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Hearing Loss

Elevating Expectations: Unveiling the Impact on Hearing Success and Well-being

November 26, 2023

Fostering Potential: Exploring Brain Dynamics and the Transformative Influence of Expectations

Welcome to a journey into the intricate workings of the human brain and the fascinating interplay between language acquisition, cognitive expectations, and the challenges faced by individuals who have sensory deprivation, focusing on hearing loss.

A Fascination with the Power of the Brain

I have harbored a longstanding fascination with the intricate workings of the human brain. Recognizing the brain’s pivotal role in orchestrating our actions and functions, I embarked on a doctoral program at the University of Minnesota. With a particular curiosity about the challenges faced by many individuals who are deaf in learning to read.

The concept of expectations serves as a powerful bridge to understanding how contributions contribute to enhanced brain stimulation. When individuals, particularly those with sensory challenges such as deafness, are held to high expectations, it instigates a cognitive demand that acts as a stimulant for the brain. In the context of deaf individuals proficient in American Sign Language (ASL), the expectation of linguistic proficiency creates a mental environment where the brain is consistently engaged in visual-spatial processing, phonological awareness, and cognitive flexibility. This heightened cognitive demand, spurred by the expectation to excel in a visual-gestural language, not only fosters linguistic competence but also stimulates various cognitive regions of the brain. The brain adapts to meet these expectations. Resulting in increased synaptic connections, neural plasticity, and ultimately a more enriched cognitive landscape. Therefore, expectations can be seen as a catalyst for optimizing brain stimulation. Particularly in the context of language acquisition and cognitive challenges.

Expectations in Education for Students with Severe Hearing Loss

Before delving into my academic pursuits, I questioned the notion of the “right” way to educate individuals with hearing impairments with high expectations. Central to this inquiry was the consideration of how one learns the spoken English language when deprived of the auditory nuances crucial for comprehending syntax, prosody, and semantics. While acknowledging the existence of redundant cues aiding communication for those who are deaf, my experience in Florida, working with students with hearing loss in the Hillsborough Public Schools, revealed the complexities faced by individuals with severe to profound hearing loss.

American Sign Language is a Developed Language

Research consistently highlights a positive association between proficiency in American Sign Language (ASL) and strong reading abilities in the deaf community. Deaf individuals who acquire ASL from an early age demonstrate enhanced visual-spatial processing skills. The visual phonological system of ASL contributes to improved orthographic processing. The transfer of linguistic knowledge from ASL to written English, coupled with bilingualism and cognitive flexibility, enhances reading proficiency. The cultural and social context surrounding ASL use fosters a sense of community and identity, promoting engagement in reading activities. Early exposure to ASL and intervention services significantly contribute to laying a strong foundation for literacy development in deaf individuals. In summary, ASL proficiency is a critical factor in supporting the overall literacy skills of deaf individuals. Influencing visual processing, linguistic knowledge transfer, and cultural engagement to enhance reading abilities in written English.

Question: Is Language related to Reading Proficiency:

Upon relocating to Minnesota for my academic journey, my focus shifted toward the exploration of reading theories. Particularly in the context of vision and hearing. Notably, fMRI studies demonstrated that individuals using sign language exhibit brain activation in the hearing cortex. Analogous to the activation observed in the occipital vision lobe of individuals with vision loss who have learned navigation skills.

The intricate relationship between language development and brain activity becomes particularly evident when examining individuals with varying levels of linguistic proficiency. Research consistently demonstrates that those with comprehensive language development exhibit more extensive and nuanced brain activity compared to their counterparts with limited language skills. Advanced language abilities seem to correlate with increased activation in key areas of the brain associated with language processing. Such as Broca’s and Wernicke’s areas. The intricate dance of neural connections in individuals with a well-established language foundation suggests that a richer linguistic repertoire stimulates heightened cognitive engagement. Conversely, those with limited language development may display less pronounced brain activity in these language-related regions. Underscoring the profound impact of language on the neural landscape. This connection between language and brain imaging not only reinforces the critical importance of fostering language skills but also offers a neuroscientific perspective on the cognitive benefits associated with a robust linguistic foundation.

More recently, my attention has turned to the impact of expectations on individual achievements.

A poignant illustration of the expectation phenomenon emerged in a podcast featuring a man born blind. The mans mother’s high expectations and gradual relinquishing of assistance empowered him to navigate the world independently using click-tones.

Drawing parallels between this narrative and the realm of hearing, I am eager to delve into the concept of expectations for those with hearing loss. Analogous to the blind man’s experience, individuals with higher expectations tend to surpass their potential. Even with similar cognitive abilities and disabilities. This blog aims to explore the implications of expectations within the hearing context.

Examining expectations from a product perspective, I posit that individuals with hearing loss should be afforded higher expectations. Mirroring the positive outcomes associated with elevated expectations in other domains. Despite the potential societal inclination to lower expectations for those with more profound hearing loss, I have encountered individuals who have embraced their hearing loss. Adopting strategies, utilizing advanced equipment, and asserting their ADA rights to create inclusive environments.

Behaviors exhibited by high-expectation individuals include maintaining positivity, learning adaptive strategies, and employing cutting-edge technology. Technology such as remote microphones and Bluetooth, to enhance their hearing experience. My aspiration is to instill high expectations within the hearing healthcare system. Emphasizing the value of Hearing Health Care Provider’s time and expertise in improving the lives of individuals with hearing loss.

Higher Hearing Loss Expectations offer Higher Brain Functions

The intricacies of the brain serve as the foundation of this discussion. Emphasizing the necessity of fostering high expectations to unlock one’s full potential. I invite further exploration and discussion on the topic of expectations. Confident that the insights gained can contribute to enhancing the quality of life for individuals with hearing impairments. While there may be associated costs for my time, it is my fervent expectation that the value provided transcends the conventional sale of hearing aids. Thank you for your thoughtful consideration.

Just what makes that little ole ant think he can move a rubber tree plant! 

He’s Got High Hopes!

Invisible hearing aid

Choosing the Ideal Hearing Aid: Lyric vs. Over-the-Counter Completely in the Canal vs. Completely in the Canal Options

November 9, 2023

Unveiling Invisibility: A Comparative Look at Lyric and Other Small, Invisible Hearing Aids

In this blog post, we will explore the distinctions between Lyric hearing aids, completely-in-the-canal hearing aids, and over-the-counter completely in-the-ear hearing aids. We’ll discuss the advantages and disadvantages of each of these options. Helping you gain the insights you need to make an informed choice that best suits your unique needs.

The Lyric Device:

The Lyric hearing aid emerged as a product of InSound Medical, which has since become part of Phonak, a well-known hearing aid manufacturer. Introduced in the mid-2000s, Lyric marked a substantial innovation in hearing healthcare. Lyric revolutionized the hearing aid industry by situating itself deep within the ear canal. Providing a level of discretion and comfort that surpassed traditional models worn behind or inside the ear. Over the years, Lyric has undergone continuous enhancements, with newer versions delivering superior sound quality, extended battery life, and increased comfort for its wearers.

Audiologists primarily recommend Lyric hearing aids for individuals with mild to moderately severe hearing loss who are seeking a discreet and user-friendly hearing solution. In essence, the Lyric hearing aid functions as an inconspicuous and innovative means to improve hearing and has played a significant role in advancing hearing healthcare.

The Lyric hearing aid, a discreet and compact device designed to aid individuals with hearing loss, operates as follows:

First, a trained audiologist or hearing specialist places the Lyric hearing aid deep within your ear canal, in close proximity to the eardrum. This strategic positioning enables it to capture sounds effectively. The Lyric hearing aid features a miniature microphone that captures sounds from the surroundings. Once captured, it processes these sounds, enhancing their clarity and adapting them to your specific hearing requirements. The processed sounds are then delivered directly to your eardrum. Therefore, bypassing the outer ear, and resulting in a more natural listening experience.

The Lyric hearing aid employs digital processing technology. Digital hearing aids use microprocessors to convert incoming sound waves into digital signals. These can then be manipulated to enhance sound quality and cater to an individual’s specific hearing needs. This digital processing technology allows for more precise adjustments and customization compared to analog hearing aids.

With digital processing, the Lyric hearing aid can filter, amplify, and shape sounds to optimize speech understanding and listening comfort. It can also adapt to various listening environments and reduce background noise. Providing a more natural and tailored listening experience for the user. Additionally, digital technology enables the Lyric hearing aid to be programmable. Allowing audiologists to fine-tune the device to suit each individual’s unique hearing profile.

The combination of its discreet placement within the ear canal and advanced digital processing technology has made the Lyric hearing aid a popular choice for those seeking a highly inconspicuous and effective hearing solution.

Powered by a small, durable battery, the Lyric hearing aid remains in your ear for several weeks to months, depending on usage. When the battery eventually depletes, a visit to your audiologist becomes necessary for a professional battery replacement.

Hearing Loss:

The Lyric hearing aid is designed to address a specific range of hearing loss. It may not be suitable for all types and degrees of hearing loss. It is typically recommended for individuals with mild to moderately severe sensorineural hearing loss. Here’s what that means:

Sensorineural Hearing Loss is the most common type of permanent hearing loss. It occurs when there is damage to the inner ear (cochlea) or the auditory nerve. Sensorineural hearing loss is often caused by aging, exposure to loud noise, genetics, or other factors.  Lyric hearing aids are suitable for people with a range of hearing loss, from mild to moderately severe. This means it can help individuals who have difficulty hearing softer sounds, conversations, and some everyday noises.

Shape of Ear:

The suitability of Lyric, however, for an individual may depend on various factors, including the shape and size of their ear canal, lifestyle, and specific hearing needs. An audiologist or hearing specialist will evaluate your hearing and determine if the Lyric hearing aid is a good fit for you.

The Lyric hearing aid is designed to accommodate a wide range of ear shapes and sizes, with several factors influencing the comfort and fit of the device. The Lyric aid comes in many different sizes (one technology for all).  Ear canal size plays a significant role, and Lyric offers various sizes to suit different ear canals. Audiologists or hearing specialists use precise measurements to select the most comfortable Lyric size for each individual.

The shape of the ear canal is also a consideration, as Lyric is designed to adapt to various contours. However, some individuals may have uniquely shaped ear canals, which can affect the fitting process. Audiologists assess the specific shape to ensure a secure fit.

Ear Wax:

Excessive earwax production can occasionally impede the placement and functioning of the Lyric hearing aid. Audiologists evaluate earwax production levels and recommend solutions to manage any related issues.  The overall health of the ears is vital for a successful Lyric hearing aid fit. Any existing ear conditions or concerns should be addressed and resolved before considering Lyric.

OTC Hearing Aid:

Choosing between an over-the-counter (OTC) hearing aid and a Lyric hearing aid entails considering various benefits and drawbacks. OTC hearing aids offer accessibility, affordability, and the ability for self-adjustment. They are readily available for purchase without the need for professional appointments, providing immediate access to a hearing solution. Moreover, OTC options are generally more budget friendly, making them a cost-effective choice for individuals with mild to moderate hearing loss who are conscious of their finances. Users can also make basic sound adjustments to fit their preferences.

On the other hand, OTC hearing aids may come with limitations in terms of customization and personalized fitting, potentially leading to suboptimal sound quality and comfort for some users. Quality and performance can vary significantly among OTC options, affecting their suitability for individuals with more complex hearing loss. Additionally, OTC hearing aids lack professional guidance, which may not be ideal for those with severe or unique hearing issues that require a more tailored solution. The absence of professional assessment and fitting raises the potential for improper use, which can lead to discomfort or even ear damage.

Conversely, Lyric hearing aids offer advantages such as discretion and convenience for users with mild to moderately severe hearing loss. These devices are virtually invisible and require minimal maintenance, making them hassle-free. However, Lyric hearing aids are not available over the counter and necessitate professional fitting and periodic maintenance. The choice between OTC and Lyric hearing aids depends on your specific hearing needs, budget constraints, and personal preferences. It is crucial to consult with an audiologist or hearing specialist to ensure the most suitable hearing solution is selected based on your unique circumstances.

A tiny completely-in-the-ear Hearing Aid:

A completely in-the-ear (ITE) hearing aid and a Lyric hearing aid each have their own advantages and disadvantages. Whether one is better than the other depends on individual preferences and specific hearing needs.

Here are some reasons why a completely in-the-ear hearing aid might be preferred over a Lyric hearing aid:

User Replaceable Batteries:

Most completely in-the-ear hearing aids use user-replaceable batteries. This can be more convenient for individuals who prefer to change their hearing aid batteries themselves, without the need for frequent professional appointments for battery replacements.


ITE hearing aids can be custom-made to fit the individual’s ear shape and hearing needs. They offer a high level of personalization, allowing for precise adjustments and fitting.

Easier Maintenance:

User-replaceable batteries and the ability to remove and clean the device can make ITE hearing aids easier to maintain for some users.

Variety of Styles:

ITE hearing aids come in various styles, including full-shell, half-shell, and canal, which can cater to different degrees of hearing loss and aesthetic preferences.

Variety of technology:

Because the in-the-ear hearing aid is a style there are many brands that have different features and levels of technology offering more choices than that of the Lyric.  If one doesn’t like the sound of one hearing aid, there is another choice.

Cost Considerations:

Completely in-the-ear hearing aids may be more cost-effective for some individuals, as they typically have a lower upfront cost compared to Lyric, which involves ongoing professional service fees for battery replacement.

On the other hand, there are reasons why someone might prefer a Lyric hearing aid:


Lyric hearing aids are placed deeper in the ear canal and are virtually invisible to others, making them very discreet. The completely in-the-ear or the invisible-in-the-ear hearing aid can also be pretty discrete as well. So this may not be a true differential benefit.

Continuous Wear:

Lyric can be worn continuously for several weeks, which can be convenient for people who don’t want to deal with daily removal and reinsertion. You may sleep, eat, shower and even swim with them.

The Lyric hearing aid is not considered waterproof. While it is designed to be worn continuously for extended periods, including during activities like showering and exercising, it is not recommended for prolonged or submersion in water. The device can withstand some moisture exposure, but it is not entirely waterproof.

It’s important to take precautions to protect your Lyric hearing aid from excessive moisture, such as using a shower cap or protective cover during water-related activities and ensuring it is dry before reinserting it in the ear. If you have specific questions or concerns about using your Lyric hearing aid in wet or humid environments, it’s advisable to consult with your audiologist or the hearing healthcare professional who fitted the device for personalized guidance on its care and usage.

Comfort and tolerance for having a device positioned deep within the ear canal can vary among individuals. While many users find Lyric to be exceptionally comfortable, others may require an adjustment period to fully adapt.

Designed for long-term, continuous wear, Lyric hearing aids emphasize the importance of a proper fit for both comfort and effectiveness. Audiologists offer guidance and support to ensure a positive and successful experience with the Lyric hearing aid.

No User Maintenance:

Lyric users can leave the device handling, battery changes, and cleaning tasks to professionals, as all maintenance is performed by a professional during scheduled appointments. This can be an issue, however, as many people go away for the winter and are not able to come in to see their audiologist as needed.

Sound Quality:

The Lyric’s placement near the eardrum can provide natural and high-quality sound.

Reduced Feedback:

Because of their deep placement, Lyric hearing aids are less prone to feedback (whistling sounds).  The in-the-ear hearing aid may also not cause feedback depending on a number of factors.

In Conclusion

Ultimately, the choice between a completely in-the-ear hearing aid and over the counter hearing aid  and a Lyric hearing aid depends on an individual’s priorities, lifestyle, and hearing needs. Consulting with an
audiologist or hearing specialist is crucial to determining the most suitable hearing solution for your specific case. They can provide guidance and help you make an informed decision based on your preferences and hearing requirements.

It’s essential to have a professional assessment to determine the right hearing aid for your specific hearing loss, as there are various hearing aid options available to address different degrees and types of hearing impairment.

Hearing Aid Help

Empowering Seniors: A Comprehensive Guide to Hearing Health, Choosing the Right Hearing Aid, and Addressing Key Considerations

November 5, 2023

Enhancing Seniors’ Hearing Health: A Comprehensive Guide to Get What You Need

Seniors should consider getting hearing aids as they can significantly enhance their quality of life and overall well-being. Hearing loss, which is common among older adults, can lead to feelings of isolation, frustration, and even depression as it hinders effective communication with loved ones and the world around them. Hearing aids not only improve the ability to hear and understand conversations, but they also promote social engagement, safety, and cognitive function. They enable seniors to reconnect with their surroundings, participate in meaningful conversations, and enjoy the sounds of daily life, from the laughter of grandchildren to the beauty of music and nature. Investing in hearing aids empowers seniors to remain actively involved in their communities, maintain relationships, and experience a fuller and more enriched life.

Before seniors purchase a hearing aid, it’s essential for them to understand several important points to make an informed decision and have realistic expectations. Here are some key considerations about what to know when buying a hearing aid:

1. Consult with an Audiologist or a Hearing Healthcare Professional to Learn About What to Know When Buying a Hearing Aid:

Schedule an appointment with a licensed audiologist for a thorough hearing evaluation. This will help determine the type and degree of hearing loss and provide guidance on the most suitable hearing aid options.

Understanding one’s hearing acuity and thresholds is crucial for several reasons.

First and foremost, it allows individuals to be aware of the extent of their hearing ability. This is essential for early detection and management of hearing loss. This knowledge enables timely interventions, such as hearing aids or other treatments, to address any issues and prevent further deterioration.

Additionally, understanding one’s hearing thresholds helps in setting realistic expectations about their hearing abilities. Making communication strategies and accommodations more effective. It also promotes better self-advocacy, as individuals can express their needs and preferences more clearly in various listening environments.

Finally, it fosters a sense of control and empowers individuals to actively engage in their hearing health. Ensuring a higher quality of life and enhanced overall well-being.

2. Types of Hearing Aids:

There are various types of hearing aids, including behind-the-ear (BTE), in-the-ear (ITE), in-the-canal (ITC), and completely-in-the-canal (CIC) models. Each has its own advantages and may be more suitable for specific types of hearing loss. It is important to figure out what to know when buying hearing aids to help understand what type might be best for you.

It is crucial for seniors to comprehend the various hearing aid styles for several reasons.

First, these styles can be customized to different degrees of hearing loss and individual preferences, ensuring a tailored solution. Understanding the range of styles allows seniors to select a device that is both comfortable and aesthetically pleasing.

Moreover, different styles excel in different listening environments. So knowing these options helps seniors choose a style that suits their regular activities. Maintenance and care requirements also vary between styles, so seniors must be aware of these distinctions for effective upkeep.

Additionally, selecting a style that aligns with individual needs, including physical constraints or medical conditions, is important. By being informed about the different styles, seniors can make well-informed decisions. Allowing them to address their hearing loss while considering budget, accessibility, and personal comfort. Ultimately enhancing their overall quality of life.

3. Technology Levels:

Hearing aids come in different technology levels, from basic to advanced. Higher technology levels often offer better performance in challenging listening environments, but they can be more expensive. Seniors should choose a level that matches their lifestyle and needs.

Seniors should strive to gain a comprehensive understanding of their hearing needs to strike the right balance between budget and the quality of hearing care. Overspending on hearing aids that offer features and technology beyond what is necessary for their specific hearing loss can be a financial burden.

On the other hand, underspending may result in dissatisfaction with the device’s performance and could lead to costly future adjustments or replacements. By accurately assessing their hearing requirements, seniors can make well-informed decisions. Choosing hearing aids that are a perfect match for their unique needs, ensuring both effective hearing assistance and a reasonable investment that aligns with their budget, ultimately leading to a more satisfying and cost-effective hearing solution.

4. Budget:

When figuring out what to know when buying a hearing aid, budget plays a large roll in that decision. Hearing aids can vary greatly in price. It’s important to set a realistic budget and explore options that fit within that budget. Medicare typically doesn’t cover the cost of hearing aids, so seniors should consider their insurance and financial resources.

Seniors considering purchasing a hearing aid face an important choice between budget-friendly options like Costco and private clinics offering comprehensive services. Understanding their expectations is crucial in making this decision.

While Costco may offer hearing aids at lower prices, it often comes with a more limited range of services and support. Private clinics, on the other hand, provide a more personalized and comprehensive approach. Including thorough evaluations, custom fittings, ongoing adjustments, and expert guidance.

Seniors who prioritize personalized care and a tailored solution may find private clinics more satisfying. However, those with straightforward hearing needs and a tighter budget may appreciate the affordability of Costco.

Ultimately, the choice depends on individual preferences, hearing needs, and the level of service and support one desires. Making it essential for seniors to weigh their expectations and priorities when making this significant decision.

5.  Realistic Expectations, an Often Forgotten Topic When Figuring out What to Know When Buying a Hearing Aid:

Seniors should have realistic expectations about what hearing aids can and cannot do. While they can significantly improve hearing, they may not completely restore hearing to its original state. It may take time to adjust to the new sounds and settings.

Expecting clear and comfortable hearing in a very noisy party environment can be a challenging prospect for seniors, even with the assistance of hearing aids. In such settings, the cacophony of conversations, music, and background noise can overwhelm the hearing aid’s ability to filter and amplify sound effectively. Seniors may still struggle to discern individual voices and follow conversations, leading to frustration and a sense of isolation.

While hearing aids are invaluable tools for improving hearing, they may have limitations in exceptionally noisy environments. Seniors should have realistic expectations that while their hearing aids can certainly help, they may still encounter difficulties in these high-noise settings. It’s essential to supplement technology with communication strategies. Like finding quieter spots, using visual cues, or asking others to speak more clearly, to make the most of such social gatherings.

Assistive devices, when used in conjunction with personal hearing aids, can significantly enhance hearing in noisy environments. These devices, such as remote microphones or smartphone apps, can stream clear sound directly to the hearing aid. Improving speech intelligibility and reducing the impact of background noise, thus facilitating better communication and comprehension for seniors in challenging acoustic settings. Assistive device options are an important thing to consider when understanding what to know when buying a hearing aid.

6. Maintenance and Care:

Proper maintenance is crucial to ensure the longevity and effectiveness of hearing aids. Seniors should be prepared to clean, change batteries, and perform regular maintenance as advised by the audiologist.

Obtaining high-quality service for hearing aid maintenance is crucial for several reasons. First, hearing aids are sophisticated devices that require regular upkeep to ensure optimal performance and longevity. A qualified professional can conduct essential cleaning, adjustments, and repairs, preventing issues that could disrupt the effectiveness of the device.

Moreover, prompt and effective maintenance services can minimize downtime and inconvenience for seniors who rely on their hearing aids for daily communication and quality of life. Additionally, good service providers offer guidance and support, addressing any concerns or questions seniors may have about their devices. Ultimately, dependable maintenance ensures that seniors continue to experience the full benefits of their hearing aids. Fostering improved communication, social engagement, and overall well-being.

7.  Trial Period:

Many hearing aid providers offer trial periods, during which seniors can test the device in different settings. This allows for adjustments and ensures the chosen hearing aid meets their needs.

It is vital not to keep a hearing aid that does not meet expectations for several reasons. Hearing aids are intended to significantly improve an individual’s hearing and quality of life. If a particular device falls short of expectations, it can lead to frustration, reduced communication abilities, and a sense of dissatisfaction.

Prolonging the use of an unsatisfactory hearing aid could have adverse effects on a senior’s overall well-being. Furthermore, hearing aids are long-term investments. Keeping an underperforming device may limit the opportunity to explore better-fitting options that can truly address one’s specific hearing needs.

Therefore, it’s essential to consult with an audiologist, seek adjustments or replacements as necessary, and ensure that the chosen hearing aid aligns with one’s expectations and requirements for improved hearing and a better quality of life.

8.  Compatibility:

Seniors should inquire about the compatibility of their hearing aids with other devices, such as smartphones, to ensure they can take advantage of connectivity features and apps for adjusting settings.

It is essential for seniors to be aware of the capabilities of hearing aids when it comes to integrating with other technologies such as Bluetooth, remote microphones, TV streamers, chargers, and more. This knowledge empowers them to make the most of their hearing aids by harnessing the benefits of modern technology.

Bluetooth connectivity, for example, allows seniors to wirelessly connect their hearing aids to smartphones or their tablets, enabling hands-free calls, facetime calls and audio streaming. Remote microphones improve communication in noisy environments, while TV streamers enhance television-watching experiences.

Understanding these possibilities not only enhances the functionality of hearing aids but also fosters independence and social engagement. It’s crucial for seniors to explore these options and choose the technology that best aligns with their lifestyle and preferences. Ultimately maximizing the benefits of their hearing aids and improving their overall quality of life.

9. Warranty and Repairs:

Understand the warranty and repair options provided by the manufacturer or hearing aid provider. It’s essential to have a clear understanding of the coverage and the associated costs. This is a crucial aspect on what to know when buying a hearing aid.

Seniors should be informed about follow-up care and warranties to ensure they receive ongoing support and protection for their hearing aids, promoting long-term satisfaction and reliability.

10. Communication Skills:

While hearing aids can improve hearing, it’s also important for seniors to work on their communication skills. Skills such as active listening and effective communication strategies, to maximize the benefits of their hearing aids.

Seniors should consider aural rehabilitation as an invaluable addition to their journey toward improved listening, especially in noisy environments. Aural rehab programs are designed to enhance not just hearing but also the ability to process and understand speech effectively. In noisy settings, such skills are particularly vital as they help seniors filter out unwanted background noise and focus on conversations. Aural rehab involves exercises and strategies that strengthen auditory and cognitive abilities. Making it easier for seniors to decipher speech in challenging acoustic situations. By embracing aural rehabilitation, seniors can significantly boost their communication skills, regain confidence, and ultimately experience a more fulfilling and active social life. Even in the presence of background noise.

11. Regular Follow-ups:

Seniors should plan for regular follow-up appointments with their audiologist to make necessary adjustments and ensure the hearing aids continue to meet their needs as their hearing changes over time.

Regularly updating hearing tests is of paramount importance for seniors in maintaining optimal hearing health. As hearing abilities can change over time, periodic assessments provide a comprehensive understanding of an individual’s hearing needs and any shifts in their hearing thresholds. This updated information is essential for hearing care professionals to make precise adjustments to seniors’ hearing aids. These adjustments ensure that the devices continue to effectively address any changes in their hearing. Ultimately delivering the best possible auditory experience. By staying proactive with hearing tests and seeking the necessary adjustments, seniors can enjoy consistently clear and customized hearing assistance. Fostering better communication, social engagement, and an improved quality of life.

12. Counseling and Support:

Hearing loss can be emotionally challenging. It’s important for seniors to seek counseling and support, if needed, to address any psychological or emotional aspects of hearing loss.

An audiologist might explain that as we age, it becomes increasingly challenging to follow fast speech due to a natural decline in auditory processing speed. The brain’s ability to process rapid changes in sound deteriorates over time. Making it more difficult to keep pace with quick conversational exchanges. This phenomenon is particularly noticeable in noisy environments where background chatter can further complicate the task of discerning and understanding rapidly spoken words. It’s one of the reasons why seniors often benefit from hearing aids and communication strategies to help bridge the gap and ensure they can actively engage in conversations, even when speech is delivered at a brisk pace.

13. Learn About Local Regulations and What to Know When Buying a Hearing Aid:

Seniors should be aware of any local regulations or assistance programs that may help cover the cost of hearing aids or related services.

Seniors can typically find local regulations on hearing aids, including guidelines and resources, through their local Departments of Health or state government websites. These often provide valuable information on hearing healthcare and accessibility.

By considering these factors and seeking professional guidance, seniors can make informed choices when purchasing hearing aids and ensure that they receive the best possible assistance for their hearing needs.

We Can Help You Understand What to Know When Buying a Hearing Aid

Seniors can confidently turn to Hears to U, Audiology Hearing & Hearables in Minnesota for their hearing care needs, as this establishment is renowned for its trustworthiness, transparency, and comprehensive hearing care services. With a commitment to providing seniors with a full-service hearing care experience, Hears to U Audiology ensures that all aspects of seniors hearing health are expertly addressed, from accurate evaluations and transparent guidance to the fitting of the most suitable hearing aids and ongoing support. This trustworthy and transparent approach makes “Hears to U” a reliable choice, offering seniors the peace of mind that their hearing needs are in capable and caring hands.

At Hears to U, Audiology Hearing & Hearables, our commitment goes beyond just evaluations; we emphasize education as a pivotal aspect of our approach to hearing care for seniors. We understand that choosing the right hearing aid can be a complex decision, so we ensure that seniors are well-informed about different hearing aids and the latest hearing technologies available. We take the time to educate seniors on the various options, explaining the pros and cons of each, as well as the technology’s compatibility with their unique needs and lifestyles. This educational approach empowers seniors to actively participate in the decision-making process, ensuring that they have the knowledge to make informed choices that best serve their hearing requirements.

Exploration and Education are Key

Hears Hearing & Hearables is dedicated to assisting seniors in not only finding the right hearing aids but also exploring and educating them on various assisted devices that cater to specialized environments. We understand that unique listening situations may require specialized solutions. We’re here to guide seniors through the options, including technologies like Hearing Loops and FM systems, to address specific challenges they may face in environments like theaters, classrooms, or group settings. By offering education and personalized recommendations, we ensure that seniors are equipped with the knowledge and tools to navigate these specialized situations with confidence, thereby enhancing their overall hearing experiences.

We encourage seniors to consider seeking treatment for their hearing needs at a professional clinic. Hearing loss is a vital sensory system, and we have the expertise and experience to address it effectively, ensuring that seniors receive the care and support they deserve.

Hearing Protection against Hearing Loss

Beyond Ear Safety: Hearing Protection for Your Overall Health

November 5, 2023

Hearing Protection Solutions for Every Situation: Your Auditory Health Partner

Hearing protection is crucial for safeguarding your auditory health and overall well-being, as prolonged exposure to high levels of noise can have a range of adverse effects on your physical and mental health. Here we will discuss some key reasons why hearing protection is important. Covering topics such as hearing loss, tinnitus, heart disease, and other health concerns related to noise exposure:

1. Hearing Loss:

Noise-induced hearing loss (NIHL) is a common and irreversible condition resulting from exposure to loud sounds over time. When you are exposed to noise levels exceeding 85 decibels (dB) for extended periods, the sensitive hair cells in your inner ear can become damaged. This damage leads to hearing impairment. Consistent use of hearing protection devices, like earplugs or earmuffs, can significantly reduce the risk of NIHL.

The best hearing protection for preserving your auditory health depends on the environment and level of noise exposure you’re facing. Here are some recommendations for different scenarios:

Loud Rock and Roll Concerts:

For music enthusiasts attending concerts, filter-type hearing protection is an excellent choice. These earplugs are designed to attenuate noise evenly across different frequencies. This means you can still enjoy the music while protecting your ears.

High-fidelity musician’s earplugs are a popular option for concertgoers as they offer a more natural sound experience without distortion.

Industrial Work Environments:

In loud industrial settings, it’s crucial to use the highest level of noise reduction possible. Foam or silicone earplugs, which are designed to block out sound effectively, can be used. Ensure they are properly inserted for maximum protection.

Additionally, wearing over-ear earmuffs on top of earplugs can provide even greater noise reduction, creating a dual protection system.

Shooting Ranges:

Shooting firearms can expose individuals to extremely loud noises. In such cases, specialized shooting earmuffs or custom-molded earplugs designed for firearms use are recommended.

These protection options often have a high noise reduction rating (NRR) to safeguard against the sharp and intense sound of gunshots.

Concentration and Studying in Noisy Environments:

If you need to focus in a noisy environment, consider noise-cancelling headphones. These can effectively reduce background noise, allowing you to concentrate better.

In addition, you can wear foam earplugs underneath noise-cancelling headphones for an added layer of protection.

Sleeping in Noisy Neighborhoods:

For individuals who need to sleep in noisy areas, foam earplugs or silicone earplugs can be comfortable and effective in reducing environmental noise.

White noise machines or smartphone apps can also help mask disruptive sounds while sleeping.

Swimming and Water Activities:

Custom-made, waterproof swim plugs or silicone earplugs are essential for protecting your ears while swimming or engaging in water sports.

These earplugs create a tight seal to keep water out of your ears and prevent ear infections.

Hunting and Outdoor Activities:

Hunters can benefit from electronic earmuffs that amplify ambient sounds while instantly blocking out loud gunshots. These provide situational awareness while protecting your hearing.

Remember that the best hearing protection should not only be suitable for the noise level but also comfortable and easy to wear for extended periods. It’s important to choose protection that fits properly and is designed for your specific needs. Thus ensuring your auditory health remains intact in various noisy environments.

2. Tinnitus:

Tinnitus is the perception of ringing, buzzing, or other sounds in the ears when no external sound source is present. Prolonged exposure to loud noises is a leading cause of tinnitus, and it can be a persistent and distressing condition. Protecting your ears from excessive noise can help prevent or mitigate the development of tinnitus.

To mitigate the risk of tinnitus, it is essential to find well-fitting hearing protection that effectively reduces noise exposure. Just as we emphasized above for protecting one’s hearing in various environments.

3. Stress and Mental Health:

Excessive noise exposure can lead to increased stress levels and negatively impact mental health.  Chronic noise exposure can contribute to irritability, anxiety, and even sleep disturbances, affecting your overall well-being. Reducing noise exposure through hearing protection can help alleviate these stressors.

Research has consistently demonstrated the profound impact of stress on mental health. High levels of chronic stress have been linked to a variety of mental health issues, including anxiety disorders, depression, and even more severe conditions like post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). The physiological response to stress, involving the release of stress hormones such as cortisol, can lead to changes in brain structure and function. Particularly in areas related to emotion regulation and cognitive functioning. Chronic stress can disrupt sleep patterns, impair concentration, and contribute to the development of mood disorders. Moreover, individuals with pre-existing mental health conditions may experience exacerbated symptoms when exposed to prolonged stressors. Understanding the strong association between stress and mental health underscores the importance of effective stress management strategies in promoting emotional well-being and overall psychological resilience.

4. Cardiovascular Health:

Recent research suggests a link between long-term exposure to noise pollution and an increased risk of heart disease. Noise-induced stress responses can elevate blood pressure and release stress hormones, which may contribute to heart-related issues over time. Wearing hearing protection can help mitigate the potential cardiovascular effects of noise exposure.

Research has provided compelling evidence linking noise pollution to an increased risk of heart disease. Prolonged exposure to high levels of noise, especially in urban areas near busy roads or airports, has been associated with adverse cardiovascular effects. Studies have shown that chronic noise exposure can lead to elevated blood pressure, disrupted sleep patterns, and increased stress hormone release. All of which contribute to a higher risk of developing heart disease. The noise-induced stress response can trigger inflammation and oxidative stress, which are known contributors to atherosclerosis, hypertension, and other cardiovascular conditions. As a result, mitigating noise pollution through urban planning, noise barriers, and personal protective measures like ear protection can play a crucial role in reducing the burden of heart disease in noisy environments.

5. Communication and Safety:

In noisy environments, hearing protection can ensure that you maintain effective communication and safety.  When you’re exposed to loud sounds, it can be difficult to hear important warnings, instructions, or signals, which can be hazardous in various settings, including industrial workplaces and construction sites.  Hearing protection allows you to stay alert and responsive in noisy conditions.

Firefighters, for instance, often face the challenge of communicating effectively in extremely noisy and chaotic environments while responding to emergencies. To overcome this hurdle, they employ a variety of specialized communication techniques and equipment. Just recently we spoke to our Hopkins, MN Firefighters and they shared they commonly use two-way radios or communication systems built into their helmets, which are designed to filter out background noise and provide clear, direct communication with their team members and incident commanders. In addition to audio communication, they may also use hand signals and non-verbal cues to convey important information when verbal communication becomes difficult. Moreover, they shared, that their fire department and others often conduct extensive training to ensure that firefighters can communicate efficiently under high-stress and high-noise conditions. As clear communication is paramount to their safety and the success of their operations.

6. Workplace Regulations Impact Hearing Protection for Your Health:

Many workplaces have established noise exposure regulations to protect employees from harmful noise levels. Employers are often required to provide and mandate the use of hearing protection in high-noise environments to comply with occupational safety standards. Adhering to these regulations helps prevent work-related hearing problems.

Many individuals who have worked in noisy environments without hearing protection and later adopt the practice of wearing appropriate hearing protection often report a noticeable reduction in their end-of-day fatigue. Prolonged exposure to high noise levels can be physically and mentally exhausting. As the constant barrage of sound can lead to stress, irritability, and cognitive fatigue. When these individuals begin using hearing protection, they experience a significant reduction in noise-related stress. This can result in increased comfort and concentration throughout the day. This, in turn, leads to improved productivity and a decrease in overall tiredness when the workday concludes. Underlining the crucial role of hearing protection in promoting both auditory health and overall well-being.

Hearing Protection for your Health:

Protecting your hearing is important for preventing conditions like hearing loss and tinnitus, and reducing the risk of associated health concerns such as heart disease and stress-related issues. Consistently wearing appropriate hearing protection when exposed to loud environments is a simple yet effective way to safeguard your well-being and ensure a higher quality of life.

At Hears Hearing & Hearables, we prioritize your auditory health and understand the significance of protecting your hearing in various environments. Buying hearing protection from us is a simple and beneficial process.

Protecting your hearing in various environments is a priority. At Hears Hearing & Hearables, we are committed to providing you with the best hearing protection solutions to safeguard your auditory health effectively. Browse our selection, consult our experts, and make the choice that suits your unique circumstances. Your hearing is invaluable, and we’re here to help you preserve it.

Thanks for caring, Kim

Hearing Loss; Hearing Aids

Hearing Matters: The Power of Auditory Awareness

October 28, 2023

Exploring the Wonders of Hearing

Hearing is a complex and remarkable sense that allows us to connect with the world around us. It’s not just about perceiving sound but also understanding the nuances, patterns, and emotional depths that come with it. Hearing science delves deep into the mechanics of hearing, studying the intricate processes that enable us to experience the auditory world. In this blog, we will explore the wonders of hearing, uncovering the fascinating aspects of how we perceive and interpret sound.  We will also cover why hearing matters so much.

The Auditory System

Before delving into hearing science and why hearing matters so much, it’s crucial to understand the fundamentals of the auditory system. The human ear can be divided into three main parts: the outer ear, the middle ear, and the inner ear.

Outer Ear: Sound waves are collected and funneled into the ear canal by the pinna, the visible part of the ear. The sound waves travel down the ear canal and strike the eardrum.

Middle Ear: The eardrum vibrates when it’s struck by sound waves, and this vibration is transmitted to three tiny bones in the middle ear called the ossicles. These bones amplify the vibrations and transmit them to the inner ear.

Inner Ear: The inner ear houses the cochlea, a spiral-shaped structure filled with fluid and lined with thousands of tiny hair cells. These hair cells are responsible for converting mechanical vibrations into electrical signals that can be interpreted by the brain.

Audiological testing or a Hearing Test

Audiological tones are pure, controlled sound frequencies used in hearing tests and assessments to measure an individual’s hearing abilities. Specialized equipment like audiometers typically generates these tones. They are essential tools in audiological practice because they allow clinicians to determine the thresholds at which an individual can hear different frequencies.

The audiologist presents these tones at varying frequencies and volumes to assess the sensitivity of an individual’s hearing. Thus, by carefully measuring the responses to different tones, they can create an audiogram, which is a visual representation of an individual’s hearing ability. This information helps audiologists diagnose hearing loss, its type, and degree.

Hearing Tests Aren’t the Ultimate Tool for Deciphering Performance in Noisy Environments: Here’s Why

While hearing tests, often conducted by audiologists, are valuable tools for assessing an individual’s hearing sensitivity and diagnosing hearing they have limitations when it comes to predicting how well someone will perform in noisy environments. Here are some reasons why hearing tests are not the ultimate tool for deciphering performance in such settings:

Hearing Tests Focus on Pure Tones:

Traditional hearing tests typically involve presenting pure tones at various frequencies and volumes to assess an individual’s hearing thresholds. These tests are excellent for measuring the sensitivity of the auditory system to specific frequencies but do not replicate the complex and dynamic nature of real-world sounds, especially in noisy environments.

Real-World Sounds Are Complex:

Complex auditory information, including speech, background noise, echoes, and reverberation, fills noisy environments. Hearing tests do not account for the interactions and overlapping of these various acoustic elements. In real life, it’s often the ability to separate and process different sounds that determines communication success in noisy settings.

Cognitive and Auditory Processing:

Success in noisy environments depends not only on hearing sensitivity but also on cognitive and auditory processing skills. These skills include selective attention, working memory, and the brain’s ability to filter out unwanted noise while focusing on important information. Hearing tests do not evaluate these cognitive and auditory processing abilities.

Listening Effort:

In noisy environments, individuals often need to exert more effort to understand and follow conversations. This listening effort can be physically and mentally draining, even for individuals with normal hearing. Hearing tests do not measure or account for the additional cognitive load that noisy environments impose.

Speech Recognition:

Hearing tests typically assess the ability to hear pure tones and may include speech recognition tests in quiet conditions. However, understanding speech in noisy settings is a different challenge altogether. Background noise and other acoustic factors can significantly affect speech intelligibility, making it a distinct aspect that hearing tests do not fully address.

Personal Factors:

Each individual’s experience in noisy environments can be highly subjective and influenced by personal factors such as prior exposure to noise, language skills, and motivation to communicate effectively. Standard hearing tests do not take these personal factors into account.

Technology and Assistive Devices:

In noisy environments, technology and assistive devices, such as hearing aids and cochlear implants, can play a significant role in improving communication. Hearing tests alone do not provide information about how well someone might benefit from or adapt to these technologies.

Real-Life Challenges:

Noisy environments pose various challenges, including rapid changes in sound levels, multiple conversations, and competing auditory sources. Hearing tests cannot replicate these complex and unpredictable situations.

The Pitch and Loudness of Sound

When we talk about hearing science, we often refer to two key attributes: pitch and loudness.

1. Pitch: Pitch is associated with the frequency of a sound wave, measured in Hertz (Hz). Lower frequencies create lower-pitched sounds, like the rumble of thunder or a deep voice, while higher frequencies result in higher-pitched sounds, such as bird songs or a whistle. Our ears can typically hear frequencies in the range of 20 Hz to 20,000 Hz.

The frequencies that are most important for understanding speech are typically found in the range of 250 Hz to 4,000 Hz. This frequency range is often referred to as the speech frequency range or voice frequency range. It encompasses the fundamental frequencies of most human speech sounds, including vowels and many consonants. The critical consonant sounds, such as “s,” “f,” and “th,” often have their higher-frequency components within this range. Therefore, these frequencies are essential for the clarity and intelligibility of speech.

2. Loudness: Loudness, on the other hand, is a measure of the amplitude or intensity of sound waves. It is measured in decibels (dB). Quieter sounds have lower dB levels, while louder sounds have higher dB levels. Our ears are sensitive to a wide range of loudness levels, from the faintest whispers to the roar of a jet engine.

Hearing and Emotional Connection

Hearing is not just about the mechanical processing of sound; it’s deeply tied to our emotions and memories. The tones and melodies we hear can evoke a wide range of feelings, from joy to sadness, and they often trigger vivid memories. Audiological science seeks to understand how our brains process and connect these emotional and sensory aspects of hearing and relate them to why hearing matters.

Hearing Matters: Understanding the Importance of Our Auditory Sense

Hearing is one of our most vital senses, playing a crucial role in our daily lives and overall well-being. It’s not just about perceiving sound; it profoundly impacts our communication, safety, emotional experiences, and overall quality of life. Here are some key reasons why hearing matters:


Hearing is at the core of human communication. It enables us to connect with others through spoken words, tone of voice, and non-verbal cues. Effective communication is essential for building relationships, sharing information, expressing emotions, and collaborating with others. Hearing impairment can hinder these vital interactions, leading to isolation and frustration.


Our ability to hear warning signals, sirens, horns, and other auditory cues is essential for our safety. In everyday life, it helps us detect approaching vehicles, alarms, and potential hazards. For individuals who are deaf or hard of hearing, these safety warnings may be inaccessible, making them more vulnerable in certain situations.

Emotional Well-Being:

Hearing profoundly affects our emotional experiences. The joy of listening to music, the comfort of a loved one’s voice, and the laughter of friends all contribute to our emotional well-being. Hearing loss can lead to feelings of sadness, social isolation, and even depression, as it limits one’s ability to engage in these emotionally enriching experiences.

Cognitive Function:

Recent research has shown a strong link between hearing health and cognitive function. Untreated hearing loss has been associated with cognitive decline, including conditions like dementia and Alzheimer’s disease. The brain relies on auditory input to stay active and engaged, making hearing health a crucial factor in maintaining cognitive abilities.

Learning and Education:

For children, hearing is vital for language development and learning. The ability to hear and understand spoken language is essential for acquiring new knowledge and skills. Children with hearing impairments may face challenges in school, which, consequently, can impact their academic and social development.

Employment and Economic Well-Being:

Many professions and job roles require good hearing. From customer service to emergency responders, the ability to hear is essential for effective job performance. Hearing loss can limit career opportunities and earning potential, which can, in turn, affect one’s economic well-being.

Quality of Life:

Hearing significantly contributes to our overall quality of life. The ability to enjoy music, participate in social activities, and engage in conversations enriches our daily experiences. Hearing loss can diminish these pleasures and lead to a decreased quality of life.


Hearing allows us to navigate the world independently. It helps us to be aware of our surroundings, communicate with others, and make decisions based on auditory information. For individuals with hearing loss, assistive devices like hearing aids and cochlear implants can help them regain a sense of independence.

Mental Health:

Hearing impairment can have a profound impact on mental health. The social isolation and communication difficulties that often accompany hearing loss can lead to feelings of anxiety and depression. Seeking treatment for hearing loss, such as hearing aids or cochlear implants, can improve mental well-being.

Hearing Matters!

Our exploration of the wonders of hearing and why it matters has revealed the intricate and remarkable nature of our auditory sense. Hearing is not merely the reception of sound; it’s a multifaceted experience that enriches our lives in countless ways. Our auditory system, comprising the outer ear, middle ear, and inner ear, forms the foundation for this sensory marvel, allowing us to perceive and interpret the world around us.

Audiological science and hearing tests are indispensable tools for diagnosing hearing impairments and understanding hearing sensitivity. They provide valuable insights into our ability to hear pure tones, but they have their limitations, especially when it comes to predicting performance in noisy environments. The complexity of real-world sounds, cognitive processing, listening effort, and personal factors all contribute to our auditory experiences, which cannot be fully captured by standard hearing tests.

The importance of hearing, however, cannot be overstated. It affects our communication, safety, emotional well-being, cognitive function, learning, economic well-being, and overall quality of life. It is a cornerstone of our independence, allowing us to navigate the world, connect with others, and make informed decisions. Moreover, it plays a significant role in our mental health and emotional fulfillment.

Therefore, understanding and preserving our hearing health should be a priority. Regular hearing check-ups, early intervention when hearing issues arise, and the use of assistive devices when needed are all steps toward ensuring that hearing remains a valuable and integral part of our lives. Hearing is not just a sense; it is a gateway to our world, enriching our experiences and connecting us with others in ways that are both remarkable and essential.

Thanks for reading, listening and hearing what we share!

Innovation for Hearing Aids, small business

Challenges Impeding the Introduction of Innovative Over-the-Counter Hearing Aids

October 22, 2023

Challenges Impeding Swift Innovation in Over-the-Counter Hearing Aids

Hearing aids sold over the counter have thus far struggled to meet consumer expectations. From my perspective as an experienced audiologist, there are multifaceted reasons contributing to this challenge. Among the primary hurdles faced by new entrants in the hearing aid market is the substantial financial backing that established manufacturers possess. Which makes it arduous for smaller, innovative players to compete. This dynamic is a recurring theme in various industries. As the presence of monopolistic market leaders can stifle new innovations by virtue of their financial and market influence. In the hearing aid industry, these complexities are particularly pronounced, impacting the pace of meaningful innovation in over-the-counter solutions.

Addressing the Regulatory Hurdles is an expensive process that must be dealt with first. Historically, hearing aids have been classified as medical devices and were only available through licensed audiologists and hearing healthcare professionals. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) regulates the manufacturing and distribution of these devices to ensure they meet safety and efficacy standards. Transitioning to an OTC model required regulatory changes to establish safety and quality control guidelines such as:

Safety and Efficacy Standards:

The FDA is likely to set safety and efficacy standards to ensure that OTC hearing aids meet minimum performance requirements. This includes the accuracy and consistency of sound amplification, feedback management, and noise reduction features.

Labeling and Instructions:

Regulations may require clear and comprehensive labeling on OTC hearing aids. This includes instructions for use, maintenance, and safety precautions. Ensuring that consumers understand how to properly use and care for their devices is essential.

Quality Control:

Manufacturers of OTC hearing aids might need to establish and maintain quality control measures during production. This would include periodic testing and verification to ensure that devices meet established standards. This would be difficult for new comers into the field.

Consumer Education:

The FDA mandates that OTC hearing aid packaging and marketing materials include information about the importance of having a hearing evaluation and the potential risks of untreated hearing loss. Clear educational materials can help consumers make informed choices.

User-Friendly Design: 

Regulations encourage the development of OTC hearing aids with user-friendly design elements. Thus, ensuring ease of operation and comfort for consumers. Especially for those who may not have prior experience with such devices.

Product Registration and Reporting:

Manufacturers will be required to register their OTC hearing aids with the FDA and promptly report any adverse events or safety issues to ensure a timely response to potential problems.

Compliance with Applicable Standards:

Manufacturers may need to ensure that OTC hearing aids comply with relevant industry standards to meet specific performance criteria.

Big Hearing Aid Companies Dominate Hearing Aids Sold Over the Counter

New Companies and New Ideas Face Obstacles

Introducing a new product into a market dominated by established monopolies can be an immensely challenging endeavor. These industry giants often control significant market share, have substantial resources for marketing and distribution, and maintain a loyal customer base.

New entrants face numerous obstacles. From building brand recognition to competing on pricing, as established monopolies can leverage economies of scale and wield significant pricing power. Additionally, monopolies can use their influence to shape regulations and industry standards, further hindering new competitors.

Navigating such a landscape requires not only innovative products but also strategic differentiation and patience to gradually carve out a niche in the market, often requiring substantial investment and resilience to overcome the substantial barriers to entry that monopolies present.

Why Hearing Professionals Matter

As audiologists and hearing healthcare providers, we possess the knowledge and expertise required to address individuals’ diverse hearing needs. Our extensive training encompasses not only a comprehensive understanding of auditory physiology but also the intricate principles of sound physics.

Hearing solutions vary based on the specific environmental contexts in which they are applied. An array of factors, including the degree and type of hearing loss, its underlying causes, the individual’s age, cognitive capabilities, memory, and auditory processing skills, all play pivotal roles in determining the most suitable interventions to enhance an individual’s ability to engage and actively participate in conversations. It can be disheartening for providers to observe the limited range of tools and business models at our disposal to aid those in need. Especially when considering the broad range of factors that must be taken into account to achieve optimal hearing outcomes.

The availability of a diverse array of treatment tools for individuals with hearing loss holds significant importance. Primarily because a singular, one-size-fits-all approach is not conducive to addressing the unique needs of each individual. Innovation is a key driver in this context. Not only in terms of product development but also in the models and methodologies we employ to facilitate access to the most suitable solutions for individuals with hearing impairments.

There is No One-Size-Fits All Solution

Hearing loss is a complex and highly individualized condition that exhibits variations in severity, type, and underlying causes. It is crucial to acknowledge that one-size-fits-all solutions are inadequate to address the diverse needs of individuals with hearing impairments.

Ideally, offering a range of over-the-counter (OTC) hearing aid options would be a commendable approach. Regrettably, the OTC hearing aids currently available in the market are essentially repurposed prescription hearing aids, which have already received FDA approval and undergone rigorous testing.

Leading Manufacturers Partnering with the Big Guys

Leading hearing aid manufacturers like Signia, Phonak, and Resound have entered into collaborations with renowned Fortune 500 companies, including Sony, Sennheiser, Jabra, and Bose, which have established themselves as purveyors of high-quality audio products. This partnership presents a valid question: why would a consumer opt for an unfamiliar brand, potentially at a higher cost, when established and trusted alternatives such as Bose exist?

Furthermore, industry giants like Apple, which could potentially launch their own OTC hearing aids, are positioning the hearing aid market for further transformation. Warranting vigilant attention to emerging innovations and competitive dynamics.

Another pertinent issue revolves around the vested interests of hearing aid manufacturers, audiologists, and hearing healthcare professionals, who inherently intertwine with the established model that necessitates professional intervention for hearing aid provision. The prospect of transitioning towards over-the-counter (OTC) hearing aids introduces the potential for significant disruption to long-standing industry practices, consequently garnering resistance from certain stakeholders.

The accelerated momentum and heightened attention surrounding the shift towards OTC hearing aids may inadvertently empower select industry leaders to assert dominance. As a proactive measure, Hears Hearing & Hearables is dedicated to safeguarding the interests of smaller, innovative hearing aid manufacturers, with the overarching aim of not only endorsing and nurturing novel innovations but also ensuring their accessibility to those grappling with hearing loss.

New Innovation with more hearing aids sold over the counter is a challenge

Hears Hearing & HeaHears Hearing & Hearables is a newer company that these stakeholders do not own.  Although Hears Hearing & Hearables is owned by an Audiologist and hence a type of a stake holder. We feel our goal in supporting hearing aids sold over the counter is altruistic. Going to school for years, Audiologists have a vested interest in continuing to do what we love, help people.  Just because one wants to purchase a hearing aid over the counter for whatever reason. Be it saving money or more accessible buying online. Hears Hearing & Hearables aims to continue assisting those who purchase over-the-counter hearing aids. We will sell them and we will service these OTC Hearing aids. Our commitment extends beyond industry dynamics to the fulfillment of our mission.

Mission: Empower individuals with hearing impairment with innovative solutions that can enhance their quality of life.  Make it easy, affordable, accessible, and don’t forget .. with the transparent model of purchase.

Hearing aid solutions

Navigating Hearing Solutions: Your Guide to Choosing the Right Option with a Demonstration

October 13, 2023

A Test Drive (Demo) of a Hearing Aid:

You can’t read about all the features in a hearing aid to really get an idea of what is best for you!  And we don’t want to talk about all the features and benefits because we will turn Blue in the Face!  We prefer to do a hands-on approach so you can demo a hearing aid.

We talk to people all day at Hears to U, Hearing & Hearables about finding the right solution for their hearing needs. When it comes to things like hearing aids, there are many options. We’re cautious about recommending a specific brand or model because it depends on what you need.

The truth is, we don’t know your specific hearing requirements, your budget for a hearing solution, or what you can afford. Even more importantly, we don’t know how the features in a hearing aid will benefit you in your specific listening situations or with your phone and connectivity needs.

In our clinic, we offer a process where you can try different hearing aids for a week. We’ll guide you through the experience, and our patients appreciate that we don’t pressure them to buy a particular product. However, this process is challenging to do remotely.

If you’re interested in a similar process but can’t find the right information on the internet with all the mixed messages and even hidden agendas, we can help you find a provider near you who offers demos. Keep in mind that this process is not free, and the cost will depend on your chosen provider. It might be a worthwhile investment because it will give you a better idea of what you need for your hearing.

Empowering Hearing Health: Solutions Over Products

When it comes to addressing hearing needs, it’s crucial to emphasize the difference between pushing products and providing genuine solutions. While a product is indeed a tangible item, a solution encompasses a broader perspective of what people truly require.

Pushing products often involves a sales-oriented approach. This focuses solely on selling a particular hearing device, sometimes regardless of whether it’s the best fit for the individual. This approach can come with a hidden agenda, where the primary goal is to make a sale.

On the other hand, a true solution takes into account the unique requirements of each person. It’s about identifying the best approach to address their specific hearing challenges. This may involve a hearing device, but it could also include lifestyle adjustments, communication strategies, or a combination of these elements.

By prioritizing solutions over products, the focus shifts to the individual’s well-being and improving their quality of life. It involves a more personalized and holistic approach to hearing care. This approach is transparent, with no hidden agenda other than helping individuals find the best path to improved hearing and overall well-being.


UV-C Sterilization for used Hearing aids

UV-C Sterilization for Hearing Aids is a proven way for safety and cleanliness

September 22, 2023

Experience the Gold Standard in Used Hearing Aid Sterilization with UV-C Technology.

At our facility, we’ve embraced UV-C sterilization as our primary method for safeguarding all pre-owned hearing aids. UV-C, short for Ultraviolet-C, represents the pinnacle of disinfection methods, employing short-wavelength ultraviolet light to combat a wide spectrum of microorganisms, including bacteria, viruses, and fungi.

Our commitment to sterilization stems from its demonstrated efficiency and unwavering reliability in sanitizing medical devices, most notably in our case of interest hearing aids. Operating within the 100 to 280 nanometer (nm) wavelength range, UV-C light targets microorganisms at their core. Upon exposure, the genetic material (DNA and RNA) of these microorganisms absorbs the energy. Therefore, inflicting structural damage that cripples their ability to replicate or function. This transformative process effectively neutralizes and eliminates these harmful agents, ensuring the utmost safety for our users.

To facilitate hearing aid sterilization, we employ cutting-edge UV-C chambers in our specialized cabinet. We simply place hearing aids into these chambers, where automated UV-C light emission takes charge. The duration used, which often we go overboard and do overnight, ensures comprehensive sterilization, and safety measures. Including automatic shut-off mechanisms upon chamber opening, guarantee user protection from UV-C exposure.

Why UV-C?

What truly sets our approach apart is the extensive body of research supporting UV-C sterilization. Countless studies have consistently affirmed the unmatched efficacy of UV-C, often highlighting its advantages over chemical alternatives. UV-C stands out for its swiftness, absence of residue, as well as its ability to preserve hearing aids’ integrity over time. These findings affirm this type of sterilization as the dependable and efficient choice for disinfecting hearing aids. Thus, assuring users of both safety and hygiene.”

Numerous research studies have compared UV-C sterilization with chemical methods for disinfection. These studies consistently reveal the effectiveness of UV-C sterilization, basically highlighting its advantages over chemical alternatives. UV-C is lauded for its speed, leaving no residue, and for preserving the integrity of what is being sterilized.  Obviously, hearing aids cannot be put into a chemical bath.  The study findings underscore UV-C sterilization as a reliable and efficient choice for disinfecting hearing aids, ensuring their safety and hygiene for users.

Thank you for trusting us with your hearing health care and safety.

hearing loss and music audeara headphones make a difference

Hearing Loss and Music Mixing Preferences: How Impaired Hearing Effects the Way We Enjoy Music

August 30, 2023

Have you ever wondered how music mixing affects our perception of songs? Well, a recent study dived into the world of mixing preferences, and the results are quite intriguing. Let’s break down the science!

The study titled “Exploring level- and spectrum-based music mixing transforms for hearing-impaired listeners” by Joseph Benjamin and Kia Siedenburg explored the paradigms of music mixing preferences for those with and without hearing loss.

The Groovy Experiment: Mixing Music for Different Ears

Imagine you’re at a concert, and the sound engineer is adjusting the levels of vocals and instruments to create the perfect blend of music. That’s called mixing, and it’s crucial for making songs sound good. But did you know that people with hearing impairments might have different preferences when it comes to mixing? That’s what this study aimed to uncover.

Mixing Magic: What’s the Deal?

Mixing is like cooking. You have various ingredients (tracks) that need to be combined just right to make a delicious dish (song). In the music world, mixing involves tweaking things like vocal levels, instrument balance, and even the frequency balance (how bright or deep the music sounds). But here’s the twist: People with hearing impairments might experience music differently, and that’s where the experiment comes in.

Meet the Players: NH and HI Listeners

The researchers gathered two groups of music lovers: those with normal hearing (NH) and those with hearing impairments (HI). Some of the HI folks wore hearing aids (HAs), while others didn’t. The goal? To find out how these different groups preferred their music mixes.

Experiment 1: A Peek into Hearing Loss and Music Mixing Preferences

In the first experiment, they played different versions of songs to these music enthusiasts. Some versions had louder vocals, some had more balanced frequencies, and some had a unique EQ (equalization) transformation. They found that both HI groups preferred the lead vocals to be louder than NH participants did. Imagine being at a concert and wanting the singer’s voice to stand out even more—that’s what they liked!

Experiment 2: The HA Twist

For the second experiment, they focused on the HI listeners who wore hearing aids. They compared their preferences when wearing HAs and when not wearing them. Surprisingly, they found that wearing HAs reduced the preference for louder vocals and changed the balance of frequencies in the music.

What Does it All Mean?

These findings suggest that people with hearing impairments might have different musical tastes when it comes to mixing. Cranking up the vocals a bit could potentially enhance their enjoyment of songs. And when it comes to the sound frequencies, it’s like choosing between bright and deep colors—some might prefer brighter, more vibrant sounds.

A Solution for those with Impaired Hearing…?

Luckily there are some options for altering music mixing to suit your preferences if you have hearing loss! We personally love the Audeara A-01 Headphones as they are customizable and made with those with hearing impairment in mind.

What sets Audeara headphones apart is their focus on providing users with customized sound profiles based on their individual hearing capabilities. Audeara headphones are equipped with technology that allows them to assess your hearing sensitivity in each ear. This is done through a hearing test that you take when you first set up the headphones. The headphones then create a personalized sound profile for you based on the results of this test. This profile takes into account any hearing deficiencies or variations you might have, and it adjusts the audio output to suit your unique hearing needs.

Audeara headphones continuously adjust the audio output in real-time based on your personalized profile. This means that the headphones adapt the sound to compensate for any deficiencies in your hearing. For instance, if you have difficulty hearing certain frequencies, the headphones will boost those frequencies to make sure you can hear them clearly.

The Takeaway: Music for All Ears

So, what’s the bottom line? Music mixing isn’t just about technical stuff; it’s about how we experience and enjoy songs. The experiment showed that understanding the mixing preferences of people with hearing impairments can help make music more enjoyable for everyone.

Imagine going to a concert in the future where the mixing is tailored to what you like—whether you’re a normal-hearing listener or someone with a hearing impairment. That’s the power of research and understanding how we all hear and feel music differently!

Remember, music is a universal language, and it’s all about making sure everyone gets to groove to the beat. So, next time you’re singing along to your favorite song, give a nod to the mixing engineers who make sure it sounds just right for your ears!

Aging Hearing Loss

Gene Magic: Cracking the Code to Reversing Hearing Loss and Spark Hope!

August 20, 2023

Unlocking Hope: Promising Discoveries in Reversing Hearing Loss Through Gene Activation

As we all know hearing problems are common and can happen to people of any age. More than half of adults in their 70s have trouble hearing and 80% of 80-year-olds have hearing loss. This can make people feel alone, cause sadness, and even lead to memory problems. Devices like hearing aids and cochlear implants exist, but they don’t fully fix the issue. People need better ways to prevent or reverse hearing loss.

Various compelling reasons motivate researchers to delve into the biological causes of hearing loss. Firstly, understanding these causes can pave the way for more effective treatments. By identifying the specific mechanisms underlying hearing loss, scientists can design targeted interventions, like gene therapies or regenerative approaches, to restore or improve auditory function. For instance, recent research on gene activation in mice with hearing loss has shown promising results in reversing the condition, opening up possibilities for future treatments.

Moreover, uncovering the biological roots of hearing loss can lead to better diagnosis and prevention strategies. Early detection of hearing problems can be challenging, but by identifying biomarkers associated with hearing loss, healthcare professionals could diagnose issues sooner. This knowledge can also guide the development of preventive measures, such as lifestyle modifications to mitigate risks. Furthermore, investigating genetic factors can help unravel inherited causes of hearing loss, offering insights for genetic counseling and potential gene-based therapies, which holds potential for a more personalized and effective approach to treatment.

In a PNAS research article we reviewed titled Gene Activation Reverses Hearing Loss in Mice, by Authors Elisa Martelletti, Neil J Ingham, Karen P Steel at the University of Washington, Seattle, WA May 2, 2023 studied these biological factors in Endolymph.

A bit about Endolymph:

The “cochlear duct” or “scala media” houses the endolymph fluid within a specific chamber of the cochlea. This fluid-filled space is situated between two other chambers: the scala vestibuli, which is located above the cochlear duct, and the scala tympani, which is located below the cochlear duct. The cochlear duct houses the essential sensory structure called the “organ of Corti,” where specialized hair cells are found. These hair cells play a crucial role by converting sound vibrations into electrical signals that are then transmitted to the brain for interpretation. The presence of the endolymph in the cochlear duct is vital for maintaining the proper environment for sound transduction and hearing.

Studying Endolymph:

One main reason for age-related hearing loss involves a special fluid called endolymph. This fluid has a lot of potassium and less sodium. It covers the top of hair cells in the ear and helps us hear. In the cochlea, this fluid has an important electric charge called the endocochlear potential (EP). When this charge is high, our hearing is good. Hair cells help us hear and keep our balance.

Discovering the Solution to Reversing Hearing Loss in Mice:

In the PNAS research article  by Elisa Martelletti  et al. (2023) they found Some mice, called Spns2 mutant mice, quickly lose their hearing because their EP (endocochlear potential) drops. The EP gets very high in the beginning for these mice, and then it drops, causing hearing problems. Researchers wanted to know if they could make the EP go back up and fix the hearing loss. Therefore, they gave these mice a special medicine called tamoxifen, and they did this when the mice were around 2 to 4 weeks old. They checked the mice’s hearing using special tests before and after giving them the medicine.

The primary use of Tamoxifen, a medication, is to treat certain types of breast cancer. It works by acting as a selective estrogen receptor modulator (SERM), which means it has complex effects on estrogen receptors in the body.

Interestingly, tamoxifen apparently has been explored for its potential effects beyond cancer treatment. In this case, researchers have used it experimentally to activate specific genes or pathways, as seen in the study involving hearing loss in mice. The specific mechanisms behind these effects can vary and are still being studied.

Note: It’s important to note that tamoxifen is a powerful medication with potential side effects and risks. Guidance from a qualified healthcare professional is essential for using it, especially since its primary purpose is to treat cancer.

Results of the special medicine on these mice:

The scientists found that the hearing loss in the Spns2 mutant mice could be reversed by turning on the Spns2 gene. The mice’s hearing improved when they did this. This idea might not work exactly the same in humans, but it suggests that increasing the activity of a certain gene could help people with hearing problems. They also noticed that the sooner they turned on the gene, the better the mice’s hearing got. This tells us there’s a critical time period to fix hearing loss.

Why Is This Important?

You might be wondering why this matters. Well, even though researchers conducted this study in mice, it demonstrates that it’s possible to repair one type of hearing loss. Also, because there are many mice with similar issues, this method might work for other problems too. Diseases that were thought to be impossible to treat might have some hope now.

So, in short, this study found a way to reverse hearing loss in mice by activating a certain gene. This gives hope that similar treatments could work for humans and other diseases too.

In conclusion, the pursuit of understanding the biological causes of hearing loss is a critical endeavor with far-reaching implications. As we continue to unravel the intricate mechanisms underlying this condition, the potential for groundbreaking advancements in treatment, diagnosis, and prevention becomes increasingly evident. The encouraging results from studies like the one on gene activation in mice with hearing loss emphasize the importance of ongoing research in this field.

The journey towards effective interventions for hearing loss is far from over. With an expanding body of knowledge and growing interest from the scientific community, we can anticipate a wave of further research and exploration into these topics. With the emergence of new discoveries and the development of innovative techniques, we will closely monitor the evolving publication landscape, eagerly anticipating the transformation of scientific insights into concrete solutions that could greatly enhance the lives of individuals impacted by hearing loss.

Thank you for reading and we promise to report more studies as we discover them.


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