Frequently Asked Questions
Below is a handy-dandy resource section for you and your loved ones to help guide you through some of the most Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs).
Is it really such a big deal if I do not treat my hearing loss?
Unfortunately, yes. Untreated hearing loss is linked to life-threatening medical conditions including mental decline, dementia, falls, hospitalizations, and even premature death. The time to act is now as hearing loss cannot be ‘managed’ by just making people speak louder!
Who are some familiar faces that have treated their hearing loss?
To name a few… Whoopi Goldberg, Stephen Colbert, President Ronald Reagan, William Shatner, Jody Foster, Halle Berry, Peter Townsend, President Bill Clinton, and Huey Lewis.
Will I be able to afford treatment?
Yes. Membership programs are more affordable than your cable and cell phone bills. Most patients can also take advantage of their insurance benefits and Health Savings Accounts to make their payments lower than the cost of coffee per day.
It is a great day when you can tell a patient that a treatment decision doesn’t have to be a financial decision!
Is treating my hearing loss and tinnitus painful?
No. Modern treatment technology and testing procedures are painless. In fact, most of today’s technology is completely invisible and so lightweight.
How much work / family time will I miss because of treatment?
Not much. After the initial visits, most appointments are anywhere from fifteen to forty-five minutes.
I am a snowbird and want to know what happens to me when I am not at home for several months per year?
If you are lucky enough to have that home-away-from-home, then we suggest you enjoy it to its fullest! We will provide you with all the technology supplies and needs before you go away, and we are never more than a phone call away. If needed, we can even do a telehealth ‘zoom conference call’ and talk you through any troubles. We guarantee—treating your hearing loss will make your life better and never be a burden or stress.
What are some of the warning signs that I might have some signs of early-stage hearing loss?
The four most common signs of hearing loss are:
- Difficulty following a conversation when there is background noise (i.e., at a restaurant).
- Tinnitus (ringing/buzzing sounds in your ears and/or head).
- Your family is telling you that you need help!
- More ‘senior moments’ than you would like to admit!
What are some of the “side effects” of untreated tinnitus?
Tinnitus can have a profound impact on a person’s ability to hear, concentrate, sleep and emotional state of mind. Most often, tinnitus is caused by hearing loss and should be thought of as your internal alarm telling you that something is wrong and requires your attention asap!
What makes a hearing healthcare specialist (Audiol ogist or Board-Certiﬁed Hearing Instrument Specialist), more qualiﬁed than a PCP or an ENT?
Hearing healthcare providers specialize in the medical treatment of hearing loss and tinnitus. Whereas your PCP is your ‘general health contractor’ that oversees all your healthcare needs, and the ENT specializes in swallowing and speech, breathing and sleep issues, surgical intervention of hearing loss, allergies and sinuses, head and neck cancer, skin disorders, and facial plastic surgery.
Why should I choose a specialist to treat my hearing loss?
Unique treatment requirements and otherwise difficult auditory problems are common everyday scenarios for your hearing healthcare provider. In the interest of receiving the most efficient and effective treatment possible, choose a hearing healthcare specialist.
How do I know if my provider is an Audiologist or Hearing Instrument Specialist?
Only healthcare providers can belong to the Excellence In Audiology™ network of providers. Most Audiologist and Hearing Instrument Specialist are also accredited by the American Academy of Audiology (AAA), American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA) and/or the International Hearing Society (HIS).
What is a treatment coordinator?
During your initial consultation(s), you will be assigned a patient contact person—we call this person a “treatment coordinator”- with whom to schedule appointments, confer with scheduling and, of course, answer all questions you may have.
Why are follow-up visits important?
These are wonderful opportunities for your provider to ‘fine-tune’ your cognitive stimulation and maximize your treatment and for you to get further details or answers to any lingering questions you may have.
Why is early treatment so important?
To put it simply: A Mild Hearing Loss is a Major Problem! Although we recommend that everybody over the age of 50 years young have regular hearing evaluations, you are never too young to treat your hearing loss at the first signs. Unfortunately, even a Stage 1 hearing loss (sometimes referred to as a ‘mild hearing loss’) can increase your risk of mental decline and dementia by as much as 200%! Like every medical condition, it is important to ‘catch it early and treat it early!’.
Is there such a thing as being ‘too old’ to start treatment?
No. Although many patients try to reason their way out of treatment by saying ‘what’s the point, I only have a few years to live’ the benefits of treatment, whether they be for 6 months or 6 years, positively impact your overall social, emotional, physical, and cognitive health and may help you live longer!
What if I do not believe in treating my hearing loss (after all, my parents never did)?
Well, you’re entitled to your opinion, but this is like saying you do not believe the earth is round (our apologies if we just offended any ‘flat earthers’). You can hide from it, pretend it is not there, refuse to acknowledge it or believe that you can ‘manage’ without medical intervention, but the simple fact remains—if you are not aware of the potential risks, you are likely to suffer from them.
What is tinnitus?
When the ear breaks down from age, noise exposure, medications, viruses, genetics, etc., the nerves that travel from ear-to-brain break down. This results in a ‘surge’ of neural activity (referred to as Central Gain) that is perceived as sound. Nearly 90% of people with tinnitus have hearing loss (and vice versa).
Where should I start to look for treatment if I am concerned about my hearing loss (or for a loved one)?
If you suspect that you have hearing loss (or have been told by somebody to get your ears checked), go to the website www.ExcellenceInAudiology.org to find a local hearing healthcare provider that you can trust subscribes to best practices. Please, stay away from anybody who partakes in sleezy sales tactics.
Why should I address tinnitus?
Tinnitus is most often one of the first signs of hearing loss. Because hearing loss is gradual (for most patients) they often notice the ringing in their ears before noticing a change in hearing. This ‘alarm’ inside your head is telling you that something is wrong, and it needs to be medically addressed ASAP.
What is treatment technology?
The way we treat hearing loss today is different (way better!) then even a few years ago. While traditional hearing aids were good at making sounds louder—they made EVERY sound louder—even the ones that were harmful and annoying! Today’s technology is specifically designed to address the cognitive aspects of hearing loss, tinnitus and associated cognitive deficiencies. When treatment is done right, you will hear as naturally as possible.
What are the primary beneﬁts of treatment?
To summarize, the five medical benefits of treatment include:
- Increase in quality of life and relationships at home and with friends.
- Reduced experience of tinnitus.
- Decreased risk of falling (the #1 cause of injury-related death in older adults).
- increased mental acuity.
- Reduced risk of mental decline and dementia.
How do I get started with treatment?
It is simple: just make an appointment with your local hearing healthcare provider (which you can find on the website www.ExcellenceInAudiology.org) for an initial consultation. Most practices will offer a free initial consultation to see if you are a good candidate for their treatment program.
How will treatment impact my brain?
New treatment technology has been found to effectively increase memory recall, processing speed and selective attention. The increased brain activity from treatment may also eliminate your increased risk of falling and losing your independence at home.
Is medical treatment of hearing loss and tinnitus appropriate if I am in my 30’s or 40’s?
Yes, especially because we now know that the early treatment of hearing loss is the #1 modifiable lifestyle factor to reduce your risk of developing cognitive decline and dementia.
Why are traditional hearing aids still sold?
Frankly, we have no idea! If it were up to us, we would ban the sale of all traditional hearing aids. We believe that as medical professionals we are ethically bound to only provide the best treatment available and never compromise on patient care.
Is so-called “invisible technology” effective?
Yes. As the technology we use to treat hearing loss continues to advance, the ‘packaging’ this technology comes in has become smaller and nearly invisible. While providing the right treatment is the priority, we can make your technology as discrete and invisible as possible. Long gone are the ‘beige bananas’ on people’s ears!
What are some of my payment options in addition to insurance?
Our core value is to treat every patient. To do this, we have met the challenge of making treatment affordable for all. Gone are the days of patients and families paying thousands of dollars up front (in fact, if you are ever told that you must pay in full—we suggest you politely excuse yourself from the appointment and run far, far away!). With membership programs that are compatible with insurance benefits and Health Savings Accounts (HSA’s), we can help patients afford medical treatment for a few dollars per day.
What if I have a “hearing emergency” before or after office hours?
If you are experiencing a hearing emergency that cannot wait for regular office hours, most practices have a special number to call before, during or after business hours. If this information is not given to you readily, ask how your hearing healthcare practice handles office emergencies. We know that ‘stuff happens’ and that it doesn’t always happen 9-5 pm Monday through Friday, which is why we are always available to our patients.
Do I have to worry about moisture or sweat hurting my hearing technology?
While full submersion of any computerized technology is never encouraged, today’s hearing technology is both moisture and dust resistant and can stand up to a beating!
Can I wear a mask while I wear my hearing technology?
A lot has changed in recent years and now that masks have become ‘normal’ today, you need not worry that they interfere with treating your hearing loss. Because most patients feel that treating their hearing loss is a ‘natural’ process and something they don’t actively think about, we remind patients to be careful when wearing anything on their ears that can accidentally cause your technology to fall off and get lost. (Most new technology has a ‘GPS homing beacon’ built into it and you can use your phone to find any lost technology!).
In addition to treating my hearing loss, what else can I do to keep my mind and body healthy?
Treating hearing loss is one of many things that older adults can do to look and feel their best. A proper diet with brain healthy foods and supplements is a vital component to maintaining mental acuity and sharpness as we age. Talk to your hearing healthcare provider about ‘what else’ can be done to actively age.
The Next Step:
Your Customized Treatment Plan
When you are ready, or your loved one agrees that they need to take the next step, we urge you to schedule your customized treatment plan analysis and complimentary consultation. There is never a cost or an obligation to treatment in these appointments as we welcome the opportunity to educate you and your family members.
We encourage you to find a www.ExcellenceInAudiology.org center near you and always work with somebody you trust. While credentials and experience are important, you must feel that you are in the best hands and that your treatment will never be compromised.