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Disposable vs. Rechargeable Hearing Aid Batteries

All hearing aids require a power source, but many modern hearing aids have the option of either a disposable or rechargeable battery. Which option is the best for you?

Benefits of Rechargeable Batteries:
1. Convenient – Instead of having to frequently repurchase batteries over the lifespan of the hearing aid, you simply charge the hearing aid at night while you sleep. The hearing aid then has battery power for up to 30 hours on a single charge. The internal battery can be charged thousands of times before needing replacement. 
2. Easy to Use – Disposable hearing aid batteries are very small and can be difficult to change for some people. Rechargeable hearing aids easily pop into a charger, so there is no fumbling with small pieces.
3. Environmentally Friendly – Given that most disposable hearing aid batteries last about 5-7 days, you will ultimately throw away hundreds of batteries over the lifespan of hearing aids if you use that option. Although hearing aid batteries can be recycled, disposable batteries create much more waste over the lifespan of a hearing aid compared to 2 rechargeable batteries. 

Benefits of Disposable Batteries:
1. More portable – Disposable batteries are much easier to take on the go, since you don’t have to pack the charger with a power cord. A pack of disposable batteries is small enough to easily fit in a pocket or wallet.  
2. Little downtime – When disposable batteries die, it’s as simple as changing to a new battery in a matter of seconds to power your hearing aids again. When the charge dies on rechargeable hearing aids, it typically takes a couple of hours for the hearing aids to fully recharge, which is especially inconvenient if you don’t have your charger with you. 
3. Different hearing aid style options – Certain styles of hearing aids, such as tiny invisible in the ear hearing aids, are only able to be powered by disposable batteries. Other types of hearing aids, such as behind the ear styles, typically have the option of either rechargeable or disposable batteries. 

The best hearing aid battery option for you is a matter of lifestyle and personal preference. An audiologist can help you decide what the best choice is to fit your needs. 

Troubleshooting Bluetooth-Enabled Hearing Aids

Many newer hearing aids on the market are Bluetooth compatible and are able to wirelessly connect to both iPhone and Android devices. Patients with Bluetooth-enabled hearing aids enjoy the convenience of streaming phone calls and listening to music/tinnitus maskers from their phones directly to their hearing aids, all the while being able to use their phone as a remote control. But with great convenience comes the occasional annoyance when connections drop out.

If this happens, there are a few things you can do to fix the connection. Here are a few ways you can troubleshoot:

  • Have you downloaded and installed the latest version of software for your cell phone?
    • It is important to regularly download and install software updates provided by the cell phone manufacturer. These updates protect your device from viruses and hacking, as well as improve the device’s operation.
    • Note that a software update may require you to completely switch off the phone for a minute before switching it back on.
  • Have you downloaded and installed the latest version of software for the app?
    • If your phone has had a software update, check to see whether your apps also require updating. Occasionally, an update to the device will require an update to the app as well.
  • Did your hearing aids lose its Bluetooth pairing?
    • It is possible that you can fix Bluetooth streaming issues by re-pairing your devices in either the Bluetooth or Accessibility screen in your phone’s General Settings.
    • Remember to turn the hearing aids off and on and place them within a few inches of the phone before re-pairing.

If you are still having Bluetooth issues, we encourage you to come to our Walk-In Clinic (Tuesdays 10:00am – 11:30am and Thursdays 1:00pm – 2:30pm) at the Hearing Center for help troubleshooting your connection.

Making the Most Out of Your Hearing Aids

After you have had a complete audiological evaluation, are fit with the right hearing devices, and your devices have been personalized for your needs, it is important to know what accessories are available to you. Hearing aid accessories can help optimize the performance of the devices and even make them more convenient to use.

Battery Chargers
Traditionally, hearing aids have been powered by disposable batteries which need to be replaced every five to ten days depending on the size of the battery. Rechargeable devices are now available, making wearing the device more convenient to wear. The need to change small batteries and have additional batteries on hand is eliminated. This can be very helpful for those who have visual or dexterity issues and it’s also environmentally friendly!

Bluetooth and Streaming Capabilities
Many of today’s hearing aids are Bluetooth compatible, meaning they can easily pair to your cell phone and other wireless devices. This enables the user to stream phone calls, music, and other audio sources from the device, hands free, directly to the hearing aids, and allows the user to hear clearly from their hearing aids without interference or hearing unwanted sounds. An app can also be downloaded onto smartphones and tablets to gives access for the individual wearing the devices to control the hearing aids via a remote control.

Another helpful accessory is the television adapter. These adapters allow the user to stream audio from their television directly into their hearing aids, again avoiding interference from unwanted sounds. It also allows the user to control the volume and sound quality without affecting others who may be watching television with them.

Remote Microphones
Although many hearing aids today have the ability to help us hear better when background noise is present, some hearing aid users still find these situations challenging. Remote microphones can help resolve this issue by streaming the conversation directly to the hearing aids, helping to eliminate background noise. Remote microphones can be used personally, meaning one speaker wears a device, or in a group where the microphone can be placed in the center of a table.

Dehumidifiers
Moisture can affect the performance and function of your devices. Using a dehumidifier, often referred to as a dry aid kit, reduces the amount of moisture collected inside your hearing aid. This is especially true if you live in a humid climate or are exposed to moisture frequently. Dehumidifiers can be electric or non-electric. If your hearing aids are rechargeable, the charging system often includes the dehumidifier, eliminating the need to have a separate accessory.

Having the appropriate cleaning tools to maintain your devices is also important. The use of small brushes, cleaning clothes, cases and other tools will help clean and protect your hearing aids. There are accessories with clips that enable you to participate in sports or physical activities while keeping devices clean, dry, and prevent them from falling out.

Hearing Aids vs. Amplifiers: What’s the Difference?

Today, there are numerous advertisements in magazines and on television for products that will enhance your hearing. Although many of these devices may look like hearing aids, they typically are not. These devices are called “amplifiers” or “personal sound amplification products (PSAPs)”.  Although PSAPs have been around for many years, new age marketing techniques have made them more readily available to consumers.

One of the major differences between hearing aids and PSAPs is how they function and how they are programmed.  Hearing aids are programmed for each person’s specific hearing loss while PSAPs generally make sound louder. Hearing aids are programmed using sophisticated software after a thorough hearing test is completed.  Audiologist and hearing instrument specialists use the results of the hearing test to program each frequency with a specific amount of amplification for the best possible hearing outcomes.  A person may, and typically does, need different amounts of amplification at various pitches or frequencies. On the contrary, a PSAP turns everything up globally, just like increasing the volume on the television.  For many people, this results in some pitches being WAY too loud.   An additional benefit to hearing aids is that the technology does much more that just “turn certain pitches louder”.  There are features such as background noise reduction, Bluetooth connectivity, and maximum output limits; all features for maximum benefit.

If you are interested in exploring hearing aids through JHBI, feel free to give us a call at 904-399-0350.

New Hearing Aid Technology for Severe Hearing Loss

One of the industries leading hearing aid manufacturers, Phonak, has released their newest product for patients with severe to profound hearing loss that enables users to experiences a unique sound quality as well as the perks of new technology.

The Naida Paradise is designed to enhance soft speech as well as reduce background noise, making it functional for users in both quiet and noisier environments.

These devices can be connected to Bluetooth enabled devices such as cell phones and tablets, allowing users to have access to all aspects of their life in which communication and understanding is important. Phone calls, videos, music, and even audiobooks can be streamed from a connected device right into the hearing aids. Connectivity to the myPhonak app also enables users to have a remote-control right on their smart devices, allowing them to make adjustments for their particular listening situations.

The Naida Paradise is now also available in a rechargeable option! The hassle of changing batteries and always keeping some on hand when out of the house is now eliminated!

What To Do If Your Hearing Aids Get Wet

As things start warming back up in Jacksonville, it is likely that you will be heading to the beach or pool (or may get caught in bad rainstorms!). Whether you are new to hearing aids or have worn them for years, one thing almost all hearing aid wearers should know is that these highly advanced technological devices can be damaged by too much moisture. Here is what to do if your hearing aids get wet.

1.Don’t panic! Most hearing aids have a special coating to protect them from moisture damage. While this coating isn’t waterproof, it is water-resistant so that small amounts of water such as from perspiration or rain will be repelled.

2. Try to determine how much water damage has occurred.
Did you get caught in a rainstorm, or did they fall into the deep end of the pool? Regardless of the amount of water exposure, try your best to remove them from the moisture source right away.

3. Wipe away any visible moisture the best you can with a dry cloth or tissue. If you have a battery door you should open it, remove the battery, and wipe inside the battery compartment as well. If you have rechargeable hearing aids, wipe the outside down as best you can.

4. Use special hearing aid dryers and drying “jars” for hearing aids. Drying jars use moisture-absorbing beads to soak up any water that may have gotten into the hearing aids. Electric dryers plug into a wall outlet and are generally more effective than the jars (although the jars are more portable and don’t require electricity). Sometimes, even your charging case doubles as a de-humidifier.

5. See if they still work. If they are not working, or do not sound as good as they once did, contact your audiologist.

6. Check your warranty. If your hearing aid is relatively new, water damage may be covered under the warranty; ask your provider.This may also a good reason to get an extended warranty. If the damage is severe, the hearing aid may be replaceable using your insurance under loss and damage.

7. Try your best to not accidentally submerge your hearing aids again. Try leaving a note taped to the shower door or inside your beach bag that says, “Take out hearing aids!” is very helpful. Sometimes just a reminder is all that is needed to avoid a sticky situation!

3 Reasons Why Your Hearing Aids are Whistling

If you wear hearing aids, you’re going to experience whistling, or feedback, at some point in the life of the device. Here we will discuss some common causes of feedback and what you can do about it.

How does hearing aid feedback occur? 

Hearing aid feedback occurs when sound that was supposed to go into your ear canal leaves your ear and goes back into the hearing aid microphone for a second time. The sound then gets reamplified, and this causes your hearing aids to whistle. This feedback can happen in different contexts, like when you put your hearing aids on in the morning and take them off in the evening. This is perfectly normal because the hearing aids are reacting to the sound bouncing back from your surroundings.   

However, hearing aid feedback could also be a sign that something could be wrong with your hearing aids, or they need to be cleaned. In that case it’s best to consult your hearing care professional. 

What causes my hearing aids to whistle and what can I do about it? 

Hearing aids come with feedback cancellation systems, but this doesn’t completely safeguard you from feedback. A number of things can cause your hearing aids to whistle. Here are the most common reasons for feedback and how to resolve them.

  1. A poor fit: In general, if your hearing aids are not put properly in your ear, it gives the sound a chance to escape and re-enter the hearing aid microphone. Make sure they are sitting nice and tight in your ear when you put them on in the morning. The shape of your ears can change over time, and if they do, the earmolds can become loose and no longer seal properly. To fix it, you may need to get new earmolds fitted to your ear. Weight gain or weight loss can also affect your ears and the fit of the earmolds. 

  2. Too high volume: It can sometimes be tempting to turn up the volume on your hearing aids. But turning it up too loud can force the sound to re-enter your hearing aids, which causes whistling. Turn down your hearing aid volume and avoid the point at which sound gets so loud that it creates feedback.

  3. Too much earwax: If your ear canal is blocked by too much earwax, the sound can’t get through. So instead, sound bounces back into your hearing aids and they start to whistle. It is recommended to get your ears cleaned out regularly by a professional (no Q-Tips!) to avoid this problem.

If you continue to experience problems with hearing aid feedback and can’t figure out the reason, make an appointment to see your hearing aid audiologist for further assistance to address the issue.

Hearing Aid Issues?

If you wear hearing aids and continue to struggle to understand your friends and family you may be wondering where to turn. There may be a few reasons why you find yourself asking others to repeat despite the use of your hearing aids

  • Hearing aids may be in need of cleaning or reprogramming.
    • Wax build-up in a hearing aid can cause the hearing aid to sound muffled leading to difficulty hearing. It is also possible the hearing itself has decreased and the hearing aids are no longer set to the level needed to hear your best.
  • Realistic expectations
    • A common belief is that when someone wears hearing aids they will be able to hear normally. Hearing aids amplify sound which allows easier hearing, but they do not replace normal hearing. This means that you may still miss out on words especially when in a noisy room or when the talker is standing far away or behind you.
  • Severe hearing loss
    • Hearing aids amplify sound and then the sound travels to the organ of hearing (the cochlea) which stimulates the hearing nerve. If the cochlea has a lot of damage sound will likely be distorted and unclear even when amplified.
    • In this case you may receive more benefit from a cochlear implant than a hearing aid. A cochlear implant directly stimulates the hearing nerve and bypasses the portion of the cochlea that has been damaged. With time and therapy this leads to clearer sound.

If you wear hearing aids and feel that you are still not hearing your best give our office a call at 904-399-0350 to further evaluate your hearing and treatment options. Perhaps it is as simple as cleaning and updating the hearing aid settings or perhaps your hearing has declined to a level where a hearing aid can no longer provide benefit. 

Hearing Loss and the Holidays

With everything going on during the holiday season, it’s easy to forget that some people struggle during holiday get-togethers for various reasons. One recent online study shows that 50% of families will host at least one person with hearing loss at their holiday table. For these loved ones, the holidays can be isolating and frustrating, because they don’t feel included in the celebration.

Here are some suggestions to help you have a hearing-friendly holiday:

  1. Minimize background noise. Skip the holiday music or television in the background. Background noise can make it difficult to hear. Consider having rowdy football fans enjoy the game in a different room.
  2. Pay attention to seating. Seat the individual with hearing loss at the head of the dinner table or middle of the table, making it easier for them to see all the guests’ faces. Round tables enable easy viewing for everyone. When setting your table, try decorating with shorter centerpieces to avoid blocking sightlines.
  3. Rephrase, don’t repeat. Instead of repeating the same words, try rephrasing. It’s very likely when someone with hearing loss mentions they can’t hear you; they may be having trouble understanding a specific word or phrase. This approach draws less attention to the individual with hearing loss by keeping the conversation more natural. For those uneasy or self-conscious about hearing loss, this will be appreciated.
  4. Skip the mood lighting. A well-lit room helps those with hearing loss see the mouths and facial expressions of those speaking.
  5. Capture attention. Look directly at the person with hearing loss when speaking to them, so they can see your mouth and facial expressions. To get their attention, gently touch them on the hand, arm or shoulder, or say their name before starting to speak.
  6. Speak clearly. Be deliberate while speaking clearly. Be careful to project, but don’t shout. Keep your hands away from your face when speaking. Avoid disturbances which make following a conversation more difficult.
  7. Ask how you can help. Be respectful and discrete by taking aside the individual with hearing loss and asking if there’s anything you can do to make their visit easier. Demonstrate understanding and compassion, and you’ll be an example of the true meaning of holiday spirit.

If you’re concerned about possible hearing loss for you or a loved one, consider scheduling a consultation with one of our audiologists.

Hearing Aid Advancements and Remote Programming Updates

At Jacksonville Hearing and Balance Institute, we are pleased to offer the newest technology in regards to hearing healthcare. Hearing technology has vastly improved over the years with advancements including rechargeability and Bluetooth compatibility.

In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the audiologists at JHBI have started offering remote programming for our hearing aid patients to alleviate the need to come into the office for appointments. The newest hearing aids offer remote programming through the use of a smartphone application.  An appointment time is then set for you to meet with your audiologist via a video call through the applications. During your virtual appointment, your audiologist can make real time changes to your hearing aid settings.  You are able provide feedback on sound quality and volume, just as if you were in our office.  Remote programming is a great option if you travel often, have transportation issues, or have difficulty leaving home.

Here’s what Gail D., one of our new hearing aid patients, has to say about remote programming:

Being an older patient, I am not technologically savvy. My Audiologist thoroughly explained how to access the appointment. I was able to voice all my concerns and questions, which were answered, as well, as if I had been in the office. She was able to make an adjustment in my hearing aid and evaluate the change. I clearly was able to notice a difference right away…. It’s nice to know some things can be resolved this way.”

If you are interested in learning more about this technology, visit https://www.betterhearingjax.com/ or call our clinic at 904-399-0350.