How Can Our Audiologist Help You?
Learn about the services our audiologist offers and what may be the right course of treatment for you
At St. Joseph’s Ear, Nose and Throat we provide a complete range of audiological services for all ages.
- Diagnostic hearing evaluations for all ages
- Hearing aid selection, sales, fitting and orientation
- Hearing aid repairs
- Assistive listening devices
- Custom made swim plugs and noise plugs
What is an Audiologist?
An audiologist is a professional who specializes in the diagnosis and non-medical treatment of hearing loss. An audiologist’s credentials include a master’s or doctoral degree from an accredited university program. They are required to complete a full-time internship and pass a national competency exam.
How to know if you need hearing aids?
The best way to know if you have a hearing loss and need a hearing aid or aids is to have a hearing evaluation done by an audiologist. The audiologist can fully describe your hearing loss and advise you on whether hearing aids will be a benefit. They may also recommend a medical evaluation if the hearing problem needs medical or surgical treatment.
Signs that you might have a hearing loss include:
- People seem to mumble or speak in a softer voice than they used to.
- You sometimes miss key words in a sentence or frequently ask people to repeat themselves.
- You need to turn up the TV or radio louder.
- Having a conversation on the telephone is difficult
- Family members or friends have mentioned that you might have a problem with your hearing.
- You avoid certain social situations (for example, theater, restaurants, parties) because it is difficult to hear.
The selection process begins with a diagnostic hearing evaluation to determine the nature and extent of the hearing loss. The hearing test is performed with a piece of equipment called an audiometer. The test is best performed in a sound-treated booth. The object of the test is to determine the softest level a person can hear a range of frequencies or pitches. The results are plotted on a diagram called an audiogram. Speech testing is also conducted to evaluate how well the person can understand speech. The testing process determines whether hearing aids will be beneficial or if medical intervention is needed.
Hearing Aid Styles
There are two basic styles of hearing aids: those that are custom built to fit in the ear and those that fit behind the ear. The in-the ear style comes in a variety of sizes:
Full shell: This style fills up most of the concha (bowl) of the ear. It has the most power of the in-the ear styles and is suitable for mild to severe losses. Because of the larger size, it can be easier to handle for many people.
Half shell: This style takes up around half of the bowl of the ear. It is a good choice for mild to moderately severe losses. It is large enough to accommodate features such as directional microphones, multiple programs and telecoils.
Canal: This style is slightly smaller than the half shell and is good for mild to moderate losses. It is generally not big enough to accommodate directional microphones.
Completely-in-the-canal: This style fits deep in the ear canal and is almost unnoticeable. The aids use very tiny batteries and require good manual dexterity. This is a good choice for those with mild to moderate losses and who are concerned about cosmetic issues.
Behind-the ear: This style has two separate parts. The electronic components are housed in a case that rests behind the ear. The case is connected to an earmold by a piece of clear plastic tubing. This style is best for children because their ears are still growing and for those with more severe losses. It is the most durable style, and the most powerful. It is also the least prone to feedback. Behind-the-ear aids come in a wide range of colors to match skin or hair tones, as well as in bright, fun colors.
Types of Technology
There have been tremendous advances in hearing aid technology in the last five years. Today’s hearing aids can be programmed precisely for your hearing loss, are comfortable to wear and offer excellent sound quality. The different types of circuitry available include:
- Conventional circuits
These were the most common choice in the past. They have analog signal processing and are adjusted manually with a fine screwdriver. The ability to adjust the aids to fit a particular hearing loss is quite limited. A volume control is typically the only option available.
- Digitally Programmable circuits
These aids have analog signal processing but can be digitally programmed with a computer. The aids can be adjusted with a much greater degree of control than conventional aids. Automatic volume control, multiple hearing programs and directional microphones are sometimes available.
- Digital Technology
Advances in small microprocessors have enabled manufacturers to introduce digital technology into most modern hearing aids. These aids are also programmed by the audiologist via a computer. They convert the incoming signal into a binary code at high speed and with great precision. Complex calculations are performed to adjust the sound for the user’s hearing loss and to convert the signal back to audible sound. Features available include: multiple memories, automatic program selection, adaptive directional microphones, noise cancellers, low battery warning signals and remote controls. Digital hearing aids are now available in most price ranges.
Hearing in the presence of noise can be one of the most difficult things for hearing aid users. When you are in a noisy situation such as a restaurant or shopping mall it can be very difficult to pick out the voice you want to listen to from all the other voices and background noise. Directional microphones can give you a clear advantage in these situations. In the directional program, a hearing aid will reduce the noise coming from the back and sides and focus on what is directly in front of you. With the push of a button on the hearing aid, you can switch between listening programs designed for noise and for quiet. Directional microphones are available on full shell, half shell and behind-the-ear style aids.
Are Two Aids Better Than One?
Being able to hear with two ears is as important as seeing with two eyes. Benefits of wearing two aids include:
- Your ability to localize sounds will be improved.
- You will have an easier time hearing in noisy environments.
- You will be able to understand conversation whether it comes from the right or left.
- The sound quality will seem fuller and more natural.
There are, however, some situations where one hearing aid is recommended, such as when one ear is too poor to benefit from amplification. We can evaluate what will be best for you personally.
Choosing the best aid for you
With all the choices available, choosing the right aid can be a very confusing task. The choice will depend on your hearing loss, life style, listening demands, physical attributes and budget. We will talk to you about your hearing loss and how it affects your life. We will discuss your work environment, recreational activities and the day-to-day demands on your hearing. Based on this information and your hearing test we can make recommendations on the best aid for your particular needs and goals.
Follow up care
No aid will eliminate all your communication problems. With hearing aids you will hear sounds you are not used to hearing, and your own voice will sound different. It can take from several weeks to months to become fully adjusted to listening with your hearing aids. Your brain has to retrain itself to hear sounds you have been missing for years. We will help you through this process with comprehensive follow up care, and spend as much time with you as needed to ensure that your new hearing experience is successful.
Prices & Warranties
New hearing aids carry a one-year warranty from the date of purchase, covering factory repairs and loss and damage. Additional coverage for three years with a three-year supply of batteries can be purchased for an additional $100.00. In-office visits and adjustments are covered for the life of the aid. Hearing aids are available in a range of prices to fit most budgets.