Pearls of Wisdom

Posts for tag: Audiology

By Paige Peterson AuD, PhD
March 19, 2015
Category: Hearing Loss

New Hearing Aids: The Top 10 Things To Expect After Leaving the Office

 

​        Every day I am blessed with the ability to help the people of Austin and the surrounding areas rejoin their families and lives by helping them hear again. This may sound routine and mundane, but it is not. It is estimated that a person will make the decision to seek help for a significant hearing loss 7 years after it is first noted or is diagnosed as an aidable condition. After years of living and coping with hearing loss, your brain may freak out over some "normal, every day" sounds." 

Here are the Top 10 things you need to be aware of after you leave my office with new hearing aids:

  1. Your Clothes rustle when you move, kinda like a grocery bag
  2. Your voice is going to sound different, louder kinda "boomy"
  3. Birds chirp, probably a lot more than you remember
  4. Your stomach growls... a lot
  5. There will be a sound if you scratch your head or touch your hair 
  6. The refrigerator and icemaker may sound like someone breaking into your home. And for that matter the air conditioner might sound the same.
  7. Footsteps make a noise, if you have hardwood be prepared
  8. Chewing food, notably cereal and ice, is loud. Breaking teeth loud.
  9. Running water in the sink will seem LOUD
  10. Flushing a toilet sounds like your roof is being torn off!!

​There are others of course, everything from the kitchen timer sounds different to the sound a car makes when you lock it not being what you are used to. The key thing to remember is:

Everything mentioned above is temporary, I can not stress that enough.

You have spent years acumulating your hearing loss, it will take a few weeks for your brain to accept that there is a new signal and that you aren't in danger from being eaten by a bear. Be kind to yourself, know that you will need to identify some sounds in your environment and that this is a learning process for you and your brain.

For more blog posts on hearing loss: 

Navigating the Hearing Aid Maze: Shopping for a Provider First, Hearing Aid Second

Hearing Aids do NOT Come With Walkers!!

The Connection Between Hearing Loss and Diabetes

 

Austin Audiologist Appointment | Great Hills ENT

Paige Peterson AuD, PhD, CCC-A, FAAA, ABA

 

 

Dr. Paige Peterson is an Audiologist at Great Hills ENT in Austin, TX and specializes in hearing related disorders including tinnitus and hearing loss, neurophysiological disorders as well as dizziness/balance disorders.  Dr. Peterson is Board Certified in Audiology and is currently accepting new adult and pediatric audiology patients. Great Hills ENT serves the greater Austin area including the Arboretum, Georgetown, Cedar Park, Lago Vista, Jonestown, Steiner Ranch, Lakeway, Spicewood and Point Venture. We are proud to provide excellent care to our patients for general Ear, Nose and Throat (ENT) services, hearing loss, hearing aids, dizziness/vertigo and sleep disorders.

By Mark T. Brown, MD, FACS
May 14, 2014
Category: Hearing Loss
 

 

    There is such a pervasive and unnecessary stigma surrounding hearing aids. Hearing loss affects all ages, not just the elderly. If you can’t hear well you can be socially isolated. Work and productivity suffer if you miss instructions from your boss on your new assignment.  Your friends and family can be frustrated that you require special assistance with normal conversation.

    Hearing aids are small, hard to see, and improve your life. They are not issued with Dentucreme©, Arthritis strength aspirin, or a walker. They can make a huge difference if you need them. Don’t let old prejudices keep you from making the most of yourself both personally and professionally. 

 

Mark T. Brown, MD, FACS

 

Dr. Mark Brown is an Otolaryngologist (Ear, Nose and Throat) specialist at Great Hills ENT in Austin, TX. Dr. Brown is Board Certified in both Otolaryngology, Head and Neck Surgery as well as Sleep Medicine. Dr.Paige Peterson, audiologist, and the Audiology Department offer hearing aids and tinnitus solutions that are appropriate for your individual needs. Great Hills ENT serves the greater Austin area including Georgetown, Cedar Park, Lago Vista, Jonestown, Steiner Ranch, Lakeway, Spicewood and Point Venture. We are proud to provide excellent care to our patients for general Ear, Nose and Throat (ENT) services, hearing loss, dizziness/vertigo and sleep disorders.

By Paige Peterson, AuD, PhD, CCC-A, FAAA, ABA
February 04, 2014
Category: Hearing Loss

 

    Let’s face it, once you hit a certain age your mail box becomes littered with the inevitable hearing aid advertisements.

  • “Save BIG on High Quality, DIGITAL Hearing Aids, this week only!!”
  • Free Hearing Test, Otoscopy, and Two-week Trial Period!  Come in TODAY 
  • “Skip the Office - Cheap Online Hearing Aids.”

Do these sound familiar? My guess is yes.  My typical patient comes into my office telling me that they hear just fine, it is the mumbling of family members, poor room acoustics, the quality of telecommunication signals or their spouse being in a different room that is giving them issues. Now, I will readily admit that some of these do play a part in communication difficulties; the reality is that these are all tell-tale signs of hearing loss.

    Historically, one could only purchase a hearing aid through a local hearing aid dealer, a big-box department store hearing aid franchise or an audiologist. Now, hearing aids are being re-labeled as “personal sound amplifiers” as well as other things to get around the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) regulations requiring hearing aids to be prescribed and dispensed by trained professionals. With online vendors, insurance companies, mail-order vendors, Cabela’s and Wal-Mart entering into the picture things are getting more and more confusing. So, where in the world do you start?

How to Compare in Your Search for Hearing Aids?

    In today’s age, I don’t know a single person who doesn’t shop around for everything from an alarm clock to television to even your doctor. Websites like CNET, Yelp, Angie’s List,  Amazon and Cars Direct make the world seem somewhat transparent when it comes to buying goods.  My friend wears Brand X hearing aids, they get good reviews on Consumer Report, so that is what is best for me, right? NO! Hearing aids cannot be purchased solely on technology reviews, friend recommendations or cosmetic reasons because:

1)      Nothing is Free and Trial Periods set you up to Fail.

The advertisements that say you get a free hearing test or otoscopy? Yeah, well most of the time the people you think are testing   your hearing are only screening you because they are not allowed by law to give you a full diagnostic hearing test to determine the origin of your hearing loss. This is a big deal. Maybe your hearing loss is from a growth in your middle ear, a tumor or just plain old hearing loss. Wouldn’t you like to know? Also it is good practice to look into an ear before you put something into it. Otoscopy is standard practice and not a billable code, so it is always “free” in the sense of the word.  Research shows that it takes a minimum of 30 days for your brain to accept a new signal. A “Trial Period” of two weeks sets you up for failure. Your brain is still in  “Fight or Flight” mode.

2)      Everyone’s hearing loss is unique to them.

The damage pattern on your inner ear (sensory cells) and perhaps a combination of neural and amplifier complications make your loss quite different than your friends/family. Not every hearing aid works the same. They all process sound differently; you need to find the technology that YOUR brain likes the best.

3)      Not every style is made for EVERY hearing loss.

Plain and simple. If you have great low frequency hearing WHY would you put something down in your ear canal that plugs your head up? Physics is simply not your friend here, and I don’t care who says they can get rid of the “head in the barrel feeling” completely, they are lying. If you are wearing an aid that doesn’t belong with your type of hearing loss, you probably will end up hating it.

4)      There are six (6) main hearing aid manufacturers in the world.

That’s it, six. They own just about every other hearing aid manufacturer on the planet. And they make money by rolling their now “old” technology down the hill. They rebrand for wholesalers like Costco and Sam’s for a smaller price tag, but it is not the same   aid as the parent company. Don’t fall for that. If you are going to compare apples to apples, compare the new technology from the main six manufacturers. You cannot and should not compare old to new technology. Yes the older stuff is cheaper, but you will be buying a new one sooner than you’d like.

5)      Not everybody needs the Mercedes-Benz of hearing aids.

Your lifestyle and communication needs may not warrant it. If you want the premier hearing aid, that is one thing. But realistically most people don’t need that to see maximum benefit. This is where it is important to talk to a qualified professional about hearing aids and not a sales man. You wouldn’t show up to Wal-Mart for knee surgery would you? No, you’d go to an orthopedic surgeon. Believe it or not hearing aids are the same way, go to someone who has the education and credentials to help you.

6)      Hearing aids do NOT work like glasses.

You have probably had hearing loss for a while now. Typically it is gradual, and we only seek help when it starts to impact our quality of life. Chemically nerves work quite similarly to a muscle.You wouldn’t expect to run the Boston Marathon overnight if  you’d been sitting on the couch for ten years would you? No, so why do you expect that of your brain when you put hearing aids on? You are going to need adjustments and an acclimatization period for your brain to accept the new signal.

7)      All hearing aids are digital.

They have been since about 1996. Don’t go somewhere because they offer the promise of digital technology. In today’s market, it is just a buzz word to get you in the door.

8)      I just paid $10,000.00 for hearing aids.

No you didn’t. This is a common thought and nothing could be farther from the truth. No hearing aid costs that much. At most, the providers cost for hearing aids averages $2000. So for a set maybe $4000 in actual hearing aid costs. The remainder is the services. Now these are important for the first 45 days or so. You need the fitting, adjustments and additional testing to show for a fact that you are getting benefit from the aids. But they then tell you that you get services for two years? One year? You are essentially paying up front for services that you will never use. So ask about these. Or worse yet, you are buying them online or for what you think is a great price, but you don’t get real in-person, competent adjustments. There is a big difference between where my computer thinks your hearing aid should be programmed and what actually gives you benefit.

 

So what do I look for? 

    Simple, providers with the highest expertise and credentials.  I hope that by now you are starting to see that when it comes to treating your hearing loss, it is not just the technology of the device that is going to help you. It is the knowledge and the skillset of the person who is fitting the hearing aid that is the most important. Believe it or not, there is a LOT of physics, knowing why you change the settings you do, understanding of the anatomy and physiology of the ear as well as the brain and how the device is going to interact with that that leads to your success. In recent news the New York Times, Hearing Loss Association of America and the Food and Drug Administration have  released articles and announcements that have been targeted to the hearing loss population. They all agree, you can buy the most advanced technology on the market at the lowest price, but if the person behind the computer doesn’t know what they are doing it won’t do you any good.

 

Paige Peterson, AuD, PhD, CCC-A, FAAA, ABA

 

Dr. Paige Peterson is an Audiologist at Great Hills ENT in Austin, TX and specializes in hearing related disorders including tinnitus and hearing loss, neurophysiological disorders as well as dizziness/balance disorders.  Dr. Peterson is Board Certified in Audiology and is currently accepting new adult and pediatric audiology patients. Great Hills ENT serves the greater Austin area including the Arboretum, Georgetown, Cedar Park, Lago Vista, Jonestown, Steiner Ranch, Lakeway, Spicewood and Point Venture. We are proud to provide excellent care to our patients for general Ear, Nose and Throat (ENT) services, hearing loss, hearing aids, dizziness/vertigo and sleep disorders.

After walking into our clinic this morning and hearing the sounds coming from one of our staff member's cars I felt compelled to write this blog. It occured to me that everyone could benefit from knowing how to protect their hearing, including the staff of Great Hills Ear, Nose & Throat!

It seems that many people do not think about protecting their hearing. We are exposed damaging noise every day. Concerts, car stereos, iPods set above 50% volume, and in Texas guns provide plenty of potentially damaging sound. Ladies, even your hair dryer is too loud! It is interesting trivia that hair dyers and vacuum cleaners are the leading causes of noise-induced hearing loss in women.

At Great Hills ENT we see many of you when it is too late. The damage has already been done, resulting in tinnitus and/or permanent hearing loss. Wear your hearing protection properly so that you preserve your connections to your world.

 

 

If you work around power tools like jack hammers or jet engines you need to double your protection. Ear plugs and muffs are required if your noise exposure is at or above 105dB.

Regardless of which protection you choose, it is of little value if not worn properly.  If you wear glasses or sport a Duck Dynasty beard you may not get a great seal with ear muffs.  Plugs may be a better choice for protection from routine sound exposures.

Foam ear plugs must be inserted correctly for them to work properly, they should be squeezed and rolled into a very thin cylinder, as small as possible.  Pull up and back on your ear, like your mom used to do to you when you were in trouble, with the opposite hand.  This opens your ear canal. Then slide the ear plug into your ear canal and hold it there for about 15-20 seconds allowing the plug to expand into your ear. See below for a visual.

 

If the foam plugs are not an option due to a latex allergy, or if you prefer a more custom solution the Audiology Department is able to make custom hearing protection for you.  This requires that a mold me made of your ear and made to fit your ear.  If this is something you might be interested in schedule an appointment with Dr. Peterson.

The take home message is this: Protect your hearing.  Once it’s gone it doesn’t come back. We can not repair or regenerate the cells in your ear. So you have one of two options: 1) avoid damaging noise 2) use protection in noisy situations .

Prevention is so simple and cheap. An ear plug or muff used now is much smarter than paying for an expensive hearing aid or tinnitus solution later. If you ask me, I’ll take the cheap ear plug. 

 

 

The Audiology Department at Great Hills ENT in Austin, TX specializes in hearing related disorders including tinnitus and hearing loss, neurophysiological disorders as well as dizziness/balance disorders. Great Hills ENT serves the greater Austin area including Georgetown, Cedar Park, Lago Vista, Jonestown, Steiner Ranch, Lakeway, Spicewood and Point Venture. We are proud to provide excellent care to our patients for general Ear, Nose and Throat (ENT) services, hearing loss, hearing aids, dizziness/vertigo and sleep disorders.

By Paige Peterson, AuD, PhD, CCC-A, FAAA, ABA
December 05, 2013
Category: Tinnitus

Tinnitus (Ringing In Your Ears) Austin, TX

 

Ringing, crickets, mosquitos, whooshing, roaring, hissing, an out-of-tune flute section. All of these things can be used when describing the serenade that is happening in your head, and no you're not crazy.

A day does not go by where I am not asked about tinnitus, or ringing in the ears. To a certain extent everyone has tinnitus at some point. It is quite natural for you to hear a high pitched ring or buzz periodically, lasting just a couple seconds. It is when the time between these events gets shorter and shorter and the duration of the ringing becomes longer and longer that tinnitus becomes an issue.

This personal symphony that you have acquired has many origins. These include but are not limited to: noise exposure, change in blood pressure and blood flow, change in oxygen levels to the brain/ear, pharmaceutical drugs, high frequency hearing loss, sustained high temperatures, head trauma and can accompany different vestibular syndromes/diseases.

Will it go away? Maybe, maybe not. For example, if you have been at Austin City Limits (ACL) and you find that your ears are ringing the day after, it might go away. More importantly why were you there without earplugs? Back to tinnitus, at this point that ringing is your body’s way of telling you to knock it off, you have done damage to the sensory cells of the cochlea and the nerve fibers of your auditory nerve. Initially this can subside, but it can be permanent.

So you have tinnitus, now what? Well, if you’re like me and it drives you crazy and is an all day, every day kind of thing there are treatment options. It doesn’t matter if you have hearing loss or not, there may be something to help. Before you go down this path realize that the damage on that nerve is unique to you, and the level of relief is not something we will know until we try. These options run the gamut from oscillating fans to tinnitus retraining therapy (TRT), ear level masking devices, and hearing aids. What is suitable for you depend on the intensity and your individual needs. Personally, I wear hearing aids to get rid of my tinnitus. And for the record, no I do not have hearing loss and no you can't see them.

But wait a second; I saw this vitamin in CVS that will get rid of it…

Will it work? Maybe, probably not.  The ear is the smallest and most complicated organ in our body. The exact origins of the tinnitus and affected area are unknown. The FDA really doesn’t like us cutting into your head and removing your cochlea. So, that option is out. There hasn’t been a reproducible study that shows any long-term benefit from the supplements. So, as always buyer beware.

For more information:

 

Paige Peterson, AuD, PhD, CCC-A, FAAA, ABA

Dr. Paige Peterson is an Audiologist at Great Hills ENT in Austin, TX and specializes in hearing related disorders including tinnitus and hearing loss, neurophysiological disorders as well as dizziness/balance disorders.  Dr. Peterson is Board Certified in Audiology and is currently accepting new adult and pediatric audiology patients. Great Hills ENT serves the greater Austin area including Georgetown, Cedar Park, Lago Vista, Jonestown, Steiner Ranch, Lakeway, Spicewood and Point Venture. We are proud to provide excellent care to our patients for general Ear, Nose and Throat (ENT) services, hearing loss, hearing aids, dizziness/vertigo and sleep disorders.