How do over-the-counter hearing loss aids fare?   by Katherine Bouton
A new study finds that hearing aids, whether from an audiologist or bought over the counter, can help older adults with hearing loss — although those who receive professional help with fit and instruction may have a better outcome. 
The six-week Indiana University study, published in the March issue of American Journal of Audiology, compared outcomes among three groups of patients: one that got a hearing aid that included the services of an audiologist; one that followed an over-the-counter process, choosing a preprogrammd device — in actuality, the same high-end digital pair as the first group — but without a fitting; and a control group that got a professional fitting for a placebo hearing aid that had no amplification. 
The subjects were 154 adults, ages 55 to 79, with mild to moderate hearing loss. The researchers compared benefits, including user satisfaction and usage of hearing aids after six weeks.
The researchers found that hearing aids helped both the audiologist group and the OTC group — an important finding that provides “firm evidence that hearing aids do, in fact, provide significant benefit to older adults,” lead author Larry Humes, a professor in the Department of Speech and Hearing Sciences at Indiana University Bloomington, said in a news release. 
However, the OTC group was less satisfied with the hearing aids and less likely to purchase them after the trial. About 55 percent of the OTC participants said they were likely to purchase their hearing aids after the trial vs. 81 percent for the audiologist group.
Interestingly, satisfaction significantly increased for patients in the OTC group who opted to continue with an audiologist for a four-week follow-up period after the main trial. More of them also opted to purchase their hearing aids after this added time after initially saying they would not.
Making OTC hearing aids more accessible is a goal of a bill recently introduced by Sens. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) and Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) authorizing the sale of OTC hearing aids for mild to moderate loss. In an article in JAMA, they wrote: “Increasing access to innovative, low-cost hearing technologies must be part of the policy response to the untreated hearing loss now experienced by millions of Americans.” 
The Hearing Loss Association of America (HLAA) also supports the Warren-Grassley bill and issued a call to action to its members to support it. Many members of HLAA have severe to profound hearing loss and would not be candidates for an OTC aid, but as the HLAA statement put it, improving service at the basic end encourages innovative technologies for all types of hearing loss. In addition, the introduction of lower-cost hearing aids and competitive pricing may help bring the cost of all hearing aids down.
Audiologists who are concerned that OTC hearing aids will put them out of business should take comfort in the study’s findings about the benefits of best practices in audiology. If audiologists get behind OTC hearing aids, it could mean hundreds of thousands more patients needing their services. 
This would be good for people with hearing loss, and good for audiologists. And if hearing-aid manufactures get into the low-cost hearing business, it will be good for them as well. The study by Humes and colleagues shows that nobody really has anything to lose by encouraging innovation and competition in hearing aids. 

The Ingredients for Depression Include Hearing Loss

Depression is a medical condition that affects you physically as well as psychologically, and is often the result of multiple contributing factors. While anyone who has read up on the condition will find some of these (anxiety, stress, isolation) familiar, one ingredient in the depression “stew” is often missed — hearing loss.

Contributing factors to hearing loss and depression

Millions of Americans suffer from a depressive disorder at some point in their lives due to one or a combination of the following contributors:
  • Biochemical imbalances
  • Genetic tendencies
  • Sleep apnea and related disorders
  • Alcohol and/or drug abuse
Three additional factors can occur independently, but are sometimes brought on or worsened by untreated hearing loss.

Chronic medical conditions

Hearing loss isn’t just an inconvenience. It’s a permanent medical condition that is likely to worsen with age. Like any chronic condition, it affects your ability to enjoy life to the fullest. It can leave you feeling older than you are and disconnected from the outside world as you struggle to keep up with conversations or to hear sounds you used to enjoy, like music. You might make verbal gaffes because you misunderstood what someone just said, leading to embarrassing moments. If you’re still in the workforce, these misunderstandings or completely missed words can threaten your career. Hearing loss is a life-altering occurrences, and just like any untreated (or untreatable) disability, put you at greater risk of becoming depressed.

Social isolation

Hearing loss can make you want to avoid social situations rather than deal with the weariness of straining to hear and keep up with conversations. A night out surrounded by crowds and noise at parties or busy restaurants becomes a chore you’d rather skip. Even in more private surroundings, unsupportive people in your life might talk around you at family gatherings, leaving you feeling ignored and unwanted. But avoiding communication and the support of family and friends significantly increases your likelihood of developing depression.


Losing the ability to enjoy the sounds you used to take for granted, such as music, nature, and your loved ones’ voices, can leave you experiencing grief, loneliness, deprivation — all variations of sadness. As for anxiety and stress, they can become disorders in their own right. If you’re working outside the home, your hearing loss can make you feel anxious at work that you’ve missed a direction from your boss or misunderstood something important at a meeting. Straining to hear all day at work, home. or in social situations is also stressful (e.g., worrying you might miss an important call because you can’t hear the phone). Living in a constant state of sadness, anxiety, and/or stress unhealthy for many reasons, including upping your risk of depression.

Keeping Your Pets and Kids Safe

Hearing aids and batteries can attract pets and small children

One thing young children and pets have in common is that they like to explore the world with their mouths. For pets, hearing aids may appear to be tempting toys, especially if they are left on and whistling. To very young kids, a pair of modern-day, brightly colored hearing aids or button-sized hearing aid batteries might look like candy.

Hearing aid batteries can be deadly if swallowed

More likely than not, an accidentally swallowed hearing aid battery will pass through an animal or a child’s digestive system whole, and generally poses no danger. But serious problems can occur if the battery lodges in the esophagus, or if the pet or child has bitten into the battery. The leaked chemicals from the battery can seriously burn the esophagus.  If not treated in a timely manner, swallowing a hearing aid battery can be life-threatening.

Hearing aids are expensive to replace

Thankfully these medical emergencies are rare.  Nevertheless, almost every hearing care professional can tell you about patients who brought in a hearing aid broken into tiny pieces that they wrestled out of their dogs’ mouths. Even if the damaged aid is within the warranty period, it could still cost hundreds of dollars to replace.
The best place to store hearing aids and batteries are in drawers or cabinets with doors that pets and small children cannot reach. Many people like to keep their hearing aids on the bathroom counter-top or bedroom dresser. But hearing aids or batteries left on such open surfaces can be accidentally knocked onto the floor where they become targets for curious pets and toddlers. It’s also important to keep them far away from spaces where you keep foods and medication in order to prevent confusion. Even adults have been known to accidentally pop a hearing aid in their mouth instead of the nut or candy they intended.
Just as you would keep your cleaning supplies and other dangerous household items away from young children and pets, hearing aids and batteries should also be carefully stored to prevent dangerous accidents, as well as avoidable expenses. Also, don’t discard your used hearing aid batteries in trash cans where animals could get to them. When it comes to hearing aids, the old adage that an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure definitely holds true.

( Connected?)

A new study shows there is a higher risk of accelerated cognitive decline due to withdrawal from social activities for individuals with hearing loss who do not actively use hearing aids.
It's widely known that as we get older, most of us experience some decline in our cognitive faculties. We tend to forget things, it takes longer to learn new things and it's harder to concentrate and focus.  This cognitive decline is usually a normal part of aging, unfortunately. We can't stop it, but there are things we can do to slow it down.

Maintain your brain: stay stimulated
According to research, by far the single most important thing we can do to maintain our brains as we age is to stay mentally engaged, through an active social life with friends, family and business associates.

Healthy hearing is a key part of staying involved with people and the world around us. But as we age, for many of us, our hearing ability declines, along with cognition. Is there a connection between hearing loss and cognitive decline? For many years, researchers have speculated about this relationship. For the first time, a new study[1] has documented hearing loss and cognitive decline among a group of nearly 4000 volunteers over a 25-year period.
Click and read the entire Study 

Feeling Fatigued....Check Out Signia Primax

Binaural Hearing....Happens with the Brain!

When you hear a sound in both ears, it’s like hearing the same sound twice. This helps your brain create a better perceptual image of the sound.

Binaural squelch
In situations where there is both noise and speech, hearing with both ears helps your brain give speech sounds preference over noise. This makes speech seem louder than it really is.

Binaural directed listening
In noisy situations, with many different sounds coming from different places, hearing with both ears helps your brain pick out the one sound source you’re interested in and focus on it.

When you have hearing loss, these effects are significantly reduced.

Signia – smart hearing aids inspired by the way we hear naturally.
To design our hearing aids, Signia engineers drew inspiration from how you hear naturally.   Just like the brain uses sound input from both ears, our primax hearing aids share and exchange signals received from both hearing aids.
Similar to the natural binaural processing in the brain, the two hearing aids can make more intelligent processing decisions together.   By emulating the effects of binaural hearing, primax hearing aids can deliver better clarity, richness of sound, and  a greater ability to know where sound is coming from.
This is why primax hearing aids are clinically proven to deliver better than normal hearing, with less listening effort.

Squinting with Your Ears

Hearing is a complex process and hard work for your brain. This is particularly true if you have hearing loss. Everything we hear has to be constantly evaluated to separate the relevant from the unimportant. The more sounds accompanying a sentence the harder it is to understand.
A high level of hearing strain can cause you to develop symptoms of stress. You feel tired, drained, and may find it hard to concentrate. The key to relief is hearing aids able to single out a target speaker’s voice from ambient noise to such an extent that listening effort is significantly reduced.

Hearing requires effort

Many daily situations can present enormous challenges for those with hearing loss, whether or not they wear hearing aids. Background noises make it more difficult to follow your conversation partner. The busy family breakfast, a conversation at a noisy train station, talking with colleagues in the cafeteria or chatting in a street café ― these situations require straining to hear what others are saying. Some people described the sensation as “squinting with your ears”. No wonder that you feel exhausted by the end of each day. You have listening fatigue.
These are exactly the sort of challenging hearing situations hearing aids with advanced technology can help. They can pick up the voice of someone speaking to you and elevate it above interfering sounds in the environment. It doesn’t matter whether your conversation partner is standing directly in front of or next to you, or sitting way down a table with other people ― with the right hearing aids, you’ll hear their voice clearly and distinctly.

Reverberation poses an additional challenge

Besides noisy public places, locations with reverberation make it harder to understand speech. Rooms with hard surfaces, such as bare walls or marble floors, reflect more sound and cause greater reverberation than rooms with carpet, drapes, or furniture to absorb sound waves. Unpleasant and distracting sound reflections not only occur in places where you only spend a short time, such as large foyers or entrance halls, but also in training rooms and classrooms. For hearing aids to be effective in these situations, they need to reduce these negative effects in environments requiring you to pay particular attention to what’s being heard. The speech signals have to be made clear and crisp in order to further reduce listening effort for wearers.

We have the hearing aids you need

If brain strain from struggling to hear all day long is a problem for you, we have the answer. In the coming weeks, we are going to reveal our latest hearing aid technology platform, which has been clinically-proven to alleviate these issues. Please visit us again for all the details ― coming soon!