About deafness & Management (Minneapolis)
Do you have trouble understanding phone numbers left on your voice mail? Do you have difficulty understanding dialogue on television or in a theater? As a listener, do you ever get frustrated because a spouse, parent, friend or co-worker simply has trouble hearing you?
Many of our patients report that they suffer – or recognize in loved ones — early signs of hearing loss. Far more people have symptoms but do not discuss them. Hearing loss is a fact of life for many of us, and can be treated in a number of ways. Here are some questions that are commonly asked at The Ear, Nose, Throat Clinic and Hearing Center:
I have trouble hearing. What should I do?
Approximately 30 million Americans report difficulty hearing, especially those who have operated heavy machinery, been exposed to gunfire, played in a band or even attended a few too many rock concerts. But there are many kinds and many degrees of hearing loss, a medical disorder that can be treatable through medication, surgery, or through use of devices or rehabilitation.
In any case, we encourage you to consult with your physician, nurse practitioner or audiologist as a first step in learning more about your hearing loss. Otolaryngology’s, or ear, nose and throat specialists such as Dr. Tedford and Dr. Getnick, are physicians who specialize in treatment of disorders of the ear. You can expect us to diagnose your hearing loss, and determine the next steps for treatment.
In many cases, we will refer you to an audiologist, a certified hearing professional, for an assessment and an audiogram, the test to learn about your ears and determine the degree of your hearing loss. Fortunately, we offer those services in our office: Jon Schee, our staff audiologist, is an expert in evaluating your hearing, and uses specialized testing equipment and a sound booth to learn more about your particular needs.
Who will determine how best to address my hearing loss?
After your assessment, you can consult with our entire healthcare team to discuss the appropriate treatment for your hearing loss. In many cases, the best way to improve your hearing will be to consider a hearing aid, an electronic device that amplifies sounds, making it easier overall for you to hear.
Isn’t it normal to have some hearing loss?
Common? Yes. But hearing loss is not considered normal. The question to ask yourself is: What stresses or strains in your life would be reduced if you could hear better? Are you able to follow conversations? Understand voices over the phone? Recognize the words of your children or grandchildren? Is it hard to talk with people in a public place? Just as there are ways to overcome poor eyesight, there are ways to overcome hearing loss, however common it may seem.
Can I keep my hearing from getting worse?
Perhaps. Hearing loss is often preventable. For that reason we encourage all of our patients to wear protective plugs when they are exposed to loud noises. (For the record, we define any noise that causes you to need to raise your voice in conversation as a “loud noise.”) We are pleased to offer free foam earplugs to all our patients. If you will need to use them frequently, you can ask us to fit you for a pair of custom or specialty ear plugs, such as musicians’ plugs, which provide ear protection yet allow music to be heard.
How effective are hearing aids?
Recent improvements in technology have enabled millions of people to enjoy better overall hearing through hearing aids. Our patients who use these devices report better overall sound quality, an improved ability to follow and understand conversations in social and work situations, an easier time when watching movies, TV, or talking on the phone, and even an improved attitude and outlook on life.
There are also fewer stigmas regarding hearing aids. The new generation of aids are smaller, and more easily hidden in the ear canal. Many patients can wear a hearing aid that is virtually invisible to the average person. And you won’t have to ask people to repeat themselves as often.
The hearing aids available today are better suited to treat hearing loss than ever before. Digital technology has enabled the development of programmable aids that can be effectively customized to better meet your individual hearing needs in different sound environments.
How do I know that it’s time to buy a hearing aid?
Most of our patients reach a point where their frustration with hearing loss propels them into action. We assist in the process of identifying the loss, learning how it can be treated, and explaining the treatment options.
And if I decide I need a hearing aid, what decisions do I have to make?
Mr Sanjay, our audiologist, is well qualified to lead you through the process of learning about hearing aid options, purchasing the aid and adjusting it to your personal circumstances. Based on the results of your audiogram and other factors such as the degree of loss and the shape of your ear, he will show you the different kinds of aids, from behind-the-ear aids to those completely hidden in the canal, and make an appropriate recommendation.
He’ll discuss with you the benefits of one (monaural) or two (binaural) aids to increase your hearing levels. Most importantly, he is trained to make sure the hearing aids fit properly and meet your specific needs. We dispense hearing aids of SIEMENS make.
Will it be hard to adapt to wearing a hearing aid?
An adjustment period of up to a year is typical for many of our patients. For that reason, we follow up with new hearing aid users regularly. The aids are finely-tuned devices that have a profound effect on users. For example, many of our patients report hearing sounds they never heard before. It takes them some time to adjust to the new high or low frequencies that are added to their hearing range. In any case, we welcome return visits from our patients to assess progress, monitor changes or answer questions.