'Hearing Services (Audiology)' posts
Many rave about using amplification and report that acquiring hearing aids is a life changing event that opens up the world to a wide range of sounds and improves communication. But some people report that they are reluctant to obtain amplification because they have known friends or a family member that obtained advanced hearing aids but continued to struggle hearing during group activities.
Why is one person a successful hearing aid user while another is not? What factors contribute to such diverse outcomes?
Sudden changes in hearing can happen overnight or over a few days and can be accompanied by loud ringing in the ear (tinnitus), dizziness/vertigo and/or fullness or pressure in the same ear. They typically will occur in one ear and in very rare cases will occur on both sides.
The National Institute of Deafness and Communication Disorders (NIDCD) reports the incidence of sudden sensorineural hearing loss at approximately 4,000 new cases a year. Sensorineural is a term used to denote hearing loss that occurs at the cochlea, the organ for hearing.
There are many causes of sudden hearing loss but it is ...
A short anatomy lesson
Our inner ear, or cochlea, has thousands of cellular components called hair cells. These cells act as biological amplifiers when the sound arriving at our ear is soft. That is, they pump up and down at the same frequency as the sound entering our ear making it more intense. This allows us to hear very soft sounds.
These same cochlear cells which amplify soft sounds can also contract and dampen the loud sounds which enter our ear. This prevents the ear from being over driven and this, in turn, prevents distortion.
So what happens if these cells are gradually damaged so that they no longer work properly? The simple answer is ...
Holidays are known for gathering with friends and family to celebrate the season and the passing of another year. For those with hearing loss, these gatherings can be more stressful than enjoyable. Small groups of people around the room all talking at once about how best to serve the cranberries or the beautiful lights that are decorating homes in the neighborhood can be difficult to hear even with a mild hearing loss. Working to understand what is being said takes a lot of energy and focus and can result in the feeling of isolation, tiredness and depression.
There are things you can do to help improve your communication during these otherwise festive times. No matter your hearing abilities, good communication strategies are always helpful when you are talking to others while cooking in a busy kitchen, gathered around the warm fireplace or sitting across the dinner table. The Better Hearing Institute has some great suggestions to share with your loved ones.
Depending on the severity of your hearing loss, you may benefit from the use of hearing aids or even a cochlear implant. Many people think that hearing aids are only for the elderly and cochlear implants are only for young children. This is not the case. Your hearing loss and speech understanding abilities determines what technology is right for you with no regard to your age. [Finally! Something doesn’t care how old I am!!] There are ...
Almost all individuals experience ”transient ear noises” which is the intermittent sensation of ringing (lasting less than 5 minutes), typically in one ear. At times this sensation is accompanied by a sensation of fullness or a momentary change in hearing. When this change is brief, it is a normal phenomenon. If it lasts longer than 5 minutes twice week, you should be evaluated for tinnitus.
What should I do when my ear(s) start ringing?
The first step is a comprehensive hearing evaluation by an audiologist. Tinnitus can be caused by a variety of auditory disorders and a complete audiology evaluation will confirm and/or rule out many of these conditions. Pending the hearing test results, you may be referred to an otolaryngologist (sometimes referred to as an ENT or an Ear, Nose and Throat physician) or other health care providers. The otolaryngologist will further investigate your tinnitus for possible medical causes.
It is normal for tinnitus to occasionally change in the pitch and intensity; however, significant and prolonged changes in tinnitus (increased loudness or tinnitus that is one-sided) should be (re)evaluated. Tinnitus that is present in one ear (unilateral) or pulsatile will always require an otolaryngology evaluation after the hearing evaluation. Tinnitus that is accompanied by a sudden hearing loss is considered an emergent condition and individuals should be evaluated by an audiologist and otolaryngologist as soon as possible.
How can I manage my tinnitus?
Tinnitus can evoke ...
To some, when a possible problem gets to the point where we decide to “have it looked at,” there are many questions that come up. If you are like me, I have several questions to ask. However, by the time the check in happens and all the tests are performed, I forget most of my questions. Or, sometimes, I feel like there is no more time to have them answered. Often times I make up excuses for why I didn’t ask. My frequent one is that they, or I, didn’t have the time.
Time may be limited sometimes, but asking the right questions really helps. Some of the best answers you get about your hearing come from very simple questions that you wrote down ahead of time (so nobody forgets). I have listed a few below to help us all make sure you get the answers you want, at the time you want them.
Some may be reluctant to pursue amplification based on comments from friends and relatives reporting that hearing aids are “expensive”. These statements can be misleading. The costs associated with amplification upon the initial fitting can sound intimidating, but it is important to consider that the average life expectancy of a pair of hearing aids is 5 to 7 years. Breaking down the cost of amplification over this period is often comparable to a monthly cell phone or cable television bill.
The costs associated with a hearing aid fitting include not only the device itself but also the professional skills and time associated with appropriately fitting the device through verification and follow-up. Verification refers to measurements made to determine that the hearing aids meet a set of standards which includes volume, output, cosmetic appeal, and physical comfort. Using evidence-based practices, real-ear measurements are obtained using a small microphone placed in the ear with the hearing aid to ensure that appropriate volume is provided for different signals (such as speech). If earmolds or custom hearing aids are ordered, it is necessary to ensure that their characteristics (type of tubing, venting, style and material) are appropriate for the degree of hearing loss and physical characteristics of the ear.
Hearing aids are available in a wide range of makes and models, and a hearing aid solution that works for one person may not work for another. Additional costs include ...