Category Archives: Hearing Aids

New Advancement in Bluetooth Hearing Aids!

Bluetooth technology has been available in hearing aids for a number of years with great success especially with cell phone conversations. Another common struggle reported by many users is difficulty understanding television and their friends/family report it’s very loud. To help with this issue, hearing aid manufacturers have created accessories to connect to the TV and stream the signal through the accessory to the hearing aids.

Now, Starkey Hearing Technologies and Amazon have partnered together to streamline this connection. Amazon has recently announced that their Fire TV Cube (2nd Gen) has a feature to support Audio Streaming for Hearing Aids (ASHA). The Fire TV cube (2nd Gen) can now stream audio directly to select Starkey enabled Bluetooth hearing aids without the use of an extra accessory. Amazon has also stated they expect to increase the hearing aids capable of this technology in the coming months, likely to more manufacturers.

Hearing Aid Technology Update: Phonak Virto Paradise

Phonak recently released a new in-the-ear hearing aid called the Virto Paradise. Virto Paradise is a custom product, made for your ears only. It offers enhanced features, including:

  • Improved sound quality over the previous generation of Phonak hearing aids (Phonak Marvel): This results in less listening effort needed to understand conversations. The Virto Paradise is also able to distinguish between speech and music when streaming audio from a Bluetooth device, resulting in a better sound experience.
  • Universal connectivity: The Virto Paradise with a size 312 battery has universal connectivity, meaning it is able to connect wirelessly to any device (smartphone, tablet, computer) that has Bluetooth capability. The hearing aids are also able to support connections to multiple devices at once.
  • Hands-free phone calls: Phone calls can be directly streamed from an iPhone or Android smartphone with Bluetooth capability to the Virto Paradise 312 hearing aids. You can answer phone calls with the push of a button on the hearing aids, even if your phone is on the other side of the room.
  • Adjustability: Virto Paradise 312 is compatible with the MyPhonak app, which can be used to adjust volume or program options in real time. The MyPhonak app allows you to personalize the sound of the hearing aids to your own preferences.
  • Sleek custom design: Available in a range of sizes and colors, there is a Virto Paradise option for everyone. A new offering is the black color, designed to resemble ear buds.

If you are interested in learning more about Phonak Virto Paradise or any of our other hearing aid options, contact our clinic at 904-399-0350 to schedule a consultation.

Bluetooth Connections and Smartphone Updates

Most current hearing aids have the capability to connect to smartphones via Bluetooth for phone calls, streaming, and adjustments to the hearing aids via an app. The feedback from patients has been very positive about how much they enjoy the ability to stream their cell phone calls to the hearing aids and the ability to make adjustments for more difficult listening environments. However, with any technology, there are some glitches where the Bluetooth connection isn’t working.

Hearing aid manufacturers have discovered that when there is a software update for the cellphone (Apple iPhones in particular), it causes a disruption in the Bluetooth connection, resulting in the lost ability to stream or make adjustments.

The solution to fix this can be done at home, without requiring a trip to the office by following the steps below:

Step 1: In the Bluetooth screen in the phone settings, you will click the “i” next to the hearing aid name and then click “Forget This Device” for all established hearing aid connections.

Step 2: Turn the hearing aids off/on. This can be done manually or by placing the device in/out of the charger (if applicable).

Step 3: When the devices are back on, the Bluetooth from the phone will detect the device. Select the hearing aid name and the pairing should then be complete.

This same process can be repeated for app connections as well. The devices are to be forgotten from the app, turned off/on, then select the devices from the list of detected devices and hit “pair” as prompted.

If you encounter any difficulty with re-establishing Bluetooth connections, call your audiologist for assistance.

Over-the-Counter (OTC) Hearing Aids

Last month, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) proposed a rule permitting the sale of a new category of Over-the-Counter (OTC) hearing aids that could be sold directly to consumers without an exam. While unregulated OTC hearing aids may work as intended, there is a risk that the devices could be defective or completely inadequate for the treatment of hearing loss. Advertisements for these new OTC hearing aids have already targeted consumers even though there are currently no OTC hearing aids that have received FDA approval.

Whenever individuals are going to make a “big purchase” they tend to think it over and do research. This must also apply to hearing aids, especially as it is part of your physical and mental health.

Companies that sell over-the-counter hearing devices are not held to the same standards as the licensed professionals who provide these devices. They are also not required to inform consumers of the risks associated with their products. While consumers may be tempted to purchase these unregulated products because of their low prices, the ultimate price you pay may be further hearing loss.

Hearing aids are not a “one size fits all” product. In fact, they need to be custom programmed and fine-tuned to an individual’s hearing loss. The OTC hearing aids can create further hearing loss by being inappropriately fit to the user.

Medical device companies are required to register and list their devices with the FDA, though this registration only indicates that the company has provided information to the FDA; it does not indicate FDA approval, clearance, or authorization of the device. Unfortunately, this has not stopped some disreputable sellers of OTC hearing devices from falsely claiming that their products are “FDA-registered” or “FDA-cleared.” Since the devices are not approved or regulated by the FDA for their overall acoustic output or volume, the effects can be damaging to any remaining hearing the individual has left if it is set too loud.

If you are considering buying a hearing aid, take the following recommendations into account:

  • Beware of misleading claims. Over-the-counter hearing aids are only meant to treat mild to moderate hearing loss and may not be able to treat severe hearing loss. Avoid purchasing OTC hearing aids that claim to treat severe hearing loss or hearing loss in children.
  • Have your hearing evaluated by a medical professional. While online hearing tests may be convenient, they may fail to detect serious hearing loss, or the underlying causes of your hearing loss that may need medical management.
  • Know your rights. Under state law, if you are unhappy with your hearing aids you are allowed to return them within 30 days of receipt. The seller must provide you with a written statement with this information.

If you believe you or a loved one may need help hearing, seek a licensed medical professional for a complete hearing evaluation to determine the status and nature of the hearing loss and whether it can be corrected with medical intervention or hearing aids.

Hear for the Holidays

The holidays are often a joyful time to reconnect with loved ones. However, for those with hearing loss, holiday get-togethers can lead to stress and anxiety due to difficulty understanding conversation. If you notice that you often mishear what people say or rely on lipreading to understand them better, you may have a hearing loss. Hearing aids are often an effective treatment for hearing loss. Hearing aids amplify sound to allow the brain better access to speech which, for many people, greatly improves communication.

The Hearing Center at Jacksonville Hearing and Balance Institute is currently offering a special hearing aid discount through the month of December. Give our office a call for a comprehensive hearing evaluation and discussion regarding the best treatment option for you. Happy Holidays!

How Often Should You Purchase Hearing Aids?

This is a question that we address everyday with our patients and their loved ones! The short answer is that a hearing device should typically be replaced about every five to seven years or so. In reality, however, the answer is a bit more involved. Several factors may determine whether or not it’s time to update your hearing instruments. They include:

  • Level and sophistication of the hearing technology
  • Potential changes in your hearing sensitivity, lifestyle, or overall health
  • Condition and performance of your existing hearing devices

Here are a few potential signs you may need fresh hearing technology:

Device Malfunctioning

You do all the recommended maintenance, but things still aren’t right: Replaced batteries drain quickly; sound is still muffled after you change wax guards. The occasional repair is normal, but regular malfunctions may mean it’s time to replace your devices.

Hearing Level Has Changed

Your hearing changes over time because of age, loud sounds, or other health issues. Often we can adjust your programming to meet your new needs, but sometimes your hearing changes so much that you require a different level of technology or a different type of device all together. 

Repairs Seem Costly

With older devices, the parts are often scarce or the model is discontinued. Sometimes repairing your devices costs enough that it makes more sense to replace them with new hearing aids.

Technology Evolving

Devices have advanced significantly over the years with better filtering of background noise, rechargeability without the hassle of disposable batteries, tinnitus management, and wireless streaming from smartphones.

Hearing your best is more critical than ever in our changing world — with in-person and virtual communication both playing important roles in today’s new normal. If you think it might be time to update your hearing devices, please don’t wait to contact us to get your questions answered or to schedule a hearing aid consultation.

Hearing Aid Industry Update: Signia Insio Charge&Go AX

The world of hearing aids has improved yet again! Rechargeable devices have been available to patients with hearing loss for a number of years in the behind-the-ear style with great success. Now, patients have the option of a custom fit hearing aid that is also rechargeable!

One of the hearing aid industry’s leading manufacturers, Signia, has released their newest product, the Insio Charge&Go AX. They allow hearing aid users to have the most discreet custom and rechargeable hearing aid on the market with great sound quality, better hearing in background noise and modern technology features such as Bluetooth connection. They devices are capable of direct Bluetooth connection to cell phones and tablets for any audio signal such as phone calls, streaming of music, video, and audiobooks. In addition, they can be paired to the Signia App on smart devices, which allows the user to have more control of their listening ability in difficult listening environments such as group environments and restaurants.

Contact our Hearing Center to see if the Signia Insio Charge&Go AX is right for you!

Click HERE to visit Signia’s website for more information.

The Value of an Audiologist

An audiologist is a health care professional who provides patient-centered care in order to identify, diagnose and treat hearing loss and balance disorders using evidence-based practice. An audiologist aims to provide personalized services to minimize the negative impact of hearing loss and ultimately lead to improved quality of life. 

Audiologists are required to hold a doctorate degree in audiology (Au.D.). They must also pass board examinations to receive licensing and accreditation. In addition, audiologists are required to earn annual continuing education credits in order to remain knowledgeable of the most current research-based practice and rehabilitation methods.

A hearing aid is often used to manage hearing loss by analyzing and amplifying sound within an environment. If hearing aids are recommended based on a comprehensive hearing evaluation the audiologist uses the test results combined with information about the patient’s lifestyle and communication needs to determine the most appropriate style and power level of hearing aid. Additionally, the audiologist provides personalized counseling to help educate the patient and establish realistic expectations regarding their potential benefit from hearing aids. Information is also provided regarding communication and self-advocacy strategies in order to give the patient control over their hearing experience and help maximize hearing aid benefit. 

One of the most important components of the hearing aid process is the follow up care. Best practice methods include programming hearing aid settings based on verification measures (objective data) and patient feedback regarding their experience (subjective data). A hearing aid is an investment in your health and wellness and when thinking about purchasing hearing aid it is important to find out the types of services and the level of care that you will receive with your purchase. Many audiologists include programming adjustments, verification tests and counseling in the cost of the hearing aids. This helps to ensure the patient receives high quality of care tailored to their specific needs.

CROS and Bi-CROS Solutions

What is a CROS System?

A Contralateral Routing of Sound (CROS) hearing aid is a type of hearing device that is used to treat unilateral hearing loss (single sided hearing loss). It takes sound from the ear with poor hearing sensitivity and transmits the sounds to the better hearing ear. As a result, the CROS transmitter device is not a full hearing aid. It has microphones and a computer processing chip, but no speaker. It will therefore be transmitting the sound wirelessly to a receiving hearing aid on the better ear. This type of set-up allows a patient to have access to sound from both sides of their head which aids in volume, clarity, and sound localization.  

What is a Bi-CROS System?

A Bi-CROS system is very similar to the CROS system. A patient would still be wearing two devices, however, the CROS transmitter is paired with an active hearing aid providing amplification. A Bi-CROS system is used when someone has an asymmetrical hearing loss, that is a hearing loss in both ears but with one ear better than the other.

Again, the CROS device works as a transmitter which captures the sound from the bad side and transmits it to the hearing aid on the better side. The hearing aid on the better side delivers the sound from the worst ear and amplifies the sound from the better hearing ear as well.

Who is a Candidate for a CROS or Bi-CROS System?

Individuals with either asymmetric hearing loss or single-sided deafness may be a candidate for a CROS or Bi-CROS system. To inquire whether or not this non-surgical option would work for you, give us a call at 904-399-0350 to make an appointment!

What to Expect When You are New to Hearing Aids

1. During an appointment with your audiologist, expect a thorough assessment to determine the severity of your hearing loss and a detailed discussion about your lifestyle, hearing priorities, and budget to help determine what hearing aids are best for you.

2. Expect an adjustment period when you first begin to wear hearing aids. Hearing loss typically occurs over time, and it can take time for your brain to become accustomed to all the sounds you are now hearing again. The world is a very noisy place and you may notice sounds you didn’t realize you were missing such as your footsteps when walking, running water from the faucet & the quiet hum of the refrigerator. After wearing the hearing aids for a week or two, all of those ambient sounds will become less prominent to you. The more you wear hearing aids, the quicker you will adjust!

3. Expect them to “whistle” as you put them in your ears. Once they are in your ears, the whistling should stop.

4. Expect to take care of your hearing aids! The better care that is taken of them, the longer they will last. It is as simple as routine nightly cleaning. Wiping them down with a tissue every night will go a long way!

5. Expect a new technology to be developed every couple of years. You can speak with your audiologist to determine if new technology would be beneficial for you. Just as any other electronic device, they do not last forever and will eventually wear out.

Purchasing hearing aids is a big adjustment to your life but with these few pointers to get you started, you are on your way to better hearing!