When Should You Seek a Hearing Evaluation?
Hearing loss is a common condition that affects a large percentage of the population, especially as they age. Many times symptoms appear so gradually, you don’t even notice you have a problem until it’s at an advanced stage. A hearing evaluation can help catch problems early, and offers a better chance at successful treatment.
Knowing when to seek a hearing evaluation is important. If any of the following situations applies to you, make an appointment to have your hearing tested as soon as possible.
- Your hearing limits or negatively impacts your personal life.
- You withdraw socially, avoiding interactions with family members, friends, and neighbors.
- You’re embarrassed to meet new people because of difficulties hearing.
- Background noises in restaurants and other settings prevent you from participating in conversations.
- You often feel frustrated when trying to communicate with others.
- You have difficulty listening to the television or radio; others may comment that the volume is too loud.
- You have trouble understanding when somebody speaks in a whisper.
- Your hearing problem feels like a burden.
Our Commitment To Your Hearing Health
The Ear Institute is committed to providing high level, quality care to patients throughout the Coachella Valley and beyond. Our clinic is home to the only ear surgeon in the region, and our ear physicians and audiologists are located in the same office, distinguishing us from other hearing aid centers. We believe a medical evaluation to detail the cause and type of hearing loss is an important first step when shopping for a hearing aid, as many hearing conditions respond favorably to surgical treatment. One of our licensed audiologists will begin your evaluation by performing a diagnostic audiogram, which is then reviewed by the physician to determine the extent of your hearing loss, what is causing it, and whether you can benefit from a hearing aid. Your treatment options will be outlined, and we’ll work closely with you to answer any questions you may have. Any medical conditions present in the ear canal must be treated before you are fitted for a hearing aid. If it is determined that a hearing aid is in your best interest, our physicians and audiologists will work together to come up with a treatment plan to ensure a comfortable and successful fit. Our audiology staff is happy to meet with you to discuss your various options, and you won’t have to travel to a different office – all your appointments will take place in one convenient location.
Hearing Aid Principles
Hearing aids are a boon to those with hearing loss. Modern devices can’t restore normal hearing, but they amplify sounds, allowing the hearing impaired to communicate effectively. All hearing aids share the same basic components: a microphone that detects sound, an amplifier that makes the sound louder, a speaker that delivers the sound to the ear, and batteries that supply power to the hearing aid.
Hearing Aids May Help You
Hearing aids benefit many individuals with a hearing loss. To determine whether you can benefit from a hearing aid, the first step is to have your hearing evaluated by an experienced, licensed audiologist. We’ll conduct a full diagnostic audiogram to evaluate the type and severity of your hearing loss, and meet with you to discuss the cause of your impairment and review treatment options. Afterwards, we may recommend a hearing aid evaluation. This can be scheduled the same day as your audiogram and medical evaluation if you desire.
Choosing a Hearing Aid
If it is determined a hearing aid will benefit you, you’ll meet with one of our licensed hearing care professionals for a no-cost, no-obligation appointment. You are encouraged to bring a family member along to the 60-minute appointment. We’ll evaluate your hearing needs based on your audiogram results, lifestyle, activities, manual dexterity, cosmetic preferences, etc. and address any issues or concerns you’ve got. These factors, taken into consideration along with medical information like the size and shape of your ear canals, will allow us to make an informed recommendation on a device that will meet your needs most closely. We’ll review different options and, once a decision has been made, make a mold of your ear, which will be used to order a custom-fit hearing aid.
Delivery takes approximately two weeks. Once your device arrives, we’ll schedule an appointment for a fitting. It may take up to three appointments to fine-tune your hearing aid and make the necessary adjustments that will ensure you are hearing properly again. Chances are, you’ll be surprised over all you’ve been missing out on!
Our No-Obligation Promise
Hearing aids take some getting used to, so we offer you a 30-day trial period to decide whether you are comfortable with your device and pleased with the results. If not, we’ll refund your money, or order a different style that may suit you better. All hearing aids include a generous warranty for loss or damage.
Adjustable & Programmable Hearing Aids
Digital hearing aids are available in two different types: adjustable and programmable. Adjustable hearing aids provide digital sound quality and are set to a frequency that matches your hearing tests, but the ability to adjust these to fit specific hearing needs is limited, other than the ability to control the volume.
Programmable hearing aids automatically adjust to the listening environment, allowing for more flexibility. They can either be adjusted by the user manually, or set to automatically control the volume, reducing the gain when sounds exceed certain loudness parameters. The majority have sensors that can detect feedback, and automatically adjust to reduce or eliminate it. Advances in technology have led to new features, such as multi-band compression and dual microphones, for an improved listening experience in noisy environments.
CROS & BiCROS Hearing Aids
Patients with single-sided deafness, or very poor hearing in one ear only, have options for their specific type of hearing loss. CROS (Contralateral Routing Of Signal) hearing aids transmit sound from the poor ear to the better ear, enabling the wearer to hear sounds originating from the poor side. A BiCROS system is similar, but the patient wears two hearing aids, providing some additional amplification to the better ear, as well.
Two hearing aids are a good solution in most cases. Our nervous system is designed to hear equally from both sides; wearing two hearing aids when there is a hearing loss in both ears maximizes your ability to hear, especially in situations where background noise is present. Dual hearing aids also provide better directionality, allowing you to identify which direction sounds is coming from.
Hearing Aid Styles
Hearing aids come in a variety of styles, giving patients flexibility in size, cosmetic appearance, and where the device is worn. Depend on the severity of your hearing loss, you’ll be able to choose from any of the hearing aids listed below.
BTE (Behind The Ear)
BTE hearing aids fit behind the ear; sounds are transmitted through a tube to a custom ear mold that rests inside your ear canal. Their large size makes them a good choice for those with dexterity issues. Recommended for patients of all ages – children included – with mild to profound hearing loss.
RITE (Receiver In The Ear)
Similar to BTEs, but the receiver sits inside the ear canal. Smooth sound quality with little or no distortion. Suitable for those with mild to moderately severe hearing loss.
Small BTE hearing aids that utilize a thin tube to deliver sound to a tiny speaker that fits partially in the ear canal. This produces a more natural sound without the distraction of occlusion. Their small size will appeal to those concerned with visibility issues. These are perfect for patients with mild to moderate high frequency hearing loss.
ITE (In The Ear)
ITE hearing aids consist of a custom ear mold that perfectly fits the outer ear. Individuals with moderately severe hearing loss can benefit from ITE hearing aids.
CIC (Completely In the Canal)
CIC hearing aids are the least visible of all styles because of their small size. They fit deep inside the ear canal and while they will appeal to those wishing to conceal their condition, the tradeoff is a limited number of features and options due to their size. Recommended for people with moderately severe hearing loss.
Today’s digital hearing aids take advantage of Bluetooth technology to help users stay connected; an improved signal to noise ratio eliminates many of the problems experienced with cell and home phones, televisions, and in noisy environments.
Pediatric Hearing Loss Services
Our professional staff of audiologists, working in tandem with our medical physicians, is well equipped to treat the specialized needs of children with hearing loss, regardless of age. Their extensive experience in the evaluation and management of hearing loss in babies and children makes them adept at diagnosing and treating hearing loss in the pediatric population.
BTE (Behind The Ear) hearing aids are always recommended for babies and children, whose anatomy changes as they grow. These devices are durable, safe, and comfortable, and won’t interfere with a growing ear canal.
Assistive Listening Devices
Assistive Listening Devices, or ALDs, are personal amplifying units that can help you hear and communicate better, without the need for a hearing aid. There are a variety of different devices that amplify sounds; these include Frequency Modulation (FM) systems, telephone devices, amplified answering machines, computers, alarms, TV ears, and pocket talkers.
Other Hearing Aid Services
We offer an array of additional hearing aid services, including cleaning and repair, warranty renewal, custom ear molds, and testimonials.
Alternatives to Traditional Hearing Aids
While traditional hearing aids help many patients to communicate, they don’t work for everybody. Patients with chronic ear infections, abnormalities in the ear canals, single-sided deafness, conductive hearing loss, and mixed hearing loss may need to rely on a bone conduction hearing aid instead. These devices work on a different principle than traditional hearing aids, which amplify sounds before transmitting them to the cochlea in the inner ear. Bone conduction hearing aids, by contrast, bypass the auditory canal and middle ear completely, relying on direct bone conduction. A sound processor transmits sound vibrations to a surgically implanted titanium oscillator, utilizing the bones as natural pathways. The inner ear is able to pick up these vibrations, and interprets them as sound.
The BAHA BP-100 is the first programmable bone conduction hearing aid on the market. Advanced digital signal processing translates to automatic adjustment of environmental sounds without any noticeable degradation in hearing performance, a drastic improvement over earlier systems. The list of features is lengthy, and includes:
- Multiple fitting options for flexibility and comfort
- 12 channels
- Automatic multi-band directional microphone
- Advanced noise reduction and feedback manager to reduce background noise and interference
- 3-button interface for selecting different listening programs and adjusting the volume
- Tamper-resistant battery doors
- Water-resistant microphone covers
- IPod and Bluetooth compatibility
- Variety of colors to match virtually any skin tone
For those who feel additional power is beneficial, the BAHA BP-110 was recently introduced. This sound processor provides more amplification in the higher frequency ranges, and is designed for better performance in noisy situations and improved speech understanding. It’s a good choice for patients with single-sided deafness and moderate hearing loss in their better ear.