Tag Archives: bone anchored hearing

Tips for Traveling Safely this Summer with Your Ponto

Since many of you will be traveling this summer, we want to share this updated post of tips for traveling with your Ponto™ bone anchored hearing system (BAHS). Even when not traveling, you might want to download the MRI Safety Security card just to have on hand, in case you find yourself in need of an MRI scan.

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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; contact your local Oticon Medical Customer Service department 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–or contact your local Oticon Medical office.

Finally, if you are traveling somewhere hot, 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.

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

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.

 

Beyond Hearing: Making Connections

While 98 percent of wearers note an increased quality of life with their Ponto™ device alone1, there are many different accessories that can make your Ponto experience even better! In this article, we’ll discuss some amazing devices that can connect directly with your Ponto processor as well as some other assistive listening technologies to further improve your life.

Ponto 5 Family Accessories

Made for iPhone

The Ponto 5 Family is Made for iPhone®. This means that these processors can connect directly with iPhone devices to stream music, videos, phone calls and more. Once your Ponto is paired to your phone, there’s no need to do anything else—any sound from your phone will automatically stream to your Ponto device.

Here are a few more features you should know about:

  • The Triple Click: Depending on the model of iPhone, a triple-click on either the Home button, or the right-side power button (if your phone doesn’t have a Home button) can be used to access volume control, program changes, and live listen.
  • Live Listen: This is a feature accessible through the settings on your phone, or it can be accessed through a quick triple-click of the Home button or side power button (depending on iPhone model). It serves as a remote microphone; in other words, sound enters your phone, no matter where it is, and that sound is streamed to your processor. This can be useful in noisy environments. Simply pass the phone to the individual you’d like to speak to and have them speak into the microphone on your phone. Their voice will stream directly to your Ponto bypassing any noise in the environment.

Companion App

Get the most out of the Ponto 4 and Ponto 5 family with the easy-to-use Oticon Companion app. Compatible with your smartphone, tablet, or Apple Watch®, you can enjoy more control, support, and independence anywhere. While these processors are Made for iPhone, even Android™ users can access this app and pair their devices to access the following features:

  • Just slide or tap your screen to easily adjust your volume, change programs, connect to accessories, and more—conveniently and discreetly.
  • You get simple in-app tips, news, and notifications for support when you need it. Even find your Ponto devices with “Find my hearing aids,” if you misplace them.
  • You can use SpeechBooster to reduce background noise in complex listening environments, which helps you focus during conversations.
  • Access RemoteCare to get personal care at your convenience, including remote counseling appointments and adjustments from your hearing care professional. Speak to your hearing care provider to see if they offer remote care services.

Other Ponto Accessories

The accessories below are available through Oticon Medical and can be paired directly with your Ponto device. These accessories are compatible with Ponto 4 and 5 family processors:

  • ConnectClip: This small microphone is designed to send sound directly to your Ponto processor. It works to overcome distance and noise in places like restaurants, lecture halls, or even when hiking. This device can also be used to connect your Ponto with Android phones to allow for streaming phone calls, music, and more.
  • EduMic: Works as a remote microphone, but also does much more! With the EduMic, children gain access to FM systems in schools. The device also allows for telecoil use in places like theaters and museums. With the EduMic’s AC Jack mode, you can connect to just about any audio device and stream sound to your Ponto processor.
  • TV Adapter 3.0: Designed to connect your Ponto to your TV to help you hear without disturbing those around you. The sound from the TV will be sent directly into your processor and you can adjust the volume however you’d like. The TV will still work normally for your family to enjoy alongside you.
  • Remote Control: Want to keep things simple? The remote control allows you to change volume and program settings on your Ponto with just the touch of a button. No need to connect to your phone or the Companion app.

You can learn more about all our connectivity options, the Companion app, and how to pair your processor with your phone by downloading the “Getting Started with Ponto” trial guide here.

 Other Assistive Technologies

Beyond wirelessly connected devices like the options outlined above, there are a diverse array of technologies that are specifically designed to cater to the needs of individuals who are hard of hearing or Deaf. These include things like captioned phones that provide real-time visual transcriptions of spoken conversations. Some of these phones also have expanded volume ranges for hard of hearing individuals.

Vibrating alarm clocks allow users to wake up through vibrations rather than traditional auditory alarms. Similarly, vibrating or lighted baby monitors alert parents to a baby’s cries.

Expanding further into the realm of safety, specialized fire alarms go beyond conventional auditory alerts by incorporating bright, attention-grabbing lights. These visual cues serve as a crucial lifeline for individuals who may not be able to rely on auditory signals during emergencies, reinforcing the importance of inclusivity in safety technology.

Doorbell systems have also been developed using similar technologies to provide lighted cues rather than sound when the doorbell is rung.

Moreover, assistive technology has extended its reach into the entertainment domain, with closed captioning becoming a standard feature on many digital platforms. Smart TVs and streaming services now offer customizable subtitles, allowing individuals to enjoy a wide range of content without missing out on crucial dialogue or narrative elements.

In the workplace, hearing device-compatible phones, loop systems, and speech-to-text applications have become integral tools for fostering effective communication. These devices contribute to creating inclusive environments, where individuals with hearing challenges can participate fully in professional settings.

The continuous evolution of these assistive technologies reflects a commitment to breaking down barriers and creating a more accessible world for everyone.

Making the Connection

Ponto processors, along with a vast variety of connectivity options, allow users to connect to their environment and the people around them. Speak to your hearing care provider to find out if Ponto or any of the aforementioned assistive technologies are right for you!

 

  1. Lagerkvist H, Carvalho K, Holmberg M, Petersson U, Cremers C, Hultcrantz M. Ten years of experience with the Ponto bone-anchored hearing system—A systematic literature review. Clin Otolaryngol. 2020; 45: 667–680. https://doi.org/10.1111/coa.13556

 

National Microtia & Atresia Awareness Day 2023

Microtia and Atresia: A Primer

We are excited to promote National Microtia and Atresia Awareness Day on November 9! This annual day was established to inform the public about microtia (literal translation: “little ear”) and atresia (absence or closure of the ear canal), their impact on those who have one or both conditions, and potential treatments, including bone anchored hearing systems (BAHS) for associated hearing loss. This day also allows us to celebrate those who advocate on behalf of themselves and loved ones to be treated with understanding, kindness, and respect.

The following is provided as a primer. You can use it to better understand these conditions and to educate others.

What is microtia?

Microtia is a condition that occurs the first trimester of fetal development that causes one or both ears to only partially develop or not develop at all. In some cases, it is accompanied by atresia, which describes ear canals that are either underdeveloped or nonexistent. Many people with microtia also have craniofacial microsomia, which affects facial symmetry and involves differences related to the jaw and general appearance.

How many types of microtia are there?

Microtia is classified according to the following four types:

  • Type 1: Smaller-than-average external ear (pinna) with functioning hearing organs
  • Type 2: Only part of the pinna developed and is undersized
  • Type 3: Very little of the ear exists or functions
  • Type 4: Complete absence of an external ear

Is microtia inherited?

The condition may run in some families, but far more often there is no prior family history. Based on current scientific data about microtia, with and without atresia, it is usually a random occurrence affecting embryos during their early development.

However, in a handful of cases, microtia has been found to affect members in multiple generations of a family, although it sometimes skips generations. Having one child with microtia increases the risk of having another by 5 percent. The likelihood of someone with microtia having a child with the same condition also increases by 5 percent.

How common is microtia?

Microtia, with and without atresia, occurs in approximately 1-5 births out of every 10,000 in the United States. It affects children assigned male at birth more frequently than those assigned female. It most often affects the right ear. Studies have indicated that it occurs more frequently in people of Asian, South American, and Western European descent, but is rarer in those of  African descent.

How does microtia affect hearing ability?

For many people with microtia, it only affects appearance and not hearing ability, so long as they have a functioning ear canal and inner ear organs (i.e., a working cochlea). However, for those with atresia, partial or complete hearing loss may result in the affected ear(s).

What options are available for people with microtia?

Some parents may elect reconstructive surgery for a child missing most or all of their outer ear for cosmetic reasons. This may involve using the child’s own tissue and cartilage, synthetic materials, or a combination to create as realistic appearing an ear as possible.

If enough of a child’s ear canal exists, it may be possible to open it with surgery, thus enabling at least some hearing. If there is no ear canal or surgery to the ear is otherwise not an option, a BAHS (bone anchored hearing system) may be recommended to provide hearing ability.* This might be a bilateral (two-sided) system if both ears are affected or unilateral (single-sided) if only one ear is affected. A full BAHS consists of a small titanium implant screw placed in the skull bone, and a skin-penetrating abutment onto which a sound processor is affixed. Alternately, sound processors can be worn on a soft or hard band without surgery.

For more information about microtia and atresia, including National Microtia and Atresia Day,  please visit www.earcommunity.org.

For more about bone conduction hearing treatments like the Ponto BAHS, please visit www.oticonmedical.com/us.

* Implantation of bone anchored hearing system implants is contraindicated for children under 5 years of age. Not all hearing loss patients are candidates for a bone anchored solution.

Exploring the Links Between Your Hearing and Your Health

This month marks World Hearing Day (March 3). With that in mind, we are resharing this important article on the links between your hearing and your overall 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].

Hearing Tips to Make Sure Everyone Enjoys the Holidays

It’s that time of year again, when you join family and friends to celebrate the holidays. But if you are hard of hearing, it might be a challenge to enjoy the hustle and bustle fully. A noisy dinner conversation can leave you exhausted by the effort spent trying to understand what everyone is saying.

With that in mind, we’d like to share some tips to help make communication easier and the season more enjoyable for everyone regardless of hearing ability. We encourage you to share these with your loved ones, so that they know how to make you feel fully included this season, and all year ’round.

Face the person to whom you are speaking

Ensure that someone with hearing loss can see your face. The visual cues will help them understand any words they might have missed.

Minimize background noise

Turn off the TV during mealtime. Lower the volume on any music playing in the background or turn it off entirely.

Make sure the room is well-lit

This makes it easier for the hard-of-hearing person to read lips and see facial expressions and body language around the room.

Get the individual’s attention before speaking

Say the name of the person to whom you are speaking first or gently tap their arm. Once you have their attention, begin speaking and you are likelier to be heard and understood.

Speak slowly and clearly

Annunciate each word and don’t speak so quickly that your words all run together.

Don’t just repeat – rephrase 

If the person you are speaking to says, “What?” or otherwise indicates they didn’t hear what you said, don’t just repeat the same thing more loudly, try saying it a different way. Typically, the issue the person has understanding you is not volume, but clarity.

Oticon Medical’s OpenSound Navigator can make hearing easier

Oticon Medical has developed OpenSound Navigator™ as a method of noise reduction and it can help you participate more fully in conversations around your holiday dinner table. In this situation, you want to hear the conversation, regardless of its direction. OpenSound Navigator seamlessly adjusts to your environment and reduces the effort it takes to hear.

Talk to your audiologist about creating a program in your Ponto™ 5 Mini or Ponto 5 SuperPower sound processor that utilizes OpenSound Navigator and enjoy the difference it makes this season. Additionally, you can hand a paired ConnectClip™ to a friend or relative across the table. Their voice can be streamed directly into your Ponto 5 device from up to 65 feet away!

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

Traveling with Your Ponto Bone Anchored Hearing System

Since we are in the midst of the busiest travel season of the year again, it seems like a good time to reshare this blog post. Even when not traveling, you might want to download the MRI Safety Security card just to have on hand, in case you ever find yourself in need of an MRI scan.

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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.

A User Shares His Thoughts after Upgrading to Ponto 5 SuperPower

Steffen upgraded from the Ponto™ 3 SuperPower to the new Ponto 5 SuperPower to treat his single-sided deafness recently. The following are his thoughts, which he kindly gave us permission to share.

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I am still very happy with my Ponto SuperPower 5. It continues to remain superior to my old Ponto 3 SP. Notably, the ambient background sound is much more naturally quiet. The Ponto 3 SP had more background noises that made it obvious that I was wearing a hearing device. For the Ponto 5SP, I often have to double-check that it’s even on if it’s quiet in the room or outside. Happily, I’m just confirming that it’s just really quiet in the room or outside vs. a dead battery, etc. On an especially windy day outside, I might switch to “Comfort” mode, but usually it’s not really required.

I’m deaf in my right ear. In a busy, noisy setting, I tend to cock my left ear in the direction of the noise I’m  trying to hear but seem to be hearing just fine when walking with someone on my right side. There’s always room for technology improvement in my mind. I’d even be interested in a hearing system that makes me hear better than someone with two good ears!

I really like utilizing my iPhone® with the Ponto 5 SP for work meetings and phone calls. I do not tend to use the accessory (Oticon ConnectClip™), which is designed to do something similar on my Android™ phone.  When I’m using the iPhone, I can’t even tell if the sound is external or internal!

Cosmetically, I do like that the Ponto 5 SuperPower processor is smaller than the Ponto 3 SP. Not that big of a deal for me, but in the future, I would be interested in a Ponto that is even smaller and less noticeable out in public. If there is a way to develop one that is flush with my head and does not stick out as much, that would be nice as well. Bottom line is that I’m a very happy customer already but am open to even further improvements.

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Are you ready to upgrade to our latest SuperPower technology? Find out how: Ponto 5 SuperPower Upgrade.

What New Users Have to Say about Ponto 5 SuperPower

During the month of July, we have been traveling around to film a series of new user stories with wearers of the Ponto 5 SuperPower. Our subjects have provided us with wonderful insights into their experiences so far, and we are excited to share a preview of their opinions in this blog post.

On choosing to get the Ponto 5 SuperPower

“I’ve heard about many people with Ponto 5 SuperPower devices and wanted to try them. I heard that it was terrific regarding the sound quality, power, and no feedback.” – Camilla G.

“Coming from the 3SP and then to the four, I was always looking for a little more sound from the P4. The P5SP now has all that and then some!” – Jay W.

“Sounded very similar to P5 Mini because of the programming that fits me comfortably and it’s already excellent as the P5 Mini.” – Sarah S.*

“We were very excited to hear OM was coming out with a Ponto 5 SuperPower! (My daughter’s) hearing loss is severe enough that the extra headroom of the SuperPower allows for access to as much sound as possible, and, equally, as little feedback. – Katelyn H.

“I have been using the Ponto 5 Superpower since it became available, and it is so great!” – Anonymous user

First impressions of the Ponto 5 SP

“At my office, I made some hot coffee; I noticed that buzzing noise in my right ear Ponto and realized that it was the steam from my coffee. Maybe my office was very quiet that day or I didn’t know hot coffee had a sound.” – Camilla G.

“A very vibrant and robust sound quality.” – Jay W.

“I like the SuperPower for its longer battery life, especially when streaming wirelessly.” – Sarah S.

“The first thing I noticed when (my daughter) put on the P5SPs was that she was more aware of background noises and high frequency sounds, like birds, bugs, water, the pool filter, and background noise like other people’s conversations going on around her.” – Katelyn H.

“Hearing this naturally makes a really big difference day to day and there is a depth to the sound that I have not experienced with any previous bone conduction device (I have used).” – Anonymous user

Improvements noticed wearing the Ponto 5 SuperPower

“I can communicate in a social situation, such as a restaurant, a meeting, and various appointments. Before, I struggled with understanding what people were saying in social situations. Now I can engage more without listening fatigue.” – Camilla G.

“I can be in the living room watching tv and hear subtle noises from the laundry room which is around three corners and down the hall. That wasn’t possible with my older devices.” – Jay W.

“Wearing my Ponto 5 SuperPower allows me to hear the surrounding environment through OpenSound Navigator™ (full 360-degree soundscape).” – Sarah S.

“At school, (my daughter) is more confident in group settings. She’s better focused in class and isn’t constantly interrupting or distracted, trying to keep track of what’s being said behind her.” – Katelyn S.

“The amazing streaming volume, which to me sounds louder and not distorted, and I would say that this is certainly a step forward compared to any of my previous devices.” – Anonymous user

Five things wearers love about Ponto 5 SuperPower

“Music, music, music… I think I made that clear!” – Camilla G.

“I find that in some situations it actually is almost too loud. I find myself turning it down instead of wishing it had more power, which is awesome.” – Jay W.

“I like that I have the choice to control the volume either through my phone or onboard features.” – Sarah S.

“(My daughter) loves hearing the birds and crickets. She found a baby bird nest the other day by listening to their cries and going to see what it was.” – Katelyn H.

“I now have the power and processing that makes sounds feel incredibly natural. I can tell that there is a calmness and relaxation in my body and mind when I am wearing the Ponto 5 Superpower.” – Anonymous user

Ready to try out or upgrade? Learn everything you need to know about Ponto 5 SuperPower!

*Disclosure: Sarah S. is a summer intern with Oticon Medical as well as a Ponto wearer.

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

Advocate Sarah Shares Her Experience as a College Student with Hearing Loss

Sarah Sabal is a longtime Oticon Medical hearing advocate and currently a summer intern with Oticon Medical. In this blog, she shares her experiences growing up with hearing loss and how she has benefited from wearing bilateral Ponto devices, particularly when it comes to her education.

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Hello everyone! My name is Sarah Sabal, and I am a college student attending Rochester Institute of Technology, double-majoring in Marketing and Chinese Language and Culture (Mandarin) with a minor in International Business. I will be graduating in the spring of 2024.

Having been born deaf due to microtia and atresia and after spending the first seven years of my life in an orphanage in China, I am no stranger to adversity. I learned early on how to overcome challenges and never let my disability define me. Instead, it serves as a reminder that I need to work extra hard turning every challenge into an opportunity to succeed. I am a longtime Oticon Medical Ponto™ user and an advocate who wears a Ponto 5 Mini, which has changed my life. It has helped me to experience the full soundscape, while learning Chinese, and communicate more easily with my co-workers, teachers, and friends, and better advocate for myself and other people with hearing loss.

Motivated despite challenges from an early age

Back in the orphanage in China, I had no family, education, or hope. When a family in the United States chose to adopt me, I knew my life was about to change and that I would have to work extra hard to make up for the lost time.

As an adoptee from China, I always wanted to learn the Chinese language. When I came to America at seven, I was deaf and could speak only a small amount of the Sichuan dialect. My greatest personal challenge has been overcoming my deafness and proving that I can achieve my goals through hard work, determination, and never making excuses.

After I had minimally invasive Ponto surgery (MIPS) and got my first Ponto bone conduction hearing devices, I remember hearing the birds for the very first time. New to hearing and speaking, I worked tirelessly to ensure I was always prepared for class. I focused on becoming proficient in English. Over the years, I also taught myself Mandarin so that I could communicate with the exchange students my family hosted from China. I became regularly active in my high school and served as an advocate for the Deaf and hard of hearing (HoH) community. I also participated in various extracurricular activities. I achieved a 4.2 GPA, was a member of the National Honor Society and National Art Honor Society, played the oboe in my high school band, and ran varsity track and cross-country.

My interest in the Chinese language prompted me to pursue an undergraduate degree at RIT. This distinctive degree program pairs a proficiency in the Chinese language and culture with a technical or professional discipline, such as engineering, business, and health sciences. I take every opportunity both in and outside the classroom to immerse myself in language, culture, and traditions.

I was awarded the Critical Language Scholarship (CLS) in 2021 through the Department of State, where I studied Mandarin this past summer at the National Cheng Kung University (NCKU) in Taiwan. Due to Covid-19 restrictions, the program was taught virtually but allowed me the opportunity to travel to South Korea independently for an immersive experience and to learn about another culture. I was selected as a 2021 Boren Scholar to study Mandarin in Taiwan this upcoming fall 2022 for a semester. I have been accepted into National Cheng Kung University (NCKU) to advance my Chinese proficiency and study Business in Chinese.

Since getting my Ponto 5 Mini, I have had the opportunity to study abroad in a different environment constantly using Chinese, which is a difficult language to learn. It is a very tonal language that involves hearing different pitches and attention to detailed minor sound changes.

Using Ponto 5 Mini in a classroom environment

My college class schedule gives me the flexibility to study, work part-time, socialize, and rest in my free time. My class range in size from 14 to 200 students. Learning in a large setting with many students and one professor can make it challenging to hear because it is often noisy. During lecture sessions, I take advantage of RIT’s services through the National Technical Institute for the Deaf (NTID) program, allowing me to have captioning, note-taking, and extended test time. In addition, I use Oticon Medical’s advanced wireless technology, EduMic™, which allows me to hear my professor’s voice directly through my Ponto 5 Mini.

After classes, I usually go to a study room on campus to do my work online. When I have Zoom meetings or video lectures, I use the ConnectClip™ that automatically syncs through Bluetooth® to my laptop. I love using my ConnectClip because it provides a clear, crisp sound that goes directly into my Ponto without an interim accessory and does not have to disturb anyone else in a quiet study room. I am grateful for Oticon Medical and RIT’s services for helping Deaf or hard of hearing students, which have allowed me to reach my full potential and succeed in all my classes.

Social life made easier with Ponto

During my free time, I often get together with my friends, which is the best part of my college life experience. We usually go out for dinner and go on adventures creating quality memories that I will cherish for the rest of my life. When I am with my friends, in clubs, or attending any social events, struggling to communicate, or straining to hear what they say in a loud, crowded environment has not been an issue. My Ponto 5 Mini has a built-in setting that automatically reduces or softens background noise to help me listen to the person talking directly to me. The OpenSound Navigator™ feature creates a 360 degrees soundscape, allowing me to hear sounds coming from all around me.

Facing life’s challenges

In life, there will always be challenges trying to knock you down. Although I am doing very well at RIT with my Ponto 5 Mini processors, there have been some personal and technical challenges. A few ignorant people who don’t understand hearing loss have silently judged me for needing an American Sign Language (ASL) interpreter, talking slowly, or they assume that I might be stupid. To combat these personal challenges, I try not to let them affect me and continue to show everyone who I am and that I’m not afraid that I am different. Often, these ignorant people lack education and understanding that hearing loss does not affect an individual’s other capabilities, or they are just narrow-minded and unwilling to accept differences.

I have also had some technical challenges, such as needing more batteries or a check-up for my Ponto 5 processors to ensure they continue functioning normally. The most fortunate part of RIT is that they have  a free, on-campus audiology center where I can make an appointment for any hearing-related issues. I am grateful to my school offers this, as most universities do not.

Becoming a hearing advocate for myself and others

Before coming to RIT, I used to be self-conscious because I didn’t want to stand out from my hearing peers. I used to wear my hair over my devices and not let others see that I was wearing my Ponto processors. That all changed when I realized coming into college, most people were very welcoming and accepting of diversity and part of an inclusive community. At RIT, we have approximately 12,000 students with hearing loss creating a unique, mixed community between hearing and Deaf/HoH students interacting together. I am not afraid to explain to other students what my processor are and how they help me hear. Most of my friends, classmates, professors, and other faculty staff find it very interesting and are amazed to learn how I hear through vibration with my Ponto 5 Mini yet can live the life I want as a college student. I am proud of my identity, where I come from, and how I got to RIT, accomplishing all my endeavors.

I have always overcome any adversity that blocked my path to success. When challenges arise, I self-advocate by communicating with others to help them understand my situation and ask for the help I need instead of struggling. It took me a long time to learn to advocate for myself because, growing up from elementary to early high school, my mother always fought for me to ensure I had the right resources. But now, as a college student, I stand my ground to ensure I don’t get taken advantage of due to my hearing loss. My mother is still my biggest supporter and is proud of me for overcoming my hardships though!

I am now excelling in college with a 3.58 GPA and currently participate in different clubs and sports activities. I was part of the RIT NCAA Division III Women’s varsity cross-country and track; I am a member of Asian Cultural Society and Society for Asian Scientists and Engineers (SASE). During my college years, I have taken three part-time on-campus jobs as a Chinese note-taker for Deaf or HoH students, a virtual teacher’s assistant in Chinese cultural research, and a Chinese tutor. I believe everyone has a voice and that their values matter despite their hearing loss or other challenges, and that like me, everyone deserves an equal chance of success.