Pearls of Wisdom
By HEARING & BALANCE CENTER OF AUSTIN
March 21, 2019
Category: Vertigo
Tags: Vertigo   Dizziness  

Are you feeling dizziness? Find out what might be going on.

While all of us may experience bouts of dizziness every once in a while, this issue can be unnerving if it happens regularly. From dizzinesspregnancy to low blood pressure, there are many conditions and health problems that can cause dizziness or vertigo. From the office of our Austin, TX, audiologists Dr. Paige Peterson Dr. Taryn Shelton and vestibular physical therapist Dr. Collette Rhoden, find out more about why you’re feeling dizzy.

Is there a difference between dizziness and vertigo?

While some people may consider these two one in the same thing, it’s important to note that there is a slight difference between these two symptoms. If you find yourself feeling a little lightheaded or woozy then you are dealing with dizziness; however, if it feels like the room is spinning then you have vertigo.

What causes vertigo and dizziness?

Changes in the vestibular system, the part of the ear that is responsible for balance, can cause the spinning sensation characterized by vertigo. Common causes of vertigo and dizziness include:

  • Inner ear infections
  • Inflammation of the inner ear
  • Benign paroxysmal positional vertigo (a disease of the ear)
  • Meniere’s disease
  • Vestibular neuritis

However, dizziness can result from:

  • Standing up too fast
  • Fasting or not eating enough
  • Low blood pressure
  • Low blood sugar
  • Certain medications
  • Low iron levels (anemia)
  • Dehydration
  • Heart disorders
  • Panic disorders

When should I visit an ENT specialist in Austin?

If you’ve visited a physician to talk about your dizziness or vertigo then chances are you were referred to an audiologist or ear, nose and throat specialist to get a more specialized and definitive diagnosis. An ENT specialist has received extensive training to be able to provide you with the proper care you need to treat the root cause of your vertigo or dizziness. If you need an ENT, Dr. Mark Brown is available for consultation: http://www.greathillsent.com/mark-t-brown-md-facs.html.

You should visit an ENT doctor if:

  • Your primary physician has not been able to diagnose the problem
  • Your dizziness is due to an ear infection or ear disorder
  • Your dizziness is accompanied by ringing in the ear, fullness or pressure in the ears, or ear pain

Is vertigo affecting you? Finding it difficult to get your balance? If so, call the specialists at the Hearing & Balance Center of Austin today to schedule a consultation with us.

Telecoil vs. Bluetooth Hearing Aids. Which is Better?

 

    It is true, as an audiologist, day in and day out I am asked about if a hearing aid has direct connectivity to a whole host of objects. Android, iPhone, computer, television, Alexa, Google Home… dare I say a toaster oven may be next? Yes, Bluetooth wireless technology is the new hotness. Couple that with a rechargeable cell and you have enabled someone to be almost worry free in the hearing aid realm. But the question remains, is this enough?

 

    First of all, what does Bluetooth really do? Yes, it allows for wireless streaming from an enabled device into your aids (as long as the technology is compatible… Android users I am looking at you). Bluetooth is very good at allowing the hearing aid user to distinguish vocal sounds over the phone. It is an easy set up, and for someone in assisted living it can be a valuable tool for family members to be able to talk to their loved ones by utilizing the remote mic functionality on iPhone. But is it the cleanest signal for those with mild to severe and even profound loss. The answer is simply, no. That is where telecoil comes in.

 

What is Telecoil (T-Coil)?

               

    A telecoil system, or “loop system” as it is called in the industry, is where a tiny coil of copper wire inside the hearing aid induces an electric current that when in range of a changing magnetic field (i.e. an environment that is “looped”) the signal from that system is delivered directly into your hearing aids. This is important to know if you visit churches, meetings, the symphony, museums, community centers, some school events, travel frequently or find that overall audio quality with Bluetooth is not enough. Most hearing aid manufacturers have hearing aid options with built in t-coils (they will have to be turned on by your audiologist) and remain discreet if that is your concern.

               

    It is very important to communicate with your audiologist about what is important for you to be able to hear in your life. Believe it or not, they can’t read your mind. They also don’t follow you around on a daily basis, that would be creepy and you would have a restraining order.  You would be surprised at what is looped and what is not.

 

How Do I Know if There is a Telecoil System?

 

    Go to www.aldlocator.com , type in your zip code and a list of facilities in your area will be listed. 

 

Anytime you see this image:

Telecoil (T-Coil) Hearing Aids Austin, TX

 

This indicates that a telecoil is present.

 

So should I get Telecoil and NOT Bluetooth?

               

    No. I would highly recommend that you get a hearing aid with BOTH Bluetooth and Telecoil. I am a big fan of covering all of your bases. As a hearing aid user, I never know where I will be. I would rather be prepared than have to sit and smile because I have no idea about what is going on.

By HEARING & BALANCE CENTER OF AUSTIN
February 22, 2019
Category: Hearing Aids
Tags: hearing aids  

Hearing loss can have a big impact on your life, from your career to your relationships to your general well-being. Luckily, hearing aids can hearing aidhelp!. Led by Dr. Paige Peterson and Dr. Taryn Shelton, Hearing & Balance Center of Austin (located in Austin, TX) offers treatments for hearing and balance disorders. Read on to learn about the different types of hearing aids that are available from our office!

1. IIC Hearing Devices

Invisible-In-The-Canal (IIC) hearing devices that are designed to stay out of sight. They are placed deep into the ear canal and can easily be removed with a string. IIC models are a great option if you have an active lifestyle—or if you don't want your hearing aid to be visible to other people. IIC hearing devices may not be the best choice for patients with severe hearing loss since they do not provide the same amount of power that larger models do.

2. ITE Hearing Devices

In-the-ear (ITE) hearing aids are appropriate for mild-to-moderate hearing loss, and they are placed in the ear canal. ITE hearing models are a good choice if you want an easy-to-handle device that has features that don't fit on smaller hearing aids, such as volume control.

3. BTE Hearing Devices

Behind-the-ear (BTE) hearing models are appropriate for people of all ages and are suitable for all types of hearing loss. BTE hearing models hook over the top of the ear and have small tube routes the sound down into the ear canal. BTE models are capable of more amplification than other styles, are easy to use, and comfortable to wear. They are less likely to produce feedback (whistling), even at higher volumes.

4. RIC Hearing Devices

Receiver-in-canal (RIC) hearing models are suitable for mild-to-severe hearing loss. RIC hearing devices are discreet and fit comfortably behind the ear. An RIV hearing aid uses a thin tube that extends from the body of the hearing instrument (housed behind the ear) over the outer ear and into the ear canal. RIC hearing devices are very popular largely due to their cosmetic appeal and physical comfort. RIC hearing devices are easy to maneuver and can house a variety of features.

5. CIC Hearing Devices

Completely-in-the-canal (CIC) hearing models are also a great choice if you want a hearing aid that’s virtually invisible to others. CIC models are worn in the ear canal. The close placement of the microphone to the eardrum provides a natural listening experience without a “plugged up” feeling. Because of their small size, they may not have as many advanced features as larger hearing aids.

If you need a hearing aid, why wait? We can help you today! Call Hearing & Balance Center of Austin at (512) 258-2300 today to schedule an appointment in Austin, TX. Hearing aids hold great potential to positively change so many lives.

By HEARING & BALANCE CENTER OF AUSTIN
November 20, 2018
Category: Tinnitus
Tags: tinnitus  

Are you dealing with ringing in the ears? Find out what it might be.

TinnitusThe CDC predicts that over 50 million Americans suffer from some form of tinnitus, a ringing in the ears. If you’ve been dealing with this issue it’s not something you should just ignore. While this problem may just be a minor annoyance for some it can also greatly impact a person’s quality of life. From the office of our Austin, TX, audiologists Dr. Paige Peterson and Dr. Taryn Shelton and our balance physical therapist Dr. Collette Rhoden, learn more about this condition, what can cause it and when you should come in for a further evaluation.

What causes tinnitus?

The most common cause of tinnitus is long-term exposure to loud noises. You might be surprised to know that many sounds that we wouldn’t exactly deem loud or damaging to our ears actually are. In fact, the majority of those with tinnitus have some degree of noise-induced hearing loss. As you might imagine, there are certain professions that can put you at risk for developing tinnitus. Some of those professions include:

  • Construction workers
  • Musicians
  • Carpenters
  • Pilots
  • Military personnel

Even a single exposure to a very loud noise could be enough to produce tinnitus. Besides loud noises, other causes of tinnitus include:

  • An ear infection or blockage
  • Certain medications (e.g. antibiotics; antidepressants; aspirin)
  • Aging
  • Meniere’s disease
  • Some medical conditions (e.g. high blood pressure; anemia; allergies)
  • TMJ disorder
  • Head or neck injuries

Sometimes certain habits such as drinking alcohol, smoking or consuming caffeine can also bring on a bout of tinnitus. If you have tinnitus you may also notice that your symptoms get worse when you are tired or under stress.

How is tinnitus treated?

How our Austin hearing specialists decide to proceed with your treatment plan will depend entirely on the cause of your tinnitus. For example, if a medical condition such as high blood pressure or anemia is to blame then you will want to work with a doctor to get your condition properly managed with lifestyle changes and medication. Some medications such as anti-anxiety medication have also been known to reduce tinnitus symptoms.

If tinnitus is caused by loud-noise exposure, then you may be given a tinnitus masker, which looks similar to a hearing aid. This device will emit an ambient sound to mask the ringing in your ears. Sometimes tinnitus retraining therapy (TRT) is also recommended. This therapy is extremely effective but can take anywhere from 1-2 years to complete.

If you are dealing with ringing in the ears and living in Austin, TX, it’s important to have your hearing evaluated by one of our specialists as soon as possible. Call Hearing & Balance Center of Austin today to schedule a consultation with us.

By The Audiology Department at Hearing & Balance Center of Austin
November 01, 2018
Category: Audiology

Is there REALLY a difference between an Audiologist and a Hearing Aid Dealer (Audioprosthologist/ Hearing Instrument Specialist)?

 

In one word, YES!

It is easy to become confused about professional nomenclature regarding hearing healthcare professionals. In Central Texas and the greater Austin area, it is becoming more and more confusing by the day. Often consumers are unaware of professional and educational differences between an audiologist and a hearing aid dispenser. This fact has only become more of an issue as hearing aid dispensers have taken to calling themselves audioprosthologists (sounds an awful lot like audiologist doesn't it). A white coat can be purchased off of Amazon, but the education, that is earned. Often patients may obtain a hearing test or screening and purchase hearing aids without the knowledge of what sort of education or certification the provider has.  Here are some of the key differences between an audiologist and a hearing aid dispenser.

 

Audiologist:

An audiologist is a professional with either a masters or doctorate degree that specializes in diagnosis and treatment of hearing loss, tinnitus and vestibular/balance disorders. Doctors of audiology complete a minimum of 8 years of schooling including undergraduate and doctoral degree.  There is also a one year supervised residency that is completed prior to obtaining state licensure or certifications. Audiologists gain extensive training in anatomy and physiology of the ear and brain, psychoacoustics, amplification devices, cochlear implants, electrophysiology, and auditory rehabilitation.  Audiologists also have the ability in working with all ages from new born to geriatric. Audiologists must pass a national state licensure exam and obtain continuing education requirements to maintain state licensure.

Hearing Aid Dispenser:

On the other hand, a hearing aid dispenser is trained in performing audiometric tests and fitting and dispensing hearing aids. The requirements to become a dispenser differ from state to state. In some states only a high school diploma and passing an exam is required prior to obtaining a state license. Other states require two years of college or post-secondary education prior to taking the exam. In Texas, only a high school diploma is required along with passing a written and practical exam.  Hearing aid dispensers are typically only trained in working with adults. Many states place restrictions on their ability to dispense hearing aids to any child under the age of 18. In Texas, hearing aid dispensers are not at this time, allowed to fit children. Also, it is not within their scope of practice to treat tinnitus, and they are not able to diagnose the severity or origin of a hearing loss. Dispensers are also not qualified to recognize medical abnormalities and make appropriate referrals.

 

As you would when making any medical decision, choosing the most qualified professional to handle your health care is the most important. Moving forward with addressing your hearing healthcare needs is no small matter. Fitting a device is not as easy as pushing a button, and it is critical to your success to make sure that you receive the correct rehabilitation, validation and follow-up to ensure your success.

Next time you plan on getting your ears checked, make sure you ask if your provider is a licensed and experienced audiologist.

 

If you or a loved one have concerns about your hearing, tinnitus or balance function please call (512) 258-2300 to schedule an appointment with one of our doctors of audiology today.

 




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