Hearing Tests and Hearing Aids
Patients that seek amplification sooner in their hearing loss journey adapt to hearing aids quicker than those who wait.
Most individuals lose hearing slowly over many years, however, when a hearing aid is worn, the patient receives that hearing back in one day. The brain needs time to adapt to the new sounds from the environment.
This time is revered to as the adaptation period. This adaptation period takes longer in individuals that have been deprived of sound for extended periods of time. Additionally the longer the brain goes without receiving the sound input it needs, the more likely the person is to experience auditory deprivation.
Auditory deprivation means that the brain is no longer able to translate the meaning of sounds. For example, even if the letter “s” is made audible, the patient is unable to understand what the letter means anymore. Timely treatment of hearing loss with hearing aids can reduce the risk of auditory deprivation.
Our Audiologists are trained in the evaluation of hearing of adults, infants and children of all ages, receive an Au.D. (Clinical Doctorate in Audiology), or a Master’s degree from an accredited university graduate program in audiology. Audiologists conduct a wide variety of tests to determine the exact nature of an individual’s hearing problem. They present a variety of treatment options to patients with hearing impairment. Audiologists dispense and fit hearing aids and other assistive listening devices, administer tests of balance to evaluate dizziness and provide hearing rehabilitation training. In addition, audiologists assess central auditory processing skills and provide assistance in the management of tinnitus.
When should you seek the help of an Audiologist?
Ear pain, hearing problems, dizziness, and tinnitus can be devastating. These ailments can stem from dysfunction of the outer, middle or inner ear anatomy. We will work as a team to localize the source of the problem and come up with a treatment plan to help resolve the issue.
Common problems include:
Outer ear infections, commonly called “swimmer’s ear”, involves the skin of the outer ear canal. Generally, this can be treated with eardrops depending on the type of infection (i.e. bacterial, fungal, etc.).
Middle ear infections occur in the cavity behind the eardrum. The middle ear cavity is connected to the nose through a drainage system called the “Eustachian tube”. Dysfunction of this drainage system can lead to pressure, discomfort, hearing loss, and numerous other uncomfortable symptoms.
If the drainage system does not function properly due to inflammation inside the nose, (from a cold, allergies, tobacco-smoke exposure, enlarged adenoids, etc.); fluid can get trapped behind the eardrum creating a reservoir in which an infection can form. Although ear infections tend to be more common during childhood, they can appear at any age. With recurrent infections, hearing can be affected which can disrupt the proper development of speech and language.
A battery of tests may be necessary to ensure the hearing is intact. If middle ear issues persist, a hole may form in the eardrum which is called a perforation. In order to treat the middle ear, various medications may need to be used to treat the root of the problem. Hearing and allergy testing may also need to be performed. If conservative therapy fails, a drainage tube may need to be surgically placed into the tympanic membrane to help drain the middle ear (bypassing the Eustachian tube).
If a hole in the eardrum does not naturally heal, or the bones surrounding the ear become chronically infected, surgery may be required to repair the hole and clear out the infected bone.
Ear Pain from TMJ Arthralgia
If the above ailments do not resolve the ear pain. The source may be from neighboring anatomy. A common culprit is a jaw joint. Mild arthritis in the joint can cause excruciating ear pain. A soft diet, warm compresses, a bite guard, anti-inflammatory and muscle relaxants are sometimes needed to help alleviate the pain.
Inner ear ailments typically involve the balance and hearing nerves and sensors. This can produce dizziness, ringing in the ears and hearing problems. If an inner ear issue is diagnosed, various tests (hearing test, VNG, MRI, etc.) may be necessary to rule out more serious medical problems.
If damage to the inner ear results in hearing loss, this may be irreversible. It is imperative that we take the proper steps to augment hearing with hearing aids to avoid possible changes to the brain that may affect our cognition and ability to process information. In regards to dizziness, it is very important to rule out any underlying neurological issues.
The brain uses our eyes, our limbs, and our inner ear to calculate balance if any of these systems are not fully functioning, dizziness may occur. Typically, an MRI is performed to better visualize the brain anatomy and rule out tumors and other neurological issues. In those with normal MRIs, other ailments may be the source of the dizziness. For instance, crystalline structures that reside in the inner ear may get dislodged and be the source of the dizziness in a condition called Benign Paroxysmal Positional Vertigo.
In others, problems with the inner ear can result in a cluster of symptoms (dizziness, tinnitus, the fullness of ears, hearing loss) by the name of Meniere’s. Damage to the inner ear can also result in a phantom noise that seems to come from within the ear. This is called tinnitus and is often described as ringing, swooshing, or buzzing. Tinnitus is rarely serious. On occasion, tinnitus may simply go away; however, if there is a history of hearing loss, tinnitus may be permanent.
Some conditions associated with tinnitus include Hearing loss, Meniere’s disease, middle ear infections, Otosclerosis (fixation of middle ear bones), Vestibular Schwannomas (small, rare, benign tumor of the acoustic nerve). When tinnitus is caused by an obvious problem such as a blockage in the ear canal or a middle ear infection, it can be treated. However, in most cases, the cause is unknown or related to hearing loss. In these situations, hearing devices (i.e., hearing aids or maskers) or Tinnitus Retraining Therapy (techniques that decrease the perception of tinnitus until it becomes a neutral sound) may help make the symptoms more manageable.
Our Hearing Services
- Audiological evaluation
- Free demo of hearing aids
- Real ear verification of amplification
- Tinnitus therapy
Hearing aid fittings with all major brands:
Hearing Aid FAQ
Does my insurance cover hearing aids?
Insurance coverage depends on the individual plan that you’ve selected. Please call our office to get further information on your particular insurance policy.
Do I really need a pair of hearing aids or will just one work?
If hearing loss is present in both ears we encourage you to purchase a pair of hearing aids. Untreated hearing loss can lead to auditory deprivation.
How long do hearing aids generally last?
On average, patients should plan to upgrade hearing loss every 3-5 years as technology advances.
Is there a benefit to seeing an Audiologist or getting hearing devices at an ENT’s office?
Yes. ENTs are trained on the medical and surgical model while audiologists are trained clinically regarding hearing loss and all our hearing specialties work in concert to provide Enticare patients with the best possible care while developing the most comprehensive treatment plan for the patient and utilizing the latest technology chosen specially for the patient’s needs.
Are they expensive?
Hearing aids range in prices depending on technology level which is determined based on your degree of hearing loss and environmental surroundings.
Are they large and bulky?
Hearing aid come in ranges of sizes from tiny, in the ear invisible hearing aids to sleek, behind the ear hearing aids that are often hidden by your hair.
I think I am too young for hearing aids. Why did my doctor recommend them?
Hearing loss affects people of all ages. It’s important to seek treatment for hearing loss as soon as possible to maintain the viability of your hearing nerve.
Do you offer a trial period?
Yes, we offer a 30 day trial period for you to try the hearing aids in your regular living environment.