Whether it comes in the musical notes of a symphony reaching a joyous crescendo or the simple words of a grandchild saying I love you, good hearing brings pleasure and satisfaction. We rely on our hearing to find meaning in life, to communicate and even to keep us safe.
Audiologists at Queen of the Valley Medical Associates can help you achieve your best hearing. Our trained audiologists offer diagnostic testing and treatments for people of all ages with hearing loss.
We know that hearing loss can be a sensitive subject. Too often, people avoid or delay seeking help. We take the stigma out of hearing problems and help you find the treatment that will enable you to enjoy life more.
Conductive hearing loss occurs when sound has a difficult time reaching your inner ear. This may be due to a variety of causes, including:
- Calcification that closes the space where your middle and inner ear meet
- Fluid or mucus in your middle ear
- Scarring or destruction of your ossicles — three tiny bones in your middle hear that transmit sounds to your inner ear
- Scarring or perforation of your eardrum
Sensorineural hearing loss, or nerve loss, occurs when there’s damage to your inner ear. It’s the most common type of hearing loss among older adults. Causes include:
- Exposure to loud noises
Signs that you might have a hearing loss and could benefit from seeing an audiologist include:
- Others say you turn up the radio or television too loud.
- People around you seem to mumble or fail to speak clearly.
- You find that watching someone speak helps you understand them.
- You often ask others to repeat what they say.
Decisions about treatment depend on the type of hearing loss you have. Our audiologists work with you to find the treatments that will be best
Hearing aids vary from economical custom-fitted models to high-end devices with digital and programmable features. The types of hearing aids are:
- Analog — Analog, or conventional, hearing aids are among the least expensive. They tend not to be as effective as other types. They amplify all types of sound equally, which can be a problem when there is background noise.
- Analog programmable — Analog programmable hearing aids allow you to change the amplification of different frequency ranges.
- Digital programmable — Digital programmable hearing aids can be customized even more than analog programmable devices. They are also more costly.
Hearing aids can be worn in different parts of your ear. Options include:
- Behind the ear — These sit over your ear and have an earpiece that’s fit to your ear. They often work best for children. You can use them with listening accessories, such as wireless communication devices.
- In the ear — These hearing aids fit in the bowl-shaped opening just inside your ear. They’re smaller than behind-the-ear models.
In the canal (ITC) and completely in the canal (CIC) — These are very small hearing aids. Because you wear them inside your ear canal, they’re difficult to see.
A cochlear implant is a device that may be helpful if you have severe hearing loss. It consists of two main parts. One part sits behind your ear. The other is surgically placed under your skin near your ear. Cochlear implants can help you better hear sounds and understand speech. They differ from hearing aids because they bypass the problem areas of your ear and directly stimulate your auditory nerve.
Assistive listening devices (ALDs) often involve amplifiers that have a microphone closer to your ears. Other types of ALDs include amplified telephones, alarm clocks that vibrate and come with adjustable sound levels, and devices that bring sound from your television to a headset.
Many people may assist you if you have a hearing loss. They include:
- Audiologists — Specialists who test your hearing and help with treatment.
- Genetic specialists — Providers who can help you if your hearing loss is due to an inherited condition.
- Otolaryngologists or otologists — Doctors who specialize in treating ear problems.
- Social workers — Professionals who can help you or your child with the social, emotional, educational and financial issues that may come with hearing loss.
Online resources that may be helpful for you and your family include: