hearing aids

Audiology (hearing aids/hearing loss) is located within the Ear, Nose, and Throat Clinic (ENT), Clinic 9, in University of Utah Hospital. Our audiologists are hearing loss specialists who work with our doctors to ensure that you have all the necessary hearing tests to provide the best solutions for your hearing loss. If your treatment requires hearing aids, we have an assortment of hearing aids to meet your individual needs.

Audiology/Hearing Loss Services

Hearing Aids

Approximately 90 percent of those experiencing hearing loss may be helped with hearing aids. Our audiologists have extensive training and can help you find the right hearing aid solution for your hearing concerns. We have many different styles of hearing aids to meet your individual needs.

Financial Information

We accept cash, checks, and all major credit/debit cards.

Audiology

What is audiology?

Audiology is the clinical evaluation and management of hearing and balance problems in people of all ages. It also involves the fitting and management of hearing aids and other hearing assistive devices.

The specialist who practices audiology is called an audiologist.

Signs that may indicate the need to see an audiologist for a hearing evaluation:

  • Problems hearing over the telephone

  • Trouble following conversations when two or more people speak at once

  • Trouble following conversations in a setting with a noisy background

  • Confusion about where sounds are located

  • Having to ask people to repeat themselves

  • Problems hearing or understanding speech of children or women

  • Most people seem to mumble or not speak clearly

  • Problems with misunderstanding others and making inappropriate responses

  • Others notice that television volume is high

  • Missing sounds of telephone or doorbell ringing

  • Avoiding activities because of problems with hearing and understanding speech

Hearing Aids

What are hearing aids?

Nearly 36 million adults in the U.S. have some degree of hearing loss. Hearing aids can help improve hearing and speech especially in persons with sensorineural hearing loss (hearing loss in the inner ear due to damaged hair cells or a damaged hearing nerve). Sensorineural hearing loss can be caused by virus or bacteria, noise, injury, infection, aging, certain medications, birth defects, tumors, problems with blood circulation or high blood pressure, and stroke.

Hearing aids are electronic, battery-operated devices that can amplify and change sound. A microphone receives the sound as sound waves. The sound waves are then converted into electrical signals.

What are the different types of hearing aids?

The type of hearing aid recommended for the individual depends on the person's home and work activities, his or her physical limitations and medical condition, and personal preference. There are many different types of hearing aids on the market, with companies continuously inventing newer, improved hearing aids every day. However, there are 4 basic types of hearing aids available today. Consult your health care provider for additional information on each of the following types:

In-the-ear (ITE) hearing aids

Behind-the-ear (BTE) hearing aids

Canal aids

Body aids

These hearing aids come in plastic cases that fit in the outer ear. Generally used for mild to severe hearing loss, ITE hearing aids can accommodate other technical hearing devices, such as the telecoil, a mechanism used to improve sound during telephone calls. However, their small size can make it difficult to make adjustments. In addition, ITE hearing aids can be damaged by ear wax and drainage.

Behind-the-ear hearing aids, as the name implies, are worn behind the ear. This type of hearing aid, which is in a case, connects to a plastic ear mold inside the outer ear. These hearing aids are generally used for mild to severe hearing loss. Poorly fitted BTE hearing aids can cause feedback, an annoying "whistling" sound, in the ear. However, all hearing aids can have feedback.

Canal aids fit directly in the ear canal and come in two sizes: in-the-canal (ITC) aid and completely-in-canal (CIC) aid. Customized to fit the size and shape of the individual's ear canal, canal aids are generally used for mild to moderate hearing loss. However, because of their small size, removal and adjustment may be more difficult. In addition, canal aids can be damaged by ear wax and drainage.

Generally reserved for profound hearing loss, or if the other types of hearing aids will not accommodate, body aids are attached to a belt or pocket and connected to the ear with a wire.

Who may be a candidate for hearing aids?

Anyone who has hearing loss that may be improved with hearing aids can benefit from these devices. The type of hearing aid recommended may depend on several factors, including, but not limited to:

  • The shape of the outer ear (deformed ears may not accommodate behind-the-ear hearing aids)

  • Depth or length of the ear canal (too shallow ears may not accommodate in-the-ear hearing aids)

  • The type and severity of hearing loss

  • The manual dexterity of the individual to remove and insert hearing aids

  • The amount of wax buildup in the ear (excessive amounts of wax or moisture may prevent use of in-the-ear hearing aids)

  • Ears that require drainage may not be able to use certain hearing aid models

Wearing a hearing aid

Once the hearing aids have been fitted for the ears, the individual should begin to gradually wear the hearing aid. Because hearing aids do not restore normal hearing, it may take time to get used to the different sounds transmitted by the device. The American Academy of Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery recommends the following when beginning to wear hearing aids:

  • Be patient and give yourself time to get used to the hearing aid and the sound it produces.

  • Start in quiet surroundings and gradually build up to noisier environments.

  • Experiment where and when the hearing aid works best for you.

  • Keep a record of any questions and concerns you have, and bring those to your follow-up examination.

Taking care of hearing aids

Hearing aids need to be kept dry. Methods for cleaning hearing aids vary depending on the style and shape. Other tips for taking care of hearing aids include:

  • Keep the hearing aids away from heat and moisture.

  • Batteries should be replaced on a regular basis.

  • Avoid the use of hairspray and other hair products when the hearing aid is in place.

  • Turn off hearing aids when they are not in use. 

Considerations when purchasing a hearing aid

A medical examination is required before purchasing a hearing aid. Hearing aids can be purchased from an otolaryngologist (a doctor who specializes in disorders of the ear, nose, throat, and related structures of the head and neck), an audiologist (a specialist who can evaluate and manage hearing and balance problems), or an independent company. Styles and prices vary widely. The National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders recommends asking the following questions when buying hearing aids:

  • Can the hearing loss be improved with medical or surgical interventions?

  • Which design will work best for my type of hearing loss?

  • May I "test" the hearing aids for a certain period?

  • How much do hearing aids cost?

  • Do the hearing aids have a warranty and does it cover maintenance and repairs?

  • Can my audiologist or otolaryngologist make adjustments and repairs?

  • Can any other assistive technological devices be used with the hearing aids?

Hearing and Speech Communication Services and Devices

What are hearing and speech communication services and devices?

Along with medical intervention and hearing aids, there are many devices and services available to help improve and support communication in daily life. For example, in 1993, the Americans with Disabilities Act began requiring all telephone companies to provide telecommunications relay services. Other services and devices range from telephone amplifiers to visual alarm systems. New devices are portable and can work with cell phones. 

What is a telecommunication relay service?

A telecommunication relay service helps persons with a hearing loss or speech impairment communicate with people who have a regular phone, cordless phone, pay phone, or a cell phone. The hearing-impaired person calls another person with the help of a communications assistant (CA). The hearing-impaired person calls using a text telephone (TTY), which the CA then verbally relays to the other caller. The CA then types the person's response back to the TTY caller.

There are two types of telecommunication relay services: voice carry-over (VCO) and hearing carry-over (HCO).

  • With VCO, the caller speaks directly to the other person, but reads the response typed by the CA.

  • With HCO, the caller listens to the other caller, but types his or her response.

The CAs are professional; conversations are relayed word for word and are confidential. Telecommunication relay services are free of charge and may be reached by dialing 7-1-1.

Other assistive communication devices

Some other assistive communication devices for the hearing- or speech-impaired include:

Telephone devices for the deaf (TDD)

Telephone amplifiers

Radio, stereo, and television amplifiers

Signaling devices

Captions for the hearing-impaired

TDDs allow the caller to call another person who has a TDD and type messages that are displayed on a visual screen. TDDs come in a variety of models and can also be used with telecommunication relay services.

Another telephone device, a telecoil, can be used with certain hearing aids. The telecoil, which is a small magnetic coil in the hearing aid, helps improve sound during telephone calls.

Amplifiers that are portable or built into the receiver of the telephone can help increase the volume for the listener. In addition, for those persons who have difficulty hearing the high-pitched ring of the telephone, the sound can be replaced with a lower tone bell or buzzer, or with a visual alert.

Instead of turning the radio, stereo, or television up loud, certain devices can connect with hearing aids to directly send the audio signal via a receiver. Whether using headphone devices or wireless devices, these amplifiers allow a hearing-impaired person to listen to radio, stereo, or TV at a comfortable level without interference of background noise.

Visual signaling devices can alert a hearing-impaired person to auditory signals he or she cannot hear. Visual signaling devices that flash a light can be purchased for telephones, doors, alarms, baby monitors, and more. Other signaling devices include a vibrating option that can awaken the hearing-impaired person.

Captions are the words displayed on a television screen that follow along with the audio portion of the program. Viewers who are hearing-impaired can read the captions to follow the dialogue and action at the same time. Captions also describe sound effects that are important to the story line.

Captions can be "open" or "closed." Open captions appear on every television set. Closed captions require a set-top decoder or built-in decoder circuitry. Since closed-caption technology is so widely available now, open-caption technology is rarely used.

Specialties:

Audiology, Electrophysiology, Hearing Aids

Locations:

University Hospital (801) 587-8368

Lisa Dahlstrom, Au.D., CCC-A

Lisa Dahlstrom is a native of Salt Lake City and an audiologist with the Divison of Otolaryngology at the University of Utah, where she has worked since 1989. She has a special interest in cochlear implants. Her hobbies include playing the piano and classical guitar, and enjoying time with her family.... Read More

Specialties:

Audiology, Cochlear Implantation, Electrophysiology, Facial Nerve Disorders, Hearing Aids

Locations:

University Hospital (801) 587-8368

Specialties:

Audiology, Balance/Vestibular, Electrophysiology, Hearing Aids, Neurophysiology, Tinnitus Treatment/Management

Locations:

South Jordan Health Center (801) 213-4500

Specialties:

Audiology, Cochlear Implantation, Electrophysiology, Hearing Aids

Locations:

University Hospital (801) 587-8368

Specialties:

Audiology

Locations:

University Hospital (801) 587-8368

Specialties:

Audiology

Locations:

University Hospital (801) 587-8368

Mitchell Udy, M.S., CCC-A

Mr. Udy has been practicing audiology for over 14 years, and has been at the University of Utah since 2008. He has a special interest in diagnostic testing as well as fitting hearing aids and Baha devices. He has been married for 19 years and has four children.... Read More

Specialties:

Audiology, Hearing Aids

Locations:

University Hospital (801) 587-8368
University Hospital
Clinic 9
50 N Medical Drive
Salt Lake City, UT 84132
Map
Appointments
(801) 587-8368
South Jordan Health Center 5126 W. Daybreak Parkway
South Jordan, UT 84095
Map
(801) 213-4500
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Outpatient Surgery Restores Young Mother's Hearing

Severe hearing loss wasn’t a condition that Heather Simonsen expected as a side effect of pregnancy. Yet, after the birth of her third child, the gradual hearing loss she had been experiencing over several years suddenly became acute, resulting in deafness in her left ear. She couldn’t understand speech, disting...

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