Hearing Care at UMMC

Hearing loss affects all aspects of life, from relationships and social engagement to work and family responsibilities. A hearing aid is an electronic device designed to amplify sounds so you can better understand speech.

Original Medicare does not cover hearing aids or related services; however, some health insurance plans and manufacturers provide financing.

Over-the-Counter Hearing Aids

These innovative devices allow adults who perceive mild to moderate hearing loss to purchase FDA-approved, over-the-counter (OTC) aids from pharmacies or retail stores – just like they’d buy aspirin or reading glasses – for reduced costs without an audiologist exam or prescription required.

OTC hearing aids are subject to FDA oversight to ensure their safety and effectiveness; however, they may not be appropriate for everyone if there’s sudden or severe hearing loss, an ear infection, or abnormalities present.

As OTC aids can be purchased directly from retailers without going through doctors or audiologists as an intermediary, there’s an increased risk of misinformation and fraudulent products. To report an adverse reaction related to an OTC device the FDA suggests using MedWatch or calling 1-800-FDA-1088 – plus OTC hearing aids won’t be tailored as closely to suit your unique hearing needs as a prescription hearing device would.

Prescription Hearing Aids

OTC hearing aids and traditional devices largely function in the same manner (collecting sounds with microphones, amplifying them and sending them through speakers to your ear), however with an audiologist’s prescription you can select and fit a personalized device specifically tailored to you and your hearing loss. This process includes diagnostic evaluation and consultation as well as initial and follow-up adjustments designed to make sure it addresses it adequately.

Due to mounting concerns over high prices and inaccessibility, the FDA recently reclassified OTC personal sound amplification products as medical devices – making it easier for families to purchase these devices that typically are not covered by Medicare or health insurance plans.

Although OTC devices represent a great leap forward, consumers will still need to select and configure them themselves, learn their workings, and troubleshoot any problems themselves. Furthermore, its unclear how OTC devices will provide similar levels of support or warranties as prescription products do.

Bone-Anchor Auditory Implants

Bone-anchored hearing systems work by transmitting sound vibrations directly into your inner ear through bone behind your skull, bypassing obstacles like ear canal or middle ear malformations that stop traditional hearing aids from transmitting sounds properly. At UMMC’s audiology clinics, our audiologists can assist you in determining whether this surgical option may be the right one for you.

Implants consist of a titanium stud (abutment) surgically attached to your skull, along with an external processor worn like a standard hearing aid. The abutment connects with a special speaker which converts sound signals to vibrations for your inner ear.

Your BAHA may support smartphone apps that will allow you to customize and control your hearing from anywhere with internet access. Your otolaryngologist can offer more information on various types of BAHAs as well as their use. During an evaluation appointment, try out nonsurgical devices connected to an implant processor to get a feel for what sound will come through with one.

Tinnitus Treatment

At the first stage, treatment involves consulting with a healthcare professional to ascertain any underlying causes for your tinnitus. They’ll check for signs of earwax or fluid blockage which could alter pressure in your ears and produce sound, as well as review any medications side effects which might have led to its appearance.

Tinnitus is usually caused by hearing loss; therefore your doctor may suggest hearing aids to you as an aid to mask tinnitus and improve quality of life. Hearing aids can enhance external noise to provide distraction and increase overall quality of life.

Cognitive behavioral therapy and counseling may also help treat tinnitus. Both methods focus on helping you recognize and respond to negative thoughts, which in turn reduce anxiety about the condition. Furthermore, cognitive behavioral therapy teaches you coping mechanisms to enhance everyday life.

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