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?

https://www.flickr.com/photos/bazzadarambler/5380504422/

Image source: bazzadarambler – Flickr // CC BY 2.0

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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Image source: mkhmarketing – Flickr // CC BY 2.0

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

Service Delivery to Children With Mild Hearing Loss

Walker, E.A. et al. (2017) American Journal of Audiology. Vol. 26(3) pp. 38-52

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Purpose: This study investigates clinical practice patterns and parent perception of intervention for children with mild hearing loss (HL).

Conclusion:s Audiologists appear to be moving toward regularly providing amplification for children with mild HL. However, delays in HA fittings indicate that further educating professionals and parents about the benefits of early amplification and intervention is warranted to encourage timely fitting and consistent use of HAs.

Read the abstract here

Hearing Aid Imagery May Motivate College Students to Lower Earbud Volume

The ASHA Leader, March 2017, Vol. 22, 10.

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Campaigns incorporating pictures of behind-the-ear hearing aids may be more effective at persuading college-age students to use earphones at lower volume than text-only messages or images of damaged inner-ear hair cells, according to new research.

Study authors surveyed college students about their knowledge of and behavior surrounding personal listening devices (PLDs) and hearing loss, as well as health education information. Yula C. Serpanos, professor and coordinator of the Department of Communication Sciences and Disorders’ AuD program at Adelphi University, led the research.

Read the full commentary here

Read the original research abstract here

Evaluation of the Self-Fitting Process with a Commercially Available Hearing Aid

Convery, E. et al. (2017) Journal of the American Academy of Audiology. 28(2) pp. 109-118


hear-1468153_960_720.pngBackground
: Hearing aids and personal sound amplification products that are designed to be self-fitted by the user at home are becoming increasingly available in the online marketplace. While these devices are often marketed as a low-cost alternative to traditional hearing health-care, little is known about people’s ability to successfully use and manage them. Previous research into the individual components of a simulated self-fitting procedure has been undertaken, but no study has evaluated performance of the procedure as a whole using a commercial product.

Purpose: To evaluate the ability of a group of adults with a hearing loss to set up a pair of commercially available self-fitting hearing aids for their own use and to investigate factors associated with a successful outcome.

Conclusions: Although the majority of participants were able to complete the self-fitting task without error, the provision of knowledgeable support by trained personnel, rather than a fellow layperson, would most certainly increase the proportion of users who are able to achieve success. Refinements to the instructions and the physical design of the hearing aid may also serve to improve the success rate. Further evaluation of the range of self-fitting hearing aids that are now on the market should be undertaken.

Read the full abstract here