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245 Business Center Dr.
Pawleys Island SC 29585
Phone: (843) 979-3888

Frequently Asked Questions (Audiology)

At Coastal Hearing Center, we understand you may have some questions before your first appointment. Whether you’re new to hearing loss or simply have an issue with your auditory system, we strive to provide you with the information and resources you need to feel comfortable and confident at your appointment. That’s why we have compiled a list of the most frequently asked questions we receive, including:

What types of tests and treatments do audiologists perform?

The most frequent services and treatments provided by an audiologist ae:

  • Diagnostic hearing tests
  • Audiologic evaluations
  • Hearing aid fittings and consultations
  • Hearing aid repairs and maintenance
  • Aural rehabilitation

How do I know if I have hearing loss?

If you’re concerned you or a loved one may be experiencing hearing loss, you are not alone. Because hearing loss can come on gradually, it’s often the people around you who notice your hearing problems before you do. Typically, it takes people an average of seven years to seek treatment. If you exhibit the following symptoms, consider visiting an audiologist:

  • When people talk to you, you hear mumbling.
  • You need to ask people to repeat what they’ve been saying.
  • While you may not have understood the punchline, you still laugh at jokes.
  • You ask others about the specifics of a meeting that you have just attended.
  • You watch television or radio louder than others
  • If they talk to you, you find that looking at people’s lips makes it easier to understand them
  • You aren’t able to hear the environment including chirping birds or blowing leaves.
  • Many restaurants you find yourself avoiding because they’re too loud.
  • In your ears, particularly when it’s quiet, you hear a ringing sound.

What causes hearing loss?

Hearing loss can be due to several factors such as the aging process, exposure to loud noise, medications, infections, head or ear trauma, congenital (birth) or genetic factors, diseases, as well as a number of other causes. It is estimated that nearly 20 percent of adults in the United States (48 million) report some degree of hearing loss. Hearing loss often occurs gradually throughout a lifetime.

How is hearing loss diagnosed?

If you exhibit symptoms of hearing loss, you should see an audiologist to have a formal hearing evaluation. This hearing test, or audiologic evaluation, is diagnostic and allows the audiologist to determine the type and degree of your hearing loss. There will also be a hearing test that evaluates your sensitivity, acuity and accuracy to speech understanding. Your audiologist may also test for speech understanding at different volume levels and conditions – like noise – to help the professional recommend the best hearing aids for your particular needs.

The hearing evaluation will also include a thorough case history and a visual inspection of the ear canal and eardrum. Additional tests of middle ear function may also be performed depending on your symptoms. The results of the evaluation can be useful to a physician, if the audiologist believes your hearing loss may benefit from medical intervention.

Results of the hearing evaluation are plotted on a graph called an audiogram. The audiogram provides a visual view of your hearing test results across various pitches or frequencies, especially the ones necessary for understanding speech. The audiogram and results from your speech understanding tests are used to create a prescription by which hearing aids are programmed, if necessary.

What are the different degrees of hearing loss?

Your hearing test results are displayed on an audiogram. Loudness is shown from top to bottom, and frequency is plotted form left to right. In decibels (dB) the hearing level is calculated and defined in brackets of hearing loss. The categories used by most hearing professionals for hearing loss are as follows:

  • Normal hearing (0-25 dB)
  • Mild hearing loss (26-40 dB)
  • Moderate hearing loss (41-70 dB)
  • Severe hearing loss (71-90 dB)
  • Profound hearing loss (greater than 91 dB)

What are the different types of hearing loss?

There are three main types of hearing loss:

  • Sensorineural hearing loss: The result is a sensorineural hearing loss when the problem is in the inner ear or involves an auditory nerve issue.
  • Conductive hearing loss: This occurs when there is a blockage in the external or middle ear.
  • Mixed hearing loss: This is a combination of the two types described above.

What are the signs of hearing loss in children?

Hearing loss in children can occur at any time in life from acquired factors such as ear infections, head trauma, certain medications and genetic factors. You may suspect your child has a hearing loss if you observe any of the following:

  • Failed newborn hearing screening
  • Delays in speech and language acquisition, including baby babbling
  • Frequent ear infections
  • Not startled by loud sounds
  • Not turning to the location of sounds after six months of age
  • Difficulty following verbal directions
  • Daydreaming in many situations
  • Concerns by school teachers or failed school hearing screening
  • Loud volume on the TV or radio
  • Complaints from the child that they cannot hear

A pediatric audiologist is trained to test children of all ages. Any symptom of hearing loss in children should be addressed promptly so that speech, language and academic development are not delayed or negatively impacted.

What style of hearing aid do I need?

There are many types of hearing aids today and the style or device depends on your lifestyle, budget and hearing loss needs. There are in-the-ear styles as well as behind-the-ear styles. In addition to selecting the right style of device, it’s also important to consider what features would be most beneficial to you. From directional microphones to waterproof options, there are numerous varieties to meet everyone’s personal needs. Today’s hearing aids are even equipped with Bluetooth connectivity to work with wireless technology like a cell phone or television.

Hearing aids are available in many different sizes and styles, thanks to advancements in digital technology and miniaturization of the internal components. Many of today’s hearing aids are considered sleek, compact and innovative – offering solutions to a wide range of hearing aid users. When selecting a style of hearing aid, the following should be considered:

  • The type/degree of the hearing loss
  • Power requirements
  • Manual dexterity and visual abilities
  • Budget
  • Cosmetics and aesthetics
  • Anatomical and medical considerations
  • Lifestyle requirements

What are assistive listening devices (ALDs)?

ALDs are designed to improve the loudness of a desired sound like a radio, television or other compatible technology without raising background noise. An ALD can help people with all types and degrees of hearing loss.

What is tinnitus?

Tinnitus is a common disorder affecting over 50 million people in the United States. It is often referred to as “ringing in the ears,” although some people hear hissing, roaring, whistling, buzzing or clicking. Tinnitus is not actually a disease, but a symptom of another underlying condition of the ear, auditory nerve or other influencing factor. Tinnitus can be intermittent or constant, with single or multiple tones. The perceived volume can range from very soft to extremely loud and may be recurrent or constant.

What causes tinnitus?

The exact cause of tinnitus is not known in every case. However, there are several likely factors that may worsen tinnitus. These include:

  • Noise-induced hearing loss
  • Wax build-up in the ear canal
  • Certain medications
  • Ear or sinus infections
  • Age-related hearing loss
  • Ear diseases and disorders
  • Jaw misalignment
  • Cardiovascular disease
  • Certain types of tumors
  • Thyroid disorders
  • Head and neck trauma

How is tinnitus treated?

Depending on the severity and underlying condition causing the tinnitus, there are several treatments available to improve the perception of unwanted noise. The most common treatments for tinnitus include:

  • Hearing aids with tinnitus-masking features
  • Tinnitus retraining therapy
  • Sound therapy
  • Avoidance measures
  • Avoidance of certain medications
  • Behavioral therapy

What is the difference between an audiologist and a hearing instrument specialist (HIS)?

The professionals at our practice complete an advanced degree in audiology, as well as a supervised external position prior to state licensing and national certification. It makes us the most qualified to help people with hearing loss, auditory problems or balance issues.

A hearing instrument specialist is licensed for selling and fitting hearing aids and perform audiometric testing. They can fit and restore hearing aids, but they are unable to diagnose hearing loss.

What types of tests and treatments do audiologists perform?

The most frequent services and treatments provided by an audiologist are:

  • Diagnostic hearing tests
  • Audiologic evaluations
  • Hearing aid fittings and consultations
  • Hearing aid repairs and maintenance
  • Aural rehabilitation