The mission of Total Hearing Care is to make a positive difference in the lives of people who seek to improve their hearing and communication abilities.
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The Cost of Hearing Aids
Purchasing hearing aids can be a life-changing decision. For many, it may be one of the most important financial decisions they make regarding their healthcare. While studies have found that people who wear hearing aids with advanced technology (which have a higher price tag than other aids) are more satisfied with the performance of their hearing aids than those who do not, there is still a common question by most consumers: Why do hearing aids cost so much?
One factor considered into the price of hearing aids is research and development. As digital technology continues to advance, much more of a hearing aid manufacturer’s money must go into development of new products, software, training, and support for audiologists.
Although many types of hearing aids are modular, meaning that they can be configured in the office, they are still electronic devices and will need to be repaired. Some devices are customized for in-the-ear devices. Thus, there is a cost for employees at the manufacturer to be trained and do this work.
In addition, the customer base for hearing aids is a small one. Approximately 3.65 million hearing aids are sold per year for some 20-30 million people who could be helped by hearing aids. Compare this to computers, which are now sold to millions of people a year, and at that scale, their prices have tended to decrease. When you look at inflation from the 1960’s to the present, the price of advanced hearing aids is actually comparable to the price of analog amplifiers decades ago. Also, as technology advances, what was $6000 for two devices four years ago is comparable to two aids at $3000 today. The newest technology remains at the higher price point.
The time spent by the audiologist with a patient is very important. Patients may require 3-6 initial visits during the hearing aid fitting, orientation and adjustment period. For many offices, all programming changes and office visits are included in the cost of hearing aids for the warranty period of the instruments. Batteries and other accessories may be included with the purchase of new hearing aids. Additional costs may include employees to help patients over-the-counter when they are having difficulty or need to purchase supplies, as well as time spent handling insurance claims, repairs, and consultations with other healthcare professionals. Finally, having a full-time office with a complete staff incurs its own costs, which often grow year by year, including rent, electricity, salaries, employee health insurance, and internet costs.
Dr Gainey presenting about balance and hearing loss.
I am excited to announce the opening of Total Hearing Care’s new Plano office. As a Plano resident, it gives me great pride to be able to offer my friends and neighbors the wonderful audiological care for which Total Hearing Care is known. This is a full-service clinic, networked with our other locations. We have office hours on Mondays and Wednesdays, but plan to grow the office quickly to provide service five days a week. We are conveniently located on Preston Road, next to Kenny’s Burgers, and facing the new HEB construction (see below for the address). If you are one of our existing patients who lives in the Plano/ Frisco/Allen areas, I’m looking forward to seeing you!
Total Hearing Care of Dallas The mission of Total Hearing Care is to make a positive difference in the lives of people who seek to improve their hearing and communication abilities.
Ear Care: Q-tips are Dangerous
Cerumen, commonly called earwax, is a substance your ears make to protect the eardrum from foreign objects. The stickiness of the wax catches particles, such as dirt, hair, and dead skin cells, and keeps them from traveling too deeply into the ear canal. Our bodies can naturally rid itself of the wax. As we move our jaws while chewing and talking, the motion loosens up the wax, which can fall out on its own or be washed out while bathing. When we are young, our wax tends to be softer, and this process works very well. However, as we age, our sebaceous/sweat glands don’t produce as much oil and moisture as they once did, and the wax can become much drier and harder. Other things can cause this natural wax removal to be difficult, including wearing hearing aids, wearing earplugs, and using hairspray regularly (which dries the wax).
Many people try to remedy this by using Q-tips to remove the wax. However, this can be very dangerous. Q-tips can push the wax deeper into the ear canal, closer to the eardrum, creating an environment for ear infection or hearing loss. Also, accidents may occur, such as pushing the Q-tip too deeply and rupturing the eardrum. If your body tends to product a lot of wax, don’t use Q-tips to clean your ears. The safest way to remove wax is to have an ENT, personal physician, or an audiologist, remove it.
Dr Gainey talking about how hearing loss affects balance.
Doctors Transplant Ear of Human Cells, Made by 3-D Printer
3DBio Therapeutics, a biotech company in Queens, said it had for the first time used 3-D printing to make a body part with a patient’s own cells.
By Roni Caryn Rabin
June 2, 2022
Updated 12:41 p.m. ET
A 20-year-old woman who was born with a small and misshapen right ear has received a 3-D printed ear implant made from her own cells, the manufacturer announced on Thursday. Independent experts said that the transplant, part of the first clinical trial of a successful medical application of this technology, was a stunning advance in the field of tissue engineering.
The new ear was printed in a shape that precisely matched the woman’s left ear, according to 3DBio Therapeutics, a regenerative medicine company based in Queens. The new ear, transplanted in March, will continue to regenerate cartilage tissue, giving it the look and feel of a natural ear, the company said.
“It’s definitely a big deal,” said Adam Feinberg, a professor of biomedical engineering and materials science and engineering at Carnegie Mellon University. Dr. Feinberg, who is not affiliated with 3DBio, is a co-founder of FluidForm, a regenerative medicine company that also uses 3-D printing. “It shows this technology is not an ‘if’ anymore, but a ‘when,’” he said.
The results of the woman’s reconstructive surgery were announced by 3DBio in a news release. Citing proprietary concerns, the company has not publicly disclosed the technical details of the process, making it more difficult for outside experts to evaluate. The company said that federal regulators had reviewed the trial design and set strict manufacturing standards, and that the data would be published in a medical journal when the study was complete.
The clinical trial, which includes 11 patients, is still ongoing, and it’s possible that the transplants could fail or bring unanticipated health complications. But since the cells originated from the patient’s own tissue, the new ear is not likely to be rejected by the body, doctors and company officials said.
3DBio’s success, seven years in the making, is one of several recent breakthroughs in the quest to improve organ and tissue transplants. In January, surgeons in Maryland transplanted a genetically modified pig’s heart into a 57-year-old man with heart disease, extending his life by two months. Scientists are also developing techniques to extend the life of donor organs so they do not go to waste; Swiss doctors reported this week that a patient who received a human liver that had been preserved for three days was still healthy a year later.
United Therapeutics Corp., the company that provided the genetically engineered pig for the heart procedure, is also experimenting with 3-D printing to produce lungs for transplants, a spokesman said. And scientists from the Israel Institute of Technology reported in September that they had printed a network of blood vessels, which would be necessary to supply blood to implanted tissues.
Companies have previously used 3-D printing technology to produce custom-fit prosthetic limbs made of plastic and lightweight metals. But the ear implant, made from a tiny glob of cells harvested from the woman’s misshapen ear, appears to be the first known example of a 3-D printed implant made of living tissues.
The patient, who is from Mexico, was born with microtia, a rare birth defect that causes the auricle, or external part of the ear, to be small and malformed (it also can affect hearing in the ear). With more research, company executives said, the technology could be used to make many other replacement body parts, including spinal discs, noses, knee menisci, rotator cuffs and reconstructive tissue for lumpectomies. Further down the road, they said, 3-D printing could even produce far more complex vital organs, like livers, kidneys and pancreases.
Dr Gainey presenting about Hearing, Balance and Medication.
These amazing people stayed till the end in this heat!!!! Great show.
Photos from Total Hearing Care of Dallas's post
Ted Danson Calls Hearing Aids Life Changing, Can Hear His Own Farts Now Danson appeared on The Kelly Clarkson Show where he talked about recently getting hearing aids.
How to Cope with Sudden Hearing Loss
Personal stories and research reveal how Sudden Hearing Loss (SSHL), which may be temporary or permanent, can lead to changes in daily life
By Judy Colbert
May 9, 2022
It's unexpected and it's not necessarily permanent, but sudden hearing loss can bring serious changes to the lives of people who are affected.
Nancy Cipriani, 71, of Pueblo, Colorado, suddenly lost her hearing in January.
"Our hearing is one of the most important things in our life," she says. "It changes everything, especially your independence. It hits you no matter how healthy you think you are."
"Sudden sensorineural (inner ear) hearing loss is the sudden loss of hearing all at once or over a few days," says Dr. Michael Hoa, an otolaryngology surgeon scientist at the National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders, National Institutes of Health in Bethesda, Maryland.
This type of hearing loss, known as SSHL or SSNHL, is also called sudden deafness, unexplained sudden hearing loss, single-sided deafness or unilateral hearing loss.
"It changes everything, especially your independence. It hits you no matter how healthy you think you are."
"Something is wrong with the sensory part of the inner ear or the cochlea, often only in one ear, occasionally in both. It happens but there is a lot that we don't know about it," Hoa says.
Hoa says an estimated five to 27 people per 100,000 members of the population are affected each year, which amounts to about 66,000 people.
Unlike many diseases, there seems to be no bias based on gender, race, geography or diet. Although SSHL can attack anyone, people who are between 40 and 60 are most often the ones affected.
About one-third of those individuals with SSHL have their hearing completely or almost completely returned, one-third have their hearing partially returned, and the other third are left with permanent hearing loss.
There are suspected causes, including infections, head trauma, stress, autoimmune diseases, reactions to medications, neoplasm (tumors), metabolic diseases, blood circulation problems, neurological disorders such as multiple sclerosis, and disorders of the inner ear.
Hearing Loss, Loneliness and Depression | Health
One major factor is people not seeking treatment due to expense and stigma
So far, the best treatment is oral steroids and sometimes steroid injections into the inner ear. "That's less painful than it sounds," says Hoa, adding that steroids can reduce the inflammation in the inner ear.
Unlike age-related gradual hearing loss, with SSHL, people simply go to sleep one night and wake up deaf in one ear (or sometimes two) the next morning. According to the Hearing Loss Association of America, patients may attribute it to allergies, earwax buildup and blockage, or a sinus infection, thus delaying medical attention.
The Isolation of Sudden Hearing Loss
"It is scary," says Lee Davison, 53, of Scotia, New York. He was headed toward a family outing in July 2021 when he first had symptoms of SSHL.
"I was alarmed, as it was not anything that I had experienced before. I had no clue what it really was or even anything to do with hearing or deafness," he says. "I was very dizzy. I thought I had low blood sugar and maybe was a bit dehydrated, as I was just coming from the gym."
According to Davison, the condition was isolating.
"While my family and sons listened to me and my grief, no one really gets the pain, the absolute grief and sadness. It took months for me to even really go out, other than for work and the grocery store," Davison says. "But I eventually did it. I spoke with relatives and really got an inkling that this is not a death sentence, but life has changed forever."
Davison says he has occasional tinnitus, which is ringing in the ears, and hyperacusis, which affects his sound perception.
"It is very painful at certain times and with certain sound frequencies," he explains.
What to Do If You Suddenly Lose Your Hearing
In researching the internet, the first advice seems to be a visit to the emergency room.
According to Hoa, "It's important to see an ENT (ear, nose and throat doctor or otolaryngologist) or primary care physician. If [a patient] can't get an appointment that day, at least ask for an oral steroid prescription to start taking immediately. There is a time limit after which [steroids] aren't effective." That time frame can be as long as two weeks, but the sooner the patient starts taking steroids, the better, he says.
Testing to confirm the diagnosis starts with a pure tone audiometry test, then maybe blood work, MRI, and balance tests.
Hoa also suggests that everyone over 40 have a baseline hearing test when they feel fine, so they have a good barometer if their hearing changes.
Side Effects of Sudden Hearing Loss
Along with the hearing loss, Barbara Kelley, executive director of the Hearing Loss Association of America, says there are other problems associated with SSHL.
"There's a comorbidity," she says, "because you're cut off from people when you can't hear them. Or you can hear them, but not understand them. A loss of hearing on the job can feel threatening unless you tell them about your loss and ask your co-workers to look at you when they talk, to talk more slowly and clearly, but not yell."
Kelley adds that the same is true with friends and family. Background noise can be a problem and sometimes painful. Eating in a restaurant can become unpleasant. She also says it's important to wear hearing protection, whether it's a head set or even earmuffs in the winter.
"I avoid loud environments if possible and I use captioning on the television."
The HLAA has chapters or associations across the United States where people can meet others with hearing loss who will give peer-to-peer support and offer methods to make life more tolerable. The website also lists suggestions for equipment that will make life easier.
Another issue with SSHL is the possibility of dizziness or vertigo that makes it difficult to walk. That's when physical therapy might be necessary. People may fear driving and, particularly if they live alone, also be hesitant about asking friends and neighbors for help running errands and attending to medical appointments.
'One Day at a Time'
Davison and others have found support through a page for My Hearing Loss Story, created by Carly Sygrove. Members compare notes, discuss current therapies, and help convince others that they aren't alone.
For Cipriani, adjusting to the tinnitus has been difficult.
"It is really hard to concentrate," she says. "Nothing has helped except acceptance and moving on with my life. I try to stay busy. I volunteer at our local rescue shelter, also am a foster home for the shelter, and exercise four times a week for an hour each class."
Cipriani says she has bought ear plugs but masking the sounds hasn't helped.
"I'm trying to take this a day at a time. SSHL isn't terminal or physically debilitating, so I consider myself lucky in that respect," she says.
Julie Hickinbotham, 53, of Menasha, Wisconsin also suffers from SSHL.
"I've stopped taking potentially ototoxic drugs (ibuprofen, naproxen)," she says, adding that she's also purchased ear protection for air travel. "I avoid loud environments if possible and I use captioning on the television."
Herman "Harry" Lee's SSHL symptoms started in November, 2021. The 73-year-old from Arlington, Massachusetts was tested and has completed an evaluation for a cochlear implant.
In the meantime, Lee says he "spends less time on my headphones. I have five different pairs. I haven't been to a concert, although I avoided them during the pandemic anyway."
Bad News and Good News
Hoa's bad news is that "single-sided deafness changes one's life. Nothing we have now is a complete fix, even the implant doesn't give back what [the patient] had before. They have to learn in a new way, even learning to hear with the implant takes time."
But there is also good news. "There are more options for patients who don't recover, including a hearing aid that sends sounds to the good ear," says Hoa. "Also, cochlea implant for single-sided deafness has been approved by the FDA, so there should be some restoration to that ear."
According to Hoa, gene therapy clinical trials, although not accepting participants at the moment, are also working to see if hearing loss can be corrected.
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