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The Science Behind Bluetooth Hearing Aids

At this point in time, technology has evolved further than ever before. It can assist people in their everyday lives in a number of ways, including aspects of their health. One of the best examples of this are hearing aids, which are now able to work with other devices via Bluetooth. These amazing hearing devices make it easier than ever for hearing impaired people to enjoy a variety of things they otherwise might have missed out on.

Although actual Bluetooth hearing aids are not yet on the market, Bluetooth technology can still help in connecting digital hearing aids to a number of devices. This is done with assistive listening devices, also referred to as streamers. The assistive listening devices serve as a link between a hearing aid and any device that is capable of connecting to Bluetooth. For instance, that means that a hearing impaired person can pair their hearing aid with their smartphone. Many manufacturers make this possible by enabling their devices to be paired with hearing aids via Bluetooth.

A good example of this technology is that Apple has a special device specifically meant to connect a person’s hearing aid with their iPhone. There are certain hearing aids on the market that are compatible with the iPhone and some Android smartphones, such as the Starkey Halo and LiNX2. There are also more hearing aids that are dubbed as “Made for iPhone” that can specifically be paired with the iPhone. The technology of these hearing devices allow for a direct connection without putting too much strain on the battery.

If you are looking to get a hearing aid, it’s important to discuss with your hearing care provider your options and whether you want to be able to wirelessly connect your hearing device. It is possible to connect your hearing aid directly with a smartphone, tablet, computer, music player and other devices. Your provider will recommend a specific type of wireless hearing aid and a steamer that is compatible as well, if necessary. In most cases, the streamer is a device that is worn around the individual’s neck. It may also be a hands free device that is placed in the person’s pocket.

There are many benefits to streaming via Bluetooth when you use a hearing aid. You can enjoy a more personalized listening experience. This is possible whether you are simply looking to take a phone call and have the sound streamed directly to your hearing aid or if you want to listen to music. Sound is streamed to a single hearing aid or to two and amplified so that you can hear it even more sharply than if you were to use a headset. You can also adjust the volume of the incoming sound either with your streamer or an app on your smartphone or other device.

Another benefit is that you can connect to multiple devices with your Bluetooth capable hearing aid. The streamer is capable of connecting to several devices, which means you can conveniently and quickly switch from one device to another depending on the situation. For instance, you might be listening to music for a while and then someone is calling you. You can pause or interrupt the music right from your streamer so that you can answer the call.

You can also change the settings on your hearing aid with the connected streamer. This means that if you need to lower the volume, you can easily do so right on the streamer. This function is very useful when your hearing aids are too small to include control buttons.

Finally, another benefit of streaming via Bluetooth to your hearing aid is that Bluetooth is standard protocol. It can be used with all hearing aids because it is not limited to a few types or manufacturers. That makes it more convenient and of course, it works across many different devices. Bluetooth is also secure and there is no interference.

What Is Tinnitus?

If you were to ask someone what Trent Reznor, Ronald Reagan and Whoopi Goldberg have in common, they’d be hard-pressed to come up with an answer. Yet, these celebrities are all affected by tinnitus, which is a condition that causes a person to hear a sound that is generated by their body. For some people, the sound is constant while others report hearing it only in certain situations. Understanding what tinnitus is and how it can be treated is the first step toward finding relief from the irritation that comes with being unable to escape the constant ringing in your ears.

Causes of Tinnitus

Most cases of tinnitus begin when the sensory hair cells in the cochlea of the inner ear become lost or damaged. Sometimes this occurs due to normal aging, but the process of loss can be hastened by other risk factors. Health conditions that affect the middle and inner ears can also cause tinnitus such as temporomandibular joint disorders (TMJ) and neck injuries. Diabetes complications can also affect the nerves that stimulate hearing, and people with traumatic brain injuries may process sound differently that leading to ringing in the ears.

Risk Factors For Developing the Condition

There’s a good reason why celebrities tend to be affected by tinnitus. Excessive exposure to noise is one of the leading causes. In addition to loud concerts, working with explosives or loud construction equipment places you at risk for damage to your ears that can cause the symptoms. Aging is another risk factor, and people over the age of 60 are more likely to deal with tinnitus. Men tend to be affected more often than women, and certain lifestyle factors such as smoking contribute to the development of the condition. Obstructions in the ear can sometimes cause symptoms of tinnitus, and people with certain medical conditions or who take ototoxic medications are more likely to develop tinnitus.

Symptoms of Tinnitus

Hearing ringing in the ears is the hallmark symptom that most people associate with tinnitus. However, it can manifest in other ways. For example, some people hear other noises such as whistling, clicking and buzzing. In some instances, people have described hearing music or low roar. The sound sensations may be high or low pitched, and it can come and go or be constant. For the majority of sufferers, hearing loss is also present. Over time, psychological symptoms such as anxiety and depression may affect those who struggle with coping with the symptoms that they experience on a constant basis.

Types of Tinnitus

There are two types of tinnitus, and they are objective and subjective. Subjective tinnitus is the most common type. With this type, a person hears sounds that are only perceived by themselves. Objective tinnitus involves a person hearing noises that are generated by their circulatory or musculo-skeletal movement systems, and these noises can be heard by other people. However, the objective type of tinnitus is so rare that it is estimated that less than 1% of the population has it.

Tests Used For Diagnosis

When a person complains of noises in their ear, there are several things physicians will do to get an accurate diagnosis. Usually, they will begin by asking a series of questions regarding when the noises began and whether they are constant or intermittent. The questions will also involve a person’s health history to determine if risk factors such as damage to the ears has occurred. A physical exam of a person’s ears, head and neck will also be performed to check for abnormalities, and a hearing test will be given. If necessary, blood tests to check for underlying health conditions such as diabetes along with imaging may also be performed before a physician is confident making an accurate diagnosis.

Types of Treatment Available

Unfortunately, there is not a cure for tinnitus. Although, there is some hope because it can get better with tinnitus treatment, and some people find that their symptoms spontaneously disappear on their own. It is also possible to slowly get used to the noise and be able to tune it out. For those who have constant noise or find it frustrating to deal with every day, there are treatments that can help. Sound therapy is one type of treatment that involves using other more pleasant noises to mask the ringing sound. Retraining therapy is another common treatment that people use to train their mind to accept the noises caused by tinnitus as normal rather than annoying. These two types of treatment are commonly used when there is not an obvious underlying cause of the tinnitus that can be treated in other ways such as adjusting a person’s medication.

Dealing with tinnitus may not make you feel like a celebrity, but it helps to know that you are not alone. Today, many people deal with frustrating symptoms such as ringing and buzzing that no one else can hear, and it is possible to learn how to cope. By understanding the various causes of tinnitus and seeking a treatment that works for you, it is possible to move on and enjoy life without focusing on that constant buzz.

How Is Tinnitus Treated?

Tinnitus can result when the intricate human hearing system malfunctions. There are fortunately some tinnitus treatment options that can help quiet the dysfunction. Most tinnitus treatment options are non-invasive, and require that you work with a licensed hearing specialist for the best results.

How Does Tinnitus Develop?

Tinnitus most often develops as a side-effect of hearing loss. Hearing loss is associated with the inner ear and hearing nerve becoming underactive. At the same time, the brain’s primary hearing center (cochlear nucleus) becomes overactive as it’s not receiving the amount of stimulation that it’s used to. The overactivity in the brain’s primary hearing center is perceived as the ringing in the ears known as tinnitus.

Hearing Aids as a Tinnitus Treatment

Tinnitus treatment from an ear doctor starts with helping the ear to function properly again. Tinnitus can be diminished or eliminated by improving the under-activity coming from the ear. The primary option of hearing aids can work to help quiet tinnitus.

The tinnitus that is due to over-activity in the brain’s primary hearing center. The nerves of the brain communicate with each other by using chemicals known as neurotransmitters. Some of these chemicals increase nerve activity, while other chemicals decrease nerve activity.

Tinnitus can therefore be lessened by increasing the neurochemicals that reduce nerve activity. Decreasing nerve activity in the brain’s hearings centers will help quiet tinnitus. Treating tinnitus therefore requires taking medications that elevate the neurotransmitters needed to reduce brain nerve activity. Some medications used to treat tinnitus include gabapentin and clonazepam.

Tinnitus Treatment Through Decreasing Brain Over-Activity

Hearing aids help tinnitus sufferers by increasing the activity reaching the first hearing center of the brain. This helps to cut down on the over-activity of the brain’s first hearing center. Studies have shown that by using two hearing aids (one in each ear), over 65% of people report improvements in their tinnitus condition.

Muscle Tension and Arthritis Treatments for Tinnitus

Part of the human hearing system originates from the muscles, tendons, and joints in the head and neck region. The nerves from the head and neck region go to the brain and help it perceive sound. Poor functioning in this part of the body’s hearing system can be another major cause of tinnitus.

Jaw and neck strain can also create tender and hard areas in these muscles. These tender focal areas in your head and neck muscles (called trigger points) can also end up causing a person tinnitus. The development of trigger points could be due to injury, prolonged stress, and working too many hours.

Treatment of trigger points can help quiet tinnitus. Hardened trigger points can be treated using acupuncture needles. The needles are directed toward trigger points within the muscles themselves, a process known as dry needling of trigger points. If the hearing system dysfunction is thought to involve the jaw muscles, then a dentist will need to be consulted. Dentists may treat the bite alignment by using a bite guard.

Tinnitus can also be caused by arthritis involving the joints between the bones of the spine. The medical name for these joints is “facet joints.” Arthritic facet joints result in a condition called facet arthropathy. A procedure known as facet blocks is the primary treatment option for facet arthropathy. With improvement in the facet joints, it’s hoped that patients can have their tinnitus quieted.

Tinnitus treatment will vary depending upon what the primary cause is believed to be. If the primary cause is related to hearing loss, then the primary means of treatment will be hearing aids. If the tinnitus is primarily related to dysfunction of the head and neck muscles, then the primary treatment will be dry needling of trigger points. Further probing may reveal jaw dysfunction (which would require dental therapy) or arthritis in the spine (treated with facet blocks). And some patients may be suited to trying medications that can help quiet the overactive sections of the brain.

Musicians and Hearing Loss

Hearing loss, according to one survey done in the UK, is a common problem among musicians. The survey examined 692 musicians from the age of 18 to 75, and researchers soon learned 40.5 percent of the respondents had suffered some level of hearing loss. An additional 75 percent reported tinnitus, and one in five musicians experienced a hypersensitivity to sound. Did you know even Ozzy Osbourne, a pioneer of the heavy metal genre, suffered significant loss of hearing?

Rock vs. Classical: Who’s at the Greatest Risk

When you visualize hearing loss, you can understand a wild rock and roll concert where the music blares on stage. According to Ross Tonini, an audiologist of Baylor College of Medicine, it’s possible that classical musicians could actually be at an even greater risk than rock stars. Ross has found that classical musicians actually suffer a higher rate of noise-induced hearing loss than rock musicians. How is this possible? It boils down to the closer proximity of many loud instruments. Loud music from almost all parts of the brass band or orchestra will start to affect the hearing. Tonini goes on to explain how one thing that devastates a person’s ability to hear is prolonged exposure to a loud noise.

How to Lower the Risk of Hearing Loss

Unfortunately, hearing loss goes with the trade of being a musician and many suffer from it. Another famous musician who suffers hearing loss is will.i.am. He’s a founding member of the Black Eyed Peas and for will.i.am, silence gets interrupted with a painful ringing sound, which is why he feels the drive to create music at all hours of the day. To reduce the risk of hearing damage, Ross Tonini recommends musicians buy ear plugs specially designed for them. He also suggests musicians limit the noise with softer music during rehearsals to give the ears a rest. Not all musicians use hearing protection and only two out of three said they did. This is despite the fact that 81 percent of the respondents in the UK survey thought musicians should wear some form of hearing protection.

You can also do other things to protect your hearing. Sound travels in a straight line. With that in mind, the sound will be louder when you stand right in front of it or behind a speaker. Most professional musicians know to stand at an angle from the speakers or away from them. Oftentimes, professional musicians will often take a break between sets to rest their ears.

Awareness: The Best Approach

Some people might hear about musicians being at a much higher risk of hearing loss and be hesitant to start playing a musical instrument. You should not let the fear of hearing loss stop you from playing. Even despite that, playing a musical instrument provides you with a creative outlet to focus your energy. You can connect with friends, and it gives you a skill to express yourself throughout your lifetime.

Protecting your ears, however, should not be taken lightly. Chris Martin, the lead singer from Coldplay, says that he has suffered from tinnitus for more than 10 years. He said that despite that fact, once he started to protect his ears, the ringing has not gotten worse. He has said he wished he had taken it more seriously in the beginning.

Size of Instrument: Don’t Let It Fool You

Almost all instruments when played loud enough over an extended period will cause some form of hearing loss. A piccolo, for example, can be just as deafening as a bass drum or slide trombone. In fact, the piccolo reaches between 95 to 112 decibels. Meanwhile, the violin sound will range from 84 to 103 decibels. With a peak volume of 103 decibels, that’s louder than some power tools. Keep in mind, it only takes sustained exposure to decibels between 90 to 95 to cause permanent hearing loss. To play a musical instrument, you depend on your hearing, so you need to protect it.

Research on Hearing Loss

Most hearing loss research concerns the occupational or industrial fields. In the industrial domain, it’s a well-known fact that occupational environments with decibels of over 90 can permanently damage your hearing. Research on the topic of music has not come as far, and with quiet periods in between the noise, it could be less damaging because the dynamics of music vary more than your typical industrial environment.

Hearing loss typically happens over time, and you might not notice it for years. Once it does start to happen, you notice how a person’s speech seems mumbled or unclear. Tinnitus is another key problem for those experiencing hearing loss. The biggest thing you can do to protect it is to protect your ears. For those who are professional musicians, special hearing plugs for musicians will literally save your ear drums.