese JB, Gongora M, et al. Greater exposure to repetitive subconcussive head impacts is associated with vestibular dysfunction and balance impairments during walking. Paper presented at: 2018 AAN Sports Concussion Conference; Indianapolis, IN. https://www.aan.com/PressRoom/Home/GetDigitalAsset/12757

Source: AAN

Image: © Macleoddesigns Dreamstime.com

http://www.keynshamhearing.co.uk

Tinnitus App now available

Stehen Neal is a specialist in ear-wax removal and is based in Somerset but covers both Somerset and Wiltshire.

Stephen Neal News:

An international study from 2012 found that 15% of the global population experience permanent tinnitus but many more are affected by temporary tinnitus. A Danish study, also from 2012, with 14,000 participants found that 27% of those in the study experienced either temporary or permanent tinnitus. In other words, more than one quarter of the Danish population are affected tinnitus.

But despite a lot of research on the topic, there is still a lot to learn about tinnitus. According to Chief Physician Ture Andersen at Odense University Hospital in Denmark, tinnitus is often a symptom of damage to the inner ear. Tinnitus is not a disease, but can be a symptom of a disease or an impaired auditory system. It is defined as the perception of noise or ringing in the ears when no external sound is actually present. The sounds are most commonly described as ringing, whistling, wheezing, buzzing or humming, but can be described in many other ways. A large Swedish study showed that excessive noise at work and in other environments results in fatigue, headaches and ultimately impaired hearing or tinnitus. Another study, from France, shows that only one in 123 people with tinnitus do not have a hearing impairment.

 

Eva’s history

Eva Jensen, who lives in Greve, Denmark, fits in well to these statistics. With a moderate to severe hearing loss, Eva can’t hear much without her hearing aids and she experiences tinnitus.

“What does your tinnitus sound like?” I asked Eva. She explained that it is a constant buzzing sound, which lies somewhere in the middle of the pitch spectrum. “I think it developed at my work where there was a lot of noise,” says Eva. In 2006 she stopped working as an Educational Assistant in a nursery because of a back injury and since then she has suffered from constant back pain.

“It was only when I stopped working that I started thinking about my tinnitus. My husband was still working so I was at home alone where it was completely quiet and I became more aware of the ringing in my ears.” She experiences it all day, especially when she takes off her hearing aids in the evening. “Since my injury I have the TV on constantly – it helps me think of something other than my back pain,” says Eva.

Eva’s experience with Relief app

“It’s really great to be able to use the app when my tinnitus is driving me crazy. If you are strongly affected by tinnitus, I would definitely recommend this app. There are so many possibilities with creating your own soundscapes, you can always find a sound that’s comfortable. There is no doubt that I’m going to keep it on my phone, so I can get help when my tinnitus it really bothering me,” says Eva with a smile.

ReSound Relief

The idea of helping people focus on something other than the pain, or in this case tinnitus, is the basic concept of a new app made by the hearing aid manufacturer GN Hearing. The free app is called ReSound Relief and offers a combination of audio therapy and relaxation exercises. My editorial team and I tested the app, which offers some new and unique features compared to other apps we have tried. One very smart feature of the app is that it allows you to create your own soundscapes.

Relief allows you to combine a variety of familiar sounds such as birdsong or bubbling water with music and other therapeutic nature sounds. The ability to combine sounds, offers an almost endless amount of possibilities. This sound mixing feature allows you to mix five different sounds and you can individually adjust the volume of each sound.

After downloading the app, you can listen to music on your smartphone as usual, and if you use wireless hearing aids or headphones, you can stream directly through them. The ReSound Relief app also contains a feature called MyRelief that keeps a record of how you use the app and which sounds you have used the most. It creates a personalized plan and allows you to track your progress, much like an exercise app. “When we were developing the concept of this app, we analyzed the market for other tinnitus apps and found that mostof them just use sounds as a distraction. Very few actually guide the user through the tinnitus management process. Tinnitus management for many is more than just playing a sound.

The idea of MyRelief is that you can use it as part of the treatment provided by a Hearing Care Professional. Because MyRelief keeps a record of your use, it provides useful information that a Hearing Care professional can use as part of tinnitus counseling” says Michael Piskosz, Senior Audiologist at GN Hearing.

The app gives you some great tools to help you with your tinnitus.

Learn more about ReSound Relief

Avoid a vicious spiral

Worldwide, around 700 million people experience tinnitus. Around two thirds of them have mild to moderate tinnitus. People in the last third with more severe tinnitus can even experience feelings of desperation and hopelessness. International studies show that only about 3-5% of people seek help, so many people just try to live with tinnitus without any support. “In the United States, 70-80% of the population have a smartphone, and because we know that many people are desperately searching for help, we made this app. In most cases, the app will be beneficial. In addition to the distracting sounds there is also therapeutic support,” says Michael Piskosz. “ReSound Relief includes relaxation exercises and techniques for dealing with the tension and stress that tinnitus can cause. If you are extremely affected by tinnitus, the app alone will not be enough but it is a very useful tool and a great first step for people seeking help with tinnitus.”

This strategy is supported by a study by Professor Ture Andersen from Odense University Hospital.  “Unfortunately, the more emotionally you react to your tinnitus, the more the tinnitus signals will pass through the hearing center in your brain. If you respond by getting irritated or with stress or anxiety, it can actually make you more aware of the tinnitus sounds. You may end up getting into a “vicious cycle” where your tinnitus ends up controlling you. It’s important to learn how to avoid this. One way is by training  yourself not to respond to the tinnitus sounds. This way, the brain will filter out the noise signals to a large extent before reaching the hearing center. Then you’ll only hear a weak sound in the background, a light soundscape that makes it less distracting.” The study also shows that music can help. The volume of the music should not be particularly high – it’s not about covering up the sound of tinnitus with a louder sound – but about focusing your attention on the music and away the tinnitus.

“In some cases, when you use audio therapy to get relief from your tinnitus, the focus on it can increase,” explains Michael Piskosz. “Many people believe that this is due to the introduction of the technology to help with the tinnitus. Often times, people monitor their tinnitus more, to see if the technology is helping. It’s similar to when someone gets a new pair of shoes. At first, they are very aware of the shoes, and getting used to the fit. But, with time, they adjust and acclimate. Typically, users will find that the focus on tinnitus will be reduced over-time by using an app like ReSound Relief.”

More information about ReSound apps, please click here.  

New Study Examines Inequality in Treatment for Hearing Loss

New Study Examines Inequality in Treatment for Hearing Loss

Stephen Neal News:

Stephen Neal is an independent ear wax removal specialist.

Hearing loss seems like one of the great equalizers of old age, striking people of all kinds as their ears gradually lose the ability to pick out sounds or hear certain pitches.

But a new national study reveals major gaps in whether Americans over age 55 get help for their hearing loss—gaps that vary greatly by age, race, education, and income, according to an article published on the Michigan Medicine website.

In all, just over a third of older adults who say they have hearing loss are using a hearing aid to correct it, the study finds. But those who are non-Hispanic white, college educated, or have incomes in the top 25% were about twice as likely as those of other races, education levels, or income ranges to have a hearing aid.

The cost of hearing aids is most to blame, say the researchers from the University of Michigan who published the study in The Gerontologist. They presented it this week at the annual research meeting of the AcademyHealth professional society for health care researchers.

Hearing aids can cost thousands of dollars out of a patient’s pocket because most health insurance programs, including Medicare, don’t cover them.

In fact, the study finds that the only factor that leveled the playing field for hearing aid use was having insurance through the Department of Veterans Affairs, which covers hearing aids in many cases. Hearing-impaired veterans ages 55 to 64 were more than twice as likely as their nonveteran peers to use a hearing aid, even after the researchers corrected for other differences. The gap between veterans and nonveterans was also significant for those over 65.

But the detailed interviews conducted for the study also show that personal concerns about hearing aid use, and lack of engagement with health providers, play a role.

“Hearing aids are not easy for many to obtain due to their costs,” says Michael McKee, MD, MPH, the U-M family medicine physician and assistant professor who led the analysis.

Michael McKee, MD, MPH

Michael McKee, MD, MPH

“However, there are a number of additional issues that place at-risk groups at an even larger disadvantage to achieving good hearing health. Many of these issues are beyond the financial aspects, including racial/ethnicity and sociocultural elements, for instance stigma and vanity.”

National survey and local interviews

McKee, who uses a cochlear implant to overcome his own hearing loss, worked on the study with Helen Levy, PhD, a health economist and professor at the U-M Institute for Social Research, and other colleagues. The authors are members of the U-M Institute for Healthcare Policy and Innovation.

They used survey data from the nationally representative Health and Retirement Study, which is based on interviews conducted by the Institute for Social Research with funding from the National Institutes of Health.

The analysis included data from more than 35,500 people nationwide over age 55 who said they had hearing loss. In addition, McKee and colleagues conducted in-depth interviews with 21 other older adults with hearing loss in the communities surrounding the university.

The authors conclude that the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Servicesshould consider covering hearing aids for Medicare participants and those in Medicaid plans for lower-income adults of any age. Some state Medicaid plans do cover hearing aids, but it is not required.

“Many people may not realize that Medicare does not cover hearing aids,” says Levy. “But it doesn’t, so cost can be a significant obstacle preventing older adults with hearing loss from getting the help that they need.”

More findings from the study:

  • The percentage of older adults with hearing loss who used a hearing aid rose with age, from about 15% of those in their late 50’s to more than 57% of those in their late 80s.
  • Forty percent of non-Hispanic white adults with hearing loss used a hearing aid, compared with 18.4% of non-Hispanic black and 21.1% of Hispanic adults with hearing loss.
  • Nearly 46% of hearing-impaired older adults who had gone to college reported that they used a hearing aid, compared with just under 29% of those who hadn’t graduated from high school.
  • Nearly half of those with incomes in the top 25% wore a hearing aid, compared with about one-quarter of those in the bottom 25%.
  • There were no significant differences in hearing aid use based on the size of the community where the person lived, nor their level of health literacy as measured on a standard test.
  • Interviews showed that cost, lack of insurance coverage (or knowledge about insurance coverage), vanity, and stigma were common reasons for not using hearing aids. Participants also cited a lack of attention to hearing loss by their primary care provider and worries about finding an audiologist they could trust.
  • Many interview participants who used a hearing aid mentioned efforts that hearing-related professionals made to connect them to discounts and insurance programs.

More about hearing loss

Estimates of hearing loss incidence place it at 29% of people in their 50s, 45% of those in their 60s, 68% of those in their 70s, and 89% of those in their 80s.

Previous studies have shown that untreated hearing loss reduces older adults’ ability to carry out everyday tasks, reduces their quality of life, and is linked to social isolation, lower income, reduced cognitive function, and poorer physical and psychological health.

A recent study led by McKee’s colleague Elham Mahmoudi, PhD, found that having a hearing aid was associated with a lower chance of being hospitalized or visiting an emergency room in the past year. That study focused on people over 65 who had severe hearing loss, and it used data from a federal database.

McKee leads the Health Info Lab, which is researching health information use and literacy among deaf and hard-of-hearing individuals.

This article is copyrighted by the University of Michigan and used with permission.

Original Paper: McKee MM, Choi H, Wilson S, DeJonckheere MJ, Zazove P, Levy H. Determinants of hearing aid use among older Americans with hearing loss. The Gerontologist. 2018. Available at: https://academic.oup.com/gerontologist/advance-article-abstract/doi/10.1093/geront/gny051/5000029?redirectedFrom=fulltext

Source: Michigan Medicine/University of Michigan, The Gerontologist

Image: University of Michigan

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