It May Just Be Ear Wax…Or Not!
By Elizabeth Brassine, Au.D.
You’ve seen the advertisements; “It may just be ear wax”––but what if it’s not? There are many causes of hearing loss such as ear infections, noise exposure, ear trauma, sudden idiopathic hearing loss, ear or auditory nerve tumors, and Meniere’s disease among many other possible reasons. That’s where the skill of the hearing professional comes into play.
Our staff of licensed audiologists with doctoral degrees in audiology have spent eight years in school (four years of undergraduate and four years of a doctoral program including a full audiology residency or externship) studying such things as the causes of hearing loss, the balance system, hearing instrument technology, auditory processing, anatomy and physiology of the auditory system and non-medical treatment of hearing loss. We often, as professionals, work closely with ear, nose and throat physicians.
Whenever you’re seeking hearing healthcare, make sure you ask about their experience, years of training and type of training from the practitioner. Not all professionals, unfortunately, are created equal. We recently had a patient come in from a big box store (where they had gone for hearing testing and to look at purchasing hearing aids) for a second opinion and two different medical conditions directly related to hearing were missed. These are often medical conditions that need medical treatment and could impact not only a person’s performance with amplification but, if treated, may eliminate the need for amplification. Or there are cases that could impact a person’s health in general (such as a tumor). As audiologists we will refer onto the ENT when medically warranted.
Secondly, hearing healthcare isn’t always about the price. You can see some low cost ads that are referencing dated technology or, perhaps, very little technology. Don’t necessarily be fooled by the price and/or incentives. You have seen our past articles that discuss some of the recent hearing aid innovations. We realize everyone’s hearing and communication needs are different, so it’s important to work with a hearing professional that will walk you through the various options of styles and technologies available today.
Finally, we want our patients to be educated so that you can make the best decision for your communication needs. Just be comfortable with the hearing professional that you choose!
Elizabeth Brassine is a Doctor of Audiology and the owner of Hearing Services of McKinney.