Hearing Loss Treatment for Adults
Hearing Aids/ALDs/Access Devices
Hearing loss treatment doesn’t always mean hearing aids (see our hearing aids page for more information on those). There are many ways we can help you hear better in different situations.
ALDs help you hear better in specific situations by either amplifying sounds or transmitting sounds directly to your hearing aids. For example, some ALDs wirelessly send your TV’s audio signal to headphones that can help you hear the TV better. Some specialized speakers can even focus sound into a beam to help you hear better. Other ALDs wirelessly send a person’s voice across a room to your hearing aids. By decreasing the distance between you and the speaker, the intelligibility of the speech signal is enhanced.
Personal TV Amplifiers
These headphones can be worn to amplify the sound from the TV or radio. The sound is sent wirelessly to the headphones via a transmitter, so someone else can listen through the standard speakers as well.
The telephone is amplified either by a built-in amplifier or by one that attaches to your telephone. Many amplified telephones have lights that flash when the phone rings, larger buttons for the visually-impaired, and other customizable features.
Some telephones can connect to the internet and provide live captioning of your telephone conversation. These can come with lights, touch screens, and other customizable features like amplified phones.
A microphone, wired to an amplified headset, can be carried in your pocket, placed on a table, or pointed toward a speaker to help you understand.
These microphones can be held or worn by someone else. As they speak into the remote microphone, the sound is transmitted wireless to a headset or to your hearing aids.
These systems are typically used in group or classroom settings. The presenter wears a microphone and transmitter. The transmitter sends the signal out to anyone nearby with a receiver. The receiver is typically a small device that attaches to the bottom of your hearing aid.
These systems transmit sound over an electromagnetic signal that can be picked up by any device with a T-coil. Many hearing aids have T-coils built into them, allowing you to listen to audio over a loop system.
We can find an ALD or other device to suit almost any need – there are doorbells that make your lights flash, alarm clocks that vibrate your pillow, and more. Please ask us if you would like any additional information.
What is aural rehabilitation and who may benefit from it? Aural rehabilitation is a program that helps you better use the sound that you hear. This is an important component when treating hearing loss, especially for those that have gone untreated for a long time. After having hearing loss for a while, the brain forgets how to correctly use the sounds that were lost. When those sounds are restored through amplification, you may have difficulty adjusting because the brain doesn’t know what to do with those sounds anymore. There are a variety of aural rehabilitation techniques, including computer programs (LACE, Fast ForWord), games, group sessions, and more. We select from these various techniques and adjust them for each patient, to create an individualized aural rehabilitation program that suits each patient’s needs.
What is tinnitus and who is affected by it? Tinnitus is a sound that you hear that no one else can hear. It is one of the leading complaints related to the ears and the #1 complaint of returning veterans. The type of sound can vary from person to person – some hear ringing, others hearing buzzing, or wind noise, or static. In most cases (97% or more), the tinnitus is subjective, meaning it cannot be measured by putting a microphone in the ear. Scientific studies have shown that subjective tinnitus is generated in the brain and not in the ear. It typically occurs with a hearing loss, as the brain is trying to adjust for the decreased ability to perceive sound. Because it cannot hear the sounds that it used to, the brain seeks out the missing sounds. Unable to identify the source of the sound, many people react to it on an emotional level with symptoms including heightened anxiety, depression, and even thoughts of suicide. But there are options for treatment that have been shown to be very effective when properly administered.
What does a tinnitus exam involve? A tinnitus exam is similar to a standard audiometric exam. In addition to the tests described in the hearing test section, you will be asked to complete a survey about your tinnitus and respond to sounds to try and match the pitch and loudness of your tinnitus. We will avoid loud sounds in this exam, as those sounds may exacerbate your tinnitus. The goal of the evaluation is to determine what your tinnitus sounds like, how it is impacting you, and the best treatment to address the problem.
How long does a tinnitus evaluation take? Because the tinnitus evaluation requires more tests and counseling than the typical hearing test, we schedule 2 hours for each tinnitus evaluation. Though we may finish the exam in less time, please plan on spending the full 2 hours.
What treatments are available for tinnitus? We work with several types of tinnitus treatment: (1) sound replacement therapy; (2) tinnitus masking; and (3) Neuromonics therapy. The therapy that we use will depend upon the severity of your tinnitus, whether it is accompanied by hearing loss, your responses to the questionnaire, and your personal preferences. Sound replacement therapy aims to reduce your perception of the tinnitus by amplifying the sounds that you are missing. This is usually accomplished by some combination of hearing aids and counseling. Sound replacement therapy is best for people who have hearing loss and who notice their tinnitus but are only mildly bothered by it. Tinnitus masking aims to reduce your perception of the tinnitus by providing soothing background noises. You may already find that your tinnitus is less noticeable in the presence of background noise. Tinnitus masking utilizes that same principle to provide relief when you need it most. Since tinnitus is usually accompanied by hearing loss, we offer several hearing aids with tinnitus maskers built in. Neuromonics is a manufacturer of a breakthrough tinnitus therapy that aims to reduce your perception of tinnitus by breaking the emotional connection to it and acclimating you to the sound. The user carries a small device that looks like an mp3 player, which contains music that is specifically programmed to help with your tinnitus. It works in stages, first by training your brain to stop the stress response to the tinnitus, then by training your brain to ignore the tinnitus. During your regular follow up appointments, we monitor your progress by how often you use the device and how your responses to the questionnaire change over time. If you would like to learn more about Neuromonics, please visit their website at www.neuromonics.com, call and schedule an appointment, or stop by for a brochure.