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Q&A: What To Expect At A Hearing Evaluation

Q: What can I expect at my complete hearing evaluation?

A: Many people think a hearing evaluation is where your provider plays a tone, and you simply indicate whether you can hear it. Fortunately, a hearing evaluation is more thorough than that and happens in four steps.


A typical hearing evaluation lasts from 30 to 90 minutes, and we encourage you to bring a trusted loved one with you. We find that a complementary perspective can help paint a complete picture of how your hearing loss is affecting you and your family. They can also take notes for you to refer back to later.
 

The Conversation

During this step, we review and discuss your medical history. You describe what sort of hearing problems you experience in common situations and how the hearing issues affect you and your loved ones.

But we’ll go beyond that, because the better I know you, the better I can custom-tailor a solution to your unique hearing loss.

We discuss your workplace, your hobbies and activities, and your family life. We do this so I can understand what might be causing your hearing loss as well as what things are key to your hearing lifestyle now and moving forward.
 

The Examination

Did you know sometimes resolving hearing loss is as simple as a good ear cleaning? That’s why the first thing that happens after our conversation is an ear inspection with something called an otoscope. This allows me to see if earwax, fluid, or debris is blocking your ear canal and whether a part of your ear is damaged.
 

The Diagnostic Evaluation

This comprehensive evaluation comprises tests to determine the degree and type of your hearing loss as well as the conditions of your outer and middle ear. Which tests are performed depends on your age, symptoms, and medical history. Everyone, however, receives the first three tests.

  1. Pure-tone air-conduction test
    This test is what people think of as a hearing screening or test. You put on headphones, listen for beeps or tones, and indicate which sounds you can hear. With this test, I can determine the quietest sound you can hear at different pitches.
  2. Bone-conduction test
    A different kind of headphone is used for this test. It tells me from where your hearing loss most likely originates and, therefore, what kind it is.
  3. Speech test
    You will hear words via headphones and you’ll repeat them. This measures how well you hear and understand words at different volumes.
  4. Tympanometry
    Placing a probe at the end of your ear canal, I will painlessly use air-pressure changes to see if your eardrum moves correctly, doesn’t move enough, or has a hole in it.
  5. Otoacoustic emissions test
    Using a different kind of probe, I will send a sound into your ear canal. Based on how your inner ear responds, I can learn information about the very tiny sound-receptor cells in your inner ear.

 

The Solution

Treatment options are based on all of the preceding steps. Because no two hearing losses are the same, no two solutions are, either.

Reviewing the results
We’ll review the results of your examination and diagnostic tests to determine whether you have hearing loss, what type, and what your options are moving forward. For example, you might require further evaluation from an ear specialist if the physical examination reveals damage to your ear.

Technology options
If we decide technology is your best option, we’ll determine together what style and level of technology will best support your hearing goals.

For example, some people require technology that filters out lots of background noise, whereas others don’t. Some people have ear canals that will accommodate completely-in-the-canal technology; others don’t.
 

An Active Participant

This process is all about your unique hearing needs. Don’t be afraid to ask questions, request that I repeat something, or be candid. This evaluation is the beginning of a relationship, not a transaction. Your active participation will lead to the most satisfying outcome for your hearing health.

Contact us if you’d like to know more about the process or to schedule an evaluation!

Illustration of a woman pondering something with purple question marks floating around her

Get in the Loop | Hearing Loops & How To Utilize Them

Have you — or has someone you know — ever gone to a play, seminar, house of worship, or musical performance, optimized your hearing device settings, and still had trouble hearing?

Why does this happen?


Hearing in Public Spaces

When you listen to a live speech, classroom lesson, classical guitarist, or clergyperson, your hearing device uses a built-in microphone to capture the sound waves in the room. The sound is processed according to how your devices are programmed and then sent to your ear.

No matter how well your hearing device matches your hearing needs, however, other things in the room impact the sound waves before they reach your hearing device — for example, any background noise and the acoustics of the room.

What if there was a way to avoid all that impact?

There is.
 

The Hearing Loop

More and more organizations are installing something called a hearing loop into their performance halls, seminar rooms, and worship spaces. In addition to the usual sound system, these venues use a hearing loop to generate sound information using a magnetic field.

Let’s see how it works:

  • A sound source, such as the headset used by a performer or seminar speaker, sends sounds to an amplifier.
  • The amplifier sends a current through wires that surround the room along the floor, ceiling, or both.
  • The wires generate a magnetic field (rather than sound waves).
  • Your hearing aid picks up the magnetic signal using a tiny wire called a telecoil — most hearing aids and cochlear implants today have one already, and if not, it can likely be programmed into your devices.
  • Your device processes the signal from the telecoil and converts it to sound.
  • The sound is sent to your ear canal.

 

Benefits of a Hearing Loop

Knowing how a loop works doesn’t reveal much about why you would want to use one, though. Here are just some of the benefits:

Sound quality. By far the greatest benefit is sound quality. The magnetic signal received by the telecoil isn’t affected by things such as background noise and the acoustics of the room, so speech and music sound clearer.

Ease of use. To enjoy improved sound quality, simply switch your hearing device’s setting so it’s using the telecoil rather than the microphone to receive sound. You don’t have to build extra time into your schedule to pick up and return special equipment.

Versatility. Enjoy seamless hearing capabilities across an array of environments, such as theaters, places of worship, classrooms, and even businesses like pharmacies.

Discretion. Taking advantage of loop technology is inconspicuous, which encourages participation and inclusion, increasing the likelihood of adoption on a more widespread scale.
 

Using a Hearing Loop

Now you know about hearing loops, and perhaps you’re even a little excited by the idea — so what’s next?

Visit your hearing care provider. Though turning on the telecoil setting of your device is simple, you need to be prepared before exploring looped venues. Your provider will need to ensure the telecoil programming matches your regular programming as closely as possible. They’ll also need to show you how to switch to and from the telecoil setting. Different manufacturers — and even different models from the same manufacturer — handle the telecoil differently.

Identifying looped venues. Venues equipped with loop technology prominently display an internationally recognized symbol — a deep blue background emblazoned with a white ear, a diagonal white bar, and a capital letter T in the lower right corner. Hearing loops are the internationally accepted standard for hearing accommodation. The symbol assures people with hearing loss that their needs will be met.
Hearing Loop

Ensure everything works. Sometimes venues are set up for looping, but the equipment isn’t turned on. If you saw the telecoil symbol somewhere in the building, you’ve turned your device to the telecoil setting, and nothing seems to be working, seek out management to see if the equipment needs to be turned on.
 

Spread the Word About Hearing Loops

Once you’ve successfully used a hearing loop, consider mentioning them to the management of the places you frequent. Many businesses have never heard of a hearing loop but would gladly consider installing one to ensure their business is more accessible and comfortable for those with hearing loss.

The more hearing loops become commonplace, the more likely you are to see them pop up in places like grocery stores, shopping malls, and even homes.

Water and hearing aids don't mix, but there are things you can do to help prevent or remove moisture from your hearing aids.

Q&A: Water and Hearing Aids | 6 Tips to Keep Hearing Devices Dry

Q&A: Water and Hearing Aids

Q: Are my hearing aids really kaput if they get wet?

A: If you only knew how often we get this important question. As powerful as they are, hearing aids — like all electronics — have a couple of Achilles’ heels, and one of them is water. The moisture could come from a swimming pool, a shower, or even the sweat from working out or soaking up a hot summer day, but it all comes down to this: Wetness can permanently put your hearing aids out of commission.


Of course there’s always the potential miracle — who hasn’t heard the occasional story of a friend or loved one accidentally putting their hearing technology, personal music player, smartphone, or other treasured device through the washing machine only to have it continue working without seemingly skipping a beat? That’s some rare luck, however, so it’s important to stick to prevention.

Here are six ways to help keep wetness away from your hearing aids:

  1. Avoid Moisture Altogether
    Remember to take your devices out of your ears before showering, hitting the pool, or getting into the hot tub, and be sure to store them in their own secure case rather than loose in a pocket or purse.
  2.  

  3. Wipe Them Down
    Wiping your devices daily with a clean, dry cloth helps clear moisture and debris and helps reduce the risk of damage.
  4.  

  5. Stay Vigilant
    Water-resistant hearing aids aren’t waterproof, so keep these types of devices out of the shower, pool, and hot tub, too. Otherwise, they can get damaged when immersed.
  6.  

  7. Use Hearing Aid Covers
    These handy helpers can aid in protecting your devices from water splashes and keep out dust and dirt, too.
  8.  

  9. Consider a Hearing Aid Dryer or Dehumidifier
    This small appliance not only dries and sanitizes your devices as you sleep but can also double as their regular storage container.
  10.  

  11. Keep a Hat On Hand
    You never know when an unexpected rain shower might crash your outdoor fun. Having a spare hat can help keep the rain off you as well as your hearing aids.
  12.  


Some simple steps at home can help keep your hearing aids dry and working well. Bringing them in periodically for a professional clean and check goes a long way, too. If it’s been a while since they’ve had a good once-over or they don’t seem to be operating their best, don’t delay. Schedule an appointment with our caring team today!

Fun sketch of a happy black and white dog with perked up ears on a teal background

When It Comes to Hearing Wellness, Don’t Fur-Get Your Pets!

Just like their people parents, these furry members of the family can experience hearing difficulties too. Read on to learn what you can do.


AVOID EXCESS NOISE

As one of the most preventable causes of hearing loss in humans, loud sounds can also be a problem for the beloved pets in your household. Excess noise can go hand in hand with hearing damage, anxiety, fear, and even trauma. Limiting noise exposure helps support their hearing health and overall wellness.
 

CONSIDER HEARING PROTECTION

If hightailing it to a quieter space isn’t an option for Rover and Pepper during fireworks or other super-loud situations, hearing protection is another approach that could help. Earplugs and earmuffs made especially for pets help deaden intrusive sounds.
 

KNOW THE SIGNS

If your pooch or kitty doesn’t react in the usual way to your voice, squeaky toys, the doorbell, or other sounds, hearing loss may be the culprit. Behaviors such as reduced activity, excess barking, loud meowing, and sound sleeping even through the loudest noises may also indicate a problem.
 

SCHEDULE REGULAR CHECKUPS

Comprehensive vet exams may include not only a check of your pet’s eyes, nose, mouth, legs, heart, skin, weight, and joints but also their ears. It’s a good time to discuss any changes you’ve noticed in their response to commands or other sounds and gain tips on proper nutrition for optimal hearing health.
 

ADDRESS PROBLEMS EARLY

Early intervention on a suspected hearing condition could make the difference in your fur baby’s quality of life. Not all hearing loss is preventable — for example, a congenital problem, irreversible damage from injury, or another challenge — but working with your veterinarian may help moderate the problem.

When It Comes to Hearing Wellness for the Whole Family, Don’t Fur-Get Your Pets!

Hearing Loss & Accidental Injury: More Connected Than You May Think

From slips and spills to collisions, machine mishaps and more, accidents befall us all, but did you know that hearing loss might contribute to the risk of injury? In fact, one investigation found that those with hearing difficulties may have a doubled chance of suffering an accidental injury at work or play.

The study, published in a 2018 edition of JAMA Otolaryngology-Head & Neck Surgery and involving data from the U.S. National Health Interview Survey, noted that the greater the degree of self-perceived hearing difficulty, the greater the overall accidental-injury risk.

This dovetails with other research that points to links between hearing loss and the increased risk of falling, for example. One study even showed that people with mild hearing loss had a tripled chance of reporting a fall in the prior year, and every 10-decibel increase in hearing loss further raised the odds.

The good news? Addressing hearing loss head-on could cut down on the risk of problems such as falling. Research from the University of Michigan published in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society, for instance, showed a 13% reduced chance “of being treated for fall-related injuries” among newly diagnosed hearing-impaired seniors fitted with hearing aids.

It’s not necessarily conclusive why hearing loss goes hand in hand with a higher risk of accidental injury or even other issues such as dementia and depression, but one thing’s for sure: Early intervention on hearing problems can go a long way toward supporting your hearing health and overall wellness.


Has it been a while since your last hearing checkup?
Do the sounds coming through your hearing technology seem less clear than they used to be?
Are you ready for some increased connectivity between your hearing aids and the other smart devices that help you run your world?

Don’t wait!

Contact our expert team for an appointment today. Together, let’s make sure you’re hearing and communicating your best!

Illustration of an ear with graphics representing noise surrounding it

5 Reasons to Love Earwax | Three Cheers for Earwax!

Let’s talk earwax. From its texture to its appearance, it gets a bad name. We suspect the yellow-brown goo might be down a friend or two, so we want to give credit where credit is due.

Here are five reasons we think you should give earwax a second chance.


  1. Earwax Protects Your Ear Canal and Eardrum

  2. Like many things that seem pointless (eyelashes and nose hair, for example), earwax is actually important. It keeps dust, bacteria, and other microorganisms out of your body. A natural antimicrobial, earwax also keeps infection at bay should your ear canal sustain a scrape. Finally, it keeps your ear canal lubricated so it doesn’t become dry and itchy.
     

  3. Earwax Is Self-Cleaning

  4. Your ear canal has a slight incline. Your jaw’s motion during chewing and talking keeps your earwax from settling into your skin. Put the two together, and you have the perfect self-cleaning system: Your earwax slowly travels down your ear canal, where you can gently wipe it from your outer ear if necessary.
     

  5. Earwax Isn’t Even Wax

  6. The technical term for earwax is cerumen. It comprises a few different things: Secretions from two glands combine to line the inside of your ear canal; then dead hair, skin cells, dust, and the already mentioned microorganisms become trapped in this mixture. All of it together is cerumen.
     

  7. Earwax Is a Good Sign

  8. In general, having earwax is not the sign of poor hygiene some people think it is. Everyone produces earwax, and it serves several important purposes. You will know if your earwax becomes a problem, because you’ll experience hearing loss or develop discomfort in your ear canal.
     

  9. Cotton Swabs Are Not the Answer

  10. You can revel in crossing one more thing off your daily hygiene list: cotton swabs. Again, the ears are self-cleaning. On the rare occasion you suspect you have too much earwax, don’t stick anything hard in your ear, and don’t use ear candles. There are plenty of over-the-counter remedies that are as simple as a drop or two of a solution to break up the earwax, followed by flushing your ear canal gently with water. Regular use of cotton swabs strips your ear canal of important protection and can lead to impacted earwax.

We’re taking precautions to help minimize the spread of Coronavirus. You can find more information about what we’re doing on our website here.

We’re taking precautions to help minimize the spread of Coronavirus. You can find more information about what we’re doing on our website here.

There is no higher priority for Advanced Hearing Care than the health and well-being of our patients and employees. We are closely following guidance on COVID-19 (Coronavirus Disease 2019) from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the https://www.ok.gov/health/ to stay on top of all developments. We fully recognize that many of the population we serve are among the most vulnerable to diseases like COVID-19 and the flu.

In accordance with interim guidance from the CDC, we are also taking the following additional measures to further strengthen our protocols and safeguard our patients’ health:

  • If you are feeling under the weather or are experiencing a fever, cough, or shortness of breath, we would ask that you call and reschedule your appointment so as not to put other patients at risk. You could also see if a healthy loved one could bring your hearing aids to the office for a cleaning. We recommend reviewing guidelines from the CDC on preventing illness.
  • Dropping in can create a crowd in our waiting rooms. If an underlying condition or your age makes you more vulnerable to COVID-19, we urge you to avoid dropping in and instead call to schedule a time to get your hearing aids cleaned and checked. We will do our absolute best to get you on the schedule as soon as possible. You could also see if a healthy loved one could bring your hearing aids to the office for a cleaning.
  • We have instructed providers and staff to stay home if they are sick. If your provider becomes ill, we will ask them to stay home, and we sincerely apologize if this means we need to reschedule your appointment!
  • If you need additional accommodations, please don’t hesitate to call our office to discuss.
  • We understand the importance of hearing at your best, especially in this time, when communication is so critical. If there are any updates, we will post on our website and social media.

    If you are having problems with your hearing aids and feel you cannot come in right away, please call and we’ll see whether we can help you over the phone. Please feel free to call with any questions — we are always happy to hear from our patients.

    Home Safety for People With Hearing Loss | Safety Alert Devices

    Home Safety for People With Hearing Loss

    So many things around the house are designed to alert you using noise. But what if a hearing loss means you miss when the smoke detector or alarm clock sounds?
     
    The following alerting devices are ideal methods for helping your home — or the home of a loved one — feel even safer.


    Smoke Alarms

    A smoke alarm-based alert uses a bright, blinking light to indicate the smoke alarm is going off. You can buy an adapter for your existing smoke alarm, or you can buy a whole new battery-powered or hardwired smoke alarm with an alert built right in. When paired with a central alert system, you can also include a vibrating shaker to put under your pillow.
     

    Doorbells

    A doorbell alert sends a signal to a receiver that flashes a light, increases the volume of the doorbell, activates a shaker under your pillow or couch cushion, or all three. Often, you can buy extra receivers as well, so you could have one in your living room, bedroom, and kitchen. Some work up to 20 feet, others up to 1,000 feet. They are available in either battery operated or hardwired to your electrical system.
     

    Weather Alerts

    The NOAA All Hazards Weather Radio offers a simple text readout and visual or vibrating alarm features. Third-party vendors offer adapters that color code the warning lights and make the display more readable.
     

    Baby Monitors

    These are available in everything from simple to complex. The simplest style has an audio monitor for baby’s room that triggers a vibrating shaker under your pillow. You can also find systems, however, that use multiple monitors, video, lights, and sound. You can even turn your smartphone into a video monitor that triggers an under-pillow vibrating shaker.
     

    Alarm Clocks

    There are alarm clocks tailored to those with hearing loss, and there are accessories you can use with your existing alarm clock as well. Just like the doorbell alerts, alarm clock alerts increase the alarm volume, use a shaker placed under your pillow, use flashing lights, or all three. Still others have outlets — plug in any bedside lamp, and it turns on and off as the alarm sounds.

    Do you use your cell phone or smartphone as an alarm clock? There are shakers you can place under your pillow that are triggered by a smartphone app when your phone alarm goes off.
     

    Landline Phones

    You can get traditional phones tailored to those with hearing loss or purchase accessories to use with your existing phone. A louder ring, flashing lights, a vibrating shaker under the pillow, or all three are available. There are even phones with outlets — plug in any available lamp, and it turns on and off as the phone rings.


    Contact us to learn more about home safety or to schedule a hearing evaluation!

    Q&A: Live Speech Mapping – 3 Things You Should Know

    Q: What is live speech mapping, and how can it help me?

    A: Excellent question! Live speech mapping is a mechanism for fine‑tuning hearing aids to the specific pitch and volume of your loved one’s voice and other important sounds. The procedure has been around a while, but many people have likely never heard of it. Let’s take a closer look at three things: who might need live speech mapping, how it works, and why it matters.


    WHO MIGHT BENEFIT

    Hearing technology has made a world of difference in helping people of all ages communicate their best, but some patients who use hearing devices might still experience difficulty understanding the one voice that matters most to them — typically a spouse or other close relation. In our experience, many people in that situation have found that live speech mapping improves their ability to understand critical speech.
     

    HOW IT WORKS

    During the mapping process, a skinny tube with a tiny probe microphone is placed in your ear canal along with the hearing device — don’t worry, it’s painless! Your spouse or another familiar voice that you want to hear then reads a paragraph aloud. The microphone allows us to precisely measure:

    • The sounds your hearing aids are producing at your eardrum
    • The way your device’s current settings are processing speech

    We then see on the computer monitor exactly where the speech is falling within your audible range and can adjust your devices accordingly.
     

    WHY IT MATTERS

    Maximizing your hearing devices involves tailoring them to your specific listening needs. Live speech mapping can play an important role in that, helping you more clearly perceive and understand the critical voices in your everyday life. As a practice committed to empowered communication, helping you hear on your terms is important to us. We want you to hear your best so you can live your best.
     

    If you haven’t experienced live speech mapping and want to hear your loved one better, we highly recommend a visit to see how this valuable diagnostic procedure might support your listening goals. So don’t wait. Contact our caring team today. We’re here to help!

    10 Tips for Managing Hearing Loss | Hearing Loss Do’s & Don’ts

    Hearing loss can seem daunting, with its ability to affect relationships, self‑confidence, physical health, and more. Taking charge of it, however, can go a long way toward keeping you feeling empowered and engaged.


    Start with these 10 helpful do’s and don’ts:

    Do’s

    1. DO know that you’re not alone. Hearing loss is a growing public-health challenge — the third most chronic condition in the U.S. and Canada. Science is always on the case, however, and effective solutions are available right now.
    2. DO stay atop your hearing health with regular checkups — just as you would for your eyes and teeth. Early intervention with the help of a licensed hearing care provider can make a big difference in your quality of life.
    3. DO maintain your hearing aids, which are powerful but require care. DIY cleaning, storage, wax-guard changing, and battery-charging are easy tasks. Bring your devices in periodically for professional clean and checks, too!
    4. DO explore your devices. Some of today’s hearing aids not only stream phone calls and other audio directly to your ears but can interact with innovative apps, handle remote fine-tuning, loop into venue sound systems, and more.
    5. DO try to optimize your communication environment with steps such as facing your conversation partner, sitting away from noise, choosing spots with good lighting (for lip-reading), and giving helpful feedback — including nonverbal cues or words of encouragement — to the person speaking.

    Don’ts

    1. DON’T ignore hearing issues. Hearing acuity can change over time — or due to injury, medication, or infection — making it important to seek help if listening clearly or understanding certain sounds seems harder than it used to be.
    2. DON’T forget the importance of good nutrition, which can play a role in ear and hearing health. A recent Brigham and Women’s Hospital study, for example, found that certain dietary practices may help curb the risk of hearing impairment by 30% or more.
    3. DON’T tolerate excess noise, which can lead to hearing loss or worsen an existing hearing problem. Loud sounds are among the most common and preventable causes, so limit your exposure and keep quality hearing protection on hand.
    4. DON’T hide hearing loss from loved ones. Family members — also affected when someone has a hearing issue — report improvements in relationships, social life, and more when the problem is addressed. Consider tackling it together.
    5. DON’T deny yourself compassion and patience. Adjusting to new hearing technology can take time and some fine-tuning, so expect adjustments and know that it’s all about ensuring you’re hearing — and living — your best.

    Have questions about managing hearing loss? We can help. Contact us today