BNA Doctors Answer Your Questions

From concerts to lawnmowers, from earbuds to Bluetooth, and from insurance to buying online, navigating the world of hearing devices can be challenging on your own. At BNA, our audiologists are making those topics easier to understand with a new show called “I Hear You,” where our doctors answer your hearing-related questions. So if you’re starting to notice yourself or a loved one having difficulty, or if you’re just interested in expert opinions on common hearing issues, these short educational, FAQ videos are for you.

Watch the latest episodes below, and then reach out to schedule your appointment at BNA. If you’ve never had your hearing professionally evaluated, here’s what you can expect at BNA.

 

Q: “How do hearing aids work?”

How do hearing aids actually work? What’s really going on inside those little devices that allow them to improve your quality of life so dramatically? Dr. Sara Hanley, Au.D. provides a fantastic, easy-to-understand overview. Watch more Q&As, then schedule your appointment.

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I’m Dr. Sara Hanley at Bloomington-Normal Audiology, and welcome to I Hear You, where the audiologists at BNA answer your hearing-related questions. Nick in Normal wants to know, “How do hearing aids work?” That is a great question. So I’m gonna start more generally-speaking. Hearing devices work by amplifying sound through a three-part system. So we start with the microphone where sound comes in and gets converted to a digital signal. The amplifier then strengthens that signal so the speaker can produce the amplified sound into the person’s ear. Because hearing aids are all digital now, that allows me as the audiologist to customize the sound for each individual person’s hearing needs. So once we have your comprehensive hearing test, we can see exactly what degree and pattern your hearing loss is so we can fine-tune the hearing devices exactly for your ears. It really helps us give you the best hearing we possibly can. On top of that, digital hearing devices have a lot of more advanced features like background noise reduction, multiple microphones, wind noise suppression. Just a lot of different features we can help set up in your programming that are gonna work automatically for you to help you have improved hearing in multiple different environments. Hope that helped! If you have more questions, let us know. I’m Dr. Sara Hanley at Bloomington-Normal Audiology, and we’re ‘hear’ for you.

 

Q: “What happens during a hearing test?”

We talk a lot about getting your hearing tested, but… what actually happens during a hearing test? Is it something you can “fail”? Do they hurt? And how long do you have to wait to get your results? Dr. Arica Rock, Au.D. answers these questions and more, demystifying the hearing test once and for all.

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I’m Dr. Arica Rock at Bloomington-Normal Audiology, and welcome to I Hear You, where the audiologists at BNA answer your hearing-related questions. Danielle in Normal wants to know, “What happens during a hearing test? Does it hurt? How long does it take to get the results? That’s a great question. The first thing we do before testing is check your ears for any wax or obstructions. During a hearing test, there are some simple parts to it, and then we get more advanced. Any hearing test is gonna consist of responding to beeps to find the thresholds where you can hear at different frequencies. We also do speech testing in quiet, but more advanced testing we move to is how you understand sentences in background noise. If you’re found to be a hearing aid candidate, we spend a lot of time asking lots of questions about your lifestyle and social life, work life, any dexterity issues. Anything that’s gonna help us make the best recommendation. Nothing we do hurts, I assure people of that all the time. And the great thing is, you get your results right away. There’s no waiting to send them to a lab. We go over everything as soon as we’re finished with the testing. Most people are surprised by all the different tests we do. People often think of in grade school when they had a hearing screening, and they had to raise their hand when they heard a beep, but it’s more than just the beeps. It’s the words and your understanding and how you function in different environments. It’s never too soon to get a baseline hearing test. Kids especially. They’re terrified. They think they’re gonna get a shot when they come see us, so I always assure everyone before we start that it’s not gonna hurt. Hope that helped! If you have more questions, let us know. I’m Dr. Arica Rock at Bloomington-Normal Audiology, and we’re ‘hear’ for you.

 

Q: “How Can I Improve My Hearing Without Getting a Hearing Device?”

Everyone’s circumstances are unique. So even if hearing devices aren’t in your immediate future, BNA still wants to help. Dr. Stacy Chalmers, Au.D. shares a handful of tips, tricks, and best practices for how you can improve your hearing without getting a hearing device.

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I’m Dr. Stacy Chalmers at Bloomington-Normal Audiology, and welcome to I Hear You, where the audiologists at BNA help answer your hearing-related questions. Eric in Pontiac asks, “How can I improve my hearing without getting a hearing device?” There are certain communication strategies you can use if you’re having difficulty understanding someone. Rather than just asking “What?” or “Huh?”, you can ask a more specific question. That way, you and the other person may not get as frustrated with them repeating information. If the problem is that they’re moving too fast, maybe say, “Can you slow down a little bit?” That way they do’n’t just say it LOUDER when that’s not what you’re looking for. If it’s a very noisy environment, you can step out of that environment. If you’re mainly struggling with the television, you could put the captioning on at the bottom. Even I put that on sometimes just to help fill-in some of the blanks. There are wireless headsets you can set up with a TV. Another thing you can do is just try to protect the hearing that you DO have to prevent further hearing loss or prevent future hearing loss. Wear good hearing protection. You can even have custom hearing protection made, or filtered protection. Another important thing is just to have your hearing checked regularly so we can monitor for any changes and help you determine what might be most appropriate for your hearing healthcare needs. Hope that helped! If you have more questions, let us know. I’m Dr. Stacy Chalmers at Bloomington-Normal Audiology, and we’re ‘hear’ for you.

 

Q: “What is the average cost of a hearing aid?”

How much do hearing aids really cost? Dr. Natalie McKee, Au.D. transparently talks real numbers, shares some clear price ranges, and explains which factors have the biggest impact.

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I’m Dr. Natalie McKee at Bloomington-Normal Audiology, and welcome to I Hear You, where the audiologists at BNA answer your hearing-related questions. Paul in Bloomington asks, “What is the average cost of a hearing aid?” So, the average cost of an instrument is typically, in our office, between $600 – $3,000 per device. That price differential comes from the technology that goes inside of the product. So they may all LOOK the same, but the computer chip that goes inside of it is what dictates the cost of that instrument. There are features in there that make it “smart,” and can make more features automatic for you, so you don’t have to worry about manually turning things up or down, or worry about which environment you went into where you have to manually choose another setting. It will just automatically detect that you’ve gone into that environment and react accordingly. All you really have to worry about is: where is the person talking, and where do I need to pay attention? That comes at a cost, to have those features more automatic. And it’s important to know that not only do you have a device with that cost, but there’s service that’s bundled-in with it. And that bundled price typically includes not only the service you receive immediately when you take it home, but also follow-up care thereafter for a period of 2-3 years. The manufacturer also will guarantee that product, for a period of time, against defect and ordinary wear-and-tear in order to make sure you keep hearing at no additional charge to you. Most of our patients end-up spending somewhere between $3,000 – $4,000 for a pair of devices, based on the average, middle-of-the-road pricing we have. And again, that will include a couple years of service, not only from the manufacturer, but also ourselves. Hope that helped! If you have more questions, let us know. I’m Dr. Natalie McKee from Bloomington-Normal Audiology, and we’re ‘hear’ for you.

 

Q: “Does Medicare Cover Hearing Aids?”

Navigating the world of Medicare can be daunting. If you’ve wondered what Medicare does (and doesn’t) cover when it comes to your hearing, Dr. Sara Hanley, Au.D. helps clear it all up.

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I’m Dr. Sara Hanley at Bloomington-Normal Audiology, and welcome to I Hear You, where the audiologists at BNA answer your hearing-related questions. Elizabeth in Bloomington asks, “Does Medicare cover hearing aids?” So, unfortunately, Medicare parts A and B (traditional Medicare) does not cover hearing devices. But the good news is, we are starting to see some of the other policies like Medicare Advantage plans (otherwise called Medicare part C), those plans are starting to offer some coverage on hearing devices. You’ll just want to check your policy to see if it requires you to see a specific provider who’s in-network with your plan. And then the coverage ranges everywhere from a discount program (where you’d get a discount on the devices) all the way up to full coverage on premium hearing technology, which is the best you can get. What Medicare DOES cover is part of the testing for getting hearing devices. You would get a discounted rate for the hearing test, and Medicare requires a referral from your primary care physician. So you would need to get that in order for us to bill to Medicare. Hope that helped! If you have more questions, let us know. I’m Dr. Sara Hanley at Bloomington-Normal Audiology, and we’re ‘hear’ for you.

 

Q: “What’s the Difference Between a Hearing Doctor and an Audiologist?”

Terminology can be confusing. What’s a “hearing doctor”? And is that the same as an “audiologist”? Where do “Ear, Nose, and Throat” doctors fit in? Dr. Arica Rock, Au.D. helps clear it all up.

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I’m Dr. Arica Rock at Bloomington-Normal Audiology, and welcome to I Hear You, where the audiologists at BNA answer your hearing-related questions. Connie in Bloomington wants to know, “Hey Dr. Rock! What’s the difference between a hearing doctor and an audiologist?” Great question. An ear, nose, and throat doctor, or ENT, is a medical doctor who can treat hearing and balance issues medically or surgically. They’re the ones who can prescribe medications. They’re the ones who do surgery. And again, they’re a medical doctor. An audiologist is also trained to diagnose and treat hearing and balance issues. Audiologists have at least a Masters level education, if not a Doctorate level, and go through extensive training in hearing and balance. I think we often call ourselves hearing doctors because we’re the ones who specialize in the hearing aspect of it. If you have an ear infection, or something medically going on, that’s when you’d want to see the Ear, Nose, and Throat specialist. But for any hearing difficulties, an audiologist is the best person to see. If your wife is complaining that the television is too loud, or you’re having difficulty hearing in background noise, then you should probably see an audiologist. And if you’re not sure, you should discuss it with your primary doctor. Hope that helped! If you have more questions, let us know. I’m Dr. Arica Rock at Bloomington-Normal Audiology, and we’re ‘hear’ for you.

 

Q: “Can earbuds cause hearing loss?”

Earbuds are everywhere. Should you be concerned about your level of exposure? Dr. Stacy Chalmers, Au.D. shares her opinion on the popular topic.

Watch below:


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I’m Dr. Stacy Chalmers at Bloomington-Normal Audiology, and welcome to I Hear You, where the audiologists at BNA help answer your hearing-related questions.

Brad in Bloomington asks, “Do earbuds cause hearing loss? If I wear earbuds every day, am I at risk?”

You can wear earbuds safely. Generally, it’s a good idea to follow the 60/60 Rule, where you keep your volume limited to 60% or lower, and don’t listen for more than 60 minutes at a time before you take a break. You can also use noise reduction so that you’re not competing with external noise and possibly turning the volume up higher. For example, some people want to listen to music when they’re mowing, but then they end up causing more harm because they’re turning the music up higher. Whatever you’re using, the best rule is to limit how much you’re using it so that you’re not overwhelming your ears. Give them breaks to keep everything safe.

Hope that helped! If you have any more questions, let us know.

I’m Dr. Stacy Chalmers at Bloomington-Normal Audiology, and we are ‘hear’ for you.