How to shop for hearing aids – the smart way!

We had the privilege of meeting a younger gentleman a while back who’s approach to hearing aid shopping was novel to us. We thought that it was ingenious – and thus, with his permission we are going to share a bit of his story with you.

Mr. X is a 12 year hearing aid wearer who called us to arrange a consultation. Not a hearing test. He simply wanted to meet our Doctors of Audiology and see our facilities. It seems that 12 years ago at his initial purchase he bought hearing aids where his family doctor was, and was never very happy with those services he received. The product he purchased and subsequent products he purchased over the years worked just fine, but the services he had received, to him, seemed lacking. He told us that he bought his hearing aids there because he felt his family doctor would be upset if he bought a set elsewhere – closer to home.

Mr. X visited us on a Tuesday, along with his wife and brought a copy of his most recent hearing test. He was open and honest that we were not the first clinic that he visited. He asked about our education, experience and what we recommended for him and his hearing loss. It would be a 25 minute drive from his home for him to visit us, but he’d been further.

Mr. X was not price shopping. He was Audiologist shopping: and we loved it. 

In Mr. X’s reasoning, only a few hundred dollars separate the costs of the hearing aids. But the quality of service is where he perceives his value. Cost and value: two very different concepts but often interchanged ideas.

COST: the price of something, the amount of money that is needed to pay for or buy something.

VALUE: the regard that something is held to deserve; the importance, worth, or usefulness of something. One’s judgment of what is important.

We want to encourage each and every reader to consider shopping for an Audiologist rather than a hearing aid. The right Audiologist will very often lead you to the right hearing aid for you. This day and age, we tend to get wrapped up in the cost of things, getting a good sale etc., but we don’t think so much of the value of the services that we receive along with those products. Don’t be tempted to price shop so much as to value shop. And when all else fails; we price match.

(Don’t forget! We are once again performing complimentary hearing screenings with our Doctors of Audiology in exchange for canned food donations!  Call Melissa today to arrange your appointment! (519) 961-9285!)


This was fun!

Melissa stumbled across THIS WEBPAGE today.

In this test, created by Amplifon, players are taken to three different locations filled with noises.

It’s the player’s task to locate the waterfall, birds and telephone. The interactive sound map lets you move 360 degrees around the public location to pin-point the source. The noises get louder and clearer as you explore the map. After you’ve had a stab, it reveals where other users have guessed.

Aging is the most common cause of hearing loss, but the World Health Organisation recently said that the single largest cause of preventable loss is loud noise, such as from heavy industry in work places and loud music.

Generally, we don’t like online hearing tests – as they are only as good as your speaker system, but this was a fun take on showing how well we localize sound.

Put on your headphones and give it a try! And if you don’t score as well as you had thought, you know who to call!


Hearing Aids May Improve Balance

Hearing Aids May Improve Balance
by Julia Evangelou Strait

Timothy Hullar, MD, (right) and medical student Miranda Colletta help patient Audrey Miller prepare for a balance test. Older adults with hearing loss appeared to perform better on balance tests with both hearing aids on, according to Hullar’s research. Credit: Robert Boston

Enhancing hearing appears to improve balance in older adults with hearing loss, according to new research from Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis. Patients with hearing aids in both ears performed better on standard balance tests when their hearing aids were turned on compared with when they were off.

The small study, which appears in the journal The Laryngoscope, involved only 14 people ages 65 to 91 but is the first to demonstrate that sound information, separate from the balance system of the inner ear, contributes to maintaining the body’s stability. The study lends support to the idea that improving hearing through hearing aids or cochlear implants may help reduce the risk of falls in older people.

“We don’t think it’s just that wearing hearing aids makes the person more alert,” said senior author Timothy E. Hullar, MD, professor of otolaryngology at the School of Medicine. “The participants appeared to be using the sound information coming through their hearing aids as auditory reference points or landmarks to help maintain balance. It’s a bit like using your eyes to tell where you are in space. If we turn out the lights, people sway a little bit—more than they would if they could see. This study suggests that opening your ears also gives you information about balance.”
All participants served as their own controls, performing the balance tests with and without their hearing aids turned on. Since the researchers were interested in examining the effect of hearing, all tests were conducted in the presence of a sound source producing white noise, similar to the sound of radio static.
In one test, subjects’ eyes were covered as they stood with their feet together on a thick foam pad. In a second, more difficult task, patients stood on the floor with one foot in front of the other, heel to toe, also with no visual cues for balance. Patients were timed to see how long they could stand in these positions without moving their arms or feet, or requiring the aid of another person to maintain balance.
Several of the participants could maintain stability on the foam pad for at least 30 seconds (which is the considered normal), whether their hearing aids were on or not. But those having more difficulty with balance in this test performed better when their hearing aids were on. And the improvement in performance was even more apparent in the more challenging balance test.
“We wanted to see if we could detect an improvement even in people who did very well on the foam test,” Hullar said. “And we found, indeed, their balance improved during the harder test with their hearing aids on.”

For the foam pad test, patients maintained balance an average of 17 seconds with hearing aids off. With hearing aids on, this average increased to almost 26 seconds. And in the more difficult heel-to-toe test, patients remained stable an average of 5 seconds with hearing aids off. With them on, this time increased to an average of 10 seconds. Even with the small number of patients in the trial, both time differences were statistically significant.
Although patients could tell whether their hearing aids were on or off, the researchers randomized the order of the conditions in which each patient performed these tests, so that some performed the tests with hearing aids on first and some started with them off.
Hullar pointed out that many of the study patients did not report being consciously aware that they had performed better on these tests when their hearing aids were working. But he said he has heard anecdotal evidence that some people notice a difference.
“Many of my patients say their balance is better when they’re wearing hearing aids or cochlear implants,” Hullar said. “We wanted to find out if improved hearing really has a measurable effect on balance. And the metric that we use—how many seconds can you stand on a piece of foam—has a well-documented relationship to risk of falling.
“This is a small study,” Hullar added. “Obviously it needs to be repeated in a much larger study, and we’re seeking funding to do that.”

More information: “The effect of hearing aids on postural stability.” Laryngoscope. 2014 Oct 24. DOI: 10.1002/lary.24974. [Epub ahead of print]
Journal reference: Laryngoscope
Provided by Washington University in St. Louis