Newsletter

19 Oct
Written by in Hearing Loss News | 1237 Views | Comments Closed

Preventing Tinnitus

By: Dr. Kent Collins, TeleHear

Over 50 million American suffer from some form of tinnitus – sound heard in the head usually described as ringing, hissing, or buzzing. The Centers for Disease Control estimates that approximately ½ of these individuals experience chronic tinnitus while 2 million suffer from debilitating cases. There are a plethora of treatment options including over-the-counter supplements, psychological counseling techniques, sound therapy, and sound stimulus through hearing aid treatment. None have eliminated tinnitus.

Like any preventable condition, the best way to not suffer from tinnitus is to change your behaviors to prevent it from happening.

We know the most common cause of tinnitus is inner ear damage and the number one cause of inner ear damage is noise exposure. Thus it makes sense the best way to prevent tinnitus is to prevent noise exposure.

What is noise exposure? Noise exposure tends to have two forms: impulsive noise blasts and chronic noise exposure.

  • Impulsive noise blasts are extremely loud, often short during, booms of damaging noise. Most commonly impulsive noise exposure occurs from a gunshot that can cause inner ear hair cell damage from even a one-time occurrence. Other causes of impulsive noise exposure are explosions, car accidents, and some work place injuries.
  • Chronic noise exposure is commonly associated with repeated, day after day, noise exposure at work. For example, factor workers or heavy equipment operators. Another common cause of chronic noise exposure is repeatedly listening to music that is too loud through earbuds.

Regardless if impulsive noise blasts or chronic noise exposure occurs, utilizing hearing protection is the only effective way to prevent inner ear damage. Preventing noise damage from occurring in the first place will lower your risk of experiencing tinnitus.

There are many forms of hearing protection ranging from low cost foam ear plugs to high end custom made in-the-ear sound attenuators. Please consult your local hearing care provider for the best options in hearing protection.

8 Aug
Written by in Hearing Loss News | 1724 Views | Comments Closed

Hearing Aids: What the Professionals Wish You Knew

An individual’s Hearing Health needs to be an equal partner with concerns regarding vision and dental health and given the same amount of respect.

If you or a loved one has decided to ignore a hearing loss because you have some sort of stigma about wearing hearing aids, take note. Here’s what audiologists wish you knew:

They’re not your grandfather’s hearing aid

Technology has rapidly advanced in the area of hearing and hearing aids as it has in many other areas.  We have entered the digital age of hearing.  Hearing aids now process the sounds and shape the response to each individuals hearing loss versus the older linear aids which were an amplifier that made everything louder.   Hearing aids today have much more control over sounds so that they can recognize soft, medium and loud sounds and deal with them accordingly.  This allows soft sounds to be audible, medium range sounds to be comfortable and loud sounds loud but NOT uncomfortable.  Hearing aids today can be wireless so that they talk to each other and work together as a team to bring through speech and reduce background noise.  It is neither possible nor desirable to remove all of the background noise!   Removal of all the background would take away some sounds we need to hear for understanding of words.  So instead we want to control the noise as much as possible so that it is not as annoying.  Wireless hearing aids can also connect to TV streamers which allow the television to be directed right into the hearing aids.  The program can also be heard throughout the house if so desired.  No more missing parts of the big game or a favorite movie to use the restroom or get a snack from the kitchen.  And for more discreet control and adjustment remote controls are available for many models.

Hearing aids have also gotten much smaller.  Some in-the-canal style units are invisible or nearly invisible in the ear canal.  The over-the-ear RIC style aids only have a small wire leading down from the top of the ear down into the canal which also makes them hardly noticeable.  Many color choices are available for the RIC models to blend with an individual’s hair or glasses to make them even less visible.

Today’s hearing aids are smaller, they work smarter, are comfortable to wear and improve hearing in a way as never before.  Today’s hearing aids cannot be compared to those built even 10 years ago!!!  They are now so much better.

Don’t be afraid or intimidated by what you hear about hearing aids from others.  They are helpful and can really change a person’s life for the better.  Remember how big cell phones were when they were first developed?  Look at them now.  They are very small computers and that’s how hearing aids are today.

Hearing aids enhance your quality of life

Hearing loss can cause anxiety, social isolation, depression, brain atrophy, safety and balance problems, cognitive decline, reduced social activity and relationship problems with family, friends and our significant others.  Most losses occur slowly over time and we are not even aware of the changes that are happening or what things should sound like.  With hearing loss the ability to understand is lessened and we do not feel like we are a part of our world.  This causes anxiety and frustration.  With a hearing loss an individual has to work harder to hear and that is tiresome.  Straining to hear, watching the speaker’s lips, asking people to repeat all the time is taxing and fatiguing.  It is much easier to just avoid social situations and stay at home.  Unfortunately, avoidance behavior results in depression and anger and can start a person down the road to developing at a faster rate than normal.

Those individuals who get treatment for their hearing loss by utilizing hearing aids, enjoy a much higher quality of life and so do their families, friends and significant others!

Hearing aids may help prevent the brain from shrinking

Did you know that your brain shrinks with age?  Unlike our waist lines, our brain gets smaller as we get older.  Studies show that individuals with hearing loss show a greater amount of shrinkage than those with normal hearing.  According to research conducted by Johns Hopkins and the National Institute on Aging, older adults with untreated hearing loss lost an average of a cubic centimeter of brain tissue each year compared to those with normal hearing. MRIs from the study participants showed the atrophy in the regions of the brain responsible for speech and sound.

Fortunately, hearing aids can stimulate the auditory area thus, reducing the risk of losing brain mass and developing dementia or even Alzheimer’s disease.

Listening with hearing aids is like exercise for the brain!  This stimulation helps to preserve the nerve cells in the brain whose job it is to interpret the sounds delivered to the brain by the ear and hearing nerve.  Once this is lost it is gone forever!

Hearing aids can help you hear telephone conversations better

Today’s hearing aids can enhance your listening ability on the phone.  With hearing aids you will be better able to talk with your grandchildren across the country, order that delicious pizza from your favorite pizzeria or get the information you need from your banker.

Many hearing aids today have telecoils which directly receive the phone signal through magnetic induction from the telephone speaker.  (Check your phone manuals or when purchasing a phone ask for hearing aid compatible ones)  Many cellphones also have this feature but not all come with that feature activated.  Your Audiologist should be able to assist you to get this feature turned on.  When speaking through the telecoil, room sounds in that ear will be reduced and the hearing aid will not whistle or feedback!

Other hearing aids can connect directly with your iPhone! With these units the phone calls, Siri and music all flow directly into BOTH hearing aids for optimum understanding and listening pleasure.  Other phones can be connected directly into cell phones through a remote control intermediary.

Also available through a FREE government program to anyone with a hearing loss is a caption telephone.  With the captioned phone an individual not only hears what the speaker on the other end is saying but they can also see it on a screen right on the telephone. (High speed internet is needed in the home for this phone)

Hearing aids can’t do all the work themselves

Hearing loss can have many causes.  See an Audiologist for professional testing, diagnosis and referral for any medically treatable causes.  If the loss is the common non-medically treatable sensory neural hearing loss then obtain the treatment and counseling recommended by your Audiologist.

Hearing aids are not perfect and you will never hear perfectly! Remember:  It will take time to relearn how to hear again.  Here is where the counseling and guidance of your Audiologist is crucial.  It has been shown that success with hearing aids depends 40% on the device and 60% on your Audiologist. Find a professional who is qualified, experienced and who is willing to take the time to sit down with you and assist you with a program for relearning how to hear.

Be wary of internet sales or big box companies where who do not have the time to spend with you to ensure success.  You don’t want to get you hearing aids at a “fast food” store.  You want service and care that all is right.

Relearning to hear should take 10-14 days but may take longer for some.

At my office we offer a 30 day trial so the aids can be worn at home and in the environments that the user normally deals with.  I also offer an internet training program that helps to speed up the relearning to hear process with computer games you plat at home.

Relearning to hear is not difficult it just takes a little time, some patience and a good guide to lead you along the way.

 

We all should make annual appointments to see our doctor for a physical and our eye doctor to check our vision and the dentist maybe twice a year for cleanings.  One step further that should be taken is to treat our ears in the same manner with a checkup. A baseline hearing test should be done for anyone over age 50.  Find out where your hearing is today and if a problem is found-deal with it promptly!!!

Find an Audiologist you can trust and with whom you feel comfortable.  When and if the time comes to get hearing aids this will make all the difference for you to become a successful hearing aid wearer

Franklin A. Shepel, Au.D

Board Certified Doctor of Audiology

9 Jun
Written by in AAH Heroes | 1438 Views | Comments Closed

Operation Change: Changing the World One Hearing Aid At a Time

by: Dr. Kent Collins, Au.D.
Director of TeleHear

Operation_Change_LogoDid you know that All American Hearing Centers participated in a massive philanthropy effort that was the focal point of a series on Oprah Winfrey’s TV network OWN?  At All American Hearing Centers, our providers and patients are well aware of how we partner with Starkey Hearing Technologies to combat hearing loss and make a positive improvement in the lives of individual and families.  However, what you might not know about is the tremendous philanthropic work being carried out by Starkey Hearing Technologies and the Starkey Hearing Foundation around the world.

Operation-ChangeThe Oprah Winfrey Network (OWN) will has aired a 10-part documentary series called Operation Change.  This documentary showcases stories about some of the world’s most challenging issues and the organizations that are working to bring positive change.  During each episode, Starkey Hearing Technologies’ owner and Starkey Hearing Foundation’s co-founders Bill and Tani Austin, along with Starkey Hearing Technologies’ Steven Sawalich, and their team went to different parts of the world, immerse themselves in the local community, and worked to help empower and improve the lives of entire communities with the help of local organizations.

Everyday our great staff at All American Hearing change the lives of patients one individual at a time. Hearing loss is the third most prevalent treatable disabling condition behind arthritis and hypertension within the United Sates and globally is an epidemic impacting more than 360 million people. Every year within our network of All American Hearing Centers, we see more than a million Americans walk through our door for treatment services. These patients don’t realize it, but they are part of a small percentage of consumers globally that have access to hearing care. I am proud to say our network of All American Hearing Centers donates proceeds from every hearing aid sale to support the great work of the Starkey Hearing Foundation. The Starkey Hearing Foundation is not only working to improve the lives of individuals and families affected by hearing loss, but they are also working to make a positive change in the global community with sustainable projects and empowering people to help themselves.

Please continue your support of Starkey Hearing Technologies & the Starkey Hearing Foundation by watching the Operation Change docu-series by clicking here.

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To learn more about the Starkey Hearing Foundation please click here.

10 May
Written by in Hearing Loss News | 9638 Views | Comments Closed

CROS or BiCROS

by: Dr. Frank Shepel, Au.D.
SoundPoint Audiology and Hearing Center
Casa Grande, AZ

Are These Hearing Aid Options Right For You?

What are CROS and BiCROSS hearing aids?
CROS stands for contralateral routing of signal and BiCROS is the acronym for bilateral routing of signal.

What type or degree of hearing loss utilizes these styles?
These hearing aids are utilized when a hearing impaired individual has normal to moderate hearing loss in one ear and no usable hearing in the other ear. This would be what could be called a “dead” ear or one where amplification would not provide any significant benefit to an individual’s ability to understand speech or one where due to surgery or some other medical condition a hearing aid should not be fit to that ear per a physician’s recommendation.

How do these hearing aids work?
Two units are utilized to get the sound signals to the better hearing ear.  A transmitter unit with a microphone is worn on the ear with no usable hearing.  On the better hearing ear a hearing aid with a receiver is worn.  In the CROS hearing system, sound from the poorer hearing side is fed across the head to the better hearing ear.  This provides sound to the better ear which is generated from the poorer hearing or off side.  This would allow a person with no useful hearing in their right ear to hear conversations better while driving a vehicle as the passenger’s voice would be transmitted to their good ear which is closer to the driver door window.  In this case the driver would not need to remove their vision from the road to look at the talker to understand a conversation.  In the BICROS hearing system we have one ear that cannot be helped and another ear that hears but not too well so it needs help to hear better also.  With a BICROS set up, sound is sent from the poorer hearing ear transmitter’s microphone across the head to the better ear which has the receiver.  The receiver picks up the sound from the transmitter and amplifies it as well as the sound from the receiver side microphone. This allows the user to hear sound from the off poorer side and sound from the better side more efficiently.  Sound is thus amplified on both sides and put into the better ear.

CROS: normal hearing in better ear – no hearing or unaidable hearing loss in the poorer ear
BiCROS: aidable hearing loss in the better ear – no hearing or unaidable hearing loss in the poorer ear

How long have these systems been available?
CROS and BiCROS hearing aids have been available since the 1970’s.  At that time the user needed to have a wire running from one ear to the other to carry the signal across the head.  A popular way of doing this was to hide the wire in the frames of the individual’s glasses.  The hearing aids were then contained in the bows of the glasses.  A consequence to this was that the glasses were physically large to house all the components and they were difficult to fit as much care needed to be taken when bending them to fit each individual.  The units also tended to have more breakdowns due to the nondigital technology needing many wires in the circuitry.  Also, when an individual removed their glasses their hearing aids came off.  In colder climates like Minnesota and North Dakota where I worked at the time, when a person walked into a store in the winter their glasses would fog up and need to be removed, so then it became difficult to communicate with the clerk until the fog was removed and the glasses reattached.  If glasses were not worn, a wire was worn behind the head connect the transmitter and receiver sides of the hearing aids.  Hopefully, it could be hidden in the individual’s hair which was much easier for the females.

How have these systems improved?
Today these systems have gone wireless removing the need to have a wire running from one ear to the other.  The transmitter unit broadcasts the sound picked up by the microphone on the poorer hearing side to the receiver antennae in the receiver unit on the better hearing side.  This has made them much more comfortable and easier to wear. They are available as custom in the ear products or the more popular over the ear style. Today the CROS/BiCROS systems have also left the analog age of technology and converted to digital circuitry.  This is a significant change as in the past, individuals needing to utilize these instruments had to settle for second class technology because digital was not available for them to provide more noise reduction, better understanding and more adjustability.  With the new digital wireless devices users will be able to utilize the best technology available or the same technology that others are able to purchase.

Are CROS/BiCROS hearing aids difficult to get accustomed to?  
Not any harder than relearning to hear with any other type of hearing aid.  The individual does need to relearn how to hear and they still may want to turn their head at first when someone is talking on their poorer hearing side.  With these units, individuals will still note that directionality, the ability to tell from where sound is originating does not improve.  We need to be able to hear with both ears to have direct finding ability for hearing.  With these aids, even though hearing is provided from the poorer side, all hearing is being done with a single, better ear not with two separate ears.

Are these aids more expensive?
I like to think of these styles as having 1 ½ hearing aids versus 2.  They are typically more expensive than one but less than buying two.  With this type of hearing aid it is better to get the higher technology levels of hearing aid because the wearer is using only one ear to do all their hearing and the better technology gives them better hearing through more noise reduction, better fitting to their hearing loss, more adjustability for fine tuning and better understanding through faster more effective processing of the sound signal.  All these benefits lead to better understanding and more efficient communication ability which is what we want from hearing aids.

All American Hearing is proud to announce the release of our new Pride i2400 CROS/BiCROS RIC style hearing aids.  These digital units have dual core quad processor technology for digital enhancement of the incoming signals providing  significant improvements in speech quality and understanding, background noise reduction and music listening appreciation all contained in a small over the ear instrument. Pride is compatible with the wireless SurfLink accessories and provides improved phone conversations with ear to ear streaming.

Benefits of Pride Technology

  • Clearer and easier conversations with precise speech audibility and accurate speech detection in difficult listening situations
  • Better understanding in noise
  • Wind, noise, whistling and feedback management for optimal speech understanding
  • Wireless functionality
  • On board volume control
  • Simultaneous processing of multiple sounds for a comprehensive listening experience that makes speech crisp and clear while keeping ambient noise natural
  • Improved phone conversations with ear to ear streaming
  • Customizable tinnitus relief with our Multiflex Tinnitus Technology

If you or a loved one feels that you are in need of hearing help, please contact our office today to set up a consultation and a 30 day trial to experience what improved hearing can do for your quality of life!

Franklin A. Shepel, Au.D
Board Certified Doctor of Audiology

10 May
Written by in Hearing Loss News | 1380 Views | Comments Closed

What To Know Before Buying Hearing Aids

by: Dr. Kent Collins, Au.D.
Director of TeleHear
Originally posted on TeleHear.com

I see all these newspaper ads…
I receive all these ads in the mail…
I don’t know where to begin…

Confused About Hearing Aids?

In today’s blog, we will help answer the common questions patients have about hearing aids.

Common Questions From Patients:

  • Do I have hearing loss?
  • Do I need hearing aids?
  • Can I just wait for a couple years?
  • How much do hearing aids cost?
  • How long do they last?
  • Do I need one or two aids?
  • Does insurance pay for hearing aids?
  • What are the future cost I need to put into hearing aids?
  • Why can’t I just buy hearing aids on the internet?

Do I have a hearing loss?
Many patients with hearing loss don’t notice the problem…..usually their loved ones do. Why is this? Hearing changes gradually over time and patients learn to cope and compensate for these changes. It is usually the family members of these patients that notice they constantly need to repeat themselves. If you are noticing that people mumble or if you ask others to repeat themselves, it is best to get your hearing checked by a professional.

  • Proper hearing care history needs to be taken with a test…..even if normal hearing, always good to have a baseline test to monitor future changes.

Do I need hearing aids?

  • If you do have a hearing loss, hearing aids can help correct 90% of all hearing loss types.
  • If you fall within the other 10%, a medical referral will be made.
  • Your hearing care provider will discuss treatment recommendations and the appropriate follow up plan will be discussed.

Can I just wait for a couple years?

  • You’re the patient, you can deny care for anything.
    • Possible consequences:
      • Progressive hearing loss
      • Auditory Deprivation
      • Continued communication difficulties

Proper treatment with amplification can slow/prevent these consequences. In addition, hearing aids can be reprogrammed to meet your future needs.

How much do hearing aids cost?

  • Digital hearing aids can range from $1000 to $3000 per aid.
  • Price varies by the “level of technology” NOT the size of the aid.

How long do hearing aids last?

  • THIS IS WHY PROPER FOLLOW UP CARE IS NECESSARY!
  • Custom made aids typically last 5-6 years.
  • Over the ear style aids typically last 8-10 years.

Do I need one or two aids?

  • Most patients have hearing loss in each ear and therefore need two aids.
    • Better understanding in noise
    • Localization
    • Ease of listening
    • Tinnitus reduction
  • Monaural aid only if:
    • Hearing is normal in one ear and not other
    • Dead ear on one side

Does insurance pay for hearing aids?

  • Medicare does not
  • Some private insurance may cover
    • We will check with your insurance to verify:
      • If they cover
      • If so, how much they cover

Why can’t I just buy hearing aids on the internet?

  • Plenty of opportunities:
    • Issues with doing so:
      • No adjustments
      • No cleanings
      • Shipping aids and being without them
      • No personal service
      • Getting charged when going into a local office
      • Having the local office not being able to program the aids…locked out of software
      • Online site going out of business

Most local offices have very similar pricing as online sites AND have offer the ongoing service!

11 Apr
Written by in Hearing Loss News | 1387 Views | Comments Closed

Race for Grace: The Race for a Cure

Race for Grace

 

by: Dr. Laurie Junker, Au.D
ECHO Hearing Systems

Race for Grace AAH TeamIt was a chilly morning on April 2nd when most of our family from our Western Pennsylvania All American Hearing offices, Dr. Omallah Bush from Ohio, Dr. Keri Ruf and Alyson Williams from New Jersey and some friends and family gathered for the Race for Grace to benefit children with brain cancer. This is the second year that All American Hearing has had a team participating in the Race and our team grew to sixteen members this year and raised a total of $2,360. The Race fundraising total at the end of the day was over $128,000 and is expected to continue to grow as some late donations come in.

The Race is the major fundraiser for Reflections of Grace, named in memory of Grace Ekis who passed away from brain cancer on Valentine’s Day in 2008. The foundation provides grants to families affected by brain cancer and supports researchers to find a cure for DIPG, the form of cancer that Grace had. Doctor’s call curing DIPG (Diffuse Intrinsic Pontine Glioma) the “home run cure” because it is felt that if they can cure DIPG, they can cure all cancers. To date, there have been no advances in treatments for DIPG in 30 years. Neil Armstrong’s daughter had the same form of cancer and the same treatment in the early 1960’s as Grace did. All the medical advancements in that time and it’s stunning that nothing new can be done for these children.

Crowd at Race for GraceGrace’s mom Tamara was talking recently with a social worker that has referred families to her to receive grants. What she said has stuck with me. She said “You don’t get to see what I see when your grant arrives. That money allows the families to take a breath.” I can only imagine that hearing “your child has brain cancer” can make a parent stop breathing. Not only are you worried about your child, but you may be worried about taking time off work to be with them and still pay your bills. The grants from Reflections of Grace can at least alleviate some of that worry for them, it can let them take a breath.

I so appreciate the support of everyone at All American Hearing for this cause that is very dear to me. Grace was my neighbor and we won’t stop racing for her until her race is won.

11 Apr
Written by in Hearing Loss News | 1770 Views | Comments Closed

Buying Online? Your Hearing Deserves Better

by: The Hearing Doctor

Whether you’re shopping for shoes, furniture, or a new computer, the Internet is an easy and efficient way to purchase what youonline shopping need. If you have been diagnosed with hearing loss, the Internet is also a wonderful resource to learn more about hearing loss and hearing aids. However, caution should be exercised when it comes to purchasing hearing aids online or over the telephone via a free area code.

The prohibitive cost of hearing aids is often cited as the primary reason for people with hearing loss to avoid purchasing hearing aids. While cost is a factor for many people, it is important that you understand that hearing aids are an investment in yourself, your family and in your quality of life. Cost, combined with a lack of insurance coverage, has resulted in many consumers setting their sights on finding the best or cheapest deal online or through the mail.

Purchasing hearing aids in these manners may possibly save you a few hundred dollars up front. However, keep in mind that you may be sacrificing listening experience, wearing satisfaction, hearing safety and the guided expertise of a hearing professional in the process. In fact, the money you saved will more than likely end up being spent when you are in need of reprogramming and follow‐up care from a local provider. Many of the hearing aids available online and over the phone can only be reprogrammed at the source. This means that a simple in-office repair, that could possibly have taken five minutes, now means you have to ship your hearing aid out-of-state and wait for it to return to you in a week or two. That is time lost not hearing and processing sound. That is time lost not hearing your loved ones or co-workers. THAT is time wasted!

The Face-to-Face Purchase IS important!

A successful hearing aid fitting is dependent on many factors!

  1. otoscopeA hearing professional should evaluate your hearing loss through simple, painless testing ‐ This is a critical aspect of any hearing aid purchase. Unfortunately, when you buy hearing aids online, there’s no professional there between you and your purchase. So, the chances are pretty good that you’ll end up buying the wrong hearing aids for your needs and lifestyle. Hearing testing performed over the telephone or through headphones through your computer is not the same as the comprehensive testing that is performed in a soundproof booth by an audiologist. Our providers are compassionate, understanding, and will answer all of your questions in person. We even encourage you to bring a family member or friend. A great deal of information is provided at the initial visits. Sometimes that information will be hard for you to recall when you need to. Your time is valuable and we understand that! When you bring someone with you, you can begin your journey to better hearing sooner!
  2. Hearing aids should be programmed by a hearing professional based on hearing loss and verification testing ‐ A hearing test is the first step in choosing and programming hearing aids. However hearing loss alone cannot predict accurate hearing aid settings. The hearing professional often performs additional subjective and objective testing to fine‐tune the hearing aids. These are valuable tools our offices provide to our patients to ensure you are delighted with your hearing aids!hearing aid family
  3. Properly fit hearing aids are essential to success – When hearing aids are purchased online, safety can become a concern. Hearing aids come in many different sizes and shapes. Custom hearing aids require the art of an ear mold impression done by a professional who is trained. This ensures the hearing aid will fit properly and will not provide feedback. Self-impressions can be extremely dangerous. Ear mold impressions should not be done if earwax is present in the ears. The presence of earwax can only be ascertained by a professional. Many of our locations use video otoscopy to show you what your ears looks like inside! We will refer you for cerumen management if needed.
  4. Maintenance ‐ We provide a long term maintenance program so your hearing aids are always scheduled to be professionally cleaned and taken care of. Your hearing aids will be connected to a computer at each visit because the hearing aids will tell us about any adjustments needed based on exposure in your various daily environments. This is an easy process, and ensures your satisfaction. This is not care that you can receive over a telephone. Just like eyeglasses, hearing aids often need adjusting through the years. Our providers are there to answer questions, make fine‐tuning adjustments and monitor your hearing over time.
  5. Trial periods, returns and guarantees ‐ Most hearing professionals offer a trial period on newly purchased hearing aids. Our providers and the hearing aid manufacturer are with you through the trial period to ensure your satisfaction. With an online/telephone retailer it is impossible to receive that kind of follow‐up service or guarantee.

Hearing aids are more than mere amplifiers. They are complex digital electronic devices that not only allow people with hearing loss to hear, they give you back your quality of life, self‐confidence and happiness. This type of investment is worth purchasing face‐to‐face from a trained and qualified hearing professional. Many patients with hearing loss have the same concerns you do, and an experienced provider can walk you through your journey to better hearing. At our offices, we pride ourselves on taking this journey with you. Remember, life IS worth hearing!

 

15 Feb
Written by in Hearing Aids | 2122 Views | Comments Closed

The Main Event: A Transaction vs. An Experience

By: Joy Glen
Audiologist

As an Audiologist with 20 years of experience in hearing healthcare, I am often asked about the pros and cons of big box hearing solutions.

Chain stores are a convenient place to solve many of our problems. You can purchase whatever you need, from a gallon of milk to a new tire all within a few aisles of one another.

So it’s not hard to see why some people are turning to chain stores for their hearing aids. But while it may be convenient, there are many reasons you shouldn’t buy your hearing aids at the same place you buy your undershirts.

Before you throw a pair in your cart, consider everything you’re not getting when you buy hearing aids at a big box store.

When I first discovered that a hearing impaired person could buy hearing aids at their local big box store (Costco, Sam’s bigboxClub, CVS) I was instantly concerned. How could the hearing impaired get personalized attention to their hearing journey if they were stopping in for a hearing test under the bright fluorescent lights, next to the flat screen TV section? I wondered about the licensed professionals who would work in a big box setting, challenged with the task of fitting hearing aids. I could only imagine that the experience would be, well…less than an experience.

I know first-hand how personal and unique each hearing loss is to that person and their family. No one’s hearing loss is identical to another person’s. Each person faces his or her own unique challenges. Some people struggle to hear children’s voices; others can’t hear women easily. Some people find that they experience debilitating ringing in their ears and they start to get desperate for solutions. Others can hear well in small groups, while some can’t hear at all.

Hearing losses come in all shapes and sizes. On top of all of that, they change over time. Untreated hearing loss can illicit so many different emotions: sadness, embarrassment, anger, frustration, and feelings of worthlessness…. I wondered how all of this would be taken into consideration for the person that winds up in the sound booth at the local big box hearing aid store.

I knew I had to get to the bottom of all my questions and concerns and that there would only be one way to get honest answers. I would have to find a hearing impaired friend to go on a “secret shopper” journey for me at several different Sam’s Clubs and Costco hearing aid places.

The Secret Shopper Adventure Beginssecretshopper

I asked a married couple who were friends of mine to go to several different locations and to share their hearing experience with me. “Jill” was very experienced with hearing loss and had been her husbands, Dave, advocate for better hearing for a few decades. “Dave” has a moderate high frequency hearing loss and has been wearing hearing aids for years. I asked them to get Dave’s hearing tested and to go through the process of buying hearing aids and getting fit.

What I learned is that not all big box hearing places are bad. I also learned that not all big box hearing aid places are good. There were so many different levels of professionalism and service and the experience was more grey than black and white. This is a summary of their secret hopper hearing aid journey:

couple

  • Big Box Hearing Aid stores aren’t really focused on the third party. This means that they don’t really care if you bring your husband or wife with you. They don’t do speech testing using your loved ones voice to see how much of your wife’s or husband’s voice you are missing. They don’t treat the hearing loss as a family problem and don’t encourage the family to attend the fitting and follow up counseling sessions. This is something that we routinely do at our All American Hearing locations.
  • Some of the audiology testing was top notch; some of it barely met state licensure requirements. Some licensed professionals did complete and thorough testing, others just did basic air conduction testing, and might have missed potential areas for conductive hearing loss or middle ear issues. Bottom line regarding testing: it all depends on whom you get during their “shift”.
  • athensinteriorThe experience that you get when talking to your hearing care professional is not exactly an experience, but more of a transaction. You are sitting under florescent lights, and typically next to the toilet paper or electronic isle. There is not a lot of privacy, nor is there a lot of time to get to the root of your problems and how it has impacted your quality of life. There is just enough time to get your ears inspected and tested, and then you are given a sales pitch for the cheapest technology that would be appropriate for your hearing loss. All of this is happening in a very loud office with soaring high ceilings and bright lights. This is certainly not the experience that we provide at our All American Hearing locations, where our hearing testing rooms are sound proof, private, and conducive to family counseling.
  • Once you are fit with hearing aids, you might not be offered the open door for follow up visits. Some big box hearing places are booked for months and getting a follow up appointment is not an easy option. Walk-in appointments for trouble shooting service are hit and miss depending on how busy the office is. Long-term care is not proactive.
  • Price is typically lower than you might get in a local hearing aid practice, sometimes up to a couple hundred dollars. However, you don’t always get offered some of the “bells and whistles” that the local hearing aid practice will offer. Some of the “bells and whistles that All American Hearing might include are: free batteries, complimentary monthly follow up fittings, family counseling for hearing loss, ringing in the ears counseling, wax management, quarterly clean & checks for “tune ups”, and annual hearing tests.

So why should you trust your hearing care to one of our offices in the All American Hearing network?

At a chain store, you give the cashier money, and she gives you hearing aids. End of transaction. If your aids break or need adjustments or cleaning, where do you take them? The store where you bought them may send them far away to be repaired, leaving you without hearing aids for weeks, or they may provide no aftercare services at all.

When you purchase your hearing aids at an All American Hearing location, you know exactly where to take them, and who will be working on them. The same licensed hearing care providers you see every time you come in will repair your devices for you while you enjoy some freshly made coffee and warm cookies.

aftercareAt our All American Hearing offices, your aftercare services are included with the purchase of your hearing aid. Our audiologists and licensed providers provide a complete Hearing Healthcare program, which comes with regular cleaning and adjustments, repair and damage warranties, yearly screenings, and batteries. We encourage families to join you for your appointments, where we incorporate their voice into your hearing testing and help them become part of your hearing solutions. We also help people with tinnitus issues, or “ringing in the ears”.

That ten-items or less lane might be great for your groceries, but it’s not a great place to take care of your hearing loss.

The biggest difference between hearing solutions from a big box versus hearing solutions from All American Hearing is that big box hearing aid services are a transaction. All American hearing looks at you as a unique person with individual needs. We customize hearing solutions and work with you along your hearing journey. We are with you for the long haul and will be your partner for better hearing. Coming to our office is an experience that you will enjoy and look forward to.

Life is Worth Hearing!

 

12 Feb
Written by in Hearing Aids | 3452 Views | Comments Closed

Dealing With a Loved One’s Hearing Loss

By: Dr. Frank Shepel, Au.D.
Board Certified Doctor of Audiology
SoundPoint Audiology and Hearing Center of Casa Grande, AZ

Individuals over age 50 can expect to begin slowly losing some hearing. They suffer from a phenomenon known as presbycusis or age related hearing loss from normal wear and tear. People who have worked around noise and/or those with noisy hobbies such as shooting, riding motorcycles or listening to loud music will also have additional hearing loss. However many people do not like to talk about or admit to having a problem hearing.

In most cases a hearing loss occurs very slowly over many years.  People who have a hearing problem are not fooling anyone.  Family, friends and acquaintances realize that there is a problem because the person with the loss needs conversations repeated, they say “what” or “huh” a lot.  They misunderstand, they avoid situations where hearing is difficult, they talk too loud, and increase the volume on the TV and radio.  Because of these factors, the hearing loss is much more noticeable than a tiny hearing aid would ever be. However, they will not admit that they have a problem.Starkey-Soundlens-IIC

Many people do not like to admit they have a hearing loss because of the stigmas that come along with hearing aids.  Hearing aids have the stigma of old age attached to them and no one wants to admit that they are getting old. Another stigma is cost. Everyone thinks that hearing aids are out of reach because of their cost, but there are many levels of technology that exist, and with payment plans the cost can be as low as $50-60 per month. Size is also a concern for some individuals. Today some hearing aids are so small they are virtually invisible in the ear and others are difficult to detect when worn. Because of these factors, the hearing loss is much more noticeable than a tiny hearing aid would ever be.  Bottom line is no one likes to talk about the elephant in the room!

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Usually it takes a loved one or close friend to initiate the discussion which will prompt an individual to consider moving forward to getting a hearing test if for no other reason than to prove that they do not have a hearing problem. Denial of a hearing problem is very common.  Denial is a part of the process of coming to terms with a hearing loss and accepting that you do have a problem and need to do something about it.

Common Excuses

Maybe you’ve shared your concerns with your loved one about his or her hearing loss or have brought the topic up a few times in certain situations, but your loved one has brushed you off with the wave of a hand. If so, then you have probably heard one of the following excuses before, and if not, here are some popular excuses people use to deny hearing loss or deflect concerns about them:

“I didn’t hear because you were/everyone was mumbling.”

For people who have hearing loss, another person’s speech often does sound like mumbling because they are missing some of the sounds due to their hearing loss.  The speech may sound soft because of the hearing loss and may sound muffled and unclear.  It is not realistic for them to tell others to speak up as we all have our own normal speech volume, and it is unnatural for a speaker to speak at a level louder than their normal level for more than a sentence or two. However, blaming others for mumbling is also an example of projection and is something that people who are in denial or grieving about their hearing loss might say.

“People/kids talk too fast.  If they slowed down I could hear them.”Child-talking

Sometimes people do talk fast but again it is not realistic to get someone to talk slower as it is an unnatural act especially for a child.  The problem arises from the fact that as we age our processing ability for sounds slows down within the brain.  This is compounded when a hearing loss causes some sounds to be missed or misinterpreted.  In this case more pieces of the conversation are missed, their ability to process the rest is slowed and they are unable to get enough information to be able to understand what was said.  It is a complicated situation!

“Of course I can’t hear – it’s very loud in here!”

It is fact that people with hearing loss have difficulty hearing even with the slightest of background noise.  Even people with normal hearing loss have more difficulty hearing in noisy situations!!!! As noted above, in noisy situations more speech sounds are missed so less information is left to process by the brain to attempt to make sense of (and understand) the conversation.

You can help out by moving to a quieter space for conversation and making sure to face the person you are conversing with.  Be sure to keep your mouth visible to them for lip reading.

“I can hear everything I want to, so that’s good enough.”

Here the person is “putting up their dukes” in defense of their hearing loss.  Again, this is part of the denial process which they need to work through with the help of family, friends and loved ones.  Support them by pointing out in a kind and gently manner some of the wonderful sounds they are missing.  Discuss how frustrating it may be to no longer hear the birds singing, the creek running, or how the grandkids tend to avoid talking to them by going to someone else who can understand them.

Nudge them gently towards accepting not that they have a problem but that they should see a hearing professional for a hearing checkup just in case they may have a hearing problem. Click here to schedule you free hearing consultation.

Signs and Symptoms of a Hearing Loss

Below is a list of signs that a person is having difficulty hearing and that they should be seen for a hearing test.  Use this as a checklist.  Find a quiet time to sit down and go over the list with them and check the ones that pertain to them.

Does your loved one:tv-dex-illustration_1600x1067

  • Turn the TV volume up to a uncomfortable level for others or complains that he or she can’t hear the TV when set to others comfort level?
  • Seem to have the most trouble hearing women’s or children’s voices?
  • Complain that his or her ears are ringing?
  • Sometimes answer inappropriately to questions, as if he or she is answering a completely different question?
  • Frequently asks you or others to repeat what was said?
  • Complains that people are mumbling or their voices sound muffled?
  • Have an especially difficult time following a conversation when there is more than one communication partner?
  • Misses the doorbell or phone ringing?
  • Has a difficult time conversing with others on the phone?
  • Completely misses what you say or not even realize you are talking when one of your backs is turned toward the other?
  • Becomes annoyed because he or she can’t understand what other people are saying?
  • Feels more drained or stressed out than normal after attending social situations?
  • Asks you what was said at church, meeting or social event when you get home?
  • Withdraws from social situations because he or she is having trouble hearing?
  • Feel nervous about meeting other people, when before this wasn’t an issue?
  • Remains quiet in social situations – presumably out of fear of misunderstanding what others are saying and responding inappropriately – when this is not his or her normal disposition?
  • Have difficulty hearing in public spaces like restaurants?

Your loved one might also have some medical explanations that could make him or her more likely to have hearing loss. These include:

  • Having a family history of hearing loss.
  • Taking medications that are known to be ototoxic – that is, damaging to his or her hearing. These include everything from aspirin to chemotherapy.
  • Being exposed to very loud sounds or loud noise over a prolonged period, including in a work situation, which may indicate noise-induced hearing loss.
  • Having diabetes or heart disease, osteoporosis, hypertension, is obese, is a smoker, has thyroid or circulation problems.

Having a hearing examination with a qualified hearing expert will allow you and your significant other to ask questions about the situation regarding any hearing loss that is present. Are hearing aids appropriate? Is something medically wrong and needs to be referred to a physician who specializes in ear diseases?  For the peace of mind of you and your loved one discuss the issue calmly and then schedule an appointment for that hearing exam.

They will thank you for improving their quality of life.

20 Jan
Written by in Hearing Aids | 2071 Views | Comments Closed

Giving back with Andrew Roth, HIS

The availability of hearing health care and hearing aids is very scarce in the world. The Starkey Hearing Foundation provides hearing aids to people around the world in need. People from all different parts of the globe come together to help provide this special gift. Without this group, many of these people would be left in a world of silence and would struggle to communicate with family and friends.

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This past October Andrew Roth, Hearing Instrument Specialist with Hear for You in Saratoga/Ballston Spa, NY, joined the Starkey Hearing Foundation on a hearing mission trip to Mexico. Roth and the Foundation started out in Tlaxcala, Mexico, and they fit 580 people with hearing aids on a Sunday. From Tlaxcala, Roth and the Starkey Hearing Foundation Team traveled to Toluca, Mexico, a city located 60 miles outside of Mexico City.

The landscape is very industrial and many of the people can not afford the cost of hearing aids or the care associated with hearing loss. The Foundation is able to help thousands in the course of a week and set up after care as well. About 500 people per day were fitted with hearing aids and many heard for the first time.

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It is a great feeling to help others in need who would otherwise have no other option. Coming back from these trips allows me to appreciate more what we take for granted here in the USA. We have a great country with a variety of resources, a luxury not shared by every region of the world.

It’s not just third-world countries that suffer from the dire need of better hearing, there are plenty of people in the USA that can not afford the gift of better hearing. Luckily if you can not afford a hearing aid here in the USA we have the Hear Now Program which provides aids through the Starkey Hearing Foundation. For more information on the Starkey Hearing Foundation or if you have any questions about these mission trips or the Hear Now Program in the USA, you can visit www.starkeyhearingfoundation.org.

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