On Monday, February 1st, the first episode of Dan Hewson’s new show ‘Coffee & Audiology’ went live.
What is ‘Coffee & Audiology?’
Well, the premise of this new show is simple; Dan Hewson, one of Arizona’s leading hearing care experts, answers 3 questions about hearing loss, hearing aids, and/or audiology to address the many myths and misconceptions that stand in many people’s way from achieving better hearing.
With so much confusion and so many conflicting opinions, Dan’s focus on prioritizing education will give you the information that you need to make the best decision for you or a loved one.
“Why coffee? I hear you ask? Well, Dan is obsessed with Coffee.
- His favorite band? AC/DeCaf
- His favorite movie? The Polar Espresso
- You get the idea (and we’ve run out of puns!).
In this episode, the questions include:
Question #1 – When I am trying to determine the best hearing aids for me, what are some of the things to be aware of?
Question #2 – Is it possible that my hearing loss can cause balance issues?
Question #3 – Is there any difference between manufacturers’ hearing aids? Why do we choose who we choose when making a recommendation?
== Prefer to Read than Watch? Here are the Transcripts for You ==
The first question is, “When I am trying to determine what hearing aids are best for me, what are some of the things that I need to be aware of?”
My answer may surprise you because I want to focus on the education.
Those that have hearing challenges – generally speaking – will come in the office saying, “Hey, I’m having trouble hearing,” because usually, the studies have shown us it takes at least seven to 10 years before we even realize that we have any hearings loss.
We really want to look at the deeper issues other than the one-dimensional issue of hearing loss. Often, we are so focused on the issues of hearing that we forget about the implications that it has on the way that the brain is actually working.
The biggest problem that I find that people have with their hearing loss is they actually talk about, “I’m having difficulties understanding my wife, understanding my husband,” and so forth.
This means that the issue really is clarity, ”I can hear him, but I don’t understand.” So if somebody comes in where our focus is to really focus on the processing of the auditory part of the brain, it’s actually called the auditory cortex.
The real focus is to understand when an individual hears something, are they able to make sense of the words?
For example, if somebody has hearing loss and gets hearing aids if we fit them with hearing aids and improve their hearing, but they still can’t hear any background noise, there’s so much that we haven’t done, we still have a lot of work to do.
When they do the testing in background noise, the technology needs to be higher because the hearing aids need to do more for the person instead of just turning the volume up.
Technology is critically important. When you get hearing aids, you get hearing aids for two reasons.
- One of them is to make the volume louder.
- Number two is to improve how the brain is processing information and give that clarity and definition that people need.
We need to focus on the intelligibility of speech as opposed to just making things louder.
Okay, good, so let’s look at question number two. “Is it possible that my hearing loss can cause my balance issues?”
So the short answer is yes and no.
Because when it comes to balance and relationships with hearing loss, it’s important that when we make our case history, our focus is to start at the top of the head and work all the way down to the feet.
I recently had a patient who came in to discuss his balance issues and has a hearing loss, 45, 50% loss of hearing, great understanding of speech, so when he was in background noise, he heard beautiful in that, just needed more volume.
But when he talked about his balance, his biggest issue is, he’s noticed that he has neuropathy and notices that as he called it, he came and just said vertigo.
When we did testing to see if he had vertigo, he did not have vertigo, but he had this lightheadedness, imbalance issues, and it was coming from that he’s losing strength in his legs ’cause he had a triple bypass.
Also, he was having a lot of difficulty with just the neuropathy in general.
So it’s misunderstood that what he needs is physical therapy. Give you a little balanced therapy to help him. He needs hearing aids to help with this hearing because his hearing is affected by the localization directionality.
He’s losing that, and you have to remember that your inner ear is like a compass.
It helps you to localize where things are coming from, and when we start losing that, our brain loses the sense of direction and being aware of things that are around us.
It’s important to understand people’s medications, the medications they’re taking that can cause dizziness, lightheadedness, and vertigo-like symptoms.
When I worked in an ear, nose, and throat practice for 15 years, the focus was to give a deeper dive to really understand what was wrong with the patient.
Otherwise, what happens is patients get pushed on from one specialist to the other, and we miss out on so many important details that we end up finding that we’re not really getting our answers to the questions that we have.
So hearing loss and balance issues are very correlated. A person with a mild loss is three times as likely to have issues with their balance. And we know how important balance as we get older; it’s a number one cause of death over the age of 75.
It is essential to be aware of that because as we get older, our body loses its ability to stabilize, whether it’s from strength, we have vertigo, whatever the case may be, that’s causing these issues, neuropathy and so forth, but we lose our balance, we fall, we hurt ourselves it’s a very detrimental thing to the body.
So let’s take a look at question number three. “When you’re choosing a particular manufacturer, why do you choose who you choose?
Is there really any difference between the hearing aids?” That’s a really great question because what’s a crucial thing is that all manufacturers make great hearing aids. And it’s essential to really understand the differences of how your needs work.
Hearing needs to do too many things. They help you to hear better, but most importantly, they help you to be able to understand the speech.
Because you can get somebody, people often get hearing aids from different manufacturers or buy something, and they do that and what happens is that they can hear better, it’s an amplifier.
It makes them hear more, but they still have trouble understanding.
This is where programming comes in, whereas your professional needs to really be doing programming and verification, wheeler measurement, best practices, utilizing ADA testing with your hearing aids on, and doing testing with quicksin, which is the test to help you verify how much better you hear background noise.
We need to compare the way you did with your regular hearing tests and what you did with the hearing test with hearing aids. It’s imperative to verify that the manufacturers are doing what it needs to do you for.
I will say one thing over the years; I found that not one manufacturer can work for everybody’s hearing loss.
It’s important to have options, and it’s important again that the proper education to know what type of hearing aid is best for me, whether you want something that goes behind the ear or something that goes in the ear, want something that’s rechargeable, something that has batteries, something that will be streamed with the phone or something that doesn’t.
Still, it’s important to take the time to verify what you really need and so you can get the answers to your questions and not have something you don’t really need.
What happens with hearing aids is that too many people get hearing aids and have more technology in them than they ever need.
And it’s important that for a hearing loss, as in my professional opinion after 25 years of practicing, and I’ve been wearing hearing aids since I was four years old, so I’ve been wearing them for 43 years, it’s essential to make sure that we take the time to really understand what it is that person needs.
Thanks a latte for joining me (another pun!)
Episode #2 will be with you soon.