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Recycling Hearing Aids

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Ever wonder what they do with old hearing aids? The ones that no one wants anymore because they are no longer working, or the technology is so outdated? What about grandpa’s hearing aids after he passed away? Can they be used again by someone else, or do they just get thrown away with the trash?

Audiologists get asked this question a lot. After spending so much time and money on hearing technology each year, what happens to the old, outdated, or unused amplification devices that are just collecting dust in drawers everywhere? Well, let me tell you that there is a better place for them to go than the trash can. Just like old computers and cell phones, hearing aids can be recycled, too. It’s better for the environment, and the used aids go towards a good cause.

Did you know that hearing loss affects 1 in 10 Americans, yet many cannot access the hearing devices that can help them? For several years now Mid-West ENT Centre has been working with a national organization to do something about this issue. Since 1973, the Starkey Hearing Foundation has been dedicated to helping the hearing-impaired. Each year, they donate thousands of free hearing aids to needy individuals and children around the world, improving many through their international outreach programs.

Mid-West ENT Centre is proud to be a participant in the Hear Now national program, which is committed to assisting U.S. residents with hearing loss who may not have sufficient resources to get hearing aids. The Starkey Hearing Foundation provides the aids and runs the program, but they count on the generosity of Hear Now providers and donors across the country.

How can you help? It’s really easy! You just drop off your hearing aids here at Mid-West ENT and we will send them in for you. Any make or model, regardless of age, can be donated. All donations are also tax deductible! Just fill out one of the donation forms and a letter of acknowledgment will be sent. If you want to remain anonymous, that’s fine too.

To learn more about the Starkey Hearing Foundation or the Hear Now program, just go online to http://www.starkeyhearingfoundation.org/programs/  or call (866) 354-3254

Does Your Hearing Aid Have A T-coil?

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Do you know if you have a t-coil in your hearing aid?  In the United States, 65% of all hearing aids dispensed have telecoils – or t-coils.  A telecoil can increase the functionality of your hearing aid or cochlear implant with little cost or effort on your part. 

A t-coil is a small copper wire wrapped around a metal rod which is built into most hearing aids and all cochlear implants.  T-coils receive magnetic signals transmitted from a sound source.  Those signals from the t-coil are then processed through the hearing aid which has been programmed to correct for the individual’s hearing loss.  So…a telecoil is like a wireless antenna coupled to a sound source that delivers a customized sound directly to the hearing aid user.

When do you use a t-coil?  T-coils were originally used to enhance the magnetic signal from a telephone handset so a hearing aid user could hear better on the telephone.  In fact, if you see a phone advertised as “hearing aid compatible”, it means the phone works with a t-coil equipped hearing aid.  T-coils can also be used with your TV at home, MP3 players, or computers.   It’s becoming more common to use t-coils with hearing assistive technology that may be found in churches, meeting rooms, theaters, airports, tour buses, and other places.  This kind of hearing assistive technology is called a hearing loop and it can make a huge difference in how well you understand speech from a distance, when background noise is present, or in a room with poor acoustics.  More to come on hearing loops in the next blog – it’s an important topic!

T-coils are standard in most behind-the-ear hearing aids and don’t add anything to the cost of the aid.  If space allows, t-coils can be added to many in-the-ear type hearing aids.  T-coils are activated by pressing a button or switch on your hearing aid – very simple!  Whether you currently wear hearing aids or are just now considering your first set of aids, be sure to have your audiologist explain the benefits of t-coils.

Bionic Hearing – Not Likely

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Bionic Hearing – Not Likely

Yes – hearing aids are electronic devices to assist individuals with hearing loss in hearing better, however, they do not duplicate the natural hearing system, nor do they restore hearing to normal. 

Hearing aids are wonderful devices that have incorporated some of the newest technology out there – Bluetooth, wireless functions, FM’s, automaticity, self-learning, and feedback cancellation – just to name a few.  This does not equate perfect hearing.  I wish it did, and I know my colleagues share this wish.  But the reality of the situation is that when there is hearing loss, particularly a permanent type, there is no technology existing today that will “give back” the hearing you once had.  The natural hearing mechanism is a complicated one – it involves not only a lot of intricate anatomy and physiology, but human perception as well.  Even with the best-of-the-best of what we have available with hearing amplification, the sound will never be perfect.  It will be louder in order to give your brain the most access to sound possible, it will be better.  But it will not be perfect.  Hearing aids are exactly what they’re called – an aid to the hearing you have.  This is not to deter you from looking into hearing aids, this is meant to instill some realistic expectations for what these tiny little devices can and cannot do for us.

Here is a brief, non-comprehensive, list of some realistic expectations for hearing aids:

1)  In quiet environments, your hearing should improve

2)  Your hearing in moderate background noise should improve

3) Your hearing with background noise is not going to be as good as your hearing in a quiet environment

a.      Background noise is difficult for everyone!

4)  Your hearing with loud background noise is not worse than without your hearing aids

a.      Yes, without your hearing aids, the background noise is quieter.  But if you think about it, so is the speech you are attempting to hear – so is your hearing really better without them in this scenario?

5)  Soft speech should be audible, average speech should be comfortable, and loud speech should not be uncomfortable, but should be loud

a.      If a sound or speech is loud, we want you to perceive it as loud – that’s the way it’s intended to be.  But, it shouldn’t be so loud that you’re ready to rip your hearing aids out of your ears!

b.      On another note, if an environment or sound is too loud for ANYONE (race car track, monster truck event, emergency siren, etc), then it will likely be too loud for you with your hearing aids too.

c.      The hearing aids are not meant to equalize all incoming sounds.  If they did, you would have no perception of how loud something really is.

6)  Your hearing aids do not eliminate background noise

a.      The hearing aids will work in your favor, doing the best they can to turn down some of the background noise while keeping speech audible.  But background noise is a part of the environment in which we live.  We cannot make it disappear.  If someone figures out how to do that, please let me know – my neighbors barking dog never stops!

7)  Your voice should become acceptable to you

a.      It will sound funny at first – you’re hearing your own voice differently.  But after you get used to the hearing aids, it should sound more acceptable.

8)  There should not be feedback when the hearing aids are properly seated in your ears

a.      In certain situations, feedback is normal, it’s the nature of acoustics.  Your audiologist should go over when this is to be expected, and when it’s not.

9)  Your hearing aids require time to get use to

a.      As stated above, it’s a complicated process.  Hearing aids is not a one-stop-shop.  But we will work with you to get you to where you need to be.

10)  You may be aware of soft sounds that were previously not audible

a.      You should be hearing these sounds!

b.      Examples:  footsteps, refrigerator, paper rustling, clothes moving, noise, etc.

I hope that this list helps to ease the process of learning about hearing aids.  They will never be perfect.  But, they are wonderful, tiny, digital technology that is working it’s hardest to improve your quality of life by giving you the most access to sound possible!&nnbsp; Enjoy the sounds in your environment!

 

“Honesty is the first chapter in the book of wisdom.” 

– Thomas Jefferson

“If you still can’t hear your friend speak from across the table at the restaurant on family night, be encouraged – a normal hearing person will have trouble under these circumstances too.” – Thomas Jones

Did You Know…

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Did You Know…

That cotton swabs, commonly known as Q-Tips, typically cause more harm than good?  That’s right – medical training and clinical experience aside, I’ve seen multiple warnings on a variety of boxes that confirm even the company’s concern for improper use of these cotton swabs.  Here are just a few I have seen:

“Warning – Do not insert swab into ear canal.  Entering the ear canal could cause injury.”

“Surgeons General Warning: Improper use can cause inner-ear damage.”

“Caution: Do not enter ear canal.  Entering ear canal could cause damage.”

“Common uses in the home:  Baby care; health care; beauty care; pet care; crafts… Caution: Do not insert in ear canal.”

These warnings are scarcely read, better less followed.

Despite these warnings, you would be amazed how many people end up at their local ENT office with issues that were caused by these little, seemingly-harmless, cotton swabs.  As you can see above, they have multiple safe uses around the home – I know I cannot go a day without my cotton swabs, but I use them as makeup assistants, not in my ear canals.  When using these little wands for proper uses, they are perfectly safe.  A person dismissing the warnings, using them in the exact way stated in the warning, can cause a great deal of damage to their own ear.  Even WORSE!  I’ve seen multiple patients in my office who use BOBBY PINS inside their ears!  What?!  This is the worst idea I have ever heard.  This is not safe, not smart, and definitely intolerable in the ear and hearing world.

Think about it – Can you see inside your own ear?  Do you have the training to know the anatomy and physiology of the external and middle ear space?  Have you seen your ENT to ensure your anatomy is normal and intact? Do you understand the inherent positive functions of ear wax (cerumen)?  If you answered “no” to any of these questions, common sense tells us it’s probably not a good idea to be sticking things inside that hole (even if you answered “yes” to most of the above, still not smart!).

You might be asking “well, how do I clean my ears?”  The correct answer is “YOU don’t.”  The best way to clean your ear canals is to visit your ENT physician or audiologist who can see inside your ear, and who is medically trained to remove it safely.  Now, this is not an excuse to head up to your local pharmacy and purchase a wax candle, vacuum, or any other spoof on the market – this will only be a disservice to yourself.  You will save yourself money, time, and discomfort by just doing it the proper way – visit a professional.

When you pull that cotton swab out of your ear, you see the yellowish gunk on the end.  Most think “success!”  Our medical training tells us “danger.”  Huh?  Well, yes, you pull out a tiny amount of ear wax on that cotton swab – it might look like a lot, but trust me, there’s plenty more in there.  What you might not realize is that you’re pushing what’s left in your ear down farther and farther, and it will eventually become impacted, creating a seal of hard ear wax, impeding your ear drum to move properly.  This can cause you to perceive hearing loss, pressure, fullness, etc.  Hopefully you have not trapped water or something else behind this wax plug, which can create infections and strange sounds, requiring medical attention.  This is just the tip of the iceberg on the damage one can cause by utilizing these little ear-enemies in the wrong way.  You can rupture your ear drum (talk about pain!), or damage the bones inside your middle ear space, which both also require medical attention to repair.  Trust me; you would rather take a trip into your ENT for an ear cleaning than an ear drum reconstruction or ossicular chain (the tiny bones in our middle ear) reconstruction.

The amount of ear wax in a person’s ear has little to do with hygiene. Our bodies produce it, and some bodies just naturally produce more than others.  Let’s talk about why our bodies create this ear wax, or cerumen.  This is not something that comes from the outside – our bodies create it – it’s meant to be there, and it actually serves multiple purposes for us: 

1)     Repelling foreign bodies

2)     Repelling water

3)     Bacterial protection

4)     Cleaning ear canal – our canals slowly move dirt, debris, and dead skin cells outward toward the entrance of the canal by means of a process called “epithelial migration”

5)     Lubrication – helps prevent itching and extreme dryness

So, there are some benefits of ear wax!  Yes, some people have ear wax that is unmanageable by the natural process – this is when you visit your ENT for removal.  My take home message today is “Be safe!”  Be good to your ears, and they will be good to you! Take the pledge: No more cotton swabs!    Happy healthy ears!

 

Fun fact:  “Many types of whales have a build-up of earwax which increases with time; the size of the deposit is sometimes the only way to determine the age of whales that do not have teeth.”

 

 – Wikipedia via Craig S. Nelson. "What can you tell us about whale ear wax?". Cs.ucf.edu. Retrieved 2010-06-20.

Communication Tips for Hearing Loss

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Communication Tips for People with Hearing Loss

It can be difficult for people with hearing loss to understand conversations, especially when other noises are present.  In fact, even people with normal hearing rely on visual cues or “speechreading” to help them hear better – whether they think they do or not!  Here are some things that, regardless of your hearing status, can help maximize your speech understanding ability:

1)    Watch the speaker’s face for visual cues; his/her total expression – the words forming on his/her lips will give additional help understanding what is being said – but take note of the entire expression, as it will give you a clue to what the speaker is saying.

2)     Relax while you are speechreading!

3)     Do not try to follow every single word people say; get the main idea.

4)     Check the seating arrangement in the room, and then seat yourself in a seat across from the speaker so that you can see his/her face.  Be sure that you are both in good lighting.

5)     Find out the topic of the conversation right away – even if you have to ask someone – the context will help you figure out the information that may be missed.

6)     Move closer to the person speaking or have them move closer to you.  It is much easier to understand conversation at a close range than to have someone raise their voice across the room.

7)     Keep up with your friends’ interests and current events to better enable you to participate in conversations.

8)     Your hearing loss is NOT a secret, even if you hide it well!  Your best bet is to let those around you know what they can do to make communication easier for you, and encourage them to help.  Make sure they realize not to shout or overly exaggerate their words – speaking louder does not always help.  Speaking slightly SLOWER usually does help.

9)     Don’t bluff!  I can’t emphasize this enough.  Don’t risk responding inappropriately; ask people to repeat if you do not understand what is being said.  Nobody understands perfectly!

10)   If you understood part of the message, repeat the part you DID hear and inquire about the part you did not.   Ex: “Do I want to go WHERE?”

–        Get out of the habit of just saying “what?” – I even do this at home with my husband and family.  This is a good thing to do no matter the status of your hearing!

11)  Don’t be afraid that people will think you are staring at them while you are speechreading.

12)  Don’t get into the habit of mouthing the words or sounds that you are seeing.

13)  Watch your own speech.  Because you have a hearing loss, you do not always hear correctly what you are saying.  This can lead to dropping the ends of your words or slurring your words.  Don’t let your own speech get sloppy.

14)  Look for ideas rather than isolated words.  Try to take advantage of changes in rhythm, stress, timing, and gestures that indicate the words being emphasized and by doing so, keeping alert to key words.  Nouns and verbs are the most important aspects of speech.

15)  Make sure your hearing aids have fresh batteries and are in good working order.  Your hearing aids should be checked at least once a year.  If you do not wear hearing aids, visit your local audiologist to make sure your EARS are in good working order.  Don’t hesitate to contact us if you have any questions!

16)  Develop patience with yourself and others.  Be alert, confident, sociable and kind to yourself.  Don’t let your hearing loss run your life!

17)  Maintain your sense of humor! 

Understanding What We Hear

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Understanding

Last week we learned about how to describe and categorize different type of hearing loss.  Once the ear hears the sound, this sound is sent from the cochlea to the auditory nerve, up to the hearing centers in our brain.  Once the sound is heard, it is up to the auditory nerve and the auditory center in the brain to understand what the ear has heard.  This is where we use percentages. 

When someone has hearing loss, we want to know how well the nerve and brain can understand speech when it is loud enough for the ear to hear it.  So we use a scientific formula to determine at what level we need the volume to be, and then ask the patient to repeat words at this level.  This percentage tells us how well the patient can understand speech when it is loud enough for them to hear it.  The chart below explains the different categories of speech understanding:

Percentage of words correct

Description of Understanding

100%

Excellent

88-96%

Good

76-87%

Mild difficulty

60-75%

Moderate difficulty

48-59%

Moderately severe difficulty

24-47%

Severe difficulty

0-23%

Profound

 

So, this means that if a patient gets 65% of the words correct, they have moderate difficulty understanding speech – regardless of their hearing levels.  Sometimes people confuse this with their percentage of hearing loss.  But after learning about the difference, you will never make that mistake!

My next post will be about anatomy and physiology of the ear – which could help with some of the terminology used in this post.  Hope you enjoyed learning about hearing loss!

“Positive anything is better than negative nothing.” 

– Elbert Hubbard

Configuration of Hearing Loss

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Configuration of Hearing Loss

The final component to describing and categorizing hearing loss is the Configuration.  See previous posts for information on the type and degree of hearing loss.  These are helpful to understand prior to learning about the configuration.

Configuration of Hearing Loss – this is often referred to as the “shape” of the hearing loss.  This explains the degree (which we just learned about) and pattern of hearing loss across pitches (frequencies), and is illustrated on the audiogram. 

–        For example, a hearing loss that only affects the high pitches would be described as a high-frequency loss.  Its configuration would show good hearing in the low pitches and poor hearing in the high pitches.

–        Another example, if only the low pitches were affected, the configuration would show poorer hearing for low pitches and better hearing in high pitches.  Some configurations are flat, indicating the same amount of hearing loss for low and high pitches.

Other Descriptors

–        Bilateral versus unilateral – Bilateral hearing loss means hearing loss is in both ears.  Unilateral means that hearing loss is only in one ear, and the other ear is categorized as “Normal.”  Either one can occur in both children and adults.

–        Symmetrical versus asymmetrical – Symmetrical hearing means that the hearing loss is the same in both ears.  Asymmetrical means that there is hearing loss in both ears, but the degree and configuration are different.

–        Progressive versus sudden hearing loss – Progressive means that hearing loss becomes worse over time, which is more common.  Sudden means that the loss happens quickly, which requires immediate medical attention to determine its cause and treatment.

–        Fluctuating versus stable – Fluctuating means hearing loss changes over time – sometimes getting better, sometimes getting worse.  Stable means the loss does not change over time and remains the same.

Now we know all about describing and categorizing each persons hearing loss!  I hope you found this information helpful!  Next up – UNDERSTANDING!  A whole other aspect of our auditory system!

 

“Don’t hesitate to go out on a limb sometimes – after all, that’s where the fruit is.”  – Evan Esar

Degree Of Hearing Loss

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Degree of Hearing Loss

Now that we’ve learned about the Type of Hearing Loss, we can start to discuss the Degree.  This is the second piece of information that we use to determine what sort of treatment would be best for your ears!

Degree of Hearing Loss – This refers to the severity of the loss.   We do not measure hearing loss in percentages, and anyone who says otherwise needs to study!

The table below shows the common classification system for severity.  These are the numbers that represent the patient’s hearing loss in volume of sound.  In other words, how loud the sound has to be in order for the patient to be able to hear it (this is what we call threshold).  And what do we call this measurement?  That’s right – Decibels!  They are typically measured in increments of 5.

Degree of Hearing Loss

Hearing loss  range  (decibels = dB)

Normal

-10-20

Slight

21-25

Mild

30-40

Moderate

45-55

Moderately severe

60-65

Severe

70-85

Profound

90+

 

Now that we have learned about the type, and degree of hearing loss, we can begin to learn about the Configuration.  Check back next week for the final component of describing and categorizing hearing loss!

“Whether circumstances make one bitter or better depends entirely upon the I.”  – Evan Esar

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Learning about Hearing Loss

Individuality – It’s easy to think that hearing loss is hearing loss, and that’s all there is to it.  But it’s not that simple.  Every single person is different, their hearing abilities are different, and their hearing needs are different.  In fact, one person can have different hearing loss in each ear – meaning that your two ears can have different hearing needs!  Learning about your hearing loss is a very important step before determining how to treat your hearing loss.  So let’s learn about how we describe and categorize hearing loss.

We begin with a comprehensive hearing test, which is called an Audiogram.  The audiogram is the way we plot your hearing thresholds on a graph.  Threshold is just a fancy word meaning “the softest sound you can hear.”  We measure your hearing in decibels (dB) – the decibel is the unit of measure for the volume of sound.  So, as we use inches to measure a distance, we use decibels to measure the volume of a sound.  The lower the decibel, the softer the sound is.

Now, hearing and understanding are two separate characteristics of our hearing system.  Understanding will be covered another time.

Hearing – There are three different aspects of an audiogram that help us describe and categorize hearing (this is not the understanding part; we will get to that after we understand hearing):

1)     Type of hearing loss

2)     Degree of hearing loss

3)     Configuration of hearing loss

Today I will focus on the Type of hearing loss.  Check back for posts on Degree and Configuration.

Type of Hearing Loss – There are 3 basic types of hearing loss

1)      Conductive – sound is not easily sent through the outer ear canal to the eardrum and the tiny bones (ossicles) of the middle ear.  This type of hearing loss can often be corrected medically or surgically.  Some possible causes of conductive hearing loss are:

–        Fluid in the middle ear from colds or allergies

–        Ear infection (otitis media)

–        Poor eustachian tube function (likely feel like you need to “pop” your ears)

–        Hole in the eardrum (perforation)

–        Too much earwax (cerumen)

–        Swimmer’s ear (otitis externa)

–        Foreign body in the ear canal

–        Malformation of the outer ear, ear canal, or middle ear

2)      Sensorineural – when there is damage to the inner ear (cochlea) or to the nerve pathways from the inner ear to the brain.  Most of the time, this cannot be medically or surgically corrected.  This is the most common type of permanent hearing loss.  This reduces the ability to hear faint sounds.  Even when speech is loud enough to hear, it may still be unclear or sound muffled.  Some possible causes are:

–        Drugs that are toxic to hearing (ototoxic drugs)

–        Hearing loss that runs in the family (genetic or hereditary)

–        Aging

–        Head trauma

–        Malformation of the inner ear

–        Exposure to loud noise (noise protection for another day!)

3)      Mixed – This is a combination of conductive and sensorineural hearing loss.  There may be damage in the outer or middle ear (conductive) AND in the inner ear (cochlea) or auditory nerve.

I hope you found this helpful in beginning to learn about hearing loss.  My next post will be on Degree of Hearing Loss – Check back to learn more!

 

“Honesty is the first chapter in the book of wisdom.” 

– Thomas Jefferson

Introduction to Audiology, by Katie Rapp

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Katie Rapp, AuDAudiologist – All my friends and family know that I have a job in the health field, however when they ask me “Now what is it that you do?” I answer “I’m an Audiologist.”  Typically, this is followed by a blank stare and an awkward moment of silence.  I can see the wheels turning, trying to dig deep into their lexicon (mental ‘dictionary’) to determine what on earth this word “Audiologist” means.  I can only imagine that they are thinking “you’ve answered my question, but I still have no idea what you do.”  I have been answering this question long enough to know that it is best I just keep talking, and explain to them what it is that an Audiologist does.  This is usually followed by my brief explanation of “ears, hearing, and balance.”  Since this profession comprises of much more than my brief response, I thought it only necessary that my first entry on this Blog introduce you to myself and my colleagues here at Midwest ENT Centre, my place of practice, and begin to explain what it is that we, as Audiologists, do in our careers.

My name is Katie Rapp, born and raised in the wonderful city of St. Louis, Missouri.  I graduated from a local high school, and completed my undergraduate studies at the University of Missouri – Columbia, otherwise known as MIZZOU.  Go Tigers!  Enjoying independence and learning a great deal about life, I quickly discovered the field of Communication Science and Disorders.  “Huh?”  That’s the response I got from most when I shared the title of my major of choice.  No, it is not part of the business school, but rather part of the health professions.  It is the study of human communication and the disorders that accompany this area of study.  Most of my courses were centered on speech, human communication, and psychology.  Why psychology?  We need to learn a lot about human perception in order to properly understand all the inner workings of human communication – it’s more complicated than one would imagine!  Humans morph into these incredible, miraculous creatures when you begin to study what sets us apart from other species on this earth – I digress.  This is a discussion for another day.  When I took my first course on Hearing, I was immediately intrigued.  I must learn more!  In 2008 I completed my Bachelor’s degree in Communication Science and Disorders, with a minor in Psychology.  This is also where I learned American Sign Language (ASL), not a requirement of the degree, but definitely helpful when interacting with the deaf/Deaf community.  Yes, there is a difference between deaf and Deaf, but again, a discussion for another day.  After graduation I began my graduate studies at Washington University in St. Louis School of Medicine, a 4-year doctoral program.  This is where I learned all I needed to know, and then some, about becoming an Audiologist, graduating with my Doctorate of Audiology in May 2012.  I began my professional career here at Midwest ENT Centre in St. Peters in June 2012, and couldn’t be happier to work with such a great group of Audiologists and physicians. 

My supervisor's name is Trisha Hackman.  An Indiana native, Trisha moved around the Midwest with her family until settling in Lake St. Louis after high school.  Now, it may seem that I followed in her footsteps, but I promise I didn’t meet her until after my studies were complete!  Apparently, a good path to success, she too completed her Bachelor’s degree in Communication Science and Disorders at good ol’ MIZZOU in 1989, and completed her Master’s degree at Washington University in St. Louis School of Medicine in 1991.  In 2008, as the field of Audiology progressed, she earned a Doctorate degree in Audiology from Salus University.  She has spent the last 18 years enjoying her career working with Ear Nose & Throat (ENT) physicians.

Fellow Audiologist, Kris Vernon, is originally from Illinois.  She obtained a Bachelor’s degree in Speech Pathology and Audiology from Southern Illinois University Edwardsville in 2002.  She continued on to earn her Master’s degree in Audiology from Washington University in St. Louis School of Medicine in 2004.  She too sought her Doctoral degree as the field of Audiology advanced, graduating from A.T. Still University of Health Sciences in Arizona in 2011.  She has been a great asset to the Audiology team at Midwest ENT Centre since 2007.

Last but certainly not least, Sandi Fontecchio hails from Memphis, Tennessee where she developed an interest in Audiology during her high school years.  After graduating Magna Cum Laude with a Bachelor’s degree in Communication Sciences and Disorders in 2003 from Saint Louis University, she moved to Ft. Lauderdale, Florida to obtain her Doctoral degree in Audiology at Nova Southeastern University.  During that time, Sandi spent invaluable time at the Shea Ear Clinic in Memphis, Tennessee completing her externship year of her education.  She graduated with honors in 2008.  After graduation, Sandi moved back to the St. Louis area to begin her exciting career at Midwest ENT Centre.

Now that you’ve been introduced to our wonderful team of Audiologist’s, lets learn more about why we are here, and what we actually do.

Audiology is an area of science that studies hearing, balance, and the related disorders across the lifespan – everything from newborn hearing screenings to geriatrics.  Hearing AND balance?  How are these related?  Well, your balance mechanism is housed in your inner ear – what do Audiologists study?  For simplicity sake, the ear.  We will get into more detail about this in later discussions, but for right now, take my word for it, Audiologists are the professionals who test, help diagnose, and treat various balance disorders.  The hearing mechanism and pathway in humans is complicated – I promise we will get into details in later discussions of anatomy and physiology – for the time being, let’s start with a non-exhaustive list of services that Audiologists provide to patients who seek help:

1)      Hearing/Auditory Diagnostics – do I have a hearing loss?  If so, what kind, and what can I do?

2)      Treatment of Hearing Loss – am I a candidate for hearing aids? Cochlear Implants? Baha? Medical treatment?  What are these things?  That’s right, to be discussed later.

3)      Vestibular/Balance Diagnostics – why am I dizzy?

4)      Tinnitus Treatment – what is this ringing in my ears?  What do I do?

If you find yourself wondering about any of these things, you might want to seek a licensed Audiologist who can help get started on answering these questions.  We are here for you!  Our job is to educate you on your hearing/balance health, and to help remedy these issues if they present a burden on your life.  We cannot “cure” you – if your situation is medically treatable, that is the role of the ENT physicians and surgeons here.  But the Audiologists are here to help navigate you to the appropriate place.  If not medically treatable, you’re not out of luck!  We strive to educate you about your options, and help find the appropriate course of action for you and your lifestyle.

I hope I have successfully explained the top layer of what an Audiologist is, and what we do.  Any questions, please do not hesitate to leave a comment or question below, or contact your local licensed Audiologist.  If you only take away one thing from reading this entry, let it be “We are here for YOU!”  Please do not hesitate to call us at 636-441-3100 or email any of us directly at our corresponding email addresses on our website, www.mid-westent.com.   We entered this field to help people – nobody expects you to be an expert – that is our job!  Thanks for reading!

“More people spend more time and energy going around their problems than trying to solve them.”  Henry Ford

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