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What is bundled hearing aid service?

When purchasing a hearing aid, it is common to find bundled services. What does bundling mean?

Equipment costs

Bundling means combining equipment and service costs for hearing aids. One part of the price for hearing aids is the cost of the equipment. Hearing aids are sophisticated computers. Another part of the hearing aid price is the cost for the professional that works with your devices. Hearing aids require a licensed profession to program, fit and maintain their function. Therefore, bundling entails combining these services into one cost.

To help explain the cost of the equipment, the small sophisticated computer in your hearing aid is like the small powerful computer in your last smart phone. We invest millions of dollars each year to make these devices smarter, faster, smaller, and stronger. Each ear needs its own computer. This will double the equipment cost.

Professional Care

Your hearing aid professional will spend time on an initial visit to ensure the devices are custom fit to your ears. You will then likely need 2-4 follow-up visits to fine tune the fit after your first fit. Next, after the initial fitting and trial period, hearing aids will need routine maintenance. Earwax, moisture, and debris can clog up a hearing aid thus affecting its function. It is important that you have easy access to hearing care to maintain the devices. Thus, hearing care professionals want patients to feel comfortable coming in as many times as needed to maintain their devices. Paying for each visit separately might stop from people from routine care. Bundling prices prevents this.

Bottom Line

If you ever feel like the cost for your devices is not within the typical range, feel free to ask your provider to break down the costs, or, in addition, shop around. Check out our blog post about hearing aid cost for more information here. And always, for services in Inver Grove Heights, Minnesota, call (651) 888-7888.

Do Hearing Aids Come with a Guarantee?

Do hearing aids come with any sort of guarantee? There is often a significant financial decision to make when pursuing better hearing. There are also many brands, styles, clinicians, and stores to purchase them from.  With so many options, it can be hard to know if you have chosen the right option for you.

According to www.dictionary.com, a guarantee is a promise or assurance, especially one in writing, that something is of specified quality, content, benefit, etc., or that it will perform satisfactorily for a given length of time. In the better hearing industry, you will often hear the terms “trial period” and “warranty.” Both of these things mean a guarantee.

As an audiologist, I can not guarantee that your hearing aids will meet all of your expectations. Some people expect hearing aids to restore their hearing back to “normal” and this is simply not possible. However, I can guarantee that we will do everything possible to ensure they are working at an optimal level for each individual.

Trial Period

Every ear and person is unique. What works for one person may not meet the needs of another. Simply put, somebody may need to try multiple options before they find their perfect fit. This makes the trial period important. During your trial period, it is important to work with your provider to ensure your new devices are meeting your needs. If not, you can always return the devices for a refund. Trial period length will vary by state but Minnesota requires a 45-day window.

Warranties

Manufacturing companies provide a warranty as a way to guarantee your devices stay in top working order. Warranty periods are often one to three years.

There are many safe guards in place to ensure you will achieve improved hearing, and maintain improved hearing with your new devices. If you question your progress, you should reach out to your hearing professional. Our Doctors of Audiology can be reached at (651) 888-7800.

 

“Guarantee.” Dictionary.com, Dictionary.com, www.dictionary.com/browse/guarantee?s=t.

Hearing Aids in Summertime

Hooray! It’s finally warm and green outside but with that comes some other unpleasant things like humidity (especially up here in Minnesota)! If you wear hearing aids, you might want to take a minute and review your maintenance routine to make sure you’re protecting your valuable devices that connect you with all of the wonderful sounds of summer.

Moisture

Summertime brings an uptick in moisture.This can affect how hearing aids function, particularly behind-the-ear styles. Humidity, rain and perspiration can all affect hearing aids, especially the precious microphone which is generally the most exposed part of the aid. You also want to make sure you don’t jump into the pool or lake with your devices either. Most hearing aid companies have now found ways to coat new technology with moisture-proof coating but this will not prevent moisture from filling the space in the microphones, and in turn, blocking the channel for sound to get into the device.

How do you protect your hearing aids from moisture then? You will need to remove your hearing aids at times. Hearing aids are unfortunately not ready to go swimming or water-skiing with you. For the times where you’ll be exposed to humidity and perspiration, but still need your hearing aids for communication (like on the golf course), a few extra maintenance steps can really help.

Maintenance

Pay attention to the area where your microphones are. Run your cleaning brush across them at the end of the day to brush away any debris or moisture that might have settled there throughout the day. You can also use a dri-aid kit at night.  A dri-aid kit is a container that will absorb moisture from the devices. Ask your audiologist about both of these things if you haven’t been shown this already.

Otherwise, go out and enjoy your summer! A few mindful moments of maintenance can make a big difference in long-term device performance. A last parting consideration involves summertime noise exposure.  When around loud noise, make sure you aren’t wearing your hearing aids, and instead use hearing protection. This goes for when you mow the lawn or shoot off those 4th of July fireworks!

Contact our office at (651) 888-7888 if you have any questions!

Getting Used To A Hearing Aid

Getting Used to a Hearing Aid

Making the decision to improve your hearing is a big step towards improving your overall quality of life. It can take time to get used to hearing aids once you receive them. Every new hearing aid user experiences an adjustment period.  Getting used to a hearing aid takes time, practice, and patience.

The brain

Your brain is the main reason it takes time to get used to a hearing aid. Do you remember the first time you drove a car? It was hard work. In the first place, we had to learn the basics of how to run the car. After that, we learned how to operate the car in traffic. With time and practice, these motions are now automatic. This is because of muscle memory. The brain creates a memory for the movement, and they become automatic. Hearing is no different. The hearing part of our brain needs to practice and thus, build memories of sounds.

Flipping on the light

Getting a hearing aid is like flipping on bright lights after sitting in the dark for a while. At first, sound might seem too loud or bright. Give yourself time to get used to all of the new sounds. The amount of time it takes to get used to a hearing aid is different for everybody. On average, four to six weeks of consistent use will allow all the new sounds to become normal. For some people, time is all it takes.

Small doses or all at once

It is generally recommended that hearing aids are worn consistently, all day, every day. You take them out at night for sleeping, and can’t wear them in the shower. For some people, this is too much in the beginning. Generally, you should try to wear them as much as possible. If needed, you can start small, and work your way up to a full time wear schedule.

When you’ve been missing out, it can be hard to know what is normal. Ask others around you what they are hearing. It is a noisy world and your brain forgets about all the little sounds around you when you have hearing loss. It takes patience, but rest assured that your brain will get used to all that sound again.

Call your hearing aid professional if you are still having troubles getting used to your hearing aids. Hearing aids are adjustable. Levels that worked for one person may not be the right levels for you. Keeping a journal helps. Writing down your experiences can help guide the fine tuning process.

Best of luck as you go out there and start exploring our noisy world with your new hearing aids!

Hearing Aid Batteries- Tips and Tricks

How to get the most out of your hearing aid batteries

Photo by Hilary Halliwell from Pexels

 

One of the most important parts of your hearing aid is the battery! Did you know that some simple steps can help prolong the life of your hearing aid batteries?

Some background on hearing aid batteries:

Hearing aid batteries are zinc-air and come in 4 sizes (yellow10, brown312, orange13, or blue675). All zinc-air batteries will come with a sticker-like tab on the back. Therefore, you will need to remove the tab prior to using the battery. This tab prevents air from activating the zinc chemical until you need it. Hearing aid batteries are sensitive to extreme temperatures and moisture. If hearing aid batteries touch other metal or other batteries, this can cause them to short out.

How to get the most of your hearing aid batteries:

-Let battery sit un-tabbed one to five minutes prior to using. This allows the power to ramp up before use.

-Store batteries at room temperature in their original packaging.

-Do not store batteries in humid or moist environments.

-Open the battery door of your hearing aid when it is not in use to extend the life of the battery.

Some other tips that can help:

-Keeping track of your battery usage can help you spot changes to the cycle.

-Dispose of dead batteries immediately to avoid mix-ups. You can throw batteries in the trash or take them to a local recycling center.

-Keep spare batteries on you. Your hearing aid batteries are most likely to go out when you are going about your normal day.

Don’t forget that batteries are not safe to be ingested. Keep them out of reach of small children, vulnerable adults, and pets. If batteries are swallowed, see a doctor immediately and call the National Button Battery Hotline at (202) 625-3333.

 

Additionally, if these tips and tricks did not help improve the performance of your devices, please call to visit with our professionals today at (651) 888-7800.

 

Why Are Hearing Aids So Costly?

Hearing aids have a bad reputation for being costly. This can lead to frustration and avoidance from consumers looking to receive help for their hearing. This blog post will not help make hearing aids more affordable, but should help shed some light on these expenses. So why are hearing aids so costly?

Hi-Def Technology

Hearing aids are sophisticated computers. Manufacturers have invested millions into making them smaller and more durable. Consumer demands have also led to the technology working seamlessly with our cell phones and television sets.  Manufacturers pass the cost of research, design, and construction onto consumers. Technology that we will see more of in the future includes rechargeable systems, more Bluetooth and wireless solutions, and even wearable monitors for heart rate and blood sugar levels!

Expert Care

The most challenging aspect of purchasing a hearing aid is the lack of transparency in bundled price packages. Post people assume the price tag for thousands of dollars is just to purchase a small piece of plastic and wires, but this is not the case. These costs are most often bundling the cost of the devices with lifetime care and service. Hearing aids require a professional to custom fit them for each individual ear. Some professionals offer an un-bundled or pay-as-you-go approach. You will need to make sure you know which services are included with your price quote.

What else can we do?

Unfortunately, insurance coverage for hearing aids is largely non-existent. We used to consider hearing a luxury, but we now understand the importance it plays in overall health and well-being. Until our health care establishments recognize this, people in need of hearing help will continue to pay out-of-pocket for it. The government has made recent efforts to bring hearing health care costs down by creating a category of OTC or over-the-counter instruments that do not require any custom fitting. This is one step in providing better access to hearing healthcare but still leaves people with more severe or complicated losses paying significantly more. Audiologists, hearing instrument specialists, and persons with hearing loss will continue to have to advocate for better access to hearing healthcare.

Bottom Line

Don’t let the high perceived cost of hearing aids prevent you from learning more. There is a wide range of cost, style, and services available and consulting with a professional is in your best interest. If you are not happy with the first recommendation, seek another opinion. Our Doctors of Audiology are always on hand and happy to walk you through this big decision.

How Does the Ear Work?

How does the ear work? Hearing is an essential sense that we rely on every day for communication and safety. Most people don’t realize how important this sense really is on our day-to-day life. For information on the importance of hearing, check out our previous blog. So, how do we hear? How does the ear really work?

In a normal auditory system, the ear is comprised of 3 distinct sections: the outer ear, the middle ear, and the inner ear. They work together to funnel and capture sound and thus, feed it into our brains. As a result, our brains do all the hard work of understanding.

The Outer Ear

The outer ear is the portion that is visible to us and is typically what people will think of when they think of ears. The portion that captures and therefore funnels sound into the pinna. Sounds are airwaves and these are funneled into the ear canal by the pinna. Once the sound is trapped in the ear canal, everything is directed towards our tympanic membrane, or eardrum. The eardrum is a very thin membrane that vibrates like a drumhead due to sound hitting it.

The Middle Ear

The eardrum marks the start of the middle ear space. This portion of the ear is where we will find the ossicles, or 3 small bones suspended behind the ear drum. Although medical professionals will call these bones the malleus, incus, and stapes, you might know them as the hammer, anvil, and stirrup. The stapes, or stirrup, is the smallest bone in the body! The 3 bones work together to pass the vibration of sound from the eardrum (outer ear) to the cochlear (inner ear). It is important that the middle ear hold air and not fluid. The Eustachian tube works to keep the air pressure equalized so the eardrum can vibrate freely.

The Inner Ear

The stapes, or stirrup, connects to the final part of our ear, the cochlea. The cochlea is snail shaped and resides in the temporal bone of our skull. The cochlea contains fluid and has 2 parts. The snail shaped half deals with the sound waves and hearing, and the other half contains 3 semi-circular canals which we call the vestibular system. We use the 3 semi-circular canals to maintain our balance and sense of motion in space. If something interrupts the fluid in the semi-circular canals, the person will likely become dizzy.

To hear, we use the coiled portion of the cochlea. Once the sound enters the cochlea, it travels like a wave through the fluid inside the ear. The entire length of the cochlea contains outer and inner hair cells. These hair cells will dance and sway as a result of sound waves passing by. The bundles of hair cells have nerves attached that will therefore fire the signal into the brain.

The Bottom Line

The important thing to remember about our hearing is that we really hear with our brains. Our ears capture the sound wave and therefore converts it to a nerve impulse. Our brains need constant practice and should not go without sound for too long.

An audiologist can evaluate how all 3 sections of your ear are working, along with the brain. To schedule an evaluation, call (651) 888-7888.

10 Reasons… not to put off seeing your hearing professional

10 Reasons… not to put off seeing your hearing professional

  1. Missed connections
  2. Raindrops on your roof
  3. Your spouse
  4. Squeaky brakes
  5. Your children/grandchildren
  6. Whispers
  7. Joke punchlines
  8. Music
  9. Brain health
  10. Your social life

Bottom Line:

Don’t let another day of “I hear what I want to hear” get in the way of truly living your life to the fullest. Give our team a call today to start your journey towards better hearing.

See our blog post on why hearing is important for more information!

Tinnitus: What is it? Why do I have it? And What to do about it?

People who experience tinnitus know that it can be very bothersome. Tinnitus (pronounced ten / ih / tus) is the perception or sensation of hearing sound when no external sound is present. These sounds are typically described as ringing, buzzing, roaring, chirping, or hissing.

The noises may vary in pitch from a low roaring sound to a high-pitched squeal. You can experience tinnitus in one ear, or both ears.

Tinnitus can significantly affect quality of life. Although it affects people differently, if you have tinnitus, you also may experience:

  • -Fatigue
  • -Stress
  • -Sleep problems
  • -Trouble concentrating
  • -Memory problems
  • -Depression, anxiety, and/or irritability

What causes tinnitus? Are there risk factors?

A number of health conditions can cause or worsen tinnitus. In many cases, an exact cause is never found.

A common cause of tinnitus is inner ear cell damage. Tiny, delicate hairs in your inner ear move in relation to the pressure of sound waves. This triggers ear cells to release an electrical signal through a nerve from your ear (auditory nerve) to your brain. Your brain interprets these signals as sound. If the hairs inside your inner ear are bent or broken, they can “leak” random electrical impulses to your brain, causing tinnitus.

Anyone can experience tinnitus, but these factors may increase your risk:

  • -Loud noise exposure. Prolonged exposure to loud noise can damage the tiny sensory hair cells in your ear that transmit sound to your brain. People who work in noisy environments — such as factory and construction workers, musicians, and soldiers — are particularly at risk.
  • -Age. As you age, the number of functioning nerve fibers in your ears declines, possibly causing hearing problems often associated with tinnitus.
  • -Gender. Men are more likely to experience tinnitus.
  • -Smoking. Smokers have a higher risk of developing tinnitus.
  • -Cardiovascular problems. Conditions that affect your blood flow, such as high blood pressure or narrowed arteries (atherosclerosis), can increase your risk of tinnitus.

 How is tinnitus diagnosed?

Because tinnitus is a perception, there is no way to truly test for tinnitus. Your doctor will diagnose tinnitus based on your symptoms, your medical history, and exam findings. A hearing test will likely be ordered to rule out any underlying conditions and to assess if any hearing loss is present. Your doctor may also may want you to have an x-ray, a CT scan, or MRI of your head.

How is tinnitus treated?

To treat your tinnitus, your doctor will first try to identify any underlying, treatable condition that may be associated with your symptoms. If tinnitus is due to a health condition, your doctor may be able to take steps that could reduce or eliminate the noise. Examples include:

  • -Earwax removal. Removing impacted earwax can decrease tinnitus symptoms.
  • -Treating a blood vessel condition. Underlying vascular conditions may require medication, surgery or another treatment to address the problem.
  • -Changing your medication. If a medication you’re taking appears to be the cause of tinnitus, your doctor may recommend stopping or reducing the drug, or switching to a different medication.

In some cases white noise may help suppress the sound so that it’s less bothersome. Your doctor may suggest using an electronic device to suppress the noise. Devices include:

  • -White noise machines. These devices, which produce simulated environmental sounds such as falling rain or ocean waves, are often an effective treatment for tinnitus. You may want to try a white noise machine with pillow speakers to help you sleep. Fans, humidifiers, dehumidifiers and air conditioners in the bedroom also may help cover the internal noise at night.
  • -Hearing aids. These can be especially helpful if you have hearing problems as well as tinnitus.
  • -Tinnitus retraining. A wearable device delivers individually programmed tonal music to mask the specific frequencies of the tinnitus you experience. Over time, this technique may accustom you to the tinnitus, thereby helping you not to focus on it. Counseling is often a component of tinnitus retraining.

There’s little evidence that alternative medicine treatments work for tinnitus. However, some alternative therapies that have been tried for tinnitus include acupuncture, hypnosis, ginkgo biloba, zinc supplements, and B vitamins.

Bottom Line:

If your tinnitus gets worse with stress, make sure to do things that decrease the stress in your life and help you to relax. Try to get enough sleep. Cut down on the amount of alcohol and caffeine you drink, and stop smoking if you smoke. These things can make your tinnitus worse. Avoid listening to loud noises. If you cannot avoid loud noises, use silicone earplugs or earmuffs to protect your ears.

Helpful Resources:

Mayo Clinic: http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/tinnitus/home/ovc-20180349

American Tinnitus Association: https://www.ata.org

Check out our blag regarding Noise Induced Hearing Loss if you suspect you have hearing loss as well.

What is noise induced hearing loss and how to prevent it?

Over the next few weeks, here at Andros Audiology and Andros ENT & Sleep Center, we are focusing our conversation on noise induced hearing loss. Our patient often ask:

What is noise induced hearing loss?

Noise induced hearing loss is hearing loss that is permanent in nature. Long-term exposure to loud sounds over a prolonged period of time can cause noise induced hearing loss.  Sounds louder than 85 decibels can be damaging to your hearing.  The louder the sound, the less amount of time it takes before damage occurs. For more information regarding how loud is too loud, check out this article by the American Speech-Language and Hearing Association.

So, in the very noisy world we live and work in, what can we do about dangerously loud noises? The good news is that noise induced hearing loss is preventable.  Wearing hearing protection helps to decrease the intensity of noise and ultimately protect your hearing.

Types of hearing protection

There are two different types of hearing protection available.  Earplugs protect hearing by creating an airtight seal in the ear canal.  This type of protection can be purchased very inexpensively at drug stores or sporting goods stores. You can purchase them in bulk through amazon. Custom-fit earplugs can also be a good option. You will need to see an audiologist for custom hearing protection.

The second type of hearing protection is the over-the-ear style.  This style fits over the entire ear and must create a tight seal with adjustable headbands in order to provide sufficient protection.  This type of hearing protection can also be purchased fairly inexpensively at sporting goods stores or through amazon. Some earmuffs even allow normal sounds, like conversation, though but block out loud, dangerous sounds. These can be very useful and can be purchased at sporting good stores like Cabela’s. 

Take home!

The important part of both types of hearing protection is how much, when appropriately fit, the earplug or muff reduces noise.  The better the noise reduction, the more protected you are from harmful noises.

For more information, schedule a hearing evaluation at Andros Audiology at 651-888-7888.