June 13, 2019

Hearing Aids vs. Hearing Amplifiers

Hearing Aids vs. Hearing Amplifiers

The commonality between hearing aids and hearing amplifiers is that their purpose is to give us a richer, fuller hearing experience. The difference is that hearing amplifiers do not address the problems that the hearing impaired suffer from.The American Academy of Audiologists has expressed and addressed grave concerns with the unprescribed use of hearing amplifiers which people have access to through retail vendors.In addition, there is a lack of public knowledge regarding the use of either a hearing aid or using a hearing amplifier. It is imperative that we educate ourselves as to the efficacy of one over the other and to seek an assessment and treatment that will benefit our specific hearing needs.Here, we take a look at the differences between hearing aids and hearing amplifiers.

What do hearing aids actually do?

Hearing aids are complex devices and are becoming increasingly more sophisticated to benefit the hearing impaired. They are “fitted” by an audiologist and the frequency of the device is tweaked to address the specific hearing impairment of the user. If the inner ear is damaged the hearing aid can help with the hearing loss and also prevent further damage from occurring if caught and fitted in time.Unfortunately, the stigma of hearing aids is a major deterrent to people seeking out the appropriate care right away. In fact, there are an estimated 30 million people in the US that do not use hearing aids when it is necessary and to their benefit.

What do hearing amplifiers actually do?

Personal Sound Amplifiers, known as PSAPs, make sounds louder. This applies to all the sounds in one’s environment. They are not made to distinguish between which sounds the user has issues with. They are made and marketed for use in recreational settings and are not created to cater to individuals’ needs. They can be purchased easily without a hearing test and are available in a wide price range with and a range of quality.

Differences between Hearing Aids and PSAPs

If you struggle with hearing, it is of utmost importance that a hearing assessment and diagnosis is procured by an audiologist first and foremost. Once this has happened, the correct hearing aid is “fitted” according to the users' needs. The hearing aid is composed of a microphone, amplifier, and speaker and there are several factors at work for a proper fit. The physical attributes of the ear, the frequency required for the specific type of hearing loss and the way the user uses the hearing aid on a day to day basis are all part of a complete treatment.Unlike hearing amplifiers, hearing aids help the user hear better by being tuned into the specific frequency that enhances the users hearing experience and alleviating the affliction. Hearing amplifiers do not address the problems that the user is experiencing. They are made up of a hearing piece, an amplifier, a microphone, a power source, and a speaker.Finally, hearing aids are held to standards by regulatory agencies and are considered medical devices and hearing amplifiers are not.

What does the FDA have to say?

The danger that lies with PSAPs is that they highly unregulated and readily available. They don’t require testing by certified hearing health professionals prior to use. One can easily be led to self-diagnosis and if not used properly and with restraint can cause more harm than good.Due to concerns for the health of the public, the FDA has issued a resource that notes “PSAPs are not intended to make up for impaired hearing.”In other words, if you are struggling with your hearing abilities, it is wiser to get a proper hearing evaluation before procuring a PSAP. The use of PSAPs can delay a proper hearing diagnosis and ultimately cause more damage.

How do you know which one you need?

Once hearing loss is effectively ruled out, using a PSAP for short periods of time and for recreational activities like bird watching or attending the theater is permissible. In fact, PSAPs are recommended for people that are not suffering from hearing loss, as they are not a substitute for hearing aids!

Atlanta Hearing Doctor

Our team at Atlanta Hearing Doctor looks forward to helping you experience the benefits of better hearing. We are here to provide comprehensive hearing health services and treatment that provide you with better, fuller hearing. It starts with your first appointment! Contact us today to learn more.

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The Benefits of Being Social for Older Americans
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The Benefits of Being Social for Older Americans

Take a moment to recall the last time you were part of a social activity. What are some of your memories? Not all social activities are happy and relaxing, but there’s one that that they tend to have in common: connection. When we engage in social activities we are reminded of the ways we are connected to those in our families, friendships, and communities. However, for those who haven’t had a social activity in a while, this lack of connection can be a key problem. Rather than focusing on the detriments of a lack of social activity for seniors, let’s focus on the positive benefits that seniors can receive from more social activity. Not only do they take the form of direct benefits such as feelings of connection, they also have indirect effects on your mental and physical health. After considering the wide range of benefits to be achieved from these social connections, let’s imagine the many ways it is possible to expand the range of connections.

Mental Health and Social Life

When we are connected to others, a number of effects take place in our mental health. In the first place, we are generally reminded that others share our experiences. These reminders put us in the mental space to acknowledge that we are not alone. Similarly, social connections can relieve feelings of anxiety. When we are isolated our heads can spin into feelings of confusion, fear, and mixed expectations. Being with others can be grounding, serving as a reminder of how much others are going through. Finally, social life can improve symptoms of depression. Although it can feel like the most difficult thing to socialize when we are depressed, it can have a profound positive effect on depressive symptoms to spend a little time with others.

The Physical Benefits of Social Activity

It might come as a surprise, but there are physical benefits to social activity, as well. In the first place, simply getting out of the house introduces physical activity into our daily routines. Moving through the world to social events can be remarkably beneficial for our energy levels and mobility. In addition to this direct physical effect of social life, there are other more surprising connections, including reduced risk for Alzheimer’s disease, rheumatoid arthritis, some forms of cancer, osteoporosis, and cardiovascular problems. Add to the list that nutrition is often improved when we eat with others in social contexts. These social benefits in the realm of physical health lead us to believe that we stand to gain more that feelings of connection when we are actively social.

How to Improve Your Social Life

If you are a senior who finds your social life dwindling, there are some basic steps you can take to get connected. One of the simplest things you can do is to reconnect with old friends and family members with whom you’ve lost touch. Take a quick scroll through your address book or calendar from past years. You are likely to find people listed there with whom you can connect, and you’ll be surprised how easy it can be to pick up and reconnect. Simply making a call is all it may take before you have a new lunch date or are even planning a trip with someone. Sometimes more casual connections are all it takes to feel like your social life has improved. Clubs are a great resource for these kinds of connections, and there are many organizations oriented around your favorite activities and hobbies. If you like crafts, mechanics, or political affairs, simply do a little digging and a club or organization is sure to turn up. Finally, physical activity is an excellent way to integrate all these benefits into a single activity. Take, for instance, an exercise class. With regular attendance, you are sure to reap the physical, emotional, and directly social benefits that have proven effects. When taken in combination, you will be surprised at how good you feel, and the connections tend to multiply. Why hesitate to take action toward stronger social activities? You will not regret it when you feel the support of a strong community around you once again.

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Common Excuses for Not Buying Hearing Aids
November 16, 2022

Common Excuses for Not Buying Hearing Aids

If you suspect that your loved one is developing hearing loss, you have likely already heard one or a combination of these excuses for refusing to seek assistance. Often these excuses work in concert with one another, and the struggle to convince a family member or loved one can require logical cartwheels. Knowing some of the most common excuses can help you understand where your loved one is coming from and also to encourage solutions rather than living with limitations.

My Hearing Isn’t That Bad

Perhaps the most common response when confronted with hearing loss is the claim that hearing isn’t that bad and that a person can make do without assistance. Although many people satisfice in the context of limited hearing ability, why continue to struggle with limitations when assistance options are available? The only way to know how bad hearing ability has become is to get a hearing exam by a licensed professional. With this information in hand, you will have a sense not only how your hearing measures up to population averages but also how much you can hear relative to your own starting point.

I’m Getting Along Fine

The partner of the first excuse is the idea that a person can get along fine without hearing aids. Although some people are able to find remarkable work-arounds to complete their daily tasks, there are serious health effects associated with untreated hearing loss. Not only can hearing limitations create a physical risk, they can also lead to mental health problems, emotional burdens, and even cognitive strain. Your loved one might feel like the situation is sufficient, but just imagine how much better life might be with adequate hearing ability. Conversations can be restored to a fluid back-and-forth, information can travel freely, and the stress of not knowing if you will be able to communicate in a given situation can be relieved.

Hearing Aids Are Too Expensive

It is true that hearing aids are a serious investment in your wellbeing, but there are often solutions to make them more affordable. Some forms of insurance cover all or part of the purchase of hearing aids, and other financing options are available, as well. The bigger question might be one of priorities. Knowing that hearing assistance can restore relationships, conversations, and relieve mental anxieties, your loved one might be undervaluing their own health and wellbeing.

Hearing Aids Are Frustrating to Use

In the past, hearing aids were nascent technology with lots of bugs to work out. You may have seen someone struggling with hearing aids, trying to adjust the volume levels or cancel out squealing feedback. Others in the past found that manual dexterity issues or arthritis got in the way of inserting or removing aids. The new features of hearing aids make it possible to remedy many of these frustrating aspects in the past. Some hearing aids are connected to smartphone apps that allow you to easily change volume levels, even setting profiles for different locations or types of events. The latest hearing aids come in all shapes and sizes, making it much easier to deal with them comfortably.

Hearing Aids Don’t Work

Maybe your loved one knows someone who had a bad experience with hearing aids. Perhaps this person was unhappy with the amount of assistance received or the trouble that came along with the aids. Although hearing aids don’t promise 100% success for all users, their effectiveness is improving rapidly, and most people with hearing loss find a powerful improvement to their daily lives. The only way to know if they will give you the assistance you seek is to give hearing aids a try.Don’t let one or more of these excuses get in the way of solutions. If your loved one is hesitant to get hearing aids for these or other reasons, perhaps the first step is the simplest. Getting a hearing test is easy, quick, and painless, so why not make an appointment right away. There is no harm in understanding your current hearing ability, and this baseline exam can be helpful to track future hearing ability, as well. If you discover a need for hearing aids, your hearing health professional can assist you in taking the next steps.

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