DIAGNOSTIC HEARING TESTS FOR CHILDREN AND ADULTS
Hear & Listen Audiologists provide a comprehensive test battery where all three parts of the hearing system is evaluated individually. A Diagnostic hearing evaluation always start with a full patient history regarding the problem(s) you are experiencing. The audiologist will then conduct a number of different tests depending on your problem. A diagnostic hearing test is an in depth assessment of a person’s hearing with the purpose to determine the type and degree of hearing loss. The results will determine the treatment options that will be considered. All tests are non-invasive and conducted in a friendly environment.
Hearing loss is one of the most common chronic health conditions currently affecting millions of people worldwide. Hearing keeps us connected to our world. People who live with hearing loss are well aware of how compromised hearing abilities can affect every day live situations. Hearing impairment may hinder an individual’s ability to communicate and to hear environmental sounds. Untreated hearing loss can lead to social, physical and psychological problems. The effects of hearing loss are different for each individual, but most hearing-impaired people suffer some social, psychological and physical problems as a result of their hearing loss.
A mild hearing loss in children may significantly impact a child’s ability to learn in school. Normal hearing in children is important for language development, interpersonal communication, acquisition of new knowledge and responsiveness to environmental sounds.
There are various tests that can be used to identify and diagnose a hearing loss. The method used depends on the age of the individual and other contributing factors. Hearing loss can be successfully managed in various ways. Depending on the type and degree of hearing loss, most people can be helped either with hearing aids, medical & surgical intervention or implants.
Hearing aids are devices which serve to amplify the acoustic signal to a level which is audible to hearing impaired listeners. Hearing aids do not restore hearing ability but they boost up the signal so that the hearing impaired listener is able to use his/her residual hearing to hear the amplified signal. Digital hearing aids have built in intelligence that allows them to discern between soft, but desirable sounds, and louder, but unwanted noise. These devices can amplify the desirable sounds, while neutralizing and reducing the unwanted sounds for better performance in a variety of environments. A digital hearing aid can be programmed to adjust itself to the current environment millions of times each second.
Hearing aids are available in different styles including Behind-The-Ear hearing aids (standard BTE, mini BTE, open fit type BTEs), Receiver-In-Canal, In-The-Ear and Completely-In-The-Canal. Hearing aid selection and fitting is based on objective and subjective measures. Hearing aids are specifically programmed according to your hearing evaluation results. After the purchase of hearing aids, the hearing aid user is oriënted and counselled regarding the care and maintenance of hearing aids. Availability of reprogramming and servicing of hearing aids provide the hearing aid users with good after sale services.
Hear & Listen Audiologists provide some of the best digital hearing aids from the most trusted hearing aid manufacturers globally.
INDUSTRIAL HEARING TESTS
NOISE-INDUCED HEARING LOSS (NIHL) – Noise is something that all of us encounter and it can be defined as any undesirable sound. Noise has non-auditory as well as auditory effects on human beings. Non-auditory (non-hearing) effects include: Annoyance, decrease in working efficiency, physiological effects such as changes in heart rate, blood pressure, muscle tension and gastrointestinal mobility. Noise can also contribute to psychological distress. Auditory (hearing) effects include: Interference with speech communication, sudden hearing loss and long term effect can lead to permanent noise-induced hearing loss.
Noise-induced hearing loss (NIHL) is a very serious, permanent problem especially because it can be avoided. A person who works in a noisy environment, like miners, factory workers and construction workers, can show a noise induced hearing loss in as little as five years after starting to work in noise.
It is important to have your ears tested at least once a year if you work in noise and to ensure that you wear hearing protection. Hearing protection can prevent hearing loss! There is no need for any person to suffer from a NIHL and yet the prevalence of NIHL is staggering. It can cause companies and the government thousands of rands each month in compensation claims which has a negative influence on the economy as a whole.
Industrial hearing tests always include baseline hearing tests and periodic hearing tests. Baseline hearing tests are carried out on workers after a noise-free period in the first thirty days of employment. According to the Mine Health and Safety Act (MHSA), all workers are entitled to medical surveillance which includes hearing tests to check their hearing function and identify any damage to their hearing over time. Workers that are exposed to noise levels of over 85 decibels should have hearing tests at least once a year. Those who are exposed to noise levels above 105 decibels should be tested every six months. If a worker’s hearing worsens by 10 percent after a baseline test, a diagnostic hearing evaluation is required. Diagnostic testing can be conducted when a worker has been in a noise-free area for at least 24 hours. An audiologist will perform two tests to confirm that the worker’s hearing has deteriorated by ten percent.
What is Tinnitus?
Tinnitus is not a disease, it is a symptom of some or other underlying problem. Tinnitus or ringing in the ears, is the sensation of hearing ringing or other sounds without any external sound source. Tinnitus can be described as a buzzing, chirping, humming, hissing and whistling sound. The noise can be intermittent or continuous, and can vary in loudness. In rare cases, the sound beats in sync with your heart (pulsatile tinnitus). Pulsatile tinnitus always needs to be investigated thoroughly.
Tinnitus is very common, most people will experience it at some time in their life even if only momentarily. For many people with continuous tinnitus, the condition is merely an annoyance. However, in more severe cases, the condition can cause people to have difficulty concentrating and sleeping. It may interfere with work and personal relationships, resulting in real psychological distress. It causes increased stress levels which in turn makes the tinnitus worse.
Causes of Tinnitus
The exact physiological causes of most cases of tinnitus are still unknown, it seems that most tinnitus is associated with a hearing loss. In cases where there is hearing loss involved it is believed that the centres of the brain involved with auditory processing for the sounds that can no longer be heard begin to become over stimulated or stimulated by some other input. This over stimulation means that those centres are active with no external sound stimulation. You perceive that activity as a sound. In some cases though, hearing loss is not a factor or, it is not a measurable factor. There are a number of other causes which are widely understood to cause, or worsen, tinnitus:
– Noise-induced hearing loss
– Wax build-up in the ear canal
– Certain medications
– Ear or sinus infections
– Jaw misalignment
– Cardiovascular diseases
– Head and neck trauma
– Stress, anxiety or depression
– Acoustic neuroma
– Ménière’s Disease
Tinnitus treatment and management is not a cure, but they all can help bring relief from the impact of tinnitus on your life. In many cases, no single treatment will do the job, it is most often a combination of several types of treatment protocols that help. While there is no cure, there is effective treatment options for the relief of tinnitus, depending on the underlying cause of the tinnitus, some treatments can be very simple and effective. Others may not completely remove the tinnitus but they can still deliver relief from the psychological impact. The most effective treatment for any case of tinnitus will be based on the underlying cause of the condition. Normally when the hearing loss is treated by amplification, the tinnitus fades.
When should you seek medical attention?
It is recommended that you see a medical professional or audiologist if you continually or regularly hear sounds such as buzzing, ringing or humming in your ears. In particular, you should see a professional if the sound is pulsatile or only presents in one ear. The first step should be a hearing test since most tinnitus is related to an underlying hearing loss. A simple examination of your ears can rule out simple and easily treatable causes such as an ear infection or excessive earwax. Once those causes have been ruled out, a more thorough investigation will need to be undertaken.
HEARING AID TRIAL
Hearing aid trials are a process in which the patient is able to wear hearing aids for a time period without having to purchase them. The patient will be able to do the hearing aid trial with the specific type and technology level that he/she might be interested in purchasing. Hearing aids are expensive thus doing a hearing aid trial can give the patient the opportunity to experience it first in order to make an informed decision. This will ensure that the patient knows what he is purchasing and the difference that it will make in their everyday situations.
It is also of utmost importance that one remember that it can take up to four months for you to get accustomed to your hearing aids and to really get the most out of them. You will notice small changes right from the start, but it’s important to be patient. As audiologists we are here to support you to and on your journey to better hearing.
Providing patients with optimal hearing when living with a hearing loss is a team effort. Various follow –up visits might be necessary in order to ensure optimal hearing in all listening environments. Never leave your hearing aids in a drawer, rather allow us to assist you in adjusting to your hearing aids.
COCHLEAR & BAHA IMPLANTS
Acoustic / Electric Acoustic Implants
At Hear & Listen Audiologists, we provide the best possible solution for all types and degrees of hearing losses. Often times, hearing aids will not be able to amplify strong enough and alternative hearing devices will need to be fitted for optimal hearing. Our audiologists will do a comprehensive hearing evaluation in order to determine if the patient is a candidate for a Bone Anchored Hearing Aid (BAHA) or Cochlear implant system. Treatment and recommendations will depend on the individual’s type and degree of hearing loss. There are two types of implants that will be considered:
A Cochlear implant is an implanted electronic hearing device made for patients with profound hearing losses. Cochlear implants stimulate the natural hearing function of the inner ear. The components of a cochlear implant work together to bypass the part of the ear that is no longer working to deliver sound directly to your hearing nerve. It is important to remember that cochlear implants are recommended for people who obtain little or no benefit from hearing aids. For these people with severe damage to the sensory cells in the inner ear, a cochlear implant is often the best option for better hearing. These small medical devices work differently than hearing aids. Rather than hearing aids that amplifies sound in individuals with residual hearing ability, a cochlear implant provides the sense of sound by stimulating the auditory nerve directly through electrical impulses.
Bone Conduction Implants
Bone conduction hearing aids are designed to help patients with conductive hearing loss and single-sided deafness. The bone conduction hearing aid (BAHA) utilizes your body’s natural ability to conduct sound. By connecting to the bone behind your ear, the BAHA bypasses the damaged outer or middle ear and sends sound directly to the healthy inner ear.