Hearing is essential to fully enjoying and participating in life, but one in 10 Americans — more than 31 million — experience some degree of hearing loss. This makes it our nation’s third most prevalent chronic health condition, after arthritis and high blood pressure. Hearing loss is a chronic health condition involving psychological, social, and emotional effects. Hearing aids can help!We are a provider for True Hearing, Hearing Care Solutions, and United Healthcare.
Southern Head & Neck Surgery offers a Battery Club for our hearing aid patients. Battery Club members pay just $60 for 10 packs of batteries, a savings of $10 over buying ten individual packs! You may pick up your desired number of batteries in office, or give us a call and we will gladly mail them to you.
There are several styles of hearing aids available. Open-fit hearing aids are now the most popular style of hearing aids. Open-fit hearing aids are typically smaller than traditional behind ear style hearing aids. They contain a thin plastic tube that extends over the outer ear and into the ear canal. It is virtually invisible.In addition to being cosmetically appealing, the “open fit” tube avoids the occlusion or “stopped up” feeling of in-the-ear hearing aids. Many colors and styles are available to suit each patient’s hair color or fashion desires. The custom-made in-ear styles became available in the early 1980s.An ITE hearing aid can fit for the majority of hearing losses. This size is the easiest to handle for patients whose hands are no longer as nimble as they used to be. Its larger size also accommodates a larger battery, which translates to longer battery life.Smaller CIC or completely in the canal hearing aids are very discreet but do fill up the ear canal which can cause a “stopped up” feeling. All the hearing aids we fit now are 100% digital.
The audiologist at Southern Head & Neck Surgery is Lori McCollum. She received her bachelor and master’s degrees from Auburn University, completed an internship at Vanderbilt University Medical Center, and worked for an ENT practice in Tuscaloosa prior to joining Dr. McLeod’s staff in 1998. She is nationally certified and licensed to practice audiology by the state of Alabama. She completes continuing education hours each year to stay on top of the latest technology.
The first step is the hearing evaluation, which tells the degree and nature of your hearing loss. If hearing aids are recommended, you and Lori will discuss the different styles and levels of technology available, and you decide what is best for you. All our hearing aids are special-ordered. When you are ready to order them, measurements or impressions of your ears may be taken, depending on the style, and you pay half downpayment (your insurance most likely does not cover hearing aids.) An appointment is scheduled for the initial fitting in one to two weeks, at which time you pay the balance of the cost.
This can be a lengthy appointment of 30-45 minutes or so, at which Lori will program the hearing aids according to your hearing, and will teach you about wearing and caring for the hearing aids. She will cover insertion and removal of the hearing aids from your ears, the parts of the hearing aids, adjusting the controls on your hearing aids (if applicable), how long your batteries should last, how and where to buy your batteries, basic hearing aid maintenance (daily cleaning, wax filters, etc), warranty and return policy. There will be a contract prepared listing the dates of return period and warranty expiration. Be sure to ask any questions you may have. Be aware that your voice will sound different the first few days you wear the hearing aids. A follow up appointment is usually scheduled for a week or two after you take the hearing aids home.
Adjusting to your new hearing aids will take practice, perseverance, and patience. During the first few days, use your hearing aids in quieter familiar surroundings for a few hours at a time. This will give you a feeling for the amplified sounds. As you become more comfortable, begin to wear them in noisier surroundings. The goal is for you to work up to wearing them all day, every day. Go at your own pace. Some people are able to wear them all the time from the start. The world will seem alive with many new and seemingly strange sounds. Because your hearing has not been functioning normally for some time, every day sounds that other people take for granted may seem unnatural at first. Relax; over time those sounds will sound natural again. Your own voice will likely sound strange to you at first as well. This is because the microphones are picking your voice up. This also will sound much better to you after a few days. Your hearing aids will amplify both the sounds you want to hear, and some sounds you may prefer not to hear. This may be annoying at first. With experience wearing them, your brain will automatically begin to “tune out” sounds that are not important. This adjustment to the sound depends on you wearing the hearing aids very consistently. The only way for you to be successful with your hearing aids is to wear them every day, even if you feel like there is nothing important to listen to that day.There is sound around us all the time, and the only way for your hearing aids to sound natural is for your brain to hear this amplified sound on a daily basis. If you wear them consistently, you will automatically adapt to the new way of hearing, and you won’t even have to think about it!
The most important thing about maintaining your hearing aids is to clean them every day! Use a soft dry tissue or soft cloth and wipe them down every day. Clean the sound ports every day by brushing or picking with the tool provided. Disconnect the battery when not wearing the hearing aids. Keep your hearing aids dry. Most people do not sleep in them. Do not expose the hearing aids to extreme heat. Keep the hearing aids in a certain place in your home to reduce chances of losing them. Dogs love to chew on hearing aids. Modern hearing aids have a wax filter that will need to be changed periodically. This filter will be provided for you, ask if you need some more.
Feel free to ask questions. We want to help you be successful with this important investment. The better you understand your hearing aids and their benefits and limitations, the more successful you will be. Remember, office visits are included as part of the service on the hearing aids, but please call ahead and make an appointment. You can call and ask for Lori (256) 329-1114. Sometimes you will need to leave a message. Please be sure to leave a message and Lori will call you back as soon as she can.