Telecoils: Hook up Your Hearing Aids!

telecoil-audicus-hearing-aidsForget the iPad–your hearing aid may be all you need to plug in. Hearing aids have come a long way since the ear trumpet, and one of the best little accessories you can now have is the telecoil. Also known as a t-coil, this compact wire coil allows your hearing aid to link up with hearing loops, sound systems or telephones and become a mini speaker right in your ear. Here is a basic guide to this handy hearing aid fixture, the telecoil.

A basic design for hearing aids

A telecoil is a simply small wire wrapped around a metal core. Imagine wrapping a string around your pinky finger, and you get an idea of the simplicity of this design. The simple (but important) design provides a simple (but important) function. A telecoil essentially functions as a wireless antenna inside your ear. These tiny wires pick up magnetic signals, which are emitted by hearing aid compatible (HAC) telephones and sound systems.

An antenna in your ears

Telecoils work very much like technology you already use. To better visualize the function of a telecoil, let’s use the analogy of a radio antenna. Radio towers emit soundwaves to antennas within a particular area. This is why you might access a radio station in your own town, but not in the neighboring town. The radio tower has essentially created a circuit, and you join that circuit by raising your antenna and tuning into the system. Telecoils function a lot like radio antennas. A hearing aid compatible sound system sends out sound waves like a radio station, and your telecoil allows you to tune in.

Telecoils, hearing aids and telephones

Bringing a regular hearing aid close to a telephone receiver may cause an obnoxious squealing or whistling noise, also known as feedback. The result of this proximity is similar to the feedback that results when two stage microphones come too closely together. The telecoil on the other hand allows you to shut off your hearing aid microphone, while still picking up the electromagnetic sound waves from the phone. This will typically cut down, if not completely eliminate, feedback.

In addition to telephones, telecoils can be used with a number of different sound systems. Movie theatres, music halls, places of worship and sports auditoriums often have assisted listening systems that can transmit sound right to your telecoil. Places that support telecoils are usually designated with the following symbol.

telecoil-symbol-audicus-hearing-aids

Keep in mind though that a bit of interference/background noise (usually a humming sound) can result from certain sources of magnetic signals, like fluorescent lights and television screens. However modern telecoil technology can largely mitigate these interferences, according to the The Hearing Journal.

To telecoil or not to telecoil?

Over 60 percent of hearing aids come with telecoils, reports Scientific American. Nonetheless, the right hearing aid for you is always a completely personal choice. If you think telecoils might be right for you, look no further than the advanced Audicus 300. Telecoil or not, Audicus Hearing Aids has a great selection to help you find your ideal fit.

Sources: Audicus Hearing AidsScientific AmericanThe Hearing Journal

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Switch Off Your Hearing Aid: The Top 5 Silent Films of All Time

chaplin-audicus-hearing-aids-thumbnailGiven the upcoming Oscar Academy Awards, we thought we’d dedicate this post to a time-less and sound-less category of cinema that we hold very dear to our hearts: silent films. Anybody who ever thought the era of silent films has passed was completely, utterly, undeniably mistaken. One of the first silent films to be released from Hollywood in decades, The Artist has taken audiences by storm and garnered a whopping 10 Oscar nominations. As silent film begins to re-enter the public eye, we revisit some of the best silent films to have ever graced the silver screen. From slapstick comedies to tearjerker dramas, these movies can please any cinephile—without uttering a single word – and with or without an Audicus Hearing Aid.

buster-keaton-audicus-hearing-aidsSherlock, Jr. (1924)

Buster Keaton was a vaudeville star turned comic film actor, who has been hailed as one of the greatest male stars of all time by the American Film Institute. In Sherlock, Jr. Keaton plays a film operator and janitor who falls in love with a lovely lady. While Keaton wants to woo her heart, he lacks the funds to make an impressive move. At the same time, a conniving rival tries to steal Keaton’s girl while framing the bumbling youngster for petty theft. Full of charming and hilarious set of mishaps, this is a mystery you don’t want to miss.


chaplin-audicus-hearing-aidsModern Times (1936)

Charlie Chaplin stars as the iconic tramp in this socially conscious comedy about the industrialized world. In Modern Times, Chaplin works in a factory assembly line, where he is humiliated by a terrifying boss and force fed by an outrageous machine. Over the course of the film, Chaplin is jailed, freed, and then arrested again. In the meantime, he faces a cold world with characteristic hilarity. As with all his movies, Chaplin provides the perfect combination of physical humor and overall absurdity in Modern Times.

sunrise-audicus-hearing-aidsSunrise: A Song of Two Humans (1927)

This film was directed by F.W. Murnau and won an Oscar at history’s very first Academy Awards in 1929. Sunrise tells the story of a rural man and his wife, whose quiet life suddenly finds itself at stake. A woman arrives from the city and sets her eyes on the man, seducing him and convincing him to murder his wife. He falls for the city siren, and while trying to act out the plan, runs into a dramatic, heart-wrenching adventure with his wife. Full of emotion and striking visual language, Sunrise is a revelatory film for all time.

metropolis-audicus-hearing-aidsMetropolis (1927)

Widely recognized as the world’s first science fiction film, Metropolis went on to influence George Lucas’ groundbreaking series Star Wars and George Orwell’s novel1984. Metropolis is set in a futuristic urban society, where father and son fight each other head-on. In the midst of high rises, excessive luxury and social decay, an exploited working class struggle to stay alive. The protagonist, Freder, is suddenly awakened to the people’s plight, while his father enjoys the city’s spoils. This cinematic epic was one of the most expensive silent films ever made and continues to stun audiences around the world.

caligari-audicus-hearing-aidsThe Cabinet of Dr. Caligari (1920)

This horror film is perhaps the quintessential example of German Expressionism—a genre marked by dark and eery artistic tones. In this haunting film, a young man in a mental asylum recounts a chilling tale involving his fiancé. The mysterious Dr. Caligari appears in town, with his sideshow featuring a sleepwalker. One night, a shocking murder takes place and suspicions run amok. Over time, the young man finds his own fiancé at risk of losing her life—at the hands of Dr. Caligari and his monster. Full of thrills and suspense, this film is well worth watching.

As part of any other movie experience, keep in mind that Audicus hearing aids can help you indulge to the fullest. In the meantime, enjoy the Oscars!

Sources: Audicus Hearing AidsIMDBCine SightsMetropolis1927Filmreference.com

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The Top 6 Mobile Apps for Hearing Aids and Hearing Loss

hearing-aids-mobile-apps-audicusThis post is for the techie folks. Do you have a smartphone (iPhone or Android)? You are in good shape then, because there are some great mobile apps that focus on hearing loss and hearing aids. From sound amplification to captioned movie times, mobile device apps provide a wide array of handy services for the hard-of-hearing. With so many choices available, we have rustled up a list of some of the best apps on the market. Nonetheless, no app can replace a modern hearing aid, just like the ones brought to you by Audicus Hearing Aids.

uHear-app-audicus-hearing-aidsuHear

uHear lets you test your hearing anywhere and at any time with the push of a button. This app tests you for the quietest sounds you can hear and how well you hear speech in noise. A built-in questionnaire helps you and the app assess the quality of your hearing. Once you have taken the tests, a results graph will rank your hearing loss from mild to profound and warn you if you are at risk of further damage. Designed by Donald Hayes, Ph.D. Director of Audiology for Unitron Hearing, the uHear app gives you easy-to-read, informed results. Keep in mind that the results are indicative only and you should still consult a professional if you suspect you have hearing loss.
Cost: Free


captionfish-app-audicus-hearing-aidsCaptionfish

Particularly ideal for movie buffs, Captionfish helps you find captioned and subtitled movies playing near you. You can also find out whether the movie is open-captioned (the text is on the screen), rear-window captioned (the text is on the seat in front of you) or closed captioned (using a special system). With this streamlined app, you can find accessible movies within 60 miles of your area. At your command, the app will display movie times, synopses and theater locations, providing you with all the information you need to enjoy a night out. Captionfish even streams captioned movie trailers, so you know just what to anticipate.
Cost: Free

tooloud-app-audicus-hearing-aidsTooLoud?

While we all know loud environments can hurt our hearing, sometimes we don’t know when those places are actually too loud. TooLoud can analyze the sounds in any given space, and let you know immediately whether you are putting your ears at risk. A live graph provides moment-to-moment updates on the noise level, so you can find the best spot to settle. If you are in an ear-shattering location, the app will alert you with a pop-up warning.
Cost: Free

hlsimulator-app-audicus-hearing-aidsHearing Loss Simulator

Imagine an app that can explain hearing loss for you. If you find yourself constantly asking the people around you to speak up, this app will let them know exactly how you feel. With the Hearing Loss Simulator, you can take pre-recorded common sounds and illustrate how they sound to a person with hearing loss. You also have the option to record your own voice as a sample. Choose between various degrees of hearing loss to show the difference between mild and severe cases. With this handy app, your close friends and family come one step closer to understanding hearing loss.
Cost: $1.99

soundamp-app-audicus-hearing-aidsSoundAmp R

SoundAmp R lets you use your mobile device like a hearing aid by amplifying sound and speech. Record lectures, presentations or conversations, then play them back with clear, loud sound. Additional functions allow you to bookmark sections of a recording for easy reference, and you can export the files straight to your computer. For the best results, you will need to use wired headphones and microphones. There is, however, one drawback to SoundAmp: the app cannot amplify music or phone calls.
Cost: $4.99

purple-app-audicus-hearing-aidsPurple Communications VRS

Purple Communications’ Video Relay Service (VRS) helps individuals who are deaf or hard-of-hearing make voice phone calls with American Sign Language. Using a video phone, you would simply sign to a qualified interpreter, who would then speak to whomever you called. The interpreter will then use sign language to communicate the response to you. VRS is a step up from text, as you can have a faster conversation, interrupt one another and use facial expressions.
Cost: Free for deaf or hard-of-hearing individuals

Source: Audicus Hearing Aids

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The Musical Brain

audicus-hearing-aids-musical-brainAs part of our series on hearing losscognitive science and hearing aids, we’re continuing last week’s discussion with a very basic but key question: why are humans able to make sense of melodies (as opposed to noise, for instance)?

Born to listen

While people argue incessantly about “good” versus “bad” music, our musical preferences may have begun in the womb. Several studies have shown that humans begin to understand melody even before they are born. After the first trimester, babies in the womb can turn away and fuss when they hear dissonant melodies, or manifest themselves accordingly when they hear a good song – as some recent mothers can attest to. This means music is even more innate than crawling or walking.

audicus-hearing-aids-born-to-listenMusic and the mind

Our brains go through an elaborate process when listening to music. The right side of the brain is generally associated with creative thinking, and it does play the primary role in understanding melody, harmony and pitch. However, the left side of the brain contributes to our auditory experience as well. The left side of the brain detects changes in frequency and intensity, which allows you to keep track of the pitch, tone and rhythm. While our brains are processing, we have an emotional response to the changes and variations within the music. According to a report in the New York Times, this ability to keep time with music is a singularly human faculty, and it draws out complex human emotions. If you have ever been moved to tears or gotten goose bumps while listening to a song, you can trust that your brain is going into overdrive at the same time.

audicus-hearing-stevie-wonderMoved by surprise

We love the songs we know best, but it turns out that the mind appreciates most what it least expects. Your brain has been trained to look for patterns. Common melodies start to sound like dominoes, wherein one note sets off another. However, it turns out that the best musicians are actually playing with our expectations. Beethoven for instance, was said to develop a basic pattern – and then subtly shift the patterns over time. While our brains hustle to make sense of the melodic shifts, the mental activity excites our emotions. Imagine eating an ice cream cone, with the flavor changing just a little bit each time you take a bite. You may feel confused, and you will definitely be intrigued.

As the brain listens to these challenging songs, it craves a harmonic moment to make sense of it all. So the mind stays alert, listening for the changes, responding and shifting its expectations and waiting for the final payoff. If the song were just filled with the same old melodies, your brain would lapse right into boredom.

In conclusion, humans do not make sense of melody by memorizing the same patterns. Instead, our minds are constantly hunting for an elusive melody–seeking out the next musical thrill.

To ensure you can keep up with the excitement of music, make sure to take good care of your ears. Let us inform you about hearing and hearing loss and how Audicus’ hearing aids can assist you.

Source: Audicus Hearing AidsScience BlogsNY TimesHarvard University

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Homo Sapiens Musicus or Why Humans Make Music

humans-music-audicus-hearing-aidsHumans are an inherently musical species. Besides whales and dolphins, humans are possibly the only mammal species that makes music. In fact, we have been creating music longer than we have been farming or even painting. Human history and music seem to go hand in hand, yet scientists still grapple with the question of why we make – and love – music. While no single answer has been found, here are the most recent theories behind our age-long desire for song…and a load of reasons for keeping your hearing lossin check.

beatles-audicus-hearing-aidsThe Social Bonds of Music

Music has long served the dual purpose of entertainment and communication. While people listen to music to have a good time and dance, commonly sung songs forge social bonds. For example, the tunes that are blasted during a baseball game help rally the crowd and home team together. In a similar way, national anthems drum up a sense of patriotism within a country’s citizens. Music has wound its way into many of our social practices, on a national, local and personal level.

Studies show that our minds process music the same way as spoken language, according to Professor Krumhansl of Cornell University. Some African and Asian dialects directly incorporate music into their speech, as meanings change according to the tone and melody with which they are spoken. In short, our brains understand music as a way of communicating and connecting with other people, much like talking. As Aristotle said, man is by nature a social animal–perhaps music lies at the very basis of that sociability.

farside-audicus-hearing-aidsThe Evolutionary Argument

Over the past hundreds of thousands of years, humans could have developed music as a tool to perpetuate the species. Scientists are exploring music’s potential role in natural selection, particularly when it comes to finding romantic partners. Charles Darwin himself surmised that, much like the mating calls of birds, we humans have developed our own mating melodies. Consider the many musicians who are also legendary lotharios, such as Jimi Hendrix and Mick Jagger. Some scientists believe that they wooed with song, just as a peacock attracts partners with its tail. The evolutionary argument runs deep, as music predated the hunter-gatherers, possibly dating back as far as 250,000 years.

In addition to helping us choosing mates, researchers believe that music contributes to social cohesion and group effort–both necessary to our survival as a species. Singing songs together could have helped our ancestors accomplish a difficult task, such as building communal living quarters. Music may also provide a form of perceptual and motor skill development, helping children improve their hearing and speaking skills.

The Emotional Side

We use music to express, experience and emphasize our emotions. If you want to try an experiment at home, watch a poignant movie scene with the background music muted, then watch it again with the music playing. Chances are you felt significantly more emotion while the music was playing. As far as feelings go, music might be just as internalized and natural to us as facial expressions. Music even affects how we respond to visual images, making sad scenes look more melancholic and happy scenes appear particularly joyous. Consider any musical score, and how the songs evoke emotions during the film, often as powerful as the visual image itself.

Music As Memory

In some evolutionary arguments for the purpose of music, theorists believe that music allows for communication from one generation to another. In other words, music is a means of transmitting a collective memory. While folk and traditional music was particularly popular for societies without written language, the modern man still sees music as a form of living history. From the brass bands of the Roaring Twenties and the Barber Shop quartets of the 1950′s to the psychedelic sixties, music continues to be a means of connecting to the past.

Personal memories can often carry a tune as well. You may remember the song playing during your first slow dance or tunes you would listen to during road trips. When you hear these songs years later, they can bring you right back to that moment in time. Music forges some of your memory and becomes a part of who you are. As part of our collective and individual memories, music helps us understand our histories and our identities as human beings.

Needless to say, take good care of your dear ears and make sure to monitor your hearing loss - Audicus Hearing Aids can help you with that.

Source:  Audicus Hearing AidsOratoCornell University,  University of BudapestNeuroWhoa, Gary Larson’s the Far Side

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Drugs and Hearing Loss: The Hidden Side of Aspirin

ototoxic-drugs-audicus-hearing-aidsAspirin, Viagra and Advil: what do these drugs have in common, you may ask? These and many other prescription and over-the-counter drugs, are known as Ototoxic medications that can cause hearing loss. Ototoxic drugs – literally meaning “ear poisoning” – can lead to a variety of ear-related health problems, such as permanent or temporary hearing loss, tinnitus (ringing in the ears), dizziness, hypersensitivity to sounds, pressure in the ears or balance issues. While there are over 200 Ototoxic drugs on the market today, many people are unaware of the side-effects these drugs can have on their hearing capabilities. Audicus Hearing Aids sheds some light into this.

The Usual Suspects

Many drugs that we call “Ototoxic” are widely used, such as Aspirin (40,000 tons consumed yearly worldwide). Sadly, some health care providers are either ignorant of this information or otherwise neglect to mention it when prescribing medication. Let’s face it, as consumers we need to know the facts. Here is a list of the usual suspects:

Medications that can cause temporary damage (reversible once intake stops)

  • Salycilates: for pain relief and heart conditions (e.g. Aspirin, Acetaminophen)
  • Anti-inflammatory drugs: for arthritis and other pain relief (e.g. Advil, Voltarin)
  • Quinine: used for Malaria treatment
  • Loop Diuretics: for certain heart and kidney conditions
  • Sildenafil: for erectile disfuntion (e.g. Viagra)

Medications that can cause permanent damage

  • Aminoglycosides: powerful antibiotics (e.g. Gentamicin, Streptomycin)
  • Chemotherapy drugs: for cancer treatment (e.g. Cisplatin, Carboplatin)
  • Strong pain relievers: e.g. Hydrocodone in conjunction with Acetaminophen

Even if your medication does not appear on this list, it would be a good idea to ask your doctor if what you are currently taking could be considered Ototoxic.

Reading the Signs of Drug-Induced Hearing Loss

A large part of the danger of ototoxic medications is that people either fail to recognize the symptoms right away, or else attribute them to something else. Ototoxic symptoms can occur even in those who have had no previous hearing problems. However, they are usually worse for people already suffering from Sensorineural hearing loss. In both cases, it all depends on how long you have been taking the medication and in what quantities. If you are currently under any of these medications, simply be aware of any changes in your hearing capabilities. If you are beginning a treatment and require chemotherapeutic medications, for example, make sure to have an audiologist record a baseline of your hearing and balance, so you can compare any deterioration in your hearing.

As information about ototoxic drugs is not always readily available, it’s important to read up on new research in the field… or you can learn more about hearing and hearing loss in Audicus Hearing Aids’ Guide to Hearing.

Sources: AudicusASHAWikipedia

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The Ferocious Duo: Diabetes and Hearing Loss

unite-diabetes-audicus-hearing-aidsWhat do hearing loss and diabetes have in common? They are almost equally widespread, affecting tens of millions of people. However recent studies show that adults with diabetes are over two times as vulnerable to hearing loss than people without the disease. In light of the recent World Diabetes Day, Audicus Hearing Aids thought about shedding a bit of light on the correlation between this ferocious duo.

Hearing Loss and Diabetes Incidence

For starters, diabetes is a metabolic disease whereby a person has a high level of blood sugar because of the body’s inability to produce enough insulin or its cells not being able to accept the insulin that is being produced. It affects nearly 24 million Americans, or almost 1 in every 12 people. It is potentially fatal. Hearing loss, in turn affects close to 35Mn Americans or one in every 9 people. Similar to diabetes, there are millions of people who are affected by this condition without even knowing it.

Now a recent report by the The National Institute of Health (NIH suggests that diabetes can contribute to the onset of hearing loss. The NIH administered hearing tests to over 5,000 participants and found that 68 percent, or two thirds of diabetics had hearing loss. In fact, while hearing loss is primarily correlated with age, it can appear among pre-diabetics as young as 30 years of age. Pre-diabetics are 30 percent more likely to experience hearing loss than their non-diabetic counterparts. This means that for some people, hearing loss can indicate a larger underlying health problem.

The Hearing Loss Connection

Diabetes means the body is dealing with high blood glucose levels. The abnormal amount of blood sugar could damage the delicate nerves and blood vessels in one’s middle and inner ear. This damage has been observed in autopsies performed on deceased patients with diabetes. Through a similar destructive process, these fluctuating blood sugar levels can also contribute to vision loss.

There are a number of symptoms linked to diabetes, including unexplained weight loss, fatigue, and frequent urination. Anyone with diabetes should stay vigilant about their hearing and vice versa, people with hearing loss should stay aware of diabetes symptoms. Early intervention is key to preventing further damage. To see whether you have diabetes or hearing loss, make sure to get regular blood and hearing tests.

What If It Has Affected My Hearing?

The kind of hearing loss caused by diabetes is usually high-frequency Sensorineural hearing loss. This form can usually be addressed by today’s hearing aids, especially modern digital technology. While if you have diabetes your best bet is to remain vigilant about your hearing loss, feel free to reach out to Audicus if you’re interested in learning more about our modern hearing aid solutions.

Sources: AudicusDiabetes.orgHealthyHearing.orgNIH.gov

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