Providing hearing aid solutions in Nashville,TN

Listen up, Music City; your hearing is about to take center stage!

Let’s start with the basics. You’re hearing is what drives your life, enlivens your relationships, keeps you in the loop and at the top of your game.

The quality and clarity of your hearing is essential to living your life to the fullest. If your hearing is suffering even just a little bit, if you’ve felt frustrated, isolated or left out because you can’t make out the conversation, Audiology Associates and Hearing Aids Today can change all that with a lifestyle solution just for you.

We’re here to help you understand your hearing loss, and help you take back the life you’ve been missing. You don’t have to miss another sound, the solution to your hearing problems is right around the corner.

Hear more – anywhere, anytime!


Want to be a part of the conversation again?

Dr. Jina Scherer has built a practice that is 100% focused on you – your family, your work and your life. The conversations that start in our office are about building relationships of trust, and finding solutions that inspire.

We know how hard it can be to struggle with hearing loss and feel like there’s nowhere to turn. Audiology Associates & Hearing Aids Today is dedicated to helping people hear better everyday. Our clients, friends and family in Nashville have come to trust us for exceptional care and service, and we take that trust very seriously.

Nearly 36 million Americans report some degree of hearing loss, and every one of them has a family, a job and a lifestyle that can also be significantly affected. That adds up to a lot of people suffering, losing hope and missing out on things when they don’t have to.

The comeback your hearing deserves, is here today!

  • Hear Better, Live BetterClick here to see how our Audiology Services can help you hear and live better.
  • Acoustic or Electric – Turn It Up! – Check out our full line of musician’s earplugs, tips to protect your hearing and prevent hearing loss. Click here to find out more.
  • A Tip of the Hat to TechnologyClick here to see just how far hearing aid and hearing assistance devices have come – We guarantee you’ll be surprised!
  • Testing, Testing – One, Two… – Already have a hearing aid? We can test any hearing aid you have and see that it’s delivering the best sound possible. Click here to set up an appointment today.

Your Ears…Only Better!

“I was a pretty good imitator of Roy Acuff, but then I found out they already had a Roy Acuff, so I started singin’ like myself.” – Hank Williams

Rediscovering your hearing is like finding your own voice, it will change your life overnight!

People come to Nashville to become a star; they stay because of the family they find here. Audiology Associates and Hearing Aids Today is part of that family, and the relationships we’re building everyday are far better than a single night on stage at the Grand Ole Opry.

When you struggle with hearing loss, your relationships suffer, your business suffers and your life is a little less than it could be. When the chips are down, the relationships in your life are more important than anything else; isn’t that what all those songs are really about?

Before we help people to hear better…We Listen! Our amazing staff of audiology and support professionals know what they’re listening for, so when you step into our office, you’ll know you’ve come to the right place.

It’s time you did something about your hearing loss, and we’re here to help!

  • Meet the TeamClick here to meet the best audiology professionals and support staff anywhere in Music City.
  • Contact Us – Nothing beats getting your questions answered face-to-face. Click here to get in touch and schedule an appointment today.
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The Psychology of Hearing Loss

If we truly want to understand hearing loss, we need to understand both the physical side, which makes hearing increasingly difficult, and the psychological side, which includes the lesser-known emotional responses to the loss of hearing. Together, the two sides of hearing loss can wreak havoc on a person’s total well being, as the physical reality creates the loss and the psychological reality prevents people from dealing with it.

The numbers tell the tale. Although almost all instances of hearing loss are physically treatable, only around 20% of people who would benefit from hearing aids make use of them. And even among individuals who do seek help, it takes an average of 5 to 7 years before they arrange a hearing test.

How can we explain the enormous discrepancy between the opportunity for better hearing and the commonplace unwillingness to attain it? The first step is to appreciate that hearing loss is in fact a “loss,” in the sense that something invaluable has been taken away and is seemingly lost forever. The second step is to determine how individuals typically react to losing something valuable, which, by way of the scholarship of the Swiss-American psychiatrist Elisabeth Kübler-Ross, we now understand very well.

Elizabeth Kübler-Ross’ 5 stages of grief

Kübler-Ross noted 5 stages of grief that everyone coping with loss appears to go through (in surprisingly consistent ways), although not everyone does so in the same order or in the same period of time.

Here are the stages:

  1. Denial – the individual buffers the emotional shock by denying the loss and contemplating a false, preferred reality.
  2. Anger – the individual acknowledges the loss but becomes angry that it has happened to them.
  3. Bargaining – the individual responds to the feeling of helplessness by trying to take back control through bargaining.
  4. Depression – comprehending the significance of the loss, the individual becomes saddened at the hopelessness of the circumstance.
  5. Acceptance – in the last stage, the individual accepts the circumstance and demonstrates a more stable set of emotions. The rationality associated with this stage leads to productive problem solving and the restoring of control over emotions and actions.

People with hearing loss progress through the stages at different rates, with some never arriving at the final stage of acceptance — hence the discrepancy between the possibility for better hearing and the low numbers of people who actually seek help, or that otherwise wait many years before doing so.

Progressing through the stages of hearing loss

The first stage of grief is the most difficult to escape for those with hearing loss. Because hearing loss develops slowly over the years, it can be very difficult to recognize. People also have the tendency to make up for hearing loss by cranking up the TV volume, for instance, or by forcing people to repeat themselves. Those with hearing loss can stay in the denial stage for years, saying things like “I can hear just fine” or “I hear what I want to.”

The next stage, the anger stage, can show itself as a form of projection. You may hear those with hearing loss assert that everybody else mumbles, as if the issue is with everyone else rather than with them. People remain in the anger stage until they recognize that the issue is in fact with them, and not with others, at which point they may move on to the bargaining stage.

Bargaining is a form of intellectualization that can take various forms. For instance, people with hearing loss might compare their condition to others by thinking, “My hearing has become a lot worse, but at least my health is good. I really shouldn’t complain, other people my age are dealing with real problems.” You might also find those with hearing loss devaluing their problem by thinking, “So I can’t hear as well as I used to. It’s just part of aging, no big deal.”

After passing through these first three stages of denial, anger, and bargaining, those with hearing loss may head into a stage of depression — under the false presumption that there is no hope for treatment. They may persist in the depression stage for a while until they realize that hearing loss can be treated, at which point they can enter the last stage: the acceptance stage.

The acceptance stage for hearing loss is shockingly evasive. If only 20% of those who can benefit from hearing aids actually use them, that means 80% of those with hearing loss never get to the final stage of acceptance (or they’ve reached the acceptance stage but for other reasons decide not to take action). In the acceptance stage, people recognize their hearing loss but take action to correct it, to the best of their ability.

This is the one positive side to hearing loss: unlike other kinds of loss, hearing loss is partially recoverable, making the acceptance stage easier to reach. Thanks to major advancements in digital hearing aid technology, people can in fact enhance their hearing enough to communicate and engage normally in daily activities — without the stress and frustration of impaired hearing — allowing them to reconnect to the people and activities that give their life the most value.

Which stage are you in?

In the case of hearing loss, following the crowd is going to get you into some trouble. While 80% of those with hearing loss are stuck somewhere along the first four stages of grief — struggling to hear, harming relationships, and making excuses — the other 20% have accepted their hearing loss, taken action to amplify it, and rediscovered the pleasures of sound.

Which group will you join?

A Short Biography of Raymond Carhart, the “Father of Audiology”

Raymond Carhart

Many people are surprised to learn how young the field of audiology actually is, and how recently its founding father established the profession. To put this in perspective, if you wanted to find the founding father of biology, for example, you’d have to go back in time by 2,300 years and read the The History of Animals, a natural history text authored in the fourth century BCE by the Ancient Greek philosopher Aristotle.

In contrast, to find the founding father of audiology, we need go back only 70 years, to 1945 when Raymond Carhart popularized the word. But who was Raymond Carhart, and how did he come to produce a distinct scientific field so recently? The story starts with World War II.

World War II and Hearing Loss

One of history’s famous lessons shows us that necessity is the mother of invention, which means that challenging problems prompt inventions aimed toward minimizing the difficulty. Such was the case for audiology, as hearing loss was increasingly becoming a bigger public health concern both during and after World War II.

Indeed, the primary driving force behind the progress of audiology was World War II, which resulted in military personnel coming back from battle with extreme hearing damage caused by direct exposure to loud sounds. While many speech pathologists had been calling for better hearing assessment and therapy all along, the multitude of people suffering with hearing loss from World War II made the request impossible to dismiss.

Among those calling for a new field, Robert West, a prominent speech pathologist, called for the expansion of the speech pathology field to include the correction of hearing in 1936 — the same year that Raymond Carhart would graduate with a Doctor of Philosophy degree in Speech Pathology, Experimental Phonetics and Psychology.

Raymond Carhart Establishes the New Science of Hearing

Raymond Carhart himself started off his career in speech pathology. He received his Bachelor of Arts degree in Speech and Psychology from Dakota Wesleyan University in 1932 and his Master of Arts and Doctor of Philosophy degrees in Speech Pathology, Experimental Phonetics and Psychology at Northwestern University in 1934 and 1936. Carhart was in fact one of the department’s first two PhD graduates.

Right after graduation, Carhart became an instructor in Speech Re-education from 1936 to 1940. Then, in 1940 he was promoted to Assistant Professor and in 1943 to Associate Professor. It was what happened next, however, that may have altered the course of history for audiology.

In 1944, Carhart was commissioned a captain in the Army to head the Deshon General Hospital aural rehabilitation program for war-deafened military personnel in Butler, Pennsylvania. It was here that Carhart, in the setting of helping more than 16,000 hearing-impaired military personnel, popularized the term audiology, assigning it as the science of hearing. From that point forward, audiology would separate from speech pathology as its own separate research specialization.

At the close of the war, Carhart would go back to Northwestern University to establish the country’s first academic program in audiology. As a talented teacher, he guided 45 doctoral students to the completion of their work, students who would themselves become prominent professors, researchers, and clinical specialists throughout the country. And as a researcher, among countless contributions, Carhart developed and refined speech audiometry, particularly as it applied to determining the effectiveness of hearing aid performance. He even identified a specific pattern on the audiogram that reveals otosclerosis (hardening of the middle ear bones), eponymously named the “Carhart notch.”

Raymond Carhart’s Place in History

Of history’s founding fathers, the name Raymond Carhart may not be as familiar as Aristotle, Isaac Newton, Albert Einstein, or Charles Darwin. But if you own hearing aids, and you know the degree to which the quality of life is elevated as the result, you might place Raymond Carhart on the same level as history’s greats. His students probably would, and if you visit the Frances Searle Building at Northwestern University, you’ll still see a plaque that reads:

“Raymond Carhart, Teacher, Scholar, and Friend. From his students.”

Questions to Ask Your Hearing Specialist Before You Buy Hearing Aids

Question Mark

When it’s time to buy a car, the majority of us know exactly what to do. We do some research, assess options, and compose a list of questions to ask the dealership. We do this so that by the time we’re ready to head to the dealership, we have an idea of what we’re looking for and we know which questions to ask.

When it’s time to buy hearing aids, in contrast, many people don’t know where to begin. Although the process is similar to purchasing a car, it’s also in many ways more complex (and probably not quite as fun). It’s more complex because every individual’s hearing loss is distinct and each pair of hearing aids demands custom programming. If purchasing a car was like this, it would be like you taking it home and needing to install the transmission yourself.

Fortunately, you don’t need to know how to program your own hearing aids, but you do need to know the questions to ask to ensure that your hearing specialist covers all bases, accurately programming the most appropriate hearing aids for your preferences and lifestyle. In this manner, compiling a list of questions to go over with your hearing specialist is the single most important thing you can do before your hearing test.

But which questions should you ask? Here are 35 to get you started off, broken down by category:

HEARING LOSS

Different kinds of hearing loss require specific types of treatment. The more you know about your own hearing loss, the better you’ll be able to compare hearing aid options. You need to know what type of hearing loss you have, if it will get worse, how soon you should treat it, and all of your treatment options.

Questions to ask:

  • What form of hearing loss do I have?
  • Do I have unilateral or bilateral hearing loss?
  • Can I have a copy of my audiogram?
  • Will my hearing loss worsen over time if left untreated?
  • Will hearing aids enhance my hearing?
  • How much of my hearing will hearing aids restore?
  • What are my other options besides hearing aids?

HEARING AID STYLES AND FEATURES

Hearing aids are sold in several styles, from several producers, loaded with numerous features. You need a methodical way to narrow down your choices to be sure that you get the correct hearing aid without wasting money on features you don’t need or want.

Questions to ask:

  • How many different kinds of hearing aid styles do you offer?
  • Which hearing aid style is most effective for my needs and lifestyle?
  • Which digital features would be invaluable to me, and which could I do without?
  • What are telecoils and directional microphones and do I need them?
  • Do I need Bluetooth compatible hearing aids?
  • Do my hearing aids need to be professionally programmed?
  • Do I need one or two hearing aids, and why?

HEARING AID PRICES, FINANCING, WARRANTIES, AND TRIAL PERIODS

The total cost of a pair of hearing aids frequently includes the professional fees associated with custom fitting and programming, along with several other services or accessories. You want to ensure that you understand what you’re receiving for the price, if financing is provided, if insurance will help, what the warranty includes, the duration of the trial period, and if any “restocking fees” apply to the end of the trial period.

Questions to ask:

  • What is the total cost of the hearing aids, including professional services?
  • Do you supply any financing plans?
  • Will my insurance coverage help pay for hearing aids?
  • How much will my hearing aids cost me per year?
  • Do the hearing aids come with warranty coverage?
  • How much do hearing aid repairs cost after the warranty has expired?
  • Are repairs done at the office or someplace else?
  • If my hearing aids have to be sent out for repairs, are loaner hearing aids supplied?
  • Is there a trial period and how long is it?
  • Is there a restocking fee if I return my hearing aids during or after the trial period?

HEARING AID OPERATION, CARE, AND MAINTENANCE

Your hearing specialist should teach you how to care for, clean, and operate your hearing aids. To make certain that nothing is missed, make sure all of these questions are answered:

Questions to ask:

  • How do I operate my hearing aids?
  • How do I use hearing aids with telephones and other technology?
  • Can you show me how to use all of the buttons, features, and settings for my hearing aids?
  • What are environmental presets, and how do I access them?
  • Do I require a remote control, or can I use my mobile phone to control the hearing aids?
  • What batteries do I need, how long will they last, and how do I replace them?
  • How should I clean and store my hearing aids?
  • Do I need to return for follow-up appointments?
  • How long will my hearing aids keep working?
  • Do I need to update the hearing aid software?
  • Do I qualify for future hearing aid upgrades?

YOU’RE READY TO SCHEDULE YOUR HEARING TEST

Okay, so picking out a pair of hearing aids might not be as enjoyable as buying a new car. But the quality of life you’ll obtain from better hearing might very well make you happier, as you’ll reconnect with people and enjoy the subtleties of sound once again. So go ahead and schedule that hearing test — your new pair of hearing aids are waiting for a test drive.

The Digital Advantage: Analog Vs. Digital Hearing Aids

Digital Code

You’ve likely been told that today’s hearing aids are “not your father’s hearing aids,” or that hearing aid technology is light-years ahead of where it used to be, even as recently as 5 to 10 years ago. But what makes modern technology so much better? And what exactly can modern day hearing aids achieve that couldn’t be accomplished in the past?

The simple answer is, as with most electronics, hearing aids have benefited significantly from the digital revolution. Hearing aids have become miniaturized computers, with all of the programming versatility you would expect from a modern computer.

But before hearing aids became digital, they were analog. Let’s see if we can figure out why the move from analog to digital was such an improvement.

Digital vs analog hearing aids

At the most basic level, all hearing aids do the job the same way. Each hearing aid consists of a microphone, amplifier, speaker, and battery. The microphone picks up sound in the environment, the amplifier strengthens the signal, and the speaker supplies the louder sound to your ear.

Fundamentally, it’s not very complex. Where is does get complex, though, is in the particulars of how the hearing aids process sound, which digital hearing aids accomplish much differently than their analog alternatives.

Analog hearing aids process sound in a fairly straightforward way. In three basic steps, sound is recognized by the microphone, amplified, and delivered to the ear through the speaker. That is… ALL sound is made to be louder, including background noise and the sound frequencies you can already hear well. In other words, analog hearing aids amplify even the sounds you don’t want to hear — think of the scratching sound you hear from an analog recording on a vinyl record.

Digital hearing aids, in contrast, add a fourth step to the processing of sound: transformation of sound waves to digital information. Sound by itself is an analog signal, but instead of just making this analog signal louder, digital hearing aids first convert the sound into digital configuration (saved as 0s and 1s) that can then be manipulated. Digital hearing aids, therefore, can CHANGE the sound before amplification by changing the information stored as a series of 0s and 1s.

If this sounds like we’re talking about a computer, we are. Digital hearing aids are in essence miniature computers that run one customized program that manipulates and enhances the quality of sound.

Advantages of digital hearing aids

A large number of modern hearing aids are digital, and for good reason. Seeing that analog hearing aids can only amplify inbound sound, and cannot alter it, analog hearing aids have a tendency to amplify disruptive background noise, making it hard to hear in noisy environments and nearly impossible to talk on the phone.

Digital hearing aids, in contrast, have the flexibility to amplify specific sound frequencies. When sound is converted into a digital signal, the computer chip can identify, label, and store specific frequencies. For example, the higher frequency speech sounds can be labeled and stored separately from the lower frequency background noise. A hearing specialist can then program the computer chip to amplify only the high frequency speech sounds while suppressing the background noise — making it effortless to follow conversations even in noisy surroundings.

Here are some of the other advantages of digital hearing aids:

  • Miniaturized computer technology means smaller, more discreet hearing aids, with some models that fit entirely in the ear canal, making them nearly undetectable.
  • Digital hearing aids tend to have more appealing designs and colors.
  • Digital hearing aids can be programmed by a hearing specialist to process sound differently depending on the location. By changing settings, users can achieve ideal hearing for a range of situations, from a tranquil room to a noisy restaurant to talking on the phone.
  • Digital hearing aids can be fine-tuned for every patient. Each person hears different sound frequencies at different decibel levels. Digital hearing aids allow the hearing specialist to modify amplification for each sound frequency based on the characteristics of each person’s unique hearing loss.

Try digital hearing aids out for yourself

Reading about digital hearing aids is one thing, trying them out is another. But remember, to get the most out of any pair of hearing aids, you require both the technology and the programming mastery from an experienced, licensed hearing specialist.

And that’s where we come in. We’ve programmed and fine-tuned countless hearing aids for individuals with all types of hearing loss, and are more than happy to do the same for you. Give us a call and experience the digital advantage for yourself!

The Top 5 Hearing Aid Myths Exposed

At times, it seems as if we prefer to mislead ourselves. Wikipedia has an article named “List of common misconceptions” that contains hundreds of universally-held but false beliefs. Yes, I know it’s Wikipedia, but take a look at the bottom of the page and you’ll notice around 385 references to credible sources.

For instance, did you know that Thomas Edison didn’t invent the lightbulb? Or that sugar does not in fact make kids hyperactive? There are a wide variety examples of beliefs that we simply assume to be correct, but on occasion, it’s a good idea to reassess what we think we know.

For some of us, it’s time to reassess what we think we know about hearing aids. The majority of myths and misconceptions about hearing aids are founded on the problems associated with the outdated analog hearing aid models. But provided that most hearing aids are now digital, those concerns are a thing of the past.

So how up-to-date is your hearing aid knowledge? Read below to see if any of the top 5 myths are stopping you or someone you know from purchasing a hearing aid.

The Top 5 Myths About Hearing Aids

Myth # 1: Hearing aids are not effective because some people have had bad experiences.

Reality: To start with, hearing aids have been proven to be effective. A study reported in the Journal of the American Medical Association comparing the effectiveness of three popular styles of hearing aids determined that:

Each [hearing aid] circuit markedly improved speech recognition, with greater improvement observed for soft and conversationally loud speech….All 3 circuits significantly reduced the frequency of problems encountered in verbal communication….Each circuit provided significant benefit in quiet and noisy listening situations.

Moreover, since the publication of this study, hearing aid technology has continued to get better. So the question is not whether hearing aids work — the question is whether you have the right hearing aid for your hearing loss, professionally programmed according to your preferences by a competent professional.

Bad experiences are probably the result of acquiring the wrong hearing aid, buying hearing aids online, contacting the wrong individual, or not having the hearing aids personalized and professionally programmed.

Myth # 2: Hearing aids are big, cumbersome, and unsightly.

Reality: This one is relatively easy to disprove. Simply do a quick Google image search for “attractive hearing aid designs” and you’ll discover plenty of examples of sleek and colorful models from several manufacturers.

Additionally, “completely-in-the-canal” (CIC) hearing aids are available that are virtually or fully invisible when worn. The newer, attractive designs, however, convince some patients to go with the slightly bigger hearing aid models to showcase the technology.

Myth # 3: Hearing aids are too expensive.

Reality: Presently, some flat screen television sets with ultra-high definition curved glass retail for $8,000 or more. But this doesn’t make us say that “all TVs are too expensive.”

Just like television sets, hearing aids range in price dependent on performance and features. While you may not want — or need — the top of the line hearing aids, you can in all likelihood find a pair that suits your needs, preferences, and finances. Also keep in mind that, as is the situation with all consumer electronics, hearing aids are becoming more affordable every year, and that the value of healthier hearing and a better life is almost always well worth the expense.

Myth # 4: You can save time and money buying hearing aids online.

Reality: Remember myth # 1 that claimed that hearing aids are not effective? Well, it was probably created by this myth. Like we said before, hearing aids have been proven to be effective, but the one caution to that statement has always been that hearing aids have to be programmed by a professional to assure performance.

You wouldn’t dare buy a pair of prescription glasses on the web without consulting your eye doctor because your glasses need to be tailored according to the unique attributes of your vision loss. Buying hearing aids is no different.

Sure, visiting a hearing specialist is more expensive, but think of what you get for the price: you can be confident that you get the right hearing aid with the right fitting and settings, together with follow-up care, adjustments, cleanings, instructions, repair services, and more. It’s well worth it.

Myth # 5: Hearing aids are uncomfortable and complicated to operate.

Reality: If this refers to analog hearing aids, then yes, it is largely true. The thing is, nearly all hearing aids are now digital.

Digital hearing aids dynamically process sound with a small computer chip so that you don’t have to be concerned about manual adjustments; in addition, some digital hearing aids can even be controlled through your cellphone. The bottom line: digital hearing aids are being manufactured with maximum ease-of-use in mind.

Your hearing specialist can also produce a custom mold for your hearing aids, providing a comfortable and suitable fit. While a one-size-fits all hearing aid will probably be uncomfortable, a custom-fit hearing aid conforms to the curves of your ear.

How to Read Your Audiogram at Your Hearing Test

Audiogram

You’ve just completed your hearing test. The hearing specialist is now coming into the room and provides you with a chart, like the one above, except that it has all of these symbols, colors, and lines. This is intended to show you the exact, mathematically precise features of your hearing loss, but to you it might as well be written in Greek.

The audiogram creates confusion and complexity at a time when you’re supposed to be focusing on how to strengthen your hearing. But don’t let it trick you — just because the audiogram looks confusing doesn’t mean that it’s difficult to comprehend.

After looking through this article, and with a little vocabulary and a handful of basic principles, you’ll be reading audiograms like a pro, so that you can focus on what really is important: better hearing.

Some advice: as you read the article, reference the above blank audiogram. This will make it easier to understand, and we’ll address all of those cryptic marks the hearing specialist adds later on.

Understanding Sound Frequencies and Decibels

The audiogram is essentially just a diagram that records sound volume on the vertical axis and sound frequency on the horizontal axis. (are you having flashbacks to high school geometry class yet?) Yes, there’s more to it, but at a fundamental level it’s just a chart graphing two variables, as follows:

The vertical axis documents sound intensity or volume, measured in decibels (dB). As you move up the axis, the sound volume decreases. So the top line, at 0 decibels, is a very soft, faint sound. As you go down the line, the decibel levels increase, representing progressively louder sounds until you get to 100 dB.

The horizontal axis records sound frequency, measured in Hertz (Hz). Starting at the top left of the graph, you will see a low frequency of 125 or 250 Hz. As you continue along the horizontal axis to the right, the frequency will progressively increase until it gets to 8,000 Hz. Vowel sounds of speech are usually low frequency sounds, while consonant sounds of speech are high frequency sounds.

So, if you were to begin at the top left corner of the graph and sketch a diagonal line to the bottom right corner, you would be increasing the frequency of sound (shifting from vowel sounds to consonant sounds) while raising the intensity of sound (moving from fainter to louder volume).

Assessing Hearing and Marking Up the Audiogram

So, what’s with all the markings you usually see on this simple chart?

Simple. Start off at the top left corner of the graph, at the lowest frequency (125 Hz). Your hearing professional will present you with a sound at this frequency via headphones, beginning with the smallest volume decibel level. If you can hear it at the lowest level (0 decibels), a mark is created at the junction of 125 Hz and 0 decibels. If you can’t perceive the 125 Hz sound at 0 decibels, the sound will be presented once more at the next loudest decibel level (10 decibels). If you can hear it at 10 decibels, a mark is made. If not, advance on to 15 decibels, and so on.

This equivalent process is duplicated for every frequency as the hearing specialist moves along the horizontal frequency axis. A mark is created at the lowest perceivable decibel level you can perceive for each individual sound frequency.

As for the other symbols? If you see two lines, one is for the left ear (the blue line) and one is for the right ear (the red line: red is for right). An X is most often applied to mark the points for the left ear; an O is employed for the right ear. You may see some other characters, but these are less crucial for your basic understanding.

What Normal Hearing Looks Like

So what is considered to be normal hearing, and what would that look like on the audiogram?

People with standard hearing should be able to perceive each sound frequency level (125 to 8000 Hz) at 0-25 decibels. What might this look like on the audiogram?

Just take the blank graph, locate 25 decibels on the vertical axis, and sketch a horizontal line completely across. Any mark made beneath this line may reveal hearing loss. If you can hear all frequencies beneath this line (25 decibels or higher), then you most likely have normal hearing.

If, however, you can’t perceive the sound of a specific frequency at 0-25 dB, you very likely have some type of hearing loss. The smallest decibel level at which you can perceive sound at that frequency establishes the level of your hearing loss.

As an illustration, consider the 1,000 Hertz frequency. If you can hear this frequency at 0-25 decibels, you have normal hearing for this frequency. If the smallest decibel level at which you can hear this frequency is 40 decibels, for example, then you have moderate hearing loss at this frequency.

As an overview, here are the decibel levels connected with normal hearing along with the levels linked with mild, moderate, severe, and profound hearing loss:

Normal hearing: 0-25 dB

Mild hearing loss: 20-40 dB

Moderate hearing loss: 40-70 dB

Severe hearing loss: 70-90 dB

Profound hearing loss: 90+ dB

What Hearing Loss Looks Like

So what might an audiogram with signals of hearing loss look like? Seeing as the majority of cases of hearing loss are in the higher frequencies (referred to as — you guessed it — high-frequency hearing loss), the audiogram would have a downwards sloping line from the top left corner of the graph sloping downward horizontally to the right.

This indicates that at the higher-frequencies, it requires a progressively louder decibel level for you to perceive the sound. And, given that higher-frequency sounds are connected with the consonant sounds of speech, high-frequency hearing loss weakens your ability to comprehend and pay attention to conversations.

There are some other, less familiar patterns of hearing loss that can turn up on the audiogram, but that’s probably too much detail for this article.

Testing Your New-Found Knowledge

You now know the fundamentals of how to read an audiogram. So go ahead, book that hearing test and surprise your hearing specialist with your newfound talents. And just imagine the look on their face when you tell them all about your high frequency hearing loss before they even say a word.

How to Persuade Someone to Get a Hearing Test

We don’t need to tell you the symptoms of hearing loss; you already know them all too well. You have a different kind of challenge: persuading someone you care about to get their hearing evaluated and treated.

But exactly how are you expected to get through to someone who denies there is even a problem, or that merely shrugs it off as “just part of getting old”?

It turns out that it’s not as easy as just telling them that they need their hearing tested. They won’t see the need, and you won’t get very far with threats, ultimatums, or other coercive tactics.

While it may seem like a hopeless situation, there are other, more subtle strategies you can employ. In fact, you can draw from the massive body of social scientific research that signifies which strategies of persuasion have been found to be the most consistently successful.

This means, you can use tested, researched, and validated persuasive techniques that have been shown to actually work. It’s worth a shot, right? And perusing the techniques might enable you to think of additional ideas.

With that in mind, the following are 6 scientifically tested techniques of persuasion and how you might use them to persuade a loved one to get their hearing tested:

1. Reciprocity

What it is:

The basic principle of reciprocity is simple: if someone does a favor for you, you’re powerfully motivated to return the favor for them.

How to use it:

Timing is everything. You plan on requesting your loved one to get their hearing examined at some point anyway, so why don’t you render the request soon after you’ve done something special for them?

2. Commitment and Consistency

What it is:

We all have a strong psychological need to think and behave consistently.

How to use it:

The trick is to begin with small commitments before making the final request. If you begin by ordering your loved one to get a hearing test, you likely won’t see much success.

Alternatively, ease into the subject by casually sharing an article on hearing loss and how widespread it is. Without mentioning their own personal hearing loss, get them to disclose that hearing loss is a more prominent problem than they had believed.

As soon as they concede to a few basic facts, it may be easier to discuss their own specific hearing loss, and they may be more likely to admit that they have a problem.

3. Social Proof

What it is:

We are inclined to think in terms of “safety in numbers.” We tend to conform to the crowd, and we assume that if a number of other people are doing something, it must be trusted or effective.

How to use it:

There are at minimum two ways to make use of this method. One way is to share articles on the many advantages of using hearing aids and how hearing aids heighten the quality of life for millions of individuals in the U.S. and across the world.

The second way to use the approach is to arrange a hearing test for yourself. Tell your loved one that you want to confirm the health of your own hearing, but that you would feel better if they went with you and had their own test.

4. Liking

What it is:

You’re more inclined to be persuaded by individuals you personally like than by either a stranger or by someone you dislike.

How to use it:

Enlist the assistance of people you know your loved one likes or respects. Try to find that one particular person whom your loved one consistently seems to respond to, and have that person talk about and recommend a hearing test.

5. Authority

What it is:

We are inclined to listen to and have respect for the feedback of those we perceive as authority figures.

How to use it:

Share articles on how celebrities, professional athletes, and other distinguished figures wear and benefit from hearing aids. You can also share articles from reputable sources that describe the advantages of having your hearing tested. For example, the World Health Organization recently published an article titled “1.1 billion people at risk of hearing loss.”

6. Scarcity

What it is:

Scarcity generates a sense of urgency when what we want is perceived as limited or in short supply. Scarcity creates the perception that, if we don’t act promptly, we may lose something on a permanent basis.

How to use it:

The latest research has connected hearing loss to a great number of dangerous conditions, including Alzheimer’s Disease, dementia, memory impairment, and accelerated cognitive decline. Hearing loss also gets worse as time passes, so the earlier it’s dealt with, the better.

To employ scarcity, share articles, such as our previous blog post titled 8 reasons hearing loss is more dangerous than you think, with your loved one. Show them that every day spent with untreated hearing loss exacerbates the hearing loss, deteriorates health, and increases the risk of developing more dangerous conditions.


If all else fails, just give it to them straight. Describe to your loved ones how their hearing loss affects you, in conjunction with how it’s impacting your relationship. When you make it about your needs and feelings rather than theirs, the response is usually better.

Have you had success persuading someone to have their hearing tested? Let us know your approach in a comment.

Source

The six principles of persuasion were developed by Dr. Robert Cialdini, and can be found in his book titled “Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion.”

5 Reasons Why People Deny Hearing Loss

It takes the average person with hearing loss 5 to 7 years before getting a qualified professional diagnosis, in spite of the fact that the warning signs of hearing loss are crystal clear to other people. But are those with hearing loss just too stubborn to get help? No, actually, and for a couple of specific reasons.

Perhaps you know someone with hearing loss who either denies the condition or refuses to seek out professional help, and although this is unquestioningly frustrating, it is very likely that the indications of hearing loss are much more apparent to you than they are to them.

Here are the reasons why:

1. Hearing loss is gradual

In most scenarios, hearing loss appears so slowly and gradually that the afflicted individual simply doesn’t detect the change. While you would become aware of an rapid change from normal hearing to a 25 decibel hearing loss (classified as moderate hearing loss), you wouldn’t notice the minor change of a 1-2 decibel loss.

So a slow loss of 1-2 decibels over 10-20 years, while creating a 20-40 total decibel loss, is not going to be noticeable at any given moment in time for those affected. That’s why friends and family members are nearly always the first to notice hearing loss.

2. Hearing loss is often partial (high-frequency only)

The majority of hearing loss cases are categorized as high-frequency hearing loss, meaning that the afflicted individual can still hear low-frequency background sounds normally. Whereas speech, which is a high-frequency sound, is challenging for those with hearing loss to understand, other sounds can usually be heard normally. This is why it’s not uncommon for those with hearing loss to claim, “my hearing is fine, everyone else mumbles.”

3. Hearing loss is not addressed by the family doctor

People struggling with hearing loss can obtain a mistaken sense of well-being after their annual physical. It’s common to hear people state “if I had hearing loss, my doctor would have told me.”

This is of course not true because only 14% of physicians routinely test for hearing loss during the course of the yearly checkup. Not to mention that the primary symptom for most cases of hearing loss — difficulty following speech in the presence of background noise — will not present itself in a calm office atmosphere.

4. The burden of hearing loss can be shared or passed on to others

How do you remedy hearing loss when there’s no cure? The answer is straight forward: amplify sounds. The issue is, while hearing aids are the most effective at amplifying sounds, they are not the only way to accomplish it — which those with hearing loss quickly identify.

Those with hearing loss commonly turn up the volume on everything, to the detriment of those around them. Tv sets and radios are played excessively loud and people are made to either scream or repeat themselves. The person with hearing loss can get by just fine with this method, but only by passing on the burden to friends, family members, and co-workers.

5. Hearing loss is painless and invisible

Hearing loss is mainly subjective: it cannot be diagnosed by visible evaluation and it usually is not accompanied by any pain or discomfort. If people with hearing loss do not recognize a problem, largely because of the reasons above, then they probably won’t take action.

The only method to accurately diagnose hearing loss is through audiometry, which will quantify the specific decibel level hearing loss at numerous sound frequencies. This is the only method to objectively say whether hearing loss is present, but the difficult part is needless to say getting to that point.

How to approach those with hearing loss

Hopefully, this article has manufactured some empathy. It is always exasperating when someone with hearing loss refuses to admit the problem, but remember, they may legitimately not grasp the severity of the problem. Rather than demanding that they get their hearing examined, a more productive strategy may be to educate them on the properties of hearing loss that make the condition essentially invisible.

What to Expect at Your Hearing Exam

If the unfamiliar generates anxiety, then a trip to the hearing specialist is particularly stressful. While the majority of us have experience with the family physician and the local dentist, the trip to the hearing specialist could be a first.

It sure would be beneficial to have someone illustrate the process ahead of time, wouldn’t it? Well, continue reading, because as you’ll see, the process of having your hearing examined is normally easy, comfortable, and pain-free — with portions that can actually be fun.

So here’s how it will go:

After you arrive at the office, you will check in with an employee at the front desk who will give you a couple of forms to complete. Shortly after filling out the forms, a hearing specialist will escort you into a room to get started on the hearing assessment, which is composed of four parts:

Part 1: Case History

case history

The hearing specialist will start the process by getting to know you, your medical history, and your hearing loss symptoms. Preparing for this step is critical, because this is where you get to describe to the hearing specialist the specifics of your hearing loss, what you would like from treatment, and your unique hearing needs.

This part is all about you: what do you want to accomplish with superior hearing? Do you have the desire to play a music instrument again? Do you desire to be more engaged in work meetings? Do you desire to be more involved at social gatherings? The more you can reveal to your hearing specialist the better.

Next comes the testing.

Part 2: Otoscopy

otoscope

The initial diagnostic test to be completed is referred to as an otoscopy. An otoscope is used to visually assess the ear canal and eardrum to find out if your hearing loss is connected with infections, earwax buildup, or blockages. If the explanation for your hearing loss is something as uncomplicated as earwax accumulation, you could potentially start hearing better within minutes simply from expert earwax removal.

Part 3: Tympanometry

tympanometry

The second test is known as tympanometry, used to test the eardrum and middle ear. A device is inserted into the ear that will change the air pressure, calculating how your ear reacts to various pressures.

To fully grasp this test, you have to first know that hearing loss is categorized into one of two broad types:

  1. Sensorineural hearing loss — this is the most widespread hearing loss. It is also described as noise-induced hearing loss and it involves damage of the nerve cells of hearing.
  2. Conductive hearing loss — this hearing loss results from blockages or obstructions that limit sound conduction before the sound hits the nerve cells of hearing.

Tympanometry is a test that can help to rule out conductive hearing loss, to establish that there are no blockages, infections, or middle-ear-bone complications. Conversely, Audiometry, which is tackled next, will measure sensorineural hearing loss.

Part 4: Audiometry

audiogram

The last group of tests will be completed in a soundproof room. These tests are jointly referred to as audiometry and will measure your hearing range and sensitivity. Audiometry is the best method to quantify sensorineural hearing loss.

With the use of an audiometer, the hearing specialist will be able to pinpoint:

  • Which frequencies you can hear comfortably and which you have a hard time with.
  • The minimum decibel levels, at a range of frequencies, at which you perceive sound.
  • The precise calculations associated with your hearing loss (as documented on an audiogram).
  • Your capacity to recognize speech, with or without background noise.

The test on its own, from your viewpoint, will be comfortable and straightforward. You will be presented with sounds and speech through earphones and will be instructed to identify when you can hear the sounds by pushing a control or raising your hand.

Assessing results and planning treatment

After the testing is complete, your hearing specialist will review your results with you. If your hearing loss necessitates medical or surgical treatment (due to infections or middle-ear-bone problems, for instance), your hearing specialist can make the applicable referral.

If your hearing loss can benefit from assistive listening devices or hearing aids, your hearing specialist will work with you to identify the best solution for you, your finances, your lifestyle, and your cosmetic concerns.

Pretty painless for a lifetime of better hearing, isn’t it?

Exploring a Career in the Hearing Care Profession

Even though many of us keep up to date with our yearly physical, dental cleaning, and eye examination, we generally forget to think about the health of our hearing. And when our hearing does start to deteriorate, it takes place so slowly that we scarcely notice and neglect to do something about it. It’s this lack of interaction with hearing care professionals that makes people want to know what the occupation actually entails.

And that’s a shame, because hearing care professionals serve as a critical component of the healthcare system. It’s through the hearing care professional that the proper performance of one of our principal senses — one in which we have a tendency to take for granted — is preserved or repaired.

Considering the fact that we take hearing for granted, we often fail to recognize just how valuable hearing is. With precise hearing, we can greatly improve attention, appreciate the details of sound, converse better, and strengthen relationships. And the hearing care professionals are the ones who make sure that this essential sense is functioning properly.

If you’d like to learn more about this crucial but little-known healthcare field — or if you’re thinking of entering the field yourself — read on.

Attraction to the hearing care field

Hearing care professionals are attracted to the field for a variety of reasons, but a couple different principal motivating factors are frequently present. First, many practitioners have endured, and continue to suffer with, hearing complications themselves. Considering that they were themselves helped by a hearing care professional, the need to repay the favor for other individuals is powerful.

For instance, Zoe Williams, a hearing care professional in Australia, has moderate to profound hearing loss in both ears. This could have caused an inability to communicate, but thanks to cochlear implants and hearing aids, Zoe is now able to communicate normally. Knowing from experience how enhanced hearing leads to a much better life, Zoe was inspired to enter the field and to assist others in a similar manner.

Other practitioners are driven into the hearing care field on account of its unique mixture of counseling, problem solving, science, and engineering. In combination with learning about the science of hearing and the design of hearing technology, practitioners also learn how to work with people in the role of a counselor. Dealing with hearing loss is a delicate situation, and patients present a number of emotions and personalities. Practitioners must be able to employ the “soft skills” necessary to manage these challenges and must work with patients on a personalized level to beat hearing loss.

Training and education

Part of the attractiveness of working in the hearing care profession is the fascinating combination of subjects included as part of the schooling and training. Those pursuing a career in the field learn fascinating topics in several fields such as:

  • Biology – topics include the anatomy and physiology of hearing, balance, the ear, and the brain, as well as instruction in hearing and balance disorders and pharmacology.
  • Physics – topics include the physics of sound, acoustics, and psychoacoustics (how the brain processes sound).
  • Engineering – topics include the production and functioning of hearing technology such as assistive listening devices, hearing aids, and cochlear implants, along with the programming of digital hearing aids.
  • Counseling – topics include how to interview patients, how to teach coping skills, and how to train on the use of hearing aids, as well as other interesting topics in psychology and counseling.
  • Professional practice – topics include diagnosing hearing problems, conducting and interpreting hearing tests, developing hearing treatments, fitting and programming hearing aids, professional ethics, and starting a business.

Job functions

Hearing care professionals work in a wide variety of settings (schools, hospitals, private practices) performing diverse activities such as research, teaching, and diagnosing and treating hearing and balance problems.

Common duties consist of conducting diagnostic tests, interpreting hearing tests, and working with patients on determining the most effective hearing treatment, very often including the use of hearing aids. Hearing care professionals custom-fit and program hearing aids to best match the individual and will instruct the patient on how to use and maintain them. Hearing care professionals also work with employers and companies to reduce the risk of hearing injuries in noisy work locations.

Benefits

The benefits quoted most regularly by individuals in the hearing care profession revolve around the capacity to positively influence people’s lives on a very personalized level. Lifelong friendships between patients and hearing specialists are also prevalent as a result of the personal nature of care.

When patients report that they can hear again for the first time in ages, the emotions can be intense. Patients commonly report a feeling of reconnection to the world and to family, as well as improved relationships and an enhanced overall quality of life.

How many occupations can claim that kind of personal impact?