High-Frequency Hearing Loss – What You Need to Know

Studies have shown that high-frequency hearing loss is more common in teenagers than it was 20 years ago (an increase of 4%). This may not come as a surprise to some, as the growth of personal listening devices has contributed to the problem.

Causes of High-Frequency Hearing Loss

The most common cause of high-frequency loss is lengthened exposure to loud noise. This generally includes noise level over 85 decibels – such as lawn mowers, large sound systems, personal listening devices (iPods), chainsaws, and more.

If one was to prevent noise-induced high-frequency hearing loss they’d need to A) avoid situations where loud noise is present; or B) restrict the length of their exposure to loud noise.

Here’s an informative chart from Galen Carol audio which illustrates the OSHA daily permissible noise level exposure.

Other causes of high-frequency hearing loss can include:

  • Diabetes
  • Genetics
  • Aging
  • Infections and diseases
  • Otitis media (middle ear inflammation)

Symptoms of High-Frequency Hearing Loss

Bad cases of high-frequency hearing loss can start at a frequency of 1000 Hz and then slope down from there (to frequencies above 1000 Hz, not below). This is unfortunate as common consonants such as S, H, F, T, and P, which lie in the higher ranges, become harder to identify in everyday conversation.

Not only that, but it becomes almost impossible to understand conversation when there’s background noise. This means talking in groups can be an absolute nightmare.

Tinnitus can be another symptom of high-frequency hearing loss.

How to Manage it?

It’s all well and good to try and prevent high-frequency hearing loss by reducing your exposure to loud noises and the likes, but what if it’s too late? What if you already have high-frequency hearing loss?

Not all is lost (pun intended). Fortunately, hearing aids can be a great help for those with high-frequency hearing loss. Some hearing aids can take high-frequency sounds and lower them by use of frequency transposition or nonlinear frequency compression.

Aside from that, learning sign language and especially lip-reading may prove beneficial. High-frequency sounds are some of the most visible sounds on a person’s lips.

Do you have high-frequency hearing loss? Take a look at our range of products for the deaf and hard of hearing.

 

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Handling Short-Term Memory Problems

Memory loss is commonly associated with elderly people, and is seen as something that comes with age.

Regardless of age – everyone is prone to short-term memory loss. Have you ever been in the awkward situation where you can’t remember someone’s name? That’s short-term memory loss.

Causes of Short Term Memory Loss

I can imagine there are many causes for short term memory loss, and I’m only going to cover a few common ones.

Medication

Some medications (over-the-counter as well as prescription) can cause loss of memory. This includes, but is not limited to: antidepressants, antihistamines, sleeping pills, and pain medication, along with many more.

Though it’s not likely that medication will cause short-term memory loss – it’s certainly always a possibility. Consult with your doctor beforehand if you think problems will arise.

Alcohol

Excessive consumption of alcohol has been proven to cause neurological damage to the brain resulting in memory loss. Some damage is reversible, some is permanent. This doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy a nice glass of red wine with your meal!

Note: Smoking cigarettes is also rather harmful as it reduces the amount of oxygen leading to the brain.

Sleep Deprivation

Fatigue is often caused by a lack of sleep; this includes quality as well as quantity. A lack of sleep can reduce our ability to retrieve information… What was your name again?

Depression and Stress

Depression inhibits our ability to concentrate, or focus; likewise with stress and anxiety.

Some of these may be blindingly obvious causes of memory loss, and others may come as a surprise. It’s certainly not a comprehensive list, so if none of those apply to you then don’t panic.

Handling Short-Term Memory Loss Problems

Knowing the cause of your short-term memory loss can help in some ways, but what if you really want to improve your memory? Or reduce the effects?

Below are a few ways to handle particular problems.

Trouble Retrieving and Consolidating Information

  • Build the habit of noting down everything that seems important. Using a voice recorder may benefit you.
  • Implement a daily review of all the important information you received on that day. This could be anything from your friend’s birthday to a valuable business meeting. This is also a great time to record or note down anything you forgot about.

Lack of Concentration

  • Take some time each day to let your mind relax; often we lose concentration from trying to concentrate too hard.
  • Take short breaks every 30-60 minutes (60 minutes max). This will refresh your mind and boost concentration levels.
  • Stay healthy. That means eating the right food, drinking enough water, and exercising.
  • Stop multitasking. It’s hard enough having short-term memory loss, multitasking only makes it worse!

Forgetting to take Medication

  • Make medication part of your routine, e.g., take it when you wake up and have a shower.
  • Use a cellphone or other device to remind you to take your medication multiple times per day.
  • Invest in a MedCenter Talking Monthly Medication Organizer. This is the easiest and most consistent way to remember to take your medication.

Missing Appointments

  • Review tomorrow’s tasks/errands when you do a daily review as explained above
  • Use a digital calendar.

Unfortunately some problems that arise with memory loss cannot be resolved; the bullet points above are merely ways to combat the negative effects of memory loss by setting up systems in your life.

Suffer from memory loss, or any other cognitive disorder? Check out our range of products.


Disclaimer: This information is intended for your general knowledge only and is not a substitute for medical advice or treatment for specific medical conditions. We cannot and do not give you medical advice. You should seek prompt medical care for any specific health issues and consult your physician.

Magnifiers for the Visually Impaired

Often people with low vision need extra assistance beyond what standard glasses or contact lenses offer. Eyeglasses can fix certain problems, like near-sightedness and far-sightedness; however, they don’t work for permanent blind spots in the visual field, which can occur from age-related macular degeneration. This is where magnifiers come into play.

How do Magnifiers Help?

When vision loss is experienced in the macula (central part of the retina), natural magnification becomes difficult. A magnifier helps to reduce problems caused by damage to the macula by using more of the healthy surrounding retina to produce visual images.

What Different Types of Magnifiers are there?

If you’re someone who likes to sew, then you don’t want to get a handheld magnifier. On the other hand, you may benefit from one if reading.

A handheld magnifier is portable and easy to use when it comes to simple tasks – checking product labels, for example.

Visit our Magnifier Shopping Guide to find out more about the different types of Magnifiers.

Of course, some people have worse damage than others, and may need a higher magnification power. It wouldn’t be wise to purchase the first magnifier you lay your eyes on.

Feel free to check out our Magnifier Wizard, helping you choose the magnifier you need.

Still Confused?

We’ve got a glossary of magnifier-related concepts on our main website. On this page you can learn about diopter, field of view, magnification, and also learn how to properly use a magnifier.

 

 

Phones for the Hearing Impaired

Those with hearing loss will find that having conversations with a standard telephone can be unpleasant or simply annoying. The volume of a standard telephone receiver cannot compensate for the lack of hearing that many people have.

But why fight this battle? Surely there’s a solution.

Amplified Telephones

Those who aren’t completely deaf may benefit from an amplified telephone. If voices still sound faint when using a standard phone at its highest volume, you may want to consider getting an amplified telephone.

Amplified cordless phones generally cost around $80 to $280, with corded phones being significantly cheaper and amplified cell phones starting at $100.

Can’t decide on which to choose? Keep in mind the benefits of having a cordless phone, and ask yourself if it’s worth the extra money. An amplified cell phone may also be a nice addition if you require one.

TTY Technology (Text Telephones)

More than four million people in the U.S. use a TTY, commonly known as text phones or minicoms. A TTY allows deaf or speech-impaired users to communicate efficiently over phone lines with anyone regardless of whether this person can hear well or not.

TTYs can be used by placing a telephone handset into the TTY’s acoustic couplers, or by directly connecting to an analog telephone line. Letters are converted into electrical signals that are converted back to letters again on screen of the receiving unit.

If one has severe hearing loss or complete deafness, then a TTY may be the answer. Compared to an amplified telephone, the price is a little higher due to the resources required to build the product.

Here at Assistech we’ve got a wide range of TTY phones and accessories.

 

See also: Telephones for the Deaf: A Thing of the Present

 

Talking Watches for Blind People

Talking clocks have been around for a while, but how about talking watches? Not as long!

The first use of talking clocks was introduced when Ernest Esclangon created a talking telephone time service in Paris, France. This type of service is still around today, and millions of calls are received yearly.

But an easier way for blind people to tell the time is the use of talking watches.

Talking Watches are a Good Solution

Many people with disabilities find it harder than others to operate everyday products like watches and clocks. For those who are blind or visually impaired, being able to see the hands on a wristwatch or small clock may be rather difficult.

If someone has low vision, but is not completely blind, then it may seem beneficial to buy a watch with large hands, or a more practical display. On the other hand, blind people won’t find much benefit from an ‘easier-to-read’ watch; this is where a talking watch provides the best solution.

What Kind of Talking Watch Should I get?

Whether you’re buying for a friend, relative, or just reading this post out to someone, it’s good to be aware of the choices available when it comes to talking watches. There are talking watches that will read out the day/date, make an hourly announcement, and even notify you with alarms!

At Assistech we’ve got a Talking Watch Wizard which allows you to find your desired product in a matter of seconds.

If you prefer, browse through our full range of talking watches or shop by category.

See also:
Let’s talk about talking watches
One-button Talking Watch with Multiple Functions

 

Keeping Fit with Limited Mobility

Exercise can ease depression, relieve stress, and boost self-esteem. In general, it greatly improves our quality of life. This happens due to endorphins released by the body when exercising.

Whether you have a disability, weight problem, diabetes, or other on-going illness – it’d be unwise to tell yourself that you can’t reap the many benefits of exercise. So unless you’re bed-ridden, read on.

First and foremost, let me point out that your fitness routine should not contain anything that pushes the boundaries of your disability or injury. Consulting your doctor beforehand is recommended.

Low-Impact Exercise

High impact exercise (sprinting, lifting heavy weights, etc.) has many unique benefits but is not necessarily safe to take part in with limited mobility.

Some examples of low-impact exercises are:

Walking

If you’re able to walk without pain or severe discomfort then I recommend doing so. Pick up the pace or walk up a steep hill to increase the intensity of your exercise periods.

Rowing Machines

Rowing machines are found in most gyms, they offer a complete low-impact body workout. Rowing increases your heart rate and works the abdomen, back, and upper body.

Swimming and Aqua Aerobics

Swimming is by far the most preferred type of exercise for people with limited mobility. According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, water-based exercise improves the health of those with rheumatoid arthritis, affected joints, and osteoarthritis.

Take a look at joining an aqua aerobics class at your local swimming center.

Pilates and Yoga

Pilates is a great way to re-balance the body and improve posture using controlled movements and exercises. It’s very low impact and great for those who find it hard to move around too much or jump about.

Yoga on the other hand aims to improve both your physical fitness and well-being in general. It does this through a series of postures and breathing exercises. This type of exercise will keep your body fit, reduce weight, manage stress, normalize blood pressure, and more.

Stretching

Though it’s not considered ‘exercise’, stretching should be a compulsory thing for everyone, in my opinion. Stretching helps lengthen muscles and tendons, making them more flexible. It also helps you keep mobile as you get older.

Try stretching twice a day to reduce the risk of joint problems and muscle strain.

In a Wheelchair?

You’re not being forgotten. This article on About.com shows a number of effective exercises for those with lower body injuries and disabilities that have to exercise from a wheelchair or seated position.

Looking for Extra Help?

At Assistech we offer a wide range of products to help those with mobility and dexterity problems. You can take a look at them here.


Disclaimer: This information is intended for your general knowledge only and is not a substitute for medical advice or treatment for specific medical conditions. We cannot and do not give you medical advice. You should seek prompt medical care for any specific health issues and consult your physician.


Games and Hobbies for the Blind

Why should blind and visually impaired people have to miss out on having some fun once in a while? Here at Assistech we have a large range of products from board games to sports equipment. Below is a short overview of what we provide.

Board Games

Yes, they still exist. We sell specially designed board games for those who are blind or visually impaired. Whether it’s a simple game of Bingo to a dramatic game of Monopoly, we’ve got you covered.

Board Games we recommend:

Sports Gear

Know someone who plays soccer? How about basketball? We sell beeping balls, balls with bells – even double bells!

Sports gear we recommend:

Educational

Playing sport and relaxing with board games is great, but there are times where learning has to be done. We also sell many teaching tools for the visually impaired.

Educational items we recommend:

For the Children

Keep them entertained on holiday, while you’re working, or during those times where you’d just like to relax.

Children’s products we recommend:

To see all of our games and hobbies for the blind and visually impaired, please click here

5 Causes of Hearing Loss

Many people are unaware as to why they may be experiencing hearing loss. It’s important to know what’s causing hearing loss and how to reduce the effects of it if possible.

Below are 5 causes of hearing loss:

1. Noise Level

According to the NY Times, tens of millions of Americans, including 12-15 percent of school-age children, already have permanent hearing loss.

This is mainly due to exposure to noise over 85dB (kitchen blender, hair dryer, etc.) The more important thing to note is that portable music players can actually exceed a safe hearing level and produce sound well over 85dB.

A study done on college students by Goshorn and graduate research assistant Kathryn Jade White showed that 55% of the participants listened to music at over 85dB, whereas the rest preferred to listen under 85dB. This may not seem like a huge percentage, but taking into account the consequences of permanent hearing loss – it’s far too high.

How to Prevent Hearing Loss:

  • Don’t listen for more than 60 minutes at a time (not exceeding 60% volume)
  • Use over-the-ear headphones instead of ear buds
  • Use noise-cancelling headphones
  • Wear earplugs at concerts and while subjecting yourself to high levels of noise (mowing lawns, construction site, etc.)

2. Otosclerosis

Otosclerosis is a condition where abnormal bone growth occurs around the stapes bone, one of the tiny bones in the middle ear. This restricts the stapes bone from movement which is required for the ear to work properly and hear well.

Post mortem studies show that as many as 10% of people may have otosclerotic abnormalities, but this alone does not always cause hearing loss.

Caucasians are the most affected race, and otosclerosis is found twice as much in women compared to men.

There is no proven way to prevent otosclerosis, but fluoridated water is suspected to stabilize the condition.

3. Ménière’s disease

Ménière’s disease is a disorder of the inner ear that can cause vertigo, tinnitus, hearing loss, and feeling of congestion. It typically only affects one ear.

Ménière’s disease can also increase the prevalence of migraines for some people.

Unlike most causes of hearing loss, Ménière’s disease is a less consistent impairment and seems to come in fluctuations. It often leaves no lasting symptoms between bouts and generally doesn’t have a huge effect on one’s life.

There are an estimated 615,000 people with Ménière’s disease, and more than 45,000 new cases are diagnosed each year.

There is no way proven to prevent Ménière’s disease.

4. AIED (Autoimmune Inner Ear Disease)

Autoimmune inner ear disease is an inflammatory condition of the inner ear. It’s brought on by the body’s immune system attacking cells in the inner ear, mistaking them for viruses or bacteria.

Despite its negative symptoms, AIED is very rare and occurs in less than one percent of the 28 million Americans with hearing loss.

AIED can also result in progressive hearing loss, vertigo, and tinnitus.

Prevention of AIED is still being researched. Steroid treatment can be used to manage AIED but it’s not a long term solution. Treatment and prevention is currently scarce as the disease is so rare, making it difficult to study.

5. Presbycusis

Presbycusis is probably the most common form of hearing loss. It affects more than half of all adults by age 75.

The most common consequence is an inability to hear higher frequencies (15-16 kHz and upwards). Other symptoms can include: apparent mumbled/slurred speech, difficulty understanding conversations, tinnitus, and more.

Presbycusis is most commonly caused by disorders of the inner ear or auditory nerve, but it can also be caused by changes in the bloody supply to the ear (due to heart disease, high blood pressure, etc.)

One can take measures to prevent presbycusis by reducing the exposure to loud noises (see cause #1). Hearing aids can help for some individuals and assistive listening devices can help improve hearing ability in certain situations.

Living with hearing loss?

At Assistech we have a wide-range of products designed to help people with hearing loss to live more comfortably.


Disclaimer: This information is intended for your general knowledge only and is not a substitute for medical advice or treatment for specific medical conditions. We cannot and do not give you medical advice. You should seek prompt medical care for any specific health issues and consult your physician.


Telephones for the Deaf: A Thing of the Present

It’s undeniable that some individuals struggle in terms of communication and getting their point across. Communicating with the deaf and the hard-of-hearing, in particular, has always been somewhat of a difficult task. Sign language is not known by many who interact with the deaf, and in the case of late deafened individuals it’s a skill that is not so easily acquired. The technological advances we’re enjoying now to communicate with them were nothing but device prototypes and ideas just a few decades ago.

Currently, there are a many, many gadgets and devices readily available for the buying public to communicate with deaf and hard-of-hearing individuals. Assistech has gathered a comprehensive list of items and models with varying functions, but these gadgets to communicate with the deaf and hard-of-hearing can best be categorized into three sub-types.

Telecommunications Devices for the Deaf (TDD) – also popularly known as TTY, text telephone (common in Europe) or Minicom (United Kingdom) – is the common term for electronic devices for text communication through a telephone line.  The typical devices out on the market are compact, and come with a standard keyboard and screen to display typed text properly. Most cellular phones these days are also equipped to function as TTY devices when needed.

The next common device type are Voice-Carry Over (VCO) Telephones, where deaf and hard-of-hearing persons who are able to speak can use their voice while receiving the messages from the other party via typed text. VCO devices and variations are available on our website.

Lastly, a more recent tool for communicating with the deaf are Captioned Telephones, which are getting quite popular on the market. Simply put, it is a phone that displays real-time captions of the current conversation with minimal delays. A lot of people are also preferring this method nowadays.

Find the communication device that best suits your needs through our roster of TTY, VCO, and Captioned Telephone units. Click here for more information.

Signaling Systems: Essential Tools for Everyday Living

There are many people and events in our lives that require our utmost attention and prioritization. A phone call from a potential job interview, a newborn infant, the care of the elderly in the family, a newly-opened retail business—these are some of the various examples of life events and individuals that needs attending 24/7. For individuals and situations like these, signaling systems, or simply signalers, have proven truly indispensable for everyday living.

Signaling systems, also called alerting/notification systems, are designed to help alert or notify you these events. These devices can help alert you through flashing lights, loud alarms, and/or vibration. Signalers are also very important for impending disasters, such as the presence of fire and/or carbon monoxide.

The great news is that signaling systems come in various models and types that are made for the specific events that matter the most to you. For example, new parents can rest easier at night with the different types of baby cry monitors. Families can also have peace of mind with a great smoke alarm system to protect them round the clock. These are only some of the few examples that benefit from the use of signalers. Some transmitters can also work for more than one event.

The companies behind these signaling systems have also come up with brilliant ways to make their systems easy to use and very portable. They now have portable receivers (such as pagers and watches) that you can conveniently bring with you wherever you go. You can also customize your system by adding various receivers in the specific rooms you wish to be monitored. We strongly suggest though that a uniform brand be used for all your system components to ensure compatibility.

Signaling systems are a tried-and-tested necessity for everyday life, not only for the monitoring of day-to-day situations, but also the independence of deaf and hard-of-hearing individuals. This modern-day invention has also proven itself valuable in saving lives for decades.

At Assistech we carry a wide range of visual, vibrating, and audio signalers for the deaf and the hearing impaired. For more information on signaling systems visit our website.