How do I get a hearing aid? |

The Process of Obtaining Hearing Aids

Before purchasing hearing aids, it is important to have a complete hearing evaluation. If you have not had your hearing tested within the last six months, you will need to make an appointment for a hearing evaluation with an audiologist.

Medical clearance from one of our physicians is ideal to obtain prior to hearing aid use. This is to make sure that your hearing loss cannot be treated with medicine or surgical procedures.

After hearing testing is completed, a hearing aid evaluation will be conducted. Appropriate selection of hearing aids will be discussed with you, and is based on several factors, including amount of hearing loss and lifestyle needs. Ear impressions will be taken, and hearing aids will be ordered.

At the hearing aid fitting appointment, you will receive your hearing aids. Use and care of the hearing aids are discussed.

You will return for follow-up appointments so that proper adjustments can be made to the hearing aids.

Once you have completed the initial fitting process, we encourage you to return consistently for hearing aid check-ups. The audiologist will check, clean, and adjust your hearing aids as needed. If you have a problem with your hearing aids between check-ups, please call our office for an appointment.

You should undergo hearing evaluations annually (or as recommended by your audiologist), so that your audiologist can monitor your hearing and help you maintain optimal hearing aid use.

Information About Hearing Aids

Hearing aids are available in various styles, including: Behind-the-Ear (BTE), In-the-Ear (ITE), In-the-Canal (ITC), and Completely-in-the-Canal (CIC). A wide range of hearing aid technologies are offered, including digital, programmable, and conventional. Each of these technologies can be obtained in any style of hearing aid. Your audiologist will recommend the most appropriate hearing aids for your particular hearing needs.

Hearing aids are purchased with a 30-day trial period, beginning on the date the hearing aids are fit. If the aids are returned with 30 days, a refund will be issued for the price of the hearing aids, less a minimal restocking fee.

Hearing aid purchases come with a dehumidifier, a limited supply of batteries, accessories/cleaning tools, repair warranties, and insurance policies. Prior to the end of the warranty period, extension of the warranty period and insurance policy can be purchased from our office.

For Behind-the-Ear (BTE) hearing aid users, earmolds are not covered under the hearing aid warranty. There will be a charge for replacement earmolds, if needed.

The following services are included in the purchase price of the hearing aids: the hearing aid fitting appointment, follow-up appointments, hearing aid check-ups, and annual hearing evaluations. Hearing evaluations required by a physician for medical purposes will be charged.

Payment for Hearing Aids

There is no charge for the hearing aid evaluation appointment.

Hearing aids vary in price, depending on the style and technology.

Payment in full is required when a hearing aid order is placed at the hearing aid evaluation appointment. You may use check, cash, MasterCard, Visa or Discover. A payment plan is also available.

Insurance and Medicare do not typically cover hearing aids or related services. However, many insurance companies will cover the audiological testing. Please check with your insurance company to verify covered services.

Need-based funding organizations sometimes help cover the cost of hearing aids. Audiologic and income criteria must be met in order to receive funding through these programs. Your audiologists can inform you on which organization may best serve your needs. Please check with our office to find the organizations with which we participate.

What are the types of hearing aids? |

Behind-the-Ear (BTE)

The electronic components of the hearing aid are housed in a casing that fits along the back side of the ear. An earmold, a piece custom fit to the ear, is fit inside the ear. The two pieces are connected using clear tubing. When worn, the hearing aid hangs over the ear and the earmold holds it securely in place. The sound is picked up by the device behind the ear and amplified. The amplified sound is then routed through the tubing into the ear through the earmold. The behind-the-ear style hearing aid supplies the most power of all the styles available.

Open-fit Hearing Aids

Open-fit hearing aids are a variation of the BTE style aids. They follow the same general idea but the portion behind the ear is typically much smaller in size and they do not use a custom earmold. Instead they use a very flexible non-custom tip to hold the tubing in the center of the canal. This style hearing instrument is very cosmetically appealing but is designed for a very specific type and degree of hearing loss. Your audiologist will determine if this aid is an option for you.

Receiver-in-the-Ear (RITE)

The receiver-in-the-ear style the hearing aid components are divided and placed in two separate locations. Part of the hearing aid components are housed in a very small casing that sits behind the ear and the other portion of the components are housed at the end of the tubing in the canal of the ear. This style hearing aid can be fit with either a custom earmold or a non-custom earmold. Your audiologist will tell you which earmold is appropriate for you hearing loss. The receiver-in-the-ear hearing aids are cosmetically appealing and provide significant power.

In-the-Ear (ITE)

The in-the-ear style hearing aid house all the components in the bowl portion of the ear. The hearing aid is typically flesh tone colored but is visible in the ear. This style hearing aid is easy to handle and is a great option for patients with dexterity issues.

In-the-Canal (ITC)

The in-the-canal style hearing aid fits primarily in the slender canal portion of the ear with only a small portion of the hearing aid being in the bowl portion of the ear. This style hearing aid is less visible than the in-the-ear models but offers significantly less power than the larger style hearing aids.

Completely-in-the-Canal (CIC)

The completely-in-the-canal hearing aid fits deeply into the ear canal. The aid easily hides behind the tragus, often referred to as the ear flap, an is very difficult to see in the ear. This hearing aid is the least noticeable of all the hearing aids, however it also offers the least amount of power.

Because all patients are unique, Cornerstone Ear, Nose and Throat offers analog and digital hearing aides from many manufacturers. From hearing aids that are hidden entirely in the canal to behind-the-ear models, patients will find the latest technology at competitive prices. Our audiologists provide a comfortable atmosphere to answer every question, explain the options, and ensure that the proper hearing aid is selected and fitted.

What are some hearing aid options? |

Not All Hearing Aids are Created Equal

Thanks to recent technological advances, digital hearing aids offer greater comfort and audio quality than ever before. They are available in high-end, entry-level and everything in between based on their features and capabilities. For some patients, however, the increased options have made the process of choosing a digital hearing aid very confusing.

At CornerStone Ear, Nose & Throat, our certified audiologists have the training and experience to help your patient choose the hearing aid and options that best suit his or her individual lifestyle, environment, dexterity and financial considerations.

Extra options are typically available on both the entry-level and high-en hearing aid products. Following are some key features that are available:

Directional microphones

This feature makes it easier for patients to hear in noisy environments. There are two microphones on the hearing aid, one facing forward and one facing the back of the head. The microphones work together to help the patient hear conversations and improve speech intelligibility in noisy environments. On entry-level products, directional microphones reduce noise from one specific direction. In contrast, advanced technology has introduced adaptive directional microphone that automatically detect the specific location of the noise source and negate it automatically.

Multiple Programs or Memory Slots

With entry-level devices, a button on the aid must be pushed to access the different programs. More advanced hearing aids offer automatic program selection, where the hearing aid evaluates the surrounding environment and adjusts accordingly without the patient having to press a button.

T-coil or Telephone Program

This function improves the patient’s ability to hear on the telephone. T-coils are standard on most current digital hearing instruments. Entry-level hearing aids requires the user press a button to access the t-coil feature, while high-end products offer a touchless t-coil that will automatically switch to the phone program when the telephone is placed over the hearing aid.

Feedback Managers

With newer technology, feedback does not occur as often as it did in older models because most aids are equipped with a digital manager that detects when the aid is producing feedback and automatically eliminates it. Entry-level hearing aids have a simplified feedback manager, while more sophisticated devices eliminate feedback while also preserving the needed amount of gain.

Noise Reduction

The most common complaint from patients who wear hearing aids is that it is difficult for them to hear in the presence of background noise. The noise reduction feature, coupled with directional microphones, helps to reduce the background noise so the patient can follow conversations. Entry-level hearing aids have limited noise reduction capabilities, with the option of having this feature either turned on or off. High-end digital hearing aids use noise tracking technology and more acute noise reduction systems. They also reduce steady state noises that the entry-level system my miss.

Wireless (FM) System Compatible

A wireless communication system (FM system) transfers the speaker’s voice directly into the patient’s hearing aid(s), making communication in very difficult situations much easier. The system consists of a transmitter, which picks up the voice from the speaker and sends it via radio waves (no wires) directly to the tiny radio (FM) receiver, which is connected to the patient’s hearing instrument. This feature is especially useful for school-age children in the classroom or for business personal who regularly attend large meetings.

Remote Access

With this option, a remote or wristwatch can be used to adjust the hearing aid volume or change programs.

Bluetooth Compatibility

Using this technology, an device that is Bluetooth compatible can be heard directly though the hearing aid, including laptop computers, cell phones, MP3 players or an iPod. Using Bluetooth with hearing aids allows the sound to come directly though the hearing aid, making the sound amplified to the patient’s hearing loss and presented clearly and at a comfortable level for the individual.

At CornerStone Ear, Nose & Throat, our certified audiologists can help patients choose a hearing aid that fits their specific lifestyle and budget.

What should I expect after the fitting? |

Continued follow-up care is essential for successful hearing aid use. These appointments may be more frequent directly after being fit with new hearing aid devices because you may need further instruction and setting adjustments as you familiarize yourself to the new sounds and the hearing aid experience. After the initial adjustment period we recommend that annual follow-up care is performed. Annual follow-up appointments include retesting hearing to monitor the hearing loss, making adjustments to the settings of the hearing instruments if necessary (based on the audiometric testing), checking the function of the hearing aids and cleaning the hearing aids. These services are included in the initial cost of the instruments.

We believe it is vital that every patient who is fitted with hearing aids from our practice is satisfied with his or her purchase. That is why we offer a thirty day satisfaction guarantee. After the initial fitting, we make additional adjustments as needed to help enhance the effectiveness of an individual’s hearing aids. However, if at the end of thirty days, a patient is not satisfied with the benefit he or she is receiving, the hearing aids may be returned for a refund less a minimal restocking fee or exchanged for another model.