Sunday, February 23, 2014

Hearing Aid "Side Effects"

How to Combat Background Noise, the Screeching of 

Feedback and that “Talking in a Barrel” Feeling

Background interference got you down?

To improve your ability to hear and understand in background noise, try using some basic communication strategies.  For example, ask to be seated away from the kitchen if you are going to a noisy restaurant, or choose an eatery that has good acoustics. (Carpeting on the floor goes a long way in absorbing some of the sounds.)

Technology Tip: Advances in hearing aidtechnology have recognized that two microphones work better than one.  Adaptive Dual Microphone technology recognizes the origin of background noise and automatically reduces it while focusing on sounds you want to hear.

Does your own voice sound odd?

If you are new to wearing hearing aids, your own voice may sound strange…like you are talking in a hollow barrel.  Even your own chewing can sound loud!

This effect is called occlusion and is caused by the ear mold completely filling the ear canal. Vibrations made by the sound waves of your voice are trapped, making it sound louder.  In most cases, creating a vent through the hearing aid to unblock the ear solves the problem by allowing the vibrations of your voice to escape.  Some hearing aids come with a pressure relief vent to equalize the air pressure in the ear, but these vents are often too small to reduce the occlusion effect. Thus, it may be necessary to have your Audiologist create a larger passage in the hearing aid.

Technology Tip:  Open Fit technology can effectively eliminate occlusion.  This type of hearing aid keeps the ear canal open by using a small tube with a speaker instead of a traditional ear mold.

Does your hearing aid squeal?

Everyone has heard it.  That “fingernails-on-a-blackboard screech” coming from your hearing aid when you place it near a phone or take it out of your ear.  It’s called feedback and is the result of amplified sound leaking from the ear canal into the hearing aid microphone. It happens when there is a crack in the hearing aid venting, a loose fit or an accumulation of earwax in your ear canal.

Don’t try to fix your hearing aid yourself by tapping it on a hard surface. You are likely to cause damage with that method!   Instead, schedule an appointment with your Audiologist to see if your hearing aid needs to be repaired, refitted or if earwax needs to be removed. 

Technology Tip: Many of today’s digital hearing aids feature “feedback management” systems that automatically identify feedback before it occurs and cancel it automatically.