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Mild Hearing Loss in Children

Mild Hearing Loss is Very Common

Mild hearing loss is incredibly common in children. The majority of hearing loss is temporary and the result of fluid or congestion build up behind the eardrums, known as otitis media. Studies have reported that up to 95% of children will have had at least one episode of otitis media by the age of 6.

Mild Hearing Loss Affects Learning

Research has shown that the impact of mild hearing loss in children is often under estimated. Classrooms are noisy places, especially for younger children whose speech and language skills are still developing. Where a child has a mild hearing loss extra effort is needed to listen which has an impact on how well they can perform tasks they find difficult and learn.

Given the large number of children affected it is likely that a number of children in a class may have a mild hearing loss at any one time. This is especially true for younger children that are working hard on their speech, reading and writing. Research has shown that if a child has a mild hearing loss they are likely to have poorer academic achievement.

Classroom Soundfield Systems

In the UK very few classrooms are equipped with soundfield systems.

A modern soundfield system consists of a single speaker easily installed that works in a similar way to a sound bar that may be attached to a TV or surround sound system in your home. However instead of sending sound to different areas of the room it creates an even sound everywhere. The teacher wears a small microphone and their voice is transmitted to all parts of the room by the soundfield speaker. As a result wherever a child is in the classroom they can always hear their teacher easily.

A soundfield system also useful for the teacher, by reducing vocal effort and the risk of voice strain.

A soundfield system benefits all children in the class, not just those with hearing loss and is relatively inexpensive compared to other common classroom equipment such as interactive whiteboards. It is unfortunate that there has not been more attention given to the listening environment in classrooms. The National Deaf Children’s Society (NDCS) recently ran a campaign to draw attention to the issue of mild hearing loss and its impact on academic performance.

It would be great to see more soundfield systems in classrooms, if it is easier for a child to hear they will be able to put more effort into their work and learning.




References

Bess F. 1985 The Minimally Hearing Impaired Child. Ear and Hearing 6(1): 43-47

Lewis D. et al. 2015 Effect of Minimal/Mild Hearing Loss on Children’s Speech Understanding in a Simulated Classroom. Ear and Hearing 36(1): 136-144

McFadden B. et al. 2008 Effect of Minimal Hearing Loss on Children’s Ability to Multi Task in Quiet and Noise. Language Speech and Hearing Services in Schools 39(3): 342-351

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Unitron Discover – Available Now

Unitron have launched their latest range of hearing instruments based on the Discover Platform. The Discover range of hearing instruments consists of two devices; the Moxi Fit D and the rechargeable Jump R.

Both devices offer automatic adaptation to match their listening environment, development in this area means that selection of the correct sound settings is more accurate than ever. The sound delivery 4.0 system is included in the Discover range, the redesigned speakers offer improved sound quality and comfort.

Wireless Connectivity

The Discover range of hearing aids offers direct Bluetooth connectivity to mobile phones (Apple and Android), televisions, tablets and more. Direct connection allows sound to be transferred directly into the hearing aids resulting in superb clear sound. The accompanying app gives the wearer full intuitive control over their hearing aids.

More information on Bluetooth hearing aids.

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Getting Used to Hearing Aids

When wearing a hearing aid for the first time, or even changing to a new device it can take a little time to get used to hearing in a new way.

Hearing Loss is Slow

Hearing changes generally occur very gradually over a number of years, consequently we do not notice them day to day and get used to living in a seemingly quiet environment. Environmental sounds slip away unnoticed while the clarity of speech is slowly lost and sounding mumbled or indistinct.

Learning to Listen Again

When wearing a hearing aid for the first time it suddenly brings back many sounds that the wearer did not notice were missing as well as speech becoming clearer. It can take a short while to get used to hearing at this new level while the brain learns which sounds are important to pay attention to and those that are not.

Small Phonak Marvel hearing aids

In general it is best to wear hearing aids as much, and as consistently as possible to allow the wearer to adapt and acclimatize to their new new listening environment. There are some systems within the hearing aids that can gradually increase the level of sound they deliver to ease the wearer into their new listening level.

It is often easier for someone to get used to wearing hearing aids if their hearing loss is less severe, therefore the sooner help is sought the better. In addition if someone seeks help earlier there is also a more recent ‘memory’ of some sounds that have gradually disappeared.

Click here for more information of getting used to hearing aids.

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Apple Watch Looks After Your Hearing

It was great to read that Apple has taken steps to draw attention to noise exposure and the potential damage it can do to hearing. Full article.

Apple watch sound level monitor
Apple Watch sound level monitor.

Hearing damage occurs as a result of both the level of noise exposure and the duration of noise exposure. The louder the sound the less time that is required to cause hearing damage. For example at 85 decibels it would take two hours exposure in a day to cause any hearing damage, however at 95 decibels it would take around 10 minutes.

The Apple watch will monitor noise exposure and can send alerts when certain exposure limits are reached.

The noise monitor will be a feature available in the forthcoming WatchOS 6 software which will be launched in autumn.

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Phonak Marvel

Marvel hearing aids are the latest range of receiver in the canal hearing aids released by Phonak.

Phonak Marvel 312.

Phonak Marvel brings a some key innovations. The speaker system has remained unchanged for a number of hearing aid generations, however for Marvel it has been completely redesigned. When combined with the new sound processor the Marvel aids offer a rich clear sound designed to reduce listening effort. The AutosenseOS 3 sound processor allows the Marvel aids to adapt more precisely to suit the environment they are in.

Marvel adapts to the listening environment.

Bluetooth connectivity is standard across the Marvel range this allows direct connection to mobile phones, televisions and other devices such as music players and tablets. Assistive devices such as remote microphones like RogerDirect can connect directly to significantly improve listening in noisy situations such as restaurants.

Phonak Marvel is available now at CMD Hearing Care, please contact us if you would like to make an appointment or have any questions.

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Receiver in the canal hearing aids

In general hearing aids fall into two design categories; in the ear (ITE) and behind the ear (BTE) aids.

In the ear (ITE) hearing aids are custom made for the wearer and as a result offer the best cosmetic option. Due to their compact design there are often compromises with regards the components that can be fitted within them.

Behind the ear (BTE) hearing aids are often seen as offering a poor cosmetic option and are highly visible. However, they do offer the possibility to add extra components such as microphones and wireless connections. Behind the ear hearing aids are generally more robust than ITE aids and now generally offer water and dust resistance.

Image of receiver in the canal (RIC) hearing aid
Receiver in the canal (RIC) hearing aid

Receiver in the canal (RIC) hearing aids offer a blend of the benefits of both in the ear and behind the ear hearing aids. By removing the speaker from the main body of the hearing aid and placing it in the ear the visible portion of the hearing aid can be made much smaller. At the same time the aid can retain the extra components and functions of BTE aids as well as water and dust proofing. The improved cosmetics of RIC aids combined with acoustic advantages mean that they are becoming a very popular choice for clients seeking the ideal balance between cosmetics and technical performance in their hearing instruments.

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The Worlds Smallest Wireless Hearing Aid

Following the recent launch of the new Moxi Now hearing aids from Unitron I received my first pair for fitting next week. when I opened the box I was truly shocked at how small they are. The Moxi Now aids are  fraction of the size of Unitron’s existing Moxi Kiss aid, yet still packs all the same features.

This image shows the dramatic size reduction of the Moxi Now, whist still retaining the wireless functionality of the larger aid.

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Rechargable hearing aids

Phonak have launched their latest line up of hearing aids which for the first time include a rechargeable option.

phonak-audeo-b-r rechargeable-hearing-aid-phonak-audeo-b-r

The Audeo Belong range of hearing instruments are based on a new operating system; Autosense OS allows the hearing aid to automatically adapt to their surroundings and by blending between different features they are able to select up to 200 different sound settings.

The rechargeable Audeo-B-R hearing instrument is the longest lasting rechargeable hearing aid ever and offers up to 24hours use after just 3hours charge.

If you would like to make an appointment or discuss your hearing needs please do not hesitate to contact me.

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Wireless Features in Hearing Aids

Many modern hearing aids feature wireless technology. Wireless communication allows sound to be transferred into the hearing aids directly from sound sources such as mobile phones, tablets or televisions. Although for many people such features would not be beneficial as they do not use such devices, or they do not want the complexity of introducing additional wireless devices. There are however wireless features that are less obvious that all hearing aid wearers can find beneficial.

Binaural Spatial Processing

Binaural spatial processing sounds complicated, however simply put it is the ability of a pair of hearing aids to work together to help pick out voices in noisy or group situations. A simple example might be a noisy restaurant, when somebody starts talking on the hearing aid wearer’s right their right hearing aid detects this and tells the left hearing aid to reduce its sensitivity, therefore helping to emphasise the voice above the background noise. 

An example of this technology is SpeechZone 2 which is featured in the current range of Unitron hearing aids. SpeechZone 2 automatically adjusts the sensitivity of the microphones on the hearing aids to track speech in any direction around the hearing aid wearer.

speech zone 2
Binaural Phone

When using the telephone sound will be transferred into both ears simultaneously. Binaural phone enhances the clarity of telephone conversations and provides balanced conversations.
Wireless technology in hearing aids can be beneficial for all people. If you would like more information, or would like to make an appointment please do not hesitate to contact me.