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June 4, 2004

Audiologist tells about improvements in hearing aid technology

From: Tiffin Advertiser Tribune, OH - Jun 4, 2004

By Jefferson Wolfe,

Hearing aid technology has improved a lot in the last five years, according to a local audiologist. Dr. Sally Holt is the audiologist at Findlay Ear Nose and Throat, which now has a Tiffin office at 19 W. Market St., Suite E. It is associated with Dr. Erik Nielsen's office.

Holt can provide a full-range of hearing services, including the latest in hearing aids.

New hearing aids are adjustable, Holt said. They can be adjusted digitally by computer so people can hear what they want to hear.

Some sounds can be tuned out, and others enhanced, she said. They can also be directional, to help a person hear sounds coming from a specific direction.

Some patients like the touchless telecoil hearing aids that help the wearer talk on the phone. The hearing aid receives and amplifies the voice from a phone line, and can be used with hearing aid compatible phones.

Similar products used to have a tiny switch, but now the hearing aids automatically find the phone line, Holt said. Many people didn't like the tiny switches because they were too hard to find and use.

For those who experience ringing in the ears, there are hearing aids that can reduce the ringing, she said. Ringing in the ears is a sign of hearing that was damaged by loud noises.

Hearing aids come in a wide range of prices, she said. They can cost as little as $400, or as much as $6,000, depending on how technologically advanced they are.

"Nowadays, hearing aids are made so small, they're not noticeable," Holt said.

For the past three years, Holt worked as an audiologist for the Betty Jane Center. Before that, she was a teacher at the University of Toledo, and at Louisiana State University at New Orleans. She also worked in the LSU Kresge hearing research laboratory.

"I retired as a teacher," she said. "For me, the difference was I did a lot more with children early in my life. Now, I'm working with the geriatric population."

In Tiffin, there is a large older population which is very active. Being able to hear makes their lives more enjoyable, Holt said.

While she works with older people often, she still see people of all ages.

Holt also can help elderly people who have trouble with their balance because of inner ear problems. She works with a physical therapist.

One of the advantages of working in Nielsen's office is that patients can get services in the same building, Holt said. Fore example, if there is a blockage in a patient's ear, Nielsen can rinse it out.

"You don't have to have a salesman cleaning out your ears, you have a medical doctor cleaning out your ears," Holt said.

Findlay Ear, Nose and Throat provides two more audiologists, and a larger clinic in Findlay, if a patient needs something the Tiffin office does not offer.

While the testing equipment in Tiffin is newer than in Findlay, the Findlay office offers expanded surgery and balance testing opportunities.

Most people experience hearing loss in the high frequencies, Holt said. They can hear vowel sounds, but have trouble with consonants.

This kind of hearing loss results from being exposed to a lot of noise, she said.

Listening to loud music, mowing the grass and working in a loud environment all can contribute to hearing loss.

Many factories are requiring employees to wear hearing protection, such as ear plugs.

There are ear plugs made with new technology that allow routine sounds to enter the ear, but close when there is a loud noise, Holt said. For hunters, they allow the sounds of the wilderness in, but close at the sound of a gun blast.

Copyright © 2004— The Advertiser-Tribune