The Tinnitus Specialist Blog
Thoughts and inspiration from a Harley Street tinnitus specialist.
Effective Invisible Tinnitus Treatment With The Starkey Soundlens
Soundlens Invisible Hearing Aid Banishes Tinnitus
Richard has been a client of mine since May, and we had a follow-up appointment on Friday morning.
Richard's quite young, still working age, but has a mild to moderate hearing loss in both ear. This was making it difficult for Richard to participate socially and at work, and to enjoy music. One other problem that Richard was experiencing as a result of his hearing loss was tinnitus.
Tinnitus often accompanies hearing loss, because, according to current theory, the brain automatically tries to compensate for the hearing loss by increasing its internal level of amplification. This has the knock on effect of amplifying the normally present random activity in the auditory nerve to a level when it can be perceived as a hissing sound. It doesn't have to be a hissing sound... some people hear a buzzing, a ringing, a humming amongst other possibilities.
The "occlusion effect" is often experienced by peole wearing in the canal (ITC) or completely in the canal (CIC) style aids, where they can hear their own voice booming inside their head. The occlusion effect is bad enough, but when you also have tinnitus it makes it very difficult to wear hearing aids. Traditionally, the way to treat a mild to moderate loss would be to fit an open fit aid, such as a RIC (Receiver In Canal) in order to leave the ear canal as open as possible and avoid occlusion. However, this kind of hearing aid has the main body of the hearing aid behind the ear, and people with short hair have nothing to hide that part of the hearing aid, and some people feel self-conscious about the wire which runs from the top of the ear into the ear canal.
There is an alternative to RIC hearing aids... it has been known for some time that if you can fit a hearing aid deep enough into the ear canal, you can overcome the occlusion effect.
The problem was that until relatively recently a deep canal fitting would involve an uncomfortable impression taking process, and often the deep CIC would be uncomfortable to wear, due to the tight fit in the ear canal requred to avoid feedback.
Soundlens - Comfortable and Invisible
However, since the Soundlens IIC (Invisible In The Canal) from Starkey was launched, deep canal fittings can be made much more comfortable, as the advanced feedback cancellation technology built in to Soundlens means that a tight fit is no longer required.
As you can see from the picture, Soundlens is worn deep inside the canal, very close to the eardrum. In order to be able to make the aid, Starkey need the ear impression to go at least this far so that they can see the detail of the ear canal in order to make the Soundlens fit comfortably, but invisibly.
Advanced Impression Technique
In order to take deep impressions safely and comfortably, advanced training is required, as well as specialised equipment. I am glad to say I have been on the Starkey advanced impression taking course and am certified to take deep impressions. Richard's Soundlens hearing aids are invisible when they are in his ears.
Additional Benefit - Tinnitus Gone!
Richard wanted the tone adjusted on his hearing aids, but commented that the sound quality has always been clear. His wife commented that Richard is now able to particpate socially, where before he would switch off and wouldn't join in. This was all great news, but the greatest news was yet to come.
Just casually, Richard mentioned that when he puts the hearing aids in, he can't hear his tinnitus. What a fantastic result! Not only are the hearing aids invisible, and not only do they treat the hearing loss, and very well at that, they also make Richard's tinnitus go away - invisibly!
Get Soundlens Today
Whether you have tinnitus and a hearing loss, or a hearing loss without tinnitus, Soundlens might be the right solution for you. Starkey have recently miniaturised the components in Soundlens, so Soundlens will now fit even more ears.