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The Process of Purchasing Hearing Aids at Jacksonville Hearing and Balance Institute

Today we will be discussing the process of purchasing hearing aids through The Hearing Center at Jacksonville Hearing and Balance Institute (JHBI).

 

STEP 1: Hearing Evaluation

The first step when purchasing hearing aids through JHBI is to schedule a hearing evaluation.  The comprehensive hearing evaluation will assess several levels of your auditory pathway.  Throughout the testing, we will assess your ability to hear different pitches and understand speech.  If you are found to be a hearing aid candidate, you will be scheduled to see an Audiologist at the Hearing Center for a hearing aid consultation.

 

STEP 2: Hearing Aid Consultation

The second step of purchasing hearing aids is the hearing aid consultation.  You are encouraged to bring a spouse or family member to this appointment to provide support with decision making and to be an active member of your hearing healthcare.  During this appointment, the Audiologist will explain the results of your hearing evaluation, discuss hearing expectations and needs, and review the latest hearing aid technology.  Based off of your individual needs, the Audiologist will recommend a specific hearing aid for you.  Once you select a hearing aid that meets your needs, a hearing aid fitting will be scheduled.

 

STEP 3: Hearing Aid Fitting

At the hearing aid fitting, the Audiologist will program and adjust the hearing aids to meet your specific hearing healthcare needs.  After the hearing aids are programmed, the Audiologist will instruct you on proper insertion and removal of the devices.  General care and maintenance will also be reviewed with you to promote the longevity of your hearing aids.

 

STEP 4:  Hearing Aid Adjustment Period

All hearing aids have a 30-day trial period to ensure that you are happy and would like to keep your devices. Since it often takes time to adapt to amplification, the Audiologist would like to see you for programming adjustments during this trial period.  A two week follow-up will be scheduled after your hearing aid fitting.  At this appointment you will discuss any difficulties you are having with the devices and work with your audiologist to overcome these obstacles.  It is our goal to have you realizing a maximum benefit once your trial period expires.

 

To schedule an appointment at JHBI you could contact our clinic at 904-339-0950

The Lifespan of a Hearing Aid

How Long Do Hearing Aids Last?

One of the most common questions we hear during a hearing aid consultation is “how long will these devices last?” It’s a smart question to ask given the investment that is required for a new pair of hearing aids. Many long-term hearing aid users will also start to worry that their devices will fail suddenly, leaving them without sound.

The average hearing aid user will upgrade their technology after 5 to 6 years. Some people will continue to use a hearing aid for 8-10 years, while others will choose to buy new technology after just two years. Let’s take a look at what might affect how long someone uses a hearing aid:

  1. Repairs: Like all electronics, hearing aids are more prone to requiring repairs the older they are. After the initial manufacturer’s warranty expires on the hearing aid (typically at 2 to 3 years), all repairs are out-of-pocket costs. Depending on what has gone wrong, repairs can range from $50 to $300+. In most cases, frequent repairs also mean time spent without the hearing aid, which can be very difficult for people who have grown dependent on their amplification. If repairs become too frequent, a person may opt to put their money towards updated technology. Also keep in mind that eventually, a manufacturer will run out of replacement parts for older models of hearing aids, so it become more difficult to get an 8-10 year old hearing aid repaired.
  2. Updates to technology: Hearing aid technology turns over very quickly. Most manufacturer’s release at least one new product every year, if not more often. It usually takes about five years for someone to notice a significant increase in sound quality and functionality of the hearing aid in order to justify upgrading technology.
  3. Loss/Damage: New hearing aids usually have a loss and damage warranty for 1-3 years. During that time, if you lose a device, the manufacturer will replace it with a new one for a small fee. Outside of the warranty, if you lose the hearing aid, you have to purchase a new one to replace it.
  4. Hearing changes: Most hearing aids can be reprogrammed to fit a large range of hearing levels. In rare instances of severe and sudden hearing deterioration, it is possible that someone would need to purchase a power device, which would be a new hearing aid designed to fit worsening hearing.

 

If you are wondering if newer hearing aids are appropriate for you, or you are noticing increased difficulties hearing, it’s a good idea to visit your audiologist. He or she can make recommendations for improving your current devices or moving forward with purchasing new technology. Remember that this is your journey, so don’t be afraid to ask questions and state your preferences. We look forward to helping you along the way.

I Can Hear My Family, But I Can’t Understand

Hear for the Holidays

As the holidays draw near you may find yourself concerned with your ability to hear family and friends at holiday parties and gatherings. Many people often report that they can hear the conversation around them but can’t understand what people are saying or they state that people often mumble. This may be especially true in a crowded restaurant or room.

If this situation sounds familiar you may have a hearing loss in one or both ears. A type of hearing loss often seen in older adults is known as ‘presbycusis’. Presbycusis describes a pattern of hearing loss that manifests in the high pitch range. This means low pitched sounds (men’s voices etc) are easy to hear but high pitched sounds (women and childrens’ voices, birds, etc) are much more difficult to hear.

Speech is comprised of many different sounds and they all need to be heard well in order to understand conversation clearly. Low pitched speech sounds, such as vowels, bring the volume or the “power” to speech. High pitched sounds, such as consonants, provide the clarity to speech. In the case of presbycusis, an individual can hear the low pitched vowels but are unable to distinguish the high pitch consonants which results in being able to hear that someone is talking but not being able to understand what they are saying. In addition, listening in a noisy environment such as a party or crowded restaurant can be difficult, stressful and exhausting. The volume of the background noise often “washes over” the soft high pitched consonants making them even more difficult to hear. Also, when a hearing loss is present the brain has a harder time teasing out a speech signal from the unwanted background noise.

If you find yourself struggling to hear loves ones this holiday season call 904-399-0350 to schedule an appointment for a comprehensive hearing evaluation with an audiologist. You will be able to learn more about your hearing and the steps you can take to communicate more easily with friends and family.

WJCT Speaker Series: Hearing Loss & Cognition

WJCT Speaker Series

Jacksonville Hearing and Balance Institute (JHBI) is excited to partner with WJCT to host a speaker series this Friday, November 3rd, on hearing loss, cognition, and navigating the complicated world of hearing aids.

The event starts at 10:30am with an hour of free hearing screenings provided by two members of JHBI’s audiology staff. Hearing screenings are provided on a first come, first served basis so arrive early if you’re interested! Registration is open from 11:30am-12:00pm. The main speaking event, including a presentation and a question and answer session, will run from noon until 1:00pm. Complimentary lunch is provided.

Dr. Douglas Green Jr., the founder of JHBI and the practice’s neurotologist, will be speaking on the connection between hearing loss and cognitive decline. Dr. Kristen Edenfield, a clinical audiologist that has been with JHBI for over three years, will be discussing hearing aids as a treatment for hearing loss and how to navigate the world of amplification.

If you are interested in attending, please RSVP by November 1st at 5pm by calling 904-358-6322 or visiting wjct.org/jhbi.

Hearing Loss: A Family Problem

Hearing Loss and Communicating with Family

If you have hearing loss, you have probably noticed that your difficulty hearing is not just a problem for you, but for your whole family. When families have trouble communicating, they often report a decrease in perceived intimacy and an increase in conflict. This is because for most people, verbal communication is how we connect. When you cannot hear your friends and family, it becomes difficult to participate in a lot of things, from milestone events to nightly dinners. As the person with hearing loss, you are certain to feel this isolation and usually your family feels the disconnect as well. Even if you use hearing aids, there may still be some situations you cannot communicate well in depending on the severity of your hearing loss.

The first step to bridging the gap created by a hearing loss is simply to start the conversation on why you might not be participating the way you used to. Many times, people with hearing loss are assumed to be rude or dismissive because they are not responding in the expected way. Explain to your family that you are having trouble hearing them and go into detail about what situations make it worse. If you have extra difficulty understanding your spouse when he or she talks from another room, be very clear that this is not a situation you can succeed it. Explain to your children or grandchildren that they need to turn the television off when you are having a conversation so that you can hear them. Pinpoint situations that you really struggle in and work to tackle one at a time. Be patient with yourself and your family though – it may take a few reminders for them to break long standing habits.

Another good step is bringing your family or close friends to your audiologist appointments with you. Your hearing healthcare provider can explain your hearing loss and the limitations you might continue to have, even with hearing aids. Sometimes, it’s helpful for a third party to remind your family of the things they can do to help you succeed in hearing with as little frustration as possible. Your audiologist is there to help you as well as those closest to you in every aspect of your hearing loss journey so be sure to utilize them as a resource.

The Value of an Audiologist

What is an Audiologist?

When a hearing loss or balance disorder is suspected a decision must be made regarding where to seek help. An audiologist is a health care professional who provides patient centered care in order to identify, diagnose and treat hearing loss and balance disorders using evidence based practice. An audiologist aims to provide personalized services to minimize the negative impact of hearing loss and ultimately lead to improved quality of life.

Education

Audiologists are required to hold a doctorate degree in audiology ( Au.D.) through an accredited university graduate program. They must also pass board examinations to receive licensing and accreditation.  In addition, audiologists are required to earn continuing education credits in order to remain knowledgeable of the most current research  based practice and rehabilitation methods. Based on their level of education, certification and licensing requirements, audiologists are the most qualified  professionals to complete diagnostic tests, refer for medical intervention and provide rehabilitation services.

 

How can an Audiologist help my hearing?

A hearing aid is often used to manage hearing loss. A hearing aid is very sophisticated and tiny computer that analyzes sound in the environment and provides amplification to the sound to overcome the hearing loss. An audiologist uses the results from a comprehensive evaluation to determine what part of the hearing system is affected and to what degree. This is an important step because the results will allow the audiologist to determine whether a hearing aid is an appropriate treatment or not. If hearing aids are recommended the audiologist uses the test results combined with information about the patient’s lifestyle and communication needs to determine the most appropriate style and power level of hearing aid in order to best help the patient with their listening difficulties.  Another crucial role of an audiologist is to provide personalized counseling to help educate the patient regarding their specific type and degree of hearing loss. This allows the patient to establish realistic expectations regarding their potential benefit from hearing aids. Information is also provided regarding communication and self-advocacy strategies in order to give the patient control over their hearing experience and help maximize hearing aid benefit.

 

Audiologists and hearing aids

One of the most important components of the hearing aid process is the follow up care provided by the audiologist. Best practice methods include programming hearing aid settings based on verification measures (objective data) and patient feedback regarding their experience (subjective data). Verification of the hearing aid settings using a tiny microphone in the patient’s ear allows the audiologist to ensure proper programming based on the patient’s hearing loss and the anatomy of their ear canal. Incorporating the patient’s report and feedback ensure that their specific needs are met. A hearing aid is an investment in your health and wellness and when thinking about purchasing hearing aid it is important to find out the types of services and the level of care that you will receive with your purchase. Many audiologists include programming adjustments, verification tests and counseling in the cost of the hearing aids. This helps to ensure the patient receives high quality of care tailored to their specific needs.

Are Online Hearing Tests Reliable?

Internet Hearing Evaluations: Beware!

Although a hearing test performed in the comfort of your own home may seem like a viable alternative to making an appointment to see an audiologist, online hearing tests are not approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (the federal agency that is responsible for ensuring medial devices and equipment are approved for use). Results obtained from an online hearing test are unlikely to be accurate or reliable. A face-to-face examination with an audiologist is the best practice for diagnosing and assessing your hearing healthcare needs. Listed below are components of an examination that require in-person assessment to ensure accurate diagnosis.

Medical history:

At your appointment, the audiologist will ask many questions about your past and recent medical history, with special attention given to your hearing difficulties. Physical conditions and medications can affect your hearing and should be documented in your chart. Documentation of any balance problems, noise exposure and tinnitus are also important in your overall care. Most online hearing tests will not assess any medical conditions that may be contributing to your hearing loss.

Otoscopic examination:

An otoscope is a lighted, magnifying device used to assess your ears to determine if obstruction, such as earwax, is present in the ear canal. Drainage or possible infections can also be inspected during otoscopy. This critical part of the evaluation is not possible during an online hearing test.

Equipment required for hearing tests:

The American National Standards Institute (ANSI) has published guidelines that outline the amount of acceptable level of ambient room noise that is allowed for an accurate hearing test. When having a hearing test performed by an audiologist, a sound booth is used to ensure ANSI standards are met. Hearing tests performed at home are subjected to background noise beyond control, such as noise from traffic, computer monitors and air conditioners. This background noise may skew results obtained during at home testing and elevate your hearing levels.

There are also standards for the headphones used for hearing tests. At home testing will show various results when different types of headphones are used. In office, headphones are calibrated specifically to the audiometer used for testing.

When testing is completed at home, only one part of your auditory system is checked. Further testing is required (through use of additional head pieces and tests) to determine the type of hearing loss you may have. A visit with an audiologist is necessary to accurately diagnosis the type and degree of your hearing loss.

If you are in need of an accurate hearing evaluation, please contact The Hearing Center at Jacksonville Hearing and Balance Institute to schedule an appointment with one of our Board Certified Audiologists!