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Hearing Assessment

Why bring someone to a hearing test?

Posted by Admin |

Hearing Assessment

Why bring someone to a hearing test?

Posted by Admin |

Hearing Assessment

Can you test for tinnitus?

Posted by Admin |

Why bring someone to a hearing test?

Recently, I made an appointment for my father’s hearing assessment with a local audiologist. The woman who confirmed the appointment reminded me that he needed to bring someone to the hearing test. It may seem like an unusual request, but bringing someone to a hearing test can help ensure a higher-quality outcome. It’s best to bring the person who speaks with him most to take part in the familiar voice test. So, last Thursday I joined my dad at the audiologist’s office and I’m so glad I went.

Helping Dad hear better means helping myself

Before I even called, Dad was already a bit reluctant to address his hearing loss. He had a lot of denial about how much he was missing. At 93 years old, he had survived a lifetime without hearing aids, but as his daughter I was tired of constantly having to repeat things, and explain what doctors, friends and even my kids say. Finally, I insisted that he get a free hearing assessment* and eventually he agreed to see what the audiologist had to say.

A hearing assessment starts with a conversation with the audiologist

As expected, the hearing assessment began with the audiologist asking routine questions about Dad’s health. He asked about how well Dad hears in various situations. It seemed the audiologist was not only trying to learn what his needs may be, but also how well Dad could follow along a discussion in a quiet space. 

In the booth

After our talk, the audiologist invited Dad to sit in a booth and listen to tones at different frequencies and volumes. Dad was asked to indicate when he heard something. From my vantage point (outside the booth), I could see the audiologist press buttons, which my Dad didn’t hear. As soon as it was finished, the audiologist explained what the audiogram indicated. As with many older seniors, Dad had below-normal hearing across all frequencies, but he had the most difficulty with higher-pitched sounds. Dad was a bit disappointed to see the results, but I don’t think he was surprised.

The audiologist explained the audiogram key to explain the results. The audiogram showed the conclusions of both the air conduction and bone conduction hearing tests. 

My part in a familiar voice hearing test

A familiar voice hearing test is the main reason to bring someone to a hearing test. It provides a chance for a hearing care provider to see how well an individual understands words spoken by someone close to them. This was when the family member or close friend takes a more active role in the appointment. The audiologist asked me to step into the hallway, about eight feet from where my Dad was sitting. 

Can you hear me now?

As I stood a short distance away, the audiologist asked me to read a list of high-frequency words and have my Dad repeat them.

I said, “pail.”

Dad said, “nail.”

I said, “face.” 

Dad said, “late.”

And so on. It was quite fun to see what I had suspected. His score wasn’t great. Without a hearing aid, Dad only heard three out of ten words correctly. When he heard the outcome, Dad was even more disappointed than with the audiogram. He couldn’t deny it. He couldn’t hear me speaking to him only a few steps away. The audiologist, my Dad and I all witnessed it. 

Getting a different result: a familiar voice hearing test with hearing aids

I have to admit I was feeling a bit vindicated. I’ve been complaining that my father can’t hear me for years. The audiologist popped fresh batteries in a pair of behind-the-ear hearing aids and had him try them on. They were light and comfortable, and a slightly beige color that matched my dad’s coloring. The audiologist asked me to go back into the hallway and repeat the test. 

I said, “cup.”

Dad said, “cup.”

I said, “peach.” 

Dad said, “peach.”

I said, “pew.”

Dad said, “few.”

This time, Dad heard 7 out of 10 words. It was a vast improvement. He was very pleased. 

Another familiar voice hearing test…

With my dad still wearing the hearing aids, the audiologist asked me to walk down the hallway, about 15 or 20 feet away. The audiologist turned off the hearing aids. He asked me to speak in a normal volume and talk about what we were planning to have for dinner. Dad didn’t notice that I’d said anything at all. Once he turned the hearing aids back on, I repeated that I was planning go to the grocery store, and then we would have chicken for dinner. This time Dad heard and repeated every word.  

Why bring someone to a hearing test? Because hearing loved ones matters

My dad lives with me. He is accustomed to the cadence of my voice. Without even thinking about it, he knows that my vowels sound a certain way. Across the United States, we have a variety of regional accents. Even people who grow up in the same town may use different intonations. With familiar voice testing, it is easier for the individual to understand speech in a familiar voice test. 

Next steps: getting a hearing aid and getting used to it

Even experiencing firsthand how well hearing aids improved his ability to understand a conversation and hear people speaking from afar, my 93 year old is very set in his ways. So, I gave a gentle push. 

Improving a senior’s quality of life

For 93 years old, Dad is in incredible shape. He has many activities where hearing well would improve his quality of life. He enjoys playing piano, eating in restaurants, watching Perry Mason and NOVA on TV, and, of course, spending time with family. All of these things would be easier if he could hear better. It wasn’t until I mentioned that he should be able to hear the announcer during soccer matches that he finally agreed that hearing aids would improve his quality of life.

I can’t wait until his new hearing aids arrive. After years of watching him miss a lot of the conversation at family dinners, I’m pleased he’s finally taking the opportunity to hear better. At 93, it might be an big adjustment for him, but after a few weeks he may wonder how he survived decades without hearing aids.

It might be time to book their appointment. Then you can enjoy it when they are asked to bring someone to their free hearing assessment.*

Remember: The purpose of this hearing assessment and/or demonstration is for hearing wellness to determine if the patient(s) may benefit from using hearing aids. Products demonstrated may differ from products sold. Test conclusion may not be a medical diagnosis. The use of any hearing aid may not fully restore normal hearing and does not prevent future hearing loss. Testing is to evaluate your hearing wellness, which may include selling and fitting hearing aids. Hearing instruments may not meet the needs of all hearing-impaired individuals.

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What Your Hearing Care Provider Can Do For You

What prevents individuals from achieving better hearing? There are several answers. For many people, hearing loss seems to just sneak up slowly over time. Many do not even realize they have an issue until it becomes significant. And because it isn’t noticed, it isn’t mentioned at an annual physical, and even more time goes by without seeking help. In fact, on average, it takes a person 7-10 years1 to seek help for hearing loss. By the time a person realizes the full impact of hearing loss, they may just want a quick fix to a complicated problem.

Regrettably, many people with hearing loss are lured into the supposedly “cheaper and easier” methods of correcting it, either through the purchase of hearing aids online, choosing a personal sound amplifier, or by visiting big box stores that are much more concerned with profits than patient care. In spite of the allure of these seemingly simple fixes, the fact is that a professional hearing care provider is your best resource to address your hearing healthcare.

What the big boxes and online hearing aid retailers aren’t telling you

Maybe you’ve heard that you can buy hearing aids similar to those from hearing care professionals from the big box stores for little money. These stores are only successful because they can sell a large volume of low-priced goods, often very cheaply, to gain larger revenue. They focus on efficiency, which is a polite way of saying “get as many people in and out the door as rapidly as possible.” Admittedly, this profit-centric model works well for many purchases, because you probably don’t need professional, personalized care to help choose your t-shirts or soap. Customer service simply doesn’t factor in to these types of purchases. But purchasing hearing aids is more complicated; you need a professional to guide you. Your ears deserve individual attention from trained professionals.

Looks can be deceiving

Beware of hearing aids from online retailers. They are probably not the same quality of product, even if they come from the same manufacturer. Models may differ slightly, making them eligible for discounted pricing, without the features that hearing care professionals can offer.

Hearing care experts use a customer-centric business model

Our hearing care providers are completely different. We are not obsessed with short-term profits because we focus on customer care. Have we identified your individual needs and found a solution that suits you? Are you willing to return to us for your future care? Would you refer us to your friends and neighbors? If the answer to any of these questions is yes, then we have been successful in our approach to care.

We thrive on providing quality care, which benefits both the person with hearing loss as well as our team.

In contrast, what will happen if the big box stores can’t deliver quality care and happy customers? They will push more advertising to increase their flow of new customers, offering the same “quick and cheap fix” that lured the original customers.

Because individuals experience hearing differently, it’s important to choose your hearing care provider wisely

Hearing is complex; like our fingerprints, everyone’s hearing is unique. So the frequencies your friend may hear well could be the same ones that you can’t hear. In other words, you can’t just take the surrounding sound, make it all louder, pump it into your ears and expect good results. But this is in essence what personal sound amplifiers and over-the-counter hearing aid models do.

The truth is, the sounds your hearing aids amplify — AND the sounds they don’t — must complement the way you, and only you, hear. Hearing care professionals accomplish this through:

  • Assessing* your hearing to learn the EXACT nature of your hearing loss
  • Understanding the variety of hearing aids and their individual capabilities (as well as what they cannot do)
  • Identifying what works for your needs
  • Fitting and programming your hearing aids to boost the sounds you have difficulty hearing, while identifying and repressing the sounds you don’t want to hear (such as low-frequency background noise)
  • Providing follow-up care, especially in the first few weeks when the device is new and may need further adjustments

For the hearing care provider, acquiring this knowledge requires a lot of instruction and patient care experience. This is how we can conduct the appropriate assessment* to help patients pick the right hearing aid, professionally program the hearing aids and provide the coaching and aftercare necessary for optimal hearing. We don’t cut corners in providing comprehensive hearing care. That is why the results are well worth your time and effort.

Make the right choice for you

Who do you trust with your hearing? Someone who views you only as a transaction, consumer or a means to reaching sales targets? Or do you trust an experienced hearing professional who cares about the same thing you do — attaining the best hearing possible? We think the decision is easy: relationships are the lifeblood of successful hearing care.

Still have questions?

We welcome you to call (888) 432-7036 to make an appointment today. Hearing starts with a conversation. Our friendly team is there for you throughout the process of identifying your needs, finding the right hearing aid (if that’s right for you), fitting, adjusting and following up with you. Your hearing satisfaction is our goal – and we measure our success through your wellness.

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Can you test for tinnitus?

How do I know if what I am hearing is real or phantom?

If you or someone you love has been experiencing ringing in the ears of other sounds that no one else can hear, it might be tinnitus. The first step for answers is to make an appointment for a hearing assessment*. After discussing your medical history with a hearing care professional, your provider will check for obstructions in the ear canal and clear out any built-up earwax.

If the tinnitus is reported as being unilateral (only in one ear) you may need to speak with a physician. An Ear, Nose and Throat specialist may order an X-ray, CT scan or MRI scan to rule out larger issues. If no obstructions are present in the ear canal and no other potential causes are discovered, an audiologist or other hearing care provider will consider other causes, including hearing loss.

Professional hearing assessments

Your hearing care provider may conduct a pure tone audiogram, especially if your tinnitus is unilateral or accompanied by loss of hearing. A pure tone audiogram plays different frequencies at varying volumes. Even if you haven’t noticed reduced hearing, an audiogram may show areas of weakness that you may not have noticed before. In addition to an audiogram, your audiologist may consider performing speech audiometry, which looks at how well a patient can hear and repeat certain words.

Sound matching and other methods

Since generally tinnitus’ perceived sound cannot be heard by another person, audiologists use sound matching to determine what the patient experiences. Sound matching consists of playing a series of audio clips to identify which sound is closest to the internally perceived sound.

A hearing care provider may use minimum masking levels to determine if a patient is experiencing tinnitus. This also determines how loud a sounds seem. The audiologist or hearing care professional plays audio clips at increasing volume levels until the patient registers that the external noise entirely conceals the phantom sounds.

How is tinnitus impacting you?

You may be asked to fill out a self-assessment form or questionnaire. This will establish how your symptoms are impacting your life and emotional well-being.

Tinnitus is not an illness. If you are experiencing buzzing, ringing or other sounds you cannot identify, and want to discuss options for relief, contact our professionals so we can discuss your challenges – and provide solutions. Make an appointment for a free hearing assessment* today.

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Is hearing loss like vision loss?

Why do we pay more attention to our vision than our hearing?

Both are very important senses, and both cause us great difficulties if they don’t work effectively. But due to the way we use them, their loss affects us in different ways. Many adults get their vision checked regularly, so why do so many people ignore their ears?

Addressing vision loss

When you go to an optician, you look at a letter chart. If you have a loss of vision, you may not be able to read the lower lines of smaller letters, because they become blurry. Your eyes can’t focus on them.

Another way to understand vision loss is to think of how we age. Over time the eyes gradually lose their ability to focus so close objects become blurry. If you are farsighted you know that seeing things close to you – like reading – become more difficult. This loss of sensitivity to nearby objects does not vary; it is uniform.

Comparing to hearing loss

Like vision, our ears often gradually lose the ability to hear high frequencies, both through damage and aging. However, unlike with vision loss, the actual effects of this are not uniform.

Speech is made up of many different frequencies and tones. If we can’t hear high pitched sounds, we find it hard to understand specific letters such as f, s and t. This is because they contain high frequencies. Such letters can also be drowned out by louder, low-pitched vowels like a, o and u.

In contrast to vision loss where we miss chunks of vision (such as the lower rows on a vision chart), the loss of hearing sensitivity affects many different parts of speech that are scattered throughout the conversation, so random bits of conversation get lost.

Are there similarities with vision and hearing loss

There are clear differences between hearing loss and vision loss. But there are many similarities too:

  • Healthcare professionals offer solutions for both
  • Both have stylish and discreet options
  • Treatment makes it possible to live life fully
  • The consequences of not treating the problem are similar for both, including tiredness, mental decline and social isolation

Vision aids (glasses) versus hearing aids

When people struggle to see, they wear glasses. These “vision aids” help a broad range of people. Whether you wear them for distance, computers, reading or a combination, they work best when an optometrist or ophthalmologist checks your vision, writes a prescription and a professional, such as an optician orders lenses specifically addressing your individual needs – whether you are near-sighted, far-sighted, have astigmatism or a combination of challenges.

The same holds true with solutions for hearing. Since modern hearing aid designs are discreet and stylish – and come in a range of subtle colors – many people find any stigmas to be silly. That’s why our hearing aid wearers are happy that today’s technology-packed aids are cool. Besides, if you hear and see well, your entire world is brighter.

Getting a hearing assessment* is as easy as a vision test. And no drops in your eyes. Plus, with us, it’s free. Contact us and make an appointment to get started.

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