Open House and Wine Tasting Wednesday July 16, 2014 from 3-6pm

Wine

Come help us celebrate our new office space. We will be holding an open house to see the new office. To make things a little more fun we will have a representative from Troon Vineyards here doing a free wine tasting from 3-6 pm with light snacks provided. Troon Vineyards are located in Grants Pass, Oregon and will provide some local wines for us to sample.

Do you have friends you think would benefit from our services? Bring them along to get to know us and have some fun. We have two full city blocks of parking right outside our front door, so no need to worry about that. Just show up and help us celebrate our new larger office at 919 NE 19th Ave, Suite 170, Portland, OR 97232.

RSVPs to (503) 232-1845 are appreciated, but not required. We hope to see you there.

We Are Moving Across the Street

Lloyd Plaza Building

We have very exciting news.  Audiology Center Northwest will be moving a half a block away to a new and improved office location.  As of June 1, 2014 our new location will be located in the Lloyd Corporate Plaza at 919 NE 19th Ave, Suite 170N,  Portland, OR 97232.  Just go in the main entrance under the yellow awning, and it is the first office on the right.

Lloyd Plaza Main Entrance

For those of you who have been with us for years, you know we have desperately needed better parking, ground floor access and more space.  We will have all of those things starting June 1, 2014.  Our new site has greatly expanded parking, disabled parking spots right in front of the entrance and we are on the main floor with no stairs.  Although our address will change, our phone numbers and email will remain the same.

We want to thank all of our patients who have joined us on this years long journey to an improved office.  Please watch your mail for a grand opening event announcement to occur in July.

Hearing Aids and Health Insurance – How to Select an Insurance Plan

Depending on your particular insurance plan; hearing exams, devices, repairs and batteries may not be a covered benefit. If you have an employer sponsored plan your employer may have purchased a specific “rider” that does cover hearing health care; however the person you are speaking to about your benefits may not know that and may not think to look giving you less than perfect information about your health care coverage.

In addition to this “hidden” benefit, there are normally restrictions on who can use a hearing aid benefits like age, student status or dependent status on the plan. Normally if there is an insurance benefit to be had after age 26 (dependent cut off time) you’re normally out of luck. Some insurance companies will offer discounts through programs like Truhearing however you’ll be limited to whatever devices are available under that plan.

Here are some good questions to ask your insurance carrier or better yet ask them before you sign up or renew your plan:

1.)    Is hearing healthcare covered under this plan? (If not ask if they have a similar one that is)

2.)    Are there restrictions on who can exercise this hearing aid benefit? (It will do you no good if they only cover hearing aids for children and you’re 45.)

3.)    What kind of deductible will I need to meet in order to have you pay out on a hearing aid claim?

4.)    What is the allowable maximum for hearing care under this plan?

5.)    What kind of co-pay will I be expected to pay?

6.)    Can I see any provider or does it have to be one in your network?

7.)    Does this plan cover repairs, batteries or replacement?

 

These are all great questions to ask your insurance company before signing up of before renewing your plan. If are in the Portland, Oregon area and you’d rather let our office do the footwork we’d be happy to investigate your insurance benefits for you before you step foot into the office. That way you know we’re the best possible place to receive help.  If we can’t provide you with what you need, we can point you in the right direction.

IPhone controlled hearing aids. Are they hype or something real?

Resound Linx

GNResound has made big news with an iPhone controlled hearing aid.  I am a huge technology buff and an early adopter.  I was excited to have the chance to see this in person.  The short version of my impression is mixed.  I think the idea is very forward thinking and has potential.  I don’t think the technology is quite ready for prime time, though.

 

Using the new technology allows your iPhone to operate as a remote control for your hearing aid.  You always have a volume control right there on your person.  In actual use, this is not as great as it sounds.  Most hearing aids have the controls accessible through buttons on the hearing aids themselves.  Instead of fishing out your IPhone, turning it on, entering the security code, opening the hearing aid app and then making a volume adjustment, you could simply push a button on the hearing aid.  Also, any volume adjustment you make through your iPhone takes approximately 1 second to activate in the hearing aid.  That doesn’t sound like a lot, but it adds up fast when conversation is flowing.

The most exciting thing about the IPhone app for these hearing aids was the chance to use the iPhone as a microphone you can place at the far end of a conference table or near a lecturer.  This allows you to overcome the problems of trying to hear talkers at a distance.  Again, it is a great idea that suffers in practice.  When using the IPhone as a supplemental microphone, there is a long delay to send the voice to the hearing aids.  The delay is about a third of a second.  Anything longer that a fiftieth of a second tends to be noticeable and degrades speech understanding.  In use, this is heard as a very noticeable echo and is very disorienting.  Fortunately, GNResound makes a much better separate remote microphone that sounds great, but the iPhone version is just not up to the task.

On the whole, I like the sound of the new generation of GNResound hearing devices.  The sound quality is crisp and clear.  They are comfortable to wear and look relatively good.  I think the hearing aids can stand on their own merit quite well.  I do think the iPhone integration will get much better in time, too.  Right now though, I would not make my decision to buy a particular hearing aid based on the apps available on your smartphone.  Make the decision on how the hearing aids sound by themselves.  If the smartphone app is useful to you, it is just the icing on the cake.

Want to hear more?  We have demonstrators of the GNResound hearing devices at many others you can listen to at our Portland, Oregon clinic.  If you live in the area and would like to experience this technology, call us at (503) 232-1845 for a hearing evaluation and hearing device consultation.

Oticon releases the Nera and Nera Pro mid-level hearing devices

NeraIt is no secret that I feel Oticon makes quality hearing devices for their high tech products.  Now their mid priced hearing aids have taken a major step forward with the release of the Nera and Nera Pro circuits.  These devices are based on the same technology as the Alta and Alta Pro devices, which have been receiving spectacular consumer satisfaction ratings.  The Nera Pro can be considered a less advanced version of the Alta hearing aids.  They are not quite as effective in background noise, and do not offer quite as much ability to personalize the sound quality to your preference as the Altas.  They are, however, substantially less expensive than the Altas.  If you have been holding off getting hearing help waiting for something in the mid priced category to make a splash, here it is.

Don’t take my word for it though.  Call to make an appointment for a hearing aid consultation and we can do a risk free test drive of Nera Pro technology.  You can hear first hand what this new hearing device can do for you.  Want to hear more? Call our Portland, Oregon office at (503) 232-1845 for an appointment.

Personalization – the big push in hearing devices

Oticon AltaEvery year we seem to have a buzz word and all the hearing device manufacturers want to jump on the band wagon.  This year it is personalization.  Every manufacturer seems to be stressing how their hearing devices can be personalized to you.  This is not new.  Hearing devices have long been set to your particular hearing loss and needs.  Modern hearing devices do make a more precise match to your hearing loss than older technology.

This year, however, we have seen some improvements in how we custom fit the hearing device and sound processing for you.  Although some manufacturers are basically creating just a personalized web page or instruction book on how to use your hearing devices, others are fundamentally changing the sound quality of the hearing device for you.

Probably the single best example of personalization of sound processing is in the Oticon Alta Pro hearing device.  This uses questionnaires to determine your self reported preferences for sound.  This allows the hearing aid to be preset to what you think you will like.  After a week or two, sound samples are used to allow you to fine tune what you like or don’t like in conversation or background noise.  You also have the option to keep a journal about your real world experiences with the hearing devices and have those incorporated into changing the flavor of sound into more of what you want.

Want to hear more?  Call our Portland, Oregon clinic today at (503) 232-1845 to schedule a free listening demonstration of this new ground breaking hearing technology.

Hearing Loss Simulation

Once in awhile a spouse or family member of a person with hearing loss would like to hear what is sounds like to have a hearing loss.  Click on this link to go to a hearing loss simulator.  You can play sound clips for normal mild or moderate hearing losses.  First play the normal hearing simulation and adjust the volume so it is comfortable to hear, then compare it to a mild or moderate hearing loss.  You will immediately understand why your family member seems to hear but not understand.  They are not deliberately ignoring you.  With a hearing loss, you usually still hear, but the clarity drops dramatically, especially in background noise.

Just a word of caution, this site is interesting, but it is of limited value if you already have a hearing loss. You can get some idea of how big a difference there is between normal mild and moderate categories of hearing loss, but this is really designed for normal hearing people who want to understand what a hearing loss sounds like.

For all these levels of hearing loss and situations, hearing devices can help. They can even help hear more clearly through many types of background noise.  There is effective treatment for hearing loss.  Want to hear more?  Call our Portland, Oregon hearing clinic at (503) 232-1845 to make an appointment for a hearing evaluation today.

http://betterhearing.org/hearing_loss/hearing_loss_simulator/index.cfm

Oticon Alta Pro New Hearing Aid Review. Possibly A Game Changer!

Oticon has been a big innovator with hearing aids in the past few years.  I have liked them for mid or high tech hearing devices for a long time.  Their new flagship product is called the Alta Pro.  Under the hood, it bears a strong resemblence to the wildly successful Agil Pro.  In the Alta Pro, you will find the same two ear sound processing that created a much improved clarity in noisy environments.  The directional microphones are still fantastic and provide improved ability to hear through the background noise in places like restaurants and the car.

What is new? Although I have always liked Oticon, a weak point has been their ability to control feedback, or the squeal hearing aids can make when turned up too loud.  Finally, with the Alta Pro, Oticon has brought out their fantastic sound processing with a world class feedback control system.  This addresses what was always a limiting factor in previous Oticon hearing devices.  In addition, for the small behind the ear users, the Oticon Alta pro can fit even more people with tiny ears.  They have redesigned the loudspeaker to be much smaller and ergonomically designed.

Finally, and perhaps most importantly, Oticon has taken the stance that your hearing loss is unique.  Your sound processing should be too. For years hearing aids have been fit by prescription.  A certain amount of hearing loss needs a certain amount of power.  The problem is most people don’t like what their prescribed power is.  You might want a sound that is customized to your personal tastes.  The Oticon Alta Pro has specific tools and adjustments to let us individualize the sound quality to what YOU like.  We have always worked to do this for people, but now there is a hearing aid designed from the ground up to deliver YOUR sound.  And can I just say, it is about time?

Oticon Alta Commercial

Want to hear more? Call us in Portland Oregon at (503) 232-1845 to schedule an hearing check up and hear what the Oticon Alta Pro sounds like to you.

Widex Dream New Hearing Aid Review

It had been awhile since we have had a new hearing aid to review.  Most new products tend to come out in the spring, so we will have a few reviews coming out over the coming weeks.  I am going to concentrate just on the most noteworthy products to review.  There are many others, but these are the ones that I think deserve some attention.  Here you will see a commercial for the Widex Dream hearing devices.

Widex has long had my favorite devices for patients with a combination of hearing loss and bothersome tinnitus.  Their Zen programs give a sound therapy option that can often make living with tinnitus more manageable.  Their new product line, the Dream series with 110, 220, 330 and 440 models with increasing cost and performance as the numbers get bigger.

This hearing aid line has a few improvements over the previous Clear Fusion line.  Most notably, at very high noise levels, the hearing aid sounds more clear.  During normal conversation this will likely be unnoticeable, but if your current hearing aid sounds staticy in noisy places like loud restaurants, sporting events, or in the car, then the Widex Dream hearing devices might be an improvement.  Also, for patients who use the static noise as a tinnitus masker, the noise is a bit more customizeable.  Finally, Widex has a personal web page they provide for each user of the Dream products that has information specific to your hearing aid.  Things like instructions on how to use the hearing aid, how the controls function, etc.

I have to say I was a little suprised at how little changed in the Dream products compared to the prior Clear Fusion hearing devices by Widex.  I would say in all I would recommend the Dream over the Fusions for anyone considering a hearing aid with tinnitus sound therapy built in.  There are a few improvements in the Dream devices.  I would almost never recommend upgrading from a Fusion to a Dream product, just because I don’t think there is a large enough difference between the two.  If you want to upgrad from the Fusion product line to another Widex product, I would wait for another generation of upgrades.  If you have a Mind series or earlier product by Widex, then yes I do think upgrading to a Widex Dream device may be worth considering.

Fly through the ear

Here is possibly the coolest ear animation I have ever seen (not a sentence you have ever heard I am guessing).  It is a 3D journey through the ear seeing how all the structures work.  I found it on Youtube.  It makes me remember the old 1966 movie Fantastic Voyage.  There is no sound to this, so if you want detail on what all the structures are watch the video I posted a week ago.  This is just pure visual nerdy coolness.

Do you have concerns about your hearing or for someone you care about?  Call our Portland Oregon office at 503 232-1845 to schedule a hearing evaluation today.  We accept most insurances and are here to help.

How the ear works

Have you wondered how your ear and hearing works?  Here is a video that talks through how the ear works I found on Youtube.  I am sorry the sound is not the best, but the video is pretty informative.

 

Concerned about your hearing and want to hear more?  Call our Portland, Oregon clinic at 503 232-1845 to make an appointment for a hearing test today.

New budget priced hearing aid by Phonak

Phonak has released a new lower priced line of hearing aids for those of us on a tight budget.  This entry level price point has been a challenge with hearing aid companies in the past.  My experience has been that mid priced hearing aids and above have been generally good.  Lower priced hearing aids have generally done well for one on one communication or for TV, but usually miss the mark in a restaurant, in background noise, or for speech at a distance greater than 10 feet.

On paper the Phonak Dalia hearing aids have a number of attractive features such as decent directional microphones, some noise reduction sound processing, and available water resistant design.  I know these will not be as effective in challenging environments as the higher priced and higher technology hearing aids.  On paper, though, these appear to be a big step up for the lower priced hearing aid offerings.  Phonak has been a solid company in the past, so I hope the Dalia hearing aids live up to their product release description.

Want to hear more?  Call 503 232-1845 for an appointment to discuss these or any other hearing aids and how they could improve your quality of life.

Help us welcome our new front office manager

When you call in for your appointment you will hear a new voice.  We are excited to announce that Stefanie Gomez has joined Audiology Center Northwest as our front office manager.  As the first person you talk to she is vital in helping make sure all your needs are met.  She will help you find out if your insurance covers hearing tests and hearing aids.  She can schedule appointments, and she can get you answers to most of your questions right now.  Please help us welcome Stefanie when you call 503 232-1845 for your hearing appointments.

Know your hearing aid rights!

So often people are not aware of their rights when they buy hearing aids.  Here is a public service reminder.  When you buy new hearing aids from any place in Oregon you get a 30 day trial period.  It is the law.  That means that you have the right to return the hearing aid for a refund within the 30 days if you do not like it.  There is some fine print however.  The dispensing office can retain up to 10% of the purchase price of the hearing aids as a non-refundable restocking fee if you return them.  Tthis helps cover credit card fees, shipping and other costs associated with dispensing a hearing aid.

Some people feel this still makes them uneasy.  Audiology Center Northwest can provide some ways to make this even easier for you.  We can do a free hearing aid test drive BEFORE you buy anything to make sure that the hearing aid will work for you.  We give a 60 day trial period with the hearing aids.  This gives you twice as much time to be sure you like them than the law requires.  Finally, if you pay with cash or check, we will not charge any non-refundable restocking fee if you need to return the hearing aid in the first 60 days.

There is no reason buying a hearing aid should be a risky proposition.  Don’t let fear hold you back anymore.  Do you wonder if hearing more clearly is possible? Make an appointment today for a risk free hearing consultation to find out.  Want to hear more? Call 503 232-1845 to see how better hearing can change your life today.

We accept most major health insurances, so be sure to ask if you have coverage for your hearing tests and hearing aids when you call.  Financing is available too.

Frustrated by hearing aids that don’t work well?

This has been something I have gotten way more phone calls about in recent months.  Someone may have gone to another site, gotten hearing aids they are not happy with and ask me to fix the problem.  Often times this can be as simple as changing the settings or programming in the hearing aid to match your needs.  Other times an inexpensive repair can make a world of difference.  Finally if the hearing aids were just not the right choice at all because they were purchased somewhere that only carried one brand, it might be best to listen to another manufacturer’s technology.  In any case, usually something can be done to make the situation better. Often the solution isn’t even too expensive.

If you have hearing aids at home that you are not satisfied with, call 503 232-1845 for an appointment with us at our Portland, Oregon clinic and see what we can do.  There is no reason to continue to be frustrated by hearing aids sitting in the drawer any more.

BBB shares tips for selecting a hearing aid

Here is a reposting of a good article I saw today on selecting hearing aids published by the Jackson Sun.  Good advice all around as you select a hearing aid provider.  The original posting can be seen here: http://www.jacksonsun.com/article/20120727/BUSINESS/307270008?gcheck=1&nclick_check=1

The Better Business Bureau doesn’t get a lot of complaints about hearing aids, but the ones we do get tend to be difficult. One fellow said that his kept falling out because it wasn’t properly fitted and that the provider blamed it on the movement of his jaw when he ate and spoke.

According to AARP, nearly two-thirds of people 70 or older have experienced mild to severe hearing loss, but only one-fifth use hearing aids. It cites a study by Johns Hopkins University and the National Institute on Aging that found people with hearing loss are more likely to develop dementia and Alzheimer’s disease. Reasons for not getting hearing aids range from vanity to not knowing how to do it.

A medical examination can determine if a loss of hearing is caused by an underlying illness or other medical condition. The law requires that patients planning to buy hearing aids get a medical exam or sign a waiver saying they don’t want one. The Food and Drug Administration strongly recommends that you get the exam and you should be wary of advertisements that dismiss the need for one.

You should consult one or more hearing health professionals when considering the purchase of a hearing aid. They may include:

•  An otolaryngologist, a physician who specializes in treating diseases of the head and neck.

•  An audiologist, a trained professional who measures hearing loss and can fit hearing aids.

•  A hearing aid dispenser, a person authorized and trained to measure hearing and to fit and sell hearing aids.

The Food and Drug Administration recommends asking the following questions before buying a hearing aid:

•  Which type and style of hearing aids would most meet my needs?

•  What special features do my hearing aids need to have to fit my lifestyle?

•  Will I need one or two hearing aids?

•  What is the total cost of the hearing aids?

•  Do the benefits of newer technologies outweigh the higher costs?

•  Is there a trial or adjustment period for me to try out the hearing aids? (Most manufacturers allow a trial/adjustment period during which aids can be returned for a refund.)

•  What fees are nonrefundable if I return the hearing aids after the trial/adjustment period?

•  How long is the warranty? Can it be extended?

•  What is covered during the period of warranty? Does the warranty cover future maintenance and repairs? Will loaner aids be provided when repairs are needed?

•  How should I care for my hearing aids?

You also should understand the difference between a hearing aid and a personal sound amplification device. The latter is a device that’s used to amplify hard-to-hear sounds by people with normal hearing. The Federal Trade Commission says it might be helpful if you’re sitting in the back of a lecture hall or eating in a crowded restaurant — or bird-watching — but should not be a substitute for a hearing aid if your hearing is impaired.

The FTC also says that buying a hearing aid online or through the mail is risky. It needs to be custom fitted and tested to be sure it works properly. Check out any provider with the BBB.

Randy Hutchinson is president and chief executive officer of the Better Business Bureau of the Mid-South.

Does untreated hearing loss cause brain damage?

Have you ever known anyone who put of getting hearing aids for 20 years, then finally goes in to try them and is disappointed by a lack of clarity?  The problem is often not entirely in the damage to the ears, or the quality of the hearing aids, but rather in damage to the brain caused by years of going with an untreated hearing loss.

I just ran across an article published by Healthy Hearing on why it is so important to get hearing aids early rather than put off hearing aids as long as possible.  The article summarizes research from the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine.  Basically, it suggests that you lose brain cells if you aren’t hearing well due to untreated hearing loss.  This means that when you do finally make the decision to get hearing aids after years of putting up with a hearing loss, you may have lost some of your brain’s ability to understand speech as well.  If you are the average person who waits 7 years before calling for a hearing test, you may be losing valuable time and irreplacable brain cells.

Do you suspect hearing difficulty? Don’t delay, call our Portland Oregon clinic at 503 232-1845 for a hearing evaluation, and to determine whether hearing aids can help you too.

Click on this link to see a short report on this study: http://www.healthyhearing.com/content/news/Research/Hearing/47808-Hearing-loss-could-accelerate-decline-in-brain-volume-in-seniors

New virtually invisible Oticon Intiga i hearing aid.

There is a new hearing aid in the Oticon lineup released just in time for the annual American Academy of Audiology convention.  This is another repackage of the same technology Oticon has used for the past year and a half.  The twist is this is in an ultra miniature completely in the canal hearing aid.  These ultra tiny hearing aids are now often classified as IIC hearing aids. They are designed to recess completely into the ear canal.  Past attempts at this were the traditional completely in the canal (CIC) hearing aids which usually were flush with the ear canal entrance.  The IIC hearing aids are very hard to see even if you are looking directly into the ear canal.

There have been a few other versions of this hearing aid size, the Phonak Nano, the Starkey Otolens, and the Siemens iMini.  There are also exteneded wear IIC hearing aids such as the Phonak Lyric.  These have all had some serious problems with either repair  due to earwax getting in the microphones, or with inability to fit very many people successfully due to the need for a very large ear canal.

Oticon is very up front with the fact that about 35% of people will have an ear canal that is sized and shaped in a way that will allow them to construct this IIC style hearing aid.  The nice thing is that the chip is the same as in the Oticon Intiga mini behind the ear hearing aid.  so if someone cannot have an IIC style hearing aid, at least they have another option with that sound processing in a very cosmetically discreet size.

I still prefer mini behind the ear hearing aids for most people.  They simply sound better, especially in noisy situations and create less distortion of your own voice.  There are also some wireless communication functions that cannot be acheived with an IIC style.  That said, there are still some times when you just need to get the smallest hearing aid around.  In that instance, the Oticon Intiga i represents great technology in the most invisible style hearing aid available.

Want to hear more?  Call Audiology Center Northwest in Portland Oregon for a hearing consultation appointment at 503 232-1845 .  Free hearing screenings, risk free test drives with hearing aids, multiple brands to choose from.  Find out the difference a Doctor of Audiology can make for you today.

Do you have a blind spot in your hearing?

For years audiologists have struggled with a problem that often occurs with extreme noise exposure.  With noise trauma, there is often a “blind spot” in the high pitches of hearing.  What this means is there are certain speech sounds which, no matter how much you amplify them, will never sound clear.  Those speech sounds are most commonly breathy consonants such as “S”, “F”, “T” and “TH”.  When you miss out on those sounds, speech sounds distorted or mumbled, like people are not talking clearly.

If the damage is so severe for that set of sounds, traditional hearing aids may not be the answer.  Amplifying those speech sounds may actually cause distortion in the ear.  The distortion in some cases can make hearing worse with traditional hearing aids.  Until recently we have not had tools to address this problem.  Now we do.

Through advanced sound processing we can often take sounds that occur in the “blind spot” and lower their pitch so that you can hear them.  The sounds are then heard with a part of your ear that still has good survival of nerve fibers and sensory cells.  This can often bring back the ability to hear those breathy consonants you may have been missing for years.  This is a little different way to hear, so it often takes 1-3 weeks for the brain to fully adjust, kind of like getting used to progressive bifocals.  In the first days speech can sound lispy or slushy until the brain learns what to do with the new sound.  After that most people notice an increase in speech understanding.

At this time there are 3 companies I work with that provide this frequency lowering technology.  Widex, Phonak and Starkey all have a version of this in at least some of their hearing aids.  If you have tried hearing aids in the past, but they just didn’t sound clear, it may be time to come and talk about frequency lowering technology.  Want to hear more? Call Audiology Center Northwest in Portland Oregon 503 232-1845 to make an appointment at our clinic to find out if this is right for you.

Hearing Aids Help Quiet Chronic “Ringing in the Ears” (Tinnitus), New Study Finds

Tinnitus is any noise you can hear, but doesn’t come from a source in the outside world.  As a person with constant tinnitus myself, I know this can be very disturbing at times.  In some people it can cause depression, anxiety, fatigue, and anger.  There are a number of approaches we can take to help you learn to live with tinnitus if you can come to Audiology Center Northwest’s Portland Oregon Clinic.  We are finding that in about half the cases, hearing aids are a great help at relieving the tinnitus.  In the other half the cases, another type of listening therapy may be more effective at providing some relief.  Are you able to come to our Portland Oregon Clinic? Call us at 503 232-1845 to see how we can help you with your tinnitus.

Below is a press release on a new study on hearing aids and tinnitus released by the Better Hearing Institute in Washington DC.

“Washington, DC, November 29, 2011 — Nearly thirty million Americans—almost twice as many as previously believed—suffer from persistent, chronic tinnitus, according to a new study by the Better Hearing Institute (BHI). That’s about ten percent of the U.S. population. And for people ages 65 to 84, that number jumps to almost 27 percent. Notably, the study also found that many  tinnitus sufferers reported that their hearing aids  significantly helped them with their tinnitus.

For many who suffer from it, tinnitus can be a source of endless torment and a continual drain on quality-of-life. Often referred to as “ringing in the ears,” tinnitus is the perception of a sound that has no external source. Tinnitus sufferers commonly describe the noise as a ringing, humming, buzzing, and/or cricket-like. Tinnitus can be constant or intermittent. And it can be heard in one ear, both ears, or in the head.

According to the BHI study, four in ten people experience their tinnitus more than 80 percent of the time; slightly more than one in four describe their tinnitus as loud; and about one in five describe their tinnitus as disabling or nearly disabling. Tinnitus is now the number one service-connected disability of returning military personnel from Iraq and Afghanistan. There currently is no known cure for tinnitus.

“The good news is there are effective therapies available to help people cope,” said Sergei Kochkin, PhD, BHI’s Executive Director and co-author of the study. “In particular, we found that a variety of sound  therapies and/or hearing aids in conjunction with counseling can help. In fact, 43.5 percent of survey respondents with tinnitus were helped at least mildly with hearing aids. And 3 out of 10 were helped moderately-to-substantially. For those whose audiologists used best practices in fitting hearing aids, that figure jumped to 50 percent.”

According to the study, people with tinnitus report that it most often affects their ability to hear (39%), concentrate (26%), and sleep (20%). Yet for many, tinnitus is even more pervasive. Twelve percent of respondents—or 3.6 million people when extrapolated to the general population—say their tinnitus affects leisure activities, social life, personal relationships, and emotional or mental health. Seven percent of respondents—or an estimated 2.1 million people nationwide—indicate that tinnitus affects their ability to work.

“Persistent, chronic tinnitus is a highly intrusive, increasingly common condition that can interfere with a person’s cognition, ability to interact with family and friends, and basic life functions,” said Jennifer Born, study co-author and Director of Public Affairs at the American Tinnitus Association (ATA). “Much progress is still needed in understanding tinnitus and finding a cure. But the results of this study are highly encouraging and prove that many tinnitus sufferers can experience relief and improved quality of life by using hearing aids in conjunction with counseling.”

Exposure to extreme noise is the leading cause of tinnitus, and people with tinnitus almost always have accompanying hearing loss, according to the study authors. In fact, the study found that respondents with more severe hearing loss were more likely to have tinnitus. Yet, more than a third (39%) of people with hearing loss do not seek help specifically because they have tinnitus.

“What surprised us was the large number of people—13 million—who reported tinnitus but no hearing loss,” said Kochkin. “It’s very likely that these individuals were aware of their tinnitus but not their hearing loss—which would indicate that the population with hearing loss is much larger than previously believed.”

As baby boomers age, people listen to portable music players at high volumes, and more soldiers return from combat, the incidence of both hearing loss and tinnitus is expected to grow.

“Unfortunately, relatively few people seek help for their tinnitus,” said Richard Tyler, PhD, study co-author, professor in both the Department of Otolaryngology-Head & Neck Surgery and the Department of Communication Sciences and Disorders at the University of Iowa in Iowa City, and editor of three books on tinnitus, including The Consumer Handbook on Tinnitus. “We need to raise awareness that  effective therapies to help tinnitus sufferers are available.  Many audiologists have attended a ‘tinnitus management’ seminar I organize each September, and I know there are many  experienced tinnitus health professionals ready to help and offer  a full evaluation. They can help identify treatment strategies most likely to offer relief. In particular, they will be able to determine if hearing aids can help.”

The study findings, were published in the November issue of Hearing Review. The findings were derived from a nationwide survey of 46,000 households. It is the largest study of its kind.

How Hearing Aids Help
In addition to improving hearing and communication, hearing aids amplify background sound, so the loudness or prominence of the tinnitus is reduced. Simply taking the focus off the tinnitus means relief for many people. Hearing aids also reduce the stress associated with intensive listening by improving communication, which in turn help relieve tinnitus symptoms.”

What do hearing aids cost?

We often get phone calls asking “How much would hearing aids cost?”  That is almost like asking how much would a car cost before you have decided what kind of car you want to buy.  Prices vary by model of hearing aid, and change all the time as technology changes.  Here is a short video that talks about major price categories as of December 2011 at our clinic.  It will at least give you an idea what hearing aids would commonly cost.  Included with most hearing aids is a 2-3 year service package covering all needed adjustments and repairs and even loss and damage insurance.  These prices may be reduced if you have health insurance coverage for your new hearing aids.  Your exact price would depend on what hearing aid you ultimately select based on your individual needs and goals.

 

Generally, hearing aid pricing in Portland will not vary more than about 5-10% from clinic to clinic at any reputable business when you compare the exact same model of hearing aid.  That is because most local audiologists will charge what it actually costs to keep a clinic running rather than gouging the public.  If you have received a price quote that is way above the prices I talk about, you will want to discuss if there is a good reason for that.  Sometimes additional listening devices are purchased for use along with the hearing aids.  Additional equipment can increase expense.  Occasionally you will have a price quoted that seems lower, and you will want to ask if there are additional fees for hearing aid fitting, ear impressions, reprogramming visit, testing of the hearing aids, etc.  I have seen additional hidden fees amount to several hundreds of dollars from time to time. If it sounds too good to be true it almost always is.  Never be afraid to ask if you have a question.

Our clinic dispenses and repairs most major brands of hearing aids including GN Resound, Phonak, Oticon, Rexton, Siemens, Sonic Innovations, Starkey, Unitron, and Widex. We also accept many insurances and can check with your insurance plan to verify and hearing aid benefits you might have that could reduce your out of pocket expense.  A little boost to your hearing could transform your life.  Want to hear more?  Call our Portland, Oregon clinic, Audiology Center Northwest, today at (503) 928-4327 to make an appointment for a hearing check up and risk free test drive of new hearing techology.

Phonak Nano completely in the canal hearing aid

This is the second review of some Phonak hearing aids that I feel fill an important niche for a number of people with hearing loss.  The Phonak Nano hearing aids are completely in the canal hearing aids designed for people who want to get a hearing aid that is as small as possible.  Now the idea of a completely in the canal hearing aid is not new.  We have been doing that for around 20 years now.  What is new is that manufacturing technology has allowed us to make the hearing aids smaller and smaller.  We are now seeing completely in the canal (CIC) hearing aids that truly are almost completely unnoticeable.  A few manufacturers have hearing aids at this size, but for my money the Phonak Nano is the best in class.  It is available at two levels of price and performance, the Ambra and Solana models, and the Phonak product line has always been solid in my opinion.

I want to take a step back first and mention why this hearing aid is an important step for Phonak.  Recently Phonak made a huge splash with an extended wear, virutally invisible hearing aid called the Lyric.  It was featured on the Dr Oz show, and tons of people called in wanting to try that hearing aid.  Sadly, the Lyric was not appropriate for most people.  It often would not fit well or was uncomfortable, or simply did not sound good.  Unofficial numbers I have heard was that approximately 5% of people who tried it continued with the Lryic long term.  Those who did like it loved it, but success appears to be rare.  For that reason I have decided that my office will not fit the Phonak Lyric.  The Phonak Nano, however, appears to be a much better product with much higher rates of success while still remaining virtually unnoticeable.  My office does fit the Phonak Nano for patients who require the very smallest most discreet hearing aid possible.

There are a few drawbacks to going to a CIC style as opposed to an open fit mini behind the ear hearing aid.  Most people report that the CIC style makes their own voice sound like they have a bad head cold.  Other people do not hear that effect, called occlusion, but the hearing aid wearer often sounds to themselves like their head is in a barrel.  Also, CICs generally put out less power and generally perform poorer in background noise than a comperable quality mini behind the ear hearing aid with built in directional microphones.

With all that said, there are still times where you just want things to be as small as possible, even if it means giving up a little hearing performance.  If that describes you, the Phonak Nano hearing aids may well be the best thing for you.  If you are in Portland, Oregon and want to try these out risk free, call our clinic at (503) 928-4327 to hear more.  Dr. Eric Frederick will take the time to make sure that you have all the information you need to make the right choice for you.

 

The Phonak H2O hearing aid

Phonak, one of the world’s largest hearing aid manufacturers has come out with two new products lately that seem to fill a niche for some people.  This is one of them.  The H2O line of hearing aids are designed for those patients who need a very water resistant hearing aid.  This can be useful for people who work outdoors, boat frequently, or even who tend to sweat excessively.  All of these sources of moisture can cause hearing aids to fail.

There are now two good quality hearing aids that are the most water resistant.  In my opinion, the Phonak version gets the nod.  This hearing aid is available with Phonak’s premium high tech sound processing, or with their middle of the road version of their sound processing at a significantly lower cost.  The competition in water resistant hearing aids is only available at the highest point on the price and technology scale.  I really like that Phonak has made water resistance available even to people who are on a tighter budget.  In addition, the Phonak version of this hearing aid was also rated for dust resistance, something that was not evaluated in the competition.

The water resistant hearing aids are only available in behind the ear styles such as pictured here.  All in the ear hearing aids cannot be sealed off from water in the same way.

In my experience, the overall sound quality of Oticon and Widex hearing aids is more often preferred over the Phonak, but they do not have water resistance.  The Phonak H2O hearing aid products are a very, very good choice for anyone who has concerns of moisture causing hearing aid failure.  If you have questions or would like to take a risk free trial with these hearing aids, call our Portland, Oregon clinic at (503) 928-4327 to hear more.

Social Isolation and Hearing Loss

This is just a short video on the social isolation that comes with hearing loss and can often contribute to depression if untreated.  This is especially true during the holiday season when many of us are feeling depressed, sad or isolated already.

 

1 in 5 Americans has a hearing loss

A new study just came out giving a much more accurate estimate of how common hearing loss is.  Previous studies have suggested 1 in 10 Americans have a hearing loss.  A study by Dr Frank Lin, published in the Annals of Internal Medicine now shows that 20% of people over the age of 12 have a significant hearing loss.  That is 48 million Americans.  You are not alone.  The study reports that men are more likely to have hearing loss than women, and caucasians are more likely to have hearing loss than African-Americans.

Click here to link to news coverage of the study: http://vitals.msnbc.msn.com/_news/2011/11/13/8785941-can-you-hear-me-now-1-in-5-in-us-suffers-hearing-loss

One good point in this discussion is that we have a very strange sense of when it is acceptable to ignore hearing loss.  It is commonly accepted that a child in school or someone in their 30s or 40s in the workforce would be at a severe disadvantage from a hearing loss.  Kids with hearing loss are much more likely to repeat grades, workers with hearing loss earn much less and are not promoted as quickly.  For some reason, people 50 and older are often told that they “have normal hearing for their age” when a significant hearing loss is found.

With all due respect, a hearing loss is debilitating whether you are 10, 30, or 70.  It holds you back from life, from connecting with people.  No matter what your age, you should not ignore it. You are too young to work this hard to understand speech.  We can help check your hearing and helping you figure whether it is time to treat it.  Call for an appointment at our clinic at (503) 928-4327 to hear more.

The link between hearing loss and certain chronic diseases

Hearing loss isn’t a harmless condition to be ignored. In  fact, hearing loss often coexists with other serious health problems. And a  growing body of research indicates that there may be a link. Studies show that  people with heart disease, diabetes, chronic kidney disease, Alzheimer’s  disease, and depression may all have an increased risk of hearing loss.

When left untreated, hearing loss alone can lead to a wide range of  physical and emotional conditions. Impaired memory and the impaired ability to  learn new tasks, reduced alertness, increased risk to personal safety,  irritability, negativism, anger, fatigue, tension and stress are among its more  common side effects. But when untreated hearing loss coexists with a chronic  illness, the likelihood is all the greater that the individual will experience  exacerbated levels of stress and diminished quality of life.

Here’s good news: Research also indicates that professionally  fitted hearing aids can help improve quality of life for people with chronic  diseases when hearing loss does coexist.

“In the vast majority of cases, hearing loss can be addressed with  hearing aids to help people hear better and improve their quality of life,”  says Dr. Sergei Kochkin, executive director of the Better Hearing Institute  (BHI).  “I strongly urge anyone with heart  disease, diabetes, chronic kidney disease, Alzheimer’s, and/or depression to talk  with their doctor and make hearing screenings a routine part of their medical  care.”

BHI encourages people to take a free, quick, and confidential online  hearing test at www.hearingcheck.org (link to:  http://www.betterhearing.org/hearing_loss/online_hearing_test/) to  determine if they need a comprehensive hearing check by a hearing professional.  For more information on hearing loss, visit www.betterhearing.org.

The link between hearing loss and  certain chronic diseases

Numerous studies have long linked untreated hearing loss to diminished  psychological and overall health. But an emerging body of research is now revealing  a link between hearing loss and other chronic health conditions.

For example, hearing loss is about twice as common in adults with diabetes compared to those who do not have the disease, according to a study funded  by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and published in the Annals of  Internal Medicine.

Another study, published in the American  Journal of Kidney Diseases found  that older adults with moderate chronic kidney disease (CKD) have a higher  prevalence of hearing loss than those of the same age without CKD.

Other studies have shown that a significantly higher percentage of  people with Alzheimer’s disease may have hearing loss than their normally aging  peers. In fact, older adults with hearing loss appear more likely to develop  dementia, and their risk increases as hearing loss becomes more severe,  according to a study published in the Archives of  Neurology,. The researchers also  found that the risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease specifically increased  with hearing loss.

The link between unaddressed hearing loss and depression also is  compelling. An Italian study found that working adults aged 35 to  55 who were affected by mild to moderate hearing loss in both ears reported  higher levels of disability and psychological distress — and lower levels of  social functioning — than a well-matched normal control population.

Perhaps the link between cardiovascular disease and hearing loss is the  most widely recognized. In a study published in the  June 2010 issue of the American Journal  of Audiology, the authors reviewed research that had been conducted over  the past 60 plus years. They found that the negative influence of impaired cardiovascular health on both the peripheral and central auditory system, and  the potential positive influence of improved cardiovascular health on these  same systems, was found through a sizable body of research.

“With so much evidence emerging on the potential link between hearing loss and various chronic illnesses, it becomes all the more pressing for people  to identify and address hearing loss early on,” Kochkin says. “Talk to your  doctor. Get your hearing checked. And be assured that in most cases, today’s state-of-the-art  hearing aids, programmed to the specific hearing requirements of the individual,  can help people hear better and thereby regain quality of life.”

Widex Fusion 440 hearing aid review

I have now had a chance to listen to and try out the Widex Fusion 440 mini behind the ear hearing aids.  I have to say I like them quite a bit.  They are reasonably small while still housing the larger size 312 battery giving improved battery life.  These are the flagship technology for Widex and it shows.  The sound quality is very high and they work well in challenging noisy environments thanks to the fact that the hearing aids communicate with each other 21 times a second and work as a team rather than two individual hearing aids.  The thing that really sets these apart is the Zen program used for tinnitus relief.  The Zen program is also available in Widex mid and lower priced products too.  All in all I put these basically on par with the Oticon Agil Pros.  Although the Oticons are a slight bit more attractive, the Widex hearing aids offer the tinnitus program.  Nice job by Widex here.

Simple free hearing screening you can do NOW!

Do you feel that you have difficulties hearing? Or are you curious about possible symptoms of hearing loss? Then take this short evaluation. It’s quick, painless and easy and it could be your first step to better hearing and living life to its fullest.

This checklist does not replace a professional hearing test. But, the results might indicate whether or not it may be worth seeking advice from an audiologist

  1. Do people seem to mumble or speak in a softer voice than they used to?
  2. Do you feel tired or irritable after a long conversation?
  3. Do you sometimes miss key words in a sentence, or frequently need to ask people to repeat themselves?
  4. When you are in a group, or in a crowded restaurant, is it difficult for you to follow the conversation?
  5. When you are together with other people, does background noise bother you?
  6. Do you often need to turn up the volume on your TV or radio?
  7. Do you find it difficult to hear the doorbell or the telephone ring?
  8. Is it difficult to carry on a telephone conversation?
  9. Do you find it challenging to pinpoint the location of the object (e.g. an alarm clock or a telephone) from the noise it makes?
  10. Has someone close to you mentioned that you might have a problem with your hearing?

If you have answered “yes” to two or more of the above questions you will benefit from a hearing consultation. 

Don’t delay.  If hearing loss is left untreated it is associated with loss of income, suffering relationships, depression, possibly dementia, fatigue and much more.  You are too young to be struggling with all that.  Want to hear more? Call (503) 928-4327 today for a hearing check up with Dr. Eric Frederick.

Widex Fusion Hearing Aids Now Available

Widex has released a new line of hearing aids called the Fusion.  These hearing aids are really the same as the Widex Clear hearing aids, but with a slightly bigger battery.  This is a very necessary move.  The Widex Clear 440 hearing aids, while providing very good sound, have extremely short battery life.  Battery life is often as short as 4 days for my patients.  The Fusion hearing aids use a larger size 312 battery allowing the hearing aids to get roughly an additional day an a half on a battery.  Although the size of the fusion hearing aids is marginally larger than the Widex Clear hearing aids, they remain very small and cosmetically appealing.

These hearing aids use the same great sound processing as the Clear 440, 330, and 220 hearing aids.  The 440 is the most advanced and expensive, the 220 is a more basic workhorse hearing aid and is the least expensive.   They are also available with the patented Zen feature to help people who suffer from tinnitus.  The bottom line is that Widex continues to produce a line of excellent hearing aids.  With the introduction of the Fusion products, they now have a much more acceptable battery life as well.  These are the hearing aids of choice for me for people who need significant relief from tinnitus.

If you want to hear more call Dr. Eric Frederick at Audiology Center Northwest (503) 928-4327 in Portland, Oregon to discuss your hearing challenges and schedule a hearing checkup.

New Hearing Aid Review – Oticon Intiga

If you have followed my posts you know I generally like Oticon hearing aids.  They now have a new line of hearing aids called Intiga.  Rather than being a new hearing aid technology, it is more of a smaller size for their existing hearing aids.  The Intiga hearing aids are very small mini behind the ear hearing aids. They are squarely aimed at people who want the smallest, most discreet hearing aids they can find without giving up sound quality.

The Intigas come in three different techologies.  The Intiga 10 is pretty much a smaller Agil Pro.  The Intiga 8 is basically a smaller Acto Pro, and the Intiga 6 is essentially a smaller Ino Pro.  As you go down from 10 toward 6, you start to sacrifice some sound processing capabilities.  The Intigas look great on the ear, but you do give up some things to get the smaller size.

Intigas all take a smaller battery, resulting in approximately 20% less battery life.  You also give up the ability to control volume manually, or the ability to get additional specialized settings for music, telephone, etc.  The cost for Intiga hearing aids are also slightly higher than for their other Oticon counterparts.

The bottom line is if you want the smallest, least visible high tech hearing aid, get the Intiga 10.  You will be very happy.  If you want the ability to manually control volume or have additional settings, the Agil Pro still gets the nod.  Both are good hearing aids for different people.

Want to hear more? Call our clinic now at (503) 928-4327 for an appointment.

Hearing loss linked to depression

Did you know that there is a growing body of research indicating that people with untreated hearing loss are at higher risk of depression?  Studies show that when hearing aids are used, there are significant increases in quality of life and decreases in depressive symptoms, as compared to their non-hearing aid wearing counterparts.  In addition the hearing aid wearers experience improved self concept/self esteem, and improved functional health.

The actual reasons for this link are not fully understood.  It could be that it takes more effort to develop realtionships and perform well at work when dealing with a hearing loss.  It could be that people with hearing loss often second guess themselves, worrying about how they will look if they make a mistake in conversation.  It could also be that the fatigue of dealing with needing to constantly work to decode an incomplete speech signal just makes everything seem more difficult.  Whatever the reason, it appears that on average, hearing aids do decrease the severity of depressive symptoms.

Read more at this link: 

http://betterhearing.org/press/news/Depression_mental_health_and_hearing_loss_pr0913.cfm

Want to hear more?  Call Dr Eric Frederick, Audiologist at (503) 928-4327 to make an appointment at our clinic for a hearing evaluation and to find out whether hearing aids can help you too.

Do hearing aids really work?

I hear it almost every day.  Someone who doesn’t really want to face the fact that they aren’t hearing well brings up a friend who got hearing aids but leaves them in the drawer.  They want to know why hearing aids “always end up in the drawer”.  The fact is that hearing aids only rarely end up in the drawer and normally improve quality of life dramatically. 

Most people are satisfied with their hearing aids even in the most difficult listening environments, small groups with background noise.  And for the few people who are not satisfied with hearing aid performance, you get a trial period during which time you can even return the hearing aids for a refund.  Don’t take my word for it, though.  Below is a press release about a new study published by the Better Hearing Institute in Washington DC.  The bottom line is that more than 80% of hearing aid owners are satisfied with their hearing aids.  That number compares favorably with almost any other product dispensed in this country.

Hearing Aids Improve Quality of Life, Empower People with Hearing Loss to Stay Socially Active, New Study by Better Hearing Institute Finds

September 2, 2011 — According to a comprehensive research study conducted by the Better Hearing Institute (BHI), today’s technically advanced, sleekly designed hearing aids are helping people with hearing loss regain their quality of life and remain socially involved. In fact, eight out of ten hearing aid users say they are satisfied with the changes that have occurred in their lives specifically due to their hearing aids. And 82 percent of hearing aid users would recommend hearing aids to their friends.

The findings of this nationally representative survey are both timely and encouraging—particularly given that an increasing number of Americans are suffering from noise-induced hearing loss at increasingly younger ages, oftentimes many years before retirement and even as early as their teens.

“This survey clearly reveals how dramatically people’s lives can improve with the use of hearing aids,” says Sergei Kochkin, PhD, BHI’s Executive Director. “In this comprehensive study of more than 2,000 hearing aid users, we looked at 14 specific quality-of-life issues and found that today’s hearing aids are a tremendous asset to people with even mild hearing loss who want to remain active and socially engaged throughout their lives.”

 The improvements that people saw in their quality of life as a result of their use of hearings aids were broad and varied. Nearly 70 percent of hearing aid users said their ability to communicate effectively in most situations improved because of their hearing aid. A little more than half said their hearing aids improved their relationships at home, their social life, and their ability to join in groups. And roughly forty percent noted improvements in their sense of safety, self-confidence, feelings about self, sense of independence, and work relationships. Between 25 and 33 percent of hearing aid users said they even saw improvements in their romance, sense of humor, cognitive skills, and mental, emotional, and physical health.

According to Kochkin, outdated notions about hearing aids pose a significant barrier that inhibits people from addressing their hearing loss. All told, public perception of hearing aids hasn’t kept pace with the new technologies and discreet designs of today’s modern devices. And unfortunately, these misperceptions are holding people back from improving their quality of life by addressing their hearing loss.

The BHI study bears out that 79 percent of people who do seek help and use hearing aids are satisfied with them, and 86 percent are satisfied with the benefit they derive from hearing aid usage.

What’s more, as hearing aid technologies advance, individuals are becoming even more satisfied. Consumers, for example, are more satisfied with mini-BTEs than ever before and report superior sound quality, cosmetics, and functionality in more listening situations. In fact, in recent years there has been a resurgence of interest in behind-the-ear (BTE) hearing aids because they have become miniaturized and nearly invisible due to the fact that an ear-mold is no longer necessary.

Ninety-one percent of all hearing aid users surveyed are satisfied with the ability of their hearing aids to improve communication in one-on-one situations. And more than three in four are satisfied in small groups (85%), while watching television (80%), outdoors (78%), during leisure activities (78%), while shopping (77%), and while riding in a car (77%).
“Today’s hearing aids are about staying young, not growing old,” Kochkin explains. “People want to hold onto their vitality as they enter and move through middle-age. But when someone ignores a hearing loss—which oftentimes has progressed gradually over time as a result of repeated noise exposure—that individual unwittingly begins losing the very vitality they treasure. What this research shows, however, is that those who do face their hearing loss and use hearing aids are experiencing significant and satisfying improvements in their quality of life.”

Another important take-away from the study is that benefit received from the hearing aid, and quality of life improvements, were highly related to the quality of care provided by the hearing healthcare professional. Ideally, hearing health professionals will include testing in a sound booth; use probe microphones to verify the hearing aid fit; use an array of counseling tools to help people hear better and adapt to their hearing aids; and validate improvement in hearing associated with hearing aid use. To help consumers in purchasing hearing aids, and to guide them in what to look for in quality hearing healthcare, BHI has published a comprehensive publication entitled, “Your Guide to Buying Hearing Aids,” which is available at www.betterhearing.org, within the “Hearing Loss Treatments” section under hearing aids.

The four-part BHI survey used the National Family Opinion Panel to assess consumer perceptions of the functionality of modern hearing aids; compared the new invisible mini-BTE hearing aids to traditional style hearing aids; asked respondents to share how their lives changed as a result of their hearing aids; and evaluated the role the hearing healthcare professional had on consumer success with hearing aids.

“If you want to keep your mind sharp and life complete, don’t leave hearing loss unaddressed,” Kochkin advises. “Protect your vitality and quality of life before they silently slip away and you find yourself isolated from the human experience.  The first step to preserving your future enjoyment in life is to make an appointment with a hearing health professional and get your hearing checked. Our research shows that millions are glad they did.”

Hearing aid compatible cell phones

I frequently get questions about what cell phone to get for use with hearing aids.  There is no way for me to test out each and every hearing aid with every cell phone, unfortunately.  The good news is that there is a specification that indicates the highest quality of cell phone for hearing aid users.  When you go to purchase a cell phone, ask for one with the M4/T4 designation.  You can go to the following website for a list of over 100 phones with this designation. Oh, and yes the new iPhone 4 finally has this designation.

http://www.betterhearing.org/hearing_loss_treatment/cellphones.cfm

 Here is a short release on the subject from the Better Hearing Institute in Washington DC.

There are now close to 125 cell phones with the highest M4/T4 hearing aid compatibility rating. The good news is Apple’s iPhone 4 now has the M4/T4 rating.

As a service to hearing aid owners and hearing healthcare professionals we have created a permanent page on the BHI website with all compatible cell phones (M4/T4 only) with hyperlinks to www.phonescoop.com enabling the consumer to further research the features of each cell phone as well as to discern the service providers for each cell phone model.

Did you know we accept many health insurances?

We accept many health insurances.  Just call and ask us to check eligibility.  We have been working very hard to ensure we can bill your insurance for any services they will cover so you don’t face large out of pocket expenses.  We are contracted as in-plan providers with insurances including Medicare, MedAdvantage, Regence BlueCross BlueShield, TriCare, ODS, Cigna, Health Net, GreatWest, Providence Open Option and Providence PEBB to name just a few. We can also work with workers compensation claims too. 

Healthcare can be expensive.  Let us make sure you face as little out of pocket expense as possible.  Want us to check your insurance coverage for you? Call (503) 928-4327 to hear more.

Why I like mini behind-the-ear hearing aids

You may have noticed I have pictures of just one style of hearing aid on my reviews, the mini behind-the-ear (mBTE) style.  I do carry the older style in-the-ear and in-the-canal hearing aids, and these are good choices for some people.  But most of my hearing aid fittings these days are now the mBTE style.  There is a good reason for that.  I have found that people who use these are significantly happier with their hearing aids on average that users of the other styles.

Now there is research that confirms what I have felt for some time.  Sergei Kochkin, PhD is the most well known researcher into hearing aid satisfaction.  A recent study he conducted indicates users of the mBTE style hearing aid are significantly more satisfied with their hearing aids.

On average, users of mBTE hearing aids report:

-better overall hearing aid satisfaction

-they are less visible

- clearer sound

- more useful in a noisy situations

- less problems with feedback or squealing

- easier to change batteries

- easier to insert and remove from the ear

-more reliable

- need less cleaning

- lower ongoing expense

- better directionality

- more natural sound

- better ability to hear soft sounds

- more comfort with chewing and swallowing

- less problems with wind noise

- better on phones

- less likely to leave the hearing aid in the drawer

There you have it. If you have been struggling with another style of hearing aid, you owe it to yourself to listen to what a mini BTE hearing aid can do for you.  Call (503) 928-4327 for a hearing check up and to find out a boost in hearing could transform your life.

Oticon Agil Pro hearing aids

The hearing aid manufacturer Oticon continues to be one of my favorites primarily due to their very heavy commitment to research and development. They have routinely had a strong value per dollar and are always one of the top manufacturers with innovation. Earlier this year I started using their Agil Pro hearing aid as one of the highest tech devices I dispense. When demonstrating these hearing aids versus some other high tech products, the Agil Pro has been preferred most of the time in my experience. There are exceptions however.

The word that is used most often by patients listening to these is “natural”. That is a big deal. Most every hearing aid out there can improve the clarity of speech, but natural sound can be much more elusive. Add to that the opportunity to wirelessly connect to your TV, cell phone, or other devices and this is a very strong solution for most people struggling with hearing loss. More and more, when a patient asks for the most agressive hearing aid I can provide, this is the one I reach for. Call (503) 928-4327 today to schedule a time to hear this for yourself in an in office no risk demonstration.

Widex Clear 440 hearing aids

Widex has been one of my perennial favorite hearing aid manufacturers. They now have a new product called the Clear. In addtion to being a solid choice in hearing aids, with all the bells and whistles you would hope from a premium hearing aid, they offer a unique tool for people who suffer from tinnitus.

Tinnitus is a sound you hear, but isn’t audible to others. Most commonly this is described as ringing, but could also be squealing, hissing, rushing, roaring, static, crickets, or any number of other sounds. Most people with tinnitus learn to ignore it effectively. For a small minority, tinnitus can be very disabling, however. If tinnitus is very disturbing to you, Widex has developed what they call a Zen Program. That is a specific type of fractal noise that sounds a little like wind chimes. The hearing aids can provide this sound to you, often reducing the annoyance and irritability associated with chronic tinnitus. Call (503) 928-4327 to determine whether hearing aid is a viable option for you.

Unitron’s new remote control for their hearing aids

Unitron has been around for years, and its technology is based on another major hearing aid manufacturer, Phonak. Unitron has always added their own features onto the Phonak products, however. Most recently, Unitron has developed an innovative remote control for many of their hearing aids. They call this their Smart Control. Remote controls have been around for years, providing easy access to volume adjustments or specific programs for music, telephone, or other situations. Remote controls are especially useful for patients with dexterity issues in their fingers or with low vision.

What makes this remote control different is the addition of a comfort/clarity wheel. This is a small dial on the side of the remote designed for noisy situations. When you are at a noisy restaurant or other venue, you decide whether you just want the overall noise level to be more comfortable (at the expense of clarity) or whether you need to get the maximum clarity of conversation (possibly causing the sound to be a bit harsh). Turning the dial gives you one more level of control over your ability to hear in challenging situations.

Diabetes and hearing loss

Hearing loss is about twice as common in adults with diabetes compared to those who do not have the disease, according to a study funded by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and published in the Annals of Internal Medicine. Yet hearing screenings typically are not part of the regular regimen of care that people with diabetes are routinely recommended to receive. Nor do the vast majority of doctors in today’s health care system include hearing health as a routine part of annual exams.

The NIH-funded study found a strong and consistent link between hearing impairment and diabetes. The link between diabetes and hearing loss was evident across all frequencies, with a stronger association in the high frequency range. And an association between diabetes and hearing impairment was evident as early as ages 30 to 40.

Adults with pre-diabetes, whose blood glucose is higher than normal but not high enough for a diabetes diagnosis, had a 30 percent higher rate of hearing loss compared to those with normal blood sugar tested after an overnight fast.

Diabetes may lead to hearing loss by damaging the nerves and blood vessels of the inner ear, the study researchers suggest. Autopsy studies of diabetes patients have shown evidence of such damage.

If you have diabetes, you can take a quick and confidential online hearing test today, at www.hearingcheck.org, to determine if you need to schedule a comprehensive hearing check up.

The two most important questions to ask when choosing and audiologist

Here is a short clip I made about the two most important things to ask your audiologist when deciding whether they should dispense your new set of hearing aids.

Are hearing aids too expensive right now? Ask about financing!

Hearing aids are expensive.  I know it. I wish it weren’t true.  The sad truth is that sometimes finances make it hard to do what you know is the best thing for yourself.  Recent studies have shown that if you have an untreated hearing loss, you may earn as much as $12,000 per year LESS than someone with normal hearing.

I want to make sure you don’t miss out.  Audiology Center Northwest has a variety of hearing aid financing options available to help you spread the cost out over time. Let’s face it, if you are on a fixed income, or looking for work it may be hard to pay for hearing aids all at once.  Call us at (503) 928-HEAR to ask about your options are to make even the best hearing aids fit your budget. 

Please be aware, this is only available for patients who purchase their hearing aids through our Portland, Oregon office.  We cannot provide financing for hearing aids purchased elsewhere.

What types of problems do people see us for?

This is a very important question.  Audiologists can specialize in many different problems from hearing aids, to balance problems, to educational audiology, and on the job noise exposure.  At Audiology Center Northwest, we specialize in hearing loss, hearing aids, and auditory processing disorder.

Do you hear best if people are facing you? Do you feel like people mumble? Do you have significant difficulty understanding speech in background noise? Do you always hear people talking, but often find that you can’t understand? If so you are at high risk of having a partial hearing loss and should have a hearing evaluation as soon as possible to find out what your treatment options are.

Welcome to Audiology Center Northwest

Welcome to our newly redesigned website.  Audiology Center Northwest is a hearing healthcare center located in Portland, Oregon serving people with hearing loss, hearing aids, and auditory processing disorder. We are currently accepting new patients.

We understand how confusing making the decision to get hearing aids can be.  It doesn’t help that other people just don’t understand what it is like to deal with hearing loss.  They don’t know how exhausting it can be to concentrate so hard all day long to try to understand speech.  They don’t realize you can almost always hear speech, you just can’t always understand it. Others will never know the feeling in the pit of your stomach as you worry about making another “funny” mistake because you misinterpreted what you thought you heard.

You will find information here to help you understand hearing loss, and learn about what you can do to get back in the game of life.  Your hearing loss doesn’t have to hold you back anymore. This site is a little different than most.  This site is not about convincing you to spend money on this hearing aid or that one. Instead, we want you to know your options, how your life could be better if you could enjoy conversations in a restaurant again, or hear your family. Once you know about your hearing loss and what hearing aids really can and cannot do, then you will be able to make the right choice for you.

Check back often or subcribe to our blog.  We will periodically update this page with articles, video clips, product reviews, and much more.  When you are ready, give us a call.  We will schedule a hearing evaluation and talk face to face about what options are the best for your individual needs.

Dr. Eric Frederick, Audiologist and Founder of Audiology Center Northwest