Frequently Asked Questions
What Is An Audiologist?
An Audiologist is the professional who specializes in evaluating and treating people with hearing loss. Audiologists have extensive training and skills to evaluate the hearing of adults, infants and children of all ages. Audiologists conduct a wide variety of tests to determine the exact nature of an individual's hearing problem. Audiologists present a variety of treatment options to patients with hearing impairment. Audiologists often dispense and fit hearing aids, administer tests of balance to evaluate dizziness, and provide hearing rehabilitation training. Audiologists refer patients to physicians when the hearing problem needs medical or surgical evaluation.
Why Should Someone With Hearing Loss Be Evaluated By An Audiologist?
Audiologists hold masters or doctoral degrees from accredited universities with special training in the prevention, identification, assessment and non-medical treatment of hearing disorders. Audiologists are required to complete a full-time internship and pass a demanding national competency examination. By virtue of their graduate education, professional certification and licensure, audiologists are the most qualified professionals to perform hearing tests, refer patients for medical treatment, recommend and dispense hearing aids, and provide hearing rehabilitation services.
Why Should I Choose An Audiologist For Hearing Aids?
Most people with hearing loss can benefit greatly from hearing aids. Your audiologist can advise you if they are recommended for your hearing loss. Hearing aids alone may not be an instant answer to your hearing problems. They should be a part of a program of hearing rehabilitation that includes complete testing, careful counseling, construction and follow-up.
Today's hearing aids are much more complex (and potentially useful) than in the past. They are designed to closely match a person's hearing loss. To use them correctly requires a complete understanding of that loss. Such diagnosis is a specialty of audiologists.
Audiologists also specialize in counseling and rehabilitation. Expert counseling -- before and after you obtain hearing aids -- is vital to your success with hearing aids, as it takes time to adjust to amplification. Furthermore, there are many ways to improve the effectiveness of hearing aids. By choosing an audiologist as your hearing aid provider, you can work with an expert for testing, fitting and hearing rehabilitation guidance.
How Helpful Are Hearing Aids?
A Veteran's Administration study of nearly 200 adults found that hearing aids are "very successful treatments for reversing the social, emotional and communication dysfunction caused by hearing impairment."
The people in the study had a mild or moderate hearing loss, and none had used hearing aids previously. Six weeks after being fit with hearing aids, each person completed a detailed questionnaire. The results indicated "large quality of life improvements in the areas of communication and social function." Based on the study, the researches concluded: "hearing aids represent a relatively inexpensive therapy for the amount of benefit gained."
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How Long Should My Hearing Aids Last?
It's really surprising that hearing aids last as well as they do. Hearing aids have sophisticated electronic components such as miniature microphones, amplifiers, receivers and microprocessor circuits. They're exposed to heat, perspiration, ear wax, humidity, rain, hair spray and daily handling.
Hearing aid parts can wear out, corrode or lose power just from normal wear and tear. This can happen so gradually that you may not notice the loss of power or increased distortion. Periodic cleaning of your hearing aids can minimize repairs and extend their life.
The average life of a hearing aid is about five to seven years. When considering whether it's time to replace your aids, you should consider their age, advances in hearing aid technology and whether your hearing has changed. Many people get new hearing aids while their current ones are still functioning well so they have a good set of "back-up" hearing aids.
How Can I Encourage Someone To Get Help?
The person with a hearing loss is usually "the last one to know." Family members and friends notice the hearing problems long before the person with the loss does. That's why hearing loss often goes undetected and untreated.
Hearing loss goes undetected because it usually develops so slowly that the change is not noticeable. The loss is invisible and painless. Also, only certain sounds are affected -- words are still loud enough, just not clear enough.
How can you help?
Encourage them to call us for a hearing test. Anyone with a possible hearing loss should get an audiologic evaluation, along with good information and professional advice.
Don't criticize. Instead, stress that you simply want the person to be able to communicate as well as possible...and there's nothing lost if the hearing test indicates normal hearing.
Don't compensate. By talking louder, you're helping the person pretend there isn't a problem. When you do have to speak louder, let the person know that you're speaking louder than normal.
Give them this information. Information and knowledge are valuable tools in the effort to hear and communicate as well as possible.
Hearing Aids And Hearing Ads
You can't avoid them these days - newspaper and mail advertisements offering hearing aids at "discount" prices. With all the choices today, it can be confusing. What's the right style for you, what does "digital" really mean, where should you get hearing aids and how much should they cost?
Your most important decision is where to receive your hearing healthcare. After all, you probably didn't choose your physician or your dentist based on a newspaper ad!
Good hearing healthcare includes:
- A complete audiologic evaluation of your hearing loss and hearing needs;
- A comprehensive review of available hearing aids by style, technology and cost;
- Follow-up visits to ensure that you're hearing as well as possible;
- An explanation of other sources of help, such as assistive listening devices for telephone, movies or television;
- Regular hearing check-ups to monitor your hearing and your hearing aids.
Hearing Aids And The Digital Revolution
As many of you know, we have been evaluating and fitting the fully digital hearing aids. Digital hearing aids are now available in all styles, including the small completely in the canal style. The response to this new technology has been excellent.
Digital hearing aids use a computer processor to make more than a million calculations per second to process and control incoming sound. The microprocessor actually measures the pitch and loudness of the sounds and responds automatically. The advantages we have seen include:
- Easier to use because volume control is fully automatic;
- Better hearing for soft sounds because the aids can be programmed for greater amplification of soft sounds;
- Greater comfort for loud sounds because the aids can be programmed to automatically reduce amplification as sounds get louder;
- More exact fit to a wide range of hearing loss patterns because of the microprocessor's tremendous flexibility;
- Improved speech clarity in both quiet and noise.
The Goal: Hearing As Well As Possible
If you have a hearing loss, you know better than anyone else the problems caused by not hearing well. We live in a world that can be difficult for someone with a hearing loss.
You also know that we don't cure hearing loss. But the hearing help available today can be pretty remarkable. Our goal is to make sure you're hearing as well as possible.
The selection of your hearing aids is based on a number of factors. Hearing loss pattern, comfort, appearance, cost, ease of handling - all these factors play a role in which hearing aids are best for you. We're always happy to review the choices available to you - what to expect, pros and cons, cost - so that you can reach your goal: hearing as well as possible.
Some of you may have heard friends or relatives talk about realistic expectations regarding what hearing aids can do. Realistic expectations also apply to a hearing aid's lifetime. Hearing aids are small, intricate electronic devices, with hundreds of parts and circuits. They are worn on the body and are exposed to ear wax (cerumen), body oils, and perspiration. They are subject to a wide range of temperature and humidity levels. In fact, laboratory tests have indicated that microphones and receivers are subject to greater stress in hearing aids than in satellites and the space shuttle! As a result, all hearing aids have a limited lifetime and require regular cleaning and maintenance. If you feel your hearing aids need a "tune-up", please call the office and schedule a hearing test.