What brand of hearing aids do you carry?
Audiology Associates chooses hearing aids from several brands because hearing aid technology changes so rapidly. The evaluation by your audiologist Pauline Bailey includes information about your communication needs as well as the different components of your hearing loss. The physical shape of your ears as well as well as your budget are key considerations. We stick with major manufacturers because of their commitment to research and development, and also because of their flexible product lines.
The manufacturers are very competitive: they are always bringing out improved features but also which features are available at different prices. We don't carry every brand because it is very important that your audiologist be familiar with the products and their constantly-changing software. Typically we use about four brands regularly. Which brands we use frequently varies as their product development changes.
Why should I see an audiologist first about my hearing problem?
Audiologists are the experts in the diagnosis of hearing loss, and provide the care for most hearing problems. Audiologists provide the most complete examinations of hearing loss. One of the major purposes of the exam is to determine from where in the auditory system the hearing loss is coming. Usually on-going, progressive hearing loss comes from the "sensorineural" part of the system, which is the inner ear and the nerve that attaches to it. A sensorineural hearing loss is almost always "benign:" there is no disease to worry about or to treat except for the hearing loss itself. Audiologists are the highest level specialists in the diagnosis and management of sensorineural hearing loss. They are the specialists who are able to evaluate the central auditory components of a hearing disability. Because they monitor the hearing loss to look for any complications, they are watching for changes and the need for additional treatment.
Almost everyone who uses hearing aids have sensorineural hearing loss. Besides hearing aids, rehabilitation includes auditory training, lip reading, environmental strategies, and other electronic listening devices. Audiologists are the only members of the hearing health care provider system that are educated and have the experience in all the aspects of hearing loss treatment.
If your ears are "sick," if you have an ear infection, your problem is an illness, so then you should go to your medical doctor. If your audiologist or your medical doctor find or suspect an serious or complicated medical problem, they will refer you to a specialist, an otologist. An otologist is a specialist in ear diseases and ear surgeries. Most also care for nose and throat problems since they are so interrelated, thus they are often called "ENT" physicians. They are the experts in infections(outer, middle and inner ear,) ear and auditory nerve tumors, dizziness, operations that restore mechanical causes of hearing loss, and implants for hearing loss. Good ear doctors have audiologists in their offices to do the hearing examinations and the objective dizzy examinations for people with ear problems. Expert audiological evaluations are part of the work-up for several ear problems even if the patient is not aware of hearing loss. Ear doctors are not specialists in hearing loss rehabilitation, so the audiologist is the one who should talk to you about managing the hearing problems, including whether or not you need hearing aids.
Hearing aids are also provided by hearing aid dispensers, also called hearing aid specialists in some states. While there are no academic requirements to obtain a hearing aid dispensing license, there are training requirements. There are national organizations that require dispensers to have with more training than mandated by the dispensing licenses. Experienced hearing aid dispensers understand hearing aids well and do a good job of fitting them and keeping them in good working order for you. If you work with a hearing aid dispenser, it is recommended that you get your hearing evaluations from an audiologist. Audiologists are happy to do the evaluation and provide you and the dispenser with the results.
What is auditory processing? What is an auditory processing disorder? Why is it often called a Central Auditory Processing Disorder?
A pioneer in auditory processing gave us a wonderful answer: "Auditory Processing is what the brain does with what the ears hear!" Having two ears helps us because our brains are able to do so much with the information coming from both sides at the same time. Figuring out the direction of sound, knowing whether someone said "pick" or "big," knowing whether someone asked a question or expressed surprise--those are all things that our central (brain) auditory system does.
A highway with sixteen thousand lanes flows out from each ear! All that speeding information on those highways are filtered, processed, identified and organized by what scientists call our CANS. The Central Auditory Nervous System can only use the information is gets from the highways from our ears. If that information is incomplete or distorted, that is an auditory processing problem from the "periphery"-- not the central system. Once the information is in the central system, it travels though various way-stations and crosses back and forth within the brain. Problems with that travel causes "central" auditory processing problems.
Normally, the central auditory system is not finished growing and developing until about age twelve. If the development is delayed or incomplete, a central auditory disorder may result. After the age of forty, the speech and alacrity of some functions decrease. A good example is the complaint of many people with hearing aids about the trouble they have hearing in background noise. Unfortunately, the trouble in background noise is shared by most middle-aged and older adults, whether they have hearing loss or not. Hearing loss itself often includes problems hearing in background noise, which is different than simply not being able to hear well. There are actually some people with a hearing loss type that hear better in background noise that some normal listeners! The audiologist trys to identify those different problems that are affecting a person's listening ability. Different problems point to different solutions. Some problems are easier to fix than others.
Hours of Operation
Pauline G. Bailey, M.A., FAAA
Stamford, CT 06905