Category Archives: Helpful Information

Exploring the Links Between Your Hearing and Your Health

Did you know? 

We exercise, drink water, and eat healthy to prevent any health issues down the road. Many of us have regular primary care appointments as preventative care. But what about your hearing health? How does hearing loss impact your overall health?

Nearly 27 million Americans ages 50 and older have hearing loss. Of those, only one in seven treat it. Those that do treat their hearing loss often wait an average of 10 years or more before meeting with a hearing healthcare processional. Unfortunately, this can have a lasting impact on your health.

A study from Johns Hopkins expert Frank Lin, M.D. Ph.D monitored nearly 700 adults for 12 years and found that people with moderate or severe hearing loss were at an increased risk for developing balance problems resulting in more frequent falls as well as a higher prevalence of memory loss. In addition to these findings, other research has confirmed that individuals with heart disease, kidney disease, and diabetes are more likely to also experience hearing loss as compared to their age matched peers.

So, how does this impact your daily life?

If you are reading this post, you are likely very aware that hearing loss can have a significant impact on social interactions. You might find that you are asking others to repeat themselves. You may struggle to follow conversation with more than one person. Or you may find yourself thinking everyone else is mumbling. Whatever it is that you struggle with, the effects on social interactions can lead to self-isolation and ultimately depression and anxiety.

What can you do to prevent these effects?

One of the best ways to prevent these issues is to start with good hearing habits early in life. Just like we brush our teeth every day for good oral hygiene, we should protect our hearing when in loud environments. We should reduce exposure to medications that can cause hearing loss and we should have regular hearing exams with a hearing healthcare provider to monitor hearing over time. If hearing loss is detected, we should treat it quickly.

What if I already know I have hearing loss?

Now is a great time to start treating it! Do not hold back from choosing to do something about it. Schedule an appointment with your hearing healthcare provider and share a comprehensive medical history with them. Work with them to determine the best solution for you. If you do not yet have a provider, please use our Find a clinic tool. Or you can reach out to our team at 888.277.8014 (M-F 8am-8pm ET), and we would be glad to help find the right provider for you.

Any form of hearing loss can be challenging for the person experiencing it and for loved ones trying to communicate with them. It is our hope to help you hear your best because sound matters!

About the author‌

Alicia Wooten, Au.D. CCC-A is a Senior Auditory Technical Specialist at Oticon Medical. She specializes in implantable hearing devices and has a strong passion for aural rehabilitation and its impact on patient outcomes.

Citations

Hopkinsmedicine.org. 2022. The Hidden Risks of Hearing Loss. [online] Available at: <https://www.hopkinsmedicine.org/health/wellness-and-prevention/the-hidden-risks-of-hearing-loss> [Accessed 29 April 2022].

You Hear with Your Brain

Exploring the Close Relationship Between Hearing Health and Cognitive Health

What is cognition?

Cognition is the “the mental action or process of acquiring knowledge and understanding through thought, experience, and the senses.” (Oxford 2022). It is how we process information, develop into who we are, learn what we learn and process our surrounding environment. Cognitive function is critical to participation in activities, social gatherings and for enjoying conversation with family and friends.

What does hearing have to do with cognition?

In recent years, there has been a steady increase in research outcomes that show a connection between untreated hearing loss and accelerated cognitive decline.  One study completed by Croll et al in 2021, showed that individuals with hearing loss had lower cognitive function results than those of their peers with normal hearing. In several studies using functional imaging, there was evidence that when listening to different inputs the brain was stimulated less in individuals with hearing loss.

There are numerous theories as to how hearing loss plays a role in cognitive changes. Today we will examine two schools of thought.

The Common Cause Theory

The first theory to explore is the concept that age-related changes cause global declines. This widely researched theory suggests that neural degenerative diseases or even cardiovascular disease play a role in overall cognition. How does this theory expand to untreated hearing loss? This theory suggests that, like other health conditions, hearing loss has an impact on our overall health and cognitive abilities as we age.

The Cascade Theory

This is known as the “use it or lose it” theory (Chung, 2018). We know that hearing loss decreases auditory stimulation within the brain, and in turn this deprivation can cause cognitive decline. The idea is that auditory deprivation (i.e., hearing loss) can cause a ‘cascade’ of other issues like social isolation, depression, and the accelerated onset of dementia. Hearing loss also causes a person to have more cognitive load, meaning that individuals with hearing loss must work harder to process information. If we further explore the ‘cascade’ theory, there is hope that by treating your hearing loss sooner than later, you can slow the progression of cognitive decline.

What you can do to retain cognitive function as you age

Additional research is needed to understand more about how hearing loss impacts cognition. However, research suggests there are close ties between our hearing health and our overall health and wellness.

Here are a few steps you can take to ensure that your hearing health and cognition stay in shape as you age:

  • Get your hearing tested annually and continue to monitor it regularly. Add your hearing to the list of health-related check-ups you schedule each year.
  • If you have a hearing loss, seek treatment from an audiologist. Early intervention and early use of hearing aids or assistive listening devices are proven to reduce the effects of hearing loss such as depression, isolation, and memory loss.
  • Use the latest technology to your advantage. Although hearing aids cannot reverse the effects of hearing loss and cognitive decline, research does show that patients who use hearing devices regularly to treat their hearing loss have a greater ability to retain their cognitive function throughout the aging process.

Talk to a hearing care professional about the many benefits of treating your hearing loss today. And if traditional hearing aids aren’t the right solution for you, we encourage you to explore a bone anchored hearing system instead.

About the Author

Author Nicole Maxam, AuD, has been an audiologist for almost 17 years and has worked with a variety of patients. Before joining the Auditory Technical Services team, she worked in the school settings and private ENT setting offering hearing aids and implantable options to her patients.

Resources

  • Campbell, Julia and Sharma, Anu. “Compensatory changes in cortical resource allocation in adults with hearing loss”, Front. Syst. Neurosci., 25 October 2013, https://doi.org/10.3389/fnsys.2013.00071
  • Crolling, Pauline, “Hearing Loss and Cognitive Decline in the General Population: a prosceptive cohort study”, J Neurol. 2021 Mar;268(3):860-871. doi: 10.1007/s00415-020-10208-8
  • “Cognition”. Lexico. Oxford University Press and Dictionary.com. Retrieved 3/25/2022
  • King, Chung. Theories on Hearing-Cognition Functions, The Hearing Journal Dec. 2018. V71.12 p10-12.
  • Naples, James, Hearing Loss may affect brain health, Harvard Health Blog, 31 Jan 2020, www.health.harvard.edu/blog/hearing-loss-may-affect-brain-health-2020013118739
  • Tran, Yvonne, et al, “Co-occurring Hearing Loss and Cognitive Decline in Older Adults: A Dual Group-Based Trajectory Modeling Approach”, Front Aging Neurosci. 2021 Dec 24;13:794787. doi:10.3389/fnagi.2021.794787. eCollection 2021

Enjoying Music with Ponto

“Where words fail, music speaks.” —  Hans Christian Anderson

 Think of a favorite memory that involves music.

Perhaps it was when you attended an outdoor concert on a beautiful summer day with family and friends. Or that moment when you blasted your favorite song on the car radio with the windows down. What is it about hearing a certain song that can transport you back to a happy day in your life? Undoubtedly, music touches our hearts and minds in a way that few things can.

If you are someone with a hearing loss, music may sound different to you than it used to. Certain notes might sound flat. The lyrics of a song might be more difficult to identify. You might long to hear certain instruments in the orchestra again. Losing a connection to music is another hidden challenge presented by hearing loss presents.

In today’s world, hearing device users are fortunate to have access to technology that can make listening to music more enjoyable. If you use a Ponto™ device, let’s look at a few ways that your hearing care professional can optimize your processor to help make music sound better to you.

Ask your audiologist to make you a music program

Music is very different than speech. Music contains volume and pitch changes that don’t occur in conversational speech. A challenge for bone anchored hearing aid users is that, while their devices are designed to emphasize speech, those same pitch and volume enhancements needed to understand speech can interfere with music enjoyment.

A music program is designed to allow the hearing device to accept a wider range of frequencies and lessen noise reduction. In the Ponto 5 Mini, your clinician has access to a preset music program with settings that are guided by the latest research into listening to music through hearing devices. You can access your music program using the Oticon ON™ app paired to your smartphone by selecting it when listening to music. If you are a Ponto 3 SuperPower patient, your audiologist can create a music program that can be accessed with your Oticon Medical Streamer. If you haven’t tested a music program yet, ask your audiologist to create one for you at your next visit and listen to the difference.

Use your wireless accessories to stream music directly to your Ponto family device

Ponto hearing device users are fortunate to have access to a wealth of accessories that can help them enjoy music. Let’s talk about how you might use these wireless accessories. 

The ConnectClip

The ConnectClip™ is a multi-function accessory that is compatible with our Ponto 4 and Ponto 5 Mini devices. The ConnectClip is easily paired to your Ponto and a smartphone. You can use it to stream music from your favorite Spotify™ or Apple® Music playlist directly to your device. The music volume can be adjusted right on the ConnectClip for a hands-free listening experience.

The EduMic

The EduMic™ is widely known as a wireless accessory with educational benefits for pediatric patients. It is a one-to-many device that is capable of so much, including accepting a streaming signal from an FM transmitter in educational settings. But did you know that you can also use EduMic in “jack mode” to listen to music? If you want to enjoy music from a laptop or a wireless speaker that has a jack cable plug-in, you can plug in your EduMic and stream the audio directly to a Ponto 4 or Ponto 5 Mini. The EduMic is shipped with the 3.5 mm jack cable required, so no need to shop for anything extra. As an added bonus, the EduMic is currently offered as one of the free accessory options for patients placing a new Ponto 5 Mini order.

The Oticon Medical Streamer

For our Ponto 3 SuperPower patients, you can use your connected Oticon Medical Streamer to link to a music system, either wirelessly using Bluetooth®, or a 3.5 mm jack cable if you prefer to plug in. Worn around the patient’s neck, the Oticon Medical Streamer also offers patients an entirely hands-free music listening experience in either mode.

Take note of assistive devices available to hearing device users

Many theaters and concert halls have a telecoil loop system that allows audio to be transmitted to a hearing device using the telecoil.  A loop system uses electromagnetic energy to transmit the audio from the venue to its patrons with hearing loss. Our Ponto 3 SuperPower patients can access their telecoil with the use of the Oticon Medical Streamer. The telecoil in the streamer picks up the electromagnetic energy that is transmitted from the loop system in the room, allowing the user to access the audio from the stage directly in their device. Simply pressing the “AUX” button on the lower right side of the streamer for two seconds will activate the telecoil feature.  If you are a Ponto 5 Mini patient using the EduMic, you can use its telecoil mode to stream the telecoil signal from a theater or music venue. The next time you are seeing a concert or a play in a live theater, be sure to ask whether it is “looped”.

Enjoy music with your Ponto bone anchored hearing system

Thanks to the advanced technology in Oticon Medical devices and wireless accessories, bone anchored hearing device users have more options than ever when it comes to music enjoyment. Be sure to visit your audiologist to learn more about how you can take advantage of the options available to you.

About the author

Courtney Smith, M.A., CCC/A, is the Clinical Trainer for Oticon Medical. She in in her 19th year of practicing audiology. She has practiced in private practice and university hospital settings in Las Vegas, NV. She completed her training at the University of Iowa in 2003.

Ponto 5 Mini Informational Webinar

Are you thinking of upgrading your current processor? Do you want to learn more about Ponto 5 Mini? Now is your chance!​

We are excited to share this upcoming informational opportunity with you!

We cordially invite you to join us for an exciting Ponto 5 Mini™ informational webinar on Wednesday, March 23, 2022. This one-hour webinar, co-hosted by Oticon Medical Clinical Audiologist Carissa Moeggenberg, MA, CCC-A and Ponto 5 Mini Product Manager Michael Piskosz, MS, will introduce you to the features and benefits of our latest process, the Ponto 5 Mini, and discuss how this new technology could benefit you, our valued bone anchored hearing system wearers. We will also review how to initiate the insurance verification process for an upgrade, and what you should expect during this process, plus you’ll hear from one of our Ponto 5 Mini wearers directly about their experiences wearing the device so far.

For your convenience, we are offering this webinar at two different times:

  • 12pm Eastern Standard Time
  • 7pm Eastern Standard Time

To register for your preferred time, please use this Ponto 5 Mini informational webinar registration link. We hope to see you at one of the sessions, and encourage you to share this opportunity with anyone in your family, friends, or community network who might benefit from our latest bone anchored hearing technology!

In the meantime, please visit our website for more information about the Ponto 5 Mini.

Auditory Rehabilitation: The Importance of Developing your Listening Skills

Hearing loss can have a significant impact on your quality of life. For some people it can impact social interactions, work environment, and even activities that you used to find to be relaxing and enjoyable. The purpose of this blog post is to help you to understand that you are not alone in this journey. Depending on the type and degree of hearing loss you experience, bone anchored hearing systems along with aural rehabilitation, may help you to reduce your listening effort.

Learning to listen

Did you know that we listen with our brains rather than our ears? If you are someone experiencing hearing loss, your brain may not be getting the auditory stimulation it needs to be able to understand and comprehend speech information. Therefore, the first step in learning to listen is to make sure your brain is getting access to the sound it needs. The best way to ensure this is to work with your hearing healthcare professional to determine the type and degree of hearing loss you have and how to best treat it.

Sometimes we need more

Of course, many different factors influence outcomes with your hearing devices. One of those factors could be that your brain needs to re-learn how to listen and understand. Just like your hip might need rehabilitation if you hurt it, your brain may need some listening rehabilitation to reduce listening fatigue and improve overall understanding. We call this aural rehabilitation. You may also hear it referred to as “AR”.

What is aural rehabilitation?

Aural rehabilitation allows individuals experiencing hearing loss to learn how to use their technology and other resources to improve speech understanding, listening effort, and overall communication. According to Arthur Boothroyd[1], there are four components of aural rehabilitation:

  1. Sensory management: Treatment of the hearing loss.
  2. Instruction: Learning how to use your devices to best serve you in many different listening environments.
  3. Perceptual training: Learning how to listen and process sound through targeted therapy either provided in-person or via virtual platform.
  4. Counseling: Understanding realistic expectations.

The goal of aural rehabilitation is to improve quality of life by teaching the listener (you) how to reduce listening effort.  By reducing listening effort, you can experience improved listening stamina and even improvements in understanding when listening in different environments.

What are some benefits to doing aural rehabilitation?

Let’s face it, we are all busy. We have errands to run, kids to pick up, grandkids to play with, and Netflix® to binge! So, why put in the effort? Aural rehabilitation has been proven to improve listening outcomes from a reduction in the perception of hearing difficulties to an improvement in quality-of-life. Aural rehab can really help you to get the most out of your hearing technology.

When is the best time to start aural rehabilitation?

While research indicates that aural rehabilitation provides the most benefit within the first three months post device fit (Dornhoffer et al, 2021)[2], some form of aural rehabilitation can be beneficial to all individuals with hearing loss at any point during their hearing healthcare journey. The best time to start is now!

There are many ways in which you can pursue the different forms of aural rehabilitation. In addition to in-person therapy sessions, AR includes the use of any assistive technologies or accessories, support from friends and family, as well as training tools to help you to feel more confident no matter the listening environment. Some of these training methods include in-person therapy sessions, online training materials provided by various manufacturers, and even different phone applications that can support your hearing and listening journey. The best way for you to have an experience tailored to your needs is to discuss these therapy options with your hearing healthcare professional, so that they can determine the best ways to ensure that you have the resources you need to be successful.

About the author‌

Alicia Wooten, Au.D. CCC-A is a Senior Auditory Technical Specialist at Oticon Medical. She specializes in implantable hearing devices and has a strong passion for aural rehabilitation and its impact on patient outcomes.

[1] Boothroyd, A. (2007). Adult Aural Rehabilitation: What Is It and Does It Work? Trends in Amplification, 11(2), 63-71. https://doi.org/10.1177/1084713807301073

[2] Dornhoffer, J. R., Reddy, P., Ma, C., Schvartz-Leyzac, K. C., Dubno, J. R., & McRackan, T. R. (2021). Use of Auditory Training and Its Influence on Early Cochlear Implant Outcomes in Adults. Otology & Neurotology43(2), e165–e173. https://doi.org/10.1097/mao.0000000000003417

 

Exploring A Bone Conduction Solution for Better Hearing

Six Tips to Consider

Congratulations on making an appointment with a hearing care professional (HCP)! This is an important step in your bone conduction hearing journey. If you’re a bit anxious or concerned about the appointment, check out these six tips to help you feel more prepared and confident. (And remember, you’ve already done the hard part.)

Tip #1: Think about what you need and want

Besides overall improved hearing, what do you want to get out of this appointment and from a Ponto bone anchored hearing system (BAHS)?  Do you have trouble hearing conversations? Do you struggle hearing in noise? Do you need hearing help at work, school, or on a smartphone? Consider writing down a list of situations in which you seem to struggle with your hearing the most. Understanding your personal needs and hearing goals will help your HCP fit a Ponto BAHS and select an accessory that works best for you.

Tip #2:  Download the Ponto Care App

The Ponto Care™ app is a mobile self-help tool that provides guidance while you are trying out a bone anchored sound processor. It allows you to get the most out of your trial and make an informed decision whether bone conduction hearing is right for you. It does that by guiding you through different listening situations in your daily life and letting you rate and comment on them. Once you have done the ratings, you can easily share them with your hearing care professional and discuss them at your next visit, whether that takes place in person or remotely.

The Ponto Care app is compatible with both iPhone® and Android™ and can be downloaded for free from the App® Store or Google Play™. The app does not require any login. For more information about the Ponto Care App and Oticon Medical visit Oticon Medical Ponto Care app.

Tip #3: Connect with other Ponto Users

Hearing what others have to say about their experience and their advice who have been in your shoes is invaluable! One easy way to get started is inside the Ponto Care app under Information. There are video and written testimonials by Ponto users that you can easily access to check out what others have to say about their Ponto experience. We can also connect you with an Oticon Medical Ponto Advocate. Simply contact Oticon Medical today or call 888-277-8014.

Another way to connect is by Following our Oticon Medical Facebook Page. Here you can chat with Ponto users, as well as read interesting posts and short articles.

Tip #4: Bring your medical records

Make a list of your medications and gather your medical records. Your HCP may allow you to fill out intake forms in advance – check their website or call the office to find out. Otherwise, ensure you bring this information to your appointment. Certain medications can cause hearing loss, and your HCP should see your full medical picture. If you have changed medications since your last appointment, let your HCP know. The medical records you will want to bring include previous hearing tests, other hearing devices worn, prior ear surgeries, and/or imaging scans of your ear.

Tip #5: Performance testing and questionnaires

It’s important to evaluate how you do with a Ponto hearing device during your trial and before any decisions are made. We encourage you to ask your HCP to evaluate your performance in noise with the Ponto sound processor Additionally, they may ask you to complete a questionnaire about your subjective feedback regarding the overall sound quality of the device. This information will help your HCP identify areas that are important for further discussion.

Tip #6: Bring a buddy

Take a trusted family member or friend along with you to your appointment. Sometimes it’s difficult to remember everything while the hearing care professional is testing your hearing and providing information. Having a friend on hand to take notes or ask follow-up questions on your behalf can be invaluable. They can also pick up on details you might miss, and help you weigh the pros and cons of various hearing solutions.

Again, congratulations on beginning your journey toward good hearing health!

About the Author

Gail Leininger, Au.D., CCC-A is an audiologist who has worked with implantable technologies for over twenty years. She is an Auditory Technical Specialist for Oticon Medical.

Ponto Care™ app compatibility

System and software requirements: Apple® devices: iOS 11 or later. Android™ devices: Android OS 8.0 or later.

To download the Ponto Care™ app, go to the App Store® or Google Play™ and search for Oticon Medical or “Ponto Care”.

Data privacy

When you use the Ponto Care™ app, you have the option of emailing a document with your name, ratings, comments and app usage period (report) to your clinical personnel.

If you choose to send a report, we will temporarily store the report and the clinical personnel contact details for the sole purpose of sending the report. We will not keep any of your personal data or the clinic personnel contact details.

For further details, please see our privacy policy

 

Masked Communication for the Hard of Hearing

Better hearing during the pandemic

Imagine this scenario: You are in the grocery store paying for your groceries. The grocery store employee behind the counter is wearing a face mask and working behind a plastic shield. The person asks you a question.

You have absolutely no idea what they said.

The lip reading cues you once used to help you understand a message? Gone.

The facial expressions that once helped you when you were in a bind? Disappeared.

Do you:

  • Nod and attempt a smile under your own mask?
  • Shrug in embarrassment?
  • Ask them to repeat?
  • Answer a completely different question than the one you were asked?

If you’ve been living on this planet for the last two years, you have probably lived through some version of this experience at one point or another. Face masks have become an essential part of keeping ourselves and others safe and healthy during the Covid-19 pandemic. For people also living with hearing loss, the introduction of face masks, shields, and protective glass have formed another barrier to communication, making it more difficult than ever to understand a conversation

 Strategies we can all use to communicate better in the “mask era”

While we wait for the world to get back to normal, let’s learn about some communication strategies that we can all implement to make masked communication easier during the pandemic.

Ask your audiologist to design a Mask Mode program for you.

Researchers have done studies that have helped us understand how a mask impedes speech understanding and ways that audiologists can alleviate that situation. We know that certain face masks can reduce high frequency sounds by as much as 5-15 dB. Fortunately, advances in bone anchored hearing aid technology have made this problem easier than ever to solve. An audiologist can go into the software and create a specialized “Mask Mode” program for their patients that emphasizes the high frequency sounds that masking tends to reduce, adding emphasis to certain speech cues that are important for clarity and understanding. A Ponto™ patient can even name the program in the Connectline™ app or the Oticon ON™ app “Mask Program” and go to that program setting with a quick press of  the button when in need of a clarity boost.

Talk to your audiologist about designing a Mask Mode program for you to improve your communication performance during the pandemic.

Check your mask.

Studies show that certain types of face masks make hearing more difficult. Research out of the University of Illinois shows that single-use surgical masks and KN95 respirator masks both dampened sound the least (approximately 5 dB) compared to cloth masks. The disposable mask or KN95 mask will allow more high frequency information through, thus improving speech clarity. You may consider selecting a disposable face mask if you will be communicating with someone who has a hearing loss.

Consider a clear mask.

A clear mask is a type of mask with a clear window in front of your mouth. These masks make hearing and understanding speech easier because they provide access to visual cues and allow access to lip reading. Several companies are currently making high quality clear masks that are available for purchase. Try a quick Google search and you will find many options for places to purchase this type of protective face mask.

Advocate for yourself.

If you are someone with a hearing loss, don’t be afraid to speak up. If you are speaking to someone wearing a face mask and you don’t catch the full message, try saying something like, “I’m sorry, can you rephrase that? I have a hearing loss and I’m having difficulty understanding what you’re saying.” The person you are conversing with will understand your situation and gain empathy. They will have a chance to shift their communication style to one that suits you better, whether by speaking more slowly and clearly, raising their vocal effort slightly, or reducing noise in the room to improve your chances  of understanding them successfully.

Additional communications strategies to try.

If you are having difficulty understanding someone, your first instinct might be to say, “What?” or “Huh?”. Repeated use of these words can make dialogue frustrating. Instead, try to ask your communication partner to rephrase their message. Here are a few examples:

  • “Can you add more detail for me?”
  • “I heard you say _______ but didn’t quite catch the rest. Can you tell me more about that?”
  • “Can you say that sentence in a different way?”
  • “I heard you say ________. Can you elaborate on that point a bit more?”

Using these ideas for gathering more information will help the conversation flow and give you more opportunities to understand the message.

Online resources for bone anchored hearing support

Connecting with other Ponto users online can help provide you with support as you face the many challenges that the pandemic brings to daily life.

Oticon Medical Ponto Users | Facebook

Our Ponto Users Facebook group is an excellent tool for communication and collaboration with other Ponto users. During this time of pandemic isolation, remember that Oticon Medical has an expansive network of bone anchored hearing system users who are ready to share resources and discussion.

Oticon Medical BAHS Users Support Group | Facebook

Our BAHS support group is another useful way to connect to other bone anchored device users to discuss tips, stories, and ways to get the most out of your device.

Patient helpline (oticonmedical.com)

If you have a clinical question but you aren’t able to make it in to see your audiologist, Oticon Medical’s patient support team is available to answer any question you might have. Use the link above to access a wealth of knowledge from our support team, or call (888) 277-8014 during the hours of 8 AM and 8 PM Eastern Time, Monday through Friday.

About the Author

Courtney Smith is the Clinical Trainer at Oticon Medical. She practiced audiology in both medical and private practice settings in Las Vegas, NV. She has experience working with hearing aids, cochlear implants, and bone anchored solutions for adults and pediatrics. She completed her training at the University of Iowa in 2003.

The Holidays are for Hearing

Families are gathering. Holidays plans are made. You are heading out on a road trip to see the grandkids. The house is bustling with the sounds of the holidays. Children are laughing, and the dinner conversations are lively. It’s time to join with your family around a festive holiday table to celebrate the season and the start of a new year.

For people with hearing loss, these joyous moments can also bring a host of challenges. A noisy dinner conversation can leave a person with hearing loss feeling tired from the effort they have to spend to understand the message. The dinner table is noisy and voices sound muffled from a distance. Important conversations are missed. These challenges can cause isolation and exhaustion for someone with hearing loss.

Oticon Medical has focused on these challenging situations to present patients with device programming and accessory options that improve communication and quality of life. Our accessories, paired with good communication practices, can positively impact interactions with users of our product portfolio. Here are some communication strategies that we can all practice throughout the holidays that will help make communication easier and the season more enjoyable for people with hearing loss.

How to talk to someone with hearing loss

  • Face the person. Ensure that the person with hearing loss can see everyone’s face. The visual cues will help the person understand the words they didn’t catch.
  • Minimize background noise. Turn off the TV and reduce the volume of surrounding music or television to make communication easier.
  • Make sure the room is well-lit. A well-lit environment can make it easier for the person with hearing loss to see facial expressions, body language, and gestures from across a room.
  • Get their attention first. Get an individual’s attention by saying their name first or gently tapping their arm, and then convey your message to increase the chance that it will be heard and understood.
  • Speak slowly and clearly. Annunciate your words and take your time.
  • Rephrase, don’t repeat. If something isn’t heard the first time, try rephrasing it. Instead of repeating the same sentence louder, try saying it a different way.
  • Don’t speak from another room. Minimizing distance will maximize the chance that your message will be heard and understood.
  • Speak at a normal volume. Shouting during conservation can distort the signal for the person with hearing loss and so, rather than making it easier for a hard of hearing person to understand you, it often has the opposite effect.

Useful tools for communication success

Oticon Medical’s BrainHearing™ philosophy reminds us that we hear with our brains, not just our ears. Our Ponto™ devices are equipped with special noise reduction options that operate with this philosophy in mind. The Ponto family is compatible with a variety of accessories that have streaming capabilities to help people with hearing loss communicate successfully in difficult listening environments. Let’s look at a few scenarios where Ponto users can use these tools to make communication easier in challenging situations during the holidays.

Road trips

A Ponto 5 Mini user and his wife have loaded up the RV for a holiday road trip to see their grandkids. For these two people, a conversation in the car is challenging because of road noise and the lack of visual cues as they face the road. The Ponto user can use the ConnectClip to give themselves a big advantage in this situation and allow for an enjoyable road trip full of conversation. The Ponto user’s wife can clip the ConnectClip that is paired to her husband’s Ponto 5 Mini to her lapel about 6 inches from her mouth. She presses and holds the multi-function button for a few seconds until the lights turn purple and green. This action sends her voice on a wireless journey direct to her husband’s Ponto 5 Mini, allowing for effortless conversation between the two, reducing background noise, and minimizing the effects of distance on their ability to communicate.

Watching a movie

Oticon Medical’s TV Adapter 3.0 is compatible with the entire Ponto product family. You can pair a TV Adapter to your Ponto 3 SuperPower using your Oticon Medical Streamer or to Ponto 4 or 5 Mini directly. This allows you to stream audio directly from your television to your device. You can use your streamer or the Oticon ON™ app to control the volume of the television while your family continues to listen at a level that’s comfortable for them.

Adjustments from afar

You are having difficulty hearing in noise on your holiday vacation, but it isn’t convenient for you to visit your audiologist for programming in person. What can you do? Ponto 5 Mini users can now use RemoteCare to arrange a quick telehealth appointment with their audiologist. During a scheduled RemoteCare visit, an audiologist can log into a private portal which allows them to make the adjustments that their patient needs. The program changes are uploaded to the patient’s device using Oticon’s RemoteCare app and the new settings can be used by the Ponto 5 Mini user right away. This groundbreaking technology opens a new frontier for Ponto patients.        

Family dinner

Oticon Medical has developed OpenSound Navigator™ as a method of noise reduction for those energetic conversations around your holiday dinner table. In this situation, you want to hear the conversation, regardless of its direction. OpenSound Navigator will seamlessly adjust to your environment and reduces the effort it takes to hear. Talk to your audiologist about creating a program in your Ponto 4 or 5 Mini device that utilizes OpenSound Navigator and hear the difference at the holiday dinner table this year. Additionally, you can hand a paired ConnectClip to a relative across the table and their voice can be streamed directly from up to 65 feet away.

Online resources

Oticon Medical is here to support you while you are on the go this holiday season. For product support, videos on how to pair accessories, or in-depth information about the different solutions available to you, visit Wireless Connectivity.

Should you need help from an Oticon Medical audiologist during the holiday season, please contact our Auditory Technical Services support team during the hours of 8 AM and 8 PM, Eastern time at 888-277-8014 or by email at [email protected]

            Oticon Medical wishes you and your family a happy and healthy holiday season!

About the Author

Courtney Smith, M.A., CCC-A, is the Clinical Trainer at Oticon Medical, having just joined the team in October of 2021. She practiced audiology in both medical and private practice settings in Las Vegas, NV. She has experience working with hearing aids, cochlear implants, and bone anchored solutions for adults and pediatrics. She completed her training at the University of Iowa in 2003.

Traveling with Your Ponto Bone Anchored Hearing System

As the holiday season begins, so does the opportunity for travel.  If you are traveling this season, here are a few things to consider if you have a Ponto™ bone anchored hearing system (BAHS).

Airport and TSA security

It is important to advise the TSA agent prior to going through the security or x-ray process that you have an implantable device. At this time, you may consider handing or showing them your MRI Safety Security card. If you don’t have a card or can’t find it, you can download the MRI Safety Card from our website. Cards are available there in different languages, along with other helpful informational materials. We recommend printing or saving the card to your phone prior to travel.

As you prepare for your trip, another great resource to check out is Oticon Medical’s Tips and Tricks section of the website.  In this section you will find information and advice on everyday activities with your Ponto system.

Additional Ponto device and abutment safety considerations

The abutment is made from titanium and safe to go through the metal detector or x-ray machine. Since titanium is weakly magnetic, the security system’s alarm will most likely not go off. However, it is still a good idea and important to let the TSA agent know ahead of time about your Ponto and implant in the event that additional screening is necessary after your initial pass through the x-ray process.

As for your Ponto processor, since it does contain a magnet, this may set off an alarm. We always recommend that when exposed to medical-strength x-ray you remove your processor to prevent damage. However, TSA screenings have low dose x-ray exposure and are safe to move through. So, if you forget to take it off there is no harm, but you may set off the alarm as the Ponto processor contains metal.

If you choose to take off your Ponto processor, simply put it in a case with the battery door open and in a TSA container for the belt screening, as you do your other carry-on items. This is safe for the processor and will not cause damage.

Items to bring on a trip with your Ponto processor

When traveling with your Ponto, you want to make sure you have packed all your equipment and extra supplies. It is a good idea to bring extra batteries, your wireless accessories, and the appropriate cables for charging them. Consider charging your accessories the night or day before you leave to ensure you can use them while traveling.

It is also important to pack your Ponto Care Kit for cleaning the abutment. Daily care of the abutment site will help guarantee you can use your Ponto BAHS throughout your travels. Abutment cleaning is especially important if you are swimming. Remember, your Ponto processor is not waterproof! If you need a new dry aid kit or Ponto Care Kit, don’t worry; simply register with  Oticon Medical Friends to order from the Online Store and have supplies sent directly to your home.

You can also have Ponto-related information at your fingertips by downloading the Oticon Medical Ponto Care™ App to your smartphone, so you can travel with ease and peace of mind. Remember to also store your audiologist’s or clinic’s office information in your phone or have it written in your care kit in case you have questions. You can also contact Oticon Medical Auditory Technical Services for any questions regarding your Ponto sound processor.  We are available Monday – Friday, 8 AM to 8 PM Eastern Time.

Finally, if you are traveling somewhere very warm or cold, you should remember not to leave your Ponto sound processor, wireless accessories, or batteries out in extreme weather elements. For example, if you leave your Ponto sound processor on the car dashboard in extreme heat, it could damage the device. Also, if the batteries are left in extremely cold temperatures, they might freeze and have a shorter lifespan.

Oticon Medical wishes you and your loved ones a safe, happy, and healthy holiday season!

Here’s a quick checklist of the items we discussed. Enjoy your travels, wherever they may take you!

  • MRI safety/security card
  • Extra batteries
  • Carrying case
  • Wireless accessories
  • Charging cables for accessories
  • Ponto Care Kit
  • Your audiologist’s office contact information
  • Oticon Medical Contact Information: 888-277-8014 or [email protected]
  • Download our Oticon Medical Ponto Care App

Helpful site to review prior to travel:

Disabilities and Medical Conditions | Transportation Security Administration (tsa.gov)

(Choose External Medical Devices and/or the Implants/internal medical devices for more advice.)

About the author

Nicole Maxam, AuD, CCC-A serves as an Auditory Technical Specialist at Oticon Medical. She has been an audiologist for over 16 years with experience in implantable technologies.

Bone Anchored vs. Air Conduction Hearing Aids

Which hearing treatment is right for me?

When you make the decision to address your hearing loss or seek treatment for your child, it always helps to know what options are available. These days you can find a wider variety of hearing loss treatments than ever before, which is great… except, how do you know which one would work best for you or your child?

When it comes to deciding between traditional hearing aids—removable, non-surgically implanted devices—and bone anchored hearing systems, we’d like to help you with your initial research. Please note that ultimately only a hearing care professional can diagnose your hearing loss and recommend which option would best suit you or your child. However, it is always better to go into your initial consultation understanding and feeling prepared to discuss the choices presented.

What are air conduction hearing aids?

Oticon Hearing Aid

Air conduction, or traditional hearing aids, are devices you can purchase from an audiology clinic, and once they have been delivered to the office and fitted to your hearing needs and preferences, worn right out the door. They may be fitted by an audiologist or a hearing instrument specialist in a private office, clinic, “big box” store, or hospital setting.

After purchase, the average wearer should expect periodic in-person follow-up visits with their hearing care provider for adjustments to settings and programs, although some professionals might offer remote follow-ups for minor tweaks, troubleshooting, and adjustments.

Hearing aids are available in behind-the-ear (BTE), receiver-in-canal (RIC), and in-the-ear (ITE) models of varying sizes, some of which are nearly invisible (for wearers who prefer a discreet solution) and other that are larger and more visible (for those who find them easier to handle and don’t care about others seeing their devices).

Some modern hearing aids come loaded with additional features, including therapeutic sounds meant to counteract the annoying “ringing in the ear” known as tinnitus, accessory-routed or direct audio streaming, and rechargeability. The downside is that the more bells-and-whistles that you use, the shorter your battery life, with most users finding they have to replace their batteries weekly or recharge nightly. The overall life expectancy of the hearing aid itself is an average of three to seven years.

Hearing aids are most often used to treat people with sensorineural hearing loss, which involves issues with the inner ear and/or neural pathways from the inner ear to your brain. Sensorineural hearing issues may be caused by one or more of the following:

  • Exposure to extremely loud noise
  • Presbycusis (i.e., age-related hearing loss)
  • A malformed or damaged inner ear
  • Use of ototoxic (literally “ear poisoning”) medication
  • Genetic/inherited conditions that affect hearing
  • Illnesses and disease (e.g., meningitis, diabetes)

Unfortunately most private and public health insurers do not cover the cost of hearing aids as of this writing. The average price for a hearing aid is around $1,000 for a very basic model up to $5,000-plus for a high-end option. Keep in mind that audiology professionals usually recommend wearers use two hearing aids to gain the full benefit of binaural (two ear) hearing, which is how the brain naturally takes in and processes sound. And while options such as CROS (Contralateral Routing of Signal) and BiCROS (Bilateral CROS) hearing aids can help people with single-sided deafness (SSD) hear sounds by routing them from the device worn on the non-hearing ear to the full or partially hearing ear, some wearers find them insufficient.

What are bone conduction hearing aids?

Bone conduction hearing devices are designed to treat conductive hearing loss, which occurs when sound cannot travel through the outer and/or middle ear (usually due to physical blockage or missing all or a portion of the ear). Examples include the following:

  • Microtia, (underdeveloped or missing outer ear) with or without atresia (missing or closed ear canal)
  • Damage due to otitis media (middle ear infection) or external otitis (ear canal infection)
  • Perforated or missing eardrum
  • Tumors affecting the eighth cranial nerve or blocking the outer or middle ear (the surgery to remove these tumors may also cause conductive hearing loss)
  • Missing or fused stapes (three tiny bones in the ear required for sound conduction)

They can also be an effective option for mixed hearing losses for those who experience a combination of sensorineural and conductive hearing difficulties.

Bone anchored hearing systems are typically purchased from an otolaryngologist (aka, “ear-nose-throat” doctor, or ENT) at a clinic or hospital, or once you have had the implant surgery (alternately, if you are only wearing the device on a softband or headband), directly from the manufacturer. To receive maximum hearing assistance, they are meant to be surgically implanted. Bone anchored hearing systems consist of an implant, which is the portion implanted into your skull (typically behind your ear), an abutment, which is the transcutaneous portion fixed onto the implant, and the processor, which is programmable and gets snapped onto the abutment a few weeks following implantation.

Esthetically, the only difference between most bone anchored hearing devices is shape and size depending on the manufacturer. The majority are built for discretion, but wearers can choose to show off their bone anchored devices by adding colorful skins and stickers.

Once the processor is fit, wearers might require an occasional follow-up for adjustments, but normally fewer than the typical hearing aid wearer—and some may not require your physical presence but rather that you send in your processor for adjustment or repair by mail. As with regular hearing aids, a few hearing care professionals might offer a remote care option as well.

When it comes to extra features, bone anchored hearing processors continue to evolve. Some include audio streaming options via an intermediary streaming accessory, app, or directly into the processor. Rechargeability and tinnitus therapies may become available in the future based on demand and manufacturing capabilities. Bone anchored hearing devices are extremely effective for treating single-sided deafness (SSD) and don’t require use of a second device to improve hearing ability. In fact it is less common for bone anchored wearers to need two devices to enjoy significantly improved hearing than for traditional hearing aid wearers.

As for insurance coverage, the good news is that implantable hearing devices are categorized as medical devices, unlike traditional hearing aids, and as such are often covered all or in part by private and public insurance providers. So, while the retail price per device averages around $3,000-$6,000, you’re less likely to have to pay that much out-of-pocket.

When you’re ready to treat your hearing loss

We hope the information provided here will help you make the best possible decision for your specific hearing healthcare needs. If you are ready to speak to a hearing care professional in your area who includes bone anchored hearing systems among their treatment options, you can visit our handy Find a Clinic tool on our website.