What You Need To Know Before Settling For an Audiologist
Finding a solution for a hearing aid problem can be sometimes tasking. Hearing loss treatment can involve a whole bunch of medical terminologies that can be difficult to understand. Differentiating between a hearing aid instrument professional and an audiologist can be a bit confusing.
It is important to understand the concept of Audiology and Audiologist before venturing out to seek for aid when you notice a hearing problem.
Who is an Audiologist?
An Audiologist is a person trained to identify and recommend treatment for hearing loss. An audiologist is a licensed individual saddled with the responsibility of identifying various kinds of hearing problem and other problems associated with balance in both children and adult. In the lay man’s language, the Audiologist can be defined as a hearing doctor. There are a lot of Audiologist around the US with a doctorate degree in Audiology (Au.D.)
Audiology is one of the highly placed professions in the US. It has remained one of the best careers from in the US and was ranked top career from 2006 to 2009.
What an Audiologist Does
There are a lot of people suffering from one form of hearing loss or the other. The duty of the audiologist can never be overemphasized. The duties of the audiologist include the following:

  • Identify the cause and kind of hearing problem and balance disorders.

  • Provide the best form of treatment, recommends hearing aids and other devices that can improve sound quality and aid hearing.

  • They are part of the ear implant team.

  • They are available for supervision of surgery related to hearing problems.

  • They create and implement programs associated with hearing management.

  • They plan and apply hearing screenings for newborn.

They also create and initiate programs that enhance hearing and help rehabilitate people with hearing problems. This also includes aiding people to improve their listening skills.

  • Evaluate and treat people especially children with hearing processing disorder.

  • Diagnose, aid and treat people suffering from the tinnitus effect.

  • Audiologists treat people of different age grades. Advanced age, children, adults and even newborn.

There are other kinds of hearing problem that is caused by nerve damage. The Audiologist can identify and treat this problem.
The audiologist is well informed and equipped to deal with problems associated with the vestibular and the human auditory. They are also trained to reproduce sound. Voice reproduction is very crucial to the production and design of the hearing aids.
Importance of choosing an Audiologist
There are other kinds of hearing problems that do not require a hearing aid. Some ailments or health conditions may cause temporal hearing loss. All that is required is the treatment of the condition. Medical conditions such as mumps acoustic neuroma and Usher's syndrome can lead to a temporal hearing loss.
Hiring the services of the audiologist will help you diagnose, ascertain and know the best solution for you.
Dealing with hearing problems requires professional care. With the rise in OTC hearing aids, people tend to bypass the duty of the audiologist. This is certainly not in their best interest. For those new to the hearing aid, adjusting can be difficult. It is the duty of the audiologist to help you adjust to the new device. He studies your level of improvement and adjusts the device for bet fit.
How to choose an Audiologist
There are certain things to consider before selecting an audiologist. The best audiologists to look for are those with license and not just an audiologist with a certificate. Ensure any audiologist you will settle with guarantees a high quality of service and personalized care. Problems associated with hearing loss differ from one person to the other. When it comes to recommending a hearing aid, there is no one size fits all. The second thing to consider is the location of the clinic. Endeavor to pick a clinic at a convenient location. Another thing to consider when selecting an audiologist is the office hours. The more flexible the office hours, the better for you. This will enable you to fix an appointment that is best suitable for you. The greater the variety of hearing aid selection an audiologist have access to, the better it is for you when making a choice.
How to find an Audiologist that can help with thumping in the ear
Sometimes, finding an audiologist requires making a few long trips. Ensure to seek for the assistance of an audiologist who has a passion for his job and finds love in it. The ideal audiologist should be the one who finds joy in helping people with hearing problem recover. A doctor who is in love with his job is in the best position to provide you with the required medical care.
One of the most reliable ways to find an audiologist is by referral. Majority of healthcare providers now rely on referral. Ensure to make inquiries into the experience of any audiologist you will settle for. You may also wish to ask your doctor to make a recommendation for you.
Word of mouth and insurance
Your medical insurance can be of assistance when it comes to finding the best audiologist in your area. There are also providers who are trustworthy which you can also try out. Gathering firsthand information by word of mouth is certainly a good way to get reliable information of an audiologist. Search for an audiologist with a lot of experience. The length he has stayed in business can be a pointer to the quality of service he renders.
Carry out a research before drawing a conclusion
Finding the best audiologist for your hearing problem can be difficult. However, a little research and determination are just all you need. The first stage in dealing with hearing loss problem is by accepting the new stage in life. The earlier you accept it and start working closely with an audiologist to find the best remedy for the situation.
There are audiologist directories designed to make it easy for you to find the help you need. The internet is also an important place to look when searching for an audiologist.
What is Presbycusis
Presbycusis or Presbyacusis is a debilitating bilateral sensorineural hearing defects that affects older persons. It is caused by many factors including a combination of environmental and genetic factors. Presbycusis ranges from moderate to severe, in most cases older persons become depressed and withdrawn as the disease worsens as they age.
The disease is correctable using rehabilitation which if successful will improve the quality of life for older persons. Because those who benefit from hearing aids are not present for assessment when given, they are not correctly assessed and diagnosed. It is therefore imperative to screen older persons through specialists and primary care physcians.
Royal National Institute for Deaf People (RNID) which is now known as the UK charity Action on Hearing loss estimate that more than 10 million people in the UK are experiencing diverse kind of hearing loss,. These individuals experienced this over time. About 70% of individuals above 70 years are victims of hearing loss together with more 40% of people above 50 years.
Another research carried out showed that over 2 million persons in the UK are using hearing aids in which 60% uses it regularly while an estimated 4 million person will benefit the hearing aids.
Presbycusis was found to be common in men than women
Symptoms of Presbycusis
Primary Symptoms of presbycusis are:

  • The wish to increase the volume on electronics like radio, phone or television.

  • The cocktail party effect", this is the difficulty to which persons cannot discern against back ground music.

  • Not knowing the direction of sound.

  • Difficulties in speech made by women or children.

  • Dull or muffled speech is experienced .

  • Secondary symptoms of presbycusis are:

  • Hyperacusis- frequency of sound sensitivity.

  • Tinnitus- experiencing sounds in the ear when there are no such sound.

  • Inability to hear high pitched noise and perceiving of sound challenge.

Presbycusis Diagnosis

  • Hearing loss is broken down into four:

The normal hearing range is around 25dB sensitivity, nevertheless 25dB was said to be too high. A careful considerations suggested that having 15dB is more typical. Traditionally, hearing classification in each ear placed on pure-tine audiometry is within 500-200Hz. Mild hearing has a border of 25dB-45dB; moderate hearing loss has 45dB-65dB, the severe has hearing loss border of 65dB-85dB,. The profound ranges above 85dB. ,
The presence of Tinnitus, that is the hearing of unreal or virtual sounds), can trigger the ear specialist to carry further examination. Sounds can be in form of buzzing, humming, and others when such case is experienced.
Some of the examinations carried out by the specialist to diagnosis the possible problem include: -

  • Tympanometry- This involves the testing of the tympanic membrane and the mid ear operations. This is done through the usage of This ear air pressur sound divice instrument is an is used by aural insertion. When the tests are concluded to be the Type A Tympanogram, this hearing loss is likely going to lead to presbycusis. On the contrary, when it is diagnosed to be. Type B and Type C, it indicates there are abnormalities inside the ear which will result to additional hearing issues.

  • Otoscopy- This examination is done on the external era canal. It include the tympanic membrane. This test is usually carried out by an otolaryngologist, an audiologist or a medical doctor. The otscope is inserted into the ear to allow the specialist to see the middle ear via the tympanic membrane.

The audiometry hearing test and Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) are other tests that are carried out.
There is no perfect Treatment for sensorineural hearing loss but it can be managed. You can manage presbycusis through management, surgical and pharmacological.
Management- Usage of hearing aids enhances the hearing of aged people. There are other available with certain adjustable hearing range.
Presbycusis is one of most common causes of hearing loss, which often affects the aged. Statistics have it that one out of three persons of age 65 is having the ear defect; on the other hand, one of two by age 75 is also a victim.
Causes of Presbycusis
There are there major causes associated with this ailment namely:
Physiologic deterioration :
The extrinsic damage, which is biologically known as nosocusis.
The intrinsic damage also called sociocusis.
These aforementioned factors are superimposed on a genetic substrate, and likely to be dominated by general age-related vulnerability to ailments and body disorders.
Hearing loss is usually experienced as one advance in age. Retaining of hearing into old age is seen in preindustrial and non-industrial societies. A study carried out at the Framingham cohort indicates that only 10% of the variability of hearing with age could be explained by physiologic degeneration associated with old age. Hereditary is dominated within families; across family groups, sociocusis and nosocusis factors were presumed to be dominant.
Heredity: factors such as early aging of the cochlea and the vulnerability of cochlea for drug insults are genetically determined.
Oxidative stress
General Inflammatory Conditions
Sociocusis is defined as the condition of people experiencing dementia which is characterized to intense exposure of the ears to noise which might be from their place of work or not. This exposure to these harmful stimuli is common and are generally considered as the “background noise” which has a negative effect on human hearing. Uninterrupted noise coming from the traffic, home electronic appliances like television and radio, are good examples of sociocusis-related stimuli. From the accumulation of these noises for years, one is likely going to experience the ear condition similar to pure presbycusis.
Unilever the sociocusus, Nosocusis factors are not noise related and separate from pure presbycusis. The factors include;
Ototoxic drugs: This is the ingestion of ototoxic drugs like aspirin. Ingesting of these drugs gives rise to presbycusis.
Vascular Degeneration

  • Atherosclerosis: This factor diminishes the vascularity of the cochlea, thus reducing the supply of oxygen by cochlea.

  • Dietary habits: The increment of saturated fat consumption into the body may speed up atherosclerotic changes in old age.

  • Smoking: Is postulated to boost atherosclerotic changes in blood vessels worsening presbycusis.

  • Diabetes: This causes vasculitis and endothelial proliferation in the blood vessels of the cochlea, which directly reduce the blood supply.

  • Hypertension: This causes potent vascular changes, like reduction in blood supply to the cochlea, which in turn aggravates presbycusis.

However, a recent study carried out shows that ailments like diabetes, atherosclerosis, and hypertension are not associated with presbycusis, rather are only acquired hearing loss factor.

Surgical Cochlear Implant
A surgical cochlear implant is actually possible when it comes to the cases of any serious hearing loss. This is basically an electronic device through which the cochlea is replaced from the inner ear. Through a round-shaped window of cochlea, the Electrodes are inserted into the fluid-filled Scala Tympani. These electrodes stimulate the peripheral axons, presented in the primary auditory neurons. Then these axons send the information to brain through the auditory nerve.
In a spiral fashion, the cochlea is tonotopically mapped. The lower frequencies are confining at the apex of cochlea while the high frequencies localizing at the base of cochlea, near round and oval windows. With the growth of age, comes the loss in differentiating the lower and higher frequencies, specifically the higher ones. The electrodes, used in implantation, are basically designed to stimulate the array of nerve fibers that were responded perfectly fine and accurately in differentiating the frequencies earlier. One thing is much important to note is, that because of spatial constraints, sometimes it is not possible to insert the cochlear implant, completely into the cochlear apex. It provides a changed sound spectrum than the normal hearing, but it may allow the receiver person to identify the different sounds of speech and environmental noises.
Hearing Aids
These implanted hearing aids work by directly vibrating the ossicles, and are cosmetically favored by many because of their hidden nature.
Hearing aids enhance the ability to hear amongst the old. The restoration of hearing for affected victims reduces the communication going on between them and their communication partners. Noise minimization and sugar of contextual cues are used to improve comprehension.
Hearing Aid Repairs
Hearing aids are made up of small working parts, and it is common for them to need repair over time. Even with proper care, a hearing aid can still develop faults. The device can start making unusual noise or stop working completely for no apparent reason. If any of these happens, it is best to take the hearing aid to a hearing care professional for repairs. The professional will diagnose the broken hearing aids and fix the problem if it is minor. Some major repairs may need to be handled by the manufacturer of the hearing aid.
How to keep hearing aids from having problems
Knowing how to take care of hearing aids can keep them working for a long time without need for any repairs. Below are some ways to prevent hearing aids from developing faults

  • Keep the device clean and dry

Hearing aids have tiny holes and spaces that can be clogged with earwax and other debris. It is necessary to clean the device everyday with a clean dry cloth. This is to avoid build up of ear wax and debris that can lead to clogging. When the microphone and other sound ports are clogged, it can cause feedback when using the device.
Moisture can accumulate in the device with constant use. Exposure to moisture can damage the hearing aid. Moisture build up can be prevented by removing the batteries when not in use. Trapped moisture can cause the batteries to corrode. This can damage the devices. Removing the batteries allow air to circulate inside the device and dry up any moisture. It is advisable to remove hearing aids before shower or swimming. Hearing aid sleeves and hearing aid humidifier can help kept the device free from moisture.

  • Keep ears clean

The ears have to be kept clean too. Excessive earwax can become lodged in ports of the hearing aid. It is good to clean the ears daily to keep earwax at a minimum.

  • Proper handling

The hearing aid should always be handled with care. It should not be dropped on the floor, or exposed to extreme heat or cold.
Troubleshooting at home
Even with the best care, hearing aids develop problems from time to time. The cheapest way to try to fix a faulty hearing aid is to troubleshoot at home.
If the device does not turn on, here are things to do

  • Check to see that it is really turned on

  • Make sure that the battery is properly inserted and the battery door is completely closed.

  • Check the battery contacts for corrosion and clean if necessary.

  • Replace your battery with a new one.

If the device is turned on but there is no sound, try the following

  • Check to see if the microphone is blocked by wax and clean it.

  • Check the ear mold tubing and make sure it is free from debris and wax. If it is clogged, clean it.

If there is a whistling noise or feedback, do the following

  • Make sure the ear molds fit into the ear properly.

  • Clean any wax from the ear.

  • Clean the ear mold.

Taking the Device for Repairs
If any of the suggestions above does not fix the problem, it’s time to take the hearing aid to a professional for repair.
The Cost of Repair
The total cost of repairing a hearing aid depends on the extent of damage, cost of replacement parts and the status of the device warranty. Most hearing aids come with two years warranty. Some of the parts of the device also come with their own warranties. More cost will be incurred if the warranty has expired.
Hearing aid repairs involving only replacement tubing, deep cleaning or an adjustment can be done in the office by the professional. These will cost less than repairs that require the attention of the manufacturer.
The general out of pocket cost of repairs is between $300 and $600 USD depending on the type of repair. Replacing the outer shell of the hearing aid is usually the most expensive repair costing up to $600. It is advisable to pay for longer warranty to save cost on repairs.
Hearing aids can be beyond repair if they have lasted for more than five years. The lifespan of most hearing aids is about three to five years. It is better to buy a new device if the current one develops any problem after that number of years. This is because continuous repairs may be required after the first repair and this incurs more cost.
Another reason why a hearing aid may be beyond repair is if it has undergone multiple repairs for the same problems in the past. An extensive repair history is a sign to get a new one.
It may be difficult to get replacement parts for older models of hearing aids. In that case, such hearing aids become unfixable.
The Hearing Aid Business
The World Health Organization states that about 466 million people have disabling hearing loss worldwide and the number is expected to reach 900 million by 2050. Increasing aging populations comes with increase in hearing impairments and need for hearing aids. Noise pollution is a leading cause of hearing loss in the world today. This global increase in the prevalence of hearing loss in patients is the major driver of the hearing aid devices market. Another driver of growth for the market is the increased awareness about hearing loss treatments.
The hearing aid devices segment accounts for the largest share of the hearing aids market after hearing implants. The development of new and advanced products is responsible for this growth.
In the past, only audiologists sold hearing aids in most countries. This means that patients could only buy hearing aids from the hearing aid professional’s office. But in recent times, hearing aids can be bought over the counter. The OTC devices are often simple hearing aids which amplify every sound.
Opportunities in the Hearing Aid Business
The hearing aid business holds great potential for anyone who wants to venture into it. A recent report showed that the global hearing aid devices market is estimated to witness a CAGR of 5.1% during the forecast period 2017-2023.
High costs of hearing aids and potential profits make it a business of interest for many entrepreneurs. An entrepreneur can go into manufacture of hearing aids. He can decide to manufacture low-cost or higher-end hearing aids. A thorough research to know what customers want is very important. Manufacturing low cost hearing aids is best if the entrepreneur wants less competition because there are few low cost hearing aids. The increasing number of hearing loss patients has led to increased demand for low cost hearing aids. An entrepreneur who wants to make hearing aids accessible to many people can use the low cost strategy.
An individual may not have the desire or enough resources to manufacture hearing aids. Such individual can go into independent practice. This however comes with its own challenges.
Challenges in the Business
Even with the huge potential of the hearing aid business, there are certain challenges that an entrepreneur or independent practice will face in the business. Some of the challenges are

  • The Big Companies.

A very large part of the hearing aid market is dominated by the very few big brands. Key players in the market are GN ReSound, Sonova Holding, Siemens, Widex and Starkey Hearing Technologies. These companies are consistently developing innovative and technically advanced devices. Devices from these companies are available in many countries and millions of them are sold yearly. This is a big challenge for any entrepreneur who intends to go into manufacturing of hearing aids. Such an individual or company will have to go the extra mile to beat the competition. The hearing aid produced by any new company must include latest technology found in popular global brands for it to compete well in the market

  • Fluctuations in the Economy.

The state of the economy affects the sales of hearing aids due to their high cost. This can be a challenge for the independent practice. Higher rates of unemployment will mean that less people will be able to buy hearing aids.

  • The Big Box Stores

These stores buy hearing aid units in bulk and sell at very cheap prices. For independent practices to capitalize on the growth of the market in the midst of these big box stores, they need to focus on their strengths. Price shouldn’t be the focus because these big stores offer very low prices. There is need to develop marketing strategies that will deliver quality service and care to patients.
Purchasing a hearing aid at a big box store is just like purchasing any other product. There is usually no extra service attached. This is where the independent practice can stand out. People who run independent practice need to understand the needs of customers, supply a wide range of hearing aids to suit their needs, and back up their selection with specialized knowledge and a unique buying experience. This is the best way to compete with the big names. Developing lasting relationships with loyal customers is important for survival in this highly competitive market.