Hearing Loss and Other Comorbidities
As we’ve mentioned frequently in this blog, hearing loss that goes untreated can impact cognitive function. That can happen to a person from any background, and it’s important to raise awareness of treatment options so that everyone who needs help can easily seek it. Sometimes it takes an inspirational story to encourage people to take care of themselves.
In honor of National Hispanic Heritage Month, which begins on September 15th, let's learn about some influential people who have hearing loss, and are part of the Latinx communities.
Dr. Robert Davila
Dr. Robert Davila was president of Gallaudet University from 2007 to 2009.
Born in California, and a child of Mexican-American parents, Davila had an irregular form of education because his family moved with the seasons. At the age of 8, he contracted spinal meningitis and became deaf. He attended the California School for the Deaf (CSD) and flourished academically. He learned English and ASL, graduated with honors, and attended college to earn his bachelor’s, master’s, and doctorate degrees. After spending most of his life as a teacher and administrator, he became president of Gallaudet University, a leading university for the deaf and hard of hearing.
Francisco Goya was one of the most prominent Spanish artists during the late 1700s and early 1800s. His work showcases a change in modern art. He led the way for Édouard Manet and Pablo Picasso. Around 1792 or 1793, while he worked as a court painter in the royal household, he endured an undiagnosed illness and became permanently deaf. In 1799, he became the first court painter for King Charles IV.
Alex Lacamoire is the musical director for Hamilton, In the Heights, and Wicked.
The Cuban American composer, arranger, conductor, and orchestrator started studying classical piano when he was 4 years old. It was around this age when his family started to notice his hearing loss. When Lacamoire was 13, he performed at Autonomous University, the largest concert hall in Mérida, Mexico. He was given hearing aids while he was in high school but did not wear them. He eventually started to wear them.
This graduate from Berklee College of Music later won honors from the Kennedy Center and was presented with multiple Tonys, Grammys, and other awards.
Natália Martins is a professional volleyball player from Brazil. She’s had profound hearing loss (70% of her hearing is gone) since she was a child and was first fitted for hearing aids when she was 6 years old. She is currently Brazil’s first volleyball player with hearing loss to play professionally or qualify to be part of her country’s national team. She participated in many well-known teams in Brazil before settling on a premier league in Romania.
Luis Miguel is a popular Mexican singer and performer of Spanish and Italian descent, who was born in Puerto Rico. He is known as El Sol de México and is considered the most successful musician in Latin American history. He remains the only Latin singer of his generation who did not become popular among English-speaking audiences during the 1990s. After decades of performing at concerts, he currently has tinnitus.
Stephanie Nogueras is an actor, mentor, and consultant. This Puerto Rican American was born with profound deafness. She went to Hollywood after graduating from the Rochester Institute of Technology. After six months, she played a recurring role in a TV show called Switched at Birth and a role in one episode of the TV series Grimm. She can currently be seen on the American comedy series Killing It.
She is also an American Sign Language (ASL) instructor, mentors families of deaf children in Los Angeles County, and is a consultant and ASL coach for TV and film.
If you’ve been experiencing hearing loss, contact us at Pure Sound Hearing for a complimentary hearing test and consultation with one of our hearing aid providers.
In the U.S. there have been laws established to protect everyone with hearing loss. These days they need to be adapted for technology that is constantly evolving. July 26th is the 32nd anniversary of the supreme law granting protections to people with a hearing impairment. It is called the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). Here are the three titles of the ADA:
Even if you are a hearing aid or cochlear implant user, and those devices can help your hearing limitations, you still have a legal disability status under the ADA. This indicates that under the law, you are guaranteed certain protections and accommodations.
Changes in technology are constantly evolving and services are readily available online. As a result, the definition of discrimination has also changed. One example was when the Zoom video chat service charged more money for closed-captioning during video calls. In December of 2020, two individuals who were hearing impaired sued the company. They cited ADA violations and California and New York laws. In March of 2021, Zoom allowed users to sign up for free live captioning (this feature can only be accessed by the host of the meeting). This feature is now free for all users.
Hearing Loss Accessibility in the Internet Age
The ADA was originally written when the internet was still very new. Judges have provided different rulings on whether “places of public accommodation” include websites and apps, which do not have a physical location. The U.S. Department of Justice stated that it does, but there have not been any regulations issued.
Website accessibility guidelines have stated that anyone with vision impairment should be able to see and read a website, and the tools used by people with disabilities should be easily integrated. Closed captions and transcriptions should be available for all prerecorded audio and video. This is not a guarantee, as users of YouTube videos have been made aware of it.
Telephone Access for Hearing Loss
The law is more straightforward when it comes to telephone systems, which must be available for anyone with hearing loss and speech problems. The options are captioned telephones and web-based captioning services. The 1988 Hearing Aid Compatibility Act orders that every telephone and smartphone must be compatible with hearing aids.
The 21st Century Communications and Video Accessibility Act (CVAA), which was enacted in 2010, required text messaging, email, instant messaging, and video calls to be accessible for those with disabilities. Free live captioning on private platforms like Zoom is now available.
The U.S. Federal Communications Commission ordered in 2012 that all TV programs with closed captions must be published online.
For all airlines, and foreign airlines that are flying to the U.S., the Air Carriers Access Act (ACAA) requires hearing loss accommodations, such as captioning on airport televisions.
The ADA requires courtrooms, hospitals, and schools to have sign language interpreters available when necessary.
Accessibility in Public Spaces
Theaters that have fixed seating for at least 50 people must provide assistive hearing services for audience members who have hearing loss.
Assistive listening systems for people with hearing loss must be provided by museums. This does not include sign language interpreters or closed captioning, but some include this as an option for Deaf patrons. Most times, these services are free or a small fee is charged.
Other spaces that must provide assistive hearing systems for anyone with hearing loss include hospitals, hotels, concert/lecture halls, convention centers, courtrooms, stadiums, and nursing homes. Facilities that have hearing loops can connect with hearing aids that feature telecoils (or t-coils).
Employment Discrimination and Hearing Loss
Job seekers and employees are protected by the ADA and Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. If there are at least 15 employees at your place of employment, you do not have to report your hearing loss and your employer cannot ask you questions to determine whether you have a disability. The employer is allowed to ask specific questions about your ability to perform basic job functions, like how good your communication skills are, whether you can perform in a fast-paced noisy environment, or can meet legally required standards in safety.
If your hearing loss is obvious or you report it, the person who decides whether to hire you can ask if you need accommodations to perform the job.
Your Employer must provide you with Accommodations if You Have a Hearing Loss
Your employer must provide reasonable accommodations, which means it should not be too difficult or expensive to make adjustments. Some accommodations may include a sign language interpreter during meetings or assistive listening devices.
Discuss these things with your employer, and be prepared to give more information about your conditions and needs from your healthcare provider(s).
If you think there’s been a violation of your rights, make a complaint through the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) within 180 days of the incident. A lawsuit may be filed in federal court after you receive a “right to sue” letter from the EEOC.
If you or a loved one are experiencing hearing loss, contact us at Pure Sound Hearing for a complimentary hearing test and consultation.
Hearing loss impacts nearly 48 million people in the U.S. That number is predicted to rise to 1 in 10 people within the next 30 years. There’s no cure for hearing loss, but hearing aids can help with the symptoms of hearing loss. There have been so many advancements in hearing aid technology. Relationships become less strained due to better communication abilities, reduced depression caused by isolation, anxiety, and cognitive decline linked to hearing loss that goes untreated. Let’s review the history and evolution of hearing loss and hearing healthcare.
Earliest Discovery of Hearing Loss
A primitive example of hearing loss was found in skeletal remains that were more than 10,000 years old in the Shanidar Caves located in Iraqi Kurdistan (Southern Kurdistan). Archeologists discovered exostoses - tiny bone growths located in the ear canal that can lead to conductive hearing loss.
A Record of Hearing Loss during Ancient Egypt
A medical journal known as Ebers Papyrus detailed the earliest known record of hearing loss in 1550 BC. In the text, a solution for “Ear That Hears Badly” was detailed as infusing ant eggs, bat wings, goat urine, olive oil, and red lead in the ears. Most of these ingredients were ineffective, but placing some olive oil in the ears is still recommended by some to loosen earwax that’s obstructing the ear canal.
A Record of Hearing Loss during Ancient Greece
During the early 10th-century, Artistotle and Plato mentioned their own hearing loss. Their remarks were incorrect and careless in the way we view the deaf community today. They both noticed that the “ability to reason was intrinsically linked with the ability to speak”. This implies that they believed a person’s ability to hear was related to the person’s intellect. We now know that this is not the case. Some accommodations may be required, but a person’s intelligence and lack of hearing abilities are not interconnected.
A Record of Hearing Loss in France
Sign language was originated by monks in Burgundy, France during the 10th century. Monks who took a vow of silence came up with their own hand signals in order to non-verbally communicate. It was called the Cluniac sign language. The nonverbal language was soon taught to other monks across Europe, with many pointing out that if they lost their voices this sign language would be adequate to communicate with others. This was the basis for modern sign language.
Ancient Hearing Aid Devices
Ear trumpets that were made from animal horns and sheet iron were early instruments for hearing during the 17th century. By the 18th century, they became mass-produced. In 1876, after Alexander Graham Bell invented the telephone, inventors had the ability to use this technology in the first amplified electronic hearing aids. Miller Reese Hutchinson introduced the first electronic hearing aids in 1889.
When these devices were introduced during the 1913 World Fair, they were very large and bulky. In 1920, vacuum tube technology made hearing aids easy to travel with and functional. This was standard until the mid-1940s when transistor technology was made for WWII. Microprocessors invented in the mid-1970s and ‘80s provided faster, lighter, and more powerful hearing aids with analog technology.
Digital Hearing Aids
During the 1990s, the first digital technology was introduced to the public. As these new technologies evolved to smaller devices, so did hearing aids. Making the devices more powerful was also important to reduce feedback noises. Digital hearing aids were gradually customized for each individual’s hearing loss, rather than standard options for varying degrees.
Modern hearing aids can help with nearly every range of hearing loss, blocks out background noises, mask tinnitus, connects to devices via Bluetooth®, and uses AI to automatically adjust to your environment.
Contact us at Pure Sound Hearing for more information and to schedule an appointment with one of our hearing instrument specialists.
We’ve mentioned different careers that people who are deaf or hard of hearing would find easier to manage, but it’s important to emphasize that you can have any career that you want - no matter how good or bad your hearing is.
As part of Women's History Month we're going to share facts about the inspirational life and career of Dr. Helen Brooke Taussig, a pioneer in pediatric cardiology who used her hands to listen to heart rhythms due to her hearing loss.
A Career in Cardiology
The work and research of Dr. Taussig made a difference in the lives of thousands of babies who had congenital heart defects at birth. She was a key figure in preventing a potential epidemic of birth defects by campaigning against the approval of thalidomide usage in the U.S.
Dr. Taussig went to Johns Hopkins Medical School and graduated in 1927. This was during a time when not all universities granted advanced degrees to women. In addition to her hearing loss, which was caused by whooping cough, she also suffered from dyslexia.
Healing Infants with Blue Baby Syndrome
Currently, infants who are born with anoxemia, also known as “blue baby” syndrome, have a higher chance of survival because of the work contributed by Dr. Taussig. Congenital heart defects cause blue baby syndrome. After determining the complications that cause low blood flow to the lungs in children who has blue baby syndrome, Dr. Taussig came up with a new type of surgery that was tested by surgeon Alfred Blalock and surgical technician Vivien Thomas. This procedure became known as the Blalock-Taussig shunt.
Listening to the Heart through Touch
Cardiologists use a stethoscope to hear a patient’s heartbeat. After Dr. Taussig began to experience hearing loss, she used hearing aids and read lips in order to communicate. When she needed to treat patients, she used her fingers. She “listened” to children’s heartbeats by placing her fingers over their chest and could detect issues such as heart murmurs by way of touch.
Dr. Taussig was cited as the founder of pediatric cardiology. After graduating from medical school, she was head of the Children’s Heart Clinic at Johns Hopkins Hospital between 1930 to 1936. She continued working at Johns Hopkins until she retired in 1963. In 1965 she was elected as the first woman to be president of the American Heart Association.
If you or a loved one are experiencing hearing loss, please contact us at Pure Sound Hearing for a complimentary hearing test and consultation.
The invention of the ear trumpet during the 17th century and today’s digital hearing aids are just some of the historical breakthroughs in hearing.
It’s incredible how we’ve gone from simple using our hands as a natural sound harnesser to programmable hearing devices that come in all shapes, sizes, styles, and colors.
Hearing Aid Devices
Hearing aids are programmable medical devices that were designed to treat people with certain ranges of hearing loss. As long as they can benefit a person with hearing loss, they are usually the primary solution for anyone with hearing loss.
Natural hearing cannot be restored with hearing aids, but they can amplify certain frequencies so that the user can feel as though they’ve regained some of the hearing that they’ve lost.
Hearing loss can happen at any age. Some people are born with it, others come in contact with loud noises that impact their hearing, autoimmune diseases or other ailments can cause hearing loss, or simply an aging body can gradually lead to hearing loss. One in eight people in the U.S. who are at least 12-years-old experience bilateral hearing loss. Celebrities like Halle Berry and Jodie Foster wear hearing aids.
Hearing loss that goes untreated can create more problems in your daily life. Simple interactions with coworkers, healthcare providers, and even friends and family can become challenging. You may prefer to isolate yourself from these situations, which can lead to depression.
It may be surprising that among adults who are at least 70 years of age and could benefit from wearing hearing aids, less than 30% use them.
The Invention of the First Man-Made Hearing Aid
There were many varieties of hearing aids before today’s digital hearing aids became widely used. Today, hearing aid technology is changing at a rapid pace with more conveniences and features than ever before.
The very first hearing aid creation was the ‘ear trumpet’. This was a tubular mechanism that was designed to siphon sounds into the ear. These funnels were made out of animal horns, snail shells, wood, silver, or sheet metal.
Their usage can be traced back to the 17th century. A French priest and mathematician named Jean Leurechon first referenced the ear trumpet in the Recreations mathématiques in 1634.
The conical ear trumpets were also customized by instrument specialists. Just like today, hearing instrument specialists can customize the fit and programming for each person’s individual listening needs for the best results.
The Inventor of the First Hearing Aid
The ear trumpet, though impressive for its time, turned out not to be as useful as originally thought. It simply amplified all sounds. Better technology was created.
In 1889 the Akouphone was invented by Miller Rees Hutchinson. It was the first hearing aid that utilized a carbon transmitter. The carbon transmitter had an electric current that could change a weak signal into a stronger signal.
It featured an individual microphone, amplifier, headphones, and battery (which did not last long). The device was bulky and challenging to use. It was also very expensive, so few people used the Akouphone.
Among the wealthy, it was considered a success. The American press called it a “miracle”. Queen Alexandra of Denmark was thrilled with the results that Hutchinson was invited to attend her husband’s coronation.
19th Century Hearing Aid History
The potential business from hearing aids received more attention from manufacturing companies that specialize in mass production, and engineers who wanted to make more advancements with the device. This is what led to the variety of hearing aid products that are currently available.
Just like many inventions, it took trials and errors to improve the devices. Technology is always quickly changing and there are always improvements that need to be made with current hearing aids.
What is Vacuum Tube Technology?
The first vacuum-tube technology was patented in 1920, by Naval engineer Earl Hanson. It was known as the Vactuphone. This invention utilized the telephone transmitter to translate speech into electrical signals, then amplified via a receiver. This became a huge hit, and vacuum tube hearing aids were marketed in the U.S. in 1923.
Just like today’s technology, smaller versions of these devices became available throughout the 1930s. They were sold as wearables starting in 1936, and became popular across the country.
During this period, the amplifier and batteries were donned on your neck and the microphone was held by hand. The size of it was equivalent to your range of hearing loss. As a result, conversations mimicked a news reporter.
Transistor Hearing Aid
Transistors played a crucial role in the evolution of hearing aids. They were introduced in 1948, replacing vacuum tubes due to their better performance. Less battery power was utilized, there were fewer distortions and heat compared to vacuum tubes, and they were more discreet.
Manufacturers were thrilled about the benefits of transistors, but sufficient testing was not implemented on the transistor hearing aids. Due to their carelessness, the devices stopped working within weeks of a customer’s purchase. Moisture in the hearing aids interrupted the transistor and it would stop functioning.
This ushered in the invention of a protective layer and silicon transistor to repel sweat.
Microprocessor and Compression Hearing Aids
In 1970 the microprocessor was invented. It sped up the process of making hearing aids smaller and modernized. A researcher named Edgar Villchur built upon this invention by improving hearing for its users.
He made advancements by making an analog multi-channel amplitude compression device that let audio signals separate into frequency bands. They had the ability to finely-tune analog sound in a non-linear manner. This is how specific sounds could be lowered and other sounds could be made louder.
High-Speed Processors and Minicomputers
During the 1970s, high-speed digital-array processors were starting to be used with minicomputers. In 1982, digital, real-time array processing hearing aids were created at the City University of New York. It was used as part of a research tool to study digital signal processing.
Even though this was a major advancement, like many devices that were made up to this point it was big and heavy. Inside was a minicomputer, a digital-array processor, an FM transmitter, and a receiver.
The 1980s established the creation of digital chips that were used for high-speed digital signal processing. These enabled fast processing but were pretty hefty and drained too much power, so it wouldn’t be practical to wear them as hearing aids.
As more advancements were later made, these inconveniences became more manageable with the help of A. Maynard Engebretson, Robert E. Morley Jr., and Gerald R. Popelka, Ph. D. from the Central Institute for the Deaf (CID).
The First Complete Pair of Digital Hearing Aids
In 1987, the Nicolet Corporation introduced the first commercial digital hearing aid on the market, without much commercial achievement. Even though it seemed like a bit of a failure companies saw that it was possible to market, and improvements could be made.
It became a race to create functional hearing aids that could be marketed to a wider audience of people with hearing loss. There were quicker developments and leading hearing aid companies presented different combinations of instruments that used analog amplifiers, filters, and inhibitors that were digitally controlled.
Hearing Aids of the 21st Century
Hearing aid technology and usage has advanced greatly in modern times, thanks to the work and technology that has been refined. Bluetooth®-connected devices and rechargeable batteries make hearing aids more convenient for today’s users.
In addition to hearing aids, devices like Personal Sound Amplification Products (PSAPs) give people with hearing loss a way to hear their surroundings. They can control background noise by using ambient sound, isolation, and suppression. These devices help enhance your environmental sounds (whether it’s an office setting, class setting, or somewhere else), but should not be used as a replacement for hearing aids if you have moderate to severe hearing loss. These provide two different benefits and should be used when paired together, rather than working on their own.
If you or a loved one are experiencing difficulties with hearing, get in touch with us at Pure Sound Hearing for a complimentary hearing test and consultation.
March 13 through April 15 marks National Deaf History Month. It celebrates the achievements of people who are deaf and hard of hearing. The reason why this observance spans from the middle of March to the middle of April is because there were three major shifts in deaf education history (dating from the early 1800s) that took place.
On March 13, 1988, Dr. I. King Jordan was elected as the first deaf president of Gallaudet University after the Deaf President Now movement strongly advocated for a deaf president. Dr. Jordan was seen as a symbol of “self-determination and empowerment” for all members of the deaf and hard of hearing community.
On April 8, 1964, Gallaudet University - the first institution in the world that advanced education for the deaf and hard of hearing - was officially founded. President Abraham Lincoln signed a document for Gallaudet University in Washington. He formally declared that the university would be the first school that advanced the educations of the Deaf and hard of hearing in the world.
On April 15, 1817, the first public school - which today is known as the American School for the Deaf - became accessible in America. Over 100 years later, on March 13, 1988, Gallaudet hired its first deaf president after the student-run Deaf President Now movement took place.
In 1997, the National Association of the Deaf (NAD) officially introduced National Deaf History Month. In 1996, the association had proposed that the week become a full month. In 2006, the American Library Association joined the NAD to promote awareness of this observance.
Against the ongoing advocacy efforts, so far, the U.S. Congress has not federally recognized this holiday.
We can still celebrate and recognize National Deaf History Month. Here are five shining examples of activism, education, and perseverance, even through the hardships that included their disability.
Shirley Jeanne Allen, EdD
She is the first Black deaf woman in America to earn a doctoral degree. Allen was born in Nacogdoches, Texas in 1941. After contracting typhoid fever when she was 20-years-old, she became deaf. At that time, she was studying music at Jarvis Christian College and resumed playing piano for audiences, even with her hearing loss.
She graduated from Gallaudet University in 1966 and Howard University in 1972. She later earned a doctorate in education from the University of Rochester in 1992. She was a professor at Rochester Institute of Technology for 28 years and retired in 2001.
Allen was honored and featured in several editions of Who’s Who of Professional Women, received a lifetime achievement award from Who’s Who in America, and was placed in the Jarvis Christian College’s Pioneer Hall of Fame.
Robert R. Davila, PhD
He is a Mexican-American who grew up in California. He became deaf after contracting spinal meningitis at the age of 8. His mother sent him to the California School for the Deaf in Berkley, California. She wanted to make sure that he received equal access to education. Davila learned American Sign Language (ASL) at the school, along with other essential skills.
In 1972, he later received a bachelor’s and master’s degree in education and earned his Ph.D. in educational technology from Syracuse University.
Davila became an influential advocate for disability rights. He was also the assistant secretary for the Office of Special Education and Rehabilitative Services under President George H.W. Bush. He eventually led several organizations that were devoted to supporting the deaf and hard of hearing community, which included serving as president of Gallaudet University until 2009.
Juliette Gordon Low
She was born in 1860 and was the founder of America’s Girl Scouts in 1912. After several ear injuries during her childhood, she experienced severe hearing loss.
Low was a very adventurous person and was inspired by her own passions for the arts, athletics, animals, and nature to create a worldwide movement that has enabled girls to develop leadership skills and self-confidence.
With her first troop of 18 girls, she took a stand against racism, sexism, ableism, and other biases that helped bring together young women who came from different backgrounds. In 1927, Low passed away from breast cancer and received a number of posthumous honors. These included the founding of the Juliette Low World Friendship Fund, which provides financial support for international travel and service work for Girl Scouts and Girl Guides across the globe.
Eugene Hairston (A.K.A. “Silent Hairston”)
He was the first deaf African American boxer. He became deaf after contracting spinal meningitis as a child.
Hairston was born in Harlem, New York in 1929. He attended schools for deaf children until he was 15 years old. He was forced to drop out in order to earn money for his family. After working many different jobs, he decided to become a professional boxer and attended a New York fighting club.
He was initially overlooked by the trainers because of his hearing loss until they saw how talented he was in the boxing ring. He shortly went pro, won 45 fights, and defeated two world champions before he turned 22. In 1952, doctors advised him to quit boxing because they were concerned that he would go blind due to the repeated punches to his head. He retired, lived a full life, and died in 2014 at the age of 85.
She was born in 1927 and was the first deaf actress featured on American network television. In the 1960s and 1970s, Norton was acting in major sitcoms on ABC, NBC, and CBS.
In 1967, she was a founding member of the National Theatre of the Deaf, which was the first production company that regularly featured performances in American Sign Language (ASL). The theatre toured in the U.S. and Europe, and on Broadway. Norton was a disability rights advocate and appealed to the Screen Actors Guild after she and her husband Kenneth North, who is also deaf, were not cast in roles because a director was worried about working with actors who had hearing loss.
Norton graduated from Gallaudet University and California State University at Hayward. She taught psychology, English, and media at Ohlone College. In 2012, she was the recipient of an honorary doctorate from Gallaudet. She passed away in 2015 at the age of 88.
Academy Award-winning actor, Marlee Matlin, had relentlessly worked to get the Americans with Disabilities Act signed into legislation - which passed on July 26, 1990.
She has been the only hearing-impaired recipient of the award and has since used her platform to raise awareness on accessibility, diversity, and inclusion.
Matlin’s parents discovered she had hearing loss when she was just 18 months old. To her parents’ credit, they treated her just like her hearing brothers and sent her to the same schools in their neighborhood. She emphasized that her parents treated her with respect, which can be difficult for any parent who has a child with challenges.
Starting at age seven, she went from the lead role of Dorothy in the Wizard of Oz at the International Center of Deafness and the Arts to winning a Golden Globe and an Oscar for her role in Children of a Lesser God at age 21. She currently stars in the movie CODA (Child of Deaf Adults), which can be viewed through Apple TV.
If you, or a loved one, are in need of a hearing test and consultation for hearing aids, please contact us at Pure Sound Hearing.
We’re kicking off Tinnitus Awareness Week, which is recognized during the first full week of February. This year, it spans from February 7th to the 13th.
The purpose of this week is to inform the public about what the symptoms of tinnitus sound like and how it impacts people on a day-to-day basis. Tinnitus is the perception of noise when there is no environmental or physical source of the sound. It may manifest as a buzzing, chirping, clicking, hissing, humming, ringing, or roaring noise in the ear. About 15 to 20 percent of people experience it. It isn’t an actual condition, but it is a symptom of an underlying illness. Some of it may be caused by age, hearing loss, an injury to the ear, or a circulatory system disorder.
A Brief History Lesson on Tinnitus
Ancient Egyptians called it the bewitched ear or humming in the ear. Treatments were used with the hope of a cure. Infusions of frankincense, herbs, oil, soil, or tree sap were applied to the outer ear by using the stalk of a reed. Egyptian art, known as “ear stelae”, portrayed each ear with images of devout worshipers. They would pray to gods and ask for their symptoms to be cured.
4th Century B.C.E.
Early Greco-Romans were the first to consider treating tinnitus as a symptom, and not as a condition in and of itself. Based on how the tinnitus started, different treatments would be implemented. If it was caused by a cold, the ear would be cleaned out and they’d hold their breath for as long as they could. If it started from the head, exercise, rubbing, and gargling was recommended as a remedy. Aristotle and Hippocrates utilized masking, which suppressed the noises from their tinnitus by listening to something else.
Other experimental methods were used during the Middle Ages. Different liquids were drained into the ear of those who were afflicted. They would also toss dampened pieces of wood onto a fire so that the crackling noises from the blaze would cover up the tinnitus until they fell asleep. Another method was ear candling. This is when liquified wax from a burning candle is drained into the ear, and once solidified is pulled out of the ear canal to draw out wax and debris. This is method is not recommended by any hearing healthcare professionals.
The French physician Jean Marie Gaspard Itard, made progress in studies on tinnitus during the 19th century. Itard linked tinnitus to hearing loss and gave detailed descriptions of early reports on objective and subjective tinnitus. He made attempts at creating methods for masking the noise with little results but eventually, new improvements on tinnitus research became available. Even though tinnitus has become more manageable with treatments like meditation, vitamin intake, tinnitus noise-masking apps, and hearing aids with tinnitus masking programs, there is still more research that is needed to better understand it.
If you, or a loved one, are experiencing tinnitus or hearing loss, please get in touch with one of our hearing aid providers for a complimentary consultation.
Our country has a rich history, and some of this history includes hearing-related facts. Here’s a list of hearing facts about each state.
American author, lecturer, and political activist, Helen Keller, was born in Tuscumbia, Alabama. She was the first deaf-blind person who earned a Bachelor of Arts degree. One of her very first words was water. It was spelled by Keller’s instructor, Anne Sullivan, with a finger. Sullivan spelled “water” while Keller’s hand was placed below a flowing faucet of water to help her associate the word with the object.
Alaska has a program for deaf navigators. It has several resources and services for Alaskans who are Deaf and Hard of Hearing to advance long-term employment and housing opportunities within the state.
Arizona-born professional swimmer, Marcus Titus, experiences hearing loss. He placed eighth in the Olympic trials and broke many world records as a deaf person.
Bill Clinton, our 42nd President of the U.S., was born in Hope, Arkansas. He was diagnosed with high-frequency hearing loss in 1997 after attending political rallies, listening to loud rock music, and blasts from hunting rifles. This is a good lesson and reminder to wear earplugs or earmuffs when you engage in loud activities.
Actor and native of Santa Monica, Robert Redford, has permanent hearing loss due to an ear infection. Redford has been open about his hearing loss experience.
The quietest town in the U.S. is reportedly Crestone, Colorado. They have a population of 150. It would make a nice and quiet vacation spot.
The American School for the Deaf was the very first school for the Deaf. It was established in 1817. It was founded by Dr. Mason Cogswell, Laurent Clerc, and Thomas Hopkins Gallaudet. Clerc and Gallaudet later organized Gallaudet University in 1864. Their work influenced changes, improvements, and advancements in education for students with hearing loss.
Delaware Governor, Jack Markell, passed two laws in regards to hearing aid screenings for infants in 2012. The laws are meant to educate families about hearing loss. Families can learn if their child has a hearing loss shortly after they are born.
The soda brand, 7UP, and Martin Garrix, a Dutch DJ, teamed up in Miami, Florida to host a concert for individuals with hearing loss. During the performance, motion and vibrations were utilized to create a sensory experience for audience members who can’t clearly hear the music.
Heather Whitestone, was the first Deaf Miss America. She currently lives in Saint Simons Island, Georgia. She received her first hearing device, a cochlear implant, at age 29 after she lost her sense of hearing when she was 18-months old. She is now a writer and public speaker.
Hawaii was the leading state in hearing healthcare benefits in 2012, which included coverage for hearing aids. The state will also cover your hearing aids and their replacements every 60 months.
The only organization in the state of Idaho that helps those with hearing loss and protects their civil rights is Idaho’s Association for the Deaf. They also host the Miss Deaf Idaho and Miss Deaf Idaho Teen pageants each year.
Ronald Reagan, who was born in Tampico, Illinois, was the first U.S. president to wear hearing aids. He even got a public fitting to reduce the stigma of wearing hearing aids.
Tamika Catchings, a retired professional basketball player who played for Indiana Fever, was born with hearing loss. She is best known for the first-ever quintuple-double, was voted as the WNBA’s Top 15 Players of All Time, and has the most All-Star appearances.
In 1881, Iowa’s Association of the Deaf was founded. This was just one year after the National Association of the Deaf was established.
A gene therapy method to restore hearing by regrowing hair cells located in the inner ear has begun at Kansas State University. This would help the millions of people who have noise-induced hearing loss (NIHL).
In 1823, the Kentucky School for the Deaf became the first state-supported school for deaf students in the U.S. During the first few years, the administrators at the school believed they might be able to educate all deaf people in the southern and western regions of the U.S. Shortly after they were established, new schools for the deaf were created to accommodate the vast number of deaf students.
Louisiana works to make sure the deaf and hearing-impaired members of their communities are granted access to everything they need. There are accessibility services like hearing aids, interpreters, education, and more which are provided by the Louisiana Commission for the Deaf.
The Deaf Film Festival is the only annual festival in the world that features new films and contemporary videos. They were created by and for deaf communities.
This is the state where most stenographers also produce Real-Time captioning and CART (Communication Access Realtime Translation). CART is a speech-to-text interpreting service for the deaf or hard of hearing.
Caption Center, the first caption agency in the U.S., was established in 1972 at the Boston public television station WGBH. They captioned the first broadcast of Julia Child’s The French Chef. Captions are currently used across the globe, thanks to Julia Child.
A non-profit organization in Detroit known as D-PAN develops good quality American Sign Language (ASL) music videos and translates lyrics via ASL. D-PAN has translated John Mayer’s Waiting on the World to Change, Fort Minor’s Where’d You Go?, and Christina Aguilera’s Beautiful.
How does the state of Minnesota currently help millions of people around the world hear better? The world’s leading hearing aid manufacturers, Starkey and ReSound, each have a headquarter in this state. Starkey, established in 1967, is located in Eden Prairie. ReSound, established in 1943, is located in Bloomington.
The most common type of chronic illness in Mississippi is heart disease. Heart disease can lead to hearing loss. Experiencing poor cardiovascular health may contribute to low blood flow in the cochlea. This can lead to problems with hearing. Take care of your overall health, Mississippians, so that you can lower your risks of hearing loss.
The De’VIA art movement was organized by Kansas City, MS native Chuck Baird. This is an aesthetic of d/Deaf Culture. Baird was a student at the Kansas City School for the Deaf.
Montana is known for having the lowest number of audiologists for every 100,000 residents. They are tied with California.
Nebraska has the second-highest number of audiologists for every 100,000 residents. (Colorado is #1)
In 2016, Las Vegas, NV hosted Miss and Mister Deaf International. This is a non-profit organization that helps to “empower, enhance, and support today’s continually growing community of Deaf” people.
29. New Hampshire
New Hampshire native, Laura Bridgman, was the first deaf-blind American child who received a serious education. This was 50 years before Helen Keller. She went to school at the Perkins Institution for the Blind.
30. New Jersey
Out of all 50 states, New Jersey has the lowest d/Deaf/hearing population. It is also home to Joshua McGriff, basketball star and deaf Olympian.
31. New Mexico
The United States Deaf Federation (USDF) is headquartered in Santa Fe, New Mexico. They manage the U.S. in the global Deaflympics, which the U.S. has participated in for more than 70 years.
32. New York
Rochester, New York is where one of the largest deaf communities in America is located. This is where the National Institute for the Deaf, along with the Rochester School for the Deaf attract students to Rochester. This city hosts the Deaf Festival, the only Deaf Rotary Club, and other organizations that are dedicated to helping those with hearing loss.
33. North Carolina
American singer-songwriter, musician, record producer, poet, and Jacksonville, North Carolina native, Ryan Adams, is known for his solo career. He released fifteen albums and was a band member of Whiskeytown - an alternative country band. In 2009, Adams was diagnosed with Ménière's disease, which led to his hearing loss. The disease did not stop him from continuing to travel around the globe and play music.
34. North Dakota
Deaf American actress, and North Dakota native, Phyllis Frelich, was awarded Best Actress of 1980 for her Broadway performance in “Children of a Lesser God.” It was also named Best Play of 1980. Fact: Frelich’s parents and nine siblings are also deaf.
In 1880, the National Association of the Deaf (NAD) was established in Cincinnati, OH. This is a non-profit organization for Deaf rights that currently has a headquarter in Silver Spring, Maryland. This is the country’s top civil rights organization for the deaf.
Oklahoma City is where the most recent chapter of the National Black Deaf Advocates is held. Claudia Gordon, the first black deaf female attorney to work in the White House, was the Vice President of the National Black Deaf Advocates. This organization was established in 1982 and works to represent the black deaf community in this country.
Aurora, Oregon is where William Fouts House, inventor of the cochlear implant, passed away in 2012. The implant was never patented by House because he did not want to restrict others who were researching the device.
Elena LaQuatra was crowned as Miss Pennsylvania USA in 2016. She is a news reporter, model, and advocate for those with hearing loss. She lost her hearing at age four from bacterial meningitis.
39. Rhode Island
One of the first five-day Pre-Kindergarten - 12 grade is the Rhode Island School for the Deaf (SDSD) that was founded in the U.S. It was also the last deaf school that was founded in the 1800s.
40. South Carolina
Roger Demosthenes O’Kelly was born the same year as Helen Keller (1880). In 1912, he was the second person who received a law degree from Yale University. O’Kelly, like Keller, was also deaf and blind. He spent the rest of his life in South Carolina and passed away there at the age of 82.
41. South Dakota
In 1880, the South Dakota School for the Deaf (SDSD) was established. Their purpose was to educate children who had hearing loss. While providing great education and hearing healthcare services, SDSD is a useful resource that helps families of the deaf and hard of hearing.
Songs for Sound is a charity in Nashville that helps those with hearing loss find the healthcare that they need. They raise awareness on hearing health, aid in providing free hearing tests and services, encourage people to get help for their hearing loss, and advocate for healthy hearing.
In 1994, the first audiology program began at Baylor University in Waco, TX.
In 1910, Nathaniel Baldwin developed the first pair of audio headphones and sold them to the US Navy, after creating the headphones from his kitchen in Utah.
Vermont native, James Denison, was the only deaf delegate (out of 164 hearing delegates) who attended an oral deaf education conference in Milan in 1880. The National Association for the Deaf was founded in the U.S. after Denison attended the conference.
CenturyLink Field, where the NFL’s Seattle Seahawks play, has been reported as the loudest football stadium in the world. The stadium’s architect, Paul Greisemer, stated that the stadium is so loud because of the roof, the closed space, and the materials that were used to build it. If you go to this stadium or any stadium, it’s important to wear earplugs to protect your hearing.
47. Washington D.C.
Abraham Lincoln helped to establish Gallaudet University - a school for the d/Deaf and hard of hearing, making it an official collegiate institution. Today, all current U.S. presidents personally sign each diploma for the graduates.
48. West Virginia
West Virginia has the highest percentage of the deaf/hearing-impaired population in the U.S.
William Hoy, who was the first Deaf major league baseball player, began his career in baseball in Oshkosh. He is known for hitting the second grand slam in history in 1901 and initiated the use of baseball hand signals that are still used to this day.
American inventor, Thomas Edison, lost his hearing at a young age after catching scarlet fever. While in Wyoming, he and a team of scientists, identified the filament that made a lightbulb last for more than 1,200 hours by studying threads from a bamboo fishing pole as they fished on Battle Lake.
If you, or a loved one, live in Lancaster, PA, and need a hearing test and hearing aids, contact us at Pure Sound Hearing for a free hearing test and consultation. We have offices located in Elizabethtown, Lititz, Mt. Joy, and Strasburg.
Throughout history, there have been different forms of hearing instruments or devices that were used to amplify sounds. From the first hearing aid that was created in 1902 to today’s digital hearing aids, each of these devices was provided and fitted by hearing instrument specialists and audiologists. Manufacturers have produced master hearing aids. These referred to “machines that allowed dealers to select and try out different amplified responses”.
Hearing Aids from the 1920s
Hearing aids that were created in the 1920s utilized parts that were also found in telephones with batteries, which boosted the signal to amplify sounds. Boosters/amplifiers, microphones and receivers were all connected through cords, and the devices were worn on the body. Each element had different resonant frequencies and through assembling an appropriate combination, it was possible to establish an additive frequency response. Back then, companies typically only manufactured one model, so a large number of components were unnecessary. The leading hearing aid featured all of the main parts, and the dealer tested out various combinations on patients until they settled on something that worked.
Hearing Aids from the 1930s and Beyond
During the late 1930s, manufacturers made hearing aids by using vacuum tube technology that was developed for radios. This replaced the previous carbon telephone assemblies. The hearing aid devices continued to be worn on the body, with parts that were linked by cords. The amplification that these devices provided significantly improved. When vacuum tube-based, master hearing aids were produced, the process of testing out a variety of parts and components until the patient could hear their best was implemented. The hearing aid provider was able to order a hearing aid from the manufacturer with the same combination of components that the user preferred, but there wasn’t always a perfect correspondence of parts. This type of fitting, which could be viewed as a “substitution method” was used until transistor hearing aids became available.
In 1937, approximately 50,000 hearing aids were used in the U.S. In the late 1940s there were more than 100 large and small businesses that made hearing aids. Annual sales of hearing aids grew to more than 220,000 units by 1948.
Ear-level hearing aids and transistors appeared in the early 1950s. Transistorized master hearing aids were developed. The previous substitution method was no longer practiced. It was replaced by asking patients to listen to speech tests, as the hearing aid provider shifted between a variety of amplified responses at the different gain and output settings that were provided by the master hearing aid. Test results were used to choose a hearing aid from the provider’s inventory that matched up with the needs of each patient.
Computerized fitting software that is used today, is a modern version of the original master hearing aid. It’s a direct relative of the three computer-based systems that developed in the 1980s. When Starkey Hearing Technologies transformed the world of hearing aids by making custom hearing devices more popular, the performance of each hearing aid was chosen by proprietary computerized fitting algorithms that were established in the company.
Probe-tube microphone instruments were soon introduced, which used automated, computer-facilitated measurements and verified the fit by using prescriptive formulas. Hearing aids that could be programmed began making its way through the marketplace around the same time. Hearing instrument specialists who used computer-based programming devices were required to choose and manipulate the frequency-gain responses that were pre-installed within the hearing aids.
Even though the fittings that are used with master hearing aids have significantly evolved, one thing has stayed the same. A hearing aid fitter is still going to ask how it sounds and make sure that it is properly fitted. This shows how difficult it is to create an objective norm for an adequate hearing aid fitting, even with modern advances in fitting protocols.
If you, or a loved one, are in need of hearing aids, please get in touch with one of our hearing instrument specialists at Pure Sound Hearing Aids for a complimentary hearing test and consultation. We offer a variety of standard and customized hearing aids for your hearing needs.
William Austin has been helping people hear for over 50 years. In order to formally recognize the work of Starkey Hearing Technologies, in 1984 he officially established Starkey Hearing Foundation.
“Alone we can’t do much. Together we can change the world.” - William Austin
Starkey Provides the Following:
Influential people, including Buzz Aldrin, Céline Dion, Elton John, Marlee Matlin, Steve Martin, President Ronald Reagan, Mother Theresa, Paul Simon, and many more have publicly supported Starkey Hearing Foundation.
If you are experiencing hearing loss, please contact us at Pure Sound Hearing Aids for a free hearing test and hearing aid trial. We offer Starkey’s Halo, Halo 2, Livio and Muse iQ.
Hearing loss can affect anyone of any age, race, or gender.
In honor of Women's History Month, here is a list of well-known women who had, or have, hearing loss and were able to live with it and manage it.
Juliette Gordon Low
The founder of Girl Scouts of America, Juliette Gordon Low, suffered from hearing loss throughout her adult life. When she was 29 years old, a grain of rice was thrown at her wedding, which caused a puncture in her eardrum. This resulted in her becoming deaf in one of her ears. She never allowed her hearing loss to deter her life. In 1912, she established the Girl Scouts organization.
Low encouraged girls with disabilities to be involved in society. She started offering opportunities to others like her and gave young girls more fulfillment in their lives.
American actor, comedian, author, and TV personality, Whoopi Goldberg has suffered from hearing loss over the years. She has shared the fact that she wears hearing aids, and pinpointed the cause of her hearing loss to listening to loud music.
After experiencing hearing loss first-hand, she became an advocate for Starkey Hearing Foundation, which provides free hearing aid devices to children across the globe. Goldberg shared her past experiences and encouraged others to be careful of overusing music listening devices.
In a 1985 interview with broadcast journalist Barbara Walters, American singer, actor, and filmmaker, Barbra Streisand revealed that she has suffered from tinnitus since she was 9-years-old. As a child, she would wrap scarves around her head in order to block the noise. She stated that she felt different and isolated from other kids. She lived with this secret for several years, until she got help from a medical professional.
Her successful career, as someone who suffers from tinnitus, is a great example of not allowing a hearing problem discourage her.
Halle Berry, one of the most famous actresses today, is partially deaf with 80% of hearing loss in one ear due to domestic violence.
She has devoted her time to speak out against domestic violence and supporting victims of abuse. Berry not only lives with hearing loss but uses her status to promote effective change.
These historic and modern women have been able to show everyone that it is possible to live with and well beyond hearing loss.
If you, or a loved one, suffer from hearing loss, please contact us for a free hearing test and consultation. We offer a variety of hearing aid devices for a wide range of hearing loss!
American Presidents and Hearing Aid Usage
When hearing aids first became available to the public, not many people wanted to publicize their hearing loss.
Even though there's still a stigma for those with hearing loss, wearing hearing aids has become normalized and supported by professionals and loved ones.
Many American presidents since Ronald Reagan have worn hearing aids in public. They wanted to expand their visibility and confront negative stereotypes about those who have hearing loss. Having a respected public figure who wears hearing aids can encourage others to get treated for their own hearing loss.
Hearing loss has affected American presidents since the country was established. Here's a list of ten presidents who are known to have hearing loss.
Our first president encountered sonorous sounds from the war prior to taking office. Records from the end of George Washington's life frequently indicated that he struggled to follow along in conversations.
Thomas Jefferson was fully aware that he had difficulty hearing and frequently wrote about it. He was most likely over-exposed to the sounds of hunting rifles. In 1819, he wrote that his hearing "is distinct in particular conversation, but confused when several voices crossed each other, which unfits me for the society of the table." This situation is known as the Cocktail Party Effect and has been studied by hearing aid designers for years.
Modern hearing aids filter out background noise from busy rooms by separating the sounds that come from the direction of your attention.
Following his final term in office, Theodore Roosevelt received surgery after his eardrum ruptured. When the abscess was extracted, Roosevelt lost hearing in his left ear.
Herbert Hoover suffered from age-related hearing loss. He was fitted with a pair of hearing aids. His hearing loss and cognitive abilities made it difficult for others to understand him as he aged. He openly used hearing aids, which encouraged others to get their hearing checked.
Even though Ronald Reagan served in the military, he lost some of his hearing from a blank that was shot from a gun. The blank fired off too close to him, and he lost hearing in one ear. At his inauguration in 1983, he became the first U.S. president to wear hearing aids in office. This helped push both sales and research.
After playing the saxophone for years, and due to his age, Bill Clinton experienced noise-induced hearing loss. He wears nearly invisible, in-the-canal hearing aids. To this day, he encourages hearing aid usage and focuses on the importance of getting a hearing test.
Richard Nixon, Gerald Ford, Jimmy Carter, and George H.W. Bush
These four presidents did not wear hearing aids while they were president, but were fitted for hearing aid devices after finishing their term. They were all fitted shortly after their hearing loss began, which allowed them to stop further loss. As a result, they were able to promote their charities and policy-related efforts.
In 1990, George H.W. Bush signed the Americans with Disabilities Act. This significant piece of legislation helped prevent workplace discrimination for those with hearing loss and other disabilities.
There were other prominent Americans with hearing loss, and those who made contributions for individuals with hearing loss.
She escaped slavery and contributed to the abolitionist and women's rights movements. At the end of her life, it was reported that she was almost completely deaf by the time she passed away.
In 1894, a bill was signed into law by Abraham Lincoln which permitted the development of a school for the deaf and hard of hearing. Today, it is known as Gallaudet University.
Grace Anna Goodhue Coolidge
The former First Lady and wife of Calvin Coolidge was a teacher at the Clarke Institute for the Deaf in Massachusetts. She used her experience from working with disabled children to advocate the need for quality education and employment for those with hearing loss.
She is the first deaf African American female attorney in the U.S. After her career as a lawyer who fought discrimination after experiencing prejudice in Jamaica, her home country, she acquired her current job at the Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs. She saw firsthand how people with mental or physical disabilities were abused by others and the state. She currently works to fight for the rights of those with disabilities.
Protect Your Hearing Health
Hearing aids have been used by prominent figures throughout history. These well-known individuals helped so many others who are suffering from hearing loss. It allows them to be honest about their condition and seek help from a professional.
Modern hearing aids are discreet and offer several features, such as Bluetooth® streaming, or tracking your brain and body health, in addition to helping you hear better. If you have concerns about your hearing, or believe a loved one may have hearing loss, please contact us at Pure Sound Hearing Aids for a free hearing test and consultation.
Some of the original hearing aid devices included a person using their own hand in a “cupped” position behind their ear. This provided those who were hard of hearing between 7 and 17 dB - meaning it was only helpful for those who had slight-to-mild hearing impairment. Additional rudimentary hearing devices that had been used were an animal’s horns or shell.
Alexander the Great used an animal horn to call and gather huntsmen or soldiers in surrounding areas.
Near the beginning of the 18th century, a speaking trumpet was used to communicate between sea vessels. Specific, historical accounts about the shift from using natural instruments to amplify noise from the speaker and amplifying sounds to the listener continue to be unknown. It could be attributed to innovative individuals who were deaf, or hard of hearing. Researchers believe it’s likely that deaf people who lived during ancient times and in the Middle Ages considered putting a horn’s mouthpiece or even a bugle to their ear in order to amplify sounds.
Hearing Devices from the 17th Century to the 19th Century
There have been written accounts of mechanical hearing instruments from the 1600s. Sir Francis Bacon, an English philosopher, essayist and scientist from the late Renaissance era, recounted a device that helped with hearing and compared the instrument to “ear spectacles”. A description that was published in the Geometria in 1640, Pietro Maria Amiani described a hearing aid device and included mathematical details and utilizing an ear trumpet to help with hearing.
Some people who used these hearing instruments included English painter, Sir Joshua Reynolds, English author Harriet Martineau, and composer and pianist Ludwig van Beethoven.
By the early 19th century, mechanical hearing devices became available for the wider population. In London, companies such as F.C. Rein (founded in 1800) and Thomas Hawksley (founded in 1869) were some of the first known commercial manufacturers of hearing devices. Each of these manufacturers developed a wide range of hearing devices including auricles, conversation tubes, domes, ear cornets and trumpets.
The Acoustic Chair
British aurist and oculist John Harrison Curtis, designed a unique mechanical hearing device known as the Acoustic Chair. Curtis had previously organized the Royal Dispensary for Diseases of the Ear in 1816. It was the first hospital that was committed to treating ear diseases.
The Acoustic Chair is essentially an armchair that features a large trumpet on one side that transfers sound to the ear of the person sitting in the chair. Curtis explained that the individual who sits in the chair would be able to clearly hear, while sitting comfortably.
Concealing Early Hearing Devices
Hearing aids have evolved greatly since these rudimentary styles. More discreet hearing aids have become more popular in commercially available devices. For some of the earliest hearing devices, some trumpets or domes featured lace, leather, or ribbons in order to mask their purpose.
One type of trumpet could be partly hidden with the user’s hand. Illustrations were provided to show how to hold the devices in an inconspicuous way.
Many of the innovative mechanical hearing aids that were created in the 19th century were produced with the intention of hiding or disguising them. Some of these devices were designed to be concealed in a user’s beard, pocket, hat, or hair (using a headband). They were also veiled as other items such as binoculars, books, flower vases, handbags, hand held fans, opera glasses, plate holders, umbrellas, and water canteens.
Unfortunately, the hearing devices that were designed mainly for its discreetness were only useful for those who had very mild hearing loss. For example, F.C. Rein’s Aurolese Phone from 1802, looked like a floral designed headband, but could only amplify sounds up to 5 to 10 dB. This is similar to the amount of sound that is amplified from cupping your hand to your ear. The London Dome ear trumpet from 1850, was bulky, cumbersome, and large. There was no way to disguise or hide the device, but it provided an amplification of 10-27 dB for the frequency range that is necessary for speech comprehension. At the time, most people with hearing loss wanted, and were willing to pay for, discreet devices even if it did not provide a lot of benefits to their hearing.
In the 20th century, technological advancements helped create hearing aids that could supply the user with powerful acoustic gain and high quality sound processing. Hearing aid users to this day continue the desire for a hearing aid that is not only discreet and beneficial to them, but is also aesthetically pleasing.
If you, or a loved one, believe you are in need of hearing aids, please contact us at Pure Sound Hearing Aids for a free hearing screening and consultation. We offer a wide selection of hearing aids from top name brands!
Woodstock Attendees still Affected by Concert
It’s been 50 years since Woodstock, and concert attendees are still living with the consequences of listening to loud rock and roll music for hours and hours at a time.
According to a Harris Poll that was authorized by Oticon, a hearing aid manufacturing company, 47 percent of adults between the ages of 65 to 80, who said that they listened to loud or very loud music in their teens and 20s, reported that they have experienced hearing loss. For this generation of music lovers, 71 percent stated that music was one of the most significant things to them during their youth.
For some, the music that they listened to during that time is denying them the freedom to listen and enjoy music today. In an online survey conducted this past June, over 1,000 American adults acknowledged:
The survey also showed that the Woodstock Generation suffers from hearing loss in other aspects of daily life, unrelated to music. This includes:
A Lack of Care for Hearing Health
There are 48 million individuals who suffer from hearing loss, but only 4 million people buy hearing aids each year.
Even though they have hearing loss, most members of the Woodstock Generation haven’t done anything to take care of it. About 70 percent have never talked to a professional about their hearing health. Approximately one in 10 (or 12 percent) currently wear hearing aid devices, or have in the past.
If you, or a loved one, suffer from hearing loss due to attending concerts or any other reason, please contact us at Pure Sound Hearing Aids for a free hearing test and consultation from one of our hearing instrument specialists. We offer a wide selection of hearing aids at discount prices!
The month of May was designated as Better Hearing and Speech Month in 1927, by the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA). Their primary objective was to increase awareness of adversities faced by those with hearing and speech problems, while advocating for them to become active in seeking treatment for their own disabilities.
This goal is important now, just as it was 92 years ago. Today we have more knowledge on hearing loss, and how vital hearing health is to our quality of life.
We now know that hearing loss that goes untreated is connected to cognitive decline and dementia. Loss of hearing is also related to a risk of falls and social isolation, which can result in a rise in medical expenses, mental fatigue, etc.
We also know that treating hearing loss will make individuals more likely to feel confident, engaged with others, socially active, and glad that they took action and did something to treat this problem.
Stop suffering from hearing loss, and get treatment today!
Contact us at Pure Sound Hearing Aids for a free hearing test and consultation on the best options that are available for you, or a loved one.
Small, behind-the-ear, hearing aid devices, and cochlear implants are just a couple of hearing aids that are made today. But have you ever wondered what types of hearing aids were readily available, before devices powered by electricity were created?
Throughout history, hearing aids were separated into two categories: mechanical and electronic. Mechanical hearing aids did not use outside power sources, but ordinary items were used to help people hear. Some of these items were animal horns that had been hollowed out, or a broken seashell that would have been placed by the ear to amplify surrounding noises. It could have been a big fig leaf rolled up like a tube, or the span of a cane that intensified sounds into the ear.
The Akoulallion (derived from the Greek terms “to hear” and “to speak”) was introduced in the 20th century. It was an electronic hearing aid that were also portable, and powered by batteries. This device operated with a carbon microphone and could be connected to three pairs of earphones at the same time. From that point on, hearing aids have utilized microprocessors, integrated circuits, transistors, vacuum tubes, and an assortment of digital technology to support the surrounding acoustics in order to comprehend speech.
The Very First Hearing Aids
The first hearing aids that we are aware of was not electronic or mechanical, but made with the human hands. Our ears are formed in a way that helps us acquire surround sounds. In some instances, our ears need a little help from a cupped hand in order to amplify sounds.
Hadrian, a Roman Emperor, cupped his hand while listening. Sir Joshua Reynold, an English portrait painter from the 18th-century, painted a self-portrait of himself with a cupped hand. He had allegedly become partially deaf after having a severe cold. The inventor Thomas Edison, along with sociologist and writer Harriet Martineau, also resorted to using a cupped hand to improve their hearing.
You may use a cupped hand as a visual indication that someone needs to speak louder, but are there really advantages to using a cupped hand? In two studies, human hands were used, while in three studies mannequins with synthetic hands were used. They showed the same pattern, but not the same degree. There are two areas that have powerful acoustic gain: 1-3 kHz and 5-8 kHz. The gain in these areas echo reverberations of a hollow sound that is shaped by the “pinna plus cupped-hand”. The degree of acoustic gain, in today’s terms, would be analogous to listeners who have hearing loss ranging from slight to mild.
There are two advantages to comprehending speech with your hand curved behind your ear: It efficiently increases the amount of collection surface for the ear and weakens sound from the rear of the listener. The measure of improvement in signal to noise ratio (SNR) is relevant because it can guide researchers in understanding words, depending on certain speech materials (i.e. unusual words compared to simple foreseeable sentences).
A cupped hand can support acoustic gain and enhance speech comprehension in real environments, for instance, when noise and speech are spatially separated. Speech comprehension doesn’t have added benefits that are improved from a speaker who increases their volume when reacting to the cupped hand.
Do you frequently cup your hands behind your ears? Maybe it’s time for a hearing test. Contact us at Pure Sound Hearing Aids, for a free hearing test and consultation. We offer affordable hearing aids for people of all ages!
Hearing aids, and their design, have evolved greatly since their introduction to the world over 120 years ago. Small and sleek hearing aid devices have made modern life easier to navigate.
The invention of ear trumpets and conversation tubes
Just like how cupping your hand behind your ear can enhance surrounding sounds to your ear, a long, cup-shaped funnel can improve sounds even better. It looks as though this may have been a muse for the creation of the ear trumpets and conversation tubes. These are non-electronic devices that aided people with hearing since the mid-18th century.
Ear trumpets did not actually intensify sounds. Instead, surrounding noises were gathered and tuned directly into the ear canal. As silly as they looked, users were able to increase their hearing abilities. Here is why:
The first electrical hearing aids were carbon hearing aids. These devices used carbon fragments that were filled into a cylinder. They created a grainy sound that only helped those who had mild to moderate hearing loss. The component of the device that went over the ears resembled a headset, with wires that attached a large battery and microphone to the user - who would carry or fasten it to their clothes.
Carbon batteries were used for vacuum tube hearing aids. Smaller sized vacuum tubes (1 ½” - 1 ¾” long) improved the sound produced by the carbon hearing aids. The tubes created the possibility for the hearing aid to fit right inside a shirt pocket.
In the early 1950s, the transistor hearing aids were unveiled after Bell Labs created the transistor in 1948. It was a single, smaller battery that reduced the size of the hearing aid and extended the battery life.
Ear-level hearing aids
After the integrated circuit was invented, hearing aid manufacturers discovered methods to scale down the procedure even more. Microchips were a stepping stone in the creation of ear-level hearing aids -- aids that could fit behind the ear in a discreet manner. Microphones that are positioned at ear-level assists in hearing natural sounds and, for the first time ever, wearers can wear two hearing aid devices to attain bilateral hearing that is amplified.
Battery life became twice as long as before when zinc-air batteries were marketed in the late 1970s. Zinc-air batteries are currently standard in the hearing aid industry. It replaced the silver oxide and mercury batteries.
Hearing aid design underwent the most dramatic shifts in the last 60 years. It now has smaller, yet dynamic, circuitry available in comfortable and efficient models, which are also discreet.
3 Types of Hearing Aids
The first BTE hearing aid was introduced in 1956. Today they are much smaller than the first models, but still have some resemblance of them. The elements for the amplifier, battery, microphone, and receiver are stored in a crescent-shaped section that fits comfortably behind the ear. The device is attached to the earmold through tubing, which fits in the ear canal.
Receiver-in-the-ear (RITE) or Receiver-in-the-canal (RIC)
Hearing aids are small enough to fit inside your ear canal. Today’s technology allows hearing aid designers to make them even smaller and more powerful in their hearing capabilities. RITE/RIC hearing aids were first designed in 1983. This original version protruded from the ear, but today’s hearing aids are so small that they are practically unnoticeable by those who are standing right next to you.
Completely-in-the-Canal (CIC) and Invisible-in-the-Canal (IIC)
The CIC and IIC hearing aids are custom-made accessories, which were first available in 1993. Each of these custom-made hearing aids is constructed from ear molds of each individual wearer’s ear canal, so that they fit comfortably and provide the best hearing experience. The small size and position in the ear canal make them nearly undetectable by others, which is why it is so popular among wearers.
What is the best hearing aid design?
Modern hearing aids are available in a variety of colors, shapes, and sizes. They feature as many different characteristics as the users who wear them. Based on how serious your hearing loss is, your daily situations that require listening, and your budget, the best hearing aid design is one that has been chosen specifically for you by your hearing healthcare professional. You and your hearing healthcare provider can discuss which manufacturer and model works best for you.
Contact one of our hearing instrument specialists at Pure Sound Hearing Aids for a free hearing consultation, and discuss which hearing aid options are the best for you!
Hearing loss does not discriminate. Anyone can be subject to hearing loss, no matter the race, economic background, age, gender, or any other factors. However, just as anyone can develop hearing loss, people can also create positive changes for those experiencing it.
February is Black History Month, so we are celebrating three outstanding African Americans who have made honorable contributions to better hearing. The following people have contributed tremendous developments in the field of hearing healthcare, such as creating educational opportunities for individuals with hearing loss, advocating hearing protection for workers, and creating technology for hearing aids.
James E. West
With more than 350 patents, James E. West is a prolific inventor who has made a huge impact on the world. He created the Electret Microphone, revolutionizing the hearing aid industry. West and a colleague, developed the foil electret microphone which is a tiny, inexpensive, and highly sensitive microphone perfect for hearing aids. This key innovation was created while they were working for the Acoustics Research Department at Bell Laboratories. It is still used today in almost all devices with microphones, such as audio recording devices, video recorders, baby monitors, and cell phones.
Andrew Foster was an educator for the deaf and hard of hearing. He lost his hearing from spinal meningitis as a child. He is a groundbreaking figure, despite the loss of his hearing. Earning his bachelor’s degree from Gallaudet College (now Gallaudet University) and being the first to do so, Foster made it his life’s mission to make sure an education was available to the hearing impaired and deaf. Foster founded 32 schools for the deaf and hard of hearing in Africa across 13 countries. He was dubbed the “Father of Deaf Education in Africa.”
Dr. Derek Dunn
Dr. Derek Dunn, who earned his doctorate in speech and hearing, was an advocate for preventing hearing loss at work. Dr. Dunn was a leader in this sector of hearing healthcare. He served as the Acting Associate Director for Science at the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) and a captain in the U.S. Public Health Service. With dedication to the field of hearing health, Dunn completed a postdoctoral fellowship in cochlear morphology and electron microscopy. His personal slogan was, “What have you done for the worker today?”
These three individuals have made monumental contributions to the field of hearing healthcare. Rightly deserving their place in history, their contributions extend far beyond their own careers. They also mentored other minorities in their specific fields for the sake of future developments in education, technology, and science.
If you, or a loved one, need a hearing test and consultation for hearing aids contact us at Pure Sound Hearing Aids.
The Starkey Hearing Foundation gives the gift of hearing so that the world may hear. Their hearing mission is phenomenal. They’ve help in so many ways, and there are a multitude of stories to tell.
The hearing aid manufacturer Starkey believes that “Life is made up of sharing ideas, dreams and goals. It’s imperative for hearing.” The founder goes on to say, “Giving one person the gift of hearing may seem like a small act of kindness, but it has a compounding effect on the future of our world.”
Starkey has provided more than 30 years of giving. They bring the gift of hearing to those who live in a silent world. Their core philosophy is that hearing is a vehicle to reflect caring to improve the lives of individuals, their families, and communities.
Their story starts with William F. Austin, founder of the Starkey Hearing Foundation. He wanted to help people hear and change the world. Having started the Starkey Hearing foundation in 1984, Austin says, “Alone we can’t do much. Together we can change the world.” This statement is his premise for the mission. He began the Foundation’s reach in Minnesota, then across the United States to around the world. He accomplished this with the help of thousands of volunteers and supporters. His purpose is to give the gift of hearing to those in need, empowering them to achieve their potential.
Starkey Hearing Foundation pledged a promise in 2010 to give one million hearing aids this decade. They have given the gift of hearing in more than 100 countries. They change lives through hearing.
Their initiatives include preventing hearing loss through their Listen Carefully campaign, which helps low-income Americans get the hearing aids needed. For instance, their Hear Now program gives new life to hearing aids through their recycling program.
Starkey’s Hearing Foundation blog has touched the lives of millions around the world with the stories they have to tell.
If you have hearing loss, please contact your hearing instrument specialist at Pure Sound Hearing Aids.
The Army Service Forces have long been active in rehabilitation of soldiers with aural handicaps since April 1943. Currently, the rehabilitation is being done at three different centers-- Borden General Hospital, Hoff General Hospital, And Deshon General Hospital. Each center has been in operation for more than a year and has a program combining fitting of hearing aids, psychological guidance, lip-reading instruction, speech correction, and auricular (or acoustic) training.
The three centers are accountable for developing and improving their procedures and are given the responsibility of providing each patient with maximum aural rehabilitation. The responsibility has called for pioneering, so each center has evolved different procedures from the other. Each center is engaged in extending and fine-tuning its services.
If you are a soldier needing more information on hearing aids, please contact your hearing instrument specialist at Pure Sound Hearing Aids for more details.
To amplify sound, imagine putting a horn in your ear or even hauling around clunky batteries for your hearing aids. Well, those options were once the only ones for hearing better. But hearing aids have gone through dramatic transformations over the last century. Features, size, and battery power are stunningly revolutionary, now versus then. Now, wearers have many options, including devices that are hardly noticeable to virtually invisible.
Bigger does not mean better for hearing aids
In the pre-19th century, as early as the 13th century, people used cumbersome ear trumpets to channel sound waves to the eardrum. Made in a variety of sizes and shapes, they consisted of various materials, such as wood, animal horns, snail shells, silver, and sheet metal. Then, in the late 1800s, Miller Hutchison invented the Akoulallion, the first electric hearing aid. However, it was so big that it had to be placed on a table. The device decreased to the size of a briefcase over the next several years, becoming portable. Next, Louis Weber developed the first Siemens device in 1911 to improve hearing. This device was called the Esha-Phonophor (middle photo). It was much smaller than Hutchinson’s invention and easier for people on the move to carry. Then, in 1938, the first wearable hearing aid was invented, with hearing aids only becoming smaller. Finally, from the 2000s to now, hearing aids have become so small that they either fit behind the ear or are custom-made and nearly invisible in the ear.
Disappearing problems with batteries
In the 1800s through the 1900s, hearing aids and their batteries were quite sizable. Even Hutchinson’s Akoulallion battery, which was re-designed, still required a big, six-volt storage battery. Weber’s Esha-Phonophor battery, much smaller, could fit in a purse. However, with the introduction of the transistor in the 1950s, a much smaller battery could be used but had to be affixed to the body. Then, in the 1970s, the hearing aid industry latched onto zinc batteries for wearable hearing aids. Small and powerful, they are still used and have a good battery life. In the 2000s to the present, zinc air batteries, thankfully without the mercury, remain in the industry as the most common of batteries. Their sizes vary, depending upon the hearing aid type.
Even better, rechargeable batteries exist. Nickel metal hydride batteries were the first rechargeable hearing aid batteries, but they paled in comparison to the lithium battery. Lithium ion technology has revolutionized the industry.
Hearing clarity improves and features are revolutionized
In the pre-19th century, ear horns were designed to capture more sound. You would stick the narrow end into your ear to funnel the sound to the eardrum. The features were not extensive, but they did come in numerous styles and sizes. In the 1800s through the 1900s, Hutchinson’s Akoulallion was inspired by the creation of the telephone and used a carbon transmitter known for its portability. An electric current heightened the sound. Contrastingly, the Esha-Phonophor, invented by Weber, was called a “sound catcher with two microphones.” Tones could be amplified without interference. It was also smaller and less noticeable. However, hearing aids could be placed right behind the ears with the invention of the transistor in the 1950s, and they could also be turned on and off. Sound quality and size became much better but hearing aids still didn’t have the features wearers truly wanted.
However, in 1987, good things happened. The first commercial digital hearing aid became available and offered more exciting features. This new innovation created a race among hearing aid manufacturers to outdo each other.
In the present, companies strive to enhance convenience and comfort. Hearing aids vary, depending upon the severity of hearing loss. Different lifestyle needs are also highly considered in the manufacturing process of hearing aids. The range of variability includes wireless connectivity, directional microphones, rechargeability, and speech clarity--just to name a few changes.
Improvements to hearing clarity have been achieved by subduing background noise, echoing, and wind interference. Furthermore, connectivity to smartphone apps and the creation of wearable accessories have made hearing aids even better and more enjoyable. So, we have come a long, long way in the improvement process, and it is only more exciting to see where we will go in the future. To learn more about hearing aid innovations, please contact one of our hearing aid instrument specialists at Pure Sound Hearing.
1954: Phonophor Epsilon
Lighter than a tennis ball, as small as a matchbox.
Shortly after the first pocket hearing aids were introduced, Siemens added a new model to its product range; one that was even smaller and only weighed about one-fourth as much. The Phonophor Epsilon weighed only about 50 grams (less than two ounces), including the batteries, and was the size of a matchbox. This was made possible by a discovery just a short time before that has gone on to become a fixture of our everyday lives — transistor technology. Along with reducing the size and weight of hearing aids, the shift from sub-miniature tubes to transistors brought many other advantages. These new developments helped push the Epsilon, which was designed especially for moderate hearing loss, into becoming the top-selling Siemens hearing aid in Germany and abroad within a short time.
Phonophor Epsilon, 1959
Sub-miniature tubes represented an important step towards ever-smaller hearing aids. But few years would go by before they were replaced by a revolutionary new technology: the transistor. Development began on the transistor in the 1920s by many different researchers, most of them working independently. Transistors were ready for series production in 1954. Used as amplifiers, transistors offered advantages similar to those of sub-miniature tubes, while outperforming them in many respects.
Siemens developed the Phonophor Epsilon, a fully transistor-based hearing aid distinct from others of its kind, starting with outward appearance. The Epsilon was much smaller than devices that used sub-miniature tubes. Its light weight was immediately apparent when held — it was lighter than a tennis ball and weighed noticeably less than earlier hearing aids. This leap was made possible primarily because of transistors’ low power needs. Older hearing aids had to devote about half their size to a battery, but the Phonophor Epsilon managed with just a button cell. Transistors not only made the Phonophor Epsilon compact and energy-efficient they also further enhanced sound quality, especially in the upper frequency range.
A newly-developed microphone contributed to this. Unlike older crystal microphones, the new model from Siemens was also based on a transistor, one that absorbed sound and converted it electromagnetically. The transistors brought with them a practically unlimited lifespan. They were impact-resistant and they did not have any cathodes that could age, or filaments that could burn out. The Epsilon even stood up to extreme temperature fluctuations — from high temperatures in the summer to bitter cold in the winter — better than older pocket hearing aids. For areas with especially hot climates, Siemens developed an even more rugged version, the Phonophor Epsilon Tropic, which delivered the same excellent performance at temperatures of up to 50 degrees Celsius (122 degrees Fahrenheit).
The power of electrons – right in your vest pocket.
Better performance with lower use of power, less noise, and no distortion at high frequencies. As early as the 1920s, great strides were made in amplifier technology, and the many advantages electron tubes had over conventional electrical sound amplification became clear. Even with these advances, the engineers of the time had not yet invented a way to manufacture small, portable tubes that could be used for hearing aids. It was not until World War II and the postwar period that sub-miniature tubes were developed, allowing for lightweight, compact hearing aids that encapsulated the benefits of the new technology in a form small enough to fit in a vest pocket. Siemens made this giant leap in hearing aid technology with the Fortiphon and Phonophor Alpha pocket hearing aids.
Electric hearing aids based on telephone technology began to reach their limits, especially when greater amplification was needed. High frequencies are hugely important for voice transmission, but they presented particular limits for the existing technology. Higher amplification was especially an issue when conventional carbon microphones were used — voices sounded louder, but they were distorted. The combination of sub-miniature tubes and crystal microphones solved this problem while also making it possible to build smaller and more powerful hearing aids. In the late 1940s, Siemens was the distributor for the Fortiphon, a pocket hearing aid based on this technology. The company then developed the similarly designed but even more powerful Phonophor Alpha.
Before World War II, a company named Fortiphone was responsible for selling Siemens hearing aids in the UK. Starting in 1949, the roles were reversed for a short time. With Siemens selling the Fortiphon — a pocket hearing aid with sub-miniature tubes and a crystal microphone — on the German market. The sub-miniature tubes developed in the U.S. and in England were not yet available in postwar Germany. Not long afterward, in 1951, Siemens launched its own first hearing aid of this type: the Phonophor Alpha.
Both hearing aids benefited from the advantages of the new technology. The three powerful electron tubes used as amplifiers were each about half the length of a wooden matchstick. Equipped with a crystal microphone, these devices delivered significantly clearer sound quality. This was especially apparent at high frequencies, which are key to faithful reproduction of consonants and whole syllables. The Phonophor Alpha had more than 250 parts, but still weighed in at just 175 grams (a little over six ounces) including batteries, and it was almost as small as a pack of cigarettes. Dubbed “pocket hearing aids,” the Alpha and the similarly compact Fortiphon slipped easily into a vest pocket and could even be worn under clothing.
Another factor that helped make these hearing aids more discreet was their skin-tone earpieces, which were connected to the unit via a cord in the same color. Various sizes of earphones were available. If the wearer’s ear canal varied greatly from the average form, an impression could be taken in order to produce a custom-fitted earpiece. The Phonophor Alpha was also specifically designed to be easy to use. A tiny dial was used to turn the device on and off and adjust the volume, and a flat slider on the side of the housing could be used to adjust the two frequency responses to the desired tone.
Siemens expanded hearing aid production after the huge success of the first Phonophor models. The aids were produced at Berlin’s Wernerwerk plant. New speaker and microphone technology made the new instruments easier to use and sound better. The new Phonophor was also smaller and lighter. Demand increased beyond Germany and several thousand units were being sold annually in the U.S. alone.
“You don’t have to suffer from hearing problems anymore! Try our Phonophor electric hearing aid, approved for years by many hearing loss patients. Now with an earphone that has been significantly improved after extensive testing and research.”
In 1924, an optional microphone amplifier was launched for those with especially severe hearing impairments. Starting in 1928, the metal microphone casing was replaced with a new type of plastic, called Bakelite, that reduced the weight. Siemens hearing aid consultants of the time had many of the same responsibilities as today's hearing aid providers. They helped consumers choose the right model, get used to hearing well again, and explained how to use it.
Werner von Siemens built a telephone which dramatically improved voice quality in 1878. This telephone demonstrated that people with hearing loss could understand speech much better if signals were electrically amplified.
In 1911, Louis Weber used this improvement as the basis to design the first Siemens hearing device. It was named the the Esha-Phonophor. This product was made for a single person, but demand grew quickly, leading to full production in 1913.
The "Esha", as it came to be known, had several variations. One version included a special option for ladies, with the microphone and battery housed in a purse.
This marks the beginning of Siemens hearing aids long and successful history. Siemens hearing products have become the gold standard in the industry.
Pure Sound Hearing Aids is an Advanced Partner with Siemens Hearing Aids. We offer every level of technology (no more purse option though) and service them all. If you would like to try the latest version, please contact us today.