We care for patients of all ages with all types of hearing problems.
Our audiologists conduct hearing evaluations to help patients and families solve communication problems created by hearing difficulties. We work with educators, physicians, other providers and families.
Your audiologist may fit hearing aids or other devices, provide counseling and assist in rehabilitation and follow up care. He or she may recommend and fit customized hearing protection.
Our audiologists work closely with ear, nose, and throat (ENT) physicians, family practice and pediatric physicians in evaluating and managing hearing loss.
Signs of hearing loss
Hearing loss may occur gradually over time. People with hearing loss may not fully recognize the change in their hearing or realize what they are missing. Symptoms of hearing loss include:
- Misunderstanding others
- Asking others to repeat what they are saying
- Turning up the volume on the television or radio
- Noticing others sound like they mumble when they talk
- Difficulty hearing in group situations or background noise
- Ringing or other noises in the ears
In children, hearing loss symptoms may include:
- Delays in speech and language milestones
- Inattentiveness or the appearance of inattentive behavior
- Inability to hear the television or radio without turning up the volume or standing close to the television or radio speakers
Types of hearing loss
Hearing loss may be one of three types: conductive, sensorineural or mixed.
Conductive hearing loss is typically caused by a blockage of sound to the inner ear. Causes include earwax build up, ear infections, middle ear fluid, growths, and diseases such as otosclerosis. You may be referred for medical evaluation to an Ear, Nose and Throat physician to determine the underlying cause and medical treatment, if necessary.
Sensorineural hearing loss, often referred to as “nerve loss”, is the most common type of hearing loss. This can be caused by noise exposure, aging, certain medications, trauma, family history (genetics) and growths on the hearing nerve. Most sensorineural hearing losses can be treated with hearing aids or assistive devices. In cases of more severe sensorineural hearing loss, evaluation for a cochlear implant may be required.
How is your hearing tested?
Hearing exams are usually conducted in a sound booth and can take between 15 minutes to one hour to complete. Typically, you are asked to raise a hand or push a button when sound is heard. The exam evaluates the softest sounds that can be heard. You also are asked to repeat lists of words to evaluate your speech understanding capabilities.
Other tests measure the functions of the ear and usually do not require a voluntary response. These can include tympanograms, acoustic reflex tests, otoacoustic emissions (OAE) and auditory brainstem response testing. These tests are particularly helpful when evaluating infants and small children who are unable to perform standard tests. Your physician and audiologist will determine the most appropriate tests required.
Permanent hearing loss in the majority of cases is treatable with hearing aids. In cases of severe or profound hearing loss, a cochlear implant may be considered.
More options are available than ever before in hearing aid technology. Our job is to match an appropriate technology and hearing aid style with your hearing loss, lifestyle and listening needs. A majority of today’s hearing aid technology is digital and programmed with a computer in the office. Some hearing aids are fully automatic with no controls. Other hearing aids may have volume controls, program buttons or remote controls. Other hearing aid options include directional microphones, automatic telecoils and FM system compatibility, to name a few.
Hearing aids make sounds louder. However, in cases of severe or profound hearing losses, simply amplifying sound with hearing aids may not be enough. A cochlear implant includes an array of electrodes surgically implanted in a portion of the inner ear.
Rather than stimulating the ear with sound as with traditional hearing aids, the electrode array of a cochlear implant stimulates the auditory nerve fibers of the inner ear directly. If you have severe or profound hearing loss and have received limited benefits from hearing aids, a cochlear implant may be another option. Before proceeding, your audiologist would first conduct a cochlear implant assessment.