Ear Works Blog

There has been a huge push recently to provide cheaper hearing aids to the public. Most of these options are mail away programs and a one-size-fits-all approach. The problem with this is, there are multiple factors involved in choosing the proper hearing devices for an individuals hearing loss. The over the counter (OTC) approach will not work because it cannot assess these factors.

Some factors involved include the severity of the hearing loss, how long the hearing loss has gone untreated, and a person’s ability to process language. All of these factors require an audiologist to conduct a formal evaluation, proper counseling and recommendations.

Most people do not realize that not wearing hearing aids to treat hearing loss or wearing inappropriately fit devices has long term effects including balance, decreased working memory and the ability to clearly understand conversation. It is the role of the audiologist as a hearing health care professional to appropriately fit hearing devices and provide routine follow-up care. They will begin by inspecting the ear canal to see if there is any sort of blockage in the ear such as wax and assess the function of the middle ear that could be contributing to hearing loss and may need medical intervention. Then they evaluate the severity and type of hearing loss as well as the brain’s ability to understand speech. If there is need for a medical evaluation they will make the appropriate recommendation. The OTC and mail order system for hearing devices may put those are risk who are in need of medical intervention without being treated.

Most of the programs are not cheap in nature, and they are not capable of providing the proper amplification needed for certain types of hearing loss. Audiologists are not typically able to make adjustments in programming to these OTC and mail away devices. If they are, there are fees associated with the service.

It’s important to remember with hearing devices that louder does not mean it will become clearer. It can actually create the opposite, when sounds are too loud they can become distorted and the brain does not know how to process it. OTC hearing devices with this such scenario need to be sent back to the manufacturer for an adjustment, leaving you without the devices for at least 2 weeks, without any immediate certainty that the change has helped. When seeing an audiologist, any changes that are needed are done in the office with you as the patient present.

OTC and improperly fit mail-away-program devices can lead to patient frustration and giving up based on the belief that a hearing device cannot help. The longer a hearing loss goes untreated, the greater the long term effects. It can lead to the decreased ability for the brain to process speech, increased risk of depression, social isolation, balance difficulties, and new studies have found a strong correlation between untreated hearing loss and the onset of dementia.

Helping yourself or a loved one to hear better is a team effort. Many times when hearing devices are purchased through an audiologist, follow up appointments are included. Patients see their audiologists on average three to nine times per year, dependent upon the patient’s ability with memory and vision, in which case the audiologist is there to help with additional support. The need to send the hearing aid out in the mail can be avoided.

Take the time to educate yourself or come along with a loved one who is experiencing hearing loss to discover all the options. Call any of our 10 office locations across Long Island to schedule a free hearing consultation & start the journey to hearing better together!
Only about 30% of those with hearing loss actually get the help they need. Hearing aids are a common and effective treatment for hearing loss. Many times the reasoning behind not treating their hearing loss is due to fear and lack of correct information. Below we are going to address some of the common misconceptions about hearing aids.

They are big, bulky & ugly.

Hearing aids today come in a variety of sizes and styles. They are much smaller than the traditional hearing aids you think of from years ago and some are even invisible in the ear! Hearing aid manufacturers offer different sizes and styles to ensure that there is a suitable device for everyone who needs help.

I don’t need two, only one.

In most cases, hearing loss is a gradual progression and by the time you realize you are having difficulties, it’s more significant than you expect. It can be age related or due to continuous noise exposure over many years, hearing loss is typically in both ears, not just one. In order for your brain to hear and process to its optimal level, you need auditory input from both ears.

Hearing aids are only for old people.

Hearing loss occurs in people of all ages, there are even children who wear hearing aids on both ears. It is becoming increasingly more common for younger individuals to be diagnosed with hearing loss especially due to noise exposure from technology such as earbuds and loud music. With this development, hearing aids have been re-designed to be sleek, discreet and able to integrate with other technology like cell phones for enhanced capabilities.

I can buy them online for cheaper.

As consumers, we all seek out the better deal and cheaper option by heading to the internet. There are some things however that should not be purchased online, especially when it comes to your healthcare needs. Every individual has their own unique hearing loss that should be evaluated by a medical professional. An audiologist is able to provide you with a solution that is best for you and that is tailored to your unique hearing loss and needs. The time and effort of properly fit hearing aids by an audiologist are worth far more than the immediate cheap option you can find online.

My friend said the hearing aids didn’t work, so they won’t for me.

As mentioned above, everyone has a different hearing loss. Even those who may have a similar hearing loss may have different solutions that work best for them because there are many variables involved. Your audiologist is able to make adjustments and changes on the outside and inside of the hearing aids to make them the best for you. The statement that “No two people are the same” applies to the ears and hearing as well.

Take care of your hearing! Contact any of our locations across Long Island to discover how Ear Works Audiology can help your hear better & live better!

Oticon OPN is the most advanced hearing aid that Oticon has ever made! Oticon OPN hearing aids utilize new hearing technology that processes sounds 50 times faster than traditional technology. OPN hearing aids allow you to hear better and decide what sounds you want to focus on with less effort. Studies have shown that OPN wearers had 30% better speech understanding, 20% reduction in listening effort and were able to remember 20% more of their conversations! This means that wearers can expect to experience an improvement in their ability to understand speech, even in complex listening environments!

Hearing is a cognitive process; meaning we really hear with our brain and not our ears. Hearing loss will limit the amount of acoustic detail that the brain receives. When the brain receives less information, it needs to work harder in order to process, decode and organize the sounds. Oticon OPN utilizes BrainHearing™ technology to help provide the brain with access to all sounds, even in complex listening environments. Oticon OPN is also a made for iPhone® hearing aid! OPN can be directly connected to the iPhone® without an intermediary device. The Bluetooth technology in OPN supports streaming music and phone calls, with the user's voice picked up by the phone's microphone. The Oticon ON App can also be used to adjust volume levels, switch between programs and monitor battery levels. The app even offers a "find my hearing aid" search feature! Please call any one of our 10 offices to schedule an appointment with one of our audiologists, or to ask any specific questions that you might have about OPN!

This season, Ear Works Audiology has been a proud participant of the 25th Annual WBAB Long Island Toy Drive with the John Theissen Children’s Foundation. All new and unwrapped toys that are donated are given out to sick and underprivileged children at over 225 hospitals, agencies & child-care facilities here on Long Island before the holidays. We are very proud to be a part of something so special and to help make the holiday season for children across Long Island that much more magical! We would like to thank all that have donated unwrapped toys and have given monetary donations! You truly show the meaning of the holiday season!

The Better Hearing Institute (BHI) is raising awareness of the link between unaddressed hearing loss and depression, and is urging adults of all ages to get their hearing tested to help protect their mental health. Studies show that people with hearing loss who use hearing aids often have fewer depressive symptoms, greater social engagement, and improved quality of life. Here’s why:

 Five Mental Health Reasons to Get Your Hearing Tested

1. Ignoring hearing loss affects quality of life. Research shows that when left unaddressed, hearing loss is frequently associated with other physical, mental, and emotional health issues that diminish one’s quality of life. Depression, withdrawal, isolation and a lessened ability to cope are just some of the conditions associated with unaddressed hearing loss.

2. Addressing hearing loss boosts mood. People with untreated hearing loss can feel angry, frustrated, anxious, isolated, and depressed. But research shows that with the use hearing aids, mental health often improves. Most feel more emotionally stable, become more socially engaged and feel a greater sense of safety and independence which leads to a general improvement in overall quality of life.

3. Using hearing aids can help strengthen self-confidence. Studies show that hearing aid users with mild to severe hearing loss felt better about themselves and about life overall as a result of using hearing aids. Improved hearing can lead to more self-confidence and control and cause individuals to be less self-critical.

4. Good communication enriches relationships and social support. Healthy relationships rest largely on good communication. Recent research reported improvements in individuals’ ability to communicate effectively in most situations because of their hearing aid use. Results indicate that using hearing aids can improve relationships at home, social activities and ability to join in groups.

5. Today’s hearing aids are better than ever and virtually invisible. Dramatic new technological advances have revolutionized hearing aids in recent years. Many are virtually invisible, self-adjusting, and wireless. Today’s hearing aids can help people of all ages maintain active, healthy lifestyles while reducing stress, depression and isolation often caused by untreated hearing loss.  It has been reported that eighty percent of hearing aid users report being satisfied with the changes that have occurred in their lives due to their use of hearing aids.

(Source: Better Hearing Institute)