Category Archives: Helpful Information

Protecting Your Hearing and How to Maintain Good Hearing Health

Sounds are everywhere and often louds sounds are signs of a good time. But how do we participate in the fun while also protecting our hearing now and for the future?

Beyond Independence Day, July is a month filled with fireworks displays. It is important for us to think about not only the loud booms we hear from fireworks, but noise-induced hearing loss (NIHL) as a broader epidemic.

Variables in noise-induced hearing loss

NIHL can be caused by long-term exposure to loud sounds, or in some cases, short, loud blasts. This type of hearing loss can be transient or persistent. The hearing loss may present itself immediately or it may take many years to show up on a hearing test. And while it often happens to both ears, it could affect just one ear. While NIHL can present itself in many different forms and may be the result of many different types of exposures, it is almost always preventable.

What kinds of sounds can damage our hearing?

Sound is measured in units called decibels. According to the National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders, sounds softer than 70 dBA are unlikely to cause hearing loss. However, sounds that are at or above 85 dBA can[1].

An intense one-time exposure to a loud sound, such an explosion or a jet engine, can cause a sudden change in hearing. Whereas slow exposure to loud sounds over time, such as a loud work environment, loud music, and loud recreational activities, may also cause hearing loss.

Noises are more likely to cause damage if they are 85 dBA for a few hours, 100 dBA for 14 minutes or longer, or 110 dBA for 2 minutes. This is a startling realization when we consider some examples of sounds that may be louder than we think!

  • Movie theater: 74-104 dBA
  • Motorcycles and dirt bikes: 80-110 dBA
  • Music through headphones at maximum volume, sporting events, and concerts: 94-110 dBA
  • Sirens: 110-129 dBA
  • Fireworks show: 140-160 dBA

According to Noisy Planet, if the noise causes you to yell to be able to hear yourself, the noise hurts your ears, or your ears are ringing during or after the noise exposure, chances are it is too loud[2].

Why do loud sounds cause hearing loss?

You may be aware that there are three parts to the ear: the outer (the part we can see plus the ear canal), the middle (where the three smallest bones in our body are), and the inner (where thousands of tiny hair cells live). Those little hair cells, the stereocilia, are responsible for stimulating the hearing nerve, which then tells our brains what we hear. This video from the National Institutes of Health further explains how the ear works.

When we expose the stereocilia to noise, they eventually die off. When those hair cells die off, there is nothing left to stimulate the nerve anymore. Interestingly, in the case of noise exposure, this often impacts your hearing at 4000 Hz on a hearing test first before you notice a change in the rest of your hearing.

How can we protect our hearing from loud sounds?

First and foremost, turn them down. If you cannot control the volume, remove yourself from the environment. If you must be around the sound, wear hearing protective earplugs or earmuffs. It is also helpful to have regular hearing tests to ensure that you are aware of your hearing health status. Finally, make others aware of how loud sounds are. Sure, we all like a good time, but if you are attending a loud concert, bring extra earplugs for your friends.

We at Oticon Medical encourage you to have a good time celebrating throughout the summer, but please remember to protect your hearing during this year’s fireworks shows, at concerts, and other loud events!

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 supporting individuals with hearing loss.

References

[1] NIH (2018). Noise-Induced Hearing Loss. [online] NIDCD. Available at: https://www.nidcd.nih.gov/health/noise-induced-hearing-loss

[2] It’s a Noisy Planet. Protect Their Hearing. (n.d.). How Loud Is Too Loud? [online] Available at: https://www.noisyplanet.nidcd.nih.gov/publications/how-loud-is-too-loud#:~:text=Here%20are%20some%20rules%20of%20thumb%20to%20tell

Humidity Issues and How to Combat Them

As the summer months arrive, so does the hot, humid weather. You may want to consider how this can affect the function of your Ponto™ processor.

Your processor is vulnerable to environmental changes like increased humidity in the air or condensation caused by moving between air-conditioned interiors and extreme heat outside.  While the Ponto 5 family of processors have an IP rating of 57 when the battery is in the processor, it is still important to consider ways to minimize exposure or combat the effects of moisture.

Warning signs of moisture issues include the following:

  • Your processor’s sounds are distorted or staticky
  • Your processor works intermittently or cuts in and out
  • You see corrosion in the battery compartment or around the battery
  • You feel that your batteries are not lasting as long as they normally do

 Can you help prevent moisture issues?

You can start by developing good processor cleaning and care habits. If the processor comes into contact with sweat, rain, or moisture, wipe it with a clean, dry cloth. The Ponto Care™ app, available for iPhone® and Android™ users, provides helpful information on the proper care and maintenance of your device. For example, avoid storing your processor in the bathroom where it could be affected by humidity from showers or baths.

How can I help reduce moisture that may be in my Ponto?

Drying systems are an easy and effective way to reduce moisture that may accumulate in your processor due to normal usage, rain, or living in areas with high humidity.

There are two main types of systems. The first is considered passive; this uses desiccant, much like the packs that you find in vitamin bottles. These are typically called, “jar dryers” and contain the desiccant beads that can be “recharged” by putting them in the oven or microwave. You simply put the processor in the jar without a battery and close the lid. Jar dryers are great for travel, camping or when you do not want to use electricity.

The second type is an active dehumidifier. This type also has a desiccant pack or puck but adds in a fan to circulate air. These “box dryer” systems can also have a UV-C light that acts as a germicide. Box dryers more aggressively reduce moisture from your Ponto processor. Again, you can put your processor in the dryer without a battery and turn the dryer on. The box dryer will typically run through a cycle that lasts between 6-8 hours. You can feel comfortable using these types of drying systems every night and as your storage case overnight.

Use your bone anchored hearing system all summer long

Wherever your adventures take you this summer, make sure your Ponto processor keeps up with you by following some simple care and maintenance steps. With a little care and common sense, you can continue enjoying the sounds you love regardless of the season.

About the author

Nicole Maxam, AuD CCC-A is part of the Auditory Technical Services team at Oticon Medical. She has been an audiologist for over 17 years and has experience with providing patients with hearing aids and implantable solutions.

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.