Hearing and Speech Services
|Services||Hearing Aid Service Descriptions|
|Documents||The Hearing Aid Service descriptions provided below are intended to give a general overview of the service. They cannot go into every detail of the service. For more information please contact the office.|
Evaluation / Consultation
Individuals with hearing loss may be candidates for hearing aids and/or assistive listening devices. There are numerous types of hearing aids that vary in size, circuit, and user-features. The circuits include those that are digital (all components are digital and have the greatest programming flexibility for specific hearing needs); programmable (analog/digital circuits that also have programming capabilities), and analog (the traditional circuit which is not programmable and has the least circuit flexibility). Types and sizes of aids vary ranging from the custom fit CIC (completely-in-the-canal) hearing aids that fit deeply into the ear canal, to the behind-the-ear hearing (BTE) aids that fit behind the ear and are coupled to the ear with the use of a custom fit ear mold. The degree and type of hearing loss, size and condition of the ear canal, dexterity, and communication needs are taken into consideration when selecting the type and circuit. An impression is made to fabricate custom in-the-ear hearing aids or ear molds. The hearing aid is manufactured and a hearing aid fitting appointment is made.
See the Hearing Aid FAQ page for more information about the various types of hearing aids.
After the appropriate hearing aid(s) have been selected, impressions are taken of each ear and sent to the manufacturer. When the hearing aid(s) are delivered to the office, the patient is seen for a fitting. During that time the aids are checked for fit, comfort, communication benefit, and the patient is shown how to use the aids, handle batteries, adjust controls, and become familiar with using and caring for the aids. Follow-up visits during the first month of use will be necessary to check communication ability and user comfort. Digital and programmable hearing aids usually require more frequent visits during the first few weeks of use. Patients may take advantage of the Battery Club in which discounts and mail order service are available.
Digital hearing aids offer the listener the most amplification flexibility and in many cases may provide a more natural sound quality than conventional circuits. They can be adjusted by computer software to enable them to provide improved discrimination, to help minimize non-speech signals, and provide to the user the option of changing the circuit depending on the listening environment, usually by the flick of a small control switch on the aid. Digital hearing aids have "memories" so that when one is listening in noise, the user can change the circuit to another that is better at processing speech in noise. If there are changes in hearing sensitivity, some changes can be made to digital hearing aids to meet those changing needs. Patients with mild to severe hearing loss may use digital hearing aids. Individuals with very challenging audiometric profiles may be best fit with digital hearing aids because they can be custom fit using software to the hearing profile. Others who have fluctuating hearing also benefit from digital aids. They come in the same sizes as other circuits, including BTE, ITC, ITE, and CIC.
Individuals with digital hearing aids may require programming adjustments to their hearing aid circuits. These adjustments are made on the computer using specific manufacturer’s fitting software. Changes in programming may be necessary because of changes in an individual’s hearing sensitivity or changes in listening demands.
Fitting and Adjusting
Analog and digital hearing aids may require adjustments, particularly in the first few weeks of use as the individual begins to develop improved listening skills and adjusts to changes in their listening environment. In some cases, adjustments may be required that involve circuit changes or programming, depending on the type of circuit. Significant changes to analog circuits usually require involvement of the manufacturer and their equipment. Most fitting and circuit adjustments to digital hearing aids are made through the use of computer fitting software in the office. When an individual is experiencing problems with feedback (whistling of the hearing aid) it may be necessary to provide a new shell or outer casing of the hearing aid. Some modifications to the shell of a hearing aid may be done in the office to enhance communication and comfort in the ear canal.
Hearing aids are electroacoustical devices that may, with use or due to normal wear and tear, require repairs. While the manufacturer’s warranties (specified in each warranty) may require sending hearing aids to the manufacturer’s repair lab, other less complex repairs may be done in the office, such as hearing aid cleaning, adjustments to the shell for fitting difficulties, changing the tubing for those who use ear molds with behind-the-ear hearing aids, and such. It is recommended that hearing aids be checked on a yearly basis. Reminder notices for hearing aid checkups will be sent to patients at their request.
Because of the complexities of sound and the many different listening environments that individuals with hearing loss and auditory processing disorder (APD) may experience, the use of listening devices may be warranted. Personal FM devices help improve an individual’s ability to hear and process oral language in noisier, highly reverberant, and acoustically contaminated listening environments. The speaker wears a microphone attached to a transmitter. The listener wears an ear fitted device or headphones and a receiver. By switching on both battery-operated devices, the listener hears the speaker even in noisy environments. Children with APD and those with hearing loss may benefit from the use of a personal FM device. Sound field FM systems involve the use of a teacher-worn microphone that transmits spoken language to the entire classroom through the use of strategically placed speakers. Some classrooms are installed with FM systems when new schools are built. Research, specifically that of Carl Crandall, Ph.D. of the University of Florida, has indicated that not only children with auditory disorders, but also those with normal hearing benefit from classroom sound field devices. Other types of listening devices are specifically designed for hearing aid users when listening to a television. There are also devices to improve telephone communications, using a stethoscopes, and such.
made earmolds are provided to children and adults with a variety of needs.
Children with tubes in their ear drums or chronic ear problems may be required to keep
water out of the ears, particularly when swimming, by using custom fit swimming
molds. Molds can be made in a variety of colors and floatable
materials. For those individuals who are
exposed to loud noise on the job or due to a hobby, noise dampening
earmolds may be required. Even musicians
are becoming increasingly aware of the effects of loud music on hearing
sensitivity. Studies have shown that rock, classical concert, and hobby
musicians may want to protect their hearing particularly if they use
Custom made musician’s earmolds permit voices to be heard while
reducing excessively loud sounds of music or other noise exposure.
Earmolds designed by Etymotic, one of the best known auditory
laboratories and research facilities in the country, are recommended for
use in our practice.
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