Finding Quiet by Turning Up the Volume

Finding Quiet by Turning Up the Volume People are Retreating into a World of Increasing Volume… Losing Their Hearing and More Alan R. Ehrlich, CLP Our world is filled with noises, some invited, others not. Voices of conversation, babies crying, music and the warning sounds of car horns and alarms are invited. Externally, the sounds of buses, trucks, motorcycles and the broad low-frequency hum of ever-present office electronics are not. Multi-speaker televisions, stereos and conveniences devices have overtaken our homes. Our entertainment has become louder without our awareness but with our permission. Digital sound has allowed movie theaters to dramatically boost sound levels without distortion. Needless to say, our beloved rock concerts use extreme volume to pump up the crowd and “drive the sound into our inner being” but in doing that they have become painfully loud. Even our “quiet-little-booth-in-the-corner” restaurant is no longer quiet. It seems that we can’t escape from excessive noise, which can be problematic and distracting for anyone seeking a little quiet and solitude for concentration, creativity or rest. Where can we go to find a little quiet? Home? Library? How about the neighborhood park? Many people, it seems, have given up even looking. Instead of seeking quiet time, people are gravitating towards self-directed distraction. To block out the noise around us we plug-up our ears and turn up the volume. MP3 players, cell phones, personal video game players…. people of all ages use them, not only to keep themselves entertained but to block out the surrounding noise. Fighting noise with our own self-chosen noise requires us to crank up the volume even louder than...

Childhood cancer can cause a lifetime of listening difficulties

September is Childhood Cancer Month. Hearing the diagnosis that your child has cancer is brutal, to say the least, and from the outside, it seems that the treatment is worse than the disease. Pediatric oncologists use everything they have in trying to save the child’s life. The spectrum includes chemotherapy, surgery and/or radiation. It is difficult to watch a child go through chemotherapy. The drugs that kill the cancer comes close to killing the child. The side-effects include neutropenia (reduced white blood cell count) which reduces the child’s ability to ward off infection, peripheral neuropathy which can cause extreme pain and/or loss of feeling and tingling in the fingers and toes, loss of taste buds so that food has no taste and is not desired, and extreme fatigue. Radiation has its own set of side-effects that include fatigue and skin rashes and burns in the targeted area. Most if not all of these side-effects will disappear within a few weeks or months after the end of treatment. One side-effect that might not begin to appear for years after treatment is hearing loss and other listening disorders. Depending upon the chemo agents used and the length of treatment, hearing loss can range from mild to severe.  Radiation, if the tumor is in the head or neck area, can create additional damage to the cilia within the cochlea. A child with listening problems, be they based on physical, cognitive, or treatment-based reasons, can suffer a lifetime of difficulties. Listening disorders have an impact on learning, communication, school performance, social interaction, and overall quality of life. Listening disorders can lead to academic...

America, You’re Beautiful to Hear!

America, You’re Beautiful to Hear! By Gael Hannan On February 27, 2018 | Hearing Health & Technology Matters | See Original Article Here   For people with hearing loss, nature is a different experience than for the ‘hearing people’. For us, many outdoor sounds – rustling, whistling, babbling, chirping and whatnot – don’t travel successfully through our auditory system. On a recent hike at the Pinnacles, our favorite California park, the Hearing Husband and I came across a sign that said “Stop! Listen! What Do You Hear?”  Jeez, I thought, don’t I get enough of this at the audiologist’s? We dutifully stopped to do what the sign said (a Canadian trait). I didn’t hear much besides my own breathing, but Doug was cocking his head all over the place, presumably hearing things, neat things. Around the bend was an earnest young park ranger, with a display chart on an easel showing various nature things. He wanted to talk to us about “soundscapes” which are all the sounds that are connected with a particular location. He asked the small group of hikers to, once again, listen intently.  After about 10 seconds of unbearable silence, I asked, “Excuse me, could you give me a clue as to what I’m supposed to be hearing? It’s not my strong point – I have hearing loss.” The wind. Birds. Water rapids. Leaves rustling. Or perhaps, a bunny hopping, a deer foraging or a snake slithering. All these and more make up the environmental soundscape of this park, said the young man.  “Thank you very much, goodbye,” said I. I mean, it was interesting, but even with one cochlear implant and one hearing aid,...

With Many Left to their Own Devices, Consumer Reports Offers Advice on PSAPs

With Many Left to their Own Devices, Consumer Reports Offers Advice on PSAPs By Brian Taylor On February 27, 2018 | Hearing Health & Technology Matters | See Original Article Here   Personal Sound Amplification Products (PSAPs) have been the center of controversy among hearing care professionals for several years. This debate surrounding PSAPs is not without merit, as PSAPs are essentially unregulated by the FDA. Hearing care professionals are likely to recall the FDA in 2009 and 2013 issued what it refers to as “draft guidance” on the the intended use of PSAPs. This draft guidance states PSAPs are hearing enhancers intended for individuals with normal hearing. While several studies indicate PSAPs are of poor sound quality, some other laboratory studies suggest that a few PSAPs are of comparable sound quality to conventional hearing aids. From consumers, however, who often are not privy to PSAP research, a balanced summary of PSAP pros and cons was published by Consumer Reports. A February 2nd on-line article by Julia Calderone asked three Consumer Reports employees, diagnosed with mild to moderate hearing loss to try four PSAP devices priced from $20 to $350. Each person wore these devices for 3 to 7 days in every day listening situations. At the end of the trial, the employees’ ability to “pick out words in a noisy environment” was assessed. In addition, Consumer Reports enlisted the services of hearing aid researcher to objectively assess all of the PSAPs used in their trial. Consistent with previous PSAP research inexpensive products costing less than $50 were  judged to be of very poor quality and their use could further diminish a person’s ability to hear.  On the other hand, two...