The ability to hear not only helps us to communicate effectively with others, but it also allows us to experience the brilliance of sound. Hearing loss can have a significant impact on a person's life.
Although 22 million Americans experience some type of hearing loss, only 30 percent of them use hearing aids. This statistic is unfortunate because today's technology allows hearing aids to accommodate a wide variety of hearing losses.
If you suspect you suffer from hearing loss, your first step should be to undergo a thorough hearing evaluation and medical examination. A certified audiologist can perform a hearing evaluation, while your primary care physician or an ear, nose and throat (ENT) physician can provide your examination.
An appointment with an audiologist and ENT physician can be made by calling the University Physicians ENT/Audiology Clinic at (573) 882-5194 or the ENT and Allergy Center at (573) 817-3000. This appointment usually is covered by insurance. Check with your insurance provider for coverage information.
Hearing aid evaluation
If the hearing evaluation indicates that a hearing aid is needed, an audiologist will dicscuss which hearing aid options would be most appropriate for you. Sometimes testing is done to determine which hearing aid most effectively enhances your level of hearing. If a hearing aid is necessary, an audiologist will explain the hearing aid program, make impressions of your ears and schedule a return appointment to fit you with hearing aids.
At the time of the hearing aid fitting, your audiologist will:
- Discuss hearing aid care and maintenance
- Demonstrate how to operate the hearing aid properly
- Explain effective communication techniques to you, your family and significant others
- Describe the adjustment period expectations and limitations of hearing aid use
- Evaluate your hearing while you are wearing the hearing aid
Routine follow-up care is recommended for hearing aid patients. Adults should return annually; children should return every six months. During the follow-up appointment, your audiologist will:
- Evaluate your hearing to determine if it has changed
- Check the hearing aid for proper operation
- Assess how much you benefit from the use of the hearing aid
- Counsel you, your family and significant others about hearing aid use
After a period of use, your hearing aid may need maintenance. The audiology staff can repair hearing aids, as well as clean the earmold and hearing aid, change the earmold tubing and replace the earmold. Hearing aid "Care Kits" also are available from the clinic. If used properly, the accessories included in the kits will enable you to extend the longevity of the hearing aid, earmold and batteries.
Other hearing aid accessories also are available for purchase, such as batteries, dri-aid kits and cleaning tools.
Costs vary depending on the type and style of hearing aid you choose. You are responsible for the cost of the following:
- Hearing aid
- Hearing aid evaluation
- Hearing aid fitting
- Follow-up hearing aid care and repair
Contact your insurance provider for coverage information. Please note that Medicare does not pay for hearing aids or professional fees required for hearing aid appointments. If you need help arranging payment, please contact a patient account representative at (573) 882-2141.
Assistive listening devices
Assistive listening devices (ALDs) are used to alleviate certain listening problems caused by a hearing loss. The three main types of ALDs are amplification devices, telephone devices and alert/alarm devices. The ENT/Audiology Clinic has a full line of assistive devices for demonstration and sale.
The ENT/Audiology Clinic offers a variety of programs and services related to hearing problems. For more information about these programs and services, please call (573) 882-5194.