Audiology & Hearing Loss Treatment in Foley, AL
ENT Centers of Excellence in Foley, AL is home to the best audiologist and hearing doctor in the area, Dr. Kimberly Brown. Dr. Brown is a board-certified audiologist with over 10 years of experience treating patients with hearing issues. If you’re suffering from hearing loss or other hearing conditions such as tinnitus, contact our audiology specialists immediately for hearing testing and treatment. We offer comprehensive hearing evaluations and the newest technology in hearing aids.
What is hearing loss?
Hearing loss is the third most common health problem in the United States. It’s also on the rise with nearly 36 million Americans now reporting lost hearing. When hearing goes, it may affect your quality of life and relationships. Hearing loss can happen in many different ways to people of all ages and can range from mild to severe. Mild hearing loss may be accompanied by tinnitus, or ringing in the ears. Severe hearing loss means you can hear some sounds, but very poorly. You may not be able to hear someone speaking, even if they are using a normal voice. You may be able to hear only very loud sounds.
Hearing loss can have many negative effects, including:
- High incidence of falling
- Negative effects on cognitive brain function
Our audiologists can help, with a convenient location in Foley (near Mobile, AL). Learn more below, or request an appointment.
What causes hearing loss?
Many factors including age, illness, and genetics, may contribute to hearing loss and the need for audiology treatment. Over several generations, modern life has added a host of ear-damaging elements to the list, including some medications as well as loud, continuous noise.
- Advanced age is the most common cause of hearing loss
- One out of three people aged 65-74 has some level of hearing loss.
- After age 75, that ratio goes up to one out of every two people.
- Noise wears down hearing if it’s loud or continuous, such as occupation-related noise
- 44% of carpenters and 48% of plumbers report some hearing loss.
- High noise levels are also common in military, mining, manufacturing, agriculture, and transportation jobs.
- Musicians are at risk for noise-induced hearing loss.
- Certain medications can impair hearing and/or balance
- More than 200 medications and chemicals can trigger hearing loss, including antibiotics, chemotherapy drugs, aspirin, loop diuretics, drugs for erectile dysfunction and a certain drug used to treat malaria.
- Certain illnesses and conditions can lead to hearing loss
- Heart disease, high blood pressure, and diabetes all interfere with blood supply that can impact hearing.
- Otosclerosis, a bone disease of the middle ear, can lead to hearing loss.
- Ménière’s disease, which affects the inner ear, can lead to hearing loss as well.
- Trauma, such as skull fractures or punctured eardrums, can lead to hearing problems at any age.
- Ear infections or ear wax can reduce hearing by blocking ear canals.
One condition, rapid loss of hearing (loss of 30 decibels or more of ability) that can happen over several hours or days, appears to have no identifiable cause. In most cases, this type of sudden hearing loss affects only one ear, and although 4,000 cases occur per year, the cause can only be found in 10% to 15% of cases.
What are the different types of hearing loss?
Having an audiologist/hearing doctor on staff allows us to diagnose many of the following causes of hearing loss in our clinic and recommend the best treatment, such as hearing aids.
Conductive Hearing Loss
A conductive hearing loss occurs when sound fails to transmit through the outer or middle ear. Some common causes of a conductive hearing loss include:
- Impacted earwax
- Perforated eardrum
- Middle ear fluid
- Middle or outer ear infections
- Abnormalities involving the middle ear bones
Sensorineural Hearing Loss
A sensorineural hearing loss occurs when there is damage to the receptor hair cells in the cochlea or inner ear. When these cells are healthy, they increase the loudness of sound, contribute to the clarity of speech, allow for a separation of speech and noise, and help prevent loud sounds from becoming uncomfortable. A sensorineural hearing loss results in a loss of loudness, difficulty with speech clarity, trouble separating speech from background noise, and increased sensitivity to loud noises. This is the most common type of hearing loss. Sensorineural hearing losses often are the result of:
- Noise exposure (occupational and recreational)
- Heredity factors
- Certain illnesses
- Some medications (ototoxicity)
Mixed Hearing Loss
A mixed hearing loss is any combination of a conductive hearing loss and a sensorineural hearing loss. The following are examples of possible mixed hearing losses:
- Impacted wax (conductive) and aging (sensorineural)
- Middle ear fluid (conductive) and noise exposure (sensorineural)
- Abnormalities involving the bones of the middle ear (conductive) and ototoxicity (sensorineural)
What are the symptoms of hearing loss?
In many cases, hearing fades so slowly, its departure goes unnoticed. At the early stage of hearing loss, high-pitched sounds, such as children’s and female voices, and the sounds “S” and “F” may become harder to decipher.
Other symptoms of hearing loss include:
- Difficulty hearing on the telephone
- Difficulty hearing clearly with noise in the background
- Trouble following conversations with more than one person
- Believing that people are mumbling or not speaking distinctly
- Misunderstanding what is said and responding inappropriately
- Asking people to repeat themselves often
- Having others complain that your TV is too loud
- Ringing in the ears (called “tinnitus”); it may also sound like roaring or hissing
How is hearing loss evaluated and treated?
Hearing Testing (Audiological Evaluation)
A comprehensive audiological examination includes tests of the outer, middle, and inner ear. Testing will evaluate these different systems to determine if the structures of the ear are working properly, if hearing loss is present, what might be the cause of symptoms, and if medical intervention is necessary. This testing may be ordered for reasons other than hearing loss, such as pressure in the ear(s), sounds (ringing, clicking, roaring) in the ear(s), dizziness, and ear pain.
Some hearing losses and/or symptoms can be treated with medications or surgeries while others are improved with hearing aids and assistive listening devices. Dr. Keith Kowal and audiologist, Dr. Kimberly Brown, will help determine what treatment(s) will work best for you.
Hearing Aid Evaluation
Our hearing aid evaluation appointment is designed to provide the patient with information regarding which hearing aids will best suit their hearing loss and lifestyle needs. Our audiologist and hearing aid specialist will help guide the patient in making an informed decision based on the patient’s needs, desires, and financial situation.
Hearing Aid Services
Hearing aids come in many different levels of technology and styles. We offer products from several top manufacturers to provide the most options in technology to meet our patients’ needs. Trust us, these are not your grandfather’s hearing aids! Many new advances in technology include noise reduction, speech enhancement, automatic directionality, and discreet designs. Some hearing aids can now be turned into headsets for your cell phone, home phone, and television with just a touch of a button!
We also offer 0% financing options through Care Credit (www.carecredit.com) for those who qualify.
Dr. Kimberly Brown is an audiologist specializing in the treatment of hearing loss at the ENT Centers of Excellence under the direction of ear, nose, and throat specialist (ENT) Dr. Keith Kowal in Foley, Alabama. Dr. Brown offers the full range of hearing-related treatment, including diagnostic hearing evaluations, hearing aid fittings, patient education, custom hearing protection and education, and community outreach.
Dr. Brown’s goal is to assist in the detection of auditory disorders, to help patients understand their hearing loss and to counsel patients and their families regarding the impact it has on their health and relationships. If you or a loved one is experiencing any symptoms from severe hearing loss to ringing in the ears, call 251.943.1117 to request an appointment today, or simply fill out the form on this page.