Will wearing cheap hearing aids affect your health?
Hearing aids will not have any impact on the health of the body. It is not cheap hearing aids that are not good. The only thing matter is whether hearing aids are suitable or not. Of course, cheap hearing aids are not comfortable to wear. If the matching is not good, it will have an impact on deafness.
If it is big, it will be ear shattering, but if small, it will not be heard. Therefore, hearing aids must be tested and matched in a professional agent, which is suitable for your own hearing aids. Only in this way can it be helpful to wear them, and they will not become more and more deaf.
Handling Hearing Aid Repairs
Here are some common problems encountered by hearing aid users that are often easily solvable, if you don’t have any luck with these solutions be sure to contact your audiologist.
• Feedback: This can happen when the sound being amplified by the hearing aid is picked up by microphone, it can result in an irritating ‘whistling’ sound. One possible cause is the earmolds not sitting correctly in your ear; try gently adjusting them or pushing them in. Another common problem that can create feedback is excessive earwax; make sure you keep your ears and hearing aid as clean as possible.
• Buzzing sounds: If your hearing aid has a loop setting, check that you haven’t accidentally activated it; this is a common cause of ‘buzzing’ sounds.
• Distortion or unclear sound: Make sure the volume is set at an appropriate level and is not too high or too low. Check that the batteries are in correctly; if that isn’t the problem try new batteries. Exposure to moisture can cause corrosion in the battery compartment, if your hearing aid is producing no sound at all, check for this. Always keep your aid as dry as possible.
• Behind-the-ear (BTE) users: If you have a BTE hearing aid, carefully remove the tubing and check for blockages or condensation build up by blowing gently through the tube. Be sure to check that the tubing is not squashed or twisted as this can also cause problems.
When to contact your audiologist
If none of these solutions have fixed your problem, it’s time to contact your audiologist. Many hearing aid warranties cover necessary repairs; it could even be something as simple as a programming issue. In cases of physical damage, many hearing care providers are able to conduct simple repairs themselves, so if you catch the problem early enough there may be no need to send your device back to the manufacturer. Contact your audiologist immediately if any of the following points apply to you:
• You have been comfortably using your hearing aid for a while and it suddenly starts to produce static; excessive feedback or volume disturbances
• You notice any cracks or holes in the faceplate of your hearing aid
• You have a BTE hearing aid and your tubing has become dislodged
Taking an Earmold Impression
Depending on the type of hearing aid you decide to purchase, an earmold impression may need to be taken. Do not be afraid. There is nothing scary about having an impression taken. It may feel a little bit weird or slightly awkward, but it will only last for a few minutes and then you are done. What does the process consist of? Let’s take a closer look.
1.Looking inside: Your hearing health professional is first going to look in your ears to ensure they are clear of any debris or excessive wax buildup. If there is anything present your hearing health professional will generally remove the wax to avoid the impression pushing the wax or object closer to the eardrum.
2.Placing of the otoblock: With a small pen light your hearing health professional will place a small otoblock, either a cotton ball on a string or foam ball on a string, into your ear and gently and slowly push it down your ear canal. This may feel a bit scratchy and may cause some people to cough, sneeze or gag because of the nerve endings it passes over in the canal.
3.Impression material in: Next, your hearing health professional will put the impression material in your ear. This is done through a large syringe with the mixed material or through an impression gun that mixes the material as it goes. The material will fill into your canal up to the otoblock and into the bowl and outer part of your ear.
4.Waiting game: You will now have to sit back and relax for a couple minutes. The material only takes a couple of minutes to set up and become solid, though still pliable, so close your eyes and be patient.
5.Removal: Your hearing health professional will now slowly and gently remove your earmold. To release the build up of pressure that has been created your hearing health professional will more than likely pull back on the upper part of your ear and at the same time start to pull up and out the mold from your ear.
Once the earmold is taken it is sent to the manufacturer to be made into your new hearing aids or the mold for your BTE. They can even be used to make hearing protection, earbuds and sleeping molds.
How Hearing Aids Work
There are many types and models of hearing aids made by many companies. But they all basically have the same parts and work in the same way.
Parts of a Hearing Aid
Hearing aids have three parts: the microphone, the amplifier and the speaker.
The microphone works like any other microphone. It picks up sounds and converts them into electrical signals. It is like a converter, it converts sounds into a signal that can be understood by the amplifier.
Just like in music equipment, the amplifier takes the converted signal from the microphone and increases it or makes it louder.
The speaker is like a mini-transmitter. Its job is to take the amplified signal and send it to the cochlea. The cochlea has hair cells (which aren’t hair at all) that convert the signal into neural signals for transmission to the brain. When the brain gets the neural signal it processes it and you “hear” the sound
Hearing Aid Technology
Gone are the days of the ear trumpet. Modern hearing aids are electronic and not mechanical devices. They all handle electrical signals. But, there are major differences in the way those electrical signals are processed. Older hearing aids use analog technology. Newer hearing aids utilize digital technology.
• Analog: Analog technology is the original electronic hearing aid technology. Analog devices transmit signals without changing the signal. In other words, analog devices don’t enhance or clarify sounds. They just pick up the signal, amplify it, and send it to the hair cells. The audiologist gives programming directions to the manufacturer when the hearing aids are ordered. These hearing aids come with different settings for different environments. This is because they cannot modify signals. Hearing aids using analog technology usually cost much less than hearing aids.
• Digital: Digital technology is a major improvement over analog technology. Digital hearing aids have a highly specialized microphone. This microphone not only picks up a signal but it breaks it down into a series of 1s and 0s that computers use to communicate. The signal that is sent to the amplifier includes the sound as well as information about the sound. The amplifier can detect problems in transmission and filter them out before sending them on to the cochlea. Because it is using computer language, your audiologist will program it. They can be programmed for special handling of specified tones or pitches. This means your audiologist can program them to your exact needs. If your hearing loss is not consistent across all frequencies, this represents a major improvement over analog technology. Newer technology generally comes with a higher price tag. However, most hearing aids sold today utilize digital technology.
What to Expect When You Purchase a Hearing Aid
If you’re suffering from hearing loss, it may be time to see an audiologist and possibly purchase a hearing aid. Having to wear a hearing aid can be the cause of some anxiety for many people. It brings on a lot of emotions such as anticipation and stress. If you are considering purchasing a hearing aid or need to update your current one, you need to understand what to expect. This will be a new piece of technology for you and you need to understand what it does and how to take care of it. Thus, it is important to have a realistic idea of what to expect when you receive a new hearing aid.
What should you expect?
So, what should you expect when you’re purchasing a hearing aid for the first time? Well, first, you won’t be expected to go at it alone. Your audiologist will be there to help guide you through the process. Your audiologist will go over the basics and check the way the hearing aid fits. They will also help you determine what settings are best and will program the hearing aid to work for you. Your audiologist can also show you how to make adjustments on your own too (so you can change settings at your leisure).
You’ll learn how to maintain the hearing aid as well. This includes basic maintenance like cleaning, as well as taking care of the batteries.
Hearing aid basics
Once you’ve purchased your hearing aid, you may be wondering how long it will take to get used to your new device. Be prepared, it may take up to a month before you are used to your new hearing. Of course, it all depends on you and your personality too. Every patient is different and experiences improve hearing in different ways. Sounds will be strange to you, the way you hear things will be completely different. While all these changes take some time to get used to, the human brain is very adaptable.
In general, your new hearing aid will improve your hearing to an extent where you are more aware of the noises in your normal life. It will seem to be noisier than usual and that can be distracting. You may even feel that some of these sounds are intrusive but you’ll learn how to filter out the background noise with time. It also means that you have to learn how to focus your hearing again. You want to hear some things and not everything. Thus, getting used to the new settings on your hearing aids will take some time and practice.
You may also be wondering if this will completely fix your hearing. There isn’t a simple answer to this question. While the amount of hearing a hearing aid restores varies from person to person, what you should know is that your new hearing aid will make you hear sounds you could not hear before. Does that mean you’ll hear perfectly? It is entirely possible.
Is Wearing a Hearing Aid Classified as a Disability?
Yet, the laws that govern the classification of disabilities seem to be very inadequate. Often, this has led to so many questions about the conditions that can fall under disabilities. One such problem is whether wearing a hearing aid can be classed as a disability. This article will answer this question and other commonly asked questions about hearing disability or impairment.
Hearing impairment as a disability
Different organizations have different classifications for disability. For example, according to the World Health Organization, any disability definition can be broken down into three categories:
* Impairment: This looks at the physical appearance of the body.
* Activity limitation: This deals with limited physical movements or hindered due to the impairment. Hearing difficulties fall under this category.
* Restriction in participation: This involves the notion that society has reduced your involvement in certain situations because of your impairment.
How much of hearing loss is a disability?
The issue is no longer whether hearing loss qualifies for disability, but when we can identify it as a disability. Without the right treatment, most hearing loss or impairment issues are degenerative. This means that they continue to deteriorate with time, and treatment only helps slow the process.
When can your loss of hearing be regarded as a disability? Again, this depends on who you’re asking and why. For example, to gain any form of benefits, there are certain levels that people wearing hearing aids need to reach. These are:
* Failure to repeat 40% of the words in a test for word recognition
* A hearing threshold that falls below 60 dB according to bone conduction.
* A hearing threshold of 90 dB or more according to an air conduction
Once a person reaches any of the three thresholds or levels above, they may be eligible to receive disability grants for their hearing impairment.
Would wearing a hearing aid be deemed a disability?
So, we are back to our main question – is wearing a hearing aid classed as a disability? We have already mentioned the different levels or thresholds that a person with a hearing impairment must meet for disability grants. The test to prove a person’s disability level is performed without the person wearing a hearing aid. According to the Social Security Regulations and Americans with Disabilities Act, wearing a hearing aid would not put you in the category of being disabled.
In most cases, hearing aids are worn to improve low-level hearing impairments that fall well below the thresholds set by the Act and Regulations for hearing disabilities. The logic here is that wearing a hearing aid helps to provide some assistance for hearing loss or impairment, and this eliminates, to some degree, the state of disability. Therefore, to answer the proposed question, you cannot be classified as having a disability just because you wear a hearing aid.
The disability and its protection
A lot of people have different ways of defining disability or what it constitutes. For most people, any form of disability that is not immediately visible is not taken seriously, ignored or sometimes even considered invisible. This has affected the kind of protection we make available to people with hearing impairment.
Therefore, considering everything we now know about hearing loss and hearing aids, it is essential to take enough time to think about your hearing condition. Regardless of hearing loss level, it should be immediately treated, as the situation may only worsen without the right care. If you already have a hearing impairment, it is best to get your ears and hearing regularly tested to ensure that you do not require more effective treatments.
What to Expect at an Audiology Appointment
What do audiologists do?
Audiologists are trained professionals who specialize in assessing, diagnosing and managing any issues related to hearing. All audiologists will have a master’s degree as a minimum, and some will have a Doctor of Audiology qualification, which is equivalent to having a Ph.D. Audiologists will use a range of tests to evaluate your hearing ability, as well as fitting hearing aids, where necessary.
In your first appointment, the focus will be on finding out the impact that the hearing loss you are experiencing is having on your life, as well as assessing your current hearing levels. The audiologist will go through some medical questions around your hearing and your ears, then look at your hearing loss, the expectations of the appointment and how your hearing loss makes you feel.
A part of this appointment is to assess your hearing with a hearing test. This will involve your audiologist finding quiet sounds and then assess whether you can hear those sounds when put alongside some tones that vary in pitch.
An appointment with an audiologist is your chance to discuss what your hearing is like and how it is impacting you. You will also be presented with a range of options so that you can manage your hearing loss going forward. So, think about your hearing, where you have noticed the biggest changes and what you would like done about it, before you go. If you need to have hearing aids fitted, then there will be a follow-up appointment with tests, to make sure that your hearing aids give you the right amount of sound. During the appointment the audiologist will also talk you through the different options, such as having your hearing aid being fully automatic or not.
How long will the appointment take?
An appointment with an audiologist can take around forty-five minutes to one hour. If you will need to be fitted for a hearing aid then that would involve an additional appointment which is likely to take up to an hour too. Follow up appointments after being fitted with a hearing aid are quicker, taking no more than thirty minutes for a face-to-face appointment.
Do I need to bring anything with me?
If the hearing loss that you are experiencing means that you might not be able to understand very much, it could be helpful to have someone else come with you. A close friend or family member is a good idea, as they will understand the level of hearing loss that you’re currently experiencing and help you to communicate. If you need reading glasses, then bringing them with you is a good idea as there will be some forms to sign and you might want to check on the detail of some hearing aids, should they need to be fitted. For a first appointment, taking a list with you of any medications that you are on is important.
What will the audiologist ask you?
It is a good idea to think about your appointment as being a two-way conversation. It is a conversation about the hearing loss you have been experiencing. As a result, the audiologist will want to understand what has happened, and understand if there are any underlying medical issues generally, as well as with your ears, such as infections or dizzy spells. Really, though, what you will be asked will be about them being able to understand your hearing loss, know what impact it is having on you and what you would like to be done about it.
If you would like to find out more about hearing loss or you are interested in booking in for an audiology appointment, then please get in contact with us at Hear for You Hearing & Balance Center. We have a great team of experienced and trained audiologists that can help with any hearing loss you have been experiencing. Give us a call today at 401-475-6116. We look forward to hearing from you.
What to do if Your Hearing Aid Gets Wet
Unless you have a fully waterproof hearing aid, submerging it in water is a very bad idea – but a very easy mistake to make. Maybe you rationalized that just wading in knee-deep water wouldn’t be a problem or maybe you completely forgot to take it out in your excitement to jump into the coolness of a crystal-clear pool. However the scenario played out, the end result is the same: a wet hearing aid. Before throwing in your beach towel and preparing for a walk of shame to your hearing health professional’s clinic, these crucial steps could save you (and it) from hearing aid repair.
Removal is a logical step if the hearing aid stopped working after the water exposure. The tricky thing is that it might not stop working right away, so you might be tempted to assume the it will be okay. The faster you react to an accidental dunking, the greater the chance you’ll be able to save the hearing aid from the damaging effects of moisture, so don’t rationalize – just act.
2. Remove the battery
As soon you take the hearing aid out, remove the battery and leave the compartment door open to air out the terminals. In most cases, the current battery will be no good, so as a precaution, throw it out and retrieve a new one.
3. Remove dirt, sand and surface water
Removing visible moisture and dirt will stop further damage from occurring. If the water it was dunked in is dirty or sandy, you will want to wipe it carefully before drying to avoid rubbing debris further inside it.
4. Dry It: makeshift solutions
If you don’t have immediate access to a hearing aid dryer (one reason you should always carry a portable version with you), here are a few other options:
* lay it on newspaper in a well-ventilated area
* place it near a lamp or other (VERY mild) heat source to speed the drying process
* place it in a sealed container with uncooked rice or silica gel
* Use a very cool fan or dryer
* Letting the hearing aid dry out for up to 48 hours is best, if you can wait that long. When the moment of truth arrives, don’t feel discouraged if it’s not working. Visit your hearing healthcare professional as soon as possible to see if anything can be done. If not, your warranty will most likely cover replacement and you’ll have a new one within a few weeks.
As frustrating as the loss and inconvenience is, a wet hearing aid does not have to be the end of your hearing health. Many hearing professionals are able to repair a hearing device in their office. In the event the malfunction is severe, your hearing provider may have to send your hearing aid to the manufacturer for repair.
Types of Hearing Aids Available
While all hearing aids serve the same function and help those with a hearing deficiency hear better, different hearing aids come with different functions. Apart from differences in shapes and sizes, hearing aids also differ in aspects such as strength, clarity, and so on. In the end, choosing the right device depends on what the patient desires. If the hearing is seriously deficient, the hearing aid will generally be larger and more powerful. If the hearing is not that weak, the aid will be smaller in size. Another major factor to consider when selecting a hearing aid is the level of comfort you desire and this is where variance in shapes and sizes help. Thus, there are certainly a lot of different options to choose from when it comes to picking out the right pair of hearing aids.
Here’s a look at some of the different types of hearing aids available:
As mentioned earlier, due to the advancement in technology, there has been a shift from traditional hearing aids to more advanced ones (aids that are completely digital). Moreover, there is a huge difference between both of these types of hearing aids. While they look quite similar in their design, analogs aids simply amplify or enhance the sound while digital aids use a tiny built-in computer to process sound.
With digital aids, the inbuilt computer gives you the option of choosing between different sound levels based on different environments. For instance, if you are going out somewhere you feel there will be a lot of noise, you can simply program your aid accordingly. Additionally, some digital hearing aids also change this setting automatically, making the process all the easier. However, the downside of digital hearing aids is that they are likely to be more expensive. For those who cannot afford to spend a lot of money, going for analog aids seems like the best solution.
2. Behind the Ear (BTE) or Inside the Ear (ITE)
BTE hearing aids come with an earmold that fits inside the ear while the rest of the aid rests smoothly behind the ear. These days, the majority of BTE models have two microphones, which make for easy switching between an all-round sound and a more particular setting focusing on precisely the sound you want to hear. Moreover, there are some BTE hearing aids that come with an open ear fitting as well (a soft earpiece at the edge of the tubing instead of an earmold). The advantage of such an aid is that it is less noticeable than a traditional earmold. On the downside, though, this type of aid is only suitable if your hearing loss is mild or moderate.
Still not sure what hearing aid type is the right fit for you? Check with your hearing care provider to find out what device is most suitable for your hearing loss.
What Can an Audiologist Do for You?
The good news is there are a variety of hearing care professionals ready to help you start your journey to better hearing. Audiologists are one of these professionals.
Let’s start at the beginning. If you become aware your hearing isn’t what it once was and you are in good health then an audiologist is perfectly qualified to check out the problem. If you experience other symptoms such as headaches, dizziness, or faintness, then it is best to see your physician, who can investigate issues that might affect your hearing. They will then suggest you see a hearing care professional, like an audiologist.
What an audiologist does
Audiologists like to paint a complete picture of your hearing health. By looking deeper for the root cause of your hearing problem, sometimes a solution other than a hearing device presents itself. Indeed, the audiologist can spot patterns in the audiogram which serve as an early warning of heart disease! (Furred up blood vessels can cause changes in the microcirculation to the ear which alter hearing.)
In addition, the audiologist takes the time and care to get to know your hearing needs and therefore which hearing device is best suited to meet them. For instance, the active sportsperson who perspires heavily has a different requirement to a person taking part in a choir. The audiologist also has knowledge of the latest devices at their disposal, and can suggest devices that suit those who are less dexterous or alternatively who require a highly discrete hearing aid.
Level of service
Audiologists also pride themselves on offering an outstanding level of service to their patients. They help you become familiar with your device, and fine tune it so you get the most from it. And if you are struggling to adapt to life with a hearing device, they are happy to help with rehabilitation to help you become a confident user.
Servicing hearing aids
And finally, don’t forget, your audiologist also undertakes servicing and minor repairs, and often offer a loaner device should yours be away for any length of time. On every count, an audiologist is best placed to serve all your hearing needs.
Top 10 Questions to Ask your Audiologist
Everyone has done it. You have thousand-and-one questions to ask and then they fly out of your head. When having a hearing test plan ahead by reading our top 10 questions that cover all the options.
#1: Can I bring a friend along?
During the consultation, you might not remember everything that’s said to you. Having an extra pair of ears in the shape of a friend or family member is an invaluable aid to getting the most out of your visit.
Most audiologists are more than happy to accommodate this request, so don’t be bashful and plan to take someone along for moral support.
#2: What is the main problem with my hearing?
It may be obvious to the audiologist what the problem is, but are you clear? If you aren’t then ask a direct question; it is your hearing after all.
#3: What will happen if we do nothing?
For clarities sake it’s a good idea to have a grasp of the worst case scenario. Before you invest in a hearing device, cut the chase and check you actually need hearing help at this stage. Sometimes a problem can safely be monitored, or it might even be wise to follow up with a medical physician depending on the cause of the hearing loss is.
#4: How do we correct my hearing problem?
The audiologist confirms your suspicions that it is time to use a hearing device. But the latter vary widely in style (such as behind the ear or in the canal), design and capability. Your audiologist will welcome the chance to talk through the options and may include speech therapy or learning to read facial expressions.
#5: Is my new hearing aid covered by a warranty?
A highly capable hearing aid is not cheap, so for peace of mind find out how long it is warranted for and what that guarantee covers. It might be possible to purchase an extended warranty.
#6: What happens if my hearing device needs repairs?
Many clinics undertake minor adjustments on site. For more serious issues the device might be sent away for repair. If this is the case, ask if the clinic has ‘loaner’ devices to assist your hearing while yours is away.
#7: How do I maintain my hearing aid?
Simple maintenance measures such as airing the battery compartment at night can extend the working life of your device. Check with your audiologist how to do this.
#8: When is my next hearing test due?
A crucial question for the best ongoing hearing health, your audiologist will recommend when it’s time to have your first hearing test. It’s also possible you’ll need another one done even after you get hearing aids to ensure your hearing isn’t changing.
#9: What is the best way to contact you if I have questions?
More than likely questions pop into your mind once you leave the clinic. Having a contact phone number or an email address means you can get those queries answered.
#10: Is there anything else I should know?
While this is an open-ended question, it can help jog your audiologist’s memory to make sure they covered all the bases when it comes to your hearing health!
Common Hearing Aid Repairs
If you hearing device is playing up, it may need professional attention. However, whether it’s static feedback or loss of volume, avoid an unnecessary trip to the audiologist’s office by first checking out these basic steps.
Check for trapped wax
The small size of modern hearing devices means they are tiny tubes and small ports which can easily become clogged with that most natural of all substances, earwax. If an ear mold becomes plugged this leads to reduced volume or static feedback, which can make it seem the hearing device is faulty when all it needs is a clean.
As with so many things, prevention is better than cure. Wipe your hearing aid off with a soft cloth every night, and check the ports for the presence of wax. If you find yourself regularly dislodging lumps of wax from the ear mold, then using an ear cleaner a couple of times a month may help.
Inexpensive cleaning kits are available, designed to keep the ports of your device clean. For a minimal financial outlay these enable you to remove wax plugs without damaging to the delicate working parts of the device.
If your hearing aid isn’t performing as it should, then replace the battery. A rundown or faulty battery, or indeed one inserted incorrectly, leads to a poorly performing hearing device.
Dry the device
Rain, high humidity, and perspiration are all the enemy of hearing devices. From moisture than can build up in the fine tubes to condensation in the battery compartment, the end result is an underperforming device.
Take care to open the battery compartment at the end of each day, to allow it to air. Also, wipe the device over with a clean dry soft cloth, and ideally store the hearing aid overnight in a dehumidifier. Again, these can be purchased inexpensively and can constructively extend the working life of your hearing device.
Check the tuning
If the hearing device sounds muffled or ceases to amplify sound, check the dials and settings. It’s the easiest thing for the volume dial to get knocked whilst putting the aid in your ear, and sometimes a lack of amplification can be down to something as simple as the volume switch getting tweaked to minimum.
Similarly, if the hearing device appears ‘dead’, try the on/off switch a couple of times. It’s easy for the button to inadvertently be pressed to the wrong setting.
Check the tubing
If yours is a behind-the-ear (BTE) device, regularly check the tubing for condensation, wax or breakage. Just as a puncture hosepipe won’t water the garden, so faulty tubing won’t transmit sound and simply replacing it could be the answer.
And finally, if you’ve covered all the basics then contact your audiologist. Interference, persistent static or sound fading in and out, are all problems they are familiar with and should be able to remedy.
What Does an Audiologist Do?
Preventing hearing loss
Hearing loss can severely alter the lives of individuals and one of the key responsibilities of an audiologist is to prevent hearing loss from happening in the first place. This includes creating and coordinating programs for school and occupations that educated the public on how to take the necessary steps to prevent hearing loss.
Audiologists can also make trips to work sites and other venues to measure the acoustic environment and make suggestions on how to lessen noise pollution.
Identifying hearing loss
If you think that you may suffer from hearing loss, an audiologist plays a major role in diagnosis. They are trained to understand warning signs of hearing loss and know how to conduct tests to confirm their suspicions.
Audiologists are involved in screening programs for newborns and school-aged children to ensure that hearing problems are diagnosed as soon as possible. Audiologists also screen for speech and language disorders which may be a result of hearing deficiencies.
Once audiologists believe that you suffer from some form of hearing loss, they will do their best to understand the cause of the loss. Different diagnostic tests such as nerve assessment and auditory functions will be conducted.
If need be, audiologists will also refer patients to professions and agencies that help to support those that suffer from hearing loss.
Treating hearing loss
After the initial diagnosis, audiologists will help in creating a plan to best serve in combating hearing loss. Hearing aids may be used and will need to be fitted and monitored. Follow-up appointments with audiologists will allow them to track your hearing progress and alter their rehabilitation plans if needed.
Hearing loss education
While audiologists go through extensive training to become certified, including a doctorate degree, as health care providers they need to continually educate themselves on the changing research of hearing loss. Understanding new theories on how hearing loss comes about and knowing what the latest technology is to treat hearing loss is an audiologist’s role.
A good audiologist will also want to share his knowledge with students enrolled in an audiology program. These degree programs include a practicum component and you may find that your audiologist has a student employed in hands-on-learning at your next appointment.
A final role of an audiologist is one that many people may not be aware of and that is advocating for the rights of people that suffer from hearing loss. This includes community engagement so that safety issues are addressed as well as general education around what it’s like to live with hearing loss. Like any health issue, the more that hearing loss is talked about the less of a stigma it will have.
Frequently Asked Questions about Audiologists
* Can audiologists dispense hearing aids? Yes, audiologists can dispense hearing aids if they have a hearing aid dispensing license, which many of them do. If you think that you may wish to try hearing aids, make sure you choose an audiologist who also has a dispensing license, this information should be available on their website.
* Is it true that audiologists have a wider range of testing methods available to them than hearing instrument specialists? Yes, again. Audiologists undergo an extensive eight years of education and training (at a minimum), which fully qualifies them to implement a wide variety of hearing tests which go far beyond basic pure tone audiometry. For instance, Auditory Brainstem Response Testing (ABR), which allows them to assess the hearing ability of people who may not be able to participate in standard tests, such as babies, young children and people with mental impairments.
* Can audiologists diagnose the type and cause of my hearing loss? Yes, in most cases, though there are some very rare instances in which patients may need to be referred to other specialists such as an ear, nose and throat doctor (ENT). Hearing instrument specialists are not qualified to diagnose hearing loss, so if you are suffering from anything other than age-related sensorineural hearing loss which is common among older adults, you would need to see an audiologist.
* Can audiologists treat all types of hearing loss? Yes (barring extremely rare cases), unlike hearing instrument specialists who can only dispense hearing aids, audiologists can treat all kinds of hearing loss and have a variety of treatment options at their disposal, such as: cochlear implants, assistive technologies, aural rehabilitation, counseling and recovery programs.
* Are audiologists more expensive than hearing instrument specialists? Not necessarily. Many people wrongly assume that treatment or hearing devices purchased from an audiologist will be costlier due to their higher level of expertise, this isn’t the case. In fact, one recent national survey found that there was no discernible difference in the amount of money spent on similar services and products, whether they were obtained from an audiologist or a hearing instrument specialist. Furthermore, patients who were treated by audiologists generally reported a higher level of satisfaction from the money that they spent.
* Can audiologists program, repair or adjust hearing aids? In most cases, yes. If the audiologist has a hearing aid dispensing licence, they will have taken a training course and passed an exam enabling them to appropriately program and make adjustments to the programming of assistive hearing devices. Many audiologists can carry out basic repairs from their offices should your hearing aid stop working, though there are some cases in which your aid may need to be returned to the manufacturer.
4 Questions to ask at Your Audiologist
* What type of hearing loss do I have? You could have conductive hearing loss, sensorineural hearing loss, or a combination of the two. It is important to understand the nature of your own hearing loss, as the treatment possibilities vary depending on which you are experiencing. Conductive hearing loss can often be rectified whereas sensorineural hearing loss is usually permanent, but hearing ability can be dramatically improved with the use of aids.
* What is the level and balance of my hearing loss? Namely, how severe is your hearing loss and is it more severe in one ear than the other. If you are experiencing only very mild hearing loss in one or both ears, it may be possible for you to get by without the use of hearing aids, or with only one aid, which can be appropriate for a small percentage of hearing loss sufferers. There is also some research to suggest that people may be affected differently depending on which ear has the lower level of hearing. For instance, hearing loss in the right ear has been linked with mild loss of reasoning ability, while hearing loss in the left ear is more associated with difficulty understanding the emotional tone in speech. There’s no doubt this is an interesting * subject and knowing which may apply to you can help you to understand the challenges you may face.
Is my hearing loss likely to worsen? Many people wrongly assume that a further decline in hearing ability is inevitable once an initial decline has taken place. This is not always the case: depending on what type of hearing loss you are experiencing; further hearing loss can often be completely preventable. Ask your audiologist for advice – see the next question!
* What can I do to protect my remaining hearing? Remember, your audiologist is the complete authority on hearing health, so take advantage of their expertise! There are likely to be many precautions you can take to prevent further damage to your hearing. For example: avoiding certain medications, becoming more aware of the sound levels you are exposed to in day to day life and using ear defenders where appropriate are all protective measures you can take.
Above all else remember that there is no such thing as a silly question where your health is concerned, so ask for as much clarification as you need. Audiologists are dedicated hearing care professionals who should have no problem taking their time to answer your questions and repeat information where necessary!
What to Expect at a Pediatric Hearing Aid Fitting
Scheduling an appointment
Parents who believe their child is suffering from hearing loss should make an appointment with a pediatric audiologist right away. Undiagnosed hearing loss in children can lead to developmental delays in language and reading.
Understanding the results
During the appointment, your child will undergo an audiogram — a test that indicates the type and degree of hearing loss. If hearing loss is diagnosed, the audiologist will guide parents in selecting the right hearing aids for your child.
The fitting process
After that initial appointment, parents and child will return for the hearing aid fitting. This appointment is the first time your child will try on and understand the benefits of their hearing aids. The appointment lasts between one and two hours (so bring snacks for little ones!). Often times, during the hearing aid fitting, a child will hear mom and dad’s voices for the first time, especially if they were born with hearing loss.
During the hearing aid fitting, the audiologist will make sure earmolds fit, if they were ordered and will program the hearing aids to your child’s hearing loss. To ensure the amplification is right, the audiologist will send sound through the aids to make sure loud sounds aren’t too loud and soft sounds aren’t too soft.
Hearing aid maintenance
During the appointment, parents will also learn the ins and outs of the hearing aid — how it functions, how to clean it, how to insert batteries and how to store it at night. The audiologist will also likely create a hearing aid wearing schedule to ease the child into living with the new devices. Often times, speech therapy is recommended as the child learns to hear and understand noises.
At the end of the appointment, your child will have a follow up appointment scheduled to ensure the hearing aids are working well. Should your child experience any troubles prior to the follow up appointment, make sure to contact the pediatric audiologist right away.
4 Reasons to Choose an Audiologist
Think of a hearing aid as an investment not only in your hearing health, but in your physical and mental well-being. Saving on the initial outlay may seem appealing but it is a mistake. If the device doesn’t meet all your needs, or its poorly programmed, or you are adequately tutored on how to acclimate to life with a hearing aid, then it’s likely to languish in a drawer.
So let’s take a look at four rational reasons why you should visit an audiologist.
1.Audiologists are hearing doctors
An audiologist is trained to degree level and above in hearing health. When an audiologist looks at your hearing tests results, they can spot tell-tale signs which indicate a medical problem is the root cause of your hearing loss.
An audiologist has a greater breadth of experience than a hearing aid dispenser and can help you with all sorts of issues from excess earwax to tinnitus, from hearing loss to learning expression reading.
2.Audiologists offer specialized advice
Improving your hearing isn’t as straightforward as putting a device in your ear and off you go. It takes time and technique to learn to adapt to the intrusion of noise pollution once again. All too often people are discouraged from using a device because the onslaught of noise is overwhelming.
An audiologist takes you through what to expect and puts a protocol in place to help you adapt. And if you’re still struggling, they’re there to help you along.
3.Audiologists are concerned about your experience
How is it that hearing device dispenser can sell at reduced prices?
It’s all a matter of scale! More people, more turnaround and shifting more devices while stocking fewer models.
Consider the contrast with an audiologist who prides themselves on getting to know the individual and then matching them precisely to the best device for them. There’s no pressure to suggest a certain model because the audiologist’s job is to provide quality and an exact match, rather than achieve a sales target to earn commission.
4.Audiologists continue education
Audiologists are medical professionals and duty bound by their professional governing body to keep up to date. This includes knowing about the latest research regarding hearing health, the pros and cons of a wide range of hearing devices, and new developments on the horizon.
This is especially important because in the same way smart phone technology changes rapidly, so does that of hearing aids. Keeping abreast of the latest models means better advice for you.
In short, know that the cheapest option isn’t always the most economical in the long term. When it comes to your hearing health, you get what you pay for and investing in a superior service represents good value.
How Do You Test for Tinnitus?
What tests are needed to diagnose tinnitus?
Most hearing health providers have the clinical tools and processes to do a proper testing. The first in this measurement would be a comprehensive hearing evaluation, and may then be followed up by any of the other tests:
Speech-recognition test: This test evaluates how well you hear and repeat particular words.
Pure-tone testing: Pure-tone testing measures the patient’s hearing across a variety of frequencies and volumes. The results are then plotted on an audiogram.
Tympanogram: This evaluation measures how the middle ear is functioning, particularly the movement of the conduction bones and tympanic membrane.
Acoustic-reflex testing: Acoustic-reflex testing that gauges how effectively the middle ear muscles contract and respond to loud noises.
Otoacoustic-emission testing: This test involves the use of sensitive microphones to objectively measure hair cell movement within the middle ear.
The tests above are essential in determining the type of hearing issues that the patient is going through. There are specific hearing tests that will give doctors and other hearing health professionals a treatment plan.
There are also additional tests a hearing provider can perform to access tinnitus, including tinnitus sound matching. This test involves setting the pitch and creating sounds that might actually be an exact replica of what the patient hears with his or her tinnitus.
How is tinnitus treated?
Unfortunately, tinnitus is not a curable condition at this time. However, there are a large variety of treatment options available to mask the discomfort and provide you with relief from symptoms. Hearing aids are generally recommended to help block-out the sounds experienced from tinnitus. Additionally, noise cancelation, relaxers and masking machines can be utilized to help you find relief from tinnitus.
If you are concerned you might be suffering from tinnitus, be sure to speak with a hearing care provider as soon as possible. Tinnitus can be a debilitating condition if it goes untreated, so don’t put off treatment any longer!
Ear Cleaning Do’s and Don’ts
Don’t: Use cotton swabs
You may have done a double take when reading this first “Don’t” on the list. Most people use cotton swabs incorrectly and stick the swab in the ear canal. This is not the way to clean your ears! It says right on the package, “Do not put swab in ear canal.” It’s a habit worth breaking. The cotton can irritate your ear canal and actually may push earwax further in your ear rather than remove it.
Do: Keep your outer ear clean
Ears are self-cleaning. Earwax forms near the outer parts of the ear canal and most people require just a wipe of the outer ear with a washcloth or tissue a couple times a week. This simple procedure should keep excess earwax from forming and possibly building up near the eardrum.
Don’t: Make your own ear cleaners
It’s tempting for some people to use a hairpin or a pen to remove earwax. Don’t do it! Any pointed object can bruise your eardrum or tear a hole in it. As the old saying goes, “Never put anything in your ear smaller than your elbow.”
Do: Use products recommended by hearing care providers
If earwax build-up is a problem due to overproduction, there are several at-home remedies available. It’s important to discuss these options with your hearing care provider to ensure they’re safe and effective. Gently irrigating your ears in the shower or bath may help remove earwax. If that doesn’t work, a few drops of mineral oil or baby oil are safe to use once or twice a week. Irrigation kits are available in stores or a health care professional has tools for earwax removal.
Don’t: Ignore ear problems
If your ears itch a lot, have a bad odor or are painful, these could be signs of an impaction or wax blockage of the ear canal. Earaches, ringing in the ears or a plugged-up feeling are also symptoms of a potential problem.
If you wear hearing aids, you may notice an increase in wax production. It’s important to properly clean your hearing aids and your ears.
Do: Visit your hearing care professional
If you have any of the above symptoms, it’s important to have your ears checked. Hearing care professionals have special drops or irrigation tools and other methods of removing earwax safely.
Ear cleaning is not complicated and should take just a few minutes at home. For most people, a daily cleaning is not necessary. A simple wipe of the outer ear and avoiding sticking objects in the ear canal most often is enough to maintain healthy ears.
How Allergies Impact Hearing
What causes allergies?
A simple example of an allergy is a mosquito bite. Your body responds to the bite by producing antibodies that release histamine, which causes the itch. In this case, that’s the allergic response. Allergies to pollen or grass may cause sneezing, congestion and production of mucus. Animal dander and dust mites also can cause allergic reaction any time of the year and some people have food allergies.
Most allergies affect the middle ear, the location of the Eustachian tube. This part of your ear serves as a drainage tube, similar to a pressure release valve. If the tube is clogged with mucus, pressure builds, making it difficult to hear. This is called conductive hearing loss. The problem usually is temporary and resolves itself as the allergic reaction fades.
Middle ear infections, known as otitis media, are more common in children than adults. A doctor may recommend allergy tests if these ear infections occur regularly. Outer ear infections are generally caused by bacteria and may not be related to allergies.
How do allergies impact ears?
Allergy symptoms can affect all three parts of your ear. In the outer ear, you can experience swelling or itching. In the middle ear, fluid build-up can cause earaches or pressure. This pressure is uncomfortable and also can cause balance issues. The fluid also can harbor bacteria, leading to infection. In the inner ear, allergies can affect people who have inner-ear disorders like Meniere’s disease (a disorder that includes vertigo, tinnitus and deafness).
When to see a doctor for treatment
If you’re suffering from other allergy symptoms such as itchy eyes and a stuffy nose, over-the-counter medication may help your ears as well. Antihistamines can reduce the inflammation caused by the allergy, while decongestants will help with a clogged nose and ears. Because ear pressure can be a symptom of many other problems, it’s advisable to see a doctor if the pressure doesn’t go away or becomes painful. Continued pressure can lead to hearing loss.
Also, if your allergy symptoms include ringing in the ears (tinnitus) or vertigo (dizziness), a visit to a hearing care provider is in order.
As many as 30 percent of adults and 40 percent of children reportedly suffer from some type of allergy. Because allergies can cause temporary and in some rare cases permanent hearing loss, it’s important to know how allergies impact hearing and to address any problems early on.
Signs You May Have a Hearing Loss
* Do you find yourself constantly asking for people to speak up?
* Do you have more problems hearing women or children, those with high pitched voices, speak as opposed to men, those with low pitched voices?
* Do you find yourself talking louder to the point of shouting because you cannot hear yourself even in quiet environments?
* Do you find yourself having a very hard time hearing people in loud environments such as a restaurant or pub?
* Do you find yourself constantly having to turn up the volume on the TV even though nothing has changed in the room you are watching TV in?
* Do you find yourself constantly having to turn up the volume or car stereo?
* Do you notice that you cannot hear things that you once used to be able to hear?
* Do you have a ringing in your ears?
If you answered yes to any of these questions you may have a hearing loss. You will want to consider a few factors prior to booking an appointment with a hearing health professional. Consider these factors:
* Do you work in a loud environment?
* Do you wear hearing protection at work?
* Have you ever worn hearing protection at work?
* What environments do you notice the most problems in? Loud? Soft? All environments?
* Do you have a cold or flu?
* Do you have a family history of hearing loss or hereditary hearing or ear diseases?
Depending on your answers to the above questions you may want to book an appointment with a hearing health professional as soon as possible. If you work in a loud environment and do not wear hearing protection you may have hearing loss. However, at the same time if you didn’t previous wear hearing protection at work but you do now that previous exposure may have still caused hearing loss.
Pay close attention to what environments you have problems hearing in. Most people have problems hearing in loud environments but it is how the background noise affects you that can be an indicator that you may have hearing loss. But if you have constant problems hearing in quiet environments to speech then you might definitely have a hearing loss, though your ears may also be impacted with wax which will need to be cleaned out by a doctor.
Check your family history with hearing loss and degenerative diseases to the ear and hearing. This could be hereditary and could be causing problems with your hearing.
Having a cold or flu can cause temporary hearing loss so be sure to wait until you are well before booking an appointment with a hearing health professional for a hearing test to check your hearing. Having a cold or flu can greatly affect your hearing test results.
4 Reasons to Avoid Cotton Swabs when Cleaning Your Ears
1. Eardrum damage
Contrary to what you might think, a cotton swab is capable of reaching your eardrum. It doesn’t have to be sharp to do damage since the eardrum is thin, delicate and sensitive to pressure (it’s job is to vibrate in response to sound waves, after all). Shoving even a blunt object into your ear canal poses the risk of rupturing your eardrum and compromising your hearing. Can you see why hearing healthcare professionals take it so seriously?
2. Compacted earwax
Secondly, the ears are designed to push wax out from the ear as it traps debris and germs. When you insert a cotton swab, it counteracts this exit strategy by pushing wax and other debris further into the ear canal, where it cannot escape. Continuing to push earwax buildup toward the eardrum not only risks damaging it, but creating a potentially painful blockage.
3. Cotton debris
Although you’re trying to remove excess earwax, using a cotton swab may add to the problem by leaving behind small pieces of cotton. This irritates your ears, encourages more earwax production and can make them feel much “dirtier” than before.
4. Infection and hearing impairment
Finally, pushing dirt, earwax and cotton debris further into your ear canal creates an atmosphere where bacteria can thrive and grow into a full-blown infection. Ear infections, in turn, can cause temporary hearing loss and affect other aspects of your health and wellness.
Considering these major risks, it’s easier to understand why hearing healthcare professionals advise against using cotton swabs. Let your ears clean themselves, and if you experience buildup that’s painful or interfering with your hearing, speak with a hearing specialist.
When Should You Visit an Audiologist?
Because hearing health is often overlooked, it can be challenging to determine when you should visit an audiologist. Consider the following four questions when deciding whether to call the audiologist or not.
Do you suffer from excessive earwax?
Earwax isn’t bad for your ears in small amounts; it actually helps to protect your inner ear from dirt and infection. However, if you begin to notice excessive wax in your ears, it might be a good idea to get them professionally cleaned, as this can affect your hearing. Do not attempt to clean the wax out of your ears yourself; many earwax removal products will actually do more harm than good. Ear cleaning and earwax removal are services offered by your audiologist.
When did you last have a checkup?
Hearing health is so widely disregarded that most people will go for years and years without a check-up, only resorting to contacting an audiologist when something goes wrong. You should get your ears checked out and your hearing tested once a year. Hearing loss usually develops so gradually that you won’t notice until it has started to have a seriously detrimental effect on your quality of life. Regular check-ups will mean that any problems or minor dips in hearing ability are picked up early enough for something to be done to prevent further damage.
Have you experienced sudden hearing loss?
If you recently experienced a very sudden decline in your hearing ability, you should seek the advice of an audiologist immediately. If the hearing loss is accompanied by pain or other symptoms, schedule a visit with your audiologist. Sudden hearing loss is not always caused by infection; it may be temporary, however there are a number of serious, otherwise undetectable conditions that could contribute to it; so don’t take any chances and get it checked out.
Is your child displaying behavioral problems?
If your child is displaying behavioral problems in class or poor academic performance, it may be worth getting their hearing tested. Hearing loss can develop at any age and it is the most common birth defect in the United States, though it is not always detected as early as it should be. Not being able to hear properly in class and the social frustrations associated with hearing issues could lead your child to act out. If you are at all in doubt, book a consultation with an audiologist.
These are only a few of the scenarios that indicate you may need to see an audiologist. If you suspect something isn’t right about your hearing health, don’t hesitate to schedule a visit as soon as possible.
Hearing Aid Fittings for Children
However, the fact is, hearing loss isn’t limited to older individuals. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), between two and three of every 1,000 children in the U.S. are born deaf or with some degree of hearing loss. Even more children will develop hearing loss later as a result of infection, medication, genetic predisposition or due to noise-induced hearing loss.
A child will be diagnosed with hearing loss through a series of testing with an audiologist. They will be able to determine the type and degree of hearing loss and suggest solutions, such as hearing aids, to help the child hear better.
Upon selecting hearing aids, a child will return to the audiologist for a hearing aid fitting. Hearing aid fittings, while time-consuming, are often exciting for children and parents. The one-to-two hour appointment often provides the first opportunity for a child, especially one born with hearing loss, to hear his or her parents’ voices for the first time.
What to expect at a hearing aid fitting
During the hearing aid fitting, the audiologist will make sure all components of the hearing aid fit comfortably and snugly. The audiologist will spend most of the time programming the hearing aids for their specific hearing loss. To program the hearing aids, the audiologist will ask your child to respond to sound sent through the hearing aids. Your child’s response will determine if the right amplification is going into the hearing aid. Verification tests show whether loud sounds aren’t too loud, soft sounds are loud enough and average sounds are comfortable to the ear.
Your child’s audiologist will schedule multiple follow-up appointments as they grow. These follow-up visits will monitor the function and fit of the hearing instrument, since the child’s ear canal grows quickly.
Adjusting to hearing aids
Hearing sound for the first time requires a big cognitive leap for young children. As such, a child’s brain need time to adapt to the new sounds it hears. Depending on the age of your child, they may benefit from speech and language therapy to catch up with kids their age.
The American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA) explains how “critical for the development of speech, language, communication skills and language.” While developing hearing loss at a younger age puts a child at more risk for developmental delays, the earlier hearing loss is identified and intervention is put into place the more likely the child will return to developmental levels with their peers.
Earwax Removal and the Audiologist
Earwax is produced by the body to keep the ears lubricated, to protect the skin in the ear canals and as an antibacterial and antifungal barrier to harmful debris entering the ear. It’s produced in the ear canal and works its way outwards to the end of the canal. Everyone produces earwax. Some people produce more than others. If earwax doesn’t properly exit the ear canal or if you produce large amounts of earwax it can build-up, harden and cause problems with hearing or even become painful.
Earwax removal in the audiologist office
If earwax is a problem, schedule an appointment with an audiologist. The audiologist can use different techniques to remove earwax safely and comfortably.
* Curette removal method: The audiologist may use a curette to remove earwax. This small tool is specially formed to go in the ear without causing damage. First the audiologist will use a lighted otoscope to look in the ear canal. This allows them to see how much earwax needs to be removed and where it is located. The curette is like a small spoon. The audiologist will use it to gently scrape the earwax out of the ear canal. This is not painful. The audiologist is trained to remove the earwax without damaging the inner ear or causing you any pain.
* Irrigation removal method: An alternative method of earwax removal used by audiologists is irrigation. Audiologists use special medical solutions to first soften and loosen earwax buildup and then water to flush the wax from the canal. The solution most commonly used is a carbamide oxide solution like hydrogen peroxide. The solution releases oxygen and this process releases earwax from the ear canal. Once the wax is loose, it is washed away with water. Audiologists are trained to irrigate the ear canal with just the right amount of pressure. Like curettage, this process is not painful.
Earwax removal at home
Do not place any object smaller than your elbow in your ear canal. Additionally, you should never place anything in your ears to remove wax – including cotton swabs and no candles.
Use a damp washcloth to wipe the outer portion of the ear and remove earwax. If recommended by the audiologist, you can use at-home irrigation. Do not use pressure when irrigating your ears and only use an irrigation kit recommended by your audiologist.
Tips to Protect your Hearing
One of the easiest ways to help prevent hearing loss is by investing in some low cost, but effective. Before you go to your next concert or sporting event, pack a pair of earplugs to protect your sensitive ears from loud noises. If possible, take breaks from the noise itself. This allows your ears the chance to rest and recharge themselves.
Turn down your music
Music is great, but should be listened to at an appropriate volume. This is especially important if you’re listening to music through ear buds or headphones. If the person next to you can hear the music even though you’re wearing headphones, then it is too loud. Similarly, if you can’t hear what the person next to you is saying, then chances are the music is too loud. Music is often listened to for a long period of time, so it’s important to make sure it’s at a volume that won’t damage your sensitive ears.
Employ the 60-60 rule
Basically, when listening to music via ear buds or headphones, you should keep the volume set at 60%. Then, music should be listened to for a maximum of 60 minutes. After 60 minutes, take a quiet break before listening to more music. Most MP3 devices have the ability to set your volume to 60%, so have a look through your settings to discover this function.
While earbuds have become the norm, they can do more damage to your hearing than headphones do. This is because ear buds sit inside your ear and focus all of the sound directly towards your ear drum. Headphones, on the other hand, give you a bit of space between sound waves and your ear drums. If possible, choose noise-canceling headphones so that you don’t have to turn the volume up to drown out background noise.
Lower your TV volume
Lowering the volume on your TV even one level can help to prevent hearing loss. If you watch a lot of TV, be especially aware of how loud it gets and if possible, lower the volume. The same goes if you listen to the radio a lot. You should be able to carry on a conversation over the volume of your TV. If you have to raise your voice then it is too loud.
Be aware at work
Most workplaces should be aware of noise safety, but if you feel like your hearing is not being adequately protected at your place of work, be sure to speak to someone immediately. Proper safety gear should be used if you work around loud noises and frequent breaks should be allowed so as to rest your sensitive ears.
Protecting your ears doesn’t have to be a complicated process. Your ability to hear is an important one to communicate and connect with others; make sure to take the above precautions when around loud sounds. If you’ve got more questions about ear protection or think you may already have suffered some damage to your hearing, schedule an appointment with a hearing care provider in your area to discuss concerns!
Can I Clean My Ears At Home?
When to clean your ears
Our ears have their own in-built mechanism of cleaning themselves up. Cerumen produced inside the ear helps in lubricating it and keeping away foreign objects, such as dust, debris and bacteria. However, the cerumen also traps dead skin cells and debris to form a thick, wax-like liquid that we commonly refer to as earwax.
While earwax gradually moves out of the ear during sleep or shower, in some cases it may begin to build up, causing irritation, pain and other more serious problems. Symptoms of earwax buildup include earaches, a feeling of fullness in the ear canal and oddly colored earwax. Some people even complain of sudden hearing loss and tinnitus.
How to clean your ears
If you have any of the symptoms mentioned above, the best course of action is to see an audiologist and get your symptoms checked. Most symptoms of earwax buildup are similar to signs of other problems, such as an ear infection or permanent hearing loss. Therefore, it is crucial to get a professional’s diagnosis on whether the problem is in fact earwax buildup blocking your ear canal.
If your audiologist determines the problem can be solved by ear cleaning or ear irrigation – you are in luck. Audiologists have a simple way of cleaning your ears. They use warm water or water and saline solution to help flush out the excess accumulation from your ear canals. It is a relatively pain-free procedure that takes little more than 30 minutes to perform. You can walk out of the audiologist’s office feeling as good as new.
Cleaning ears at home
Many people prefer to perform their ear cleaning at home. Experts strongly urge against it because of the imminent risk of doing damage to the delicate inner parts of the ear. However, you can clean your ears at home if you take all the safety precautions and discuss any methods with your audiologist first.
One safe way of cleaning your ears, for example, is to use medicated eardrops. These are easily available from any pharmacy and can be inserted into your ear canal to soften the earwax, fight off infections and kill any bacteria. Once the wax is softened, it will slide out of the ear in a natural way.
If you’re dealing with an earwax impaction or have any loss of hearing or pain, it’s time to see a professional. Talk with an audiologist in your area to find out what your options are when it comes to keeping your ears clean!
5 Ways to Get the Most From Your Hearing Test
1. Colds and flu
You know how your hearing is often muffled when you have a cold or flu? This is because the tubes connecting your ears to your throat become blocked. In turn, this causes pressure changes within the middle ear which then presses on the ear drums and affect your ability to hear.
Also, as part of the hearing test the audiologist measures the movement of the ear drum and the movement of the small bones in the middle ear. These may be dampened down when you have a head cold.
With this in mind, the ideal time to have a hearing test is when you are well. Consider rescheduling if you’re under the weather.
2. Wax removal
Just like wearing earplugs, a big buildup of wax within the ear canal impairs your ability to hear. Since part of the hearing test is working out the limits the loud and soft sounds you can hear, having waxy ears could give an artificial reading.
Therefore it’s a good idea to clean your ears a few days ahead of the hearing test. If you suspect a heavy wax buildup the audiology clinic or your physician can recommend someone to professionally syringe the ears.
Alternatively, buy some ear cleaning drops and use them several days in a row for the week leading up to the appointment.
3. Quiet time
Our ability to hear can be artificially reduced when we are exposed to loud sounds. This is what we experience after attending a loud rock concert or noisy nightclub, where you stumble away and find yourself holding a conversation in a shout.
Again, in order not to get false results, avoid exposure to loud noises in the hours leading up to the appointment. This doesn’t mean you have to go into isolation, but avoid bogeying on down to a disco beat at full volume in the time immediately before the visit.
4. List of questions
Should hearing loss be diagnosed, think about any questions you might want to ask the audiologist and write them down. For example, you may want to know:
* What happens if I do nothing?
* Do you recommend a hearing device?
* How will a hearing aid fit with my lifestyle?
* What are the options for hearing devices?
* Planning ahead and writing the queries down means you’ll be sure to cover everything you want to know.
5. Take a friend
Consider taking a friend or family member along to the appointment. This is perfectly normal and many people do it.
Having an extra pair of ears means you’re less likely to miss important information and have all the facts you need to make an important decision about the future of your hearing health.
5 questions to Ask at Your First Audiology Appointment
The first appointment with an audiologist can make anyone anxious, but it doesn’t have to. Taking some time to prepare yourself by making a list of questions can help you feel better walking into the appointment. Consider the following list, which is full of questions that will provide you the answers you need to have a full understanding of hearing loss and potential solutions.
1. How many follow up visits will I need?
It’s a good idea to have the right expectations during your journey with hearing aids. Make sure to ask the audiologist what type of follow up care you will need.
2. How long will my hearing aids last?
While hearing aid technology is getting better with time, hearing aids still wear out. Ask your audiologist how long hearing aids last to have a good understanding of the investment you’ll be making throughout the years.
3. Are warranties or insurance available for hearing aids?
Again, cost can be a big deciding factor in choosing the type of hearing aid. As such, it can be important to know whether or not your hearing aids are covered by any insurance or warranty policies, should something go wrong with them.
4. What if I don’t like the hearing aids I purchase?
Not every fit is a perfect fit the first time. Sometimes patients find that the hearing aids they’ve picked aren’t conducive with their lifestyle or turn out to be uncomfortable or far too much of a hassle. Make sure to ask your audiologist what kind of trial period they may be able to offer with hearing aids. This is important especially if you are headed in for your first pair of hearing aids.
5. Do I have to pay for hearing aids out of pocket?
Because hearing aids are such a costly investment, it is wise to understand how much you will pay for them. The audiologist will be able to work with you to understand the costs and what to expect upon purchase. Most insurance companies do not cover the cost of hearing aids but some supplemental insurance can help out. Talk to the audiologist about potential supplemental help.
Your first appointment with an audiologist should be rewarding and provide you with all the information you need to take the next steps confidently. Talk more with your audiologist if you have any questions, concerns or issues.
5 Ways to Prepare for Your Hearing Test
1. Write it down
Prior to your appointment think about and write down any and all questions, comments or concerns you may have about your hearing, hearing loss, your audiologist or hearing aids to ask at your appointment. There is nothing wrong or stupid that you could say or ask your audiologist – all comments, questions and concerns are important and need to and should, for that matter, be addressed. It may also help to bring a friend or a family member with you to your appointment to make sure all your comments, questions or concerns are answered.
2. Listen with an open mind
Be prepared for anything they may say to you and be open to it. Your audiologist knows a lot; they have a wealth of information, knowledge and experience.
3. Do your own research
Prepare yourself by looking on the internet or asking others what their experience has been. Ask them about the testing and how it felt or what they heard. Watch videos online of hearing tests. Look at pictures of the equipment that is used. Read more articles related to hearing testing and the different parts of the hearing test. Learn from others.
4. Ask for their medical questionnaire ahead of time
It might be an idea to ask for their medical questionnaire ahead of time. Not only does this give you lots of time to fill out all of the required information but it also give you a chance to go over and digest what they are looking for. It can give you a sense of the types of questions they will be asking you in person and the types of questions you need to actually need answered.
5. Talk with your insurance company
It is a smart idea to talk with your insurance company prior to the appointment to find out what – if anything – is covered. You may also want to ask your audiologist’s practice if they direct bill to insurance companies. This way, by talking to your insurance company prior to your appointment, you will know and understand what your insurance company wants from you and your audiologist for the appointment to be covered.
The best advice is to be calm and to be open to the experience. There will be a lot of information given to you throughout the appointment to taking notes is a good idea; just as is writing down all of your comments, questions or concerns prior to the appointment. It can be overwhelming but with a calm mind and perhaps another set of ears in that of a friend or family member you will be able to handle and get through the appointment with flying colors.
4 Hearing Aid Maintenance Tips to Prevent Repairs
1. Do not expose your hearing aids to moisture
There are a small number of hearing aids that are genuinely waterproof. However, the vast majority of hearing aids are not waterproof. For waterproof hearing aids, it is okay to get them wet. But for most hearing aids, exposure to water or other fluids can be a disaster. That is because if fluids get into the hearing aid, they can damage the electronics within the device. So, you should always be careful not to expose your hearing aids to water unless they are waterproof.
2. Clean earwax out regularly
If you wear your hearing aids for long enough, then wax can accumulate within them. Too much wax in your hearing aids can cause them not to work effectively. To keep your hearing aids performing well, you should clean the wax out of them regularly. You can do this with a wax pic.
3. Store them in a secure location
You should not store your hearing aids on the ground or anywhere else where they can be easily damaged. If you step on your hearing aid or drop it, then that can definitely be enough to damage it. Hearing aid repairs can be very expensive. So, you should store your hearing aids safely in a box or case and then keep them in a drawer or somewhere else that is safe.
4. Do not use hairspray or similar products while wearing your hearing aids
While you are wearing your hearing aids, it is best to avoid dousing your head with perfume, hairspray or other products. This is because these products can get inside of your hearing aids and cause damage to them. Instead, wait until you are not wearing your hearing aids to use them.
Talk to your audiologist more about hearing aid care and maintenance. Your audiologist will be able to help you establish the right cleaning routine, in addition to evaluating and examining your hearing aids in the event repairs are needed.