Tag Archives: ponto

Bone Anchored Hearing Systems: When Hearing Aids Aren’t Enough

A Message for Veterans with Hearing Loss

Many veterans experience hearing loss due to physical trauma endured while on duty. Many of these losses may be treatable with traditional hearing aids. However, some forms of hearing loss—typically involving damage to the outer ear, ear canal, or other physical components—may not be. Yet many vets are unaware that they have options beyond regular hearing aids, such as bone anchored hearing systems (BAHS).

If you served your country, you may qualify to receive coverage from the government for a BAHS. Read on to learn more about this advanced treatment and whether it might be the solution you need.

Types of Hearing Loss Commonly Experienced by Veterans

More than 1.3 million US veterans receive disability compensation for hearing loss. Considering how frequently military personnel are exposed to extremely loud sounds for extended periods, including explosions, weapons fire, military air-and-seacrafts, and more, it is no surprise that so many experience noise-induced hearing damage, aka sensorineural hearing loss. This form of hearing loss is most often treated with traditional, air conduction hearing aids—the removable devices worn either in the ear or behind the ear.

However, hearing losses related to physical injuries typically require an alternative treatment that utilizes bone conduction to improve hearing ability. Known as conductive hearing losses, these may result from the loss of the pinna (outer ear), damage or loss of the ear canal, or similar injuries. Those with single-sided deafness—whether due to sensorineural or conductive hearing loss—may also experience better results from bone conduction.

Bone Anchored Hearing Systems Aid Certain Service-Related Hearing Losses

As mentioned above, bone anchored hearing treatment utilizes bone conduction to improve hearing ability. While regular hearing aids go in or on the ear to receive, amplify, and clarify sound, BAHS are worn on small, implanted posts called abutments near the ear. Bone conduction may be a viable option if your cochlea (inner ear) is still intact and functional.

A processor that receives sound is snapped onto the abutment a few weeks following implantation. This device transmits sound via unnoticeable vibrations through your skull bone, bypassing the damaged or missing portions of your ear, directly into the cochlea. The sound is then sent to your brain for normal processing as comprehensible speech, music, or other sounds.

Next Steps for Vets Interested in Bone Conduction

If you think your hearing loss might be treatable with a BAHS, your first step should be to contact your local Veterans Administration and schedule an appointment with an audiology professional. Depending on your past service, you might qualify for free or reduced-cost hearing healthcare, including diagnosis and treatment. You may also qualify for monthly disability compensation payments, tax-free. Please note that if you don’t live near a VA hearing clinic or the wait is extensive, you might be able to utilize VA Community Care to see a local hearing healthcare provider.

To find out which benefits you qualify for, please contact your local VA medical center representative.

Oticon Medical Ponto System for Veterans

Oticon Medical offers bone anchored hearing solutions that are used by wearers all over the world to help them overcome hearing loss at home, work, and in social situations. For more information on our minimally invasive Ponto™ surgery for implantation of an abutment and our most current technology, the Ponto 5 family of hearing processors, please visit our website.

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.

 

What You Need to Know About Zinc-Air Batteries

Zinc-air batteries, like the ones we use in our Oticon Medical Ponto™ bone anchored hearing system, are effective and powerful, but only when used correctly. Many wearers don’t know all the in-and-outs of maximizing their battery life leading to frustratingly short spans between replacing batteries and other issues. For instance, did you know:

  • Zinc-air batteries require air exposure to function (hence the “air” in the name)
  • As soon as you remove the tab over the airholes, the battery activates. So if you pull off the tab and leave it lying around for hours, days, or longer, the battery will run out of charge before you even put it into your device
  • After you remove the tab, you should wait five minutes before inserting into your device so it fully activates and provides all the voltage of which it is capable for as long as possible
  • Sealed zinc-air batteries typically last approximately two years if stored correctly. This means keeping them at an optimal room temperature of no higher than 77º degrees F and no lower than 50º degrees F, in a dry environment. Note that storing them in the refrigerator will not extend their life—in fact, it will very likely damage them beyond usability
  • You should not carry your batteries around loose, as clanging against other metallic objects can damage them (e.g., coins, car keys, etc.)

If you find yourself in need of more batteries, you can order them directly from us! Please contact our Customer Service Team at 888.277.8014 (Mon-Fri, 8am-6pm ET) or send an email request to [email protected] anytime. Make sure you include your Ponto model (Ponto 4, Ponto 5 Mini, Ponto 5 SP) in your email so we send you the correct battery size for your device.

Members of Oticon Medical Friends can also order online via the Online Shop. Click here to register: Register to Use Online Shop

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].

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.

Initial Thoughts on Ponto 5 SuperPower: Great Power and Processing

We recently spoke to a long-time Ponto™ wearer with single-sided deafness (SSD) who tried out our new Ponto 5 SuperPower. They kindly gave us permission to share their reaction, because they want to encourage others with similar hearing conditions to treat their hearing loss effectively.

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Hey there! I have had single-sided deafness for more than 20 years. I’ve struggled to hear voices on my “deaf” side and either had to ask for repetition or ask the person to move to my “good” side. Also, hearing in noisy environments is very difficult and drains me of my energy. It was a big decision to get implanted with a bone anchored hearing system (BAHS) and I inevitably waited longer than I should have to get the surgery. Overall, it was a simple procedure.

I have been wearing Ponto since the second-generation Ponto Plus was available. I have tried other products with mixed results due to poor sound quality and reliability. Next, I transitioned to a Ponto 3 SuperPower, and was really impressed with the improvement in sound quality with a more powerful device.

When Ponto 4 came out, new sound processing and Bluetooth® technologies were available with direct streaming to the device. While Ponto 4 was not a power device, these improvements were enough for me to upgrade and the sound quality from the Oticon OpenSound Navigator™ seemed to make up for the lack of overall power. There were some issues however, as the sound felt slightly flat and the streaming was a little too soft, especially when there was any sort of background noise.

I have been using the Ponto 5 Superpower since it became available, and it is so great! 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. 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.

Combine this with 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. I would encourage anyone wearing a BAHS to try the Ponto 5 Superpower and experience these things for themselves. It was well worth my time and effort to go through this process.

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Are you ready to upgrade to the Ponto 5 SuperPower? You can try it out before you decide! Please visit the Upgrade Your Ponto page on our website for details.

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.

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