Yearly Archives: 2015

Hearing Test

I had a patient recently who reported having had a couple of hearing tests completed in the past year and a half and wondered why he would require another hearing evaluation before being fit with hearing amplification.  The answer is for pure tone testing, a test within the past 6-12 months can be sufficient, however, pure tone testing is only a small portion of a hearing evaluation.

Pure tone testing (beep testing) is a test where you are presented with a series of beeps at different test frequencies to determine the softest level at which you can hear a sound.  This is an integral portion of the test battery but alone provides little information.

When you add speech testing to the pure tone test results you can gain more knowledge on the function of the auditory system.  Speech testing is vital to provide a cross check for verifying if the results given during pure tone testing are accurate and can provide insight into the function of the inner ear, hearing nerve, brainstem, and speech centers in the brain.  Speech testing is not an MRI or CT scan, so it does not give an image of any structures, but poor speech test scores can sometimes be a flag that something may be off in one or more of these areas.

Speech testing can also be performed in the presence of background noise.  This is often referred to as speech in noise testing (clever name I know).  Speech in noise testing can be a fantastic tool for how a patient processes speech in a more realistic or real world scenario.  Let’s face it, pure tone beep testing is great to identify how soft you can hear but it provides little information into how you process and interact with the world around you.

The patient mentioned in the first paragraph scored a mild to moderate hearing loss on pure tone testing and scored in the 80% range on speech identification but when presented with speech in noise he scored more like someone with a severe or profound hearing loss.  His chief complaint is poor understanding in noise.  But without adding speech in noise testing it would not look like as big of an issue.

Using a full test battery is the best way to diagnose and understand what is happening in the auditory system.  So before you trial a pair of hearing aids make sure to ask if you have had at least pure tone testing, speech testing, and speech in noise testing because if you have not there may be a piece of your hearing puzzle missing and you may not be as successful.


Hearing loss: Visible or invisible?

It is easy to think that hearing loss is invisible.  It does not have a unique shape, you cannot touch or pick up hearing loss, it has no tangible mass, smell (thank goodness), or color.  However, it is sensed and recognized often by loved ones and family members before the actual patient.

I saw a coffee mug while in graduate school that read, “Your hearing loss is much more visible than your hearing aids will be.”  It is a great joke but it rings so true especially today with the advent of microprocessor technology and the miniaturization of microphones and amplifiers.

Many of my first time patients report they made the appointment for hearing testing only to placate the wishes of their spouse or family member.  To the patient everyone else mumbles or speaks too softly, to their family the patient is deaf as a post, rude, irritating, or hearing selectively.

It is interesting how the question of visibility is based purely on perspective.  To the patient suffering from a gradual onset hearing loss the problem may be invisible while at the same time their family and friends are acutely aware of a hearing issue.

If you are 55 or older, an annual hearing evaluation is highly recommended to monitor your hearing health. The best solution is to call Accessible Hearing Aids for at least a hearing screening or better yet a comprehensive hearing evaluation.  Hearing testing will verify if there is a visible hearing loss you are unaware of or if you should get a new set of family and friends…(only kidding)  After a comprehensive hearing evaluation, you will be well aware of any notable hearing loss and what is the best solution moving forward.


Hearing Aid Programming

I often meet new patients at screenings for church groups or organizations and a few of these new patients already wear hearing aids.  I always like to ask “How do you think your hearing aids are working currently?” and “When was the last time you saw your hearing health care professional about your hearing aids?”

There is one constant that I have noticed over the years.  If the patient reports the hearing aids are not working to their satisfaction they also report they have not returned to have the hearing aids serviced or adjusted.

Accessible Hearing Aids provides clean and checks on all hearing aids as an initial consultation about your hearing health.  This is important because hearing aids are designed to last for years and over the lifespan of hearing aids your hearing will likely change as will your needs.

I recommend for any patient that purchases hearing aids from Accessible Hearing Aids that there will be 2-3 visits in the first month (monitor adjustment to the hearing aids), then at least one visit every 3-4 months (clean and maintain hearing aids), and one hearing test per year (monitor hearing acuity and update hearing aids accordingly).

Following the above recommendations reduces the risk of small problems with the hearing aids becoming major issues.  My goal is to keep hearing aids out of a sock drawer and on your ears where they can help you maintain the lifestyle you wish to lead


Does hearing loss really matter?

I think like so many things in life, we take for granted what is naturally in place, only realizing how important something is once it isn’t working.  I was asked the question last week by a patient, “Does hearing loss really matter?”

It seems like such a simplistic question.  So trivial that you may wonder if it even requires a response; I mean can you really imagine not being able to hear or connect with your family through normal conversation when that is all you have known your entire life!!!

My response is “Why doesn’t it seem to matter to you?”

I did not get an immediate response to my question.  However, I was allowed the opportunity to demonstrate hearing aid amplification.

Because Accessible Hearing Aids is a mobile audiology company I was able to re-create a scenario that had been causing trouble between this patient and his wife.

The patient’s wife was frustrated because her husband would not respond correctly or not respond at all unless she was face to face with him.  My patient was unaware that there was a big problem because he thought his wife always mumbled or talked when she walked away.  He did not realize it could have been a mild to moderate hearing loss causing the problem.

With the wife in a different room I customized the hearing aids to my patient’s specific hearing needs and for the first time in years he was able to clearly hear his wife ask him…”Please clean out the gutters.”

My patient could not believe the difference hearing aids made in what he could hear again.  He was so unaware of what hearing loss had slowly taken away from him.  He may not be delighted that he no longer has the excuse, “I didn’t hear you” to get out of chores, but he is also no longer living isolated from his family thinking they all mumble.

After hearing the difference hearing aids can make my patient said “I cannot believe what I was not hearing and that I was missing so much in the world around me.  Hearing loss really matters even when you do not realize you have one.”


Different Hearing Aid Models

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Different Hearing Aid Models

Hearing aids come in a variety of shapes and sizes.  Based on your lifestyle and hearing loss type, certain models and styles of hearing aids may work better for you than others.  Dr. Griffith, will go over all of the options of hearing aids available and discuss potential pros and cons for each model with you.


Invisible-in-canal (IIC):   One of the smallest types of hearing aids available on the market today.  The hearing device fits deeply into the ear canal and is essentially invisible.

Completely-in-canal (CIC):  A great option for a person who wants a very small hearing aid that fits discretely into the ear canal but does not require as deep or uncomfortable of a custom impression as the IIC aid.

In-the-canal (ITC):  A custom made hearing aid style that is slightly larger than the CIC but offers more features in technology with the slightly larger profile.

In-the-ear (ITE):  Another name for this style of device is full shell, as it encompasses the full concha, helix, and into the canal of the ear.  This device is ideal if you would like to use a custom style hearing aid but also require many of the same features found in a behind-the-ear or receiver in the ear style aid.

Behind-the-ear (BTE):  This model of aid is not custom but does require a custom earmold to secure to the ear.  The hearing aid fits on top of or behind the ear and is traditionally considered to be the most powerful of all of the hearing aid models.

Receiver-in-the-ear (RITE):  This is a non-custom model of aid that fits discretely on top of the ear and has a small wire that fits into the ear canal.  The RITE has become the most popular model of all of the hearing aids sold today. Recent statistics reveal that nearly 60% of hearing aids purchased are the RITE model.  It is small, powerful, and stylish and does not traditionally require custom earmolds so a fitting can take place the same day as your initial appointment.