Columbia Hearing Centers
The Columbia Hearing Center is dedicated to providing top services for those experiencing hearing loss, tinnitus or balance disorder. Our hearing experts and advanced technology allow us to deliver accurate diagnostics and effective treatment.
Hearing Aid Services
Hearing evaluation appointments with Columbia Hearing Centers are fast, simple and painless. They are designed to assess the sensitivity of your hearing and reveal the type, extent and frequency of your hearing loss. Your hearing professional will use the information collected at this visit to develop an effective treatment plan.
There are several different tests used to evaluate the hearing of Spokane patients. Your board certified hearing instrument specialist will choose which tests to administer depending on your medical history and your answers to a series of preliminary hearing health questions. Some of the most common hearing tests are:
- Audiometry Test
- Bone Conduction Test
- Word Recognition Test
The results of your hearing evaluation, which should take under 30 minutes to complete, will be charted on an audiogram, analyzed by your Hearing Instrument Specialist and clearly explained to you after testing. You will learn whether you have trouble hearing high or low-frequency sounds and which category of severity your hearing loss falls into. There are seven potential categories, ranging from normal to profound. Please give us a call today if you would like to schedule a hearing evaluation.
At Columbia Hearing Centers, we believe it’s not only about having the latest technology; having the correct technology to fit your needs will produce the best outcomes.
An effective treatment plan includes:
- Your Hearing Instrument Specialist will learn about your hearing lifestyle and how you connect to your listening world.
- By fully understanding the challenges your hearing loss presents, along with the potential benefits from hearing aids, you will receive the help you need to reconnect with the world.
- There are so many choices and decisions to make. You and your Hearing Instrument Specialist will work through all your questions and select the best hearing aid for you.
- It is crucial to correctly adjust the many settings and features within your hearing aids in order to maximize performance.
- To ensure the selected settings are producing the best results, all fittings are objectively evaluated using real-ear measures.
- Before you leave the office, we make sure you have a solid understanding of how your hearing aids work and how to handle them correctly.
- Care and maintenance. We will also provide you with tips and techniques to care for and clean your hearing aids.
- Fine-tuning. It is very common that as you adapt to your hearing aids, you will need to return for your devices to be fine-tuned.
Hearing aids have evolved tremendously. Wearers today are able to remain engaged in their daily activities without isolation that is often experienced through hearing loss. Advancements in technology allow users to seamlessly connect to their everyday electronics, including the television, cellular phones and other wireless devices.
One-type-fits-all hearing aids are a thing of the past. Today’s hearing aids are dynamic in fit, style, size, shape and function. Different types of hearing aids offer wearers different features and benefits. Because the world of hearing aids has become so diverse, getting hearing aids from a professional is vital to ensuring patients enjoy the full benefits of their devices.
We are a licensed dispenser of hearing aids and accessories, allowing our patients to get a complete range of hearing services within our modern specialty hearing center. Once their hearing loss has been assessed and diagnosed, we will work directly with them to choose the perfect pair of hearing devices for their needs. Once we have determined which hearing aids are right for the patient, we will order the devices, which will be custom created for their ears.
- Expert knowledge. Choosing the best hearing aid isn’t as easy as selecting a product from a list. Only a professional Hearing Instrument Specialist has the breadth and depth of knowledge to help patients select their ideal pair of hearing devices. The Hearing Instrument Specialists at Columbia Hearing Centers are here to help them during every step of the hearing aid selection process.
- Counseling services. For most people, adjusting to life with hearing aids doesn’t happen overnight. Since the process of adapting to hearing aids can be challenging, counseling services are an important part of adapting to life with hearing devices. Our expert staff understands what the patient is going through and is here to help them learn about life with hearing aids so they can acclimate to their devices comfortably.
- Careful fitting. Each pair of new hearing aids will be custom fitted to the patient’s ears; however, adjustments are still necessary for optimal hearing device performance. When hearing aids are purchased directly from the professionals at Columbia Hearing Centers, patients can expect careful and continuous care throughout the entire fitting and follow-up process.
- Precise adjustments. As the patient adapts to life with hearing aids, they will need to adjust their devices occasionally in order to keep their hearing aids working optimally. To keep up with maintenance and adjustments within the days, weeks, months and even years after the patient purchases their hearing devices, they will need the expert help of our professional staff.
- Accessory assistance. Today’s hearing aid technology is phenomenal, but it’s still necessary to pair hearing devices with hearing aid accessories to be able to listen clearly in certain situations. When patients get their hearing aids with the help of Columbia Hearing Centers, they will also learn more about which accessories may pair well with their devices to improve hearing in large groups, noisy restaurants, movie theaters and other challenging locations.
There are several styles of hearing aids available. In order to determine which option work best for you, you will need to determine your individual needs and preferences. Having an expert at your side during the hearing aid selection process is the only way to ensure you choose the right pair.
Receiver In The Ear (RITE)
RITE instruments have a casing, which sits behind the ear. It is connected by a thin wire to a speaker in the ear canal. This receiver is held in place by a soft dome. This hearing aid style is popular because it provides superior cosmetics, comfort and clarity of sound.
A variation of the BTE, open fit devices provide advanced amplification paired with unprecedented comfort. The electronic components and controls are housed in a small case that sits behind the ear. A clear, thin tube goes over the ear and directs sound into soft domes that sits in the ear canal.
Behind The Ear (BTE)
BTE devices consist of two parts: a custom earmold that sits deep in the canal and a casing, which is worn behind the ear and houses all the electronic components. These parts are connected with a tiny, clear acoustical tube. BTE devices are available in many colors, from a variety of skin and hair tones to many vibrant, fun options popular with children. Depending on the color chosen, BTE instruments can be barely visible or highly visible. They are often used in tandem with assistive listening devices.
Completely In the Canal (CIC)
CIC hearing aids, including Invisible in the Canal (IIC) styles, are the smallest devices currently available. They fit entirely within the ear canal and are cosmetically appealing because they are nearly impossible for others to detect.
In The Ear
Slightly larger than the CIC, this style sits partially in the ear canal and partially in the lower bowl or concha of the outer ear. The battery size is slightly larger than that of the CIC, making them easier to change and longer lasting. ITC hearing aids can often accommodate a greater array of features due to their larger size.
In The Ear (ITE)
Filling up the entire bowl of the ear, this style offers more power and a larger battery. Due to larger size, handling and manipulation is easy.
Hearing aid wearers often find that they struggle to hear in settings with excessive background noise, where the speaker is far away or when acoustics are poor. Hearing aid accessories offer patients a solution for improved listening in many challenging situations.
Assistive Listening Devices (ALDs)
ALDs are personal amplification systems that are useful when the source of sound is far away from the listener or difficult to hear. They can be used separately from your hearing aids or in tandem with them to improve the quality, clarity and volume of sound. There are three types of ALDs: Roger/FM systems, infrared systems and audio loops. Each one delivers sound to the receiver in your ear using a different technology. ALDs are commonly used in theaters, classrooms, lecture halls, churches and synagogues, conference rooms and more.
Tiny, portable wireless microphones are helpful for many people with hearing aids. They can be used to improve conversation in situations where there is a lot of excess background noise. The microphone is usually attached to the clothing of your companion, and it transmits sound to your hearing aid wirelessly.
Many hearing aids are now equipped with wireless technology, allowing them to connect directly to many electronic devices including cell phones, televisions, computers, tablets, in-car entertainment systems, MP3 players and more. This means you can stream audio directly into your hearing devices for clear, quality sound that’s easy for you to hear, even when there’s a lot of background noise.
Wireless technology also allows patients to control the settings on their hearing devices remotely. This can be done with a handheld hearing aid remote control or using an app for some styles of hearing aids. Remote controls allow you to change programs, adjust the sound levels of what you’re hearing, change the volume, control your Bluetooth connectivity and more without ever touching your hearing aids.
Hearing aids are complicated, intricate devices. Even with the best care, sometimes they can malfunction and require a repair. Many basic troubleshooting techniques can be performed at home, though more complicated repairs may need to be completed in-office or by a specialist.
Regular at-home and in-office servicing can help extend the life of your hearing devices.
Each day, your hearing aids are exposed to potentially damaging environments full of heat, earwax and moisture. To protect your devices, daily cleanings with a dry, soft cloth are very important. Cleaning kits, cleaning tools and dehumidifiers can help you better clean and dry your hearing devices as well.
At-Home Hearing Aid Servicing
Here are some commonly encountered issues and techniques that may offer a resolution:
- Can’t hear any sound?
- Try reinserting or replacing the battery
- Ensure your device is on the microphone setting
- Clean earwax from earmold and tubing
- Replace wax guard
- Hearing annoying feedback or whistling?
- Readjust or reinsert your hearing aid
- Schedule an appointment to remove excess earwax
- Is the sound coming across weak or distorted?
- Clean the battery compartment and contacts with a dry cloth
- Replace the battery
- Replace wax guard
- Clean the earmold and tubing to remove wax
In-Office Hearing Aid Servicing
We recommend that you bring your aids in for professional cleaning and performance check every 3-6 months. In addition to a good “clean and check” we can address any additional adjustments that you wish to have made.
Hearing aids are the most effective and common treatment option for patients of all ages with most types of hearing loss. Since the language and social skills of children are not fully developed, getting the highest quality sound possible delivered to your child’s ear is a top priority.
Getting treatment for a child with hearing loss as early as possible is vital to their developmental, learning and behavioral abilities. Treatment options will be based on the type, severity and frequency of your child’s hearing loss.
While there are several styles of hearing aids for adults, children are typically fitted with behind the ear (BTE) hearing aids. BTE hearing aids have a casing, which sits behind the ear and houses all the electronics. The hearing aid is attached to a custom earmold with a short length of clear tubing. The earmold itself sits in the concha or bowl of the ear and extends into the ear canal. The mold ensures delivery of the amplified sound into the ear canal and helps hold the hearing aid in place. Due to their reliability and versatility, they are considered the best option for children since the development of their speech and language skills is a higher priority than cosmetic concerns.
Along with your child’s hearing aids, there are a number of important accessories that can improve their language and learning. Most notably are Roger or FM systems that overcome the negative impact distance and noise can have on children hearing a parent or classroom teacher.
Our team of Hearing Instrument Specialists
HOW TO GET STARTED
Hearing Center FAQ
There are three types of hearing loss:
- Conductive hearing loss affects the outer or middle ear, including the ear canal, eardrum, ossicles or airspace behind the eardrum. Common causes of conductive hearing loss include obstruction of the ear canal by wax accumulation, ear infections, boney growths, holes in the eardrum from injury or infection, diseases involving the middle ear bones and accumulation of fluid behind the eardrum.
- Sensorineural hearing loss occurs when there is a problem with the inner ear. There are many causes of sensorineural loss, but the most common are the aging process and exposure to loud noise.
- Mixed hearing loss describes an impairment caused by both conductive and sensorineural problems.
The severity of hearing loss varies from person to person. There are seven degrees of hearing between the two extremes of hearing well and hearing nothing: normal, slight, mild, moderate, moderately severe, severe and profound. Most hearing losses are mild to moderate.
- Normal hearing loss (-10–15 dB) means your can understand sounds and speech easily in most environments.
- Slight hearing loss (16–25 dB) slightly impacts your listening abilities but still allows you to hear most soft sound, even in moderate background noise.
- Mild hearing loss (26–40 dB) means you are unable to hear soft sounds and have difficulty understanding speech clearly in noisy environments.
- Moderate hearing loss (41–55 dB) means you are unable to hear soft and moderately loud sounds and have considerable difficulty understanding speech, particularly with background noise.
- Moderately severe hearing loss (56–70 dB) means you are unable to hear most sounds in a normal decibel range and have very limited communication abilities without a hearing device.
- Severe hearing loss (71–90 dB) means some loud sounds are audible but communication without a hearing instrument is impossible.
- Profound hearing loss (91+ dB) means you may hear some extremely loud sounds but communication without a hearing instrument is impossible.
Today’s hearing aids use digital technology and cutting-edge features to gather, modify and deliver clear, quality sound. Although hearing instruments help a vast majority of patients in Spokane hear better, it’s important to have realistic expectations. Some advantages and limitations of hearing devices include:
- Hearing devices allow you to hear speech and sound you’ve been missing.
- Hearing instruments enable you to communicate more comfortably.
- Hearing aids let family and friends communicate more easily with you.
- Understanding and using hearing instruments is simple and straightforward.
- Using just one hearing aid can decrease your understanding but will not necessarily cause the opposite ear’s hearing to worsen.
- When fitted properly, hearing instruments don’t cause further damage to your hearing.
- Hearing loss won’t get worse as a result of not using hearing instruments, though it’s likely to worsen gradually due to other factors.
- No hearing instrument will eliminate all background noise.
- Hearing aids don’t restore natural hearing, as there is not yet a substitute for the real auditory system.
The signs and symptoms of hearing loss are easy to understand, but many patients still struggle to recognize them. Some common signs of hearing loss include:
- Frequently thinking people are mumbling
- Hearing speech but having trouble understanding it
- Asking people to repeat themselves regularly
- Finding telephone conversations increasingly difficult
- Playing the radio or TV too loudly for other family members
- Not hearing normal household sounds you once noticed (e.g. a dripping faucet or the doorbell)
- Having trouble hearing when you’re not facing the speaker
- Being told you speak too loudly
- Experience ringing in your ears (tinnitus)
- Struggling to understand conversation in large groups or crowds
Persistent, unwanted, subjective sound in your ears or head is a common symptom called tinnitus. It’s often described as a ringing, roaring, buzzing, pulsating or hissing sound. Tinnitus can occur in one or both ears and can be intermittent or continuous.
The causes of tinnitus are numerous and not all are known or fully understood. However, some cases of tinnitus can be attributed to problems of the jaw joint, outer ear canal, eardrum, middle ear, inner ear, hearing nerve, brain or cardiovascular system.
In some cases, tinnitus can be relieved by successfully treating the underlying condition causing it. In most cases, though, there is no cure. However, there are several tinnitus treatments currently available. To determine the right treatment plan for your needs, your doctor will investigate your problem by performing an examination and hearing tests.
Feedback is a high-pitched whistle or squeal that can come from hearing instruments while they’re being worn. There are two types of feedback: normal feedback, which can occur in some hearing instruments when something is placed close to or over the instrument, and abnormal feedback, which occurs frequently and unexpectedly with head and jaw motion, even when the hearing instrument is properly inserted in the ear. If this occurs, see a professional audiologist in Spokane.
Common causes of feedback include:
- Wax blocking the ear canal
- An improperly inserted hearing aid
- Poor physical fit in your ear
- Debris blocking the device’s microphone or receiver
- Instrument malfunction
- A weak or dead battery
There are many reasons for hearing devices’ high price tag:
- Research and development. Manufacturers spend millions of dollars every year trying to build the best hearing instruments possible using the latest technologies.
- Limited market. The hearing instrument industry is relatively small, with only about two million hearing aids sold each year. While that sounds like a lot, it represents only 2% of the population.
- Medical precision. Hearing instruments are not an “off the shelf” consumer product. They are medical devices regulated by the Food and Drug Administration that are prescribed by an audiologist.
- Features and functions. Modern hearing aids are laden with programming and features. Hearing health care professionals spend a significant amount of time fitting, programming, adjusting and testing during the initial fitting and follow-up visits.
- Dispensing services. Equipment needed to properly dispense hearing instruments is also expensive. Hearing aid dispensers must have a fully staffed and equipped office along with all the other amenities that make the delivery of professional services in a comfortable environment a pleasant experience.
Assistive listening devices (ALDs) are special instruments that help in specific situations where hearing aids may not be enough. ALDs can be helpful in many settings, such as when you’re watching a movie, attending a church service, participating in a conference, talking on the phone or listening to the radio or television.
Alerting devices can help you hear important sounds like the phone ringing, your alarm going off or the doorbell buzzing. They make sounds like these louder and can also be programmed to alter the pitch for your individual hearing needs. There are also visual alerting devices such as strobe lights and messaging systems.
There is an old saying, “when you are ready, you will know.” Unfortunately this often doesn’t apply to hearing aids. Hearing loss occurs slowly and is painless so the hearing loss may not be obvious to the person in question. Hearing aids often retain a stigma that a person is “old” or somehow “disabled” if they are used. This certainly is not true but people will often resist wearing a hearing aid because of this. Compound these factors with the number of complaints offered by disgruntled hearing aid users (or ex-users), and we can readily understand why only 10% of the hard-of-hearing population are fit with hearing aids.
There is another old saying that “a hearing aid is less conspicuous than your hearing loss.” We believe this is quite true. Encourage your family member to have his/her hearing tested without any discussion of hearing aids. Perhaps he/she will become more interested in his/her type and degree of hearing loss if he/she is assured that no one will be delivering a “sales pitch.” Hearing aid trials are generally possible at a minimal cost. If the person continues to resist testing, the family may have few options other than allow him/her to experience the consequences and frustrations of hearing loss.
There are many self assessment items to determine your level of hearing effectiveness. Having your hearing tested by an audiologist is a great starting point. If hearing aids are recommended, make sure there is a trial period offered which allows you to return the hearing aids at a low cost if the performance of the hearing aids is less than satisfactory.
Discuss styles and circuitry options with your audiologist. Have the audiologist explain the advantages and disadvantages of each type. Together agree on a course of action. Comparison shopping can be a good idea. However, make certain that you are comparing the same styles and types of circuitry. This can be very misleading.
Does it matter where you get your glasses or who you see for other health related issues? Certainly. See someone that is highly trained so that he/she can offer you sufficient skill to meet your hearing needs. Also, see someone that you are comfortable with. Are they out to help you and meet your hearing needs or are they always out to “sell you something?” Hearing aids are extremely labor intensive. Hearing aids will not restore normal hearing functions and are subject to breakage. Will you audiologist or hearing aid dispenser present sufficient skill and be available when necessary to satisfy your needs? These are primary factors for patient satisfaction, and it may mean that you pay a little more for your hearing aid as these services are costly.
You can buy a steak at the grocery store for less money than it costs at a restaurant. Is it fair to bring your own steak to the restaurant and have them prepare it for you? Product without service is worth little or nothing. If you want to be fit well with a hearing aid, go to a place where you are comfortable and expect to pay a fair price. The audiologist will most likely be there for you long after you forgot the price you paid for the hearing aid.