B. Patients’ hearing aid(s) should be cleaned and checked periodically. We recommend that this be done every six(6) months for the following reasons:
1) Ears are made out of cartilage, and over time, a patient’s hearing aid and /or ear mold may become a little loose, due to the ear changing shape slightly. Also, typically we lose weight first in the face and ear area which can affect the fit of the hearing aid/mold and promote feedback, (hearing aid whistling”). The mold can be “built up” to provide a more secure fit.
2) Monitoring a patient’s hearing levels is very important. If a patient’s hearing
changes, the hearing aid may need to be adjusted to compensate for the change in hearing. All of the hearing aids we dispense, both digitally programmable, as well as standard analog hearing aids, can be adjusted in the office in several ways to compensate for any change in a patient’s hearing.
3) Over time, the hearing aid may begin to feed back or “whistle”. This should be checked. It may be due to 1) the fit, 2) earwax, 3) hearing levels changing, causing the volume control to be set higher, 4) something wrong with the hearing aid, 5) too much high frequency amplification, or 6) any combination of the above. All of these areas can be addressed in the office and modifications made to correct the problem.
4) There are devices now available which can assist with listening to the telephone, TV, radio, large areas, as well as signaling/warning devices that may be appropriate for certain situations. The need for these devices should be evaluated periodically. A hearing aid is only one part of the total communication we evaluate for every patient.
5) Technology is continuously changing and there could be some future changes that might be appropriate for a patient’s needs. By checking with us periodically, we will be able to advise patients, as appropriate. There is a lot of advertising going on which makes false and erroneous claims. Reviewing what is new and realistic, and what is not is helpful because patients will often read things in the paper or phone book and wonder if they have the best or most appropriate hearing aid.
6) Ear wax is typically very moist. Over time, it will build up in the receiver tubing of the hearing aid or ear mold. When it does, it may damage the hearing aid receiver and the hearing aid will need to be sent in for repair.
This can become costly. By bringing the hearing device periodically for cleaning and checking, we can ensure that the wax is not building up and this will help minimize the need for repair work Also by checking the hearing device, if there is a problem we can send it in while it is under warranty to prevent unnecessary charges to a patient.
7) At Audiology Associates there are no service charges for office visits for the first three years after a patient is fitted with hearing devices. We recommend check up appointments at least two times a year to monitor all these conditions previously mentioned. It is especially important that patients check with us just before the hearing design goes out of warranty so that if there are any problems, they can be evaluated and solved while the hearing device is still under manufacturer’s warranty.
8) Just like hearing loss, damage to a hearing device can occur very gradually. Patients will adjust to the problem rather than recognize it as an actual problem. By allowing us to check the hearing device periodically, we can ensure that it is functioning appropriately according to the manufacturer’s specifications through the use of various electronic. Often we can correct the problem in our office.
9) Initially, we may fit certain hearing losses with slightly less low-pitch sound or high pitch sound. Over time, as a patient adjusts to the hearing device, we will need to gradually increase these sounds. Seeing a patient periodically helps us monitor when it is the best time to make these slight changes in sound quality. The adjustments can be made in our office.
10) Individuals are often not aware that modifications and adjustments can be made very easily to the hearing device in our office. A hearing device should not whistle excessively, it should fit comfortably and it should provide significant benefit. We can modify the performance of the hearing device through minor adjustments in the hearing device or build up the fitting of the hearing device slightly or modify the vent size or any number of modifications. However, we are unable to do any of these modifications unless the patient comes to see us.
In summary, we need to see patients periodically in order to ensure we are providing the most appropriate amplification for a particular hearing loss. We have found that seeing our patients every six months is the best way for us to monitor the above-mentioned situations. We strive to be very accessible through extended office hours and a dedicated office staff.
Peter J. Marincovich, Ph. D., CCC-A