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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.  

Radstock earwax removal

Oticon ConnectClip Wins 2018 Red Dot Award for Product Design

Radstock Somerset earwax removal service.

Red Dot logo 2018

Oticon ConnectClip has earned a 2018 Red Dot Award for product design, the Denmark-based hearing aid manufacturer announced. A panel of international jurors recognized ConnectClip for what was said to be “outstanding design aesthetics” that incorporated a variety of technical, performance, and functionality innovations. The intermediary device is the newest addition to the Oticon connectivity devices designed to improve Oticon Opn™users’ listening and communication experiences.  ConnectClip will be among the award-winning designs exhibited at Red Dot Design Museums around the world.

Oticon Logo

Commenting on the award win, Gary Rosenblum, president, Oticon, Inc said, “Oticon is honored to receive another prestigious Red Dot Award, this year for our new ConnectClip. This internationally recognized symbol of excellence is a testament not only to ConnectClip’s convenient, lifestyle-enhancing features, but also to the work that goes into the design and continued evolution of our Oticon Opn hearing aid, a 2017 Red Dot Award winner.”

The multi-functional ConnectClip is designed to turn Oticon Opn hearing aids into a high-quality wireless headset for clear, hands-free calls from mobile phones, including iPhone® and Android™ smartphones. Sound from the mobile phones is streamed directly to the hearing aids and ConnectClip’s directional microphones pick up the wearer’s voice. ConnectClip serves double duty as a remote/partner microphone, helping to provide improved intelligibility of the speaker wearing it, either at a distance (up to 65 feet), in very noisy environments or in a combination of the two. Opn wearers can also use ConnectClip as a remote control for their hearing aids.

Wearable Technology Award Win

Oticon also celebrates a win at the UK’s Wearable Technology and Digital Health Show Awards. Oticon Opn received the  Innovation Award for wearable originality and advancement. The win reflects votes by a combined method of professional jury and public website vote.

Organizers at the Wearable Technology and Digital Health Show Awards commented on the win: ”The judges felt that the Oticon solution presented a revolutionary approach to hearing loss, and that its technology presented a real opportunity for users to interact with the growing number of smart devices in the home. A worthy winner.”

Learn more about the expanded Oticon Opn family, ConnectClip and entire range of wireless connectivity accessories at www.Oticon.com/Connectivity.

 * Apple, the Apple logo, iPhone, iPad, iPod touch, and Apple Watch are trademarks of Apple Inc., registered in the U.S. and other countries. App Store is a service mark of Apple Inc. Android, Google Play, and the Google Play logo are trademarks of Google Inc.

Source: Oticon

Images: Oticon, Red Dot

Which hearing aids are best for me?

Which hearing aids are best for me?

Bristol and Bath hearing aid centre, Stephen Neal is the hearing and earwax specialist for Somerset and Wiltshire.

You’ve been diagnosed with hearing loss and the hearing healthcare professional says you’ll benefit from wearing hearing aids, but which devices are best for you? The decision you make will depend greatly on the severity of your hearing loss as well as your health and the lifestyle you lead. Before you sit down to discuss options with your hearing healthcare provider, here are a few things to consider.

Are you a technology buff?

best hearing aids for me

Stephen Neal, hearing aid and wax removal specialist. Frome, Somerset.

Your hearing aids should be as individual
as you are!

Hearing aids have changed a lot in the last ten years. Today’s devices are nothing like those your parents or grandparents may have worn, mainly because of advances in technology. While your parents’ hearing aids had to be adjusted with a tiny screwdriver by a hearing care provider, today’s digital devices are programmed via computer. Gone are the days of fiddling around with bulky volume control wheels and buttons. Most of today’s devices can be controlled discreetly by the wearer with smartphone apps as listening environments change. Bluetooth technology allows hearing aids to connect wirelessly to that smartphone you bought the moment it became available, tablets, televisions or car audio.

How much of a techie are you? Chances are, there’s a hearing aid that can keep up with your fascination for cutting edge gadgets. If you’re not a technology lover, don’t despair – the technology in your new hearing aids can also work behind the scenes automatically so you can just focus on hearing your best.

Is your world noisy?

Let’s face it — life can be loud! Depending upon what you do for a living and how often you’re socially engaged with people you love spending time with, directional microphone technology can help you make sense of that noise. Dual microphones in the hearing aid work to help you understand speech in challenging listening environments such as noisy conventions, crowded restaurants and bars or a family room filled with chattering children by focusing on the sound directly in front of you and minimizing sound to the sides and back.

Nearly all hearing aids today have some form of noise reduction built in. This technology is best for increasing your comfort in noisy situations, but it’s the directional microphones that have a noticeable impact on your ability to understand conversation in these same situations. Be honest about your lifestyle and talk with your hearing care provider about which features you need.

Are you self-conscious about your hearing loss?

Let’s be clear: there’s absolutely nothing wrong with wearing hearing aids — no matter whether they’re visible to others standing close to you or fit snugly out of sight inside your ear canal. These miracle devices not only help you hear your favorite sounds, they also alert you to emergency warning signals and decrease your risk of falling, developing dementia and feeling depressed. What’s not to love?

Unfortunately, some prefer to be more discreet about their hearing loss. For those individuals, tiny receiver-in-the-canal (RIC) or receiver-in-the-ear (RITE) styles with ultra-thin tubing and an availability of colors which blend with skin or hair may be desirable. For even more invisibility, invisible-in-the-canal (IIC) or completely-in-the-canal (CIC) styles may be an option.

The discretion of small hearing aids can come with some tradeoffs. Your hearing healthcare professional can help you decide, given the severity of your hearing loss and your personal preferences, which style is best for you.

Do you have dexterity issues?

Diabetes, Parkinson’s disease and other health conditions can cause numbness in the fingers or a decline in fine motor skills. The smaller the hearing aid, the smaller the features — such as the battery door or volume control. If you struggle with putting on jewelry or activities which require fine motor skills, you will likely benefit from wearing hearing aids that fit behind-the-ear (BTE) or a larger custom style. It’s much better to own devices you can operate confidently and effectively than one which frustrates you so much it spends more time in your nightstand than in your ear.

Summary

It’s important to remember that no two people or their hearing losses are alike, but there are hearing aids to suit most every need. The best hearing aids are the ones that work for you. Instead of waiting to make a decision because you’re afraid you’ll make the wrong one, find a hearing healthcare professional to guide you. Working as a team, the two of you can determine which devices will work for your unique hearing situation. Check out our directory of consumer-reviewed clinics to get started.

Visual Cues May Help Amplify Sound, earwax can be the cause.

Visual Cues May Help Amplify Sound, University College London Researchers Find

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Ear wax removal, somerset, Wiltshire, Bath, Bristol, Norton St Philip, Glastonbury

Ear wax removal and hearing aids, Bath, Bristol, Frome, Glastonbury

Looking at someone’s lips is good for listening in noisy environments because it helps our brains amplify the sounds we’re hearing in time with what we’re seeing, finds a new University College London (UCL)-led study, the school announced on its website.

The researchers say their findings, published in Neuron, could be relevant to people with hearing aids or cochlear implants, as they tend to struggle hearing conversations in noisy places like a pub or restaurant.

The researchers found that visual information is integrated with auditory information at an earlier, more basic level than previously believed, independent of any conscious or attention-driven processes. When information from the eyes and ears is temporally coherent, the auditory cortex —the part of the brain responsible for interpreting what we hear—boosts the relevant sounds that tie in with what we’re looking at.

“While the auditory cortex is focused on processing sounds, roughly a quarter of its neurons respond to light—we helped discover that a decade ago, and we’ve been trying to figure out why that’s the case ever since,” said the study’s lead author, Dr Jennifer Bizley, UCL Ear Institute.

In a 2015 study, she and her team found that people can pick apart two different sounds more easily if the one they’re trying to focus on happens in time with a visual cue. For this latest study, the researchers presented the same auditory and visual stimuli to ferrets while recording their neural activity. When one of the auditory streams changed in amplitude in conjunction with changes in luminance of the visual stimulus, more of the neurons in the auditory cortex reacted to that sound.

“Looking at someone when they’re speaking doesn’t just help us hear because of our ability to recognize lip movements—we’ve shown it’s beneficial at a lower level than that, as the timing of the movements aligned with the timing of the sounds tells our auditory neurons which sounds to represent more strongly. If you’re trying to pick someone’s voice out of background noise, that could be really helpful,” said Bizley.

The researchers say their findings could help develop training strategies for people with hearing loss, as they have had early success in helping people tap into their brain’s ability to link up sound and sight. The findings could also help hearing aid and cochlear implant manufacturers develop smarter ways to amplify sound by linking it to the person’s gaze direction.

The paper adds to evidence that people who are having trouble hearing should get their eyes tested as well.

The study was led by Bizley and PhD student Huriye Atilgan, UCL Ear Institute, alongside researchers from UCL, the University of Rochester, and the University of Washington, and was funded by Wellcome, the Royal Society; the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC); Action on Hearing Loss; the National Institutes of Health (NIH), and the Hearing Health Foundation.

Original Paper: Atilgan H, Town SM, Wood KC, et al. Integration of visual information in auditory cortex promotes auditory scene analysis through multisensory binding. Neuron. 2018;97(3)[February]:640–655.e4. doi.org/10.1016/j.neuron.2017.12.03

Source: University College London, Neuron

GN Store Nord Develops Device to Protect Soldiers’ Hearing

GN Store Nord Develops Device to Protect Soldiers’ Hearing

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soldier aims gun

GN Store Nord has announced a “first of its kind, fully fledged hearing protection solution, enabling defense and security forces to hear more, do more, and be more.” With this advanced tactical hearing-protection solution, GN reports that it is leveraging unique leading competencies within intelligent audio solutions in both hearing aids and headsets to create an unparalleled noise management solution. The product will be manufactured at its Bloomington, Minn, facility where ReSound is also located.

The global market for military communication systems is estimated to be about $630 million, and features competitors such as Peltor (3M), INVISIO, Silynx, Racal Acoustics, and MSA Sordin, according to long-time hearing industry analyst Niels Granholm-Leth of Carnegie Investment Bank in Copenhagen.  GN has embarked on several projects in its GN Stratcom organization, which is currently part of GN Hearing, although the company could eventually establish it as a stand-alone division alongside its Hearing (ReSound, Beltone, and Interton) and Headset divisions (Jabra).

The new patented hearing protection solution is designed specifically for defense and security forces. GN says the solution offers the user a communication headset which is designed to be comfortable, highly durable, and protects the user against high volume noise. At the same time, by leveraging GN’s expertise within situational awareness, the solution allows its user to clearly identify important sound in 360°.

Anders Hedegaard

Anders Hedegaard

“The GN Group encompasses consumer, professional, and medical grade hearing technology under the same roof,” says CEO of GN Hearing, Anders Hedegaard. “This unique platform makes it possible to expand GN’s business into adjacent opportunities within the sound space. With our user-centric approach we aim to be the leader in intelligent audio solutions to transform lives through the power of sound.”

GN will be starting to build a small, swift group related to this new business opportunity. This year, GN will participate in military tenders in the United States and with other NATO-countries. The new product line will, under the name GN FalCom, include:

  • Comfort. Designed for optimal physical comfort allowing for multiple hours of use in extreme combat situations;
  • Clarity. Enables users to localize sounds all around them without the need to remove the earpiece. To maintain high quality communications at all times, GN FalCom will integrate seamlessly with military radio technology, and
  • Protection. Allows users to stay connected while benefitting from noise protection. For example, users will experience the highest level of safety without blocking out wanted sounds.

The  hearing protection solution builds on GN’s expertise in sound processing from both GN Hearing and GN Audio—and across R&D teams in the United States and Denmark. It is a successful result of corporate level investments made through GN’s Strategy Committee guided initiatives to explore opportunities outside of, but related to, GN’s existing business areas. According to the company, the hearing protection solution will be manufactured at GN’s existing production facilities in Bloomington, Minn, and will not impact GN’s financial guidance for 2018.