Tampa: 813-872-8794

Spring Hill: 352-688-0800

Audiology

Welcome to Suncoast Hearing Center. Please take a moment to review our most frequently asked questions and schedule an appointment with one of our Audiologists.

What are the Most Common Symptoms of Hearing Loss?
  • Turning up the volume – Most patients will notice that they must turn the volume of the TV or radio up because a lower volume is perceived as muffled and difficult to understand
  • The ability to follow a news broadcast (single person speaking slowly and articulately) but not a scripted television series (multiple talkers from different angles, lack of visual cues, rapid speech)
  • Asking people to repeat
  • Difficulty talking on the phone without the use of visual cues or having to place a phone call on speaker
  • Thinking “I can hear you, but I can’t understand you” when listening to others speak
  • Complaints from family and friends
  • Tinnitus (ringing in the ears)
  • Difficulty following multi-talker conversations or communicating in background noise
  • Sensitivity to sound
When Should I Begin Checking My Hearing on an Annual Basis?

Approximately 30% of people aged 55 and older, 50% of people aged 65 and older, and 90% of people aged 80 an older have hearing loss in both ears. For this reason, people should begin annual hearing screenings by the time they reach their sixties. Those with an existing diagnosis of hearing loss, regardless of age, should monitor their hearing on an annual basis or more frequently with any perceived changes in their hearing. By monitoring your hearing early on, we will be better able to treat your hearing loss if the time comes when you need hearing aids. Those who delay the use of hearing aids have poorer performance outcomes than those who begin using hearing aids sooner.

What Happens During a Typical Appointment?

During your appointment the Audiologist will ask you questions regarding your history and look in your ears. They may also perform tympanometry (a pressure test to assess middle ear function), acoustic reflex testing, or otocoustic emmissions testing (OAEs). Next, they will review a blank audiogram with you to show you how we measure your level of hearing and where the range for normal is. During the evaluation we perform tests known as air conduction and bone conduction testing (responding to the beeps you hear) as well as speech testing (repeating words). Once the test is finished the Audiologist will review your test with you and either recommend you come back on an annual basis or to schedule an appointment for a hearing aid evaluation.

Does Everyone with Hearing Loss Need Hearing Aids?

No. This is a topic which is debated amongst many professionals, but our opinion at Suncoast Hearing Center tends to be more conservative. First, we assess whether or not the patient can be treated medically (surgery, medication, etc.). Next, we evaluate the severity of the loss. Unless the patient is reporting difficulty, we generally only recommend to annually monitor mild high frequency hearing losses in patients with excellent speech discrimination at normal conversational levels. Our Audiologists would be happy to see you for a hearing aid evaluation and provide an honest opinion on whether or not delaying the use of hearing aids is likely to impact your performance outcomes.

How is Suncoast Hearing Center Able to Keep Their Pricing Lower Than Retail Clinics?

Suncoast Hearing Center maintains relationships with all major hearing aid manufacturers which benefits the patient in a variety of ways

  • We are able to fit you with the hearing aid that is best for you – not one that is mandated by a corporate structure. Because we are not a retail center that is obligated to fit hearing aids from the brand they are owned by, we are able to keep our pricing lower and fit you with the product most appropriate for your hearing loss.
  • Our pricing is consistent regardless of brand. Patients are not charged any more or less for one hearing aid brand over another, even if it costs more for our clinic to obtain.
  • Being a medical facility, we do not carry the same overhead costs as private clinics or national retail centers who must sell hearing aids to stay in business. Marketing and patient acquisition costs of private clinics are often priced into private retailer’s products which will drive up the cost of a hearing aid. We fit hearing aids in our office as a convenience to our patients so they can receive their hearing aid care in the same office as their ENT physician.
How Often Should I See My Audiologist?

For hearing aid patients, appointments are generally scheduled every six months. During six month appointments the hearing aids are cleaned (change of filters, domes, batteries), checked (sound quality, casing, proper fit, feedback control) and possibly adjusted if the patient requests any changes to volume or sound quality. Testing should be performed annually to ensure there haven’t been changes in hearing sensitivity that require a change to the prescribed settings.

How Much Do Hearing Aids Cost?

The final cost of your hearing aid is based on the level of technology and your insurance coverage. Hearing aid costs at Suncoast ENT begin at just $36/month when financing through Care Credit. Your insurance provider may cover some or all of your costs depending on the policy.

What Is the Return Policy for Hearing Aids?

Suncoast ENT Surgical Specialists has a 30-day trial policy on all hearing aids. Additionally, we do not charge a restocking fee. If a patient chooses to return their hearing aids within the 30-day trial period they will receive a full refund. We are committed to ensuring the proper selection and fit of hearing aids. Providing a 30-day trial period to patients eliminates the fear of losing money if you are not completely satisfied. This extended period allows us to work on creating a unique prescription that meets your needs regarding lifestyle and sound quality as well as counsel you on the care and maintenance of the devices and set realistic expectations.

My Friend Hates Their Hearing Aids, Why Should I Bother to Try Them?

Hearing aid performance outcomes differ for a variety of reasons. The largest source of dissatisfaction comes from unrealistic expectations and waiting too long to begin using hearing aids. The longer someone waits to start wearing hearing aids the more time the nerve has to atrophy and speech understanding will begin to diminish. For these reasons, it is important to start testing your hearing annually once you are 60.

Hearing aid experiences are dependent upon:

  • The age of the patient
  • Cognitive status
  • Nature of the hearing loss
  • Severity of the hearing loss
  • How long the loss has gone untreated
  • Speech recognition scores
  • Level of technology
  • Daily listening environment of the patient
  • Patient’s perception of the loss
  • Knowledge and experience of the person fitting the hearing aids
  • Counseling from your Audiologist regarding realistic expectations
How Long do Batteries Last?

Patients of Suncoast ENT receive free batteries for five years. The lifespan of the batteries is determined by the size of the device, the size of the battery, and whether the patient is streaming audio input to their hearing aids. Streaming to devices such as smart phones or TV transmitters will also impact battery life. Rechargeable hearing aids are available to patients who are concerned with having to change batteries.
Hearing aid experiences are dependent upon:

  • The age of the patient
  • Cognitive status
  • Nature of the hearing loss
  • Severity of the hearing loss
  • How long the loss has gone untreated
  • Speech recognition scores
  • Level of technology
  • Daily listening environment of the patient
  • Patient’s perception of the loss
  • Knowledge and experience of the person fitting the hearing aids
  • Counseling from your Audiologist regarding realistic expectations
Do Hearing Aids Come with an Insurance Policy?

Hearing aids are covered for two to three years of service depending on the manufacturer. If a hearing aid needs to be replaced instead of repaired because it was lost or severely damaged, there is a $450 deductible within the warranty period as opposed to having to pay the full retail price.

Do Hearing Aids Ever Go on Sale?

Promotional sales are an advertising tactic utilized by many clinics. Because we keep our prices low and consistent across brands, you can be sure that you are receiving the best possible price on all the newest technology year-round and do not need to delay your hearing aid purchase by waiting for a promotion.

How Often Should Hearing Aids Be Replaced?

Most modern hearing aids will last three to five years with proper maintenance and care. Your hearing aid may need to be replaced sooner if you experience a significant decline in your hearing. The current average lifespan before a hearing aid upgrade is four years. As a general rule, hearing aids should be replaced after five years of age.

Can I Wear a Pair of Hearing Aids That I Inherited from a Friend or Family Member?

Yes, if the hearing aids are right for your hearing loss. After performing an initial evaluation, we will be able to assess whether the hearing aids in your possession are right for you. In many instances it is more affordable to purchase your own set (new warranty, free batteries, free cleaning supplies, included services, no additional programming fee, etc.) The Audiologist will contact the manufacturer and provide the serial numbers to ensure that the hearing aids were originally fit by a licensed professional (as opposed to an online retailer) as well certify that the hearing aids were not filed under a fraudulent loss or damage claim. Our Audiologist will sit down with you to review options regarding reprogramming vs. purchasing new to allow you to make an informed decision on how you would like to proceed with the hearing aid fitting.

Will Wearing Hearing Aids Help My Tinnitus?

Ringing in the ears, tinnitus, is the most common symptom of hearing loss. Simply explained, it is a psychological perception that many people with hearing loss have where the brain misses hearing certain frequencies that it used to hear before the hearing loss existed. By treating the hearing loss with hearing aids, most patients notice a reduction or resolve of their symptoms over time by giving the brain access to the sounds it was previously missing. For others, the use of maskers and tinnitus retraining therapy may be required. An evaluation is required to first determine the best course of treatment. Tinnitus may also exist in those with normal hearing or be a symptom of other medical conditions.

Do I Really Need Hearing Aids?

There is nothing mild about mild hearing losses. Even hearing losses with an average of 25 dB have an effect on cognitive decline equal to several years of aging. Similar hearing impairments that are treated as a serious health concern in children are often ignored by adults. Everyone has a unique experience with hearing loss. The way symptoms present depends on the degree and nature of the hearing loss, time it has gone untreated, and the daily listening environment of the patient. Common age-related hearing losses often have normal volume perception but decreased clarity which is why people will often think their hearing is normal yet say “I can hear you, but I can’t understand you.” In patients with significant hearing losses, delaying the use of hearing aids often causes poorer outcomes when they eventually begin using amplification.

What Are The Consequences of Waiting to Wear Hearing Aids?

Hearing aids will only provide as much benefit as the nerve is healthy, meaning the longer someone waits to start using proper amplification the poorer their outcome generally becomes. Hearing aids provide exercise to the auditory nerve in the brain and help to prevent atrophy. Early intervention helps to preserve auditory function and speech recognition scores. Hearing aids make speech louder, sharper, crisper and clearer, but they do not improve word understanding. In order to maintain your speech understanding and keep it from declining at a more rapid rate is important to begin wearing hearing aids at the time they are recommended by your healthcare professional.

Which Hearing Aid Brands Do You Work With?

Because Suncoast ENT is not owned by a hearing aid manufacturer or retail clinic we are able to fit patients with all major brands. We currently work with Resound, Oticon, Phonak, Widex, Signia (Siemens / Rexton), and Starkey.

Why Should I Make an Appointment to See an Audiologist Rather Than Shop Online?

A comprehensive evaluation is important to determine the type of hearing loss a patient has. Some patients do not have permanent hearing losses and either have fluid in the ear or need to have wax removed. Others may have serious medical concerns which need to be treated by a physician. All patients, especially those with tinnitus, vertigo, pain, changes in balance, and those with better hearing in one ear than the other, need a comprehensive evaluation to determine whether medical intervention is necessary.

What are Some of the Recent Advances in Hearing Aid Technology?

In addition to certain styles either being completely, or nearly invisible, certain brands are now able to do a variety of amazing things such as

  • Connect to smart phones and stream your phone calls to your hearing aids
  • Utilize free apps that function as remote controls
  • Connect to your television
  • Stream a remote signal from a speaker at a further distance
  • Open a GPS locator to find your hearing aids if you lose them
  • The ability to have an Audiologist remotely program them from anywhere in the world – great for travelers or patients who reside in different states during different months of the year
  • Charge on a dock so you no longer have to change batteries
  • Send text message to alert a friend or family member if you fail to put your hearing aids in (a great safety feature which has been proven to send assistance to patients who live alone and may have suffered a fall or other medical emergency)
  • Connect to your calendar to send an audible alert of an upcoming event
  • Send you a notification from your smart home if someone rings the door bell

If you think any of these features may benefit you, please discuss them with your Audiologist. Some features are free while others carry a cost. Additionally, not all features are available through all hearing aid manufacturers and knowing your needs will help us in making the correct hearing aid recommendation for you.

What Are Some Questions I Should Ask When Looking For an Audiologist?
  • How many hearing aid manufacturers do you work with?
  • Be wary of offices or providers that work with only a single brand. There is not a single hearing aid manufacturer that is able to provide a complete product line to fit every patient’s needs. The ability to cross-train and select the perfect product for the patient is extremely important in determining experience outcomes. Offices who are truly fitting multiple brands should be able to show you different demo hearing aids and manufacturer supplies in their office as a way of evidencing that they are experienced in working with a variety of brands.
  • Why did you choose this brand over others?
  • As stated in the previous answer, Audiologists should be able to provide a precise answer as to why the chose the product that they did. When selecting a hearing aid, the audiologist should be taking into consideration your lifestyle needs, cognitive status, dexterity, audiometric configuration, need for assistive technology, tinnitus, etc. and be able to convey their selection in a concise and easy to follow explanation. It is important to follow the fitting selection of the Audiologist and trust that they are choosing the brand and style that is best – the hearing aid that is best for a friend or family member may not be the one that is best for you.
  • Do you offer financing?
  • Financing makes purchasing hearing aids more affordable to many patients. Inquire about financing options and see if you qualify.
  • What services are included in the purchase of my hearing aids?
  • Some clinics offer unbundled pricing while others include everything in one comprehensive price. Service appointment, walk-in hours, batteries, cleaning supplies, adjustments, annual exams, etc. should all be outlined when purchasing a hearing aid.

TAMPA

4714 N. ARMENIA
AVENUE SUITE 200
TAMPA, FL 33603

813-872-8794

SPRING HILL

4655 KEYSVILLE
AVENUE
SPRING HILL, FL 34608

352-688-0800

TAMPA: 4714 N. ARMENIA AVENUE SUITE 200 TAMPA, FLORIDA 33603 | FAX: 813-879-1652
SPRING HILL:4655 KEYSVILLE AVENUE SPRING HILL, FLORIDA 34608 | FAX: 352-688-0468

Suncoast ENT Copyright © 2018. A Division of Select Physicians Alliance.