Categories
Hearing Aids

“How Do I Know if My Hearing Aids are Working?”

A great question

I had a patient ask me this a while back. He had worn hearing aids for a number of years, and when we fit him with new hearing aids, he was impressed with how much of an improvement there was. As AudigyCertified™ professionals, we’re sticklers for follow-up appointments to ensure that each patient’s new technology is working properly. We were working on an improvement for his when he posed the question, “How do I know if my hearing aids are working optimally?” There are multiple ways we try to answer that:

Objective testing

We test the hearing aids in the patient’s ears to make sure they’re providing enough power to hear during necessary daily activities. This alone tells us a great deal about how well the hearing aid is working.

Subjective testing

We have the patient wear the hearing aids during daily life and provide us with feedback on whether soft speech is still clear and whether loud sounds are too loud. This is our best test in making sure that our patients are hearing exactly the way they should.

Follow-up appointments

Because there are myriad ways hearing aids can be tweaked and adjusted to make sure each person is hearing their best, your AudigyCertified provider should do everything possible to guarantee that you are 100% satisfied with your hearing devices.

Categories
Hearing Loss

The Difference Between Sudden Idiopathic Hearing Loss and Otitis Media

Are you ready?

When a patient calls with the complaint of sudden hearing loss, how is your staff trained to handle these patients? Do they offer the next available appointment, or is the patient squeezed into your schedule?

Winter is the season in which we most often see sudden, idiopathic hearing loss. A patient that calls with the complaint of a sudden hearing loss should be considered medically urgent — a same-day emergency.

Two types of sudden hearing loss

There are two primary types of sudden hearing loss: conductive hearing loss and sensorineural hearing loss (SNHL). The general practitioner might confuse a sudden conductive hearing loss with a sudden SNHL since some of the complaints may be the same.

However, each hearing loss manifests quite differently. The most common cause of a sudden conductive hearing loss is a head cold. This type of sudden loss is most often bilateral, and the patient may complain that their ears feel plugged. Sudden conductive hearing loss may take one to two days to occur.

Sudden SNHL is most often unilateral and can occur within minutes or an hour. In many cases, the patient notices the hearing loss each morning upon waking. Often these patients are treated as if they have fluid in the middle ear, and no diagnostic testing is done for weeks or even months, which then significantly reduces the chance of any recovery.

Quick diagnosis and treatment are keys to recovery

Studies confirm that the sooner a patient is seen and therapy initiated for sudden SNHL, the better the recovery. If a patient is treated within the first seven days, the chance of recovery is 56%; if treated 30 or more days later, the chance of recovery drops to 27%. If treated within 72 hours, the prognosis improves even more. Idiopathic sudden SNHL has an estimated incidence of between 5 and 20 per 100,000 persons per year, with higher rates for those between 50 and 60 years old.

If sudden SNHL is suspected, the patient should be referred for an immediate audiological evaluation, and it may be warranted to start them on medication at this initial appointment. The current standard treatment for idiopathic sudden SNHL hearing loss is a course of oral corticosteroid (prednisone or methylprednisolone).

The audiogram is the diagnostic foundation and provides prognostic information. Serial testing provides documentation of the progression or resolution of the hearing loss and response to treatment. Studies show that patients with profound hearing loss have significantly decreased recovery rates compared to all other groups (22% with complete recovery). Other studies have shown that patients with mid-frequency hearing loss, particularly when hearing at 4000 Hz is worse than 8000 Hz, have an excellent prognosis.

Categories
Hearing Aids

How Do Loud Sounds Affect People Who Wear Hearing Aids?

A FAQ

This is a question that I hear often, both from those who wear hearing aids and those who don’t. When people think of hearing loss, they generally think of an inability to hear soft sounds, which is absolutely true. What they don’t realize is that most people with hearing loss are actually MORE sensitive to loud sounds than their normal-hearing counterparts are. In fact, loud sounds can actually be a bigger issue for people with hearing loss than for their normal-hearing counterparts.

Tricky business

This problem, called recruitment, is very tricky for those who fit hearing aids. On one hand, we need to amplify the specific sounds that our patients have trouble hearing.  On the other hand, if the input to the hearing aid gets too loud, the power to the hearing aid could easily exceed the patient’s uncomfortable loudness level, or UCL. In the past, the patient’s only means of dealing with this problem was turning the hearing aid’s volume up and down via a manual control. This created significant issues for the hearing aid wearer, who was constantly turning the hearing aids up and down in response to sounds that were either to soft or too loud.  In either case, the noise problem had already happened. The patient was still struggling to function normally.

There is good news

The good news is that today’s hearing aids allow for an automatic volume control. Using something called compression, the audiologist can manipulate the digital circuit so that soft speech is audible (can be heard), and loud sounds are loud but not uncomfortable. Does this happen on day one?  No. That’s why it’s imperative that patients go through an extensive trial period so that the appropriate adjustments can be made. Once those adjustments are made, the patient can expect to tolerate the volume in any situation.

 

Categories
Hearing Loss

Why Choose an AudigyCertified™ Professional?

What does AudigyCertified mean?

Something we often bring up is the fact that we are AudigyCertified. This statement is normally followed with the question, “What does that mean?”

The highest standards

To be AudigyCertified, we had to first be nominated by one of our peers as a practice that exemplifies the highest standards of care. In other words, one of our peers had to consider us to be in the top 5% of all practices in the country in terms of customer care.

Once we were identified, Audigy Group thoroughly studied our practice. During this process, a team from AudigyGroup was on site at each of our locations to evaluate things such as:

  • How we answer the phone
  • How we schedule appointments
  • How we take a patient case history (review medical history)
  • What testing we do and how we explain the results
  • How we recommend hearing aids
  • Which hearing aid manufacturers we use
  • How we fit hearing aids
  • Our follow-up processes (how we take care of patients after the fitting)

The highest level of care

Each step in this process is vital to our success with our patients, because not only do we want our patients to get the highest level of care, we also want their experience at our practice to be enjoyable — and even a little exciting — as we re-open the doors to better hearing.

As an AudigyCertified practice, we are part of a group of the best audiologists and audiology practices in the country. We, the members of this group, constantly learn from each other because we get together multiple times each year at Audigy Group events to share ideas. We also communicate in real time through an Internet-based message board. This means that if you present an issue or have a question that we cannot answer, you can be confident that we will be able to get the answer quickly.

Creating patients for life

AudigyCertified professionals raise the standards of hearing care excellence in their area. They understand that value is not measured by price alone. Rather, value is about how well they use their knowledge and experience in the field to create a customized solution that meets your hearing expectations and that best fits your lifestyle.  AudigyCertified professionals are not just looking to sell you a hearing aid — they are looking to create a patient for life.  If you or a loved one are having problems with hearing, please contact your nearest AudigyCertified office.

 

Categories
Hearing Aids

Hearing in Noise

Have you said this?

“I can hear just fine when it is quiet, but I have a lot of trouble when there’s other noise.”

This statement is something we AudigyCertified providers hear all the time. Competing noise can drown out the person you are trying to hear, often by overpowering the soft, high-pitched consonant sounds that are so important for speech clarity. Trouble in background noise is one of the primary reasons why people get hearing aids.

What is noise?

We define noise as any sound you don’t want to hear. What noise is may change based on the situation. If you’re trying to have a conversation with your wife in a restaurant, and a guy at the next table starts talking loudly, the loud guy is noise because you’re trying to hear your wife. But what if the loud guy starts talking about something interesting? Then your wife is noise because she is interfering with your ability to hear the other guy.

How do hearing aids help with background noise?

Although many hearing aids do a good job of differentiating between speech noise and steady-state noises (like machine noise or wind noise), it’s impossible for a hearing aid to know which person you want to hear and which person is noise.

But hearing aids can tell the difference between speech sounds and other types of sounds. Hearing aids can accentuate speech while reducing sounds like the refrigerator running or road noise. Another way that modern hearing aids help you hear in background noise is by using directional microphone technology. This helps you hear what is in front of you better than what is behind you when in a noisy environment. Hearing aids can tell where the sounds are coming from and enhance sounds coming from in front, while not amplifying sounds from the back. This means, when wearing hearing aids with directional microphones, it is important to sit facing the speaker, with your back to the noise. Hearing in noise is always difficult, with hearing aids or without, but modern hearing aid technologies combined with good communication techniques can make a big difference.

Categories
Hearing Loss

What Does Permanent Hearing Loss Mean?

Sensorineural hearing loss

Permanent hearing loss is also known as sensorineural hearing loss, and it occurs in 90% of patients who are diagnosed with hearing loss, meaning it cannot be surgically or medically corrected.  It is the most common type of hearing loss found today. Sensorineural hearing loss occurs when the hair cells in the inner ear and/or hearing nerve have become damaged and do not transmit signals to the brain.

Causes and symptoms

While the causes of hearing loss can vary, they include aging, genetic predisposition, noise exposure, medications, and trauma, or sudden loss can be due to a virus or infection. New studies have revealed links to hearing loss related to smoking and obesity.

Symptoms of sensorineural hearing loss can include:

• Having difficulty understanding speech in degraded acoustic environments, such as in a restaurant or party environment.

• Lacking clarity or understanding of sentences.

• Asking people to repeat themselves.

• Feeling like other people are mumbling.

• Difficulty with female voices.

• Turning up the TV volume but still not understanding the speech clearly.

It is important to understand your specific hearing loss. Sometimes it takes several discussions with your AudigyCertified audiologist and with your family for things to “click.” By better understanding your hearing loss, you will gain new insights into why you think people are mumbling, why you hear but cannot understand, why you have difficulty with female voices, and the other questions you have been asking yourself for so long. Sensorineural hearing loss can be treated by the use of prescribed digital hearing aids to hear what you’ve been missing.