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What should I be able to hear?

hearing loss range1The Range of human hearing refers to the spectrum of pitch range and loudness levels a person hears between inaudible and the feeling of discomfort.

Loudness and pitch

The human hearing range depends on both the pitch of the sound – whether it is high or low – and the loudness of the sound. Pitch is measured in Hertz (Hz) and loudness is measured in decibels (dB).

A person with normal hearing, will have be able to hear pitches which start as low as about 20 Hz (e.g.  the same tone as the lowest pedal on a pipe organ), and extends to about 20,000Hz. While 20 to 20,000Hz forms the the extreme borders of the human hearing range at our peak, our hearing is most acute in the 2000 – 5000 Hz frequency range.

As far as loudness is concerned, humans can hear most frequencies at starting at 0 dB to around 11db. Sounds that are more than 85dB can be painful and ultimately dangerous to listen to for prolonged periods.

Examples of typical sounds:

Hearing loss2

Effectively and astonishingly, there are some sounds that humans can’t hear. For instance the sound of a dog whistle, which is extremely high pitch. Low frequency sounds are often felt as vibrations rather than heard as sound.

Hearing ranges of people with hearing loss

When you acquire hearing loss, it affects the range of your hearing. Most people will experience a loss of sensitivity which is often particularly more prominent in the higher pitch range. Certain speech sounds, and instruments like flutes will be more difficult to hear with hearing loss.

In order to gauge your actual hearing range a hearing aid audiologist will need to perform a hearing test and plot your thresholds on to an audiogram. An audiogram is a chart that shows the results of your hearing test. Your hearing test results are plotted on a graph and then compared with that of a person with normal levels of hearing. Hearing professionals use the audiogram to establish your hearing loss and as a tool for fitting hearing aids.

Here’s what an audiogram looks like:

Hearing loss3

This test shows your hearing “threshold” or the point where you can’t hear any more. This thresholds are recorded for both ears separately as two separate lines on your audiogram.The red line shows the level of hearing of a person’s right ear. The left ear is plotted with a blue line.

The area below the line shows the levels of hearing loss that this person can hear and the area above the line shows the levels that the person can’t hear.

Here are some common sounds plotted on a standard audiogram:

hearing loss4

What are your Next Steps

If you feel that your hearing range isn’t what it used to be, It’s a good idea to visit a hearing centre like ours for a full hearing test. We can determine whether or not you have hearing loss or whether you have wax problems or even more serious medical issues. We can then recommend a course of action if you do have a hearing loss.

Visit our Centres in Henley-on-thames or Chalfont, Amersham to get a hearing test today.

 

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Hearing loss tips: how to tell others

hearing improvements to hearing with hearing aidsHearing loss can affect your work, family, friendships, and love life – and these relationships could suffer if you try to hide or ignore that you have a hearing loss.

Hearing aids go a long way to help people with hearing loss to better communicate. But even with the most advanced digital hearing aids, there can be situations where it is important to point out that you have a hearing loss.

We have come up with some tips to help you talk about hearing loss with your friends, family, and coworkers. Chances are that you behave a little bit differently around each of these groups of people, so the conversation you have about your hearing loss should be catered to each group.

Friends and Family

American author Alex Haley once said that, “In every conceivable manner, the family is link to our past, bridge to our future.” Family members can help to understand how and why your hearing loss developed and support you in finding solutions to your hearing loss.

Similar to family, friends are often the people who know you best – and they may have already noticed that you have a hearing loss. It’s in their best interest to help you communicate, because communication the basis of a good friendship!

But sometimes it is hardest to talk about these things with the people we are close to. You might not want your family to worry about you or meddle in your personal life. But the truth is – your family and friends may have been aware of your hearing loss long before you were. According to the Hearing Loss Association of America:

One’s family and friends are likely to be the first to notice some difficulty hearing, long before the person does. Typically at this stage, the individual will deny a problem. This is understandable, since there is usually great variability in how the person functions in various situations and with different people. In some situations and with some people, he or she may do pretty well.

Bringing up your hearing loss may be a way to unleash the “elephant in the room” that your close family members knew about but never mentioned. That’s how it was for Reina, who says the best way to talk about hearing loss is to be direct.

Tips for family members

Your family and friends probably want ways to help you hear better, but aren’t sure how.

Try to offer these tips for family members:

  • “Try to catch my attention before you speak to me. It’s easier for me to understand when I am looking at you.”
  • “Speak clearly and at a moderate pace – but don’t go overboard. I’ll let you know if you’re going too fast.”
  • “Use body language to show what you are saying.”
  • “Repeat yourself if it doesn’t seem like I heard you.”

If you haven’t sought professional help for your hearing loss, family members can help by finding a local hearing professional, accompanying you to your first hearing evaluation, and helping you choose your hearing aids.

Coworkers

Talking to your boss or coworkers about your hearing loss can be more difficult than speaking with family or friends. You may be worried that your boss will see your hearing loss as a weakness that could affect your work. The Hearing Loss Association of America surveyed their members about their workplace experience with hearing loss in 2013. Here are a few of the responses:

Q: What are your experiences interviewing for a job?  

A: It was very stressful and many of the social situations that went with the interviews were less than ideal for somebody with hearing loss. However, since I had to give a talk every time I interviewed, I let people know then about my loss. I did not worry too much that possible employers would discriminate against me, as I work in academia, and find most academics pretty open minded.

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Q: Are your co-workers sensitive to your communication needs?  

A: Yes, but they often forget, or don’t realize just how many types of situations are impacted by the hearing loss.

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Q: Does your employer and/or co-workers know you have a hearing loss?  

A: Yes. It is something I try to make everybody aware of. I point it out also to my students when I teach and audiences when I give a talk.

As you can see from the responses, your experience with hearing loss in the workplace can vary based on your specific job and your coworkers. Here are some general tips to use in a conversation about hearing loss with your employer:

  • Stay positive: Address your hearing loss and tell your employer how you cope with it. If you wear hearing aids, tell him/her how the technology helps you to hear. Point out specific times when your hearing was particularly good on the job.
  • Ask for help: After you have pointed out the positives, tell your employers about your challenges and how they can be helped. If you require assistive listening devices, explain how they would work in your workplace.
  • Offer Tips: Tell your coworkers how they can help you to better communicate by emphasizing the communication tips above. These tips work for anyone, not just family and friends.
  • Know your rights: Many countries have laws to protect people with hearing loss in the workplace. Read up on what sort of accommodation you are entitled to and be prepared to explain this to your employer in the most non-threatening way possible. If you have noise-induced hearing loss that you feel was caused by your work environment you may also be entitled to compensation.
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Cilla Black suffers from hearing loss and is proud to where her invisible hearing aid

Cilla Black_Hearing loss_invisible hearing aidTV Star Cilla Black (71) has recently been diagnosed with hearing loss. She has had an implantable hearing aid fitted because of damage. Implantable hearing aids like that of the Lyric from Phonak are inserted into the ear canal by a professional Audiologist and remain in the ear canal 24 hours a day; they are then replaced every 3 months. Suitability for the device is dependant upon the size and shape of the ear canal as well as the configuration of the hearing loss. Where the device is not suitable for an ear the patient can be fitted with an invisible in the canal alternative such as the nano or micro hearing aids. These are the smallest hearing aids available on the market at the moment and are completely invisible when in the ear.

The entertainer worked at the cavern club Liverpool in the 1960’s and attributes her time there to being one of the contributing factors in her hearing loss. Cilla said “It’s no fun getting older. I might be wearing beautiful diamond earrings but they can’t take away he pain of losing my hearing”.  Cilla’s hearing faded gradually over time and she did not realise how bad it had become.

The thing that made her realise that she could not hear properly was when she was on holiday in Barbados and she asked her friend “why are you whispering?” and her friend replied I am not whispering, it is you who has a hearing problem. Once getting her hearing aids Cilla found that she became increasingly aware of just how many of her peers wore hearing aids and ultimately how common it was.

While going to Barbados may nice it’s not the only way that you can find out whether you are having hearing problems, you can call us instead! Chalfont Hearing Centre offer express hearing testing services and professional  hearing aid advice. Call us in Amersham 01494 765144 or email Chalfonthearingcentre@live.co.uk

Festival Noise

festival_1With every summer comes the impending festival season. Hundreds of thousands of people from all over the world decend on the outdoor music scene, where the music is loud and the weather is unpredictable.

Over exposure to loud music has side effects. Have you ever had a ringing sensation in your ears after attending an event? This is known as temporary tinnitus. 90% of young people have experienced temporary tinnitus at least once in their lifetime. With continued exposure over time, this can lead to permanent tinnitus and even hearing loss. There is however, a simple solution to preventing damage to your hearing whilst still enjoying the festivals this summer…

Hearing Protection

Now, this does not have to mean large unsightly ear protectors that block out the much enjoyed music. Ear plugs for  music events are barely noticable in the ear. They also don’t block out the sound, they simply filter it to a safer level. At Chalfont Hearing Centre we provide custom fit ear plugs which are made just for you. By tailor making your ear plugs specifically to the shape of your ear, you will forget that you are even wearing them.

Performers, music artists and DJs all wear hearing protection to ensure their hearing is preserved for as long as possible. Their careers play havock with their ears with many people in the music industry suffering from tinnitus or hearing loss. All of which are preventable. So invest in your hearing now, so you can continue to enjoy your favourtie music in the future.

Contact Chalfont Hearing Centre now to find out more about how you can get your very own custom fit hearing protection – 01494 765 144  or  info@chalfonthearing.co.uk

NHS Hearing Aid Ban

Budget-Cuts-Hearing AidsAmidst ever increasing government cuts, the NHS has taken a huge impact.

This week, NHS leaders have proposed to save £1.2 million by no longer giving out hearing aids to patients with mild to moderate hearing loss. The proposed cuts would affect patients living in the Newcastle Borough and the Staffordshire Moorlands if approved.

Although this may seem far from home, the reality of the impending lack of NHS funding is not. Even this week Doctors surgeries hit the headlines for deducting elderly patients from their books, being considered most vulnerable and therefore the most expensive patients to maintain.

Hearing loss is not a minor health issue that can simply be ignored or delayed. That is until the increasing severity of it  reaches NHS criteria to do something about it, by which point the damage is done.

As NHS cuts increase more and more people will be moving to the world of private healthcare although not without doubts regarding cost and reliability.

Here  at Chalfont Hearing Centre we provide all the information you need to make an educated decision regarding your hearing. We are also clear and transparent with our competitive prices. If in the instance that your hearing loss can not be benefitted with hearing aids, and you need further assistance then we shall be honest with you and guide you in the right direction.

Being a private family run practice, we can offer you almost instant peace of mind and relief from your hearing loss, as we aim to see all our patients within a maximum of 3 days for a hearing assessment or consultation. This can be in as little as 24 hours, compared to anywhere from 3 weeks to 3 months just for a hearing assessment once you have been referred by your GP on the NHS.

Once you have had your assessment, if hearing aids are the avenue that you choose; we offer the latest in hearing aid technology from a variety of manufacturers, at a range of affordable prices. Our hearing aids come in a range of sizes and designs to suit your needs entirely, compared to the limited selection available on the NHS. We also go that step further, and can advise and provide for you, a host of accessories available to hearing aid users, from phones to Iphone Apps.

Depending on your choice of hearing aid you could be fitted with your selected aid in as little as 24 hours.

After you have been fitted with your desired hearing aid, if you have any problems or queries we are just a telephone call away to book an appointment or for our experienced Audiologists to visit you at home to ensure your optimum comfort.

So whilst the NHS is  cutting back on its services we are steadily increasing ours. If you or a loved one would like to find out more about the services that we can offer you then contact us today :

Phone: 01494 765144   or    Email: chalfonthearingcentre@live.co.uk

 

 

 

 

Made for iPhone hearing aid released

Employee of GN, the world's fourth largest maker of hearing aids, demonstrates the use of ReSound LiNX in ViennaHearing aids have come a long way in the last 10 years. From unsightly ineffective amplifiers they have evolved into compact sophisticated communication devices. Gone are the days of hearing aids being set at one fixed level determined by your audiologist, instead a world of flexibility provides hearing aid users with complete control. GN Resound have recently released the Linx hearing aid which utilises the ‘Made for iPhone’ feature, it promises seamless transmission of phone calls and music directly to the hearing aid without the need for separate connective devices or wires. Not only does this provide effortless hands free communication but it provides sound delivery which utilises prescribed levels of amplification to ensure maximum audibility and no feedback.

In addition to improved communication ability, using the Resound Smart app, the user is able to alter the volume independently in each hearing aid, turn of the hearing aid microphones and adjust bass and treble response within the units to suit their environment and their listening requirements.

The hearing aid can also utilise the microphone capabilities of the iPhone, converting the phone to a table top remote microphone. For example the iPhone can be placed close to a lecturer in a big hall, it would then stream the voice directly to the hearing aids eradicating the room acoustics and echo.

Probably the smartest function is the ‘Lost aid’ facility which allows you to pinpoint the hearing aids if you lose them. The app uses Google Maps to triangulate the position of the aids and uses a homing beacon to tell you how ‘warm’ you are to them, perfect for those forgetful patients.

Initial feedback from patients is positive with regards to the overall sound quality and noise reduction in the hearing aids, in comparison to their existing hearing aids. So as things go it would seem like these hearing aids are certainly formidable contenders for ‘best hearing aid’ in 2014. If you would like to try the new ‘made for iPhone’ hearing aid technology then why not contact us on 01494 765144 to arrange a trial.

Musicians, audiology and neuroscience; the differences between musicians and non musicians hearing ability

musician hearingSpeech and music are two very different sounds, they have very different qualities. For instance, speech is a high frequency phenomenon where 71% of speech sounds are frequencies above 1Khz, in contrast to music where 71% of sounds are below 1Khz therefore considered a low frequency phenomenon, so although music and speech overlap acoustically the two impact on the human brain in unique ways. It has become apparent that as a result it is theorised that an over-exposure to speech and/or music, musicians and non musicians display different qualities with regards to cognitive processing of sound.

Research has indicated that individuals who have had music training have better speech discrimination and display a greater ability to communicate in background noise, one particular study indicated that musicians with an average age of 70 understood speech as well as non musicians with an average age of 50. Cognitive research suggests that music performance requires more cognitive ability and is linked to an increase in grey matter in somatosensory, premotor, superior pariatel and inferior temporal areas of the brain. These differences suggest that as audiologists, we need to re-consider how we think about hearing and listening when preventing and treating hearing loss. Additionally, it could also be suggested that in order to minimise the effect of ageing on your auditory system that music training could be the answer.

When treating hearing loss particularly with hearing aids, musicians can be challenging. Through music training they have trained there brain to cope with low frequencies, hearing aids are orientated towards high frequencies and counselling should be tailored to suit the patient. It is also important that musicians do not wear hearing aids in environments where noise exceeds 85db.

As neuroscience research integrates further into audiology, hopefully it will increase the understand of the cognitive processes and lead to better hearing aid processing strategies. If you feel that you are struggling with speech processing or hearing in background noise then why not speech to our hearing specialist today call us on 01494 765144 for advice.

Dental hearing aid gets approved in Europe

hearing aid in mouth A new hearing aid capable of transmitting sound through a person’s teeth has been approved for use in Europe.  The device, is called SoundBite, it is custom made and placed onto the upper molars of the patient. The hearing aid uses bone conduction (vibro-tactile transmission) to transmit sound to the patients inner ear.  A network of mini microphones are placed behind the impaired ear and pick up the sound in the environment and cancel out the noise.  The sound is transmitted wirelessly to the prosthetic piece in the mouth.  The device sends the vibrations through the teeth and bones directly to the cochlea (inner ear), bypassing the middle and outer ear. Royal National Institute for Deaf People (RNID) have warned that it may not be suitable for everyone with hearing problems, however, bone conduction hearing aids are particularly useful in patients who have conductive problems, pinna malformation and unilateral hearing losses.

I think this is a brilliant solution for a certain population of hearing aid wearer, bone conduction hearing aids are extremely useful for single sided deafness (SSD), conductive loss and for patients who have an absent or malformed ear / ear canal. I can see a few practical issues with such a device, however all hearing aids have some physical issues to get used to. This device will not be suitable for many typical hearing losses. If you would like to know more about bone conduction hearing aids, single sided deafness or hearing aids for challenging hearing losses then contact us at Chalfont Hearing Centre today on 01494 765144

How to buy your hearing aid?

As a hearing professional who has sat in front of NHS patients, one of the most common questions I was asked was, how do I go about getting a better hearing aid? However, owing to departmental impartially little advice or assistance was advised. These patients were largely left to their own devices to source more satisfactory solutions. Now sat in front of my private patients it is apparent that they are still ill informed and unaware of the vastly different options available to them. Leaving me to be the primary person answering their questions, which can be difficult to fit into a 90 minute consultation. After visiting several different health professionals, typically their G.P., NHS audiology, a national hearing aid company and doing internet research the patient arrives not knowing typical price structures, difference in clinical qualifications (competence) for achieving optimum outcomes, the importance of technology level and service packages in achieving satisfaction. Therefore I thought I would offer some advice based on the Which Magazine report.

If you decide to buy hearing aids rather than go to the NHS the price of the hearing aids is bundled with the service and follow up. In order to compare hearing aid prices it is important to compare like for like only. So make sure you know what is included. You are buying a whole on-going package not just a one off purchase. Independent hearing aid centres tend to be cheaper and have more flexibility when offering products because they are not generally tied to manufacturers. National companies tend to offer older technologies at lower price points, have higher overheads and therefore premium products are often more expensive and often they do not verify the fitting of the hearing aid which is important to ensure correct prescription. Hearing aid devices last on average 3 to 5 years, so you will need to build in the cost of replacing them. Manufacturer’s guarantees are attached to service packages to a maximum of 5 years, manufacturer’s guarantees are essential as you are buying an electronic device that can go wrong. Lifetime aftercare is a gimmick term used by companies to give you a false perception of the life of the hearing aid and the ongoing costs, it is a valueless term, as any quality independent hearing aid centre will always look after you and your hearing aid once you have purchased a hearing aid on an ongoing basis.

Ongoing costs can include batteries, domes and wax guards which can total an average spend of £50 to £100 per year. With some independents this cost is included in their premium packages. Batteries can be purchased for between £2 and £4 a pack (6 batteries).

There are 7 main manufacturers who all have four current ranges and therefore four price points. The four ranges are a basic, mid-level, advanced and premium level, with the performance and cost increasing as you go up the range. Average prices are from £500 to £3500 per hearing aid. The average spend in the UK is £3k for a pair of hearing aids. At Chalfont Hearing are prices range from £750 to £2000 per hearing aid with a basic service package. If you buy mid-level hearing aids from high street hearing centres you are likely to get older or lesser quality technology than obtainable from independent hearing centres. If you buy premium hearing aids (from high street hearing centres, like Boots, Specsavers, Hidden Hearing) you will often pay an unnecessary premium for exactly the same product. Hearing aids supplied by the NHS (such as the Oticon Zest) are mid-level technology and were released to the private market in 2008, they have since been super-seeded by 2 generations. We would advise against going for cheap hearing aids especially those under £500-£600 pounds as they are often old or extremely basic technology, these hearing aids maybe ‘OK’ for housebound elderly patients who can not get to the hospital but will offer limited benefit.

However getting value for money is about more than just the cost of the instruments. Actually the price is fairly trivial, its about service and therefore the difference of whether the hearing aids work or not. The amount you pay should reflect the quality of the instrument, the service and your lifestyle requirements. If your lifestyle is fairly relaxed and you rarely leave the house a more basic hearing aid is perfect, if you are still working and socially active then you will need something more premium.

Key questions to ask if you are buying a hearing aid:

1. Have you been offered a choice, have you reviewed the pro’s and con’s of different hearing aid styles and features?

2. Have you trialled them to see if they actually benefit you?

3. What is the warranty period (repairs and replacement)?

4. What level and quality will the fitting be done to?

5. How will the aftercare be delivered?

Five things to watch out for:

1. Some companies offer free guides on hearing aids and follow these up with home visits. They are often lead generation companies who operate in a sales based way.

2. Do not buy hearing aids online without a full hearing assessment, the hearing aid is only as good as the programming.

3. If you are shopping around, only compare ‘like for like’. That includes make, manufacturer, warranty, aftercare, additional extras, qualification of clinician and quality of premises and equipment.

4. Some companies have tie ins with manufacturers, this includes the NHS and therefore options will be limited if this is the case.

5. You should not need to replace hearing aids more than once every 3 years.

For your piece of mind Chalfont hearing Centre have considered and incorporated all of this information into our service delivery model to ensure our patients get the best advice on hearing aids possible. To have a hearing test and get informed and impartial information contact 01494 765144.

http://www.which.co.uk/home-and-garden/bathroom-and-personal-care/guides/how-to-get-the-best-hearing-aid/how-to-buy-your-hearing-aids/

Tiny hearing hair cells in the ear have been regenerated to reverse deafness for the first time

A question I am regularly asked when patients are recommended hearing aids as treatment for hearing loss is, ‘Can there not be anything done medically? So I thought about those patients when I read this recent research study.

An injection of a drug led to the creation of new hair cells in tests on mice, they have been grown using a similar principle to stem cells.  The hair cells are not ‘hairs’ as such but are the nerve terminals for the eight nerve pathway. Normal hearing however was not restored, rather the mice went from hearing nothing to detecting loud sounds such as a slamming door or traffic noise. Experts are “tremendously excited” however warned treating humans was still a distant prospect, at least a decade.  To hear anything, sound pressure or sound waves have to be converted into electrical signals which the brain then interprets as sound. This happens in the inner ear where vibrations from the basilar membrane activate tiny hairs (nerve terminals), the movement creates an electrical signal which is transmitted along the auditory nerve to the brain.  Most hearing problems are as a result of acquired damage to these hairs, via noise, infection or ototoxic drugs.

When I was studying at the Ear Institute there was similar work being done there. One of the questions I put forward at the time was ‘How will you correctly innervate the hair cells to the appropriate auditory nerves?’ As the main problem lies in the fact that the entire auditory system is frequency specific / frequency coded, therefore re-innervating them correctly to the appropriate auditory nerves maybe difficult. Incorrect wiring will lead to an unfamiliar or incorrect transmission of sound frequency and intensity. Therefore simply regrowing these cells may not restore hearing or at least not in a way that would be perceived as normal.

If you can not wait another decade for stem cell treatment, and would like to improve your hearing now contact us at chalfont hearing on 01494 765144 or visit the rest of the website for treatment options chalfonthearing.co.uk