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ARE HEARING AIDS COVERED BY INSURANCE?

May 23, 2018

If only that question had a simple answer. As most people may know that according to the FDA, hearing aids are considered a Class 1 Medical Wearable Sound-Amplifying Device so it would make sense to assume that they will be covered by your insurance. Unfortunately that is not always the case with most policies.

When getting hearing aids, it is important to check your insurance policy as well as any benefit you may be able to receive through your union, FSA account, United Federation of Teachers fund as well as the Veteran’s Administration. The best recommendation we can give our patients is to explore all avenues. If you have trouble along the way please do not hesitate to contact our office with any questions.

Couple looking at hearing aid insurance

Once you are able to verify that your policy has a hearing aid benefit please make sure there are no restrictions to your policy. Such insurances like BlueCross BlueShield, Cigna, and AARP Medicare Complete (to name a few) may cover the most basic of hearing devices. However depending on your lifestyle, how active you are and what type of noisy environments you are routinely in, there may be another hearing aid that you would better benefit from.

There is not one hearing aid that fits all so make sure you are fully informed of the expectations and features of your specific hearing aid(s).

In addition to the specific technology level, some insurances will have a maximum amount per ear every certain number of years. If you would like hearing aid(s) with more features that fit your lifestyle please ask us about our payment plans.

At Listen Hear, we want to make sure we can help you get the best hearing aid for you and your budget so contact us today to get started!

 

 

LIFE IS LOUD, ARE YOU AT RISK FOR A PERMANENT HEARING LOSS?

Noise exposure is one of the most prevalent causes of a hearing impairment. Common among all ages, a noise-induced hearing loss is typically permanent in nature and 100% preventable with the use of earplugs. Such causes could be due to excessive exposure to construction sites (up to 96 decibels) music venues (up to 110 decibels) or personal audio players (up to 105 decibels). More recently, it has been reported that even living in noisy metropolitan areas will increase the risk of hearing loss by roughly 64%.

Temporary Noise Induced Hearing Loss

When a person is exposed to excessive noise for too long, tinnitus (ringing in the ear) or a noticeable change in hearing may occur for a short period of time. If their hearing recovers and the symptom of tinnitus subsides, this is known as a temporary threshold shift. Although it is considered reversible, consistent exposure will cause permanent damage over time. Therefore, it is recommended that either the sound source be avoided or ear plugs be worn if this occurs.

Hidden Hearing Loss

It is possible that the lasting effects of excessive noise may not always be seen on standard audiometric hearing tests. In fact, until recently, noise exposure was thought to cause a hearing loss due to damage of sensory hair cells. Now it has been discovered that loud noise may affect the nerve fibers that carry sound from the inner ear to the brain as well. Degrading speech understanding in the presence of noise, this symptom is a common complaint in age-related hearing loss. However, more recently research reported that this symptom can also affect individuals with normal hearing. With limited objective testing for proper diagnosis, audiologists will often refer to this type of deficit as a “hidden hearing loss”.

Hearing Conservation Programs

Mandatory in noisy occupational settings, hearing conservation programs consider sounds exceed 85 decibels potentially dangerous without the use of ear protection. Beyond the workplace, recent research determined the prevalence of hearing loss due to recreational noise exposure in young children and adults. To prevent the risk of hearing loss, programs like Dangerous Decibels, It’s a Noisy Planet. Protect Your Hearing and Listen to your Buds emphasize the importance of protecting your hearing and wearing ear plugs at an early age. With the overuse of earbuds and personal audio players, these hearing conservation programs play a key role in preventing the epidemic of a noise-induced hearing loss in children.

Types of Ear Protection

Over the counter, disposable ear plugs such as 3M E.A.R. Classic or Mack’s are typically made of foam material and may be purchased at most convenient stores.

For the little ones, Em’s For Kids are available for babies 0 to 18 months of age.

Custom ear plugs are made for the workplace and/or the avid concert goer or any other hobby enthusiasts exposed to excessive noise.

As we live in one of the noisiest cities in the world, it is important to be aware of how often you are exposed to loud sounds. To get started, download noise meter apps like Listen Carefully… and remember, when in doubt, protect your hearing and show off those ear plugs!

 

WHEN DO YOU SEE AN AUDIOLOGIST?

March 20, 2017

Audiologists are licensed hearing healthcare professionals that diagnose and provide treatment for hearing impairment, tinnitus, and balance conditions related to the ear. Working closely with physicians that specialize in the ear, nose, and throat, audiologists will administer hearing evaluations and diagnostic testing to properly identify the cause and site of lesion in the ear. If the possibility of medical treatment is ruled out, the audiologist will then provide the appropriate treatment and management for the condition that you are most bothered by.

If your primary concern is difficulty with hearing, the audiologist should take more of a patient-centered approach and determine the most appropriate hearing instrument(s) for each individual. With the advances in technology, hearing aid features are designed to service individuals of all ages and lifestyles. It is important to discuss with your audiologist the specific situations and difficulty you would like to improve on to find the best hearing solution for you.

If you are not yet ready for hearing aids, the audiologist may provide you with educational material to learn more about your specific hearing loss. In addition to hearing aids, assistive listening devices are available to assist with the particular situation you are having difficulty. Such devices include a telephone or television amplifier, personal sound amplifiers and smoke detectors. Aural Rehabilitation such as auditory training and listening skills can also be provided to further improve communication.

If the primary concern is tinnitus, sound therapy and counseling are available to manage the symptom. Together the audiologist and Otolaryngologist will determine the best plan for management and relief. In cases of tinnitus, it is imperative to determine any underlying cause before considering treatment options. It is often that the Otolaryngologist will refer you to an audiologist following a comprehensive work up.

Other specialties include hearing loss conservation programs, cochlear implants, auditory processing disorder, intraoperative monitoring and newborn hearing screenings. With a doctoral degree, audiologists are trained in a variety of services with a wide scope of practice.

So, when is it time to visit an audiologist? To become more informed about hearing loss, related ear conditions, prevention and/or treatment options, visit an audiologist and learn more today.

 

ASL: THE FIGHT TO BE HEARD

March 08, 2017

The year was 1880. The ongoing feud between Alexander Graham Bell and the Gallaudet family continued. The topic of deaf education was to be decided among 164 individuals – only one of which was deaf. Ultimately, it was this decision that would dictate the future of the Deaf culture and those within the community. Almost unanimously, the vote for Oralism marked a defining moment in Deaf history.

In 1817, after his discovery of French Sign Language, Thomas Hopkins Gallaudet returned to Connecticut in pursuit of establishing the first American School for the Deaf. With the assistance of French deaf graduate, Laurent Clerc, it was then that American Sign Language (ASL) evolved and the American Deaf culture emerged. It is within this culture that Deaf individuals began and continue to perceive deafness as a language minority and not that of a disability. A preferred lifestyle, Deaf communities spread throughout the Northeastern region and later across the United States. However much like prejudices against other disabilities, criticism of that way of life began to interfere.

Some felt the necessity for deaf individuals to adapt and assimilate to the hearing world. Among them, Alexander Graham Bell followed his father’s footsteps introducing the system of Visible Speech. In the 1870’s, he advocated the strict use of spoken language and lip reading contradicting Gallaudet’s methods of manual communication. Although one method is not superior to the other, it was thought that Bell led more of an extremist point of view following that of the eugenic movement. In fact, many Deaf individuals are opposed to the Alexander Graham Bell Association for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing as it is considered to minimize the importance of ASL.

Now with the growing statistic of over 90% of deaf infants born to hearing parents, more and more children undergo cochlear implant surgery as early as 12 months of age. The continued progress and success with cochlear implants once again challenges the use of sign. As history repeats itself, a language with several dialects is unfortunately too often mistaken as the absence of hearing and not a language at all.

 

 

MUSIC IS LIKE A DREAM. ONE THAT I CANNOT HEAR

May 23, 2018

As I watch Clockwork Orange for the first time, the composition of Beethoven’s 9th symphony floods the theater with every note. I’m not sure if I’m more impressed by Stanley Kubrik and John Alcott’s collaboration of one of the most well renowned films of its time or by the less known fact that when Ludwig van Beethoven had finished this piece he was almost completely deaf.

The cause of Beethoven’s hearing loss is controversial at best. Such theories include Syphilis, Otosclerosis, Labyrinthitis, or even the possibility of lead poisoning. Evident from his personal memoirs, the first symptoms of hearing loss began as early as age 31 leading to a profound deafness by 44 years of age. Although his hearing impairment did not prevent him from composing music, complaints of tinnitus and progressive high pitch hearing loss spurred his frustration, isolation and depression followed by fits of rage.

With the use of ear trumpets and the numerous attempts to cure his hearing loss, Beethoven continued to compose mostly from memory, tactile vibration and pure adaptation. In fact, when reviewing his collection, it was said that as his hearing loss progressed he composed with a lower range of notes rather than the full range of frequencies from previous pieces. Any composition involving a range of higher notes undoubtedly came from his creative mind and imagination.

Conducting the premier of his infamous 9th symphony after a twelve-year sabbatical from performing, the musicians were instructed to ignore Ludwig’s direction and follow that of the co-director. Although he could not follow it himself, the seamless blend of music from his final classical masterpiece overwhelmed the audience with joy, gratitude and an everlasting impression on future works to come.

Now nearly two centuries later, Ludwig van Beethoven will always be remembered not for his hearing loss but for his talent, genius mind and his inspiring collection of music.

 

 

WHAT IS LIP READING?

April 06, 2017

Unlike other treatments of sensorineural hearing loss, lip reading is a skill taught to improve communication by looking at one’s lips, facial expressions and body movement. These visual cues allow the listener to better decipher the context and participate in conversations. More often used among individuals with a hearing impairment, lip reading is useful when speech becomes inaudible to the listener. The severity of hearing loss will influence the necessity to use lip reading and visual cues to hear and communicate with others. In fact, many individuals will naturally begin to rely on vision as their hearing loss progresses over time.

To become more proficient in speech or lip reading, it is beneficial to learn a set of skills from an audiologist, speech pathologist or hearing healthcare professional. Such skills involve the following:

Focus on the topic of the conversation not necessarily every word that is being said. The use of speech patterns will become clearer to the listener when understanding the context of the conversation rather than specific words.

Follow cues and identify speech sounds by watching the movement of the speaker’s mouth, tongue and jaw.

Lip reading is also best used when the listener can fill in information that was missed on the face by observing feedback within the situation. Although lip reading has been thought to primarily focus on facial cues, the use of expressions and body language is critical in visually understanding others.

Language comprehension, concentration and the use of good lighting are all important in becoming a successful speech reader.

When seeking treatment for your hearing impairment, it is not uncommon that there may be limitations when using amplification in specific environments or situations. Therefore, to better improve your quality of life, you may want to consider all other possibilities beyond the use of amplification. Contact us today to learn more about how communication strategies and lip reading skills can help you.

 

 

 

HEARING AID BATTERIES 101

 

With rechargeability being the new wave of the future, there are a variety of different types and sizes of batteries to choose from when purchasing your new hearing aids. No option is better than the other so the best way to decide which battery to get is to determine which one you can best manage and manipulate on a routinely basis.

 

DISPOSABLE BATTERIES

Disposable batteries can last anywhere between 3 to 10 days. The causes that effect the lifespan of the hearing aid will be dependent on the size, the individual hearing loss, the environment that you are in and the technology of the specific device that you have.

 

Battery Size

Sizes include 10, 312, 13 and 675 and increase in size respectively. If you are not sure which batteries to buy, not to worry, they are also color coded 10 (yellow); 312 (brown), 13 (orange) and 675 (blue).

 

The smaller the size of the battery the shorter the lifespan. Smaller hearing aids like invisible in the ear, completely in the canal and some receiver in the ear hearing aids come with a size 10 (yellow) battery. These types of hearing aids are best for people with more mild to moderate hearing losses.

 

Degree of Hearing Loss

When choosing the specific battery for your hearing aid, the audiologist should take your dexterity and hearing loss into consideration. The more significant the hearing loss the more the hearing aid must work to accommodate your needs. For instance, power hearing aids that fit more severe hearing losses will need a bigger battery [size 13 (orange) or 675 (blue)] to avoid excessive drainage.

 

Level of Technology

Does your hearing aid connect directly to your iPhone or accessory?

Streaming and the constant use of your mobile cannot only effect the battery life of your phone but kill your hearing aid batteries too.

 

Is your hearing aid completely automatic?

Most hearing aids will now come with an automatic adaptive manager that will have to manipulate the sound quality of the hearing aid depending on the environments you are in on a routinely basis.

 

Lifestyle

Living in one of the noisiest cities in the world can be hard on your hearing aids. When you attend a wedding, a party or noisy gathering, your hearing aids must work extra hard to reduce the excessive noise and improve speech understanding.

 

Tip From Your Audiologist: Before you attend your next gathering, make sure that the battery is new, fresh and ready to go.

 

RECHARGEABLE BATTERIES

Rechargeable batteries can last typically between 17 to 20 hours. Most rechargeable hearing aids will take up to 3-4 hours for a full charge. The two different styles of rechargeable batteries are silver-zinc and lithium-ion rechargeable batteries.

 

Tip From Your Audiologist: Like a cell phone, charge your hearing aids overnight so they are nice and fresh for the next day.

 

Silver-Zinc ZPower

 Most hearing aid companies now offer behind-the-ear hearing aids with a rechargeable option. This option will allow you to use both rechargeable and disposable batteries with your hearing aid. These devices come with a battery door so that the rechargeable battery can be removed and replaced once annually.

 

Lithium-Ion Battery

Completely enclosed in your behind the ear hearing aid, this option is best for people who have difficulty manipulating a battery door and do not want to fuss with changing their batteries at all. These batteries a meant to last a minimum 3 years and can be replaced by the hearing aid manufacturer.

 

Tip From Your Audiologist: If you will not be wearing your hearing aids for several weeks, please remove your hearing aids from the charging station not drain the battery.

 

If you have any questions about your batteries, do not hesitate to contact us. We look forward to hearing from you!