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Frequently Asked Questions

Audiologists

An Audiologist is a professional who evaluates and treats people with hearing loss and balance disorders.  Audiologists have extensive training (at least a Masters level degree) to evaluate infants to adults to determine the best intervention, whether it be medical or amplification.

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Audiologist perform comprehensive audiological evaluations for people of all ages, counseling, evaluating for and fitting of hearing aids and other assistive listening devices, cochlear implant rehabilitation, hearing conservation, balance testing, brainstem testing, and newborn hearing screenings.

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Audiologists have a Masters or Doctoral degree from accredited universities with special training in the prevention, identification, assessment, and non-medical treatment of hearing and balance disorders.

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Hearing Aids

More than 24 million Americans have some type of hearing problem.  Hearing difficulties are often unrecognized by the person involved.  Children and teenagers seldom complain about the symptoms of hearing loss, and adults may lose their hearing so gradually, they do not realize it is happening.

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The first step in determining the need of a hearing aid is a comprehensive evaluation by an Audiologist.  The audiologist will ask you a series of questions, look in your ears with an otoscope and complete a comprehensive evaluation of your hearing.  With all these results in hand, it will be determined if your hearing loss warrants a medical evaluation or a hearing aid.

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There are different causes of hearing loss.  Some can be treated with medication or surgery.  Others can be helped through hearing aids.  A complete hearing test should be performed by a certified audiologist to determine the nature and degree of hearing loss.  The Audiologist will determine if hearing aids can be of benefit.  You should have your hearing evaluated if:

  1. The TV volume has to be increased beyond the comfort level of others in the household;
  2. You have difficulty understanding voices over the telephone;
  3. It is hard to understand words when background noise is present;
  4. Friends and family appear to be mumbling.

Hearing aids can improve speech understanding in various listening situations and, thus, improve one’s quality of life.  Although older hearing aids were not liked, new digital and programmable technology permits many patients to wear them comfortably.

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First of all, you should make sure you see a licensed Audiologist with a reputable history in your area.  Once you have chosen whom you wish to work with, the following questions should be addressed.

  • Are several types or brands available?
  • Is there a trail period?
  • Is some of my money refundable if I decided not to keep my hearing aids?
  • Is there a contract with clearly addressed prices and return policies?
  • Is in-office servicing available or will my aid be returned to the manufacturer for repairs?
  • Is there a warranty included in the purchase price of the hearing aid?

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If your hearing loss is in both ears, two hearing aids are better than one.  A hearing aid in each ear results in: better speech understanding in noisy places, better sound localization, better sound quality, improved distance hearing, improved sound identification, less exertion to hear, and a feeling of balance.

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They can vary from office to office.  There are many hearing aids available for a couple of hundred dollars.  Those hearing aids are typically not customized to an individual’s ear or hearing loss, therefore should be avoided.  Most professional offices offer hearing aids from several hundred dollars  up to a few thousand dollars per hearing aid.  The more technologically advanced the hearing aid (i.e. computer programmable and / or completely in the ear canal), the higher the cost.  One thing to keep in mind is not every hearing aid is suited for every individual.  Even the most expensive aid may not be the right hearing aid for you.

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Most people put off getting hearing aids for several years.  We have all heard the stories of how Aunt Mary’s hearing aids just sit in her drawer or how Uncle Fred still can’t hear with his hearing aids.  Unfortunately, these stories are told all the time, so why should anyone rush out and order hearing aids?  Recent advances in hearing aid technology have made them easier to use and provide better hearing.  The newer technology allows for: automatic volume control, elimination of feedback, smaller size and improved speech understanding in noise.  The latest digital technology incorporates a miniature computer so adjustments can be made for a change in hearing loss or to tailor your hearing aids to match your lifestyle or hearing needs.  Newer hearing aids are advancing us towards restoring hearing and allowing folks to be involved in the extra activities of life once avoided because of poor hearing.

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Audiological Tests

An VNG evaluates the balance function of the inner ear.  It is a test pertinent to the recording of involuntary eye movements, nystagmus, and helps to determine the origin of the problem

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An ABR is a test which measures the speed of electrical impulses along the acoustic nerve from the inner ear to the brainstem.

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EcoG is a measure of the electrical potentials within the auditory system.  As the auditory system is stimulated by an acoustic signal, it causes a change in the electrical potentials of the sensorineural mechanism that can be monitored through electrodes placed on the head and in the ears.  This test is used to identify cochlear/endolyphatic hydrops for patients with dizziness.

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An Epley maneuver, also known as canalith repositioning, is a therapeutic procedure which relieves symptoms for patients who have periods of brief spinning dizziness associated with position changes.  These patients are identified as having benign paroxysmal positional vertigo (during the VNG) before this procedure is performed.

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A tympanogram is a measurement of ear canal volume, middle ear pressure and compliance.  A tympanogram will detect fluid, a perforation in the eardrum, function of a pressure equalization tube, ossicular disarticulation, as well as a healthy middle ear.

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The audiogram is a graphic representation of the ability to hear tones.  The hearing is typically tested from 250 Hz to 8000 Hz (low frequency to high frequency tones).  The left ear’s responses are noted with an “X” and the right ear’s responses are noted with an “O”.  There are varying degrees of hearing loss.  Normal range is from 0-25dB, mild hearing loss range is from 25-40dB, moderate hearing loss range is from 40-60dB, moderately-severe hearing loss range is from 60-75dB, severe hearing loss range is from 75-90dB, and above 90dB is the profound hearing loss range.  The ability to understand a list of 25 words is measured at a comfortable listening level and then the % of words correct is recorded.  This test is the word recognition score.  The speech reception threshold score is the softest level at which words can be repeated 50% of the time.

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