Pearls of Wisdom

Posts for: November, 2018

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.