At Advanced Hearing Care, we are very excited about some of the latest technology options available to treat hearing loss. Some of these truly innovative developments have already made measurable impacts in the quality of some of our patients’ lives. And we’re inviting anyone who wants to experience these truly extraordinary developments to call us for an opportunity to hear what they’ve been missing.
Save the Date:
August 20-24 and August 21-31, 2012
For two weeks, we are highlighting some of these developments in new technology. We are reserving our available appointments for anyone who is interested in experiencing the difference that better hearing can make in his or her lifestyle. For those who would like to take advantage of this opportunity, we will conduct a full Four-Step Process consultation appointment as well as an in-office demonstration of an appropriate hearing device system.
What’s New In Hearing Technology
There are a few trends that are currently developing in the hearing technology industry. One trend is to expand on available wireless accessories and technology, using small wireless antennae to transmit ear-to-ear binaural sound processing signals and enable media streaming capabilities. Another is to make the hearing aids as small and discreet as possible, whether they are fit behind the ear or deep within the ear canal. And, of course, hearing aid manufacturers are always trying to improve how well technology performs in very diverse listening environments by refining how the hearing aids reduce background noise and manipulate various features of the technology to improve listening and understanding.
Don’t Miss This Opportunity!
If you are struggling with hearing loss, or if you’ve just started to notice that you aren’t hearing like you should, don’t miss this opportunity to educate yourself about your hearing. As hearing health care providers, our professionals specialize in keeping you informed about how your hearing works and what can be done to help you compensate for any hearing loss you may have. Call us for your comprehensive hearing evaluation today and let us reintroduce you to a world of sound!
Washington, DC, May 3, 2012—The Better Hearing Institute is joining the American Tinnitus Association (ATA) in recognizing National Tinnitus Awareness Week (TAW), May 13 to 19, 2012, and is raising awareness of hearing aids as a potential therapy to help quiet chronic “ringing in the ears.” According to a BHI study published in Hearing Review, 43.5 percent of people with tinnitus were helped at least mildly with hearing aids. And 3 out of 10 were helped moderately-to-substantially. For those whose audiologists used best practices in fitting hearing aids, the figure jumped to 50 percent. There currently is no known cure for tinnitus.
Often referred to as “ringing in the ears,” tinnitus is the perception of a sound that has no external source. Tinnitus sufferers commonly describe the noise as a ringing, humming, buzzing, and/or cricket-like. Tinnitus can be constant or intermittent. And it can be heard in one ear, both ears, or in the head. For many who suffer from it, tinnitus can be a source of endless torment and a continual drain on quality-of-life.
Nearly thirty million Americans—almost twice as many as previously believed—suffer from persistent, chronic tinnitus, according to the BHI study. That’s about ten percent of the U.S. population. And for people ages 65 to 84, that number jumps to almost 27 percent. Tinnitus is now the number one service-connected disability of returning military personnel from Iraq and Afghanistan.
“The good news is there are effective therapies available to help people cope,” said Sergei Kochkin, PhD, BHI’s Executive Director. “In particular, we found that a variety of sound therapies and/or hearing aids in conjunction with counseling can help. But we need to raise awareness that effective therapies are available, including the use of hearing aids.”
Exposure to extreme noise is the leading cause of tinnitus, and people with tinnitus almost always have accompanying hearing loss. In fact, the study found that respondents with more severe hearing loss were more likely to have tinnitus. Yet, more than a third (39%) of people with hearing loss do not seek help specifically because they have tinnitus.
“Persistent, chronic tinnitus is a highly intrusive, increasingly common condition that can interfere with a person’s cognition, ability to interact with family and friends, and basic life functions,” said Jennifer Born, Director of Public Affairs at the American Tinnitus Association (ATA). “Much progress is still needed in understanding tinnitus and finding a cure—which is why Tinnitus Awareness Week is such an important effort.”
As baby boomers age, people listen to portable music players at high volumes, and more soldiers return from combat, the incidence of both hearing loss and tinnitus is expected to grow.
People suffering with tinnitus can find the latest information on their condition and methods for coping with it in an authoritative eGuide, “Your Guide to Tinnitus.” This 14-page guide covers definitions, causes, the impact of tinnitus, treatments, practical tips for managing tinnitus, and good self-help references.
“We are very pleased to join ATA this year in promoting Tinnitus Awareness Week and hope that our efforts bring us closer to finding a cure,” Kochkin said.
More About Tinnitus
Four in ten people experience their tinnitus more than 80 percent of the time; slightly more than one in four describe their tinnitus as loud; and about one in five describe their tinnitus as disabling or nearly disabling, the BHI study found.
People with tinnitus report that it most often affects their ability to hear (39%), concentrate (26%), and sleep (20%). Yet for many, tinnitus is even more pervasive. Twelve percent of respondents—or 3.6 million people when extrapolated to the general population—say their tinnitus affects leisure activities, social life, personal relationships, and emotional or mental health. Seven percent of respondents—or an estimated 2.1 million people nationwide—indicate that tinnitus affects their ability to work.
How Hearing Aids Help In addition to improving hearing and communication, hearing aids amplify background sound, so the loudness or prominence of the tinnitus is reduced. Simply taking the focus off the tinnitus means relief for many people. Hearing aids also reduce the stress associated with intensive listening by improving communication, which in turn help relieve tinnitus symptoms.
About Tinnitus Awareness Week
Each year, a week is set aside during Better Hearing Month to focus specifically on increasing public awareness about tinnitus and most importantly the need for increased funding for tinnitus research. This year, ATA is “going for gold” in its efforts to raise awareness and encourage people across the United States and around the world to help educate people about “ringing in the ears.” The premiere TAW 2012 event is the Tour de Tinnitus, a new bike ride fundraiser for the organization that was started last year by long time ATA member Mark Church. His efforts last year spawned great interest and the ride has grown to incorporate five new teams that will participate in four separate rides to raise money to support tinnitus research.
ATA has developed a TAW 2012 section on their website at ATA.org/TAW2012. From requesting proclamations from locally and nationally elected officials, to contacting your local media outlets, sharing tinnitus-related crosswords and posters, ATA has all the information you’ll need to get started in raising some serious tinnitus-awareness!
About BHI Founded in 1973, BHI conducts research and engages in hearing health education with the goal of helping people with hearing loss benefit from proper treatment. For more information on hearing loss, visit www.betterhearing.org. To take the BHI Quick Hearing Check, visit www.hearingcheck.org. To participate in the discussion forum, visit www.betterhearing.org, click on “Discussion Forum,” and go to “Welcome!” to register.
The following article was originally posted on the Hearing Care Blog. We’re reposting it today because it is a great explanation of the costs associated with getting new hearing technology.
By: Bettie Borton, Au.D., FAAA
Doctor of Audiology
Doctors Hearing Clinic
7025 Halcyon Park, Suite A
Montgomery, AL 36117
(334) 396-1635 “Like” Doctors Hearing Clinic | Facebook www.doctorshearingclinic.com
When I talk with patients or family members who have hearing loss, I hear a lot of grousing about the cost of the hearing aids purchased. I mean, those hearing aids are so TINY, they look so fragile… and you’re telling me they will cost HOW much?? Sound familiar?
Consumers seeking hearing healthcare help are often surprised at the cost of today’s sophisticated hearing technology. And that’s understandable. A high quality digital hearing aid usually costs between $1000 and $3000, sometimes more when paired with sophisticated bluetooth technology or other assistive listening devices. And in Alabama, hearing devices are also subject to sales tax.
So, is this investment “worth it” ? When assessing the value of hearing aids, it’s important to consider the many market variables inherent to pricing, including the following:
Hearing aids are medically regulated devices. As such, the manufacturers who produce these devices are subject to regulation by many organizations, including the FDA, FTC, and FCC. Like many other products in the U. S. marketplace, having to meet regulation specifications by governmental agencies seldom lowers costs, and almost assuredly raises them. As regulated devices, the cost of the research and development (AKA “R & D”) required to bring these products to market is significant, and results in products being more pricey.
What does R & D cost, and why is it so important? Consider that the “Big Six” (or the top 6 hearing aid manufacturers in the United States today) spend roughly $500,000,000 annually on R & D, which is quite a lot. To be precise, that figure is 14% of their combined budgets. To put this into perspective, let’s do a percentage comparison. All of us would concede that Apple is certainly cranking out state of the art technology, and undoubtedly this costs the company in terms of product research and development – but by comparison, Apple expends only 2% of its total budget for R & D.
Remember that to date, hearing aids are the only medical devices that involve coupling an electronic device to a sensory organ. This is not an easy task. Today’s instrumentation is incredibly sophisticated, with increased chip speed and capability. Today’s hearing devices are certainly not your grandmother’s hearing aid! Nevertheless, this type of electronic capability comes with a price… it’s expensive to bring these products to market, and market share remains limited.
Hearing aids still have a fairly low market penetration. Of the 37 million Americans who might benefit from amplification, only about 1 in 5 actually utilize the available hearing technology. We have not seen the same price reductions that are inherent to widely used electronic devices like TV’s, computers, cell phones, etc., found in virtually every household. So, what’s the result? Without sufficient market penetration, the product pricing remains higher for everyone.
The price you are quoted for hearing aids is seldom “unbundled” – this means that the cost for services of the audiologist or hearing healthcare provider, warranties, repair coverage, etc. is usually “bundled” into the price. Consumers often forget that there are dispensing fees inherent to well fit hearing devices. Are these fees “worth it”? To answer that question, we need only consider success rates (or lack thereof) for some of the “unbundled” personal sound amplification products or hearing aids such often sold on the internet, whose return for credit rate is upwards of 60%!
Is the price tag for quality hearing devices worth it? Let’s consider the alternative…
Untreated hearing loss results in billions (that’s right… I said BILLIONS) of dollars in lost productivity in the U.S. workforce today. To be exact, unaddressed hearing loss results in 23 billion dollars of lost efficiency/productivity, which costs all of us in the long run. And of course, without today’s sophisticated hearing device capability, the loss in communications ability, life style preservation, and a myriad of other quality of life issues, even for those not employed, costs our society a great deal indeed. There is also a significant body of research that suggests that if you have hearing loss, waiting to get hearing aids can actually compromise word recognition ability. As this data indicates, delaying amplification is not without its own inherent cost.
So, despite the fact that the price for hearing aids may be steep at first glance, there are some very good reasons why costs may be higher than we’d like to see. If cost of recommended hearing technology is a concern for you or your family member, talk to your audiologist and explore possibilities for financial assistance or alternative technologies.
About the Author: Dr. Bettie B. Borton is a licensed audiologist in Alabama, and was the first audiologist in Montgomery to hold certification by the American Board of Audiology, and is the only audiologist with such certification in private practice in this area. Dr. Borton holds a BS degree with CED Certification in Education of the Deaf from the University of Texas, a Masters degree in audiology from the Louisiana State University Medical Center, and a Doctor of Audiology degree from the the University of Florida. She was a clinical audiologist in the Department of Surgery at UAB between 1990 and 1995, and provided patient care services in The Kirklin Clinic.
She has served as a Visiting Professor, teaching associate and Supervising Clinical Audiologist at Auburn University, as well as a Supervising Clinical Audiologist at Auburn Montgomery. Dr. Borton was a charter member of the Alabama Academy of Audiology (ALAA), and served as President of this organization. She has also served on the Board of Governors for the American Board of Audiology (ABA), and is the former National Chair of the ABA. Dr. Borton is currently the CEO and Director of Doctors Hearing Clinic, a full service private practice in Audiology. In April of 2010 Dr. Borton was elected to the Board of Directors of the American Academy of Audiology, and will serve a three year term in that capacity. She is the first (and to date, only) audiologist from Alabama to have been elected to the Academy Board. Dr. Borton was honored as a 2010 recipient of the prestigious Oticon “Focus on People” award, which annually recognizes 12 individuals across the nation for their dedication to helping those with hearing impairment.
Last year was a big year for hearing studies, particularly as hearing health relates to mental health. We saw multiple studies that linked untreated mild hearing loss to disorders such as dementia and brain atrophy. A new study was just released that offered a bit of positive news: hearing aid use may actually increase self-esteem.
The study, conducted by Hear the World, showed that a majority of hearing aid users experience better overall mental fitness than people who allow their hearing loss to go untreated. Quality of life, intimacy, personal confidence, even insomnia tend to improve for people who wear hearing aids. And when you think about it, this makes a lot of sense. Our hearing is our most important social sense; it’s the principle component of how we communicate with one another. To quote Helen Keller, hearing loss “means the loss of the most vital stimulus — the sound of the voice that brings language, sets thoughts astir and keeps us in the intellectual company of man.”
One of the most important things that we do at Advanced Hearing is work with our patients to restore their quality of life where their hearing loss interferes. It isn’t a surprise for us to see the results of this study. We see the importance of better hearing everyday in our patients. It’s our biggest passion and our greatest privilege. To experience the difference better hearing can make, call us today.
Thank you Bartlesville for making our booth at the Chamber of Commerce Business Show a smashing success last weekend. It was a wonderful opportunity to get to know the people that we serve. Our booth was hopping busy! We were able to schedule several appointments for our upcoming Better Hearing Event. And congratulations to Virginia Hamilton, the winner of our fabulous box of Valentine chocolates! We hope you enjoy them.
It’s not too late to enter into our drawing for the Kindle Fire! Just call to schedule an appointment during our Better Hearing Event next week for a chance to win. For the event, we are offering free demonstrations of some of the latest connectivity and streaming options available. Don’t miss this great opportunity to hear the difference that these truly amazing technologies can make. And, just for coming to the appointment, you’ll get a chance at winning a brand new Kindle Fire tablet. It doesn’t get better than that!
One of the most-asked questions we encounter here at Advanced Hearing is, “What can I do to keep my hearing aids working well?” Given the investment involved in purchasing hearing aids, it’s perfectly reasonable to want to extend the value of that investment by extending the life of the technology. Today, we’d like to share with you five suggestions that we normally give in answer to this question.
Clean your instruments daily — At the end of every day, use a dry soft cloth to wipe off any visible debris and ear wax. Check the wax guards and domes (if applicable) to see if they need to be changed. Make sure that there aren’t any cracks or holes in the shell or case. Gently brush the microphone covers with your cleaning tool.
Keep your instruments in a safe place when you’re not wearing them — Treat your hearing aids like you would your watch, glasses, or fine jewelry. In fact, it’s a good idea to put your case in the same spot where you store these other things. Keeping it in the same spot and closing them up tight in their case when you’re not wearing them ensures that you always know where they are and that they’re safe from any indoor pets that might decide they want an extra crunchy snack.
Always carry a travel case in your pocket or purse — When you’re out and about, you may want to take your instruments off for some reason or another. We see a lot of people who put their instruments in a wad of tissue or just leave them loose in a pocket or purse. Before you do that next time, stop and think about what you do with that wad of tissue when you get home. Most people just throw the tissues out, and some chuck their hearing aids in the bin along with the tissue! Leaving them loose in a pocket exposes them vulnerable to being crushed. Travel cases are the best way to protect the instruments from damage and from an accidental trip to the dump.
Schedule regular cleanings with your hearing professional — At Advanced Hearing, we ask most of our patients to come in every six months so that we can do a thorough cleaning and can make any adjustments that may be required at that time. Some patients come in more regularly because they have more ear wax and body oil issues and their instruments need the TLC a little more frequently.
Have your hearing tested yearly — Hearing instruments don’t do a whole lot of good if they aren’t programmed appropriately for your hearing loss. And, sometimes despite our best efforts, hearing loss has a nasty tendency to progress. Yearly exams keep you aware of what is happening with your hearing as well as allow your hearing professionals to set your technology appropriately. It will also help you be better prepared to upgrade when you’ve reached the end of your technology’s capabilities.
Hearing technology is advancing by leaps and bounds. At Advanced Hearing Care, we are excited to share with our readers and patients some of the newest breakthroughs in the industry. Today, we’re showcasing just a few of these updates, with more to come!
What’s New in the mini-RIC/RITE Category
Miniaturized Receiver-in-the-Canal/Ear (RIC/RITE) hearing aids have taken the hearing industry by storm over the last several years. And they keep getting smaller and better as time goes on. Some of the most exciting changes have been made in this particular category of hearing technology.
AGXOd Series – Subtle cosmetics and fully-automated sound processing make AGXOd Series virtually invisible for the user and everyone else. It hides behind the ear and the almost invisible receiver wire and ergonomically shaped speaker ensure fitting comfort throughout the day. The instrument’s surface is smooth and unbroken with no push buttons to attract attention. Designed with first-time users in mind, AGXOd Series makes the transition to wearing amplification easy by delivering immediate benefit. Fully-featured digital hearing technology, the AGXOd Series is also wireless and Bluetooth compatible with the use of a streamer.
AGXsx mini RIC – This is one mighty mini-RIC. Not only is it nearly invisible when worn by the patient, it fits nearly all hearing losses. The AGXsx mini RIC is the only RIC using a size 10 battery with a configurable volume control and integrated telecoil. This technology is fully-featured and includes some of the best performance features available on the market.
AGXsx RIC 13 – Even though the battery is larger than its counterparts, the AGXsx RIC 13 hearing aid is anything but big and bulky. It’s significantly smaller than the standard RIC with a 312 battery, but takes full advantage of the size 13 battery. Technical data show that this hearing aid can go up to 18 days on the same battery. This is fully-featured digital hearing technology and can fit nearly all types of hearing loss.
To “test-drive” any of these new and exciting hearing treatment solutions, call us today for a hearing evaluation. At Advanced Hearing Care, our experienced professionals will take the time to get to know you and give expert advice to tailor a solution to your individual hearing needs using today’s most extraordinary technology with excellent service at an exceptional value. With new miniaturized technology, hearing treatment doesn’t have to look like your grandfather’s ear plug hearing aid. Don’t wait until old age to hear what you’ve been missing!
The Better Hearing Institute recently released an article through their eNewsletter warning of the risks of using over-the-counter, one-size-fits-all hearing aids without the consultation of a hearing health professional. This article hits on some of the most important reasons that Audiologists and Hearing Instrument Specialists are so very critical to the proper treatment of hearing loss.
The most important reason to consult with a hearing health professional before pursuing hearing aids is that hearing loss can be the symptom of a more serious medical condition. This is also the reason that all 50 states utilize a strict licensing process for hearing professionals. These licensing procedures ensure that the professionals are able to recognize certain warning signs during the testing process which might indicate that a referral to more specialized medical services is needed. Basic hearing testing, which is the first step toward the treatment of all kinds of hearing loss, can indicate the presence of cholesteatoma, otosclerosis, otitis, and acoustic neuroma. These are just a few of the conditions that require medical attention, and sometimes immediate medical attention, before amplification can be prescribed.
Additionally, in all 50 states, the only people who can adjust and customize hearing aids and hearing technology to the needs of the individual patient are the individuals who have obtained state licensure. Hearing losses may look similar on paper, but each person perceives their hearing loss differently and has different needs for successful treatment. Audiologists and Hearing Instrument Specialists are highly trained to adapt today’s extraordinary technology to meet those needs.
“Today’s state-of-the-art hearing aids should be programmed to the individual’s specific hearing loss requirements in order to provide good levels of benefit and customer satisfaction,” says Sergei Kochkin, BHI’s Executive Director. “The process requires a complete in-person hearing assessment in a sound booth; the training and skills of a credentialed hearing healthcare professional in order to prescriptively fit the hearing aids using sophisticated computer programs; and appropriate in-person follow-up and counseling. This is not possible when consumers purchase one-size-fits-all hearing aids over the Internet or elsewhere.”
Your perception of your hearing loss is a unique problem that deserves the best care available to you. Don’t leave your most important social sense to a cookie-cutter, pre-packaged widget that is neither prescribed for your hearing loss nor customized to your individual needs. Don’t trust one of the most integral parts of your personal warning system to a process that is not capable of distinguishing the warning signs of a more serious medical condition.
At Advanced Hearing Care, we know that the actual hearing technology is only a small portion of the hearing treatment process. Our caring professionals will take the time to diagnose your hearing loss properly and to understand your goals for your better hearing. We provide that elite level of care that is lacking in a DIY hearing solution, because we work with you and the technology to give you the best hearing possible. Call us today and reintroduce yourself to a world of sound!
When it comes to treating hearing loss, there is no one-size-fits-all answer. What’s best for one person may not be what’s best for another person. A person’s lifestyle plays a very important role in determining which particular features are necessary to treat his or her hearing loss.
Top Three Situations
Anytime we see a new patient here at Advanced Hearing Care, we ask them to tell us what are their three most important listening environments. These environments are ones that are either their three most important activities in their work day or the three things that they have stopped doing because they can’t hear well. Examples of top environments include watching television, talking on the telephone, eating out at noisy restaurants, or hearing conversation in small group or party situations, just to name a few.
When we know how a hearing loss is impacting a patient’s lifestyle, we are better able to program a hearing solution to address that patient’s needs in those situations. These environments are the true test of whether or not we’re providing a benefit to a patient’s life. If a patient doesn’t notice improvement in hearing where they need it the most, then they’re more likely to reject the solution entirely.
What’s Your Lifestyle?
It’s also important for us to know how often a patient engages in his or her top three situations. If Mr. Smith and Mrs. Jones both identify their top three situations as watching television, going to church and talking on the telephone, we know that they will need specific settings to handle those three environments, but we don’t necessarily know yet the level of sophistication they will need in their hearing aids. On the surface, Mr. Smith and Mrs. Jones look pretty similar. But when we discover that Mrs. Jones is a Sunday School Teacher, an avid bridge player, and on several community boards and committees, we know that she has a very active and vibrant lifestyle and her hearing solution will have to keep up with her. Mr. Smith lives a quieter lifestyle, going to church services once a week and keeping up with his family out of state over the telephone, so his hearing solution doesn’t need the bells and whistles that are necessary for more active people.
At Advanced Hearing Care, we break up our technology solutions into lifestyle tiers. The AGX Technology Product Lines match technology with common lifestyle demands. The higher the tier, the more advanced the technology, the better that technology will perform in demanding listening situations.
AGX9: For the Active Lifestyle — The AGX9 product line was designed for individuals who lead active lifestyles and whose listening environments include frequent background noise. Active lifestyles often feature a variety of video and audio entertainment, diverse restaurant dining, sporting events, outdoor activities, demanding careers, group participation, family gatherings, movies, driving, mall shopping, and church activities.
AGX7: For the Casual Lifestyle — AGX7 technology offers premium features in an advanced hearing system. This line of technology was designed for individuals who lead casual lifestyles and whose listening environments include occasional background noise. Casual lifestyles typically include activities such as regular conversation, frequent television, quiet restaurant dining, small meetings, family gatherings, driving, shopping trips, movies, and weekly church services.
AGX5: For the Quiet Lifestyle — AGX5 technology offers excellent features at a mid-level price point. This hearing aid technology was designed for individuals who lead quiet lifestyles and whose listening environments include limited background noise. Quiet lifestyles often feature activities including one-on-one conversations, some television and radio, quiet shopping trips, and weekly church services.
AGX3: For the Very Quiet Lifestyle — AGX3 technology offers high-quality features at an entry-level price and are the responsible choice for those who want an economical solution to their hearing needs. AGX3 hearing aid technology is designed for individuals who lead very quiet lifestyles and whose listening environments rarely include background noise. Very quiet lifestyles most often feature activities in and around the home, such as limited television, radio or recorded books, and small church services.
Putting It All Together
When it comes to hearing health care, one size does not fit all. By identifying both your top three listening situations and your level of lifestyle activity, we can offer a truly customized and tailored solution to your personal hearing loss in the situations where you perceive that you need it the most. Don’t let anything keep you from living the life that you want to live. Call today and reintroduce yourself to a world of sound!
Some of the strongest misconceptions about hearing health care involve the treatment of hearing loss. For many years, limits of technology and sound mechanics restricted the ability to successfully treat hearing loss. Because of these limitations, hearing technology was often ugly and bulky with very poor sound quality. Despite recent developments that have reduced the size, improved the sound quality and increased the aesthetic appeal of hearing technology, many people shy away from hearing treatments because they still believe that they either can’t be helped or that the recommended hearing aids will make them look old. Today, we’ll take a look at a few of the most common objections people bring to us regarding hearing treatment and technology.
Myth: My hearing loss cannot be helped.
Fact: In the past, that may have been true. Until relatively recent breakthroughs in hearing technology, there were certain types of hearing loss that could not be treated successfully. These included high frequency losses, mild losses, sensorineural loss with decreased speech discrimination, or monaural deafness. The limits in hearing technology in the past made it difficult, if not impossible, to help people with these conditions. However, most of those limits no longer exist. Open-fit and receiver-in-the-canal solutions were a major breakthrough that allowed for easy treatment of high frequency and mild losses. The most recent speech enhancement features available in most hearing technology greatly help those patients who have difficulty with understanding speech sounds. Wireless CROS and Bi-CROS hearing aids are now available for people who only have one functioning ear. The truth is that the hearing industry is tackling some of the toughest hearing losses and producing solutions that can help many people who were previously told, often by their doctors, that they could not be helped.
Myth: Hearing loss and hearing instruments are a sign of old age.
Fact: Not anymore. Today’s most extraordinary hearing technology is smaller and more discreet than ever before. Many of them are either invisible or nearly invisible when worn. They simply do not look like the hearing aids our parents and grandparents had to wear. Also, the occurrence of hearing loss is more prevalent in the Baby Boomer population than it is in those over the age of 65, which means that people with hearing loss are younger than has been typical in the past. These people are finding it more and more difficult to function in the workplace with hearing impairments. They are treating their hearing loss with amazing technology that gives them confidence to move through their day without calling attention to their condition.
Myth: Really good hearing instruments are prohibitively expensive.
Fact: While it is true that premium instruments require premium investment, that premium instrument is usually too much hearing aid for most lifestyles. Most manufacturers produce different levels of their technology at different levels of investment. These levels of investment and technology tend to correlate with and be built around different levels of lifestyle activity. The question to ask yourself is how highly you value your quality of life and how much impact your potential hearing loss has on that quality.
Myth: Wearing two hearing aids is not necessary.
Fact: One hearing aid can certainly get you by. You will notice some benefit, but it won’t be nearly the benefit that you will experience by treating both ears. The first reason is that binaural, or two-eared, hearing helps us localize sounds, helps us understand speech in noisy situations, and helps our brains process everything that’s going on around us in the world of sound. As I sit and type this, my right ear is sending different sounds to my brain than my left ear is sending. My brain relies on the different signals it receives from each side of my head in order to fully process my environment. Without one of my ears, all sounds would appear to be coming from the side of my head that does hear and I would be missing a lot of sounds that are necessary for understanding speech. Another argument for treating binaural loss with binaural amplification is that anytime there is a binaural hearing loss that is only treated with one hearing aid, the brain tends to start ignoring the ear that doesn’t hear as well. In this case, it is very likely that the patient will develop more problems at a faster rate in the untreated ear. Additionally, when there are two ears working at the same level, sounds seem louder than if one ear doesn’t hear. We call this an additive therapeutic effect where 1+1=3 or more, due to the exponential power of the brain in processing auditory signals. If a person wears two hearing aids, those aids do not have to be made as loud as if the person were only wearing one hearing aid, allowing for more severe losses to be treated more successfully.
Myth: I can just have surgery like my friend did and that will fix my hearing.
Fact: There are several different surgical procedures available for hearing loss and all of them address a different problem. Of all the hearing loss cases, only a very small percentage are candidates for corrective surgery. Usually these surgeries involve taking some action to prevent hearing from getting worse rather than making it better, as is the case in a stapedectomy or mastoidectomy, and only if the patient is experiencing chronic infections or complications from other medical issues. Other surgical procedures involve the removal of abnormal growths, cholesteatomas, or acoustic neuromas. Some improvement may be seen after these kinds of procedures, but it is unusual for there to be a complete recovery of normal hearing. The procedures designed to improve poor hearing are implant procedures, either cochlear implants or small mechanical implants behind the ear. Cochlear implantation candidates have very profound losses and do poorly with hearing aid amplification. Mechanical implants may benefit a broader range of cases than cochlear implants, yet the surgery tends to be invasive and often involves breaking healthy ossicular bones in the middle ear. Often, healing times after these procedures can be quite long and the implant can generally not be used until the healing process is complete. The treatment process and recovery times for these procedures is longer and more arduous than the process of selecting and fitting hearing aids, which provide immediate benefit without involving any surgical procedures.
The only way to truly know whether or not there are options for treating your hearing loss is to discuss those options with a trained and experienced hearing professional. Audiologists and hearing instrument specialists can test your hearing and make recommendations for successful treatment of most types of hearing loss. These professionals have a focused commitment to stay up to date on all of the new developments in hearing health care and technology. Don’t let the limitations of the past keep you from living your life today and in the future. Call us today and reintroduce yourself to a world of sound!