Ø What is an audiologist ?
Answer: An audiologist is a healthcare professional, specifically trained in the measurement (identification) of hearing (auditory) disorders and the rehabilitation of hearing loss. Minimum training is a post-graduate degree in audiology, plus a clinical fellowship experience (one year) after graduation. Audiologists may be certified by the American Speech-Language and Hearing Association (CCC/A), or awarded the status of “Fellow” by the American Academy of Audiology (FAAA). An audiologist may have both the CCC/A and the FAAA.
Ø What causes the ear to “ring” or have a buzzing noise in it ?
Answer: “Tinnitus” is the medical (Latin) term used to describe the ringing/buzzing sounds that so many people suffer. There are a variety of potential causes, with one of the most common causes being high frequency sensori-neural hearing loss. It is important that an individual suffering tinnitus be evaluated for possible causes; especially if the tinnitus has been of sudden onset, or if there has been a recent change in the severity of the tinnitus. It is also important to be evaluated if the tinnitus is only noticed in one ear.
Ø What is “nerve deafness” ?
Answer: “Nerve Deafness” is an old fashion term for sensori-neural hearing loss. The old wives tale was that “nerve deafness” could not be helped by amplification (hearing aids), when in fact hearing aids have - since their beginning - been primarily for those suffering from a nerve impairment hearing loss. The old fashion term “nerve deafness” or current term sensori-neural hearing loss refer to an impairment of hearing which is caused by the cochlea (sensori) or the 8th Nerve (neural) no longer functioning as it should. It is important that an individual receive a thorough audiologic evaluation to determine the degree and type of hearing loss that an individual has.
Ø Can nerve loss (sensori-neural hearing loss) be helped by using a hearing aid ?
Answer: Yes ! The level of benefit that hearing instruments (amplification) may provide is dependant upon the severity of the loss (nerve damage). The more impaired the nerve – the less beneficial the hearing instruments may be.
Unfortunately, there are few cases where hearing aids do not help at all
Ø The big question is – Do hearing instruments help enough to make it worth it ?
Answer: There is no guarantee that an individual will feel that the benefit that they have received from a hearing aid has been worth the purchase. It has always been our practice to offer our patients a trial use of amplification, and the opportunity to return the hearing instruments if they feel the benefit has not justified the purchase/use of hearing aids. It has been our experience that fewer than 2% of the patients we have fit with hearing instruments have returned them for a refund. Hearing aids do help, and the new technology has provided even more benefit than before. We encourage anyone who is suffering from a hearing loss to receive a complete evaluation of there hearing and hearing needs – and consider at least a trial use of hearing instruments if test results show that they may be of benefit.
Ø How do I find out if I am a candidate for a hearing aid – If a hearing aid would help me ?
Answer: From our view – an individual experiencing a loss of hearing is not considered an automatic candidate for a hearing aid. The first approach should always be an audiologic evaluation of the auditory system to determine the type and severity of the hearing deficit. The patient would then be counseled regarding the results, their candidacy for amplification or other options such as medical referral if indicated.
Ø What improvement / benefit does the new hearing instrument technology provide for the hearing impaired ?
Answer: Improved clarity and understanding, and a more “comfortable” sound. The older style hearing aids had one linear circuit which “amplified everything”. The newer hearing instruments have multi-channels of sound processing. The most advanced devices have digital processing of sound through multiple channels, which automatically evaluate and adjust sound over one million times per second - based on the frequency (pitch) of the sound, as well as the volume of the incoming sound. What this means for the hearing impaired is a device which “helps” to separate and amplify sound in a customized fashion . . . . . . Improving the clarity with less unwanted sound.
Ø Why two hearing aids ?
Answer: The easiest way to answer this question is to simply say “ Think about it – of all the creatures God made – if He gave them hearing. He gave them two ears.” There are so many benefits to hearing from both sides – the localization of sounds is one of the most obvious. There is also something called the “summation effect”, which basically means that when you hear out of both ears the sounds will appear stronger and clearer. If normal hearing is to hear well out of both ears, and if an individuals goal is to hear as normal again as possible – then, if there is a loss of hearing in both ears, two hearing aids would be indicated for maximum benefit.
Ø How are hearing and balance related ?
Answer: There are two parts of the “inner ear”. The vestibular portion is for balance and the cochlear portion is for hearing. Both of these areas are served by the same nerve [8th Cranial (Auditory) Nerve], and both areas share common fluids. In many cases, when an individual is having a “balance” problem – the diagnostic work up will include an audiologic evaluation. Many of the same tests used to evaluate the hearing provide information regarding the function of the vestibular or balance system.