Posts for category: Hearing Loss
Why Can't I Undestand the Television Clearly?
Living with Hearing Loss and Hearing Aids
Well, this is a very good question, and unfortunately not one with a super easy answer. If you have hearing loss or hearing aids you are already behind the 8 ball, and this has to be the #1 complaint my patient's have and always makes the Top 5 things people in Austin want to hear clearly.
How does television process speech signal?
In a perfect world the entire signal would be processed and come out your television's speakers. But we don't live in that world. A normal human ear at birth can hear between 20-20,000 Hz. That is a very broad range. When we test hearing we look at 250- 8,000 Hz because that is the range in which all of the parts of speech fall. Vowels are in the lower frequencies, giving volume to what we hear. While the higher frequencies are the endings of words, or high frequency consonants. Think /s/, /t/, /p/, /sh/, /ch/ sounds. A high frequency hearing loss will affect the clarity of sound and not so much the volume. When you think about it, even reducing the range to 250- 8,000 Hz is still a pretty big range, so we have to cut it down further.
Now, in order for an auditory signal to go from Point A (broadcast station, satellite, server) to Point B (your living room T.V.) at some point it has to travel along an electrical cord. In the U.S our electrical outlets are 110v, 120 Hz with 15 amp of resistance. So, the signal has to travel at a multiple of 60Hz. Telecommunications standardly cut out everything above 2,500 Hz. Poof, gone. That would be most of the consonants that tell us the difference between "tear," "care," "fare," "pair," & "share." Couple that with an English accent from British programming or dramatic sound effects (which are low frequency heavy) and we have a recipe for disaster on the undertanding front.
Will hearing aids help me understand the television better?
Yes. Will it be perfect, no. Will the overall volume decrease? Yes. Please remember, a hearing aid is a therapy tool. It is the cornerstone of an amplification SYSTEM. Albiet the most important, but if you still aren't hearing the television as clearly as you would like but everyting else sounds better, it might be time to look at an assistive listening device. Most hearing aid manufacturers have a device that will transmit television signal directly into your hearing aid(s).
Why are some television channels louder than others?
Quite simply, it is based on average age of viewing demographic. Certain stations are louder. For example, PBS, HGTV, Food Network, TCM and network television tend to be louder (from personal experience) than Comedy Central, TBS, USA, and TNT. My husband is always asking me if I have my ears in after I've been watching say The Big Bang Theory marathon on TBS and he changes the channel to network TV. The volume goes up and he instantly has to turn things down. I usually have him set the volume to where he can hear it and then instruct him to hit the "back" button. And 9 times out of 10 he has to turn it up too. For added measure I'll then point out that YES I am wearing my ears. I'll admit, I still use closed captions from time to time.
At the end of the day, if you are constantly having difficulty understanding speech on the television, at home or in noise it is a good idea to have a baseline audiogram. Believe it or not, they are actually used for more than selling hearing aids. Chances are, if you're having that much trouble, you are missing out on a lot more than just Downton Abbey.
Paige Peterson, AuD, PhD
Discover some easy steps you can take to protect your hearing.
According to the Hearing Loss Association of America, about 20 percent of Americans have some form of hearing loss (that’s about 48 million people!). By the time someone reaches the ages of 65, one in three have hearing loss. While hearing loss does often happen as we age, there are many other factors that can affect our hearing. Here are some helpful ways to protect your hearing for years to come courtesy of your audiologists at Hearing & Balance Center of Austin.
Listen to Music Safely
If you wear headphones to listen to music it’s a good idea to listen to the music at 60 percent of its maximum volume for no more than one hour a day. Listening to music at high volumes, while fun, can certainly damage your ears. If you find that you can’t hear sounds around you while listening to music then the music is much too loud. Same rule applies if others can hear your music blasting from your headphones.
As you can probably already imagine, being exposed to loud noises for long periods of time can damage your hearing (think concerts, festivals and racecar events). Make sure to bring earplugs with you and take 10-minute breaks away from the sound whenever you can.
Prevent Occupational Hazards
While those working on construction sites and factories used to experience a lot of trouble with their hearing, safety regulations have been put in place to protect workers’ hearing. However, you should make sure you are still using the proper equipment and hearing protection at all times. If you are concerned about your hearing while at work talk to your boss about ways to keep everyone safer.
Be Aware of Your Hearing
It’s important to always be on the lookout for any changes to your hearing. Do you notice that it’s becoming more and more difficult to hear those around you? Do you find that you have to keep turning the volume up on the TV or radio just to hear it? Do you ask people to repeat themselves often? If you are noticing changes then it’s time to see your Hearing & Balance Center of Austin audiologists for a hearing evaluation.
If you have questions about hearing loss or are having difficulty understanding those around you then it’s time you called your audiologist in Austin, TX today to find out the extent of your hearing loss and what can be done to treat it. Start being part of the conversation again.
Approximately 37.5 million Americans Suffer from Hearing Loss1
This number affects individuals of all ages, from birth through the elderly. Untreated hearing loss not only affects your ability to hear sounds and understand speech, but can significantly impact the brain’s ability to process information and have a negative effect on your social and emotional health.
Signs you may be experiencing hearing loss include but are not limited to:
Often asking for repetition or clarification of what someone has said
Difficulty understanding conversations in noisy environments
Inability to hear speech clearly when the speaker is not directly facing you
Relying on visual cues and context cues to follow conversation
Close family or friends comment on inappropriate conversational input or often needing to repeat themselves
An audiologist is the primary doctorate-level professional to evaluate, diagnose, and manage both hearing loss and balance disorders. He or she has the education to provide full diagnostic testing, counseling, and management options for varying types and degrees of hearing loss. Dr. Paige Peterson and Dr. Sabrina Marciante at The Hearing and Balance Center of Austin are doctorate level audiologists that work with adults and children of all ages. If you or a loved one are experiencing any of the above, or feel as though your hearing acuity is not as sharp as it once was, please contact our office for an evaluation.
 Blackwell DL, Lucas JW, Clarke TC. Summary health statistics for U.S. adults: National health interview survey, 2012 (PDF). National Center for Health Statistics. Vital Health Stat 10(260). 2014.
Better Hearing Month is a wonderful reminder to hone in on effective listening skills. Hearing impaired or not, everyone can improve their listening abilities. Genuine listening provides better opportunities for clear communication, problem solving, relationship building, and proper understanding. Here are 5 tips to develop effective listening skills:
Face your conversation partner or the speaker, and maintain eye contact.
Be attentive and focused, not distracted or distracting.
Reduce any background noise to allow better hearing of the speaker.
Pay attention to nonverbal cues, and have adequate lighting to see these.
Ask questions to ensure understanding.
Often we are so quick to speak, we forget what it takes to be a good listener. These tips can help facilitate meaningful conversations you’ll actually remember.
The Hearing & Balance Center of Austin specializes in hearing related disorders including tinnitus and hearing loss, neurophysiological disorders as well as dizziness/balance disorders. Currently accepting new adult and pediatric audiology patients. The Hearing & Balance Center of Austin is the hearing and balance division of Great Hills ENT and serves the greater Austin area including the Arboretum, Georgetown, Cedar Park, Lago Vista, Jonestown, Steiner Ranch, Lakeway, Spicewood and Point Venture. We are proud to provide excellent care to our patients for general Ear, Nose and Throat (ENT) services, hearing loss, hearing aids, tinnitus, dizziness/vertigo and sleep disorders
Excuse me? What did you say? Is it hearing loss or attention?
A PSA to those in Austin, TX and the country, it’s true. We are going deaf.
Research from Johns Hopkins School of Medicine has determined that hearing loss is a growing problem in the US. They project that by 2060 2/3 of older people will have hearing loss.
The tragedy is that much of this can be avoided by protecting your ears from loud sounds. An ounce of prevention (ear plugs) is better than a pound of cure (hearing aids). The time to start protecting your hearing is now.