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Hearing Aids

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Here at Ear, Nose and Throat Associates of South Florida, our goal is to provide hearing healthcare solutions to our patients.  We have NO desire to jeopardize the trust we have earned from our patients by selling them hearing aids when they are not needed.  We do not use deceptive advertising and bait and switch techniques by high pressure sales people, which is far too common in the industry.  Improving your hearing healthcare is our ONLY concern.

For more information visit our ENT Hearing Associates website.

Do I even need a hearing aid?

HearingAidsThe first step in evaluating your hearing is to see your doctor here at Ear, Nose and Throat Associates of South Florida to rule out correctable causes of hearing loss, such as earwax, an infection or a tumor, and have your hearing tested by one of our masters and doctorate level audiologists.

An audiologist is a professional who diagnoses, treats, and manages individuals with hearing loss or balance problems. All of our audiologists have received a master's or doctoral degree from an accredited university graduate program.  Audiologists determine appropriate patient treatment of hearing and balance problems by combining a complete history with a variety of specialized auditory and vestibular assessments. Based upon the diagnosis, your audiologist will present a variety of treatment options to you which may or may not include the need for a hearing aid.

If, after a comprehensive hearing evaluation and thorough discussions with you and your family, it is determined that you need hearing aids, we’ll make sure that you get a top quality brand that fits your ear, your budget, and your lifestyle.

At Ear, Nose and Throat Associates of South Florida, we are proud to offer:

  • Masters and Doctorate level audiologists to work with you as hearing healthcare providers
  • Top quality service from an office you already trust – your physician
  • Wide selection of hearing aids
  • Trial periods on all hearing aids
  • On-site maintenance and repairs
  • Yearly audiometric screenings
  • Yearly hearing instrument evaluation

Effects of untreated hearing loss

Many people put off getting help for their hearing loss because they think it’s insignificant – something they can deal with by simply turning the TV louder or asking friends to repeat themselves. But research has linked untreated hearing loss to significant issues such as:

  • Irritability, negativism and anger
  • Fatigue, tension, stress and depression
  • Avoidance or withdrawal from social situations
  • Social rejection and loneliness
  • Reduced alertness and increased risk to personal safety
  • Impaired memory and ability to learn new tasks
  • Reduced job performance and earning power
  • Diminished psychological and overall health

You are not alone

Did you know that hearing loss affects one in every 10 Americans? The good news is that today, with the latest advances in hearing aid technology, most forms of hearing loss can be successfully treated.

  • Only one in five people who could benefit from a hearing aid wears one
  • 10 million Americans have suffered noise-induced hearing loss
  • Hearing decline starts as early as 40 years of age
  • 65% of people with hearing loss are below retirement age

The solution is simple

Communication is critical in life. Your job and social interactions are all more rewarding when you can communicate confidently – and hearing is vital to that. Research shows that people who get hearing aids benefit from:

  • Fewer instances of confusion and disorientation
  • Increased ability to concentrate and multi-task
  • Better memory skills and a greater ability to learn new tasks
  • Alertness and awareness of their personal safety
  • Increased earning power and more control over their lives

What is a hearing aid?

A hearing aid is a small electronic device that you wear in or behind your ear. It makes some sounds louder so that a person with hearing loss can listen, communicate and participate more fully in daily activities. A hearing aid can help people hear more in both quiet and noisy situations. However, only about one out of five people who would benefit from a hearing aid actually uses one.

A hearing aid has three basic parts: a microphone, amplifier and speaker. The hearing aid receives sound through a microphone, which converts the sound waves to electrical signals and sends them to an amplifier. The amplifier increases the power of the signals and then sends them to the ear through a speaker.

Do all hearing aids work the same way?

Hearing aids work differently depending on the electronics used.  The two main types of electronics are analog and digital.  All hearing aids, regardless of technology, are designed to increase the volume of sounds reaching the ear by electronic amplification. In order to achieve this, a hearing aid needs three basic components:

  • One or more microphones to gather sound waves and convert them to electrical impulses
  • An amplifier to increase the strength of the signal
  • A miniature speaker, which converts that electric signal back into acoustic energy, producing amplified sound waves that travel directly to your eardrum.

The difference between analog and digital hearing aids is how the energy is amplified.

Advantages of Digital Hearing Aids

The processing power of digital hearing aids allows much greater flexibility than analog devices. Digital hearing aids are “smarter” than analog, in that the microprocessors are able to interpret the incoming sound waves with greater accuracy. Instead of applying the same amplification process to all incoming sound, digital hearing aids are able to selectively amplify some noises, while ignoring or even quieting others. By interpreting the consistency of the intensity of each individual sound, a digital processor can select those sounds that need to be amplified.  Digital sound processing also produces a crisper, clearer sound than analog does, in much the same way that a compact disc sounds better than an audio cassette.

Digital hearing aids are also capable of managing feedback – the whistling noise caused by the microphones picking up the output from the speakers. As digital aids are capable of distinguishing different sounds, the frequency range in which the feedback is occurring can be slightly muted, reducing the whistling while still amplifying necessary speech sounds.

Directional microphones are employed in some analog and digital hearing aids. Unlike omnidirectional microphones which pick up sound in all directions, directional microphones only pick up the sound coming from the front, and reduce the sound coming from the rear (usually background noise). As digital hearing aids have exponentially more processing power, they are able to adapt to the input from the directional microphones more efficiently, making the directional microphone that much more effective.

Are there different styles of hearing aids?

There are three basic styles of hearing aids – in the canal, in the ear and behind the ear.  Each of the styles differ by size, their placement on or inside the ear, and the degree to which they amplify sound.

Completely-in-the-Canal (CIC)

CICHearing aids simply don’t come any smaller than CIC models. A wonder of modern technology, CIC hearing aids fit deeply inside the ear canal, making it almost invisible to all but the most dedicated investigator. The aesthetic benefits of a CIC model are obvious; no one will ever suspect that you are wearing hearing aids. There is also less feedback with a CIC model, improved telephone utility, decreased wind noise, as well as less occlusion (the “talking in a barrel” effect). They are not designed for maximum amplification, however, and are best suited for mild to moderate hearing loss.

 

In-the-Canal (ITC)

ITCITC hearing aids are the next step “out” from CICs, and fit on the very end of the ear canal. They are custom-made to fit perfectly in your ear, and are very discreet and difficult to notice. With their larger size and greater amplification powers, ITCs are suitable for moderately severe hearing loss.

 

In-the-Ear (ITE)

ITEITEs are custom-fit to your outer ear and made from skin-toned material, making them not only exceptionally comfortable and suitable for severe hearing loss, but visually subtle as well.

 

Behind-the-Ear (BTE)

BTEBTE hearing aids are worn comfortably behind the ear, while a very thin, transparent tube runs down to a customized earmold that fits tightly in the ear canal or outer ear. BTEs are offered in many stylish colors and designs, and many are so discreet as to avoid notice. BTEs offer greater battery life and often more features thanks to their larger size, and most BTEs are compatible with assistive listening devices. Thanks to their amplification capabilities, BTEs are suitable for mild to profound hearing loss.

Which hearing aid will work best for me?

The hearing aid that will work best for you depends on the kind and severity of your hearing loss. If you have a hearing loss in both of your ears, two hearing aids are generally recommended because two aids provide a more natural signal to the brain. Hearing in both ears also will help you understand speech and locate where the sound is coming from.

There are many different factors to consider when selecting a hearing aid. It is imperative to consult with a hearing professional at Ear, Nose and Throat Associates of South Florida when making the decision, as we will be able to diagnose specific information about your hearing loss, and inform you of what the best options are. Consider these factors when considering the purchase of a hearing aid.

  • Degree and frequencies of hearing loss – we will be able to determine your hearing loss, and can show you which models are appropriate.
  • Functionality – which hearing aids are available for you may be restricted by your need for certain functions.
  • Ear Anatomy – some ear canals are very tiny, making it impossible to fit a CIC or, in some cases, an ITC.
  • Lifestyle Needs – if your life keeps you indoors most of the time, your needs will be different from someone who spends their days in nature.
  • Manual Dexterity – for those with dexterity issues, some sizes and designs may not be ideal.
  • Cosmetic Preferences – hearing aids are available in a wide range of sizes, styles, and colors, so your personal taste will come into play greatly.
  • Cost – hearing aids come in a very wide range of prices, so there’s something for every budget.

You and your audiologist should select a hearing aid that best suits your needs and lifestyle. Price is also a key consideration, because hearing aids range from hundreds to several thousand dollars. Similar to other equipment purchases, style and features affect cost. However, don’t use price alone to determine the best hearing aid for you. Just because one hearing aid is more expensive than another does not necessarily mean that it will better suit your needs.

Also, please understand that a hearing aid will not restore your normal hearing.  One common misconception is that the aid restores normal hearing just as corrective lenses restore normal vision.  As a general rule, a hearing aid usually improves hearing by one-half of the loss. With practice, however, a hearing aid will increase your awareness of sounds and their sources. You will want to wear your hearing aid regularly, so select one that is convenient and easy for you to use.

Adjusting to your Hearing Aid

Getting used to a hearing aid takes time.  Wearing hearing aids can be overwhelming at first, but wearing them regularly will help you adjust to them.  If you slowly lost your hearing over many years, there will be many soft sounds that you haven’t heard in a while and simply forgot about. Simply placing hearing aids in your ears will not by itself solve hearing loss; it takes commitment and patience to full adjust to your new capabilities and accustomed to amplified sound.

If listening with your hearing aid is uncomfortable in certain situations, if certain noises are painful, or even if something simply doesn’t sound right, talk to your audiologist. Your audiologist will either adjust your hearing aid for you, or show you how to do it yourself to give you the most comfortable and natural hearing experience possible.  Become familiar with your hearing aid’s features. With your audiologist present, practice putting in and taking out the aid, cleaning it, identifying right and left aids, and replacing the batteries. Ask how to test it in listening environments where you have problems with hearing. Learn to adjust the aid’s volume and to program it for sounds that are too loud or too soft. Work with your audiologist until you are comfortable and satisfied.

If you or someone you know shows signs of hearing loss, seek professional help from our physicians and audiologists so that you or they can enjoy life to the fullest with better hearing.  Call us today for an appointment!