Hearing Aids, Tests, and Audiologists
Over three million Australians now have some degree of hearing loss, and one in seven of us have been fitted with a hearing aid after a hearing test with an audiologist, or a hearing care specialist. If you’ve ever thought that you or a loved one may benefit from wearing a hearing aid, or have been considering booking a hearing test with a qualified audiologist, you may be wondering which hearing aid options are available, what happens during a hearing test, and how an audiologist can help.
Hearing loss isn’t just a matter of finding it difficult to hear conversations when you’re at a noisy restaurant - research has found that people with hearing loss are more likely to struggle with study or in the workplace, experience stress and frustration, and become socially isolated or withdrawn. It’s a serious concern - and one that our team of audiologists takes very seriously, and we are committed to working with you to identify the underlying concern with a comprehensive hearing test, and find a hearing aid to best suit your needs.
So what can you expect at a comprehensive hearing test at Kevin Paisley, how can our team of hearing care specialists support you to select the best hearing aid for you, and how can an audiologist support you to maintain your ear health? Let’s take a closer look.
1. Hearing Tests
Even if you have no ear diseases, noticeable hearing difficulties or concerning symptoms, we recommend booking comprehensive ear examinations with one of our friendly audiologists every year. For many people, changes to their hearing or symptoms of disease occur so slowly over time that it’s not immediately noticeable - and you don’t realise that you need audiology care or that your hearing isn’t as good as it could be or used to be.
There are also many ear diseases that have few or no early symptoms and can develop at any age. This is why we recommend having regular ear health checks with a team of experienced audiologists, who use their comprehensive knowledge paired with digital tools to help track subtle changes in your ears over time, and pick up on any concerns as soon as they arise, so you can start your treatment and management plan as soon as possible.
Here's a look into what you can expect from us:
- Consultation With A Hearing Care Professional: One of our trained hearing care professionals will start by taking a detailed medical and health history. They’ll discuss your concerns, the events that may have affected your hearing, and any other relevant information.
- Ear Examination: Next, they will use an illuminated instrument called an otoscope, to look inside your ears. We will search for any problems in the ear canal or with the eardrum itself that may be affecting your hearing. Common problems that can be found in the ear canal can include a build up of wax, damage to the eardrum, an infection or inflammation, and many more.
- Comprehensive Hearing Assessment: Next, we perform relevant hearing assessments based on what you need and what we have uncovered so far. These tests may include:
- Audiogram: An audiogram takes place in a quiet, sound-treated room or booth to ensure no outside noise interferes with your testing to ensure accurate results. You'll put on a pair of headphones and undergo a ‘pure tone’ test. This is where a small machine called an audiometer beeps at different volumes and frequencies, and you'll be asked to press a button or raise your hand when you can hear each sound. Wearing earphones lets us measure the hearing of one ear at a time.
- Bone Conduction Test: A bone conduction test is similar to a pure-tone test. You will wear a small device called an oscillator on your Mastoid bone, located behind your ear. The oscillator gently vibrates and sends sound directly into the cochlea in your inner ear. You will be asked once again to indicate each time you hear a beep, and your hearing care professional will record your results.
- Tympanogram: A tympanogram changes the pressure within your middle ear. A small probe with a soft rubber tip may be placed in your ear - the probe acts as a soft plug sealing your ear canal and creates pressure changes to observe how well your eardrum moves.
- Speech Test: A speech test is occasionally used to measure how well you hear and understand ordinary conversation. It's similar to a pure tone test, except you'll listen to recorded words spoken at different volumes and then be asked to repeat what you hear.
- Discussion Of Results And Treatment Options: Our hearing care professionals will chart the results of your assessments for each ear on an audiogram, to assess the degree of your hearing loss, and which part of your ear is affected. We will discuss your results with you and provide tailored treatment options to improve your hearing and overall ear health. If the results show that you could benefit from a hearing aid, we can discuss suitable technology and style options with you.
2. Hearing Aids:
Hearing aids and devices have changed drastically over the years to keep up with increased demand and technological advances, and now offer features such as rechargeability to avoid fiddling with pesky batteries, fall detection, connectivity to phone and television, and more They also come in a range of styles and sizes so they are more discreet than ever before.
How Do They Work?
A hearing aid is a small electronic device that makes it easier to hear and comprehend speech and sound by making some sounds louder so that a person with hearing loss can more easily communicate, and keep safe through hearing alerts such as phones, fire alarms and oncoming traffic, and participate more fully in daily activities.
All hearing aids consist of a microphone, amplifier, and speaker:
• The hearing aid picks up on sound vibrations through the microphone
• These sounds are converted into electrical signals and sent to an amplifier
• The amplifier increases the power of these signals and then sends them through the speaker to the ear
• The hair cells within the ear detect the louder vibrations of these sounds and convert them to neural signals which are sent to the brain
Types Of Hearing Aids
Hearing aids differ by where they are located in relation to the ear, their technology, and their additional features. The hearing aid that will work best for you depends on the type and severity of your hearing loss, as well as your preferences. Our team of qualified hearing care professionals are highly experienced in recommending a hearing aid that best suits your needs and lifestyle. The four main types of hearing aids include:
• Behind-The-Ear (BTE) Hearing Aids: These have a compartment that fits behind the ear which contains the electronics of the device, with a clear tube that loops over the ear and connects the case to a plastic mould that is fitted at the entrance to the ear canal. While these are one of the more traditional styles of hearing aid, they are now much smaller and sleeker than ever before.
• In-The-Canal (ITC) Hearing Aids: These consist of a lightweight plastic device that fits completely inside the outer ear canal, and they’re made to fit the shape and size of your ear. A completely-in-the-canal (CIC) hearing aid, is one of the smallest hearing aids available (with the smallest being an invisible, in the canal hearing aid - IIC), and sits deeply within the ear canal becoming practically invisible, and offers no feedback when using a telephone.
• In-The-Ear (ITE) Hearing Aids: These are slightly larger than ITC aids, so users often find them a bit easier to handle. All of the electrical components are held within a plastic shell that fits into the outer part of the ear canal. Some ITE hearing aids can have certain added features installed, such as a telecoil, which allows the wearer to hear sounds through induction loop systems rather than through its microphone, such as those found in churches, schools, and airports.
• Receiver-In-Canal (RIC) Hearing Aid: The RIC hearing aid is similar to the BTE hearing aid, however, it is smaller as the receiver is placed inside the ear canal instead of in the casing behind the ear. RIC hearing aids have a thin, clear wire that connects the speaker to the hearing aid casing, which is nearly invisible.
To learn more about the types and styles of hearing aids, and how they work, visit our blog article here.
If you are seeking a hearing test or hearing aid at Kevin Paisley, you will be assisted by one of our highly qualified audiologists. Audiologists are the frontline leaders of primary ear and hearing care. Audiologists assess, diagnose, treat and manage disorders and diseases of the ears, as well as communication impairments. Not only this, but audiologists also specialise in supporting those with vertigo or balance issues, as our perception of balance is largely influenced by the fluid within our ears.
Our audiologists work with patients to protect and improve their hearing as well as their overall quality of life, enhancing their ability to talk to the ones they love and participate safely in the activities they enjoy.
How Does An Audiologist Help You?
An audiologist’s job consists of a range of tasks to support your overall ear health, which includes:
• Providing hearing tests and comprehensive ear exams using a range of techniques and technologies.
• Interpreting test results to identify the root causes of hearing, ear or balance concerns, which may include:
- Exposure to excessive noiseAn ear infectionGlue ear (a condition that develops when the fluid inside the ear becomes thick, like glue)A perforated eardrum
- Trapped ear wax
Or in rare cases:
• An acoustic neuroma (a non-cancerous tumour on the auditory nerve that connects the brain to the ear)
- Osteosclerosis (a condition that affects the bone structure behind the eardrum)
- Certain medications such as chemotherapy or antibiotics can even trigger tinnitus
• Improving hearing and tinnitus by recommending, prescribing and fitting a range of different hearing aids, ear plugs, and other assistive devices
• Carrying out follow-up consultations, to check on how each patient is finding their new hearing aid and adjusting the volume of the background noise if necessary to improve the perception of speech
• Detecting and monitoring how other health conditions may be contributing to certain ear conditions, for example, neural disorders such as Meniere’s disease
• Diagnosing, treating and managing a number of ear concerns, including hearing loss, dizziness, vertigo and tinnitus
• Provide hearing loss prevention advice to at-risk people including musicians, builders, pilots, childcare workers, and members of the armed forces
More than this, your audiologists are your supporters throughout any changes that occur, and help ensure that you’re getting the best care at every step of your ear health journey - including the right referrals if an ear exam detects something unexpected.
Don’t delay treatment, book an appointment at Kevin Paisley today. To organise your comprehensive ear exam, with one of our experienced audiologists, or to book a consultation regarding hearing aids, contact one of your local clinics here.