ALWAYS WEAR EAR PROTECTION WHEN DISCHARGING FIREARMS! I wrote that in all caps because I did not wear ear protection several months ago when I shot a powerful rifle while at a makeshift firing range. My ears started ringing, and sounds became muted and tinny. I discovered that certain nerve endings in the human ear do not heal when damaged. A month after the incident, I got tested – and a month later I was fitted with hearing aids. The aids gave me back much of my hearing world, so we thought you should know some general and specific information about the state of hearing aids in 2018.
Megan Wolford is a Doctor of Audiology with the Huntington, West Virginia based Touma Hearing Centers – www.toumahearing.com – and was happy to do a Q&A with me.
Q: Who should get tested and when?
A: “If you have any concerns with your hearing, or just want to know where you stand with your hearing, anyone at any age should get a hearing test. If you find you do have a hearing loss, get tested every two years. If you get hearing aids, doctors and audiologists can make changes to adapt to that hearing loss.”
Q: What are the recent advances in hearing aids?
A: “The latest hearing aids are very small and hidden behind the ear. Hearing aids are rechargeable now, in the past you had to change batteries often and carry batteries with you. Now, you put your hearing aids in a charger at night, get up in the morning and they are ready to work for a good 24 hours. Plus, advances in technology have really helped with cutting down the background noise, letting you have a one on one conversation much better in a restaurant or at a ballgame.”
I love the rechargeable option over batteries. In six months, I’ve only lost a charge one time, and that was into a 36 hour period without recharging.
Q: What about the Bluetooth connection to hearing aids?
A: “If you are on your cell phone a lot or having trouble hearing the TV at home, we now have accessories that allow clear Bluetooth connections to your phone and TV. The sound is streamed directly to your hearing aids.”
The Bluetooth device I got is called a “Com Pilot.” It’s great for the phone and lets you hear all calls right in your hearing aids. You can answer right from the device. It also let you stream any music, podcast, or anything else you have on that full-of-stuff I-Phone. The Bluetooth hearing aid TV connection works well, but you really can’t use it when your watching TV with others because you can’t converse very well. I did talk to a friend who also has the Com Pilot, and he says the TV connection is great when he wants to be in the same room with his wife, and he’s watching TV while she is reading or writing.
Q: What about cost?
A: “Hearing aids can be pricey at times, but you have to think about what you’re getting with the price. Here at Touma Hearing Centers, you get a full three-year warranty that covers any and all visits for service, adjustments, cleaning and questions. Unless your hearing aid is completely destroyed, we send it in and they send it back fully repaired. Entry level hearing aids start at about $3,000. As you move up in price, the cost increases strengthen the ability to cut down on background noise and offers other technology specific to your loss style. For financing, we work with Care Credit, a health care credit card that gives you a one year, interest free loan on your hearing aids. Humana/Medicare will also work with hearing centers to get lower costs on hearing aids.”
Q: Who’s too young to get their hearing tested?
A: “You are never too young to get your hearing tested. We see pediatrics to geriatrics. Everyone should know where they stand with their hearing. If a child is having repeated ear infections it may be a comprehensive component with fluid in the middle ear. That subsequent hearing loss may hinder speech development for the child because the child is not hearing every sound that is being pronounced in a word.”
Q: Tell me about Touma Hearing Centers?
A: “We started out and continue to be a family business and we offer that ‘family touch’ with every one of our patients. With our patients who struggle to clean their hearing aids, we have them come in every 3-6 months for a cleaning and check up. We give all patients a full supply of parts you can change out at home to keep your hearing aids clean and clear.”
Q; Where can I research hearing loss and hearing aids?
A: “www.hearingloss.org is a great place to start. We at Touma Hearing Centers have great outcomes with Phonak – www.phonak.com. If you are out of warranty by a couple of months, I’ll say that this patient has been wonderful, let’s do this free of charge – and they will.”
There you go. Bottom line, if you even have a slight question about your hearing, get tested.