Our Hearing Services
Bluetooth-enabled hearing aids
Developers of hearing aids are always looking for new and improved ways of making hearing aids better and more useful in people's lives. Bluetooth technology is being used to make it easier for hearing aid users to connect their hearing aids to various devices for improved sound quality directly from the sound source.
Bluetooth-enabled hearing aids can be wirelessly connected via wireless streaming accessory to devices such as televisions, cell phones, FM systems, GPS systems, and PDA. Bluetooth technology works similarly to wireless Internet, where sounds are sent through an invisible electronic signal.
The Bluetooth accessory is compatible in most styles of hearing aids, including behind-the-ear (BTE), mini BTE, in-the-ear, and in-the-canal styles, though each manufacturer provides a different array of products and accessories that are Bluetooth-enabled.
What are the Benefits of Bluetooth-Compatible Hearing Aids?
As with any hearing aid, Bluetooth-compatible devices have some benefits and downsides. One benefit is that using Bluetooth technology allows you to obtain a better sound quality when using your hearing aids with your favorite electronic devices. Think of them as a wireless pair of headphones: they are convenient and cordless for high-quality sound.
Many years ago, the telecoil was a new, exciting technology for hearing aid users to be able to use landline phones. Similarly, Bluetooth is now becoming the exciting new technology for making connectivity to the everyday world a more widespread and reliable possibility for hearing aid users. Bluetooth can also eliminate the annoyances of technology use with traditional hearing aids, such as feedback and static noise interference.
Cell phone accessories
Thanks to modern technology, there are a number of cell phone accessories that work with your hearing aids to provide a more personal and fluid experience. There are several different ways to connect hearing aids to cell phones through the use of Bluetooth technology. Many cell phones can be used with Bluetooth-enabled devices. Hearing aid accessories that provide a hands-free option may also be helpful.
What is Bluetooth?
Bluetooth technology enables your hearing aids to be connected to a variety of different electronics, like your cell phone. Through a setting on your hearing aid, you can be linked to different technologies around you, which allows you to adjust volume settings personally with your devices.
More about hearing aid compatible (HAC) cell phone accessories
HAC cell phone accessories are beneficial to hearing aid users for several reasons. They put distance between the hearing aid and the cell phone, which can cut down on any buzzing or feedback, as well as decrease any interference between the two devices.
Some HAC accessories can give you hands-free cell phone usage, which is especially important if you plan on using your cell phone while driving. You may also be able to use the speakerphone function on some devices if you use the microphone mode on your hearing aid.
All major cell phone manufacturers are now required to make HAC cell phones available to hearing aid users and many also have HAC cell phone accessories available as well. It's a good idea to talk with your cell phone provider to determine if the operating system works with their hearing aids. Additionally, talk with your hearing care provider to determine if Bluetooth can be utilized with your particular phone. Trying the phone with the device will give you a good idea of how well the accessory will work for you. Keep in mind that some phones and devices may work differently once you leave the store, so it is also a good idea to find out about any money-back or satisfaction guarantees.
Diagnostic audiologic evaluations
If you or your child has been referred for a diagnostic audiologic evaluation, it means that hearing loss needs to be ruled out or further examined. The diagnostic audiologic evaluation may be indicated for individuals who did not pass an initial hearing screening.
The evaluation is done to determine if a hearing loss is present, and if so, to detail the type and severity of the hearing loss. It also may provide insight into the cause of the hearing loss as well as provide guidance for the audiologist in making appropriate treatment recommendations.
What Tests Will Be Done?
The specific tests done during the evaluation will depend on the patient's age, and what is known already about their hearing status. These various tests will determine the degree of hearing loss, the type of hearing loss, and the conditions of the ear canal and middle ear. The audiologist will also determine if the hearing loss is conductive (middle or outer ear problem) or sensorineural (inner ear problem or central processing difficulty of the brain).
A diagnostic audiologic evaluation includes pure-tone testing, bone-conduction testing, and speech testing.
Pure-tone Air and Bone Conduction Testing
Pure-tone air conduction testing determines the quietest tones that a person can hear at different frequencies, both low and high. Bone conduction testing is similar to pure-tone air conduction testing. A different type of headphone is used during bone conduction testing, and the results help the specialist determine if the hearing loss is originating from the outer/middle ear or from the inner ear.
A speech reception threshold (SRT) test is often used with older children and adults to confirm the results of a pure-tone test. This test determines the lowest level at which the patient can recognize words or speech stimuli.
The audiologist may also perform otoscopy (examining the ear canal) and tympanometry (test of the middle ear) to determine the health of the ear canal and the middle ear.
Specialized tests exist for infants and young children, as well as children and adults with developmental and cognitive impairments. These more-specialized tests allow the audiologist to test the auditory system when the patient is not able to actively participate in the tests or evaluation.
What Can I Expect During a Diagnostic Audiologic Evaluation?
The evaluation will probably last about 30 to 40 minutes in length. You should also allow for time for discussion with the audiologist to review test results, and ask questions. If the determination is made that you need hearing aids, allow for sufficient time to discuss your options.
It is recommended that you bring a family member with you to the evaluation appointment. Most audiologist agree that hearing loss is a family issue. It helps to have another supportive person at the appointment to help you understand the information and recommendations.
Before your appointment, a complete medical history will be completed and the audiologist will want to hear about any complaints you have about your hearing. He or she will pay special attention to any concerns you have about exposure to noise, tinnitus, and balance problems. Make sure that you take a full list of any medications and supplements you are taking with you to your appointment.
The diagnostic audiologic evaluation is a good chance to establish a relationship with your audiologist. It helps to ask around for recommendations to audiologists in your area and find someone who listens carefully to your concerns. Above all, don't be afraid to ask questions. You will want to be clear on any information you receive so that you can be an active participant in finding hearing solutions that work best for you and your lifestyle.
Earmolds and ear plugs
Sudden or prolonged exposure to noise can cause damage to your hearing and is one of the leading causes of hearing loss. Hearing loss from prolonged noise exposure is often detected too late, meaning the hearing loss is usually irreversible.
Hearing protection is extremely important for anyone who is regularly in a high-noise environment, including target shooters, motorcyclists, pilots, musicians, construction workers and factory workers. The truth is that anyone subject to noise exposure may need to wear hearing protection to protect their long-term hearing. The following noises are especially dangerous with repeat exposure: lawn mowers, truck engines, motorcycles, garbage trucks, chain saws, pneumatic drills, musical concerts, gun shots and jet engines, to name a few.
Though over-the-counter earplugs offer some protection, custom earmolds and earplugs offer maximum protection as well as a comfortable fit that is designed specifically for your ears. They offer more security in knowing that your ears have the best possible protection against hearing loss.
Earmolds come in a wide variety of sizes, colors and types. Some earmolds are solid, and some are soft or spongy. The most popular styles are full-shell and half-shell. Full-shell earmolds are generally for high-level noise exposure, while half-shell are for mid-level noise exposure. The type of earmold your hearing professional recommends will depend on your individual needs.
Some earmolds come with a filtered attenuator, allowing for verbal communication while still protecting hearing, which is popular with musicians and others who work in noisy environments. These types of earmolds come in both electronic and non-electronic models. Earmolds are also popular for fitting over certain earbud headphones, under pilot boom-mic headsets, and other specialty uses.
As the name implies, custom earmolds are made custom to fit the unique contour of your ear. If you cannot get a comfortable or secure fit with off-the-shelf earplugs, custom earmolds may be for you. They offer some of the best hearing protection available.
Earplugs are hearing protection that are designed to be worn in the canal only. Some earplugs are solid, while others allow for more sound to pass through. Specialized earplugs are available for musicians and medical professionals who still want the ability to hear most of their surroundings while protecting their hearing.
Specialty earplugs can be custom fit for your ear canal and are typically more comfortable than non-custom earplugs. Custom earplugs can be equipped with handles or detachable cords. Earmolds and earplugs are not just for those who wish to protect themselves from high noise levels. Custom solutions are also available for other hobbies and activities, such as custom earplugs for swimmers, hunters or to be worn while sleeping. Whatever your unique lifestyle, your hearing professional has custom solutions to fit your needs. Your hearing is important. Take care to protect it for today and for the future. If you work in a high-noise environment, it's important to have regular hearing appointments to check for early indications of hearing loss. Speak with your hearing specialist today about the right solution for you.
There are several steps that are part of a hearing aid evaluation. If you suspect that you might need a hearing aid, you will first need to have a hearing evaluation. At the time of the hearing evaluation, a case history will be taken to determine how much your hearing problem impacts your day-to-day life as well as the lives of your family. You may also have to provide some basic questions about your general health history.
Hearing test results
The results from your hearing test will provide the hearing care professional information on what sounds you may be missing or hearing. The results of this testing will also allow the hearing care professional to make the best treatment recommendations, which typically includes hearing aids.
Hearing aid recommendation
If your hearing test reveals a permanent hearing loss, hearing aids may be recommended. Your hearing professional may explain what sounds you have difficulty hearing, and what hearing aids can do to help. It is usually at this appointment that you will get to see and touch different styles of hearing aids. In some cases, you may even be able to listen to a hearing aid. Your hearing professional will help you choose the best hearing aid style, features and level of sophistication based on your degree of hearing loss, lifestyle, and financial circumstances. Some hobbies and occupations may benefit from different hearing aid styles or features, so your hearing care provider may have you fill out a questionnaire to assist during the evaluation process. The final decision on which hearing aids are purchased is your choice, but your hearing care professional will make recommendations on the best options for your particular needs.
Once you make a decision, the hearing professional may take impressions of your ears if you selected custom hearing aids or behind-the-ear hearing aids that require earmolds. Hearing aids must usually be ordered from a manufacturer and then programmed by your hearing professional to meet your specific hearing needs. There is an adjustment period when wearing hearing aids, so it’s possible your provider may make additional changes to your settings to ensure you’re getting the best listening experience possible.
Hearing aid fitting
Once you have selected your hearing aids after an evaluation, your hearing professional will program them, based on a prescription, to meet your hearing needs. The hearing professional will explain how to use the devices, how to put them in the ear and how to remove them, how to change or charge batteries and how to care for and clean the devices. This appointment will generally take at least one hour, possibly more, so ensure you allot enough time. It is also a good idea to bring a family member or close friend to the hearing aid fitting so they can help remember all the information that is given and be a support to you. Additionally, don’t be afraid to ask for written instructions, which can help you better retain the information.
Understanding your hearing aids
When you put the hearing aids in for the first time, you may have different emotions about the sounds you hear. This is normal and to be expected. The goal of the hearing aid is to make everyday sounds audible and comfortable, but the sound you hear should be clear and pleasant. Small changes can be made to the hearing aids at your first fitting if there are things that you feel should be adjusted right away. The hearing professional should do additional testing to make sure that the hearing aids are giving you enough sound where you need it. Additionally, remember to ask any questions or discuss any concerns you may have with your professional.
Fitting your hearing aids
You may be also be given a short survey or list of questions to answer. Be honest about what you hear so that the hearing professional can work with you to create the best listening experience with your new hearing aids. Your hearing aid fitting is only a starting place; other changes to customize the hearing to your liking may need to take place over a few appointments.
Adjusting to hearing aids
Attitude is one important key to success with hearing aids. Hearing aid studies have shown that people who have a positive attitude do better with hearing aids. If you, as well as your spouse or family, approach your hearing aid fitting with a positive outlook you will have a much better listening experience more quickly. Keep in mind that it may take some time to get used to the sounds you were missing, and by working closely with your hearing professional, you will get the most out of your new hearing aids.
Hearing aid repair
Hearing aids have small working parts, and it is not uncommon over time for a hearing aid to need a repair. You may try to turn the hearing aid on in the morning and find that there is no sound; the battery door may come unhinged. These things do happen, even when the hearing aids are properly cared for.
If you should experience an issue that needs repair, take the hearing aid(s) to your hearing care professional. They are equipped to diagnose broken hearing aids. Some minor hearing aid repairs can be done in the office setting in a short period of time; others will need to be sent to the manufacturer for repair. Your hearing professional can help determine what kind of a repair is necessary if you feel your hearing aid is not working properly.
If you are a current patient and have hearing aids that were not fit in our office, we are happy to try to repair your hearing aids. We are able to service most major manufacturers of hearing aids and can tell you in the office if yours is a brand we service. Hearing aids come with a warranty when purchased new. If your warranty has expired, it is still possible to repair most hearing aids. Depending on the hearing aid manufacturer, this repair may come with a new year-long warranty. Your hearing professional will provide you with details when you take your hearing aid into the office.
Live speech mapping
In the past, hearing evaluations and fittings for hearing aids consisted mostly of a series of beeps and noises. Today, audiologists are equipped with new technologies and methods to make the hearing evaluation process and hearing aid programming process more effective.
One of the more advanced technologies available is live speech mapping, a method of fitting hearing aids using speech as a stimulus to help the specialist adjust hearing aids to the right settings for each wearer. Live speech mapping makes fitting appointments more interactive and can reduce the number of office visits required for successful hearing aid programming.
What is live speech mapping?
Live speech mapping is a hearing aid verification method that is used to ensure that your hearing aids are programmed for your individual needs. With this method, small microphones placed in the ear canal are used to measure the response of the hearing aid in your ear taking into account the natural and individual characteristics of both your ear and your hearing loss. For your live speech mapping appointment, you will be asked to bring along a family member or close friend to act as the “gauge” in your ability to hear live voices.
Your hearing care professional will have high-tech equipment that will allow him or her to “see” what you are hearing through your hearing aids on a screen in real-time. The results may also be displayed on a wall-mounted screen so that you can also see the adjustments and participate in the process. This allows both you and your family members to visualize and understand the differences that hearing aids can make in your hearing ability.
Benefits of live speech mapping
Live speech mapping is known for its accuracy. Without speech mapping verification, other methods to program your hearing aid may require additional adjustments. Live speech mapping increases the chances that your hearing aid programming will be done correctly on the first try.
Live speech mapping also creates a much more positive fitting experience by allowing both you and your family to see the immediate results of your hearing aids and their positive impact on your ability to hear. Both you and your family will be engaged in the fitting process, making it a joint affair.
If you have a hearing loss, you may not be able to fully understand what you can and cannot hear, and therefore, you may not understand everything you are missing. With speech mapping, you will have the ability to hear the improvements immediately, and you will be shown exactly what you can and cannot hear in real-time.
Live speech mapping:
Focuses on the important and basic function of being able to effectively hear human speech
Engages both you and your family in the fitting process
Provides immediate and tangible results
Shown to increase successful outcomes of fittings
Increases your confidence and comfort in using your new hearing aids
Provides more accurate programming of hearing aids
Reduces number of return visits
Custom in-ear products
Musician's Ear Plugs
Musicians have unique needs when it comes to hearing protection. They need to protect their hearing, but they also need to be able to hear their own music clearly, as well as hear other musicians' music and voices while performing.
Conventional store-bought ear plugs are great at providing hearing protection. However, they often provide too much protection for musicians, muffling speech and sound in the process. They make music and voices very unclear and unnatural to listen to. While conventional hearing protection can reduce very high frequencies, this amount of hearing protection is typically not needed for musicians.
Most musicians do not need maximum protection. What they need is mid- to low-frequency protection. This can be accomplished through ear plugs that are specifically designed for musicians. Musician's ear plugs come in both custom and non-custom options. Ready-fit musician ear plugs can reduce sound levels by approximately 20 dB, enough to reduce harmful sound without distorting speech or music.
These type of ear plugs are deep in order to allow the earmold to seal within the bony portion of the ear canal. This deep fit reduces what is known as occlusion, a hollow or boomy sound in the musicians own voice that is sometimes experienced with lower quality ear plugs. These type of deep-fit earmolds are popular with musicians because of the quality of sound they allow them to hear while practicing and performing.
Musician's ear plugs are not just for musicians. They are also a popular hearing protection option for:
NFL football players
Swimmers and surfers
Earmolds can be custom made (using a mold) to fit your unique ear shape. The ear impression that is used to make the earmold is the most important part of the process in getting a good custom fit. The quality of the ear impression material and technique directly impacts the sound quality, sound isolation, and comfort that is achieved with the earmold.
Because this part of the process is so crucial, it's important that you hire someone who is experienced and trained in making impressions for high-quality musicians earplugs. Most audiologists are trained in this process and know the importance of a good fit. Speak with your audiologist about his or her experience in custom fitting patients with musician's ear plugs and about your options for high-quality occupational hearing protection.