How to Choose a Hearing Healthcare Provider

If you are new to hearing care or the hearing loss community, you may have a few questions. One of the most popular questions is: “What is the difference between an audiologist and a hearing aid dispenser?” For starters, both help people get hearing aids, so it’s easy to understand why the difference is not so clear all of the time.

Hearing Aid Dispensers

Hearing aid dealers must meet very basic requirements to receive a license that allows them to do a basic test for the purpose of selling hearing aids to adults. While there is some variance between states, most states require a high school diploma prior to taking a licensing exam to become a hearing aid dispenser. Some states require a course prior to the licensing exam, and some require a valid student dispenser certificate prior to taking the licensing exam. Hearing aid dispensers are not doctors and have limits on the testing and treatment they are allowed to provide to a patient.

Audiologists

Audiologists are highly trained healthcare professionals. As a matter of fact, audiologists are the only professionals who are university trained and licensed to specifically identify, evaluate, diagnose and treat hearing disorders. Audiologists are required to obtain a doctorate degree, pass a national exam and do a one-year externship under a licensed audiologist before they can become licensed to practice.

Audiologists use specialized equipment and procedures to accurately test for hearing loss. The audiologist is trained to inspect the eardrum with an otoscope, to perform cerumen (ear wax) removal, conduct audiologic tests, and check for medically-related hearing problems. Audiologists can advise about whether hearing aids are recommended, provide the necessary fitting services and a continuum of detailed follow-up, including verification of the hearing aid fit and programming, counseling, and instruction. Audiologists are licensed to work with all ages, from infant to geriatric.

In addition to hearing disorders, audiologists are able to assess and treat balance system dysfunctions, and are also trained in the treatment of tinnitus (ringing in the ears) and hyperacusis (aversion to loud sounds). They are also experts in hearing loss prevention, providing counseling and resources to prevent noise-induced hearing loss. They also monitor hearing and balance disorders that may result from the administration of ototoxic medications.

Hopefully this description will help when it is time to choose a hearing healthcare provider. Contact Berger Audiology today to schedule your hearing exam and see what Dr. Berger can do for you and your hearing.

Thank you for voting us Best of Marshall County!

I want to thank everyone that voted for me as Best Audiologist in Marshall County and my office, Berger Audiology, as the #1 Audiology Office in Marshall County. I am honored by your support and I don’t take it lightly. I will strive to live up to this and continue to provide the best possible service to my community. I want to continue to be Your First Choice in Hearing Healthcare.

Sincerely,

Rebecca Berger, Au.D.

Hearing Loss triggers personality changes

I ran across this article in the December 7th Pilot News and thought it was worth sharing. You can find it on Drs. Oz & Roizen’s website here.

I thought it was worth sharing because I see this issue so often. Many times it is something recognized by a spouse or other family members when the person experiencing the hearing loss isn’t even aware of the change. As stated previously here, hearing loss can even contribute to the likelihood of divorce.

If this is a problem you or a family member is experiencing, let me try and help! We can determine if hearing loss is a contributing factor, and if so, discuss a myriad of potential solutions to make life better for everyone involved..

Article from the Pilot News, December 7th, 2017

Can Hearing Loss Ruin Your Marriage?

I ran across an interesting article on helpingmehear.com. I thought it was worth sharing. Here’s an excerpt:

“Statistics show that there is a fourfold increase in the divorce rate of couples where one partner has severe hearing loss, as compared to couples where there is no loss or only mild hearing loss. But even mild hearing loss can make you miss or confuse sounds so that you end up not fully hearing what your partner just said. This missed conversation can eventually lead you to withdraw from interactions rather than deal with the frustration. That leads to an overall decline in your quality of life, and it can destroy your marriage.”

You can find the entire article here.

So many times, it’s the spouse that prompts a visit for a hearing test. While I joke about “spousal hearing loss” being the first thing to happen, it’s true that your spouse may often be the first one to notice the problem and is often the one most affected by it. If you find yourself asking your spouse to repeat themselves or just flat don’t hear what they are saying, come see me! Odds are I can help with that.

 

How do I explain this differently???

I had a deer hunter in the office the other day. We did a hearing test. I showed him his audiogram with its peaks and valleys.There’s a strong likelihood that his hearing loss is due to his hunting hobby. Shotgun blasts next to unprotected ears are not recommended. We discussed this. We discussed hearing protection.

He purchased new hearing aids. He was thrilled with the results and then commented, “I bet I’ll be able to hear the deer rustling through the leaves again with these! Can’t wait until deer season to try them out!”

Ugh! How do I explain it differently? Having a hearing loss doesn’t make you immune to additional loss! That is unless you have pushed it to where you’re completely deaf…

Like the guy at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway wearing his hearing aids, there are times I’ll counsel you against wearing hearing aids too.

IMS Observations

My husband, Kevin, was at an Indianapolis Motor Speedway (IMS) event the other day and I’ve trained (educated) him to look for hearing aids and hearing protection. Ha! He said there were multiple places where you could get ear plugs and most of them included some kind of marketing connection.  Hmmmm… something for me to think about.

Hearing Aids at IMS? Not during a race!!!

He snapped a picture of the gentleman to the right, watching a race with his hearing aids on.Yeah, this is an example of one of those few times I recommend NOT wearing your hearing aid!!! Even with an existing hearing loss, you should be wearing ear protection. You could be damaging ranges of hearing where you were previously adequate.

But then he also saw this cute “Pit Crew”. He spoke to their mother before taking the picture. They got recommendations from their audiologist for the proper headphones for this application. The set the baby on the left is wearing is a hand-me-down from her older sister, so they’re old hands at this. Getting used to them at a young age not only helps make them acceptable, but also starts a life-time habit of hearing protection. Will this prevent them from ever wearing hearing aids? That’s hard to say since there are so many potential causes including just advanced age, but it definitely gives them a leg up on others.

Kevin is becoming my #1 salesperson. He actually ran into someone else from Plymouth there and in the conversation on hearing conservation, he found out that he was a hunter and had been stymied trying to find fitted hearing protection for gun use. I can do that! Kevin gave him my card, so I’m looking forward to meeting this gentleman. I’m sure I can make his situation better.

2017 Senior Expo Follow-up

Berger Audiology Booth at the Marshall County Senior Expo

Thank you to all of you that stopped to see us at the Marshall County Senior Expo this year. The venue was a bit warm considering our September heatwave, but overall we heard good things. We were pleased to meet new people and in some cases put faces to names. We’re always pleased by the reception we receive at community service events such as this.

Screening Station

For those of you that couldn’t attend, we had several give-aways. (The golf balls we collect and share are always popular along with the candy and hearing related items.)

We were given space to do hearing screenings this year too. Lots of people took advantage of that. We hope they will benefit from the information. As discussed here before, this isn’t a true hearing test and isn’t near the quality of what we can do in the sound booth at Berger Audiology. Please feel free to stop by and check out our tech! But if you want a true hearing test, we ask that you make an appointment. The courtesy of an appointment makes it much more likely that you can be seen and given the appropriate time and attention.

Thank you again to all of you that visited with us. We hope you were pleased with the interaction and attention you received.

Tinnitus Woes

Tinnitus Image from www.audioclinic.com

Tinnitus or Ringing in your ears can be an annoyance or a disability. I’ve had patients describe it in many ways. While I always treat it seriously, it often reminds me of taking my car to the mechanic and with growing embarrassment, watching the spreading of an amused grin on the technician’s face as I try and reproduce the sounds my car is making.

Trust me though, I know that Tinnitus can be more than an annoyance. I have it myself. It was one of the original reasons I started wearing hearing aids. My husband has it also and there are times that we argue about who’s Tinnitus is louder and whether he’s actually hearing mine instead of his. And as funny as that sounds, while the majority of Tinnitus is an internal sound not directly associated with your ears, some of it has a physical source that can actually be heard by others.

Image from New York Times Well Blog

While there isn’t a cure for Tinnitus yet, there are ways to manage it. If you pay attention to your diet, you may find that your Tinnitus is adversely affected by foods and drugs. Alcohol, Aspirin and Caffiene are all known to affect Tinnitus. Also foods like Salt and Saturated Fats. Even stress can add to the effect in some people. I can attest that some of those things will affect the volume of my Tinnitus.

So, while a change in diet may help, there is no actual cure at this time. Depending on the severity, hearing aids implementing masking technology can help, but even that’s not a 100% cure. Come and see me and we can discuss solutions that might be helpful for your situation. For other sources to read up on Tinnitus, try this article by Audio Clinic and this article at True Sound. You can also check out the American Tinnitus Association. You’re not alone if you are a sufferer.

In closing, just because I’m telling you the condition is common, it’s not necessarily something you should ignore. Tinnitus can be the precursor to Vestibular Disorders, TMJ, Tumors and conditions such as Meniere’s Disease. Get it checked out to make sure it’s just annoying and not something worse you need to address.

If you want to  learn more, check out the links above. But if you start Google searching, beware of spurious claims for cures.

Link to New York Times Well Blog here

RAGBRAI 2017

Those of you that know me, know I’m down to the wire in my preparations for RAGBRAI. (And for those of you that want to know more about this year’s RAGBRAI, follow the link here.)  I’m known to procrastinate in my training, but this year has been a little worse than usual. I’m not much for cold weather riding, so I didn’t get started as soon as I would have liked. Then I came down with a cold over Memorial Day weekend which turned into Pneumonia. It’s hard to ride a bike when you can’t breathe, so I lost almost four weeks to illness. I felt like I was back starting from scratch when I got back out after that.

I’m back on the saddle now though and putting in a few more miles each weekend. This weekend I took advantage of the holiday and got in about 100 miles. I rode around Ancilla College on Saturday, put in about 60 miles on the Nickle Plate Trail out of Rochester on Sunday and got another 25 miles in around Lake Maxinkuckee on the 4th. I’ve only got about three weeks to go though before I hit the road on the 21st  for Lansing, Iowa. They usually recommend getting in about 600 miles of training before RAGBRAI, but I’m going to be hard pressed to get that total this year.

If you’re interested in following me, I’ll have Kevin post some updates and pictures that week. Stop by and wish me luck before then! Plan your hearing aid breakdowns to be simple the week of July 24th. Sandy will be holding the fort down all on her own.