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Valley ENT Hearing Aid Center

“When you lose your eyesight
you lose contact with things.
When you lose your hearing,
you lose contact with people.”
(Helen Keller)

Degrees of Hearing Loss: Are You 1 out of 10?

It is estimated that one of every seven people does not have full hearing—and one of out every ten hears so poorly that a hearing instrument would help. Hearing professionals use several terms to describe the degree of hearing loss:
  • Mild hearing loss: unable to hear soft sounds, difficulty understanding speech clearly in noisy environments.
  • Moderate hearing loss: unable to hear soft and moderately loud sounds, considerable difficulty understanding speech, particularly with background noise.
  • Severe hearing loss: some loud sounds are audible but communication without a hearing instrument is impossible.
  • Profound hearing loss: some extremely loud sounds are audible but communication without a hearing instrument is impossible.
Why should you see an Ear, Nose and Throat doctor for your hearing loss?

An Ear, Nose and Throat doctor can diagnose the cause of your hearing loss. Many hearing losses can be corrected medically or surgically. Some hearing losses are indicative of serious underlying medical problems. It is, therefore, crucial to obtain an accurate diagnosis. If you have ear pain, drainage, excess earwax, hearing loss in only one ear, sudden or rapidly progressive hearing loss, or dizziness, it is especially important that you see an otolaryngologist. After a history of your hearing loss is taken and an examination of the ear, nose and throat area is performed a hearing assessment from our audiologist (a nonphysician health care professional) is obtained. Valley ENT is fortunate to have all hearing tests performed or supervised by a doctoral level audiologist. The results of these tests will show the degree of hearing loss and whether it is conductive or sensorineural and may give other medical information about your ears and your health.

• Conductive Hearing Loss
A hearing loss is conductive when there is a problem with the ear canal, the eardrum and/or the three bones connected to the eardrum. Common reasons for this type of hearing loss are a plug of excess wax in the ear canal or fluid behind the eardrum. Medical treatment or surgery may be available for these and more complex forms of conductive hearing loss.

• Sensorineural Hearing Loss
A hearing loss is sensorineural when it results from damage to the inner ear (cochlea) or auditory nerve, often as a result of the aging process and/or noise exposure. Sounds may be unclear and/or too soft. Sensitivity to loud sounds may occur. Medical or surgical intervention cannot correct most sensorineural hearing losses. However, hearing aids may help you reclaim some sounds that you are missing as a result of nerve deafness.

Where Do I Purchase Hearing Aids?

Pennsylvania State Law prohibits any hearing aid sale unless the buyer has first receives a medical evaluation from a physician. However, the regulation says that if you are more than 18 years old and are aware of the recommendation to receive a medical exam, you may sign a waiver to forego the exam. The physicians of Valley ENT strongly endorse this regulation and strongly recommend that you do not sign a waiver prior to being fit with a hearing aid. This is because over the years we have seen patients who have been fitted with hearing aids inappropriately. For example, we have seen non-hearing ears fit with hearing aids, hearing aids that were not powerful enough for the hearing loss, the wrong ear fitted with an aid, and hearing aids fit unnecessarily.

Cost of Hearing Aids

Hearing aids vary in price according to style, electronic features, and local market conditions. Price can range from many hundreds of dollars to more than $2,800 for a programmable, digitalized hearing aid. Purchase price should not be the only consideration in buying a hearing aid. Product reliability can save repair costs and the frustration of a malfunctioning hearing aid.

Some hearing aid ads in the newspapers sound too good to be true. Are they?

Many of the inexpensive aids ($500-$1000) provide amplification through an obsolete and very poor quality technology. In addition, in our experience, most of the low priced hearing aids are for minimal hearing losses that are not appropriate for the overwhelming majority of patients with hearing loss. Some of these ads are little more than bait and switch schemes in which the unsuspecting patient is lured into purchasing a more expensive but still poor quality hearing aid. No sophisticated digital hearing aid worth using that can help you hear better in background noise and allows your own voice to sound natural can be purchased for such an inexpensive price. LET THE BUYER BEWARE.


What to Expect during a Hearing Evaluation

FIRST SESSION: A Board Certified Ear, Nose and Throat specialist performs a comprehensive examination, and our audiologist tests your hearing. A diagnosis is made and the results are reviewed. If a hearing aid is recommended, we take many factors into consideration: your level of hearing loss, the shape of your ear canals, your needs, your personal taste and budget.

SECOND SESSION: In the second session, your hearing aid(s) will have been prepared. The audiologist will fit them into your ears and tune them to your specific hearing loss and preferences. You'll receive information on how to handle and operate the instrument.

THIRD SESSION: At the third visit, our hearing care professional will fine tune the instrument based on your feedback.
Do I need two hearing aids?

Hear as nature intended – with both ears

Sound used to be recorded with one microphone, “mono.“ Music and speech sounded flat and unnatural. This method has long since been replaced by stereo recording. Recordings using two microphones create natural and lively sound. With a hearing loss in both ears, the situation is similar. The hearing system also functions on the principle of stereo sound. The hearing center of the brain relies on two independent “microphones“ – the ears. If only one ear is functioning properly, you could have difficulty understanding speech in noisy environments and in locating the direction from which a sound is coming. This means that it is often advisable to wear a hearing instrument on both ears, assuming your hearing loss requires this.

Hearing with both ears means more confidence and a better quality of life

Sound localization - The ability to localize sound is dependent on two properly functioning ears. How do we know the direction of a car’s approach? The sound reaches the closer ear a few microseconds earlier, and with a somewhat greater intensity, than it reaches the other ear. These minute differences in the signal transferred from the ear to the brain enable us to make important, potentially life-saving decisions regarding the exact location of the car. When one ear functions better than the other, there is inadequate information to quickly and reliably determine the origin of a sound. Understanding speech in a noisy environment Hearing with two ears provides improved capacity to suppress background noise, making it easier to understand conversation. Unequal hearing in the left and right ears is a big disadvantage in noise. While one hearing instrument may be helpful in a quiet environment, it may not be helpful in noisy situations. The greatest difficulty understanding speech occurs when several people are talking at once. This is common during interactions between family, friends and colleagues at work. Often these exchanges are also taking place in noisy surroundings. With two hearing instruments it is possible to maximize understanding in noise.

Hearing with less volume

A sound presented to both ears is judged to be louder than the same sound, at the same intensity, presented to only one ear. This means that a user of two hearing instruments can set the volume of each one lower, resulting in more pleasant hearing and less amplification of distracting background noises. Hearing equally from both sides Wearing two hearing instruments gives the maximum opportunity to respond accurately and confidently, whether the conversation comes from the left or the right.

Who can benefit from a  stereo hearing system?

Scientific research as well as individual experience confirms that most people with a hearing loss in both ears would benefit from having two hearing instruments, even if the hearing loss is mild. There are a few isolated cases where this is not so – your hearingcare professional or physician can advise you.
What if I am fitted with a hearing aid, and feel it doesn't benefit me?

Pennsylvania state regulations require a thirty day trial period during which you can return your hearing aid for a refund of the cost of the hearing aid. There is a nominal fee for the fitting of the aid that is nonrefundable. Pennsylvania state regulations also require that the cost of the hearing aids and fitting fee are disclosed to the purchaser in a written document. We want you to be happy with your hearing aids. We will work with you to achieve your optimal hearing.

Does the hearing aid have a warranty?

All hearing aids sold at Valley ENT come with a warrranty. Depending on the hearing aid model, the aids come with one, two or three year warranties covering loss or breakage. Our audiologists will explain the warranty that comes with your aid.