Common Deceptions About Hearing Aids and How They Limit You

“Everybody has excuses. Champions don’t use them.” 

Every time I hear this quotation, I am reminded of how much our mindset influences our lives. The top athletes in the world have had to overcome incredible obstacles—difficult training, severe injuries, and rough financial obligations—but they don’t carry these excuses to the Olympics. Each athlete knows that their hardships aren’t crutches to fall on but steps to climb. Without them, they would’ve never gotten to where they are today. 

When counseling patients about their hearing health, I attempt to pinpoint deceptive beliefs patients have about themselves—beliefs that hold them back from a better and more fulfilled life. As an audiologist, I hear many. Below is a list of some of the most common limiting beliefs that people use to convince themselves and others that their hearing loss can go untreated.

1. “Hearing aids cost too much.”

Yes, hearing aids are expensive. Without insurance benefits, they range from $2000 to more than $6000 for a pair. Unfortunately, most people don’t have insurance benefits, meaning they pay the full amount out of pocket. However, cost should not keep you from pursuing amplification.  

Consider how much your hearing is worth. How important is understanding your child or grandchild? How much would you be willing to spend to maintain those important relationships? Most people keep their hearing aids for at least five years. If you break this down, the ultimate cost for even high-end hearing aids is only $100 a month; and, if you were to purchase a less expensive model, you could be paying as low as $33 a month. 

Maybe you’d like to purchase aids, but you don’t have enough money right now. If this is the case, you can always pursue payment options. [We partner with a company that offers loans, allowing patients to pay monthly for their hearing aids.]

Unfortunately, some people can’t afford even monthly payments. In this circumstance, our non-profit, Grace Hearing Center, comes in. Grace Hearing Center works with the working poor to provide hearing aids to everyone who needs them.  

So, if cost is a concern to you, consider the options I’ve mentioned. Hearing and engaging with your family are important. Stop limiting yourself based on a deceptive belief about money and determine to seek help. Our audiologists are happy to direct you toward the best solution.

2. “My hearing’s not bad enough” or “If others would speak more clearly, I wouldn’t need hearing aids anyway.”

This is a tricky excuse to combat. Sometimes, patients with slight hearing loss are not hugely influenced by it. In this case, the benefit they might receive when wearing the aids would not be worth the cost. However, just because one’s hearing loss is not bothersome now does not mean it won’t ever be. 

People say, “I will get hearing aids when they need them;” however, if you wait until you feel that you need them, the prime time to get aids has likely passed. Get them too early, and they may not be worth the cost; get them too late, and your brain will have a difficult time adjusting to them. The trick is to get them at just the right stage–before you notice the issue in everyday life but after the point when the hearing aids will be worth the investment. Even if your hearing doesn’t seem “bad enough,” you should still have your hearing regularly eventuated.

On the other side of this coin are those who truly need hearing aids but insist that their hearing is everyone else’s fault. Since audiologists tend to speak loudly and clearly, people often respond, “If everyone spoke like you, I wouldn’t need hearing aids.” The premise of this excuse is that everyone should change what they do to make life easier for the person suffering from hearing loss. However, this line of thinking isn’t practical. If you break a leg, do you expect everyone else to pick you up and carry you around, or do you get crutches and work with a physical therapist to get better? If you’re told you have diabetes, do you expect everyone around you to change their entire diet, or do you change your own diet and exercise more regularly to strengthen your health?

The fact is, when we have health issues, it is our own responsibility to fix them and to improve ourselves. We cannot rely on others to do it for us. The same thing applies to hearing. Although others can help in small ways, they cannot carry the burden entirely. Such thinking is not practical or reasonable. Even as audiologists, we cannot keep up the “audiologist speech” at all times. We have our normal voice at home and would struggle to always maintain the loud and clear voice we use with patients. If even your audiologist can’t do it all the time, don’t expect those who aren’t trained to change their habits to suit you. Take the big step. Be responsible and do something about your hearing!

Most people believe that hearing aids work a lot like glasses—you put them on and everything sounds like it did when you were younger. However, hearing loss is typically caused by damaged nerves. Because of this, even though we can get the sound to your ears, how your nerves will respond to the sound is beyond our control. This means that, although hearing aids can improve your hearing by making sounds clearer and more distinct, they cannot return your hearing to normal. You will still struggle at times, but the difficulty should be less frequent.

3. “Hearing aids will make me look old” or “I’m not old enough for hearing aids”

Hearing aids are worn by people of all ages – from newborns to the elderly and everyone in between. Although you are more likely to need hearing aids as you age, hearing aids in and of themselves do not indicate “old age.”  

Also, hearing aids of today are not like your parents’ or grandparents’ hearing aids. No longer are they big and bulky things that stand out obviously from twenty feet away. In most cases, others don’t even notice them. In fact, many patients who were worried about the size of their devices were amazed when their hearing aids were delivered to the office. Because new hearing aids are so discreet, they are not that noticeable, especially if someone is not looking for them.

Also, contrary to common belief, hearing aids help you seem younger. That’s right! They do the opposite of this excuse. Read the following two scenarios and decide for yourself which is more obvious: 1) while conversing with a small group of friends, you are either asking for repetition, joining the conversation in inappropriate ways, or tuning out altogether or 2) you are following the conversation effortlessly while wearing small, discreet hearing aids.  

Would your friend notice the small devices in your ears or the fact that you are struggling to follow conversations? Which one makes you look older?

4. “I don’t have room on my ears!”

Most people with hearing aids wear glasses, yet that doesn’t mean hearing aids won’t fit. During all my time as an audiologist, I have worked with very few people who truly did not have enough room behind their ears for the standard over-the-ear style hearing aids. In the age of COVID, the space behind the ears became more crowded; however, solutions can be found.

Sometimes, the solution is simply setting your glasses over your ears a little differently than you used to. Other times, it might be trying a different style mask or wearing the mask differently. In some cases, the solution may be choosing different style hearing aids (ones that are only in the ear – though this style is not always a solution since most hearing losses don’t work as well with this style). If you’re concerned about the real estate over your ear, talk to an audiologist. We’ll help you sort out the best solution to ensure great hearing without compromising your vision and other health needs.

5. “I’m too old.  I’m probably going to die soon anyway.”

Believe it or not, I hear this limiting belief all too often. It is my favorite one to identify and reframe. As someone in my 40s, I like to remind patients that none of us have any idea how long we have left to live. I could die tomorrow while a 90-year-old lives for ten more years. I ask my patients, “If you had only ten more years, wouldn’t you like to hear as best you could during that time?” Don’t allow this limiting belief to frame your life and decisions. The years of your life should be defined by quality, not quantity.

6. “I know people who paid a lot of money for hearing aids but never use them.”

There are many reasons people buy amplification but don’t use it. To be successful with hearing aids, patients must be motivated, have realistic expectations, visit experienced audiologists, and return for follow-up care. If any of these are missing, there is a good chance the aids will end up unused.

Many people get hearing aids because they want to appease a family member. This is never a good reason to get aids. Those who purchase aids for this reason are typically bitter against the product and will end not using them.  

In my first years as an audiologist, two different people with similar symptoms of hearing loss decided to get the same hearing aids. After one month, the first patient returned the aids, stating, “I hear my footsteps and the birds. These aids are driving me crazy.” The second patient stated, “I hear my footsteps! I hear the birds! I love these aids. I never knew how much I was missing.”  

Both patients had the same hearing loss and were similar in age, yet one viewed the new sounds as a blessing while the other viewed them as annoying. The main difference between them was their attitude about hearing aids.

Audiologist expertise and follow-up care are also important. Audiologists are trained rigorously in school and beneath the supervision of other expert audiologists before they help patients on their own. Audiologists who do their job correctly fit patients using Real Ear Measurements and patient feedback. It is their job to know what to change when you complain about an “echo” in your voice or say that the sound of running water is overwhelming. Of course, it is your job to tell your audiologist about these issues.

If a friend, family member, or audiologist tells you that your hearing is failing, don’t make excuses! What you’re really missing out on is enjoying life–conversations and relationships that make life enjoyable and worth living!

Tinnitus Causes and Treatment

As an audiologist I was trained to identify, diagnose, and manage or treat disorders of the inner ear. One of the most common disorders I help treat and manage is called tinnitus.

Tinnitus is commonly described by my patients as ringing or buzzing in the ears that can vary from low to high-pitched. The noise can be present in one or both ears, and it may be constant or returning. Tinnitus is a common problem affecting over 50 million Americans, according to the American Tinnitus Association. It can be caused by a number of health conditions such as ear and sinus infections, hormonal changes in women, brain tumors, head injuries, diseases of the heart of blood vessels, noise-induced hearing loss, Ménière’s disease, and thyroid abnormalities. Most often, however, tinnitus is not a sign of a serious health-related issue. But, if the noise is loud or prolonged, it can affect concentration and cause emotional turmoil. Like I tell my patient’s, if you are suffering with tinnitus, it’s important to understand the causes and what you can do about it. 

The Three Most Common Causes of Tinnitus 

Hearing Loss — Ninety percent of people who have sensori-neural hearing loss also report tinnitus.  This form of hearing loss is natural and tends to be bilateral (in both ears). If you are noticing that you are unable to hear high-frequency sounds, you may have age-related hearing loss. This type of hearing loss is sometimes accompanied by tinnitus.

Noise-induced hearing loss — Tinnitus can be caused by noise-induced hearing loss. This means that your tinnitus developed after extended exposure to noisy environments. People who work in factories or at construction sites or who commonly attend loud concerts may develop this type of hearing loss. Such noisy environments can slowly damage the tiny sensory hair cells in your inner ears that transmit sound to the brain, resulting in hearing loss and ringing sounds and sensations.

Traumatic Brain Injuries — Another common cause of tinnitus is traumatic brain injury (TBI). Motor vehicle accidents, falls, and assaults can damage the brain and cause the sensation of ringing or buzzing within the ears. Even if the brain injury did not cause the tinnitus, some medications used to treat cognitive problems are associated with the development of tinnitus. This type of mild TBI most often affects active-duty service members. In fact, according to an article published by Military Medicine, U.S. military members have 32.3% prevalence from all causes and can be linked to PTSD. 

Treatment Options

Many times, those who suffer with tinnitus assume that there is nothing that can be done to alleviate their symptoms. This is not true. If you are experiencing a loud or consistent case of tinnitus, you should seek a professional assessment. Audiologists, like me, are trained to understand and recommend solutions for many hearing-related problems. 

Although no available treatment can entirely cure tinnitus, certain management techniques can be used to lessen its effects. These techniques include retraining therapy, tinnitus activities treatment, cognitive behavioral therapy, and other psychologically based therapy approaches. The amplification of hearing aids may even work to reduce the ringing. To determine which treatment method works best for you, I will review your medical and psychological history as well as your lifestyle practices, including diet, sleep, and exercise. I may also have you complete a tinnitus assessment that measures your ability to match pitch and loudness to the sounds created by your tinnitus. The test also determines what sounds can be used to mask or suppress the phantom noises. Through these tests, audiologists can determine an approach to managing your tinnitus that works best for your specific case. 

The Next Step

Why suffer with tinnitus when I am right here in Palm Harbor to help lessen your symptoms? Reach out to Harbor Hearing today to set up an appointment, or schedule it yourself right now on our website! I can’t wait to meet you and help you achieve peace of mind.

 References

Clifford, Royce E., Dewleen Baker, Victoria B. Risbrough, Mingxiong Huang, and Kate A. Yurgi. “Impact of TBI, PTSD, and Hearing Loss on Tinnitus Progression in a US Marine Cohort.” Military Medicine: 839-846. https://watermark.silverchair.com.

Myers, Paula J., James A. Henry, Tara L. Zaugg, and Caroline J. Kendall. “Tinnitus Evaluation and Management Considerations for Persons with Mild Traumatic Brain Injury.” American Speech-Language-Hearing Association. Published April 2009. https://www.asha.org/articles/tinnitus-evaluation-and-management-considerations-for-persons-with-mild-traumatic-brain-injury/.

“Tinnitus.” Cleveland Clinic. Clevelandclinic.org. Accessed August 8, 2021. https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/diseases/14164-tinnitus.

Spankovich, Christopher. “Tinnitus – Developing a Practical Management Protocol.” AudiologyOnline. Accessed August 8, 2021. 

“Understanding the Facts.” American Tinnitus Association. Accessed August 8, 2021. https://www.ata.org/understanding-facts.

Common Misconceptions About Amplification

Have you ever said the following: “Hearing aids are too expensive,” “Hearing aids are all the same” or “Hearing loss is normal for my age”?

These common misconceptions are dangerous since they can cause you to ignore your hearing loss or to purchase an ineffective product. 

Don’t be misinformed. Even with a small budget, you can still afford reliable hearing aids. Take the advice of a professional. 

My name is Dr. Sharon Rophie, and I have my doctorate in audiology. Below are my tips for saving money on hearing aids while choosing the right prescription. 

“Hearing aids are too expensive.”

What if I told you that you have hearing aids benefits that you don’t know about–benefits that can save you hundreds of dollars on hearing aids? The number of hearing aid benefits that go unused every year is monumental. As with most benefits, hearing aid insurance benefits expire at the end of the calendar year. Because of this, you should use them while you have them. 

At Harbor Hearing, our dedicated team of experts can help you understand your benefits. Just give us a call! 

If your insurance plan or provider doesn’t offer hearing aid insurance, you may consider using HSA or FSA dollars. At Harbor Hearing, we can help you use these dollars efficiently with no out-of-pocket costs.

Additionally, your yearly hearing evaluation is almost always completely covered. Hearing tests help patients identify hearing problems early. Even if you don’t have hearing loss, you should obtain a hearing evaluation because it gives you the opportunity to discuss your likelihood of needing hearing aids in the future.

“Hearing aids are all the same.”

Believing that all hearing aids work exactly the same can lead to the purchase of cheap and ineffective products. Many patients have come to my office disappointed by a device that they purchased from a large retailer or from a discounted service that their insurance provided.

A way to avoid this disappointment is to familiarize yourself with the company before you buy. You want to work with an audiologist that you can trust—one who will focus on your needs rather than on making a sale. The last thing I want for you or your loved one is to waste money on ineffective hearing aids.

Take the advice of Laurel Christensen, chief audiology officer at GN Hearing, a hearing aid manufacturer: “Don’t buy off the TV or the internet. This is a health issue, and you do need to see a professional.” 

At Harbor Hearing, we counsel patients about their hearing loss and explain how wearing hearing aids will benefit their lives. We also take ear measurements to ensure proper fit and great performance.  

Tip: When scheduling an appointment with your provider, ask, “Do you take real ear measurements?”

“Hearing loss is normal for my age.”

By far, this misconception is one of the most common. My patients often ask me, “Is my hearing normal for my age?” My response is always the same: “Whether you’re 5 or 105, you need to hear above 25 dB to hear all the sounds in normal speech. That standard does not change with age.” 

When patients ask those types of questions, they’re implying they don’t need amplification because hearing loss is a normal part of life. Since they see other people their age not wearing amplification, they assume that they, too, can go without it. “My hearing does not bother me,” some say.   

In my opinion, the excuse “It does not bother me” is something we tell ourselves to avoid the problem at hand. Rather than addressing the issue, we normalize hearing loss and file the problem away until it becomes a bigger issue—an issue that’s too big and problematic to fix through amplification.

The truth is that any hearing loss that impedes your ability to understand speech is a BIG problem. The longer your hearing loss goes untreated, the harder adjusting to amplification will be. 

Is it time for your next hearing evaluation? Call us at 727-781-8770 to set up an appointment, or schedule it yourself right now on our website! I can’t wait to meet you!

One Hearing Aid or Two

“Do I need two hearing aids, or can I get by with just one?” 

This question is one I hear quite frequently from patients with hearing loss in both ears. Personally, I understand their point of view: why invest in two hearing aids if one will suffice? 

However, as an audiologist, I know the benefits of wearing hearing aids in both ears, and I’m happy to share my knowledge with you. The following are several benefits of wearing hearing aids in both ears. 

Sound Localization

Our brains rely on information from both of our ears to determine where sounds are coming from. Timing, intensity, and location are items that can be difficult to judge when relying on the reception of only one ear and can lead to confusion or dizziness. These issues are easily resolved when hearing aids are used in both ears. 

Improved Understanding in Background Noise

Many individuals with hearing loss have difficulty hearing in noisy environments. A study by Kim et al. (2014) demonstrates that individuals who wear two hearing aids are better able to follow conversations with background noise than those who wear only one hearing aid. Essentially, hearing aids work better as a pair, enhancing speech understanding in background noise.

Preservation of Speech Understanding

Over time, untreated hearing loss can lead to a decline in speech understanding. If both ears are experiencing hearing loss, the entire auditory system is affected and requires treatment. 

Wearing only one hearing aid is like wearing only one prescription lens in your glasses. To maintain speech understanding equally, wear hearing aids in both ears.

Our Experience

Sometimes, our patients do not follow our recommendations, and we respect their decisions. However, at Harbor Hearing we are always upfront about proper expectations. Most patients who need two hearing aids but only invest in one will report problems about misunderstandings in noisy environments, poor localization, and decreased word understanding in the unaided ear.

We are blessed to have two ears. If we can use them, we should. 

Byrne, D. & Noble, W. (1998) Optimizing Sound Localization with Hearing Aids. Trends in Hearing 3(2). doi: 10.1177/108471389800300202

Kim, J., Lee, J.H., & Lee, H. (2014) Advantages of Binaural Amplification to Acceptable Noise Level of Directional Hearing Aid Users. Clinical and Experimental Otohinolaryngology. 7(2) doi: 10.3342/ceo.2014.7.2.94

Top 4 Reasons Your Hearing Aids Whistle!

“Give a little whistle!”

If you’ve ever watched Disney’s Pinnochio, you are likely familiar with the song that Jiminy Cricket sings, titled, “Give a Little Whistle.” In the movie, this whistle is a cry for help. If you wear hearing aids, chances are you have heard them whistle at some point or another. This sound is called feedback, and while it can be normal, it can also be your hearing aids’ “call for help.”  

Feedback is simply the result of a sound being picked up by the microphone and amplified, causing the noise to “loop,” or repeat. This is the same effect that is heard when a microphone on stage gets too close to a loudspeaker. However, since the hearing aids’ speaker is quite small, the effect is not nearly as loud.

Feedback is normal for many patients with hearing aids. In fact, many patients check whether their hearing aids are working correctly by holding a hand near their ear. This position causes the sounds from the microphone to reflect off the hand and begin that feedback loop. If feedback only happens when a hand is placed near the ear, there is generally nothing to be concerned about.

However, sometimes feedback can occur for other reasons. Your ears may have accumulated too much wax, the hearing aid may no longer fit properly, or the hearing aid may be malfunctioning. 

Earwax  

A large amount of earwax (cerumen) can cause sound to reflect back into the hearing aid’s microphone. When you notice new or unexplained feedback from your hearing aids, you can often fix the problem by removing excess earwax.

Poor Fit

Patients also experience feedback when a hearing aid is poorly fit. Sometimes, simply pressing the hearing aid further into the ear will reduce or eliminate the issue. Other patients experience poor retention, meaning that their hearing aids wiggle or even fall out while eating or speaking. This loose fit will cause sound to leak out, resulting in feedback. Another possible reason for hearing aid feedback is a change in ear canal shape. Aging, weight loss, and weight gain can all affect a hearing aid’s fit.

Strong Amplification

If you have severe hearing loss and require strong amplification, you are more likely to experience feedback. Although hearing aid technology reduces the chance of feedback, it cannot always eliminate it completely. In cases of severe hearing loss, a little feedback may always exist, especially when objects come near the ear (scratching, hugging, sitting near walls).

Broken Hearing Aids

The last reason a hearing aid will produce feedback is that it is broken. Broken hearing aids can cause issues with the microphone, speaker, or even the internal circuitry. In these cases, an audiologist will not be able to resolve the issue in the office, and the hearing aids must be sent to the manufacturer for repair.  

At Harbor Hearing, we are equipped to deal with every possible scenario when it comes to feedback issues.

  • Earwax? We can safely remove it for you!
  • Poor fit? We can easily recommend a different fit.
  • Strong amplification? We are trained to educate you on best options to eliminate feedback.
  • Broken hearing aids? We can repair them for you!

Of course, this list is not exhaustive. Many other reasons can cause hearing aid feedback. If your hearing aids have begun to “give a little whistle,” be sure to answer their “call for help” by visiting us. We will evaluate the cause and work toward reducing or eliminating the problem. 

Features of Assistive Listening Devices

May signifies an exciting time of the year for audiologists around the world. Flowers are blooming, the air is growing warmer, and Better Speech & Hearing Month has just begun. 

I thought long and hard about what topic I would cover during this important month. Many people know that hearing aids improve communication and promote cognitive health by allowing the brain access to important sounds, but did you know that patients also benefit from using Assistive Listening Devices (ALDs)? ALDs can make a world of difference for individuals with hearing loss because of the following valuable features. 

Induction Loops or Telecoils

Telecoils, also known as induction loops, are small copper wires that interact with loops installed in the ceilings of venues such as theaters, meeting halls, and churches. These loop systems connect the building’s sound systems or microphones to one’s hearing aids, ensuring good sound quality by reducing background noise. Many hearing aids have telecoils built into them.

If you have questions about telecoils or whether your hearing aids have this feature, give us a call. We are happy to answer your questions!

Television Headsets

Do you remember TV Ears? Although they are not as popular anymore since hearing aids can stream wirelessly to most televisions, I still sometimes recommend Infra-red TV headsets. TV headsets stream sound from one’s television to a headset and give patients who are not candidates for hearing aids the ability to understand their televisions.   

Bluetooth Connectivity

Most new hearing aids have the ability to connect via Bluetooth to cell phones and other devices such as microphones or televisions. These convenient listening devices allow patients to stream phone calls and television programs right to their hearing aids. 

Using a microphone clip, friends and family can attach these devices to their shirts, and the device will stream their voices directly to one’s hearing aids. For those individuals with a moderate to severe deficit in background noise, a microphone will make it easier to hear loved ones in a crowded area such as at a restaurant. 

Amplified Devices for Medical Professionals

Amplified stethoscopes are useful for medical professionals who suffer from hearing loss. I have fit several physicians, nurses, and medical assistants with hearing aids; however, when wearing hearing aids, one cannot wear a standard stethoscope piece at the same time. Amplified stethoscopes allow medical professionals to keep their hearing instruments in their ears while performing auscultation. 

Captioned Telephones

Amplified and/or captioned phones can help those with hearing loss better understand phone conversations. These phones have built-in screens that display captions for everything the other person says while on the call. 

In [state], those with hearing loss qualify for a free amplified or captioned phone. Contact us if you are interested in obtaining one of those telephones. 

Alerting Devices

Patients with severe hearing loss would often miss their morning alarms if not for the help of an alerting device. One type of alerting device is a specialized alarm clock that uses flashing lights and/or vibrating pillow inserts to wake those who might not respond to sounds. Other alerting devices include special doorbells, fire alarms, carbon monoxide monitors, and baby monitors.

Give us a call at Harbor Hearing to find out more information about assistive listening devices and discover one for you! 

Often, when people wear hearing aids and/or assistive listening devices for the first time, they wish they had tried them sooner. Reach out yourself or encourage a loved one to take the first step toward life-altering treatment. Give us a call at 727-771-8770!

Hearing Aids of the Future

Researchers are constantly improving hearing aid performance and appeal. One of their goals is to reduce background noise to make focused listening easier.

To accomplish this task, researchers have undertaken a new study investigating the use of brainwaves in improving speech understanding in noisy environments (Geirnaert et al., 2020). Hearing aids with this technology might be able to identify and amplify the primary speaker while dulling unnecessary voices and background noise. This function will drastically and amazingly improve hearing aid efficiency. 

Though hearing aids do not currently possess this brainwave technology, they are fit with some other sophisticated features, including the following. 

Rechargeable Batteries 

Most new hearing aids can be recharged. Rechargeable hearing aids are convenient and easy to use. They also provide a great solution for individuals with low vision or difficulty handling batteries. Simply recharge your hearing aids every night, and you’ll no longer have to worry about them quitting in the middle of an important phone call or meeting. 

Bluetooth Connectivity 

Most hearing devices connect wirelessly to a smartphone or tablet to effortlessly stream music and phone calls directly into the ears. This feature allows users to control hearing aid programs directly from their mobile devices. 

Artificial Intelligence 

Newer hearing aids act as smart devices. I often describe them as tiny computers that rest on the tops of the ears. Some devices use artificial intelligence to identify different sounds in the environment. Others can be used as “Healthables” to track activity levels, alert a loved ones of falls, and show the number of daily social interactions.

While all hearing aids improve hearing, they are slowly transitioning into multi-functional devices. These examples share only a few of the many improvements being made in hearing technology. Call now to see for yourself how these improvements will benefit your hearing! 

Note: If you or someone you know is experiencing difficulty understanding speech while in noisy environments, we usually recommend a trial with new amplification. This method is the most beneficial!

Harbor Hearing, P.A. 
33917 US Highway 19 North 
Palm Harbor, FL 34684

(727) 771-8770

Sources:

Geirnaert, S., Francart, T., & Bertrand, A. (2020). Fast EEG-based decoding of the directional focus of auditory attention using common spatial patterns. Institution of Electrical and Electronics Engineer. DOI: 10.1109/TBME.2020.3033446

Leuven, K. (2020). Which speaker are you listening to? Hearing aid of the future uses brainwaves to find out. Science Daily, <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2020/11/201124092144.htm>.

What You Don’t Know About Pets and Hearing Aids

The majority of people in the United States have had a pet at some point. Some didn’t have pets until they were older, and others have had pets throughout their lives and cannot imagine living without an animal companion. Dogs keep us active by requiring exercise and care. Cats comfort us when we’re lonely – even their purring has been known to have healing effects. Pets can greatly benefit our health and emotions, and their benefits often become clearer as we age. Yes, pets are wonderful! They truly bless us.

But then the day comes when you can’t find your hearing aid. You search everywhere–in the laundry, under the sofa, even in the trash can. Nothing. You glance at your dog who is laying there in the living room looking up at you with innocent eyes. You notice your hearing aid lying beside him. Shock shoots through your body as you desperately hope that the device is lying there unscathed. But as you approach (and your dog’s tail wags), the truth becomes dreadfully clear– your hearing aid has been chewed up! Do you still love your dog? Of course! But, in that moment, you discover that having a pet can be very costly. The average cost of a hearing aid can run from $1,000-3,000!

Why do pets damage hearing aids?

At Harbor Hearing, damage caused by pets is the top reason that people file loss and damage claims for their hearing aids. As audiologists, we have heard many patients argue that their dog (or cat) would never chew up their aids only to come in years (or sometimes just months) later with a chewed up hearing aid.  

Why cats and dogs commonly chew up hearing aids isn’t exactly known. In my experience, I have noticed that cats will play with and hide hearing aids. Dogs, on the other hand, will often chew the device beyond repair and sometimes even swallow it.

Two theories for why pets like hearing aids are the aids’ sound and taste. As many know, animals can hear certain frequencies that we cannot. Therefore, when a dog or cat hears a high pitched sound that we cannot, they might view the device as a fun toy. Secondly, hearing aids smell like your ear wax, and most pets identify that smell as a salty and tasty treat.

How can you prevent this costly accident?

If you have pets, keep your hearing aids on your ears or in their case or charger. Never set your aids on a nightstand, end table, or anywhere else your pet may access. For bigger animals, you may even want to hide your case in a drawer.

What happens if it is chewed up?

Should the worst happen and your pet chews up your aid, remember that you likely have a 3-year warranty for most aids. This warranty includes one-time “Loss and Damage” coverage. So, if Fido chews up your hearing aid, you can get the device replaced for a small deductible (a few hundred dollars). Hopefully, if this happens to you, you will correct the error of your ways because Loss and Damage coverage can be used only once. If your pet damages your aids again, you will have to pay thousands of dollars for a replacement.  

Consider this your warning! Enjoy your pets and take good care of your hearing aids. If the worst should happen, give us a call at (727) 771-8770 so we can help you get back to hearing again.

Could your hip implant be causing your hearing loss?

Over the years, metal hip replacements have been found to cause hearing loss, tinnitus, and balance issues. Though issues may not occur shortly after the replacement, after some wear or corrosion of the chrome or cobalt individuals may experience damage in the auditory system.[i] Even though the metal is localized in the hip, over time, small metal ions can travel into the blood stream and cause problems in other parts of the body, such as, the cardiovascular system, visual system, motor-sensory system, and the auditory system.[ii] In addition to these issues some patients also have issues with their psychological function and immune system.

At Harbor Hearing, P.A. we take your overall health into account when you come in for a hearing evaluation. When you visit us you will notice we take the time necessary to get a thorough health history before the hearing evaluation is completed. Did you know that hearing loss isn’t only caused by aging? Hearing loss has also been associated with diabetes, hypertension, cardiovascular disease, and ototoxic medications.

If you did have a metal hip replacement, it is a good idea to get a baseline hearing evaluation. That way, if changes do occur over time, they can be accurately tracked. Also, if you are experiencing any signs of hearing loss, such as, trouble hearing in noisy environments, asking for repetition, or having trouble with the clarity of speech, it is important to get a hearing evaluation. Early detection and intervention for hearing loss is key. If you did have a cobalt-chromium hip implant, be aware of the potential long term issues and speak to your primary care doctor if you have any concerns. If you have any questions about hearing loss or suspect that you may have a hearing loss, do not hesitate to give us a call at 727-771-8770 to schedule an appointment.


[i]J. B. Leikin, H. C. Karydes, P. M. Whiteley, B. K. Wills, K. L. Cumpston & J. J. Jacobs (2013) Outpatient toxicology clinic experience of patients with hip implants, Clinical Toxicology, 51:4, 230-236[ii]Gessner, Bradford D. MD, MPH*; Steck, Thomas BS†; Woelber, Erik MSc†; Tower, Stephen S. MD‡ A Systematic Review of Systemic Cobaltism After Wear or Corrosion of Chrome-Cobalt Hip Implants, Journal of Patient Safety: June 2019 – Volume 15 – Issue 2 – p 97-104