Hearing Aids

I am here to help!  Selecting and using hearing aids may seem like one of the more daunting tasks you need to navigate.  Because there is so much advertising about hearing aids, sorting out options, styles and manufacturers can be very confusing at times.  There are over 20 manufacturers to choose from and they each have about 10 different types of hearing aids. The options seem endless. The goal of this section is to provide you with a basic foundation and knowledge about hearing aids. I will guide you through the selection process and tailor a solution that matches your needs. I also encourage you to explore the links to some of the larger industry websites.  My favorite website for non-biased information is www.betterhearing.org.  This website is created by a consumer friendly non-profit organization and it is an excellent resource for learning.

How Much do Hearing Aids Cost?

A quick answer because it’s everyone’s first question: Quality hearing aids range from $1250 to $3500 each.Just like any other electronic technology, there are vast differences in function and performance, which account for most of the variance in prices. Discounted hearing aids can be as low as $700 each, but are usually very old technology.

Generally speaking, the higher the price the higher the technology.These higher technologies provide improved hearing in life’s more challenging situations; i.e. meetings, restaurants, partys, etc…

I have a low price guarantee: If you find a better price in the local Tri-City area, I will beat it by $50 each. In most cases, insurance does not pay for hearing aids, but almost every insurance plan entitles you to a recommended discount off of the MSRP. Ask me for the details of your insurance plan.

Which Hearing aid is right for me?

There are many considerations when selecting a hearing aid that is right for you.Your hearing loss, lifestyle, cosmetic preferences, affordability, and dexterity are just a few things we must consider and discuss together.Discussing these variabilities and preferences will help me recommend a hearing aid that will meet your needs.At a hearing aid evaluation my goal is to provide you with as much education as possible in regards to hearing aid options and technological features.

Can I wear just one hearing aid?

Yes you can, but should you?Our system of hearing is like a fine tuned stereo system, which involves reception and processing on a binaural level.Our brain actually uses both ears to find where sounds are coming from, amplify the incoming signal, and help filter out the things we want to hear from extraneous noises.Our ears were made to be complimentary, not redundant!So, if you have hearing loss on one side, one hearing aid works great, but if you have loss on both sides, both should be fit with aids to equalize your hearing.Initially, no one wants to wear any hearing aids, and that is not a good reason to wear just one.

What size of hearing aid is best for me?

This decision depends on your preferences and your hearing loss.Sizes vary from completely-in-the-canal to behind the ear models.With every size, there are advantages and disadvantages.Larger hearing aids are more powerful, more durable, have longer battery life, and are generally more comfortable.More technological features such as memory buttons and directional microphones can also be fit into larger sizes.Smaller sizes are of course the most cosmetically pleasing, and if you have the appropriate hearing loss, you can wear one.You may have some choices, but ultimately your hearing loss will warrant a particular size to best suit your hearing.The advantages, disadvantages, and applications for each size are discussed below:

BTE (Behind-The-Ear)

BTE’s are most appropriate for severe to profound hearing losses, however, they are the most flexible and can essentially be fit on any type or degree of hearing loss.

BTEs are by far the most durable, have the longest battery life, and are generally very comfortable.Because of their size, they can house optional volume controls, memory buttons, and multiple microphones.When size is not an issue, a BTE has the most available bells and whistles.If performance is your one and only goal, a BTE is probably best for you.

ITE (In-The-Ear)

ITEs are most appropriate for mild to moderately severe hearing loss.

ITEs have a long battery life, are comfortable, and are best for those with poor manual dexterity.Because they are one large piece, they are easier to put into the ear, change the battery, and keep clean.Like the BTE, they are larger in size than many other hearing aids and can house multiple microphones, memory buttons, and volume controls.

ITC (In-The-Canal)

ITCs are most appropriate for mild to moderately severe hearing loss.

They are significantly smaller than ITEs and are therefore more cosmetically pleasing.Because they are smaller, they have limited external options such as memory buttons.They require decent manual dexterity to handle and need more care than the larger sizes to maintain their function.If cosmetics are a priority, these are a good choice.

CIC (Completely-In-Canal)

CICs are most appropriate for mild to moderate hearing loss.

The CIC is the smallest, most cosmetically invisible hearing aid available.Because of it’s small size, battery life is the shortest and it is the most delicate.Good dexterity is a must for this size.Due to the deep fit of the aid, the microphone placement is deep in the canal and it therefore utilizes the natural directional acoustics of the outer ear structures.

Open Fit BTE (Behind-The-Ear)

Open fit hearing aids are most appropriate for mild sloping to moderately severe, predominantly high frequency, hearing loss.

Open fit aids are smaller BTEs that are fit with a small non-occluding tip in the ear canal.These hearing aids are extremely comfortable, very durable, but have a relatively short battery life.Their biggest advantage is the natural perception of the hearing aid user’s own voice.With other hearing aids, people sometimes perceive that they are “talking in a barrel,” but with the open fit that problem is eliminated because the ear canal remains open.

Categories of technology

Analog hearing aids have been around over 50 years, but nowadays are rarely used.Analog aids are basic amplifiers and don’t have the ability to be specifically fit to someone’s unique hearing loss.Because they can’t be specifically fit, they usually have volume controls on board so that the user can constantly change the volume for particular hearing needs throughout the day.These hearing aids are nearly obsolete because digital hearing aids have come down in price dramatically over the past few years.Research tells us that people with profound hearing loss may still benefit from this technology.This is a very small portion of the hearing impaired population.

Digitally Programmable hearing aids have analog circuitry but are programmable via digital controls.This technology is essentially obsolete because there is no inherit benefit over digital hearing aids today which are better in every feature and in the same cost range.

Digital hearing aid technology has been here since 1996.Since then, there has been a steady stream of technological advancements within the circuitry.Digital hearing aids are programmable, automated, and replicate a sound signal with nearly 100% clarity.They can be configured acoustically to fit the shape and intricacies of anyone’s hearing loss.While some manufacturers boast major differences between their aids and their competitors, the truth is that they are all excellent.If you are getting you first set of hearing aids now, you are very fortunate to have this modern day technology.Many manufacturers have 10 or more digital circuits available in their hearing aids and this is where performance varies today.As mentioned before, the higher the technology, the better the hearing aid will perform in challenging environments.Ask me to explain the differences in circuitry and I could bore you for about 10 hours !!Options are endless in the digital aids and I will try to simplify it as much as possible when we discuss your hearing loss and hearing needs.

How do I choose the right technology?

Speaking frankly, the highest technology is the right technology for everyone.The highest technologies will always perform the best in challenging situations.They usually have every feature available to be completely automated and give you the best possible hearing in difficult listening situations.While these statements are true, I can understand that they are not always practical for everyone simply because of the cost of hearing aids.Therefore, there are several other options available if the best just simply isn’t feasible.I can respect your needs and concerns and view my job as two main goals:

1.To educate you on all of the applicable styles and features in the various hearing aids.

2.To do the best possible job I can with the hearing aids that you select.

Now although it sounds as if you have the ultimate responsibility, don’t worry, I will assist you and give you all of the information necessary to make an educated choice.Together, we will find something that suits your hearing loss, budget, and lifestyle.I encourage you to come in and see me.One thing you will never get in my office is a pressured sales pitch!

Hearing Aid Options

1.Directional Microphones

a.If you get one feature on your hearing aid, this is it.Time and again, directional microphones have proven to be the most effective feature on a hearing aid to reduce background noise.

2.Program Buttons

a.A program button will enable you to have different acoustical programs for your specific listening environments.For instance, if you enjoy classical music, a second program can be set into the hearing aid just for music.

3.Volume Controls

a.While most hearing aids have automatic volume control, if you prefer to have some control, we can add one to your hearing aid.

4.Telecoil

a.Telecoils are like a little antenna in the hearing aid that enables a direct connection to a phone.These are usually available in only the larger style aids.

5.Battery Sizes

a.The largest batteries have the longest battery life, up to 4 weeks, while the smallest batteries only last about a week.Although batteries only cost about 75 cents, if long battery life is important to you, let me know.

6.Blue Tooth Connectivity

a.Some Oticon hearing aids have the ability to connect to cell phones and TV listening systems via Blue Tooth technology.For the technically savvy, these are a lot of fun.

7.Remote Controls

a.Remote controls are available from several manufacturers and with them you can change the volume or program on your hearing aids discreetly.

Keys to Hearing Aid Success

Here are some things to remember when considering a hearing aid to ensure success.

1.Everyone takes 1-3 weeks to adapt to the new sounds – so don’t give up after 1 day!

2.Learn as much as you can at the first fitting appointment – education is power!

3.Don’t get hearing aids until you are ready – motivation is necessary for success!

4.Find an audiologist you trust – they can make or break your hearing!

5.Hearing aids won’t give you perfect hearing – have realistic expectations!

Some facts you should know:

•Hearing aids take about 2 weeks to order.

•Impressions of your ears will be taken for a custom fit.

•You have a 60 day trial period with all hearing aids (money back guarantee).

•A two year repair warranty comes with all hearing aids.

 

•Your first consultation is always free, so come in and meet me!Email Sherri for an appointment.

sherri@tubbshearing.com

Links

http://www.audiology.org/aboutaudiology/consumered/guides/

http://www.asha.org/public/hearing/

http://www.ata.org/

http://www.betterhearing.org/

Manufacturers

While there are over 20 manufacturers, there are some that are head and shoulders above the rest.Just like any industry, there are big, stable, reputable companies and there are others who are smaller or newer and lack longevity.The larger companies generally have more money for research, an established reputation for quality, and excellent customer service.I only order from these manufacturers for the reasons listed above.While you may save $100 or so by using a different manufacturer, I don’t think the trade-offs are worth the savings.I stand behind the hearing aids from these manufacturers and they stand behind their products as well.Feel free to visit their websites to see what they offer.

http://www.widexusa.com/

http://www.oticonusa.com/

http://www.resound.com/

http://www.phonak-us.com/

 

Our Services

At Audiology & Hearing Aids, our focus is on treating hearing loss primarily through the fitting of hearing aids.  In addition to treating hearing loss, there are many other services we offer so that we can provide a comprehensive plan for your lifestyle.  For you, this may include hearing aids, a TV listening system, or an amplified telephone.  For others, a comprehensive plan might include unique devices like professional ear monitors.  Whatever your needs, please express them and we will do our best to cater to your unique lifestyle.  Below are is a short list of the services we offer.  If there is something you need but don’t see on the list, just ask!

Audiometry: Comprehensive audiometry (hearing test) takes place in a professional sound booth and is done with only the highest quality testing equipment.The equipment (Audiometer) is calibrated every year to be in compliance with the American National Standards Institute (ANSI).Additionally, all testing is completed by Dr. Tubbs, at no time is it tested by a technician.

Tympanometry: Tympanometry is pressure test that analyzes the function of your middle ear.This includes your eardrum, the ossicles, and the air filled sinus behind the eardrum.If an ear infection is suspected, tympanometry will assist in the diagnosis.

Hearing aids:Hearing aids are very complex and require a different sound and physical fit for everyone. The selecting and fitting of hearing aids is a complex process that I will guide you through.

Assistive Listening Devices (ALDs): Assistive listening devices are anything other than hearing aids which may help meet your specific hearing needs.Some of the more common types are amplified telephones, TV listening systems, and pocket-talkers.If there are any situations in your life where the hearing aids are not meeting your needs, let me know and I will find something to help you there.

Wax Removal: Audiologists are certified to remove wax from the ear canals.Wax (cerumen) can cause feedback in hearing aids and some mild hearing loss.This is a very simple procedure done with lighted hand tools and usually only takes a few minutes.If your wax removal is too difficult, it can be done by our ENT physicians across the hall.

Tinnitus Maskers: Many people with hearing loss have tinnitus (ringing or buzzing in the ears).If hearing loss is present, the first treatment is always the fitting of hearing aids.For those without significant loss, a soft sounding noise masker can be fitted on the ear.These devices are similar looking to hearing aids and are custom made to fit the ear.The sound generator is adjustable to match the sound of your specific tinnitus.

Custom Ear Molds: Custom ear molds are made for a variety of reasons including swim plugs, noise protection, an industrial listening devices.The advantage of all custom molds is that they are very comfortable and can be worn for extended periods of time.Non-custom molds usually start to irritate the ear after a short time.

Musician Monitors: Custom fitted musician monitors produce some of the greatest sound you will ever experience via a custom housed monitor in the ear.The monitors range from $350-$850 a pair and are predominantly used by people in the music industry.Options on these are almost endless. Please visit Westone for more information.

 

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Call Dr. Tubbs today for an appointment to discuss your hearing!

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Your hearing is important, and knowledge is key!

 

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Dr. Sean Tubbs is passionate about helping you along the path to healthy hearing!