Taking the necessary precautions during the Covid-19 Pandemic

On the 5th of May 2020 Audiology professional bodies including AHIPP, BAA, BSA and BSHAA released joint clinical guidance for Audiology practitioners to update all members on how to practice safely during the Covid-19 Pandemic. The guidance has been collated with input from the infection control society and ENT UK. At Otec Hearing we have now put in place a Covid-19 PPE policy to take all the necessary precautions set out by our professional bodies. These include…

·      Fluid-resistant facemasks for the Audiologist

·      Surgical facemasks for patients

·      Disinfecting clinics between appointments

·      Handwashing between appointments

·      Single-use gloves

·      Sterile single-use testing equipment

·      70% alcohol hand sanitiser

We are committed to setting our high standards even higher to ensure our clients’ needs are met and are treated in the safest way/environment possible. To find out more information or to read the joint clinical guidance please visit BSHAA

What does Ear Wax Do?

It’s no secret, we all have ear wax. It’s a perfectly normal substance that’s created by our body and it’s always going to be around. What many don’t understand, however, is the purpose of ear wax, and how important its role actually is.

Ear wax assists in the removal of unwanted debris from the ear. Naturally, throughout our lives, the ear canal will fill with unwanted dirt and hair and the ear wax’s job is to dispose of this. Generally speaking, wax does a great job at this, and you’ll never really notice it whilst it’s at work. Unwanted debris in the ear canal will be taken care of automatically and can be encouraged by little things such as movement from the bottom jaw.

Ear wax also makes for a fantastic protective barrier for the eardrum, which is an extremely important and sensitive part of the human body. Damaging the eardrum can lead to sensorineural hearing loss, which is often not surgically treatable. In short, it’s important to keep our eardrums safe, and ear wax helps us to do this.

On top of all of this, ear wax contains antibacterial properties, which help keep the ear clean and protect it from infection.

We wouldn’t go as far as to say it’s a man’s best friend though. Ear wax is amazing in moderation, but sometimes it can build up excessively – to a point where it’s causing what’s known as an ‘impaction’.

When an impaction happens, you may find that the ear becomes irritated and uncomfortable. It may also be harder to hear and understand people in social situations. When this happens, excess ear wax needs to be removed. A method recommended by professionals is ‘Microsuction’; the removal of excess wax from the ear canal.

Otec Hearing offer Microsuction ear wax removal in the Lincoln & Huddersfield areas. For more information, head over to our Microsuction page, or give us a call on 01522 305400.

Ear Wax Removal at Home

Whether we like it or not, ear wax is part of our body, and it’s something that we all have to deal with. Having wax inside the ear is completely normal, and usually, you’ll never even notice that it’s there. However, occasionally you may find that the wax in your ear may be built up to a point where it’s uncomfortable and sometimes even painful. This can easily end up disrupting your daily life, distracting you, and making simple tasks much harder.

There are several treatments for ear wax removal, which can be done by a professional, either at a clinic or in the comfort of your own home. Whilst this is fantastic, there are some home remedies that you can try, that may help to deal with the discomfort of excess ear wax.

Before we go on to some of the solutions, we have to make it clear that it is not recommended to put objects into your ear in an attempt to remove excess wax. A common misconception is using cotton swabs to clean your ears. This can lead to harming the ear, with the potential to cause irreversible damage. Although it can be tempting, we highly recommend avoiding this.

One of the recommended methods would be to pour a couple of drops of olive oil periodically throughout the day over a few days to see if it makes a positive difference. Olive oil can soften ear wax built up in the ear canal, encouraging it to fall out. It’s a relatively cheap method of removing wax from the ears, and it is a reliable solution for many.

Some with built-up ear wax may also benefit from using water within a syringe to soften and remove wax. Warm water is known to have a similar effect to olive oil, which may soften the wax in the ear canal which helps it to be removed. Irrigation sets can be bought for your own home which includes all the necessary tools to try this. Whilst it is a cheaper alternative to other methods of wax removal, it’s not our top recommendation.

Whilst irrigation has been a relatively popular choice in the past, there are now concerns with the pressure from the water of a syringe when fired into the ear canal, which may damage the ear. There are now other methods of ear wax removal that have been introduced, which are comfortable, quick, and successful.

One method recommended is Microsuction, which is the removal of wax from the ear canal using a suction probe. Microsuction ear wax removal is often described as comfortable and painless and is the recommended method of clearing excess wax by many professionals.

To find out more about Microsuction Ear Wax Removal, visit our Ear Wax Removal page, or give us a call on 01522 305400.

Hearing Aid Maintenance

Looking after your Hearing Aids after having them fitted is extremely important, as keeping your hearing aid in good working order will minimize the potential problems you may have in the future. There are some simple things you can implement into your life to minimise the potential for any cropping up at some point.

Although it sounds pretty straight-forward, it needs to be mentioned. Hearing aids are not waterproof so make sure you do not shower or carry out any water sports with any hearing aids in. This tip is fairly obvious but understand that a hearing aid can very quickly become something you forget about when you’re using it throughout the day. We recommend you be cautious when just starting with a hearing aid and remember to take them out when necessary. It’s also advisable not to leave your aids in the bathroom, as any condensation can damage the electricals in the aids.

Using a drying kit for your hearing aids is a good way to keep them free from moisture. Custom-made aids usually cause the most condensation as they are fitted to the contour of your ear. Using a special drying kit will keep the aids in good working order.

It’s not just water that can harm a hearing aid, however. Body care products such as hairspray can block the microphone ports, so it’s advisable to remove your hearing aids before using any products such as this. When not in use, it’s also recommended that hearing aids are put in a carrying case to prevent any potential damage from happening to them.

At Otec Hearing as part of your lifetime aftercare, we offer a routine 6 monthly service call appointment. This is to protect your hearing aids from dirt or greasy hands, which is important, as the small microphone ports can become blocked through them being mishandled.

Private Hearing Aids vs NHS Hearing Aids

When it comes to hearing care and choosing a hearing aid, an individual usually has a choice between going through the NHS or a private practitioner. There are some benefits and drawbacks to both options, which could be useful to know when deciding on going with one or another.

With an NHS aid, you are very limited in choice as to the style of the aid that you will be provided. Typically, you’ll be fitted with a ‘Behind the Ear’ with an ear mould or a thin plastic tube. Whilst this type of aid will do the job, they do tend to be lower-priced, with quite a basic technology level. This can result in a user having difficulty understanding speech clarity. There are clear benefits to this, however, as hearing care with the NHS is a more affordable option than going private in many instances.

In contrast, privately supplied aids often offer a much wider range of advanced technology and include the most invisible, discreet models to suit the individual wearer. A person has much more variety and choice when choosing a private hearing aid, and with so many options in 2020, there is no denying how beneficial it is for an individual to fully explore the different types of aids available. They can then take the recommendation from a professional on which model is best suited for their budget and lifestyle.

So, at the end of the day, there isn’t one choice right for everyone. The decision does come down to the individual and their needs and requirements. At Otec Hearing, we offer free lifetime aftercare as part of your solution. Our lifetime aftercare programme enables us to ensure you’re getting the optimum benefit from your hearing solution. As your hearing changes, we have the scientific knowledge and experience to fine-tune your hearing aid to give you the best possible listening experience. The technology levels we have available also means we have hearing aids to suit any type of hearing loss with a budget to suit everybody’s needs and lifestyle.

With a free hearing test where we come to you, it’s always worth seeking what a professional has to say and weighing up both options before committing to one or the other.

Top 5 UK Industries Developing Hearing Problems

Many of the working class don’t think about their health, especially their hearing when thinking about their job. There are, however, some clear links to certain health problems and job occupations, some of which may surprise you.

According to the Office of National Statistics, it was estimated that 260,472 people in the UK suffered from some type of Hearing Problem in 2017. It’s very alarming how little people know about the risks associated with their job, and the complications it can have on their health later down the line.

5.) Someone working within skilled trades may be at higher risk of having troubles with their hearing, some studies suggest. Taking all main occupations into account, it is estimated that Skilled Trades make up for 10.28% of the total number of workers within the UK suffering from hearing difficulties. Those working in construction, including bricklayers, joiners, and welders, are prone to persistent and loud noises from machines and equipment within the workplace. This can result in sensorineural hearing loss, having the potential to cause hearing problems later in life.

4.) The next occupation most likely to develop a hearing problem is those within the Educational industry. According to a recent NEU survey, 74% of school support staff in the UK confirmed that they work additional uncontracted hours. These added pressures are known to lead to stress and anxiety, which both are known to have a profound impact on one’s hearing. For this reason, added pressures within this field are bound to correlate with why it is fourth on this list.

3.) Managers and Senior officials are job occupations that are linked with hearing problems. Similarly, to those working in the educational industry, the added stress in the workplace can take its toll on one’s hearing over a prolonged period. Although this may not be due to working extra hours, a reason for this may be the added responsibilities that are intrinsic to their job role. It is estimated that 14.23% of UK workers with hearing difficulties link back to this industry.

2.) From our findings, those within the Associate, Professional and Technical industry are estimated to make up for 15.42% of all UK workers suffering from some type of hearing problem. Engineers and technicians are known to work within a loud environment with loud machinery consistently in use throughout the working day. Although ear protection is recommended when working on machines, prolonged exposure to loud noises throughout the day is bound to have consequences for those working within this field.

1.) The industry affected the most is one that many would not initially suspect. Those within professional occupations are estimated to make up for 16.62% of all workers in the UK suffering from hearing issues. Although this is surprising, there is a valid explanation as to why this is so high. Job roles in this category include doctors and lawyers. Working within this type of environment is often intense and puts high amounts of pressure on those workers, due to the high stakes involved within their day-to-day roles. With stress and anxiety corresponding with hearing problems, especially long-term, it makes a lot of sense as to why this was the industry ranking at number one in terms of workers with hearing issues.

Hearing loss is one of the world’s most common health problems and unfortunately it is also one of the most ignored problems too. This is very unfortunate as hearing loss and its psychological effects are highly treatable. Hearing tests are often free and come with worthwhile advice on looking after your ears. It’s highly recommended to book in for a consultation with an Audiologist such as Otec Hearing if you have any concerns on your hearing.

What Happens During a Hearing Test?

Hearing tests are something that many people will have at some point during their lives. If you’re someone who has never had a hearing test, we hope this article can be useful in telling you what to expect if you do need to attend one later down the line.

A hearing test is carried out by a qualified Audiologist. The purpose of a hearing test is to gain a clear concise picture of your hearing health. The results can indicate what type of hearing loss you may have, it can show us the severity of the loss across a range of frequencies and what type of hearing aid may be suitable for your hearing loss. At Otec Hearing, our expert hearing aid dispensers will take their time in understanding your lifestyle, needs for a hearing aid and any personal challenges you may have.

A thorough medical history is also discussed to determine any health effects on your hearing. Once this has been completed a medical device called an Audiometer will be used to carry out the hearing test. The test is carried out by the Audiologist who will ask you to wear some calibrated headphones. This is known as air conduction – the sounds you can hear via headphones. Once you have the headphones on you will hear a range of different beeps and buzzes at different frequencies. The Audiologist will ask you to respond to the quietest sounds you can hear by pressing a response button.

Testing is also carried out with a headband called a bone conductor; the bone conductor is placed on the back bony area of the ear. The patient again responds to the quietest sounds with the response button.
Air conduction and bone conduction results and plotted on a graph called an Audiogram. The Audiologist will discuss the hearing test results with you and inform you of the severity of your hearing loss. If you have a free hearing test at Otec Hearing, our experts will then offer you certain hearing aid solutions and discuss which one may be the best to suit your lifestyle and needs. If there is a hearing loss present the Audiologist will offer a demonstration to show you the difference in rediscovering your hearing. At this point, you also have the option to start your free hearing aid trial on the day so you can experience your hearing ability with the equipment in various environments.

Preventing Hearing Loss

Hearing loss affects 1 in 6 people, this is almost over 10 million people in the UK who suffer. Hearing loss cannot always be avoidable as it is part of the gradual ageing process. There are some steps you can take to avoid damage to your hearing system no matter how old you are.

Firstly, it is best to avoid situations where there are excessive background noises, you can make a judgement on how loud peripheral noises are if you are having to raise your voice in order to be heard. Other red flags are if you struggle to hear the person next to you or if you experience pain in your ears. Prolonged noise exposure in these environments can cause permanent damage to your hearing. To keep your ears healthy, it is recommended you minimise your time in areas with high noise pollution.

It is quite common for an individual to have their headphone or earphone volume higher than it is recommended. But what effect does this have? Using headphones or earphones excessively at high volumes can cause hearing impairment. It is advisable to have the volume level at no more than 65% of the maximum volume. Headphones with noise-cancelling technology are the better choice to use as this will prevent you from having to turn up your overall volume in order to block out surrounding sounds.

If you work in a particularly noisy environment it is the duty of your employer to make changes to your working conditions to reduce as much noise pollution as possible. This can be done by changing the job/machinery you work on. Make sure you are not exposed to loud noises for prolonged periods. Your employer must provide you with hearing protection if it’s required.

We hope this article has been helpful, if you still have any questions regarding preventing hearing loss, feel free to get in touch with us by emailing us or giving us a call on 01522 305400.

Learn more about the Invisible in the canal (IIC) Hearing Aid

There are many hearing aids to choose from, but it’s important you select one to suit your individual needs, should you ever need one. Today, we are going to be covering the ‘Invisible in the canal’ (IIC) hearing aid and go through both its positives and negatives.

IIC hearing aids are the smallest and most discreet hearing aid on the market. They are manufactured by taking ear impressions so that they fit entirely into your ear canal. This is what gives them the name ‘invisible’, as they are completely hidden. Because of their size, IIC hearing aids power with a size 10 battery – the smallest hearing aid battery.

There are both advantages and disadvantages to this type of aid. One of the first main advantages of this hearing aid is the fact that it is virtually invisible, this is important to people who may not want people to see that they use a hearing aid. IIC hearing aids are also known for their ease of use when using a telephone, which makes them very practical. On top of this, the position of the microphone within the hearing aid is very good.

Phonak Virto B-Titanium Invisible Hearing Aids

Featured IIC Hearing Aid:

The Phonak Virto B-Titanium is a prime example of an Invisible in the canal hearing aid. The size and shape of the aid mean that the device will rest inside of the ear, earning it the phrase of ‘invisible’. The B-Titanium has two different models, get in touch with us for more information on this particular hearing aid.

However, there are some downsides to using this particular type of hearing aid. One of its main disadvantages is its battery size. As IICs are so small, they can only last around 3-5 days, which is not a long time in comparison to other hearing aids that we at Otec offer. Another downside to their size is that they are not suitable for those who suffer from manual dexterity issues. IIC aids are also not the greatest in situations with lots of background noise, which is not ideal for a user when they’re in public places. On top of this, IIC hearing aids have been known to be more susceptible to failure as a result of moisture and wax in the ear canal, which blocks the microphones.

Despite some of its problems, an IIC hearing aid can still be a strong choice depending on the users preferences and lifestyle. Are you unsure if this particular hearing aid could be the right choice for you? At Otec Hearing, we ensure that if you require a hearing aid, you are given one that suits your individual needs. Get in contact with us for more information on hearing aids by calling us on 01522 305400.

Types & Causes of Hearing Loss

Hearing loss is a common problem and affects the ability partially or totally for an individual to hear. It can affect any age group from children to adults.

There are two types of hearing loss, these can be identified as conductive hearing loss and sensorineural hearing loss. A conductive hearing loss usually occurs when there is a blockage or a defect in the middle ear, this can be caused by excessive ear wax build-up, damaged eardrums, middle ear infections, fluid behind the eardrum, and the rigidity of the 3 ossicular bones in the middle ear. Conductive hearing losses are usually treated by a physician or ENT consultant and often have a high success rate. Hearing aids can be very successful if the hearing loss is unable to be treated medically.

A sensorineural hearing loss occurs when there is damage to the inner hair cells in the Cochlea, this causes impairment to the transmission of sound to the brain resulting in hearing loss. The main cause of this hearing loss is the natural aging process. Noise exposure can also damage the inner hair cells, genetic factors can also affect sensorineural loss. There is no medication or surgery available to regenerate the inner hair cells and the only treatment for this type of hearing loss is a hearing instrument. At Otec Hearing, we provide hearing tests and can recommend the correct hearing aid to suit your needs should you need one.

Hearing loss can be caused by many different factors, some of which we have no control over, this includes ear infections, excessive ear wax build-up or head injuries. However, factors such as excessive noise exposure may cause hearing loss, which is something that we can control.

So, in conclusion, hearing loss is something that happens to us all, and in some instances, we can’t do a whole lot about it. However, where we can, we should ensure that we protect and take care of our ears as they are extremely precious. For more information on hearing loss, feel free to get in contact with us by dropping an email, or giving us a call on 01522 305400.