Greeneville ENT Specialists provides full hearing aid services to include; testing, hearing aid sales, fitting and service. If you're found to have a medical or surgically correctable hearing loss, our Audiologist will refer you to one of our medical providers.
Hearing aids are the primary means of managing hearing loss that cannot be treated medically or surgically. Your audiologist will conduct a comprehensive hearing evaluation to determine whether or not you are a candidate for hearing aids. Based on your evaluation, the audiologist may recommend hearing aids or make a referral to investigate medical or surgical options.
Hearing aids are similar to a miniature public address system. The microphone picks up the sound, the amplifier makes the sound louder, and the receiver (speaker) delivers the sound. In 2009, 98 percent of all hearing aids are digital. Digital technology allows advantageous manipulation of sound in many useful ways. Some hearing aids are completely automatic, while others have user-adjustable controls. Your audiologist will work with you to review hearing aid options. The two of you will select the best configuration for your particular needs. All hearing aids are powered by a battery.
Hearing aid styles may be broadly classified as "standard" and "custom." Standard hearing aids include behind-the-ear (BTE), mini-BTE, and receiver-in-the-canal (RIC) devices. These products are designed to fit most ears and usually require some customization of the earpiece and the connection of the device to the earpiece. Custom hearing aids include in-the-ear (ITE), in-the-canal (ITC), and completely-in-the-canal (CIC). These products require a custom-molded shell that houses the electronics. Standard and custom hearing aids come in a variety of colors, shapes, and sizes.
The choice of hearing aid styles and features is based on several factors including the exact type and degree of hearing loss, your individual needs (such as communication requirements, lifestyle, and manual dexterity), and your medical and audiological history and related findings.
One or Two Hearing Aids
If both ears need amplification, your audiologist will recommend two hearing aids. Research has shown that two hearing aids provide superior benefits for the majority of people with regard to better word recognition in quiet and noisy backgrounds, better quality of sound, better localization ability, more natural hearing. Research has also shown that when both ears are candidates for hearing aids and only one ear is fitted, the unaided ear may lose speech recognition ability more rapidly than the fitted ear.
Several features are available to improve the hearing aid experience. The most common are
- Directional microphones to enhance speech understanding in noise,
- Noise management to improve listening comfort in noisy situations,
- Feedback cancellation to alleviate the annoyance of whistling and buzzing, and
- Telephone programs to access sound from phones and other sound sources.
After your hearing aids have been selected, they must be filled appropriately. Hearing aids must amplify sounds so they can be heard comfortably without causing discomfort, and hearing aids must be secure and physically comfortable in the ear. The hearing aids are adjusted using a computer in the audiologist's office, and the results can be measured. However, the audiologist's office does not usually represent the variety of sounds heard in everyday life, and so your new hearing aids will need to be evaluated in the sound environments important to you; a daily journal is useful for this purpose. By working with your audiologist, the hearing aids can be adjusted to perform most functions optimally and automatically in these environments. Your audiologist will likely suggest specific hearing assistive technologies to supplement the hearing aids and to address specific complaints.
Maintenance and Insurance
Your audiologist will review with you the details of your insurance coverage (if available), financing options, loss, theft and damage insurance, warranty, service protocols, maintenance advice, as well as introductory periods and return policies.
As with all electronics, hearing aids require care and maintenance. This includes handling them carefully, not exposing the hearing aids to water and chemicals, and keeping them very clean. Your audiologist will discuss and demonstrate proper dally care as well as maintenance techniques and maintenance products. The hearing aid user's manual will review many of these same points. Given the hostile conditions (temperature extremes, high levels of humidity, ear wax, etc.) under which hearing aids operate, daily cleaning and maintenance is recommended, Proper care and maintenance clearly reduces the need for repair.
Expectations and Outcomes
Even with the best technology, it is important to maintain realistic expectations. While hearing aids make sounds easier to hear, they will not restore normal hearing. Hearing aids re-introduce you to a world of sound, and it takes time to become accustomed to the new sounds. Some people adjust quickly, others take longer. Your audiologist will discuss auditory training programs, communication strategies, and hearing assistive technologies to alleviate difficulties in these situations.
Untreated hearing loss impairs memory and may cause difficulty related to learning new tasks. Untreated hearing loss may result in decreased job performance and has been shown to negatively impact wages and earnings. Hearing loss treated with hearing aids has been shown to decrease fatigue, irritability, risk to personal safety, and withdrawal from social situations.
Aural Rehabilitation for Adults
Hearing loss currently affects more than 36 million Americans. Although hearing problems are associated with the normal aging process, more than half of all people with hearing loss are younger than 65. There are many causes of hearing loss; loud noises, ear infections, ear trauma, ear disease, illness and disease, certain medications, and of course, the normal aging process. Most hearing losses are permanent. Your audiologist will determine the type and degree of your hearing loss and the best treatment.
Treatment options may include: hearing aids, assistive and alerting devices, FM systems, and hearing rehabilitation. The first step in treatment of hearing loss is a comprehensive and diagnostic hearing evaluation by an audiologist.
Do I Have Hearing Loss?
People with hearing loss sometime say, "Could you repeat that, please?" or "I hear you but I can't make out the words." Sometimes family members comment the television volume is too high. Sometimes the person with hearing loss might miss the punch line when someone tells a joke. Sometimes the person with hearing loss no longer enjoys dining out, visiting friends, going to meetings, parties, movies, or religious services because it's a real struggle to listen to the person speaking. It's exhausting! The earlier signs and symptoms of hearing loss are very common and often do indicate hearing loss. However, the easiest way to find out if you have hearing loss is to simply make an appointment with an audiologist.
Hearing Loss Options
Most people with hearing loss can be helped through appropriate use of hearing aids, assistive and alerting devices, FM systems, and more. Although hearing aids cannot restore your hearing to normal, they can provide substantial benefit for people with hearing loss. Your audiologist will recommend certain styles and types of hearing aids based on your hearing test results, cosmetic concerns, as well as your listening needs and preferences.
Rather than saying "What?" or "Huh?" try to make a specific clarification request. In other words, if the talker mumbles, ask him or her to please speak more clearly. If the talker speaks in a quiet voice, politely ask him or her to speak louder. Many talkers cover their mouths when they are talking. When this happens, tell them you can understand them better if they would not cover their mouths.
Speak slowly. Your hearing loss is "invisible" to the people you converse with. They may forget to speak in a manner helpful to you. One way to overcome this is to explain that you are really interested in hearing what she has to say and that you would like to use a cue, like tapping your ear or your mouth, to remind her to speak more slowly.
Turn down the volume. Background noises (loud music, people talking, dishes clanking, and television and music systems playing) make it especially difficult for people with hearing loss (and for those wearing hearing aids) to listen easily. You might choose quieter restaurants, or ask your place of worship to carpet the social hall to reduce reverberation, you might move to a quieter location to have a conversation. Anticipate difficult listening situations and plan how to minimize them. Your audiologist can help you with these strategies.
Face the person. Ask your loved ones, coworkers, and friends to come into the room and get your attention before talking to you. It will be much easier for you to understand when people face you as they speak.
Accentuate the positive. Even though it is true that many people do mumble, speak too fast, cover their mouths, and/or drop the volume of their voices at the end of sentences, do not blame your listening difficulties on them.
Instead, accept responsibility and make communication requests in a polite manner. You might say, "It would really help me a lot if you would speak slower," rather than "I can never understand a single word you say because you ..."
Assistive Listening & Alerting Devices
Assistive Listening Devices (ALDs) are devices used in addition to hearing aids and cochlear implants to make more sounds accessible to people with hearing impairment.
Specifically, hearing aids and cochlear implants are traditionally designed to enhance conversational speech, in one-on-one situations and in relatively quiet situations. However, while listening in the presence of significant background noise, or at a distance, or in special circumstances such as listening to a television playing from across the room, or while trying to use a telephone or listening to the radio, or at a lecture in a large hall, additional listening support is useful.
FM systems are very useful and very popular in educational settings. FM systems are micro-radio transmission systems (hence the name "FM") that maximize the speaker's voice. FM is very popular in educational settings. The teacher speaks into a tiny and portable microphone (usually dipped onto his/her collar) and the sound is delivered wirelessly into the student's hearing aids using FM signals - thus, avoiding the introduction of background noise, reverb/echo, and while maintaining an excellent signal-to-noise ratio. FM is also very useful for adults in many listening situations.
Sound Field Systems
Another popular listening system designed for classrooms are sound field systems. While employing sound field systems, the teacher wears a small, wireless, microphone and the sound signal is sent to strategically placed speakers located across the classroom to enhance the speech signal. Sound field systems are not only beneficial for students with hearing loss, but many studies have shown that all students in the classroom benefit when sound field systems are used to improve classroom acoustics.
T-Coils and Loop Systems
Indeed, most people with hearing loss depend on or benefit from some kind of ALD to help them develop or maintain a comfortable level of independence in their dally lives. From infra-red TV headsets to closed-captions (CC) used while watching TV, to amplified telephones, people with hearing loss use a multitude of ALDs to remain connected to their world. Other popular ALD systems include tele-coils (also called T-Coils, available in many hearing aids for more than 50 years) and loop systems. Loop Systems transmit electromagnetic signals into a "looped area" (such as a living room or an auditorium) allowing the hearing aid wearer to perceive lite sound signal through the tele-coil switch on t-coil supplied hearing aids.
The "Get in the Hearing Loop" campaign was created in collaboration with HLAA to address a national looping initiative. The goal of the effort is increase consumer and audiology awareness of hearing aid and cochlear implant-compatible assistive listening systems. The campaign will culminate in the Second International Hearing Loop Conference to coincide with the HLAA annual convention in Washington, DC. June 16 - 19, 2011. As part of the campaign we will be creating educational resources for consumers and audiologists alike. Check back on this site for further developments.
Beyond the most common ALDs (used for television and telephone), there are many visually based alerting devices (ADs) designed to alert hearing impaired and deaf people to special circumstances and situations. For example, alarm clocks with traditional bells and buzzers are of little use for people with severe-to-profound hearing loss. Therefore, special alerting devices are built into alarm clocks with strobe lights, or perhaps vibrating pillow inserts - to help wake people who cannot hear the typical alarm. Additionally, fire and smoke alarm systems are available that offer visual alarms, too.
Importantly, with the introduction of Bluetooth Wireless connectivity, more and more of the products that were previously "add-ons" to hearing aid systems (such as TV and telephone-based ALDs, FM systems and more) are being incorporated into advanced hearing aids as a more complete and often seamless "listening system." Please speak with your audiologist to learn about advanced wireless systems and features, which can be incorporated into some advanced hearing aid systems.
These products (ALDs and ADs) are commercially available and are highly recommended. Please speak with your audiologist about ALDs and ADs, to get the best and most useful products to enhance your listening experience.
Cochlear Implants might be considered an option when patients no longer benefit from hearing aids. If you use hearing aid amplification and still have trouble hearing, ask your audiologist about cochlear implants.
Cochlear implants am not hearing aids; they are totally different. Cochlear Implants bypass the damaged inner ear and deliver electrical stimulation directly to the hearing nerve. Cochlear implant recipient work with a team that includes an audiologist, an ear surgeon, a speech-language pathologist, and other rehabilitation specialists. It takes time and effort to learn to listen with a cochlear implant, and everyone learns at a different rate. In general, it takes a few months to get used to the sounds of a cochlear implant.
Cochlear implants have two major parts: one internal and one external. The internal component is implanted by the surgeon. The external component is lit and programmed by your audiologist a month or so after your cochlear implant surgery. The external component looks similar to a behind-the-ear hearing aid with a small round coil attached to it. The internal component is located under the skin and is not visible.
Cochlear implantation is usually an out-patient procedure, and most people go home the same day as the surgery. As technology has improved, so has performance. Most cochlear implant users understand speech very well, although there is a wide range of performance possibilities. Cochlear implant users generally can use the telephone, and some enjoy music. The cochlear implant team will help you learn more about reasonable expectations with a cochlear implant.
Most private insurance carriers, as well as Medicare and state Medicaid programs, pay some costs associated with cochlear implants. Check with your policy or local agency for more details, If you need help with insurance questions, please be sure to ask your cochlear implant team.