Signia recently launched a new service to help hearing-impaired patients get care while social distancing is being practiced and offices are closed. I interviewed Dr. Tish Ramirez, Au.D who spearheaded the development of the program.
If you have hearing loss, you can now receive limited touchpoint treatment with a hearing care professional that fits Signia devices. Online telehealth assessments are part of Signia’s service and are readily used.
Limited contact remote care
If you have not had a recent hearing test, your Hearing Care Professional will likely want to schedule an initial in-person visit to conduct a hearing test. After reviewing the results of that hearing test all other visits could potentially be scheduled as remote visits.
You can choose to have a curbside fitting when your devices arrive or they can be pre-programmed remotely during a telehealth followup session and then shipped to you contact-free.
Your hearing care professional will walk you through how to insert them, adjust the volume, and will be able to program them remotely using special software. Followup appointments will also be conducted within the telehealth portal.
Signia has a network of hearing care professionals throughout the U.S. You can search for one in your area on the Signia Consumer website. Each specialist will have different protocols based on their state’s regulations as it pertains to the pandemic. Curbside is one service that many of them provide.
Some offices may not have the go-ahead to open. In that case, you can park outside and your hearing care professional will serve you in your car. If you have existing hearing aids, your devices will be taken into the office to clean and service them.
As a new patient, you can be assessed online or face to face. Once your needs are determined, your audiologist can either deliver your devices curbside and fit them at your car or they can be shipped to you. Your followup appointments will then be conducted online.
People who are hearing-impaired are having a hard time right now
A person with hearing loss experiences some isolation during normal circumstances. When you add social distancing and masks to the equation, it makes it much more difficult for them to communicate with their loved ones and friends.
How masks can affect your hearing
Masks muffle sound volume when you’re trying to listen to someone speak. It’s even harder when you’re 6-feet apart. Hearing specialists have reported more people struggling with hearing issues during the pandemic because they are wearing masks.
I’ve noticed this myself in the grocery store. Even though I’m not hearing-impaired, I sometimes have to ask the checker what she said to me.
A person who is deaf may need to read lips to communicate. They have an especially hard time when someone is wearing a mask.
There are some fun masks available online that are made with see-through fabric around the mouth area.
Please don’t use difficulties with wearing a mask as excuses not to wear one. They are still critically important if we are going to stop the virus. Just be careful because they can throw off your hearing as well as your balance.
Overcoming the stigma of hearing loss
Another reason it’s important to have a hearing test if you feel your hearing is impaired is that research has linked long-term hearing loss that is not treated to dementia, depression, and other problems.
A hearing aid will help you stay engaged with your friends and allows you to continue doing activities that you enjoy.
Signia has developed a product called Styletto, which is a slim-designed hearing device that doesn’t look like a typical hearing aid. It has an on-the-go charger that is similar to an Airpod. You can pop it into a case and take it with you anywhere. It’s sleek and comes in modern metallic colors.
A Styletto hearing aid will hold a charge for 4 days at a time.
Tips to protect your hearing
- Loud noises are the biggest culprit when it comes to becoming hearing-impaired. When you’re wearing earbuds or a headset to listen to a loud movie or music, make sure to turn down the volume. Wear earplugs or earmuffs at outdoor rock concerts or fireworks shows. Even yard equipment, like a lawnmower or leaf blower, used just once or twice a week, can damage your ears permanently over time.
- Don’t use Q-Tips – Instead of extracting the wax, a Q-tip pushes it back closer to the eardrum. This can eventually cause ear pain and temporary hearing loss.
- Ear candling is also dangerous for your ears so don’t let someone talk you into doing it.
- Ear oil is not necessarily damaging but make sure to use oil formulated for ear use and don’t just grab something out of your kitchen cabinet.
The ear cleans itself out naturally for most people. If you have consistent issues with wax, see a specialist or doctor who can clean out your ears safely. A professional will have a full visual of your ear canal so they will not cause hearing damage.
If you need treatment for temporary or more serious hearing impairment, find a Signia ear professional here.