Hearing aids/Hearing testing
To begin with, all hearing aids dispensed in Ontario must meet specific standards and requirements for quality and technology. But knowing that all hearing aids have the -potential- to meet an individual’s needs does not necessarily help them to choose which device is the most appropriate.
Our approach to selecting hearing aids is primarily based upon an individual’s needs and lifestyle, and not rushing to talk about ‘the best technology,’ as frankly, that is basically putting the horse before the cart.
The first step in the process is to provide a full hearing test. With those results, we can better discuss specific concerns encountered whether at home or away, as well as workplace or social requirements or restrictions. furthermore, since it is a person who wears a hearing aid, and not the ear, any mobility or dexterity concerns will also help in the selection process. It is only at this point do we then begin to discuss the different levels of technology, and which one will be the most appropriate.
There are essentially four technology levels to choose from, and are generally referred to in terms such as elementary, standard, advanced, and high-advanced.
- Elementary is an excellent choice for those who are active primarily within their homes, or when socializing in restaurants or shopping outings, but when these spots are at their quiet or off-peak times. Whether it is having a few friends over for dinner, out in a quiet spot, or watching television or listening to music, this technology level is quite appropriate.
- Standard level continues onwards from elementary, by providing a much improved ability to hear clearly in busier restaurants or shops, for example, but that ability will be reduced if those spots get very noisy.
- Advanced technology has the ability to automatically reduce high amounts of background noise and enhance the ability to capture speech in very noisy situations.
- High-advanced is usually reserved for those who need the best possible hearing, regardless of circumstances, because of job requirements, such as a server at a busy nightspot or for those with substantial hearing difficulties which limit speech comprehension even in low noise environments.
So, as we can see, just because a product is marketed as ‘the best technology,’ does not mean that it is necessary. Purchasing a high-advanced hearing aid for a quiet lifestyle would be similar to buying a Ferrari sports car for commuting or running errands.
Ear Canal debridement (wax cleaning)
We use the same methods which are almost exclusively available at an Ear, Nose, and Throat (ENT) physician, namely micro-suction and curettage. Both methods are extremely safe, very gentle, and very often cleaning is completed quite quickly. We rarely use the water syringe method, for several reasons: depending upon the impaction, the force of water necessary to release the wax from the ear canal can be enough to cause discomfort, even to a degree that may be intolerable, and may also induce dizziness. If fully impacted, that same force of water can force the wax deeper into the ear canal. On rare occasions will use a syringe -but when we do- it is reserved exclusively to gently rinse away oils or pharmacy wax softeners, which people have attempted to use.
Micro-suction uses a small pump that is attached to a thin nozzle. It acts to lift wax out of the canal, with minimal contact on the ear canal. Beyond the ‘hissing’ sound of the suction, there is little else that is bothersome.
Curettage uses a narrow pencil-length tool, with assorted loops at the end, to gently lift to gently lift wax off the air canal. Most people will feel the tugging sensation or fullness within the ear canal.
All procedures are carried out using the advantages of magnification and/or illumination provided by free-standing microscopes, speciality otoscopes, and illuminated curettes, which all ensure the highest level of safety, control, and patient comfort.
It may come as a surprise, but according to well-established research, 96% of all individuals have the buzzing and ringing noises of tinnitus, however only about 16% are consciously aware; this is actually a very normal effect of the hearing nerves. A good way to explain this is by comparing it to those somewhat out-of-focus ‘eye-floaters’ which appears when looking at a white wall- they are always there, but we are usually unaware of them. Tinnitus is really no different.
For those who do notice the tinnitus sound, the experience can vary from occasional to continuous and from slightly distracting to all consuming and tormenting. Those who it affects dearly account for approximately 4% of the population.
While our field does not require any formal education for tinnitus treatment, we at the Murray Hearing Centre have made the effort to earn our accreditation in Tinnitus Retraining Therapy (TRT) directly under the tutelage of its developer, Dr. Pawel Jastreboff, at the Jastreboff Hearing Disorders institute, in Columbia, Maryland. Dr. Jastreboff’s techniques are known worldwide for being the very best at defeating the problems associated with tinnitus – with 94% success rate!
The TRT protocols involve a mix of sound therapy and counselling to rid the sufferer from the effects of tinnitus. We usually book 45 minute appointments on a need-be basis, as each person is different and there is no formula as to how many visits may be necessary. For some, even those in great distress, we have ‘graduated’ people from the programme in as little as a few visits, whereas others may take more time.
We also work with those who have misophonia, which is characterized as having a well-out-of-proportion intense dread or hatred for commonly encountered sounds, such as chewing or the ticking of a clock. The time frame and techniques are similar to those used for tinnitus. As an aside, it was also Dr. Jastreboff who researched, named, and formalized the term misophonia – so again, we have been trained by the best in the field!