Category: Science

July 19, 2021 by admin 0 Comments

WHEN YOU SAVE QUIET, YOU ACTUALLY WIND UP SAVING EVERYTHING ELSE, TOO

Widex has always held nature and natural sounds as a guiding light in developing hearing aids.

The ambition of delivering the most natural sounds possible drives us further everyday. It is important that we have access to the best sound recordings of nature when testing out new features and solutions.

We often use the incredible sound recordings made by Gordon Hempton, acoustic ecologist and founder of Quiet Parks international. His aim is to highlight the scarcity of truly quiet spaces left on the planet and by protecting these quiet spaces we will end up protecting the planet in general.

Being able to hear even the quietest sounds is something the Widex has always prioritised in the way we deliver sound, alongside access to speech and loud sounds, and it seems fitting that we use Gordon’s nature recordings in our development process.

If you would like to learn more about gordon’s work here is a link to a recent BBC article and his organisation website is found here: https://www.quietparks.org/

December 13, 2019 by admin 0 Comments

WHY IT’S SO IMPORTANT TO PROTECT YOUR HEARING (AND HOW YOU DO IT)

Hearing loss is a permanent condition that can’t be undone. That’s why hearing protection should be your new best friend.

You’re rushing through the street and you pass a loud construction site. You notice that the workers are all wearing earmuffs – that’s because hearing protection is essential for those workers in order to avoid hearing loss or tinnitus.

There are two things that most commonly cause hearing loss: ageing and noise. Chances are that you won’t find the fountain of youth anytime soon, so there’s not much you can do about ageing (but when you do start to lose your hearing because of ageing, it’s a good idea to see a hearing care professional to improve your hearing). Noise, however – that’s where you can actually do something to avoid damaging your hearing.

Noise affects your hearing – but where’s the limit?

Every day you’re exposed to sound that qualifies as noise – even if you don’t really notice it. At school or work, in traffic, mowing your lawn – or even hearing the neighbour’s dog barking – that could be noise. It all depends on the volume, but that’s not so easy to predict.

A normal conversation is at 60 dB on average. A jet plane at take-off can reach as high as 140 dB. The trouble is when the sound that’s too loud goes on for a long time or happens repeatedly for a long time.

Many countries have enacted regulations about the noise limits that workers are allowed to be exposed to during a working day – to protect workers from getting any kind of hearing reduction or impairment because of the work environment. Usually the noise level cannot exceed 85 dB.

If you don’t work in a noisy environment, situations you should pay special attention to include going to concerts, watching fireworks that are close by, flying, or listening to music or podcasts with earphones at too high a volume.

What happens when noise affects my hearing?

The ear is a complex organ, full of important sensory cells that help us hear and help the brain interpret sound. If the sensory cells experience the sound as too loud, they may be damaged – or simply die. The problem is that there’s no way to revive them. And that may mean permanent hearing damage.

DID YOU KNOW?
Even the slightest, unnoticeable rise in decibels can have a huge effect on your hearing. A three-decibel rise in volume could double the risk of damage to your ears.

How do I protect my hearing?

Some of the time you can’t be prepared for noise – traffic or road work may surprise you. Other times, you’ll know that you’re going to take in a lot of noise. Like when you’re planning to go to a concert, getting ready for those New Year’s fireworks or going to mow the lawn. These are the times when you should take good care to protect your hearing.

Hearing protection comes in different forms, but, most of the time, simple earplugs will keep the damaging noise at bay. If your ears are sensitive to earplugs, you could try noise-cancelling headphones or earmuffs. They’re bigger, but they are also pretty comfortable. If possible, you should also consider taking breaks from all the action and choosing seats (in planes or at concerts) that are not too close to the noise.

Care to learn more?

Download our free ebooklet about noise and hearing now.

October 28, 2019 by admin 0 Comments

CAN YOU STOP YOUR EARS RINGING BY CUTTING BACK ON CHOCOLATE AND COFFEE?

CAN YOU STOP YOUR EARS RINGING BY CUTTING BACK ON CHOCOLATE AND COFFEE?

Or is that just another one of the myths about tinnitus? Listen to our new podcast series and find out.

Search the Internet, and you can find lots of advice and recommendations for dealing with tinnitus. The question is: which ones should you choose? And do any of them actually work?

Dr Pawel Jastreboff can understand the confusion. In his opinion, the Internet is overwhelmed with information – and misinformation. “There’s a lot of myths on the internet, and numerous people with a cure for tinnitus,” he says. So what can you do about it?

Learning to cope

There are several ways to tackle it. One approach that has achieved good results was developed by Dr Jastreboff himself. It’s called Tinnitus Retraining Therapy (TRT) and is a process of learning to cope with your tinnitus on a conscious and subconscious level.

He likens it to the sound of raindrops falling on a roof. At first, you notice it. Then, after a while, your attention moves to something else and you forget about it. This is what he calls habituation.

How it starts

Tinnitus generally starts with exposure to loud noise. From then on, it’s hard to understand and just as difficult to cure. “The brain does have a plan for loud noise and music. But, for some unfortunate people, these mechanisms don’t work. They become the chronic tinnitus patients,”  Dr Jastreboff explains. “Transient tinnitus is when the ringing comes and goes. To understand it, we have to travel deep into the brain.”

Tune in to Listen up!

Millions of people all over the world suffer from tinnitus. If you’d like to learn more about the condition and how to treat it, tune into the Widex podcast Listen up!

September 16, 2019 by admin 0 Comments

WHY SOME SOUNDS INSTANTLY SCARE US (AT HALLOWEEN)

WHY SOME SOUNDS INSTANTLY SCARE US (AT HALLOWEEN)

You might think that you don’t scare easily. But when it comes to scary sounds, you really don’t have a choice. Because it’s all in your biology.

Halloween is coming up! And while well-executed costumes and scary-looking pumpkins can be frightening enough, the creepy sounds of Halloween can truly scare the bejeezus out of us. But sound is really just vibrations – so why do some vibrations trigger instant fear?

It seems that it’s all about biology. You see, our brains have evolved to fear what’s called non-linear sounds. Non-linear sounds are sound waves that have a very high amplitude and a higher volume in comparison with other sounds. They often contain frequency jumps, non-standard harmonies, or chaos and noise – and you can produce them by abruptly changing the frequency of acoustic instruments. Non-linear sounds, like the cry of an animal or a human scream, are scary to us because they extend beyond the normal capacity of the vocal cords. And our brains have evolved to understand the abnormality in these sounds, so we instantly know something is wrong or that there’s danger close by. In fact, our brains react to these sounds so fast that even the brain itself doesn’t know what’s going on until after we’ve reacted. That’s simply a survival mechanism.

DID YOU KNOW?
Hearing is a mechanical sense that travels through only five nerves before you react. The process is over before your brain really has understood what happened.

An extensive study has shown that movies, and in particular horror movies, are full of non-linear sounds that aim to make what we’re watching more captivating. Did the moviemakers intentionally use them to scare us? Probably. But one thing’s for sure: even if images can be dead scary, evolutionary biology has caused us to be more scared of certain sounds. So, if you scare easily, be sure to mute the worst audio scenes of your upcoming Halloween flicks… and enjoy! Muahahaha!

References
It’s Okay To Be Smart
Scienceabc.com
Heartlandhearingiowa.com

September 11, 2019 by admin 0 Comments

HOW AI-POWERED HEARING AIDS CAN HELP YOU HEAR BETTER

HOW AI-POWERED HEARING AIDS CAN HELP YOU HEAR BETTER

You’ve no doubt come across Artificial Intelligence before, but did you know that you can get AI-powered hearing aids to help you personalize your hearing?

Artificial Intelligence (AI) is used for many things today. It ranges from simple AI that helps suggest your next Netflix movie to complex Machine Learning AI that can predict future outcomes based on what humans have taught it. 

You can train AI-powered hearing aids

Yes, AI can seem quite daunting when you think about how it can effectively predict cancer (more on that below). And a lot of the AI we surround ourselves with today is completely automatized, so we don’t really need to think about it. But there are also AI systems that you can easily train yourself, so that the AI learns. That goes for your hearing aids too – learn more in the video below.

The term AI was coined in the 1950s, and nowadays it’s found in every home. That’s because AI makes our lives a lot easier in many ways. For instance, it’s used to give you recommendations for your next holiday, movie, purchase… you name it.

Essentially, AI is when a system or a machine is trained by humans to carry out a task that a human would be able to do. For instance, finding the fastest route by looking at a map.

With enough training, AI can predict outcomes

The deeper AI system called Machine Learning can predict outcomes based on what humans have taught it.  Although you can never be too sure that the outcome is 100% correct, a study that used Computer Assisted Diagnosis to predict cancer showed that the AI system was able to predict 52% of cancers a year before they were diagnosed by humans. When humans have that kind of information so far in advance, it helps improve treatment.

So, AI can do so many things that help improve our lives, including improving hearing in the moment via hearing aids and apps. But even if AI sometimes seems to be smarter than humans, remember that the system is trained by people, and it will always need humans to give input, keep it updated and set the success criteria.

July 1, 2019 by admin 0 Comments

WHAT TO EXPECT AT YOUR FIRST CONSULTATION WITH A HEARING SPECIALIST

WHAT TO EXPECT AT YOUR FIRST CONSULTATION WITH A HEARING SPECIALIST

It takes time to get used to the idea of wearing hearing aids. Maybe you’ve been to the doctor’s, learned about hearing loss online and talked to friends and family about your hearing loss. Now it’s time to make an appointment with a hearing specialist. What can you expect from that first appointment? We’ll take you through your appointment, step by step.

You’ve made an appointment with a hearing specialist – good for you! Now here’s what will happen when you visit the hearing expert.

The initial talk

When you show up for your appointment, the first thing you’ll do (after introductions) is to have a chat about why you are there, how you are experiencing your hearing loss, and how friends and family may experience it.

It’s important for the hearing specialist to understand your daily life and needs, so they can find the best hearing aid for you. Not only is your hearing loss unique, but so are you and the way you live your life. Maybe you’re a busy person who experiences different sound environments every day. Or maybe most of your day is mostly calm and quiet. These are two very different lives that might benefit from different hearing solutions.

It’s a good idea to bring someone close to you to the appointment so they can support you and offer their perspective on your hearing loss. And, of course, help you remember all the details!

The hearing test

Now you’ll do the hearing test, also called the pure tone test. The hearing specialist will measure how well you hear sounds and speech, and try to find the softest sound level you can detect for a range of frequencies. This will give them a picture of your hearing loss in each ear and map how you hear the sounds that are most important in your daily life.

The hearing test is usually performed in a soundproof room or booth with earphones, testing one ear at a time at different volumes and frequencies. All you have to do is respond when you can hear the sound – for instance by pressing a button. Later you’ll get the results explained to you in an audiogram. The test doesn’t take long, and it doesn’t hurt!

Take an online hearing test here >>

The speech test

A speech test is not necessarily something you’ll have to do. If you’re asked to do one, you’ll put on earphones and repeat words and sentences for as long as you can hear them. You may also be asked to repeat them as softly as you can hear them. In the end the sounds will be so soft that you won’t be able to hear them.

The audiogram

After the testing you’ll get to see your audiogram! An audiogram is a complete mapping of your sense of hearing on both ears. It gives a detailed description and shows how soft a sound can get before it’s inaudible to you. A hearing threshold of between 0 and 25 dB is considered normal.

The audiogram helps determine the severity of your hearing loss. The hearing specialist will explain the details to you – remember to ask again if there’s something you don’t understand.

The full picture

The hearing specialist may introduce other hearing loss tests that we haven’t mentioned here. Based on all of this, the hearing specialist now has an overview of your hearing loss. You’ll learn how your hearing is in both ears and how well each of them can hear low pitch and high pitch.

Based on the tests, the hearing care professional will suggest the best hearing solution for your unique hearing loss, your budget and your daily life.

The next steps

Once you and your hearing specialist have decided on a hearing aid, you’ll get your first hearing aid fitting. The hearing specialist will calibrate the hearing aid to fit your hearing loss and show you how to use it and clean it. They will also show you how to put it on correctly. Now you’ll have a few weeks to try out the hearing aid in real life and return for a fine-tuning.

Generally, people are happy with their hearing aids after two or three fine-tunings. If you’re still experiencing issues with them after that, your hearing specialist will help you find a better hearing solution for you.

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