You’ve finally decided to bite the bullet and do something about your hearing loss. Perhaps you are tired of constantly straining during conversation or guessing at the punch line that you missed. Perhaps your family members or friends are frustrated at having to constantly repeat themselves for you. Perhaps you responded incorrectly (and embarrassingly) during an important business meeting. Whatever the impetus, you are ready to start your journey to better hearing. But where do you start?
Here are 3 important things to consider when seeking audiologic treatment that will help ensure a successful outcome:
1. Seek professional advice :
Only a professional can determine the cause of your hearing loss and the appropriate treatment. If your hearing loss is medically treatable as approximately 10% of hearing losses are, an ENT (Ear, Nose and Throat) physician can treat the underlying cause of the hearing loss via medication, surgery, or other medical treatment. These problems can range from anything as simple as wax buildup in the outer ear, to more serious conditions such as growths or tumors in the middle or inner ear.
An audiologist can treat sensorineural hearing loss that is permanent but not medically treatable. Based on a needs assessment of your hearing difficulties, as well as a thorough evaluation that includes functional assessment such as speech-in-noise performance, an audiologist can sift through hundreds of different models of hearing aids to prescribe the one that will match your needs most effectively. Based on your unique hearing needs, an audiologist can also train you in the use of assistive listening devices that can help beyond the use of hearing aids alone. These include hearing loops and telecoils, Bluetooth accessories for the phone and TV, remote microphones, etc. Lastly, an audiologist can teach you and your loved ones effective communication strategies for maximum success with hearing aids.
2. Hearing aid style selection:
A hearing aid that is uncomfortable or difficult to manage does not get worn. An audiologist can assist in determining the best style hearing aid for you and your needs, whether it is behind-the-ear, in-the-ear, completely-in-the-canal, or an extended-wear hearing aid. Hearing aids that are comfortable and effective do get worn, and help their users live a more engaged, active, productive, and happy life!3. Hearing aid verification and validation :
Do not purchase a hearing aid from a provider who does not verify that the hearing aid programming is set precisely for your hearing levels. A recent Consumer’s Report found that 2/3rds of all hearing aid users sampled were provided with too much or too little amplification based on the individual’s hearing loss. A tiny probe microphone placed in the ear canal during the verification process allows the audiologist to program the hearing aid to provide exactly the correct level of amplification for soft and moderate speech sounds, as well as ensure that the hearing aid maximum output is set to safe limits which will not cause further hearing loss.
In both our Houston, TX and Pearland, TX locations, our audiologists know that there is no one-size-fits-all hearing aid. We will work with you to determine the best hearing aid solution for your particular, unique, “hearing print”.
The Center for Audiology is pleased to present the new Levo® system for the treatment of tinnitus. Tinnitus is the perception of sound even when no sound is present. Someone suffering from tinnitus might hear ringing, chirping, roaring, whooshing, or even musical tones in their ears. Sometimes the sound is perceived so loudly that it can interfere with daily activities or the ability to fall asleep in the affected individual.
Levo® is specifically designed to be used during sleep when our brains are more prone to be responsive to sound therapies that strive to change brain activity patterns. The system enables patients to map their specific tinnitus sound in order to create a customized sound therapy. For more information, or to schedule an initial assessment process, please call 713-800-5050.
Audibility improvement, or the ability to hear sounds and speech more clearly, is the goal of hearing aid fittings. So why do so many hearing aids that are dispensed end up in a drawer?
Whether or not real-ear measurements were included as part of the initial fitting is usually the reason hearing aids are worn or not. What are real-ear measurements? Real-ear measurements, sometimes called probe microphone measurements, is the gold standard used to determine whether or not a hearing aid user is receiving the precise level of amplification needed at every frequency in order to achieve the best hearing improvement possible. Depending on the level of hearing loss, 100% improvement is not always possible, but the goal is to maximize the benefit to get as close to 100% as possible.
During real-ear measurements, a thin probe microphone is inserted into the ear canal alongside the hearing aid. The audiologist obtains readings of the exact sound levels the user is receiving from the hearing aid while listening to various recorded speech samples. The audiologist can then precisely adjust the sound levels to match target amplification levels based on the hearing aid user’s hearing loss across the speech frequencies.
Performing this verification during the initial fitting process helps ensure that the user is receiving a “just right” level of amplification- not too much where everything is too loud, and not too little where the user has significant trouble hearing speech even with the hearing aids on.
A recent survey performed by the Hearing Review indicated that only 34% of audiologists surveyed across the United States perform real-ear measurements. Hearing aid fittings using real-ear measurements resulted in superior outcomes and improved aided benefit both in quiet and in noise. We’re proud of the fact that at The Center for Audiology, we provide the best in evidenced-based care to bring you crystal-clear hearing results from hearing aids that work!
The New Year is always a good time to take stock of where we are in life and what we'd like to change. Setting goals and making resolutions are great, but taking concrete action to make sure we reach our goals is even greater!
If hearing loss has been impacting your life or the life of your loved one, here are some concrete actions you can take to make living with hearing loss more manageable in 2018:
1. Get your hearing tested.Are you still wondering if you have hearing loss? Schedule an appointment with an audiologist right now.
2. Wear your hearing aids consistently. If you already have hearing aids but do not wear them on a regular basis, resolve to keep them in, even when it gets challenging. Your brain will adapt to amplified sound the more regularly you wear your hearing aids.
3. Explore new technologies. Your hearing aids may be ready for an upgrade. Newer technology and/or assistive listening devices perform better and/or may address new hearing needs that arise as your hearing loss changes. Schedule a risk-free demonstration and trial of new technology today to evaluate the improvement for yourself.
4. Advocate for yourself. Don't be embarrassed to let people know that you have hearing loss. Let others know how they can help you by using communication strategies to augment the benefit you get from hearing aids.
5. Volunteer to help others with hearing loss. If you are farther along in your hearing journey, help others who are newly diagnosed and struggling with the same challenges you are. Look for hearing loss advocacy efforts in your community. Spread the word at your house of worship or community theater about looping or captioning options. Can you help at a local non-profit? Start a support group for those living with hearing loss? Giving helps the giver as much as the recipient.
6. Meet other people with hearing loss. Find a local HLAA chapter
and go to the meetings or peruse their website. Participate in Houston's annual Walk for Hearing
to help raise awareness of hearing loss in our community. Put the date on your calendar now.
8. Read about hearing loss. Several good books about hearing loss are available, as well as many online blogs. Hearing loss can be isolating, and reading about others' experiences will let you know that you are not alone. Start by reading a review of one good book here
9. Sign up for an aural rehabilitation program. Sometimes hearing aids are not enough, and auditory exercises are needed to maximize your success with hearing aids. A new online program called clEARWorks can be done at your own pace and can improve your hearing skills, and it is even fun! Click here for more information about the clEARWorks online auditory rehabilitation program.
What will you do to help your hearing loss in 2018?
Most of the patients with hearing loss that present to our clinic are helped quite successfully with hearing aids. Sometimes, however, a patient may present with such severe or profound hearing loss that even the most powerful hearing aids on the market today may not provide sufficient benefit.
Although hearing aids (HAs) and cochlear implants (CIs) both provide better hearing, there is a significant difference between them. HAs are programmed to provide amplification of sound at different frequencies based on the hearing loss at each frequency. Sound is still delivered to the damaged hair cells of the inner ear and/or the damaged auditory nerve. In the case of severe or profound hearing loss, the damage to the inner ear is so significant that even with powerful amplification, sound is distorted and of limited benefit. Consequently, the person with severe-to-profound hearing loss may not hear very much even with hearing aids, and becomes tired easily due to the great effort required to make sense of sound.
A cochlear implant bypasses the damaged hair cells of the inner ear by delivering electrical current directly to the cochlear, or auditory, nerve. A cochlear implant presents a wide range of frequencies, regardless of the pre-implantation hearing loss. For individuals with better low-frequency hearing but profound mid-or high-frequency hearing loss, a hybrid CI combining acoustic amplification for the low-frequencies with electric stimulation for the high-frequencies may provide the best result.
Adults must meet the following criteria to be considered for CI surgery:
Register with the Disability Support Services at your university. You will be assigned an advisor who will ensure that you receive the accommodations you need in order to have equal access in the classroom.
Available accommodations may include priority registration, note taking services, the use of an FM system, CART (which stands for Communication Access Real-Time Translation), closed captioning on all videos that are shown during class and priority seating in the classroom.
4. Get to Know Your Professors
You may want to schedule an appointment with each professor during their office hours, or e-mail each professor in writing to let them know about your hearing loss and what accommodations you will be using. If you will be using an FM system, take the time to teach the professor about how to use the microphone transmitter that he/she will be using Individual professors may be more or less educated about hearing loss, and you can help make them more familiar with how to maximize your ability to hear them in the classroom.
5. Choose Your Seat Wisely
Plan to arrive early to class in order to choose a seat that will optimize your ability to hear. Most individuals with hearing loss rely on speechreading to help fill in the gaps of what they can't hear, and a seat toward the front will allow you to do that more easily. Avoid seats near the classroom door, windows, or near noisy fans or heating/cooling vents, as background noise can be distracting and/or can drown out the professor's voice.
6. Help Your Classmates Help You
Many people have no experience communicating with someone who has a hearing loss, and they may feel nervous about how to interact with you. Taking the time to explain to your close classmates a little bit about your hearing loss, and communication strategies that they can use to help you, will put them at ease, and open the door to good communication. For example, you can say, "I understand what you say much better if you face me when you speak, and when you don't cover your mouth when you speak," or, "It helps me a lot if you articulate your words and don't drop your voice at the end of a sentence."
Advocating for yourself throughout your college years will help you gain the most you can out of these formative years, and will help you set yourself up for greater success in your future career. We are also here to help advocate for you anytime you need us throughout your college years and beyond.
The entire Center for Audiology staff wishes you the best of luck in your studies!
As more hearing aids are developed with direct-to-iPhone or iPad Bluetooth connectivity, more hearing aid users are realizing the wonderful benefits of hearing aids that also serve as wireless headsets for music and audio-book streaming, as well as Bluetooth headsets for phone conversations. Amy and Liz are two patients seen in our Houston office this week. Both could finally carry on a phone conversation with no difficulty for the first time in years, via Bluetooth-enabled hearing aids. It was amazing to see the joy on both their faces as a new world opened up to them.
In addition, the iPhone can serve as the remote control for the hearing aid, and users can adjust various features from overall volume to frequency response to background noise suppression, all through handy apps on the iPhone.
This is all wonderful when everything works! Occasionally, the iPhone will drop the hearing aid connection, or something gets "hung" or "stuck" in the iPhone that prevents a good connection. Should that happen to you, follow the instructions below that walk you through re-pairing the hearing aids to your iPhone.
How to Pair your Hearing Aids with
1. Re-boot your iPhone
2. Take your hearing aids out of your ears and open the battery doors
3. Go to Settings on your iPhone
4. Go to General
5. Go to Accessibility
6. Go to Hearing Aids
7. Close your battery doors (your phone will start searching for the devices)
8. Your name and the hearing aids will pop up under devices
9. If you wear 2 hearing aids you will see L + R
10. If you only wear 1 you will see either L or R depending on which side you wear your aid
11. Click on the box with your aids labeled
12. You will then get a pop up box to PAIR your aids with your phone click PAIR
13. If you wear 2 aids this box will pop up 2 times and you have to hit PAIR a second time.
14. Your aids are now paired with your iPhone. Enjoy!
Hearing aids available with direct-to-iPhone Bluetooth capability include Oticon Opn, Resound Linx, Starkey Halo, and Widex Beyond. Coming soon-- Phonak Direct which will have direct to iPhone and Android phone Bluetooth connectivity. All these and more available at The Center for Audiology-Houston, and The Center for Audiology-Pearland. Call today at 713-255-0035 to schedule a free demo and 2 week trial of made-for-iPhone hearing aids!
Fireworks, firecrackers and concerts may be Fourth of July traditions and are beautiful to watch, but they also make the holiday one of the noisiest and most likely to cause hearing loss. With sound levels from exploding fireworks reaching as high as 155 decibels, here are steps recommended by ASHA that you can take to minimize damage to your hearing: