1. What is an Audiologist?
An audiologist is a professional who diagnoses and treats hearing and balance problems. An audiologist has received an Au.D. (Doctorate in Audiology), or a Master's or Doctoral degree from an accredited university graduate program in audiology.
Audiologists are trained to diagnose, manage and treat hearing or balance problems for individuals from birth through adulthood.
If you or a family member suspect that you have a hearing problem or a balance problem, contact an audiologist. After carefully reviewing your health history and evaluating your hearing, an audiologist will determine whether your condition might be medically treatable and will refer you to an appropriate professional. If your condition is not medically treatable, he or she will review any recommendations for audiologic care or treatment which may include hearing aids, aural rehabilitiation or balance therapy.
2. How do I know if I have a hearing loss?
If you answer yes to more than two of the following questions, you should have your hearing evaluated further by a certified audiologist:
Do you have a problem hearing over the telephone?
Do you hear better through one ear than the other when you are on the phone?
Do you have trouble following conversations with two+ people talking at the same time?
Do people complain that you turn the TV volume up too high?
Do you strain to understand conversation?
Do you have trouble hearing in a noisy background?
Do you have trouble hearing in restaurants?
Do you have dizziness, pain, or ringing in your ears?
Do you find yourself asking people to repeat themselves?
Do family members or coworkers remark about your missing what has been said?
Do many people you talk to seem to mumble (or not speak clearly)?
Do you misunderstand what others are saying and respond inappropriately?
Do you have trouble understanding the speech of women and children?
Do people get annoyed because you misunderstand what they say? (http://www.asha.org/public/hearing/Self-Test-for-Hearing-Loss/)
3. What are the different types/styles of hearing aids?
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4. How much do hearing aids cost?
The price of hearing aids varies widely depending on your individual needs. The national average puts the price for one new hearing aid between $1,500 - $3,500. At Southside Hearing Aids, we are proud to offer options well below this amount. Health insurance does not typically cover the cost of hearing aids; however, there are some plans that do offer a benefit. For individuals that cannot afford hearing aids; there are usually options. For example, we offer 12 months, no interest financing which allows you to pay them off over the course of one year instead of paying upfront. In addition, older model and/or refurbished hearing aids are also an option and, in extreme cases, you may apply for hearing aids through nonprofit organizations. If you would like to learn more about your options and what might work best for you, please call our office to schedule a hearing aid consultation.
5. What is included in the price of a hearing aid?
This varies as well. We offer both bundled and unbundled options. A ‘bundled’ package means that you are paying for everything upfront: this includes the hearing devices, repair warranty, loss/damage warranty, as well as a service plan in which you may come in for unlimited service appointments to clean and reprogram your instruments. An ‘unbundled’ package is one in which you pay less upfront because the cost does not include service appointments. After the 45 day trial period, you pay for visits as you go.
6. Why shouldn't I just buy hearing aids online?
Before you buy your hearing aids online, here are some things you should know.
The Internet offers many advantages for consumers looking for information and products. Online purchasing is convenient and private, and in some cases may offer cost savings for individuals. However, before you buy devices such as hearing aids online, here are some things you should know:
A hearing aid is a complex medical device, not a simple sound amplifier.
Hearing aids have digital technology that can be set by an audiologist to meet your personal hearing needs.
Hearing aids bought online without a complete hearing test and other necessary hearing aid services may not meet your needs.
Setting hearing aids for your needs requires specific computer software that audiologists may not have access to if the devices were bought online. For some online businesses, getting the hearing aid settings changed may only be possible by shipping the hearing aid back to the manufacturer, which means you will have to go without your hearing aid for a while.
To help with your adjustment to hearing aids, audiologists generally provide office visits, reprogramming, counseling, and support when you buy a hearing aid from them. Hearing aids purchased online will generally not include these services.
If you suspect that you have a hearing loss, see your doctor. The medical exam will determine if your hearing loss is medically treatable. If it is not, you will be referred to a licensed audiologist to see if you are a candidate for hearing aids. With a medical referral, Medicare beneficiaries can get a complete hearing test at no cost.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) strongly recommends that you see a doctor to rule out medical causes of hearing loss before buying hearing aids. For children 18 years old or younger, a medical evaluation is required.
Online hearing screens cannot tell you the cause of hearing loss—the cause may be something as minor as too much earwax or as serious as brain tumor. Currently, online hearing screens can only alert you that your hearing is not normal and that you need further testing.
Success with hearing aids begins with a complete hearing test by an audiologist.
For accuracy, hearing tests are conducted in sound-treated rooms using special earphones and equipment that have been calibrated to national standards. Online hearing screens do not meet these standards and may lead to inaccurate test results.
The hearing test begins with a thorough discussion about your lifestyle, listening needs, medical history, and any other concerns you may have. This will help with the selection of the special features you might need in your hearing aids.
Your audiologist will perform several different tests to determine what benefits you can expect from hearing aids:
The audiogram is a record of the type and degree of your hearing loss and how well you can hear soft tones at different pitches. It is more than a hearing screening.
Speech testing is a measure of how well you can hear and understand speech in quiet and background noise.
Loudness discomfort testing will measure your ability to tolerate loud sounds and will help the audiologist set the hearing aids so that loud sounds are not uncomfortable.
Following the testing, the audiologist will explain the results and work with you to develop a plan to improve your hearing and communication. This discussion is important for understanding your hearing loss and what you can expect from hearing aids if they are recommended for you.
With a better understanding of you and your hearing loss, your audiologist may recommend hearing assistive technology (e.g., telephone amplifiers, TV devices, FM systems, audio-loops) to help you hear better in situations where hearing aids may be of less help (e.g., in a car, when the TV is on, or in groups of people talking). Hearing assistive technology can be used alone or with hearing aids.
Get the most out of your hearing aids.
If hearing aids are recommended, you will continue to work with your audiologist to ensure that the hearing aid is meeting your needs and that you are happy with the sound quality and improvements in communication.
Using very specialized technology called Real Ear equipment; the audiologist can precisely measure and filter the sound the hearing aids send into your ear canals. This technology will make sure that speech sounds are reaching your ear in a safe and comfortable way.
When you purchase hearing aids through a hearing aid dispensing practice, you are assured that the audiologist is appropriately licensed and has the computer software to make changes to the function of your hearing aids. When hearing aids are purchased online, it may be difficult to get adjustments locally if the dispenser does not have access to the programming software.
You will learn how to care for and use your hearing aids and be able to demonstrate this comfortably before you leave the office.
You will learn about your hearing loss, what to expect with the new devices, and how to function best in different listening environments. Additional fitting follow up and counseling is valuable and can continue until you are satisfied.
Be sure to bring family members or significant others along to your appointments. It is important that they understand how you communicate best. Some audiologists offer special classes designed to help you live successfully with hearing loss.
Properly fitted devices, counseling, and support go a long way toward improving your listening and satisfaction with these complex digital devices. A bad experience with hearing aids can make you less likely to try again.
Face-to-face care from knowledgeable professionals is the key to improving your hearing and communication with your new hearing aids.
Success with hearing aids involves more than the device.
(Taken from the ASHA website: http://www.asha.org/public/hearing/Buying-Hearing-Aids-Online/)