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AVA Hearing Center is locally owned and operated. Dr. Karen Jacobs established AVA in 1998, after working for 14 years in a medical clinical setting. At AVA Hearing Center, we’re motivated to improve your hearing ability.

1What is the best hearing aid on the market today?
The best hearing aid on the market is the hearing aid that provides the best features for your particular needs. People should identify products that meet their acoustical needs based on their hearing loss and look at features that are appropriate for their lifestyle.

Inexpensive hearing aids (less than $1000) will have basic amplification. This technology is appropriate for quiet listening. Do not expect these models to work well in all environments. Most inexpensive amplifiers provide volume across a flat frequency pattern and have minimal sound manipulation for speech-in-noise. They may have some Bluetooth features and a phone App that will allow for volume adjustments in situ. More expensive hearing aids (over $3000) are highly sophisticated. These instruments improve the speech-to-noise ratio for hearing in complex environments. They may have advanced lifestyle features like direct to cell phone, language translation, fall detection alert and track wellness data like a Fitbit. Mid-priced hearing aids ($2000 - $3000) will have a mix of sophisticated features but with less noise cancellation capabilities then the more sophisticated products and will be well suited for people in moderate noise situations.

Your Audiologist will help you understand the difference between the different manufacturers, models and features available today. They will help you identify features that are most important to a successful outcome. Look for a company that provides good product diversity and has options from less expensive models to highly sophisticated models.

Keep in mind that ONE product is not BEST for all people. The degree, slope and nature of the hearing loss coupled to the brains ability to focus, filter and process sound is unique to the listener. Factors like degree of hearing loss, length of time a loss has been present and length of time the loss has gone untreated will greatly affect hearing aid performance. Talk with your Audiologist about reasonable expectations.
2Is an audiologist a doctor?
Most Audiologists have a doctoral level education but are NOT physicians. There are two doctoral level Audiologists (PhD is a Research Doctorate, AuD is a Clinical Doctorate) and there are some Audiologists with a Master’s level degree – MA). The AuD or PhD are the required entry degree for the profession. There are some Master’s level Audiologists still practicing because when they graduated the AuD/PhD. Many Master’s level Audiologists returned to Universities to complete their degree. The education of an Audiologist includes courses in acoustical science, anatomy, genetics, pharmacology, physics and other courses for the purpose of identifying, diagnosing and providing non-medical treatment for hearing and balance disorders in adults and children.
3How do you fix hearing loss?
The answer to this question depends on what is causing the hearing loss. When the transmission of sound is blocked or lost in the outer ear or the middle ear it may be correctable through wax removal or medical intervention. Removing earwax, draining middle ear fluid, patching a ruptured eardrum, removing stiffened bones are example of “fixing” a hearing loss. Hearing loss due to nerve damage caused by aging, medications, trauma, noise exposure or genetics are not likely to be fixed through medical intervention. They may be treated by hearing aids or cochlear implants.
4How do I know if my hearing is bad?
Because hearing sensitivity can change gradually over time, many people with hearing loss are unaware of the severity of their problem. A diagnostic hearing evaluation by an Audiologist is the best way to determine the extent of your hearing loss. This test will determine the degree (how much loss is present) and slope (pattern of which frequencies can be heard better than other). It will also assess your ability to understand speech in quiet and how well your brain will process speech through noise.

For many people they are able to hear certain sounds normally but in other areas they have a severe loss. This hearing pattern can send a mixed message – “I hear sometimes but not others”. If hearing pattern is sloping (better in the low pitches but loss in the high pitches) a person will hear low pitched vowel sound and background noise but will be unable to understand what someone is saying if they are talking while in the car or with the water running in the kitchen. The brain will also try to fill gaps in hearing with what it assumes is the correct word. If you ask “What” but then answer before the message is repeated, you may be using that split second of time to “fill in” the missing speech cues you likely did not hear. It may be an indicator of high frequency hearing loss.

A basic hearing test only gives information about what can be heard in quiet. A full hearing test should include Speech discrimination testing and Speech-in-noise testing. These test help assess the brains’ ability to process sound and attach meaning.
5What does a hearing test show?
A diagnostic hearing test will have many components and provide a picture of how a person hears, discriminates and processes sound in noise. The audiogram is a graph that shows where a person hears a pure tone 50% of the time (this is the definition of a threshold). Tone used for the testing are the major octave tones found in speech. They range from 250 Hz to 8000 Hz. The grid is arranged with VOLUME or DECIBLE (dB) along the vertical edge and FREQUENCY or HERTZ (hz) along the horizontal edge. The left ear responses are marked with an “X” and are usually printed in blue. The right ear responses are marked with an “O”. Normal adult hearing is defined as threshold above 25 dB HL in all test frequencies. For children, thresholds should be above 15 dB SL.

A second test using tone thresholds is done with a bone oscillator. This test mode checks the nerve of hearing. When there is a gap between the AIR threshold and the BONE threshold, it indicates that sound is being blocked or restricted someplace in the outer or middle ear space. There may be a need for medical intervention to correct the problem.

Another test that will be completed is a speech-discrimination test. This test is a series of words presented at a comfortable listening volume. It shows how well the hearing mechanism “fine tunes” the sound and allows for speech clarity. A speech-in-noise test (SIN) is a test using sentences presented in varying levels of background noise. This test identifies how well the individual can filter or process speech through noise. All of these tests identify the type of hearing loss, the severity of loss, the ability to understand speech and the ability to process speech through noise. This data will help determine if medical intervention is needed and if hearing loss is obstructing communication skills. If so, your audiologist will discuss appropriate hearing aid technology and which hearing aid features will be of benefit for your unique hearing needs.