Hearing aids for otitis media with effusion: Do children use them?

This study investigated what proportion of children referred for hearing aids actually receive them, and whether children use them | International Journal of Pediatric Otorhinolaryngology

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Image source: Kristof Borkowski – Flickr // CC BY-NC 2.0

ENT surgeons may refer children with otitis media with effusion (OME) to audiology for consideration of hearing aids. They are an option for the treatment of OME, but are only effective if the child actually wears them.

During the study period, there were 202 referrals of children to audiology, of which 70 (34.7%) were for consideration of hearing aids for OME. Of these 70 referred children, 37 (52.9%) were not fitted with hearing aids due to normal audiometry (23), asymptomatic mild hearing loss (7), nonattendance (3), clinical decision to just monitor hearing (1), parental decline (2), and unrecorded reason (1). A total of 38 children (including direct access patients) were fitted with hearing aids for OME. Majority (36/38) of children issued aids used them, 16 all day, 7 only at school, 1 only at home, 3 only when needed, and 9 used them for an unspecified duration; 1 child’s use of hearing aids was unrecorded, and 1 child refused to use it. 21 were fitted bilaterally and 17 unilaterally. 37 were behind the ear aids and 1 a BAHA softband.

A third of referrals to paediatric audiology by ENT are for consideration of hearing aids for OME. Only about half of children referred to audiology for hearing aids for OME actually receive them, as by the time they see audiology the hearing loss has frequently resolved or is asymptomatic so that aiding is unwarranted. Once fitted, they appear to be well accepted. Hearing aids have fair utilization in children fitted with them for OME.

Full reference: Gan, R.W.C. et al. (2017) Hearing aids for otitis media with effusion: Do children use them? International Journal of Pediatric Otorhinolaryngology. Vol. 99 (August) pp. 117–119.

Tinnitus Management

Whereas hearing aids have long been considered effective for providing relief from tinnitus, controlled clinical studies evaluating this premise have been very limited |  Journal of the American Academy of Audiology

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Purpose: The purpose of this study was to systematically determine the relative efficacy of conventional receiver-in-the-canal hearing aids (HA), the same hearing aids with a sound generator (HA+SG), and extended-wear, deep fit hearing aids (EWHA), to provide relief from tinnitus through a randomized controlled trial. Each of these ear-level devices was a product of Phonak, LLC.

Results: There were 18 participants in each of the HA and EWHA groups and 19 in the HA+SG group. Gender, age, and baseline TFI severity were balanced across treatment groups. Nearly all participants had a reduction in tinnitus symptoms during the study. The average TFI change (improvement) from baseline was 21 points in the HA group, 31 points in the EWHA group, and 33 points in the HA+SG group. A “clinically significant” improvement in reaction to tinnitus (at least 13-point reduction in TFI score) was seen by 67% of HA, 82% of EWHA, and 79% of HA+SG participants. There were no statistically significant differences in the extent to which the devices reduced TFI scores. Likewise, the hearing-specific questionnaires and QuickSIN showed improvements following use of the hearing aids but these improvements did not differ across device groups.

Conclusions: There is insufficient evidence to conclude that any of these devices offers greater relief from tinnitus than any other one tested. However, all devices appear to offer some improvement in the functional effects of tinnitus.

Full reference: Henry, J.A. et al. (2017) Tinnitus Management: Randomized Controlled Trial Comparing Extended-Wear Hearing Aids, Conventional Hearing Aids, and Combination Instruments. Journal of the American Academy of Audiology. Vol. 28 (no. 6) pp. 546-561

Talking about cost in audiology consultations with older adults

Financial cost is a barrier for many older adults in their decision to obtain hearing aids (HAs) | International Journal of Audiology 

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Objective: This study aimed to examine conversations about the cost of HAs in detail within initial audiology appointments.

Results: Audiologists and clients displayed interactional difficulty during conversations about cost. Clients often had emotional responses to the cost of HAs, which were not attended to by audiologists. It was typical for audiologists to present one HA cost option at a time, which led to multiple rejections from clients which made the interactions difficult. Alternatively, when audiologists offered multiple cost options at once this led to a smoother interaction.

Conclusions: Audiologists and clients were observed to have difficulty talking about HA costs. Offering clients multiple HA cost options at the same time can engage clients in the decision-making process and lead to a smoother interaction between audiologist and client in the management phase of appointments.

Full reference: Ekberg, K. et al. (2017) Difficult conversations: talking about cost in audiology consultations with older adults. International Journal of Audiology. Published online: 23 Jun 2017

The Importance of Over-the-Counter Hearing Aids to the Future of Hearing Health Care

Hearing loss has often been perceived as an inevitable, and hence, relatively inconsequential part of aging. In other words, if hearing loss is so common, how could it be important?

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Over the past seven years, epidemiologic research from Johns Hopkins University, as well as from other institutions around the world, has demonstrated that hearing loss, while being a usual aspect of aging, is not without consequence. For example, these studies have shown that individuals with hearing loss are at a greater risk of developing dementia, falling, and being hospitalized.

These links are not purely by correlation or chance, but likely the result of mechanisms through which hearing loss increases the risk of these adverse outcomes. These mechanisms include the “load” that hearing loss puts on the brain, reduced auditory stimulation contributing to faster brain aging over time, and the loss of social connectedness that comes with not being able to easily communicate.

These research findings have served as a wake-up call to policymakers given that addressing hearing loss could potentially lead to real and tangible benefits that would
help reduce the risk of dementia and other important costly health outcomes.

Full reference: Lin, F.R. (2017) Where We Are and Where We’re Headed: The Importance of Over-the-Counter Hearing Aids to the Future of Hearing Health Care. Hearing Loss Magazine. May/June 2017 p.18-23

Changes in Psychosocial Measures after a 6-Week Field Trial

Jamie L. Desjardins and Karen A. Doherty. Changes in Psychosocial Measures after a 6-Week Field Trial American Journal of Audiology. Published online 9th May 2017
Purpose

The purpose of this study was to assess the extent to which intervention with hearing aids, namely, a 6-week hearing aid field trial, can minimize the psychosocial consequences of hearing loss in adults who have previously not sought treatment for their hearing loss.

Method

Twenty-four adults with mild to moderate bilateral sensorineural hearing loss, who had never worn hearing aids or sought help for their hearing loss, participated in this study. Participants were fitted with receiver-in-canal hearing aids, bilaterally, and wore them for 6 weeks. Participants completed subjective measures of hearing handicap and attitudes about hearing loss and hearing aids before, during, and after the hearing aid trial. A control group of age-matched participants followed the same experimental protocol, except they were not fitted with hearing aids.

Results

Using hearing aids for 6 weeks significantly reduced participants’ perceived stigma of hearing aids, personal distress and inadequacy due to hearing difficulties, and hearing handicap.

Conclusions

A hearing aid trial can have a positive effect on a person’s attitudes toward wearing hearing aids and decrease hearing handicap.

In situ Hearing Tests for the Purpose of a Self-Fit Hearing Aid

Boymans, M. & Dreschler, W.A. (2017) Audiology and Neurotology. 22(1) pp. 15-23

This study investigated the potential and limitations of a self-fit hearing aid. This can be used in the “developing” world or in countries with large distances between the hearing-impaired subjects and the professional. It contains an on-board tone generator for in situ user-controlled, automated audiometry, and other tests for hearing aid fitting.

Twenty subjects with mild hearing losses were involved. In situ audiometry showed a test-retest reliability (SD <3.7 dB) that compared well with the precision of diagnostic audiometry using headphones.

There was good correspondence (SD <5.2 dB) with traditional pure-tone audiometry. In situ loudness scaling yielded important information about suprathreshold perception, which will have an added value for the selection of compression and the selection of maximum power output to be allowed in hearing aids.

The abstract is available here

The Utilization of Social Media in the Hearing Aid Community

Choudhury, M. et al. (2017) American Journal of Audiology. Vol. 26(3) pp. 1-9

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Purpose: This study investigated the utilization of social media by the hearing aid (HA) community. The purpose of this survey was to analyze the participation of HA community in the social media websites.

Conclusions: HA users, other individuals, and organizations interested in HAs leave their digital footprint on a wide variety of social media sources. The community connects, offers support, and shares information on a variety of HA-related issues. The HA community is as active in social media utilization as other groups, such as the cochlear implant community, even though the patterns of their social media use are different because of their unique needs.

Read the abstract here