Musicians & Hearing Loss

Musicians & Hearing Loss

A great tragedy faces many musicians who have built their lives on sound. Although hearing protection can do a great deal to hang onto ability into the future, for many musicians some damage is already done. Many rock musicians have lost hearing ability due to noise exposure. Not only during concerts but also rehearsals and even recording sessions can expose a person to enough volume to risk hearing ability. 

For musicians, losing the ability to hear can feel like not only a lost ability to express and create, but it can also feel like a loss of identity. Currently, there is no known way to restore the tiny hairlike organelles of the inner ear called stereocilia that make hearing possible. However, hearing protection can help to preserve your hearing going forward. In addition, hearing assistive technology can bring back a musician’s ability to enjoy and experience sound in frequencies that were all but lost. 

 

Musicians’ Hearing Protection

Some musicians act as if hearing loss is just part of the territory, when in fact there is a lot you can do to protect yourself. At the very least, disposable foam earplugs can reduce the overall volume of an environment by 10 to 15 decibels. Many music venues offer these for sale at the bar, and one should not feel shame or stigma associated with wearing these essential tools of the trade. Particularly for musicians who are enjoying another person’s performance, earplugs are a must. 

Beyond these basic protective devices, more advanced forms of protection are available, as well. In consultation with a hearing health professional, you can get customized protective devices that are fitted to the shape of your outer ear. One of the benefits of customized earplugs is the ability to reduce particularly harmful frequencies while keeping hearing close to natural in the range of music. 

Musicians tend to love these earplugs not only because they allow you to hear music uninhibited but also because they make conversation easier. Whether at a rehearsal, recording session, or a concert, it is necessary to converse with others while protecting hearing at the same time. 

 

Musicians’ Hearing Assistance

In addition to protective devices, assistive devices can be particularly helpful for musicians. Once you have lost hearing in a particular frequency range of sound, hearing aids might be the only way to recapture that spectrum of sound. Particularly for those who play instruments that utilize that frequency range, hearing aids are not only a way to hear others in the ensemble but also to hear oneself. 

Violinists and violists are particularly subject to hearing damage from their instruments, due to the positioning of the instrument so close to the ear. After hours of daily practice and years of rehearsing and performing in groups, that exposure to sound can add up to a damaging experience. Once that hearing ability is lost or limited, one might feel self-conscious performing, lacking complete knowledge of the texture and pitch of sound. 

Hearing aids can step in and restore that knowledge, making it possible to perform confidently once again. Not only do you need to hear yourself playing to adjust your technique, but you also need to be able to listen and respond to the others in an ensemble with astute responsiveness. With hearing aids and protection working in tandem, you can experience the satisfaction of music performance both as a player and a listener.  

If you are a musician who has lost some hearing ability over the years of playing, you are not alone. Many household names have lost some hearing ability over the years, and they find it necessary to wear hearing aids to continue their careers. The first step is to get an accurate diagnosis of your hearing ability, particularly taking note of the range of hearing that is currently missing. Contact us today to schedule an appointment for a hearing test! 

Going Digital with Your Hearing Aids

Going Digital with Your Hearing Aids

Do you remember your old cassette players? How about vinyl records? These recording devices used an analog process to express sonic information. By imprinting tape or wax with a continuous representation of sound, this device became a carrier for a sonic imprint that was transformed into an electrical signal. 

Once the electrical signal entered your home audio device, it was further transformed into the variations in air pressure that we recognize as sound. What a remarkable process! However, since the advent of the CD, we have been living in the digital audio world built around strings of 1s and 0s. This manner of representing sonic information has much to offer us in terms of precision and compatibility with computer applications.

Hearing aids have advanced remarkably in the past decade, and many of these improvements can be credited to digital audio technology. Not only do the latest aids make it possible to work with sound in a highly precise and individualized manner, but they also create the context for other digital features and services. 

Before digging into the benefits of digital hearing aids, let’s begin by exploring the comparison with analog technology. The new possibilities might surprise you, and there are many ways to understand how our sonic environment is shifting with the introduction of digital sound. 

Analog vs. Digital Hearing Aids

What is the difference between analog and digital hearing devices? The difference is much like that between the music recording and reproduction technologies mentioned above. Analog hearing aids use tiny microphones to capture differences in air pressure according to sound. That pressure is converted into an electrical impulse that is then amplified and projected at a louder level through the speaker in the devices. At no point does this process require transformation of audio into a binary code of 1s and 0s, but digital hearing aids do just that. 

With digital hearing aids, after using a microphone to identify those pressure differences we call sound, that signal is converted not only to an electrical impulse but into a code. That code includes fine-grained details about the features of the sound. Just like the vast information included in other digital applications, this process makes it possible to analyze digital sound by complex algorithms. Let’s take a look at some of the types of analysis that digital hearing aids can provide that analog ones cannot. 

Digital Audio Analysis

When your digital hearing aids convert sound into binary code, they can transmit that information through wireless technology to an application in your smartphone or computer. Once housed there, your app can analyze many components of the sound captured by your hearing aids. 

Benefits of Digital Hearing Aids

One of the best offerings of digital audio is the presence or absence of background noise. when there is a consistent hum, whir, or buzz in the background, this analysis can identify the “noisy” parts and separate them from the variable parts, such as speech. Analog hearing aids simply raise the volume of the entire sonic context, meaning they raise the volume of background noise alongside speaking voices. 

Digital hearing aids make it possible to keep the background noise at a lower level while raising the volume of voices. Digital audio is also able to isolate the proximity of voices. This ability makes it possible to raise the volume on the voice of a person talking to you close by while keeping the other voices of people in the room at a lower level. These remarkable offerings of digital hearing aids make them better able to serve the functions of communication that make them most valuable to you. 

In addition to these functions, digital hearing aids can use wireless technology such as Bluetooth to connect to a wide range of other services, apps, and streaming audio. Not only can you use this digital technology to send phone ringers and notifications directly to your ears but you can also listen to music, podcasts, audiobooks, and television directly through your aids. 

By seamlessly transitioning from listening to a television program to picking up a phone call and then walking outside and hearing the birds, you can integrate many aspects of your life into a single set of tiny devices: digital hearing aids. 

Looking for an Upgrade? 

If you are interested in learning more about digital hearing aids or think you might benefit from an upgrade to the latest technology, we’re here to help! Contact us today to learn more and to schedule a consultation. 

Tips for Selecting Hearing Aids

Tips for Selecting Hearing Aids

If you have made the choice to get hearing aids, you have already overcome the barriers facing some other people with hearing aids. All too often, those with hearing loss resist getting the help they need for one reason or another, and you can count yourself among the fortunate who know they need help and are willing to seek it. 

Once you embark on the path to hearing loss treatment, you are prepared to engage earnestly with the process, and yet it can still feel confusing at times. With new terminology and so many options, how are you to know which aids are the ones suited to your needs?

When you get in contact with us, you are in good hands in this regard. You can trust that this expert has your best interest in mind when suggesting the options that will work for you. In addition to relying on the expertise of our team, please check out the following tips as a way to prepare yourself for the process. Keeping these helpful points in mind will make the task of getting hearing aids easier to manage and even enjoyable!

 

Enlist Your Support Team

Although you could embark on this process alone, why not enlist some help from others? Not only will your appointments and conversations at the hearing health professional office become more enjoyable with a friend or loved one involved, but you can also get help managing all the information that will come your way. 

When you go to your appointments, the new information can feel overwhelming at times, and having a supportive person along with you will double your memory power. Not only can this person help you remember what’s going on in the meetings, but you can also use their help to recall the questions you need to ask and to inform your hearing health professional of the features of your lifestyle that require accommodation. 

Having things written down can help in two regards. If you take notes during your meetings, those words and scribbles might be enough to job your memory in the future. Further, you can bring a list of questions and concerns to make sure you’re not forgetting anything. 

 

Full Disclosure

One of the most important steps in your process of hearing loss treatment is to disclose all of your needs to our team. Although you might not be trying to leave anything out, it is easy to overlook important details that can be relevant to your process. Perhaps the most important information you can provide is when and how you struggle most to hear. For some people, it is most difficult to hear when lots of people are talking at once. Others have trouble with the voices of children. Still, others might find that rooms with an echo or background music make it difficult to hear the person standing nearby. 

Each of these details is helpful to our team to determine the best devices to address your listening needs. Beyond these pieces of hearing information, you will likely want to include any details of your lifestyle that might be unique. For instance, if you spend a lot of time camping, long battery life might be useful. If you enjoy jogging, you might want aids that fit securely and are resistant to moisture from sweat or the elements. These details help you make the best decision possible. 

 

Ongoing Engagement

Rather than thinking of your process of getting hearing aids as a one-time event, consider this process an ongoing conversation with an expert. You will likely need some support in the early days of getting your aids, making sure the settings are correct and you can fit them properly. 

In some cases, you might realize early on that a particular feature of your aids is frustrating to you. For example, a person with long hair might find that it brushes annoyingly against the microphone of some aids, whereas self-contained in-ear units would be a better choice. In that event, contact us! The more information, engagement, and communication you can provide, the more thorough will be your process of getting the perfect aids for your individual lifestyle and needs. 

If you are ready to benefit from the life-changing experience of using hearing aids, contact us today! We look forward to helping you. 

Difficulties with Communication Could Signal a Hearing Loss

Difficulties with Communication Could Signal a Hearing Loss

For some people, there is no illusion that hearing loss is underway. If you notice a new inability to understand people in public and private settings, turn up the television to a loud volume, or find yourself moving closer to sound sources, you might be well-aware that you have some hearing loss. Some people know that they have hearing loss yet remain unwilling to seek the treatment they need. Yet, there is another group of people who might not realize they have hearing loss at all. These people are likely getting by as best they can with the hearing ability they have. They might be taking unconscious shortcuts in communication to either get closer to understanding what is going on or to mask their embarrassment at not following the conversation. Let’s pay attention to this group of people, looking more closely at the signs that hearing loss might be an underlying cause of communication difficulties. 

 

Asking Others to Repeat Themselves

In many cases, hearing loss leads us to ask others to repeat themselves, but we might not even realize we’re doing it. With that repeated phrase “What was that?” is uttered so often, many people with hearing loss don’t even realize they’re saying it anymore. Each of us misses something in conversation from time to time, but the frequency of those requests for others to repeat themselves can be a sure sign of an underlying need for a hearing test. 

 

Missing Important Information

If you have taken part in a conversation, stepped away from the situation, then later learned that you missed out on important information, the background reason for the misunderstanding might be hearing loss. In the context of a face-to-face conversation, we follow lots of bodily and facial cues to put together a whole picture of intended meaning, but hearing loss can obscure crucial details that change the entire landscape. If you find yourself getting the facts or information wrong after someone else says they’ve told you, it might not be your inattention to detail that is at fault.

 

Feeling Socially Isolated

Even if you’re able to get by in conversations, you might notice a rising tendency to simply “check out” in groups. If others are having a conversation, it is natural to pay attention and join in when appropriate. However, those with undiagnosed hearing loss tend to find themselves mentally wandering during conversations. If you find that you struggle to pay attention to what others are saying, losing interest, or tuning out others’ speech, then hearing loss might be the underlying cause. In the worst cases, this experience can lead those with hearing loss to feel socially isolated. Even when they are in a group of people, a party, or a dinner out at a restaurant, the underlying feeling of being alone can creep in for someone who can’t follow what’s going on. Even when it is no fault of others, hearing loss can cause this sense of isolation for some people before they realize the underlying reason. 

 

Seeking Treatment

The good news is that you don’t need to struggle with communication without assistance. If it is true that undiagnosed hearing loss is the underlying cause of your difficulty, your hearing health provider is there to determine what your hearing needs look like and how they can help. The first step will be to get a thorough diagnosis through a hearing test. 

This hearing test simply plays pure tones at different pitches and volumes to determine the threshold of what you can and can’t hear. Once the results of that test are in, your hearing professional can assess which ranges of sound are most difficult for you to discern. 

With that information in hand, as well as a consultation with you to learn unique features of your lifestyle and needs, our team can recommend a range of hearing aids or other assistive technology, if necessary. You will be guided through the process of selection to balance the features you desire with the budget you have available. If you are concerned that your communication difficulties might be a sign of undiagnosed hearing loss, contact us today to schedule a consultation!