How long does a hearing evaluation take?
A routine adult evaluation usually takes about 45 minutes. An evaluation for a child usually takes about half an hour.
Does health insurance pay for hearing tests?
Yes, usually. It is always a good idea to check your policy before assuming coverage. We accept many major health insurance plans, including Medicare, VT Medicaid, and some MassHealth plans.
How do you test a baby or young child?
Under six months of age, we evaluate an infant’s hearing using Distortion Product OtoAcoustic Emission (DPOAE) testing. This type of testing does not require a response from the baby, and the best results are obtained when the baby is sleeping. From six months to approximately 3 years, we use Visual Reinforced Audiometry (VRA). During VRA testing the child is seated on the parent’s lap in the sound booth. The child is conditioned to look at puppets when they hear either speech or noise.
Is there anything I should do to prepare my child for a hearing test?
If your child is under six months old, please bring in your child either sleeping, or when they would normally sleep. We’ll get the best test results if we can test your baby while he or she is asleep.
Over six months of age, please bring your child awake, alert, and not hungry or tired! Please avoid regular naptimes or mealtimes.
Can someone else come with me and my child to a hearing test?
We can accommodate family members, but only one adult can go into the sound booth with the child or baby being tested. If you must bring other children with you to your child’s appointment, please bring another adult to stay with them while you and your child are having the hearing test.
How much do hearing aids cost?
At Brattleboro Hearing Center, hearing aids can cost anywhere from about $3000 to about $6000 per pair. That price includes the hearing aids, the fitting and calibration of the hearing aids, and three years of service, parts and pieces, and batteries.
What makes a hearing aid cost so much?
There are huge research and development costs, a relatively low volume of sales when compared to other electronic devices, and almost no third party (health insurance) coverage. Also keep in mind that when you are purchasing a hearing aid you are not just buying the instrument itself, you are usually buying two instruments! And you need to pay to have those devices fit to your hearing loss and your lifestyle needs. At Brattleboro Hearing Center, you're also paying for 3 years of our expertise and service, and batteries!
Will I need one or two hearing aids?
Typically, if your hearing is similar in both ears, two aids will be recommended. Multiple well-researched studies have shown significant hearing benefit when people use two hearing aids, particularly when listening in background noise and in localizing sounds. There are some situations where only one hearing aid is recommended, usually because there is hearing loss in only one ear, or if one ear is so poor that it won't benefit from a hearing aid.
What’s the difference between a cheap hearing aid and an expensive hearing aid?
These days, the difference in price in hearing aids is dictated by the computer chip running the aid, not by the size of the aid. Like cellular phones, you can get a relatively basic model or an extremely advanced model. Basic hearing aids are excellent at amplifying sounds that are needed but can only make a few changes to the sound in noisy environments. Premium hearing aids can tell the difference between speech and other environmental sounds and have features built into them to help your brain receive the clearest signal from your ears.
What does “unbundled” mean?
Traditionally, people who purchase hearing aids are also purchasing the fitting of those hearing aids, and the maintenance of them for a set period of time, which could be anything from a year to the lifetime of the hearing aid. Here at BHC, we provide our Brattleboro Hearing Center CarePlan. This includes supplies (including batteries), cleanings, adjustments, and repairs for three years.
We also occasionally offer an "unbundled" package - which essentially means that we provide the hearing aids and the fitting of those hearing aids, but not the Brattleboro Hearing Center CarePlan. This makes the hearing aids a little less expensive, but we also find that it encourages people to skimp on hearing aid care because they know they'll be charged when they come in. If you feel you have special circumstances that make an "unbundled" hearing aid purchase right for you, talk to your audiologist about it!
Do hearing aids need batteries?
All hearing aids need batteries in some form or another for power. Many manufacturers offer a rechargeable option. This is an encased battery that you as the consumer don't have access to - you just put your hearing aids in their charger overnight, and they will last for a full day of use the next day. All manufacturers offer hearing aids with disposable batteries. You can discuss with your audiologist whether or not rechargeable is right for you. Rechargeable hearing aids aren't really a money-saver... if you decide that hearing aids with traditional batteries are right for you, our Brattleboro Hearing Center CarePlan will cover the cost of your batteries for 3 years.
Can I try a hearing aid before I buy it?
Depending on your loss, we may have demo units for you to try in the office. In addition, the state of Vermont has a 45-day trial period on all hearing aids, so you may return hearing aids that have been ordered for you during the first 45 days of use. We honor the 45 day trial period in both Greenfield and Swanzey as well, though technically New Hampshire and Massachusetts mandate only a 30 day trial period.
How do I pick a hearing aid?
Many factors go into choosing a hearing aid, including degree and shape of hearing loss, dexterity/handling issues, lifestyle, and budget. You and your audiologist will discuss your particular needs and decide the best course of treatment for your hearing loss.
How long does a hearing aid last?
Five to seven years, with regular maintenance and an occasional repair.
Can hearing aids be adjusted if my hearing changes?
Yes! If you are concerned that your hearing has changed, we can retest you and then update your hearing aids if necessary.
Will my health insurance pay for my hearing aids?
Not typically. There are some plans that offer hearing aid coverage, so it’s always a good idea to check with your insurance provider. We can bill some insurance carriers directly. For other, you may have to seek reimbursement after the fact.
I can buy hearing aids over-the-counter now. What does that mean?
The FDA recently created a new class of hearing aid called a "self-fitting hearing aid". These aids are designed to be used without the help of a hearing professional. They are all operated with a smart phone app that helps you choose settings that will hopefully be helpful to you. These aids often run in the $1000 to $1500 per pair range. To be successful with this, you'll need to be very comfortable with the use of a smart phone, and be willing to adjust settings in the hearing aid app on a situation by situation basis. In our opinion, this seems like a lot of money for something that only sort of works, and will need to be replaced more often than prescription hearing aids because there is no one to help you care for them. Proceed with caution!! We have developed a comparison between over the counter and prescription hearing aids that you can find here.
My Medicare Advantage plan covers hearing aids!! How does that work?
The short answer is that it often doesn't. The dirty little secret about Medicare Advantage plans is that they sell you on all the "extra" benefits you get, but then you find out that you can't see the doctors you want to in order to access those benefits. In the hearing aid world, the vast majority of Medicare Advantage plans offer a discount on hearing aids if you go through a small network of providers that may be far away from you, or can only fit a specific kind of hearing aid, or whose "discounted" prices are more than you would pay if you went to an independent provider. Please be careful when pursuing this option. We are always helpful in terms of guiding you, and if the Advantage Plan you have is going to be a good deal, we'll be the first to tell you to go for it! If you're interested in how the Medicare Advtantage game works, click here for our treatise on the subject.
Why does it seem like everyone is mumbling?
One of the most common configurations of hearing loss is loss of acuity in the higher pitched sounds. This can make speech sound a bit muddy, as those higher pitched speech sounds drop out of people’s words. For people with this configuration of hearing loss, the volume of people’s voices sounds fine, but it’s difficult to make out the words. Hearing aids can often help restore those higher pitched sounds, making people’s words sound crisper and clearer.
How should I clean wax out of my ears?
You shouldn’t! Your ear is a self-cleaning mechanism. If there is wax that is reachable with your fingers, you should be able to wipe that away. If wax is any deeper than that, it will work its way out on its own. Putting a q-tip in your ear will typically just push any wax that is there further back, where it will have a hard time working its way out naturally. Occasionally, people will get a build-up of wax in the ear that requires more intervention. This is best done by a medical professional.
Should I wear earplugs when I’m mowing the lawn?
Yes! Machinery like lawnmowers, vacuum cleaners, and hair dryers are loud enough to damage your hearing. A good rule of thumb is if you have to raise your voice to talk to someone when the machine is on, it’s too loud for your ears and you should be protecting your hearing.
Even with my hearing aids on, I sometimes can’t hear the person who is talking to me. Why is that?
Even the best hearing aids in the world can’t restore normal hearing. Sometimes, you need to use some communication strategies to get the most out of your hearing aids.
Some easy tips:
Make sure you can see the person who is talking to you. Even if you’re not trying to read lips, your brain is using visual information to supplement what you are hearing. Ask your loved ones to get your attention before they start talking to you – that way they’ll have your undivided attention before they start to say something important. Avoid places that are very noisy. If you are going to the hottest restaurant in town, go at 5 o’clock on a Sunday rather than 7 o’clock on a Friday. Ask people to slow down their speech rather than talk louder to you. It gives your brain a little time to catch up as you’re figuring out the sounds.
Call our Brattleboro, VT, location at (802) 254-3922, our Swanzey, NH, location at (603) 354-3325, or our Greenfield, MA, location at (413) 773-5119 today to set up an appointment or contact us via email for more information.