Oticon Opn hearing aids. Oticon’s latest hearing aid is the Opn. The Opn is a hearing device that lets you hear all the way around. The technology in the Opn allows you to listen to multiple speakers in noisy environments, focus on what’s important to you, and switch attention if you want to. Until now, traditional hearing aids haven’t been able to process sound fast enough to help you hear all the way around you. They would focus just on the speech directly in front of you, and suppress everything else. This would help you hear the person you were looking at, but not much else. It wasn’t perfect, but was the best that hearing aids have been able to do. Some people referred to this as tunnel hearing. No more tunnel hearing with Oticon Opn. Opn is Oticon’s biggest technical breakthrough ever. Its processor chip is 50 times faster than anything Oticon has ever built. That’s fast enough to help you hear in all directions, the way you were born to hear.
Over the last few years hearing aids have been advancing significantly. Some of the improvements include better speech clarity, better hearing in noisy environments and connectivity. Connectivity means how the hearing instruments interact with other devices such as your cell phone, television, whole room listening systems and other people via a companion or remote microphone. For most hearing aids connectivity means using an intermediary device called a streamer to receive the signal from the other source, i.e. TV, cell phone, etc., which would in turn wirelessly stream the signal to the hearing aids. This system had many advantages over simply wearing hearing aids alone. For example when using your cell phone, you would hear the signal in both ears which provided much better hearing on the phone. Listening to the TV was also easier and more clear as the factors of distance and room acoustics were removed allowing you to hear the TV comfortably and clearly while your spouse could listen at any volume that they chose.
IPhone hearing aids are made by several companies, Oticon, Widex, GN Resound and Starkey. Each will be detailed in a subsequent posting. In general, iPhone hearing aids do all that was mentioned above without the intermediary streamer. TV and cell phones stream wirelessly directly to the hearing aids. In addition, iPhone hearing aids have apps which help you to control all of this. Each company’s hearing aids interact differently with the iPhone and each will be discussed. Watch for the next posting in this series!
"How can I tell if my parent's (or child's) hearing aids are working properly? There are a few simple checks you can perform to determine this.
Oticon's goal is bringing life-changing quality sound to the people with hearing loss because they know that sound matters most when it comes to developing quality hearing solutions. With the expanded Opn family of hearing aids people with hearing loss are geting unsurpassed improvement in sound quality, ease of listening, and better recall. In a recent survey of audiologists conducted by Hearing Tracker and the UBS Evidence Lab, Oticon earned the highest marks for patient satisfaction and overall popularity. This was attributed to the sound quality of their newest BrainHearing™ solution, Oticon Opn™.
The survey results reflect the overwhelmingly positive feedback that Oticon has received from hearing care professionals around the world. Call us if you would like to try the Opn and open up a new world through better hearing.
New Patient Office Visit
There are some things you should know prior to making a new patient appointment with an audiologist.
Finding an audiologist: To help you find an audiologist ask your physician or people you trust. Research the internet. Check your insurance plan for a list of providers. Make sure the audiologist is in network with your insurance plan.
Insurance: While checking with your insurance company, find out what hearing services are covered. You may call their phone number on the back of your insurance card as well as research their web site on the internet. Your insurance company can also tell you if you have a benefit that covers hearing aids. Be familiar with your out of pocket costs (copayments, deductibles, coinsurance) and be prepared to pay those costs at the time of your visit. Find out if your insurance requires a referral. Medicare and Medicare Advantage plans require a physician’s order/referral to see an audiologist for a hearing evaluation since audiologists are non-physician providers.
Information to schedule an appointment: Whether you are making the appointment for yourself or someone else, you will need to have some specific information on hand. You will need to let the scheduler know that you need a new patient appointment and the reason for the appointment. The appointment scheduler will need the patient’s full name as it appears on the insurance card, date of birth, complete mailing address, telephone number, email address if you have one, the name of the insurance company and the type of insurance plan. If you have been referred by another healthcare provider, the scheduler will need their full name and contact information. You also need to tell them how you heard about the audiologist you are scheduling with if you were not referred by a physician. If you have had any hearing evaluations in the past, especially the recent past, it is helpful to bring copies of those test results with you or have them forwarded prior to your visit.
Other information: Ask if you can obtain the audiologist’s patient information forms prior to your appointment. This will allow you to gather all the information you need prior to your appointment. The audiologist’s office can mail the forms to you or you may be directed to their web site for the forms. You will need to provide personal and family health history, descriptions of symptoms you may be having, a list of any hospitalizations and your list of medications. Being prepared with all this information will save time for you and the audiology staff at the time of your visit. If you are an adult child who has power of attorney for a parent, that documentation will need to be provided. Any documentation for child custody or guardianship would need to be provided as well.
Planning ahead for your appointment will allow your first visit go much more smoothly. It will insure that you have plenty of time for discussion about your hearing and all your options for hearing help.
First Tennessee Bank Health and Benefits Fair
Last week we participated in the First Tennessee Bank Health and Benefits Fair. This event was to promote health and wellness to their call center employees. Dr. Patty and Angie represented Tennessee Valley Audiology at this great event. Patty conducted hearing screenings on approximately 50 people and counseled several regarding improved listening skills that would help with their jobs. Dr. Patty and Angie also passed out literature and hearing protection. Overall, it was a great event and we are very thankful that we were asked to participate. Thank you First Tennessee Bank! We look forward to next year's event!
When you purchase hearing aids sometimes the instructions for cleaning can be easily overlooked by the excitement of hearing so many things you haven’t heard in a long time. We have our patients come back for follow up visits for adjustments and again at six months just to make sure everything is going well. That way we can review maintenance and care of the hearing aids and reinstruct on cleaning the hearing aids, changing wax guards and replacing batteries. This maintenance review has proven to be very helpful for our patients as little details are sometimes forgotten.
Hearing aids typically come with cleaning tools. There is a wire loop and a brush which are great for cleaning the dome area and speakers. You can also brush off the microphones. Cleaning tissues for hearing aids are available and are great for wiping all the wax and debri off of the hearing aid from daily wear. If you use an ear mold, you can use cleansing tablets to soak the ear mold to disinfect it and get it really clean. Remember not to put the hearing aid in the solution with the ear mold. There is even a new product called Nano Clean that is used to clean the vents and tubes. It works really well and is a very popular item.
Even though are all of these cleaning accessories to use at home, you should have your hearing aids cleaned professionally about every six months. The six month cleaning consists of replacing all the parts such as domes, wax guards, retention tails, and batteries if needed. We have a vacuum that thoroughly cleans the microphones and receivers beyond what you can do with the cleaning tools. You will notice the hearing aids just sound better after a good professional cleaning.
People usually think of those with disabilities as people who use a wheelchair, walker, brace or a cane. The majority of people who live with a disability do not use such assistive equipment. The Invisible Disabilities Association refers to people with invisible disabilities as those who have symptoms such as debilitating pain, chronic fatigue, dizziness, cognitive dysfunctions, brain injuries, post-traumatic stress disorder, learning disabilities, mental health disorders, as well as hearing and visual impairments. It can be an illness such as cancer or a respiratory illness which can prevent a person from walking far or carrying heavy objects.
The literature goes on to say someone who has a visible impairment or uses an assistive device such as a wheelchair, walker or cane can also have invisible disabilities. For example, whether or not a person utilizes an assistive device, if they are debilitated by such symptoms as described above, they live with invisible disabilities as well.
Unfortunately, people often judge others by what they see and often conclude a person can or cannot do something based on the way they look. This can be equally frustrating for those who appear unable, but are perfectly capable, as well as those who appear able, but are not.
Since they look perfectly normal, people with hidden disabilities often feel misunderstood, or feel ignored or invalidated. They may suffer discrimination, including that they may somehow have an “easier” time than visibly disabled people. Mundane everyday activities can be difficult. Observers can be confused. For example, someone who suffers from chronic pain or migraines may seem unpredictable because they have good days and bad days. Often people don’t see the disability and don’t believe them. Frequently they are told they don’t seem disabled.
Since we are an audiology practice, I will focus a little more on hearing loss as a hidden disability. More than 37 million Americans have hearing loss according to the CDC, including one in five teenagers and 60% of our returning Veterans. Hearing loss has many causes and each hearing loss is unique. People will rarely have the same type, level and range of hearing loss. People don’t always perceive that they have a hearing loss. Hearing loss usually comes on gradually and the individual with such a loss may often be the last to know.
Since it is not a visible disability, people with hearing loss may be thought to be unfriendly, rude, incompetent or ignoring those who are speaking to them. People with hearing loss may feel isolated and shut off from the world. Hearing loss can even put their safety at risk. Even with the help of hearing aids people can still have difficulty hearing speech when there is background noise. The communication problems caused by hearing loss can be exhausting. That stress can cause feelings of distrust, nervousness, irritability and poor self- image.
If you have hearing loss, here are some suggestions you can share with others to help them to be better communication partners. Ask them to tap you on the shoulder if you are not aware they are speaking to you. You should be in a well- lit area and ask them to speak face to face with you to help you read their lips. Avoid background noise when you can. When the other speaker moves to a different topic it is helpful if they cue you. That makes it easier to move to a new train of thought.
If you have a hidden disability, don’t be afraid to identify your needs. Don’t be a victim of your disability. You may have to educate other people in order to help them help you. Other people can appear insensitive. In some cases that insensitivity arises when others don’t understand the nature of a disability or do not recognize it.
If you would like to learn more about invisible disabilities visit www.invisibledisablities.org. If you have hearing difficulties, have your hearing checked and find out why you are having such issues and what can be done about it. Call us at (865) 688-8700 to schedule an appointment. We can help!