Author Archives: Kelli Smith

WHAT’S THE BEST HEARING AID?

Many times, a patient will ask “what’s the best hearing aid?” Although a good question, it becomes challenging based on all the variables that must be considered to answer the question appropriately. The “right” hearing aid for you depends on several factors, including the type and severity of hearing loss, cosmetic preferences, lifestyle, frequented environments, vision, manual dexterity, and the list continues.  Even when two people have similar hearing test results, the benefits and outcomes will vary. What one person thinks is the best hearing aid may not be impressive to another.  Our ears bring in the sound but the way our brain processes information is different from one person to another. These considerations for finding “the best”, makes the answer challenging and comparing with your friends very difficult.

Buying a hearing aid is a very different buying experience compared to other consumer products.  It’s not like buying an appliance or a car where you can compare brands. The product is only one sliver of the process. Selecting the best, most competent and knowledgeable audiologist becomes critical. Combing both will give you the best outcome.

As recipients of the Consumer’s Choice Award for outstanding customer service for two consecutive years, we at Audiological Consultants of Atlanta, take a great pride in our mission statement to “promote and provide the highest quality of audiological and hearing aid services and products in the communities we serve.” We work with most hearing aid manufacturers and it is our job to work with you to find the BEST hearing aid solution for you. 

We take our job seriously. It’s not unusual to hear from our new patients who have previously received services elsewhere, “I’ve never had such a thorough test before”.  Additionally, our audiologists not only perform extensive testing but also provide important counseling with each patient along with verification of the benefit of any hearing device. Our front office staff is complimented on our outstanding customer service because we realize that we only get one chance to make a great first impression. Our audiology assistants work side by side with each audiologist in an important role to provide comprehensive care to our patients.

We will find the BEST hearing aids for you!

 

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Hearing Aids are not like Eyeglasses

One of the most used phrases in our practice is “be patient. It takes time to adjust to hearing again.” Sometimes we do use the analogy of eyeglasses to hearing aids, but they are actually very different. Glasses help you see better and hearing aids help you hear better, but that’s where the similarities end.

When people have a loss of visual acuity, they generally notice that images are blurry or not clear. For most people that need glasses, or contacts, the lenses are prescribed to compensate for refractive errors. Refractive error means that the shape of your eye does not bend light correctly, resulting in a blurred image. The main types of refractive errors are myopia (nearsightedness), hyperopia (farsightedness), presbyopia (loss of near vision with age), and astigmatism. In these cases, the retina and the optical nerve are intact. With proper fitting and prescriptive powers, vision is restored to crisp and clear vision at or close to 20/20. There is usually a short adjustment period to seeing better. The brain still needs to adjust to a change that is taking place. It should be noted that there are also incurable eye diseases such as macular degeneration and glaucoma.

Unlike vision problems, the majority of hearing loss in adults (90-95%) is caused by degenerative or progressive nerve loss. Once the nerve (microscopic hair cells) is damaged, there is no cure for hearing loss, but hearing aids are prescribed to help compensate for the loss of acuity. Hearing aids do amplify sounds, but they do not always make a particular sound that you want to hear as crisp and clear as you might want. Modern hearing aids are programmed specifically to your individual hearing loss and needs, and are verified at the time of your fitting and at follow-up appointments. Even with the best technology and best-programmed hearing aids, they still are not like glasses meaning they won’t give you “20/20 hearing” in every situation. The science of hearing aids and ongoing research continue to improve but they cannot replicate the intricacies of the auditory system.

Another way that we wish hearing aids were more like glasses is when it comes to the stigma associated with wearing them. Billions of people around the world wear glasses and no one thinks of them any differently but for some reason, hearing aids have not yet become as mainstream.

We hear with our ears, but we understand (process) with our brain.

 

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SAFETY MATTERS

When patients first begin to notice a decline in hearing, a main priority is to attain better hearing for communication purposes. But, hearing is critical for safety reasons also. Read Full Article

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The Stages of “Grief” Over Losing Your Hearing (…admitting that you have a problem is the first step)

As we go through our daily lives we come across people of all ages and all walks of life. Almost every scheduled patient at our office has some degree of hearing loss, but detecting it and quantifying it are only the first steps. However, depending on what level of acceptance the individual is in, the next step is not always clear. Some people are ready to move forward with treatment and some are not. It took me a while to understand, but people do really go through a process of acceptance that is very similar to the grief process.

In her book “On Death and Dying” (1969), Elisabeth Kubler-Ross, psychiatrist, first identified the five stages of grief that terminally-ill people go through as being: denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance.  It is also possible to apply these stages of grief to other life-changing experiences of pain or loss such as traumatic events like divorce, illness, loss of limb, or more specifically for our purposes the impairment of one of our five senses, our hearing. Read Full Article

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Hearing Loss – Know Your Rights

When we use the term “disability,” many people think about any physical impairments that may be readily observable. These include physical and mobility limitations as well as sensory disabilities, such as blindness. However, disabilities also include a number of other conditions that typically are invisible to others. These include brain injury, diabetes, dyslexia, hearing impairments, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and other conditions. The Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (ADA) prohibits discrimination on the basis of disability, and ensures equal opportunity for persons with disabilities in employment, State and local government services, public accommodations, commercial facilities, and transportation. This law made it illegal to discriminate against the disabled. It was written and passed to not only cover employers – those with 15 or more employees were required to comply with the ADA regulations – but also to apply to any public entity or place. For example, public buildings were required to comply by providing wheelchair-friendly access ramps, as well as other accommodations such as ADA-compliant restrooms. In addition, and – of special interest to the hearing impaired – hotels and other public accommodations also were required to install telecommunication devices for the deaf (TDDs) – at no extra cost to the user.

Many persons with hearing loss do not realize they may be covered by the ADA in their workplace or in public facilities. To view more information about hearing loss in the workplace, please click on this link: http://www.eeoc.gov/facts/deafness.htmlListed below are some of the basic provisions of the Americans with Disabilities Act: Four Titles of the Americans with Disabilities Act Title I – Employment Employers may not discriminate against qualified individuals with disabilities. Employers must reasonably accommodate the disabilities of qualified applicants or employees, including modifying workstations and equipment, unless undue hardship would result. Title II – Public Services State and local governments may not discriminate against qualified individuals with disabilities. Newly constructed state and local government buildings, including transit facilities, must be accessible. Alterations to existing state and local government buildings must be achieved to provide equal access. Title III – Public Accommodations All new construction and modifications must be accessible to individuals with disabilities. For existing facilities, barriers to services must be removed if readily achievable. Public accommodations include facilities such as restaurants, hotels, theaters, shopping centers and malls, retail stores, museums, libraries, parks, and private schools. Public Services and Accommodations have a duty to provide auxiliary aids and services to individuals with hearing impairments where necessary to ensure effective communication with individuals with disabilities. Title IV – Telecommunications Telecommunication companies offering telephone services to the general public must have telecommunication relay services for individuals who have hearing or speech disabilities. (http://www.ada.gov/cguide.htm) Title III of the ADA covers facilities which are privately – not publicly – owned, but which are open to the public. Some examples of this type of location are: hotels and motels, restaurants, stores, doctors’ offices, libraries, museums, day care centers, private educational facilities, cinemas and theaters. Public accommodation means that the facility itself must also be accessible. Hotels, motels and inns must provide visual fire alarms, TDDs or amplified telephones, closed – captioned TV’s, flashing door signalers and an alarm clock with a bed-shaker to the D/LD/HOH guest when he/she has notified the facility in advance. A hospital, if it provides televisions and room phones to all patients, must also provide a closed captioned television set, an amplified phone or a TDD, a loud ringer or visual ring signaler, and a visual fire alarm in every room in which there is a D/LD/HOH patient. In addition, rooms used by the general public within these facilities are also covered by these regulations.

 Some of the most common complaints we, as Audiologists, hear on a regular basis are related to the difficulties experienced by hearing-aid users in restaurants, movie or live theaters, and in religious services. Sometimes under these circumstances, hearing aids alone just aren’t enough. You may require the use of an Assistive Listening Device (ALD). Assistive listening devices expand the functionality of hearing aids and cochlear implants by helping the user separate the sounds he or she wants to hear from background noise, and by enabling them to hear when the speaker is more than a few feet away. The speaker talks into a microphone, and the speech is sent directly to the listener’s ear, thus avoiding the degrading effects of noise and distance on speech intelligibility. It is really that simple.

For more information, ask your audiologist and check out this article: http://audioconsult.com/2012/05/staying-connected-in-a-connected-world/ When you are visiting a public venue, take a moment to look for the symbol shown below. Most of our hearing-impaired patients have no idea that theatres are actually REQUIRED to provide them with an Assistive Listening Device. You, as a patron of these facilities, should be your own advocate and speak up to learn what accommodations are available to you. Don’t be embarrassed. You are a paying customer and you deserve to enjoy the show just as much as the next person! http://www.foxtheatre.org/specialneeds.aspx http://www.amctheatres.com/accessible-movies Section 307 of the ADA provides that religious organizations and entities controlled by religious organizations are not subject to the requirements for public accommodations or commercial facilities under Title III of the Act. Religious organizations, such as Synagogues and religious-controlled schools may, however, accommodate individuals with disabilities at their own discretion, and do not waive their exemption from the requirements of Title III by doing so. You can take the initiative and advocate for the provision of assistive listening devices at places you regularly attend (e.g., place of worship, classroom, or community center). Encourage the venue to advertise that they have assistive devices so that others can learn of their benefit. As Dr. Seuss stated, “Be who you are and say what you feel because those who mind don’t matter and those who matter don’t mind.”

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Healthy Hearing: Can Healthier Lifestyles Lead to Better Hearing??

Despite all of the amazing advances being made in modern medical science, there is still no known cure for hearing loss. However, the question we can ask is “Are there things you can do to prevent hearing loss or further deterioration of your hearing?” Read Full Article

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I can hear you, … but I can’t understand you…

The statement above is one that Audiologists hear almost every day. While this complaint is a common one, its cause is not always so easy to determine. There are quite a number of different reasons that may give rise to such a complaint. A high-frequency loss of hearing is one potential reason, but another is the individual’s Cognitive Hearing ability, often becoming especially noticeable as we age. Read Full Article

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