In the field flooded with information, there's a great deal to sort through regarding hearing aids. The professionals at Johnson Audiology want to be sure their patients have a clear understanding and put to rest some common myths.
1. Myth: The doctor said I have "nerve damage" and hearing aids won't help me.
"Nerve damage", also known as sensorineural hearing loss, is the most common type of hearing loss treated with hearing aids. There are many types of hearing loss and most types can be successfully managed with hearing aids. Primary care physicians should refer patients to an audiologist if they are exhibiting signs of hearing loss or reporting difficulty hearing or tinnitus. Dr. Susan Porter stresses the importance of having a certified audiologist perform a diagnostic hearing evaluation.
"An audiologist is the most qualified professional to diagnose and treat hearing loss, providing the most advantageous prognosis," Dr. Porter said. In the few situations that a traditional hearing aid will not help, Johnson Audiology's audiologists can guide the patient toward the next best alternative.
2. Myth: Hearing aids are bulky and unsightly and only for "old people."
According to Dr. Megan Johnson, this couldn't be further from the truth. Though hearing loss is considered an invisible disability, most people suffering from hearing loss are not able to hide their hearing difficulties from family and friends. Often times, your hearing loss is more noticeable than hearing aids. Advancements in micro-technology have changed the look of hearing aids. Color options, style choices, and wireless features have patients showing off their improved hearing abilities!
"So when your family and friends don't see your new hearing aids, don't worry, they will notice you can hear better," Dr. Johnson said. "Hearing loss has many causes and affects people of all ages. We have hundreds of patients successfully wearing hearing aids that are under 60 years old. Hearing loss is not an age thing!"
3. Myth: Hearing aids are too expensive, and hearing aid salespeople just want my money.
At a reputable audiology office, hearing aids range in price based on technology. Unfortunately, some hearing aid centers employ salespeople and not audiologists. Many of these salespeople rely on paid commissions. Would you feel confident that they are working with your best interest at heart when a commission is at stake? Would you trust any of your healthcare to someone working for commission? Audiologists go to college to learn this profession and Johnson Audiology's audiologists are so committed to this field they have attained the level of Doctor of Audiology. As with any medical service, you should feel confident with your provider. If you are "shopping" for hearing aids, you may never be satisfied with what you purchase. Find the best provider and let them find the best hearing aids for you. In addition to years of formal education, audiologists must continue to learn about improvements in hearing aid technology. "Learning the latest technology of multiple manufacturers is challenging, but it allows us to select which manufacturer, style, and level of technology is most appropriate for individual patients," said Dr. Johnson. At Johnson Audiology, they want to help every patient with hearing loss, whether the patient needs premium or basic technology. The price of the hearing aids may include the option to bundle services, supplies, and warranty. No-interest financing options are offered and they work with several financial support foundations for those who qualify.
4. Myth: Follow ups aren't necessary; they're just a way for audiologists to charge me more money.
It is important to note that research has confirmed that success with hearing aids is correlated with proper follow-up care and support from an audiologist. Because of this, Johnson Audiology includes follow-up visits and access to their audiologists when a patient purchases hearing aids at their office.
"We even offer appointments and service plans for those who seek our expertise but purchased their hearing aids elsewhere," added Dr. Courtney Guthrie. Hearing aids that are well maintained by both the patient and the audiologist can last many years. Remember that hearing aids are electronic devices that are exposed to ear wax, sweat, humidity, dirt, etc. Regular cleanings and in-office repairs are necessary to keep the patient hearing the best that they can with their hearing aids. Programming adjustments are also needed throughout the years to change the settings as the patient's hearing loss or lifestyle changes.
"Counseling patients about what to expect with hearing aids and encouraging patients to adapt to the new changes of amplified sound is what we do day after day. Follow up visits help us monitor our patients' success and happiness with their devices and make needed adjustments," Dr. Porter said. "At our office, we strongly recommend that our patients come in at least twice a year for hearing aid checks to ensure everything is working appropriately."
5. Myth: Hearing aids will make my tinnitus worse.
To date, there is no "cure" for tinnitus; however hearing aids may help reduce tinnitus. Dr. Guthrie and Dr. Johnson are certified through the Tinnitus Practitioners Association (TPA), and both audiologists are up-to-date in all available continuing education opportunities regarding tinnitus. They stress that hearing aids will not cause tinnitus to become worse and actually can now include technology that helps to manage tinnitus. "Our goal is to manage the tinnitus by providing the patient with a new soothing sound while also managing their hearing loss by making sounds in the patient's environment more audible," Dr. Guthrie said. "These hearing aids with sound generators (also called combination devices) can help with both hearing loss and tinnitus. Experts in tinnitus recommend the use of hearing aids more than any other treatment method for tinnitus."
6. Myth: If I don't like my hearing aids, I am stuck with them.
Most states require a 30 day adjustment period, and Johnson Audiology certainly understands the value of this time period. This time allows a patient to try hearing aids in their own listening environments and return to the audiologists for support, programming adjustments, and device exchanges when necessary.
"At Johnson Audiology, we want our patients to love their hearing aids. We work to find the right solution for each individual patient. Hearing aid users who don't like their hearing aids should consult an audiologist for adjustments and follow-up care to be successful," Dr. Porter said. "We educate our patients by explaining their degree of hearing loss and promoting realistic expectations for our patient and their family members," she added.
Hearing devices are an investment in your quality of life, and the audiologists at Johnson Audiology don't take that lightly. Their goal is to help each person hear successfully and be engaged in life. If hearing aids are stored in a drawer, the patient is not achieving that goal. There are many options available to each patient to ensure the best possible outcome.
7. My friend tried hearing aids and they did not work, so hearing aids won't help me.
How can anyone judge their potential success by someone else's experience with a hearing aid? Your hearing loss, ear canal size and shape, lifestyle, medical history, and motivation for success are all unique. This means your success with hearing aids may be very different from someone else. Did your friend see an audiologist or a hearing aid salesperson? Did they see an audiologist that works with multiple manufacturers and has many options available for their unique needs? Most manufactures make hearing aids in similar styles (ex. behind-the-ear, in-the-ear), but the technology is different and sound is processed differently. Also, people perceive sound differently and may prefer the sound quality of one manufacturer over another. Sometimes it is necessary to try different manufacturers and styles to find the best fit for you. If you have ever tried hearing aids unsuccessfully, don't give up. Your hearing loss will likely progress as you age, so stay motivated to find what works best for you!
Johnson Audiology is located at 1618 Gunbarrel Road, Suite 102. They provide diagnostic hearing evaluations and consultations, a wide range of hearing aids from the leading manufacturers (including all levels technology), and hearing aid adjustments and repairs. For more information about their services, or to schedule a consultation, call 423-933-3623 or visit www.johnsonaudiology.com.
"Learning the latest technology of multiple manufacturers is challenging, but it allows us to select which manufacturer, style, and level of technology is most appropriate for individual patients." Dr. Megan Johnson
For more information about their services, or to schedule a consultation, call 423-933-3623 or visit www.johnsonaudiology.com.