Hearing AidsHear Better, Live Better
Is it Time for Hearing Aids?
Hearing loss is a sudden or gradual decrease in how well you can hear. It is one of the most common conditions affecting older and elderly adults. Hearing loss can affect people of all ages. Some children are born with hearing loss and some develop it early in life. You don’t have to be older to have hearing loss. Having trouble hearing can make it hard to understand and follow a doctor’s advice, to respond to warnings, and to hear doorbells and alarms. It can also make it hard to enjoy talking with friends and family. All of this can be frustrating, embarrassing, and even dangerous.
Do others complain the TV is too loud?
Do you notice any ringing or buzzing sounds in either ear?
Do you avoid going out because you'll struggle to hear?
Do you ask others to repeat themselves?
Do you have more trouble hearing women than men?
Do you have trouble hearing in a noisy room?
Buying Hearing Aids
Things You Should Know
It is often stressful to purchase new hearing aids. There is a wealth of information, sometimes conflicting and often confusing, found on the internet. How hearing aids are purchased is evolving too. This article is intended to help you answer some important questions and to help you understand some important details. Your local Audiologist is there to help ease the process and answer your questions.
- No matter where, or whom, you buy hearing aids from, you are guaranteed the right to return them within 30 days, for any reason.
- If you make your purchase in NH, you must receive a purchase contract which provides important information about your warranty for service (services which will not cost you money), your right to return or exchange the instruments, how much of your purchase price is to pay for the instruments themselves, any custom attachments and how much of your purchase price is to pay for the services you receive from the office.
- If the purchase price is not separated out as described above, you must receive all your money back, except 5% of the total.
- If the prices are separated out, a refund all of the instrument price should be returned to you.
- NH instituted a mandate for health insurance coverage to help you purchase hearing aids. This mandate only applies to people who are employed in positions within NH and are receiving insurance, which their employer buys for them. If you have Medicare, you do not qualify for this mandate. If you work out of state, you do not qualify. If your company “self insures” their employees, you many not qualify. The mandate says you have $1500, per ear, every 5 years, to buy hearing aids.
- Many insurance companies are now using a 3rd party provider, such as Amplifon. They are doing this because it is administratively easier to make all payments to one business, instead of paying a variety of them. Thus, they feel they are saving money. For instance, if you have Cigna Insurance, it is likely that you will use this service. To use the service, you must contact Cigna and get them to connect you with Amplifon. Amplifon must then send a purchase order to an office they contract with. This limits your choice of where you can get service/whom you work with. That office can then supply hearing aids to you, which are provided by Amplifon. You will have limited services covered through the local office and purchase payments are made to Amplifon. This means that any refunds must be recovered from Amplifon, not your local office.
- Insurance companies providing discounts or benefits toward the purchase of hearing aids will limit your choices of products and your choices of providers. They will apply your insurance deductible before you receive any benefit. Thus, you may end up paying more than you anticipate. Remember: Insurance companies make their income by collecting money, not paying it out. They may say things like, “you are 100% covered.” That does not mean they will pay 100% of your bill!
- Hearing aids may be purchased over the internet and sometimes the pricing may seem attractive. This was recommended recently by AARP. Do you know why? Because AARP is receiving a direct, financial benefit when you purchase from the site they recommend. There are important things to know before purchasing on line:
- Products offered are often NOT current products. Manufactures provide service or repairs for only 5 years after they discontinue a product.
- Differences between products are sometime subtle and sometimes significant. It takes tremendous effort for audiologists to keep track of these differences and know how best to apply them to the individual they see. Lack of understanding of product differences can have a major effect on your satisfaction with your hearing ability.
- Some hearing aids being sold are “locked”. This means that your local Audiologist can not modify or adjust how the hearing aid works. This will have a significant effect on your satisfaction. It will also require you to obtain new hearing aids soon, thus spending more money.
- Good or bad, corporations have realized there is money to be made by selling hearing care. They are making changes to any aspects of government they can, so as to improve their chances of making profit from you. They are not concerned with your circumstances, only their bottom line.
- Some written articles, websites or other organizations may lead you to believe that you can purchase and use hearing aids as you would “cheater” eyeglasses. While initially less expensive, this may result in purchasing products that don’t meet your needs or make you replace your hearing aids more frequently. Ultimately, this is not likely to save you money. To purchase hearing aids “off the shelf,” you will need to pay a local expert a fee for: your hearing evaluation; teaching you how to put on and use your devices; adjusting the instruments (if possible) and maintaining their function.
- Your local Audiologist will spent the time to obtain a thorough measurement of your hearing impairment and your communication needs to match a product appropriate to your specific lifestyle.
- Hearing instrument wearers quickly learn that regular maintenance and service will have a great influence on the quality of their communication.
- Hearing aids should be sophisticated electronic devices that are designed to be user friendly and effective. It is extremely helpful to have an expert help you learn how to use it to your greatest advantage.
- Having a professional recommend appropriate manufacturers and models will help you start with more satisfactory hearing aids, allow you to make changes as needed, modify the hearing aids as time passes and your hearing declines, and help you achieve the greatest longevity possible from your devices.
- The typical user often wears the same hearing aids for an average of 3 to 5 years.
- If you appreciate expert, professional care from a local member of your community, contact your Audiologist for your hearing care.
“I’m a HAPPY, very satisfied owner of dual Clear440s and an M-Dex controller fitted by Dr. Laura Robertson…Still amazed at how much sound quality was missing before. The AE component is spectacular for clearing up speech which is needed for complete understanding at work. ”
Find the Right Type for You
Our entire staff is assembled for one purpose: to serve our patients. Our goal is to provide you with the best possible hearing care we can, based on your individual needs.
Hearing Aids We Carry
GN RESOUND is owned by the Danish company Great Northern. They were originally an American company and we work with a branch in Minnesota. They use technology which claims to mimic the way the Cochlea (the inner ear) functions to help you hear. They have created a remote microphone or a TV device to help you hear better for noisy situations or for TV. They have up to 4 programs for different listening situations.
OTICON is owned by the Demant family and is one of the oldest hearing aid manufacturers. Their headquarters is in Denmark. We work with a branch in New Jersey. Oticon devotes a lot of resources to research and development and produces hearing aids based on their findings.
PHONAK is owned by Sonova and is based in Switzerland. We use a branch located outside of Chicago. Their hearing aids are manufactured in Asia. Phonak hearing aids do not require you to change programs for different listening situations, although you can have this option if you want it. Phonak hearing aids function similar to the way a Bluetooth device works, when using your mobile phone. They have created additional accessories you may purchase to give you an advantage when listening in crowds or groups. Most people find the sound quality of Phonak hearing aids seem “natural.”
SIGNIA was formerly known as Siemens. The hearing aid branch was separated from this large electronics company and now has different owners. Signia and Widex are now part of the same company. We work with a branch located in New Jersey. Signia has a wide variety of technology available.
STARKEY was created in America and is a company that works hard to create unique features. They are well known as hearing aids with less feedback (whistling). Their most current model of hearing aid has a feature to sent a message to a designated person if the wearer has a fall. They are located outside of Minneapolis, MN.
UNITRON is based in Ketchner, Ontario, Canada. We work with a branch located in Minnesota. Unitron is also owned by Sonova, like Phonak. The two companies have the same computer chip in their hearing aids but they design their hearing aids slightly differently.
WIDEX is based in Denmark and now shares resources with SIGNIA. We work with a branch based in New Jersey. Their products are based on newly developing technology and some models have “machine learning.” Their hearing aids have up to 4 programs.
Hearing Aid FAQ
If you have a question about your hearing, you’re not alone. Current estimates place the number of hearing impaired adults in the Unites States at just over 37 million.
Who is more likely to experience hearing loss, men or women?
Men are more likely to experience hearing loss than women.
Warning signals that your loved one may have hearing loss
- The TV gets louder and friends and family complain about the volume.
- They don’t hear the microwave when it beeps, or the timer on the stove.
- They don’t notice they’ve left their directional signal on because they don’t hear it.
- They don’t respond when spoken to.
- They lean in closer to people who are talking to them, often leading with one ear.
- They only seem to notice they are being spoken to if they are facing the person speaking.
- They give the wrong answers to questions.
- They frequently ask a question or introduce a topic that has just been discussed by others close by.
- They appear to have “selective hearing”.
- They smile and go along with what has been said but clearly aren’t following along.
- They stop attending social activities or events
- They have difficulty understanding young people, children, women, or others who are soft spoken.
- They are startled frequently, saying “I didn’t hear you come in”.
- They say “What?” a lot.
Anatomy of the Ear
The human ear has three sections: the Outer Ear, the Middle Ear, and the Inner Ear. These sections work together to send sound signals to the brain.
The Outer Ear consists of a large and visible flap of cartilage called the Auricle. The purpose of the Auricle is to collect sound and funnel it into the small opening at the bottom of the ear. This opening, called the Auditory Canal, directs sound down to the eardrum.
The Middle Ear begins at the eardrum. The sound hits the eardrum and causes it to vibrate. This vibration is transmitted to the bones in the Middle Ear known as the Malleus, Incus, and Stapes. The Malleus is directly attached to the eardrum on one side and to the Incus on the other. The Incus connects to the Stapes, which is responsible for sending the sound to the Inner Ear.
The Inner Ear contains “hair-like” fibers called cilia. These cilia are attached to a membrane which moves, like an ocean wave, in response to the vibration of the Stapes. As the membrane is moved, it activates the cilia for those frequencies which make up that particular sound. When the cilia are activated, an electrical signal is sent to the brain telling it which frequencies are being heard.
Exposure to loud noise will eventually cause the cilia within the Inner Ear to break off. Once broken, they cannot be repaired. When the cilia break off, the ear is no longer aware of the sounds that those cilia represent.
Effects of Hearing Loss
When you have a hearing loss, the effort of listening becomes much more stressful and causes some people to experience anxiety or even high blood pressure. Often, people with hearing loss withdraw from social activities and thus, experience a loss of social connections and reduced interaction with others. Folks may become isolated or even depressed as a result. Research studies show that increased hearing loss results in reduced earning potential. A January 16, 2012, New York Times article quoting sources from Johns Hopkins University Center on Aging and Health and the National Institute on Aging reported that with every ten decibel decrease in hearing, the risk of Alzheimer’s or dementia increases by twenty percent.
“Social Connectedness” is a term to describe the social interactions and relationships people maintain. This is considered the most important factor in our overall health. When social connections and interactions decline, ALL aspects of health decline. The most important sense for maintaining social connectedness, is good hearing. “Blindness separates people from things, deafness separates people from people.”-Helen Keller
Hearing is often our most neglected sense. Perhaps that is because it is the one we can’t control or choose when to use it or because you can’t look at someone and know how well they hear. Regardless of the reason, maintaining good hearing is vital to all aspects of our being.
Even mild hearing loss has an impact on communication, occupation and recreation. Everyone should have regular hearing evaluations to document their hearing levels and thus have a baseline by which to compare future evaluations to.
There are 3 types of hearing loss:
Sensorineural hearing loss is the type people have 80% of the time. This type of hearing loss can only be helped with hearing instruments. Some aspects of sensorineural hearing loss may indicate that further medical care is warranted.
Conductive hearing loss is often medically treatable by your physician. However, your physician doesn’t know if you have a treatable hearing loss until after you have an evaluation by an Audiologist. Only an Audiologist has the expertise to evaluate properly for this type of hearing loss.
Mixed hearing loss is a combination of both types. If your hearing evaluation demonstrates this type of hearing loss, then you will most likely need to get medical treatment first (to resolve the conductive component) and then return to your audiologist for care for the sensorineural component.
The importance of having a qualified Audiologist conducting the evaluation is in identifying when a condition requiring medical follow up is present and making sure that treatment is obtained BEFORE hearing instruments are purchased.
How does exposure to loud noise impact your hearing?
FOllow Up & Care
Caring for Your New Hearing Aid
Proper maintenance and care will extend the life of your hearing aid. Make it a habit to:
- Keep hearing aids away from heat and moisture.
- Clean hearing aids as instructed. Earwax and ear drainage can damage a hearing aid.
- Avoid using hairspray or other hair care products while wearing hearing aids.
- Turn off hearing aids when they are not in use.
- Replace dead batteries immediately.
- Keep replacement batteries and small aids away from children and pets.
211 South Main Street
Laconia, NH 03246
Toll Free: 800-682-2338
Monday, Tuesday & Thursday 9-5
Wednesday & Friday 9-2
Late hours on Thursday by prior arrangement only