Have you heard?

People aren’t the only ones with interesting hearing mechanisms and facts. Check out these random tidbits about animal hearing from the Better Hearing Institute, Teachers Domain, and the University of Washington:

• Snakes do not have ears, but their tongues are sensitive to sound vibrations.
• Owls distinguish sound directions partly by measuring the difference in time it takes the sound to reach each ear. This difference is typically less than 200 millionths of a second!
• Cicadas have hearing organs in their stomachs
• Crickets have hearing organs in their knees; sound waves cause a thin membrane on the cricket’s legs to vibrate
• It is thought that owls can create an image of the world around them based only on sound, much like humans do with their eyes
• Although fish do not have ears, they can hear pressure changes through ridges on their bodies
• Dolphins can hear frequencies up to at least 100,000 Hz.  Compare this to a dog’s ability to hear up to 40,000 Hz and a person’s 20,000 Hz
• During World War I, the military kept parrots on France’s Eiffel Tower because their extra-sensitive hearing allowed them to warn of incoming enemy aircraft before any person could hear it
• All mammals have external ears, but many can move them to help pinpoint the direction of sounds. Some animals, like elephants, can even use their ears to stay cool by waving them like fans.

And you thought you could twitch your ears!

Solutions for hearing loss around the home

Most of us take for granted that we can talk to someone over the phone and open the door when we hear the door bell chime. But for people with hearing loss, these tasks are not so simple. Fortunately, technology has now made it possible for hard-of-hearing people to “hear” the door bell and other alerts in the home, as well as carry on a conversation over the phone. For instance, telephone amplifiers can be coupled with a person’s hearing aid to improve the person’s ability to hear a caller.

For people who still cannot hear well enough for a conversation, they can use Voice Carry Over, which is used with a telephone relay service. In these cases, the operator translates what the other person is saying by converting their words to text on a screen. When it comes to “hearing” the door bell, people can install systems that pick up the signal and cause lights to flash, fans to spin, or a small device to vibrate. The same goes for sleeping alarms, fire alarms, and more. Talk to your True Dental Discounts hearing specialist about the best options for your home to find out more information.

Think before ordering hearing aids online

Although it is possible to purchase hearing aids online or by mail order, the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association advises people not to order their hearing aids through these methods. Instead, ASLHA recommends that people with hearing loss schedule an appointment with an audiologist. Audiologists, like the ones available to you through True Dental Discounts, offer professional care and a host of services that mail-order companies cannot provide. For instance, patients who talk to an audiologist can learn how to properly use their hearing aid in different circumstances.

They also have access to an audiologist’s repair and rehabilitation services and the follow-up care that is often required when facing issues of hearing loss. Finally, in some cases, patients with hearing loss require medical treatment, and an audiologist can give the proper referrals for those treatments. Hearing loss is a serious issue and should not be taken lightly. Fortunately, as a True Dental Discounts member, you have access to quality audiologists at a significantly reduced rate. Take advantage of that opportunity!

Improve communication with hearing loss

Hearing loss can be frustrating – not only for the person it affects, but for those around them. To improve communication in families where someone has difficulty hearing well, the Better Hearing Institute developed some helpful techniques speakers can use to talk more clearly. One of the most important tactics is to make frequent pauses while speaking, particularly between key phrases. Pausing gives the listener time to process the message as it is being spoken, instead of in a rush at the end. This is especially helpful in crowded settings or noisy environments. For instance, a speaker may put pauses in the following sentence by saying, “I’m going to the grocery store (pause) to get eggs (pause), and then I’m going (pause) to pick up (pause) my dry cleaning.” The pauses do not have to ruin the flow of a normal conversation; as long as they are brief and well-placed, the listener will be able to hear more easily.

By pausing during the aforementioned sentence, the listener is more likely to understand the entire message instead of trying to figure out “grocery store” while missing the rest of the sentence. Other techniques to remember include slowing down the rate of speech, speaking slightly louder, and taking care to speak with clarity by avoiding mumbling. The speaker does not need to exaggerate his lip movements or shout; simply using patience and speaking meaningfully will help the message get across. If you have any questions about living with someone with hearing loss, or if you are having difficulty hearing, schedule an appointment with an audiologist on your hearing care plan. Your quality of life could be dramatically improved.

Hearing screening for babies

Nearly 12,000 babies born each year in the United States have a hearing impairment, according to the National Institutes of Health. And the sooner hearing loss is identified in infants, the less delay there is in learning to speak and learn. Babies learn to communicate by listening to the people around them from the time they are born; if hearing loss is present, it is important to be aware and make adjustments so the hearing centers of the child’s brain can be stimulated, allowing him or her to develop critical speech and language skills. Many hospitals offer hearing screenings to help parents detect any signs of abnormality in their infants.

During the screening, two different types of tests may be used. The first measures the echo of a sound in the ear canal using a tiny microphone, while the second uses electrodes to measure responses to sound. Neither of these tests is intrusive or painful; in fact, many babies sleep right through both tests. If your child does not past the screening, do not panic. According to the National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders, up to 10 percent of all babies do not pass the screening due to varying reasons that do not imply hearing loss. For instance, babies with normal hearing may not pass if they have fluid in the middle ear or if there is distracting movement or crying during the test.

However, if your child does not pass the initial screening, it is critical that he or she receive a follow-up test. As noted, the sooner any signs of hearing loss are detected, the sooner the child can begin to learn and communicate. If you are pregnant, ask an audiologist on your True Dental Discounts, hearing plan about hearing screenings for infants. He or she can help you prepare for that important step after the baby’s birth and give you peace of mind about the health of your child.