Hearing aids are small electronic devices worn in or behind the ear to amplify sounds. The device typically consists of a microphone, amplifier, and speaker. Digital hearing aids convert the sound waves into numeric codes before amplification and are programmable so some frequencies or sounds coming from certain directions can be more amplified than others allowing for a customizable device.
Hearing loss is a sudden or gradual decrease in how well you can hear. It is one of the most common conditions affecting senior adults. Approximately one in three people between ages 65-74 have hearing loss, and nearly half of those above 75 have difficulty hearing. Having trouble hearing can make it hard to understand a doctor's advice, respond to warnings, or to hear doorbells and alarms. It can also make it hard to enjoy conversing with friends and family. Since the inner ear houses not only the hearing but also the balance organs, untreated hearing loss is also linked to an increased risk of falls. All of this could lead to frustration, embarrassment, or even a hazard to your overall health.
Hearing loss could occur for a myriad of reasons, ranging from noise exposure or diabetes to simply natural aging. The skilled Audiologists at LACHB are fully-equipped to assess your hearing, with a full scope of audiometric tests utilizing state-of-the-art medical equipment. Should we confirm the presence of hearing loss, a wide range of treatments are available. Thanks to our proximity to the LA Center for Ear, Nose, Throat & Allergy, we can also offer an Otolaryngologist’s (medical doctor) consultation to review diagnoses and treatment plans. Patient care is our number one priority, and our Doctors are fully invested in your long-term hearing health.
While presbycusis (age-related hearing loss) tends to affect seniors, hearing loss can occur at literally any age. Many young professionals have not been tested since childhood, and even then, only by a school nurse! Seeing a Doctor of Audiology at LACHB can help give you an understanding of your hearing through a standard Audiogram, as well as strategies to preserve your hearing in loud environments. Should there be a considerable hearing loss, then our doctors can work with you to find a discrete, tech-forward solution to restore your hearing while preserving your style. Even if you have perfect hearing, obtaining a hearing test is critical to establish a baseline that you can compare to in future years.
A standard hearing test provides a measurement of the sensitivity of a person’s hearing across the full range of speech, or 250-8000 Hz. This test is conducted by an Audiologist - or under his or her close supervision - after an otoscopic evaluation. The test is administered through supra-aural headphones or insert earphones, and usually takes about 15 minutes. The goal of the standard hearing test is to measure the quietest sound that can be heard several points across the speech range. The result is an Audiogram, which shows symbols mapped across a range of frequencies. For a more detailed test battery that includes bone-conduction testing as well as speech testing, you may consider a Comprehensive Hearing Test.
Comprehensive Hearing Test
A comprehensive hearing test gives an Audiologist or ENT doctor a thorough assessment of your hearing health. This test includes a classic measurement or Standard Hearing Test of your hearing sensitivity across the full range of speech, or 250-8000 Hz via air-conduction. In addition, the comprehensive evaluation includes a bone-conduction hearing test as well as various speech tests. Testing via vibration, or bone-conduction helps the Doctor determine whether there could be a middle-ear anomaly, and speech testing provides information regarding functional hearing acuity. Typically, an ENT or Primary Care Physician would order a comprehensive evaluation in order to obtain as much information about your hearing health as possible.
A Tympanogram is a graphic representation of how the eardrum moves in response to the air pressure in the ear canal. When the eardrum is activated by a sound wave, part of the sound is absorbed and sent through the middle ear, while the other part of the sound wave is reflected. The purpose of tympanometry is to assess the state of the middle ear. Abnormalities such as excess cerumen (earwax), otitis media (middle ear infection), or a punctured eardrum could potentially reveal themselves in a tympanogram. A tympanogram is often utilized alongside audiometry (hearing test) to determine the hearing health of the patient.
OAE’s, or Otoacoustic Emissions, are a way to find out how well your
inner ear, or cochlea, works. These are sounds given off by the tiny hairs of your inner ear when responding to a sound. The vibration of these hair cells produces a very quiet sound that echoes back into the middle ear, which are measured as OAE’s. If your hearing loss is greater than 25–30 decibels (dB), or if there is a blockage in either your outer or middle ear space, these very soft sounds will not present during the test. The test is conducted in quiet, with a probe + microphone instrument placed into your ear. You do not need to do anything during this brief time.
Hearing Aid Brands
There are a plethora of hearing aid brands, but choosing the correct hearing aid for your lifestyle, hearing loss, and anatomy is a serious decision. The Doctors of Audiology at the LA Center for Hearing & Balance have the education and the experience to correctly determine which types of hearing aids will benefit our patients the most. Here are just some of the hearing brands we work with:
GN Resound - Resound is among the world’s largest hearing aid manufacturers. Since the company was founded in 1943, Resound has been known for great sound quality, design excellence, and meaningful solutions that help hearing-impaired people rediscover sounds. Proudly based in Denmark with a US corporate office in Minnesota, Resound developed the first made-for-iPhone hearing aid, and continues to excel in hearing aid connectivity and audibility.
Starkey - Starkey Hearing Technologies is a US-based leader in manufacturing and delivering hearing solutions. Their goal is to bring people together and make lives richer by empowering individuals. The Starkey Hearing Foundation has provided more than 1.5 million hearing aids to people in need worldwide.
Oticon - Oticon was founded on a compassion for people - and a deep understanding of the role that hearing plays in living a richer and fuller life. More than a century later, compassion continues to guide their innovation and drives business through their unique corporate structure in Denmark.
Signia - Formerly known as Siemens, this brand continues more than 130 years of experience in manufacturing hearing aids. Based in Germany, Signia is committed to providing innovative solutions to hearing loss.
Widex - Based in Denmark, Widex designs, develops, and manufactures industry-leading digital hearing aids. Originally founded as a family-owned company, Widex today is part of the WS Audiology family as a result of its 2019 merger with Sivantos (alongside Signia).
Phonak - Phonak is a Swiss company that has been committed to developing, producing, and distributing life-changing hearing solutions for over 70 years. Phonak challenges the limits of technology to overcome difficult listening environments.