Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)
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What is an Audiologist?
An audiologist is an independent, professional provider of primary hearing health care, who specializes in the prevention of hearing loss and in the identification, assessment, diagnosis, management, and treatment of hearing and balance disorders. Audiologists hold a master’s or doctoral degree in audiology from an accredited university, and are, in most provinces, licensed or otherwise governed by a regulatory body.
Audiologists provide the full range of habilitative and rehabilitative services to those with hearing impairment, and are a source of information for family members, other professionals, and the general public. They select, prescribe, fit, and evaluate amplification devices, including hearing aids and surgically implanted devices such as cochlear implants and bone-anchored hearing aids. They also select, dispense, and evaluate assistive devices designed to aid the communication process. Audiologists determine the appropriateness of amplification systems and assistive devices, evaluate benefit, and provide training regarding their use. Audiologists provide counselling regarding the effects of hearing loss on communication and psychosocial status in personal, social and vocational arenas, and strategies for improving communication. They conduct otoscopic examinations, clean ear canals, and remove cerumen (ear wax) when it can be done so comfortably and safely, without requiring direct contact with the tympanic membrane. They take ear impressions for purposes of making custom hearing aids and earmolds, and for custom hearing protection or water protection.
Audiologists fit, sell, and dispense hearing aids and other amplification systems or devices. They assess and provide non-medical management for persons with tinnitus using techniques that include, but are not limited to, biofeedback, masking, hearing aids, retraining, education and counselling.
Is Culford Family Hearing independently owned?
Yes! Culford Family Hearing is a fully independent, local, family-run business. We offer hearing aids from all major manufacturers. The business consists of Curt Culford, Audiologist and owner, and his partner Jackie Morrill, clinic manager.
What is the cost of a hearing test?
There are no fees for hearing tests for individuals over 18 years of age. Children’s hearing tests are subject to a fee as there is specialized equipment and additional time required. OHIP does not cover the cost of hearing tests as many people believe unless the individual is tested by an Audiologist at an Ear, Nose, and Throat (ENT) specialist’s office.
Do I need a doctor referral to have a hearing test?
No. Doctor referrals are accepted but not required. Anyone can walk-in or call to book a hearing test (no charge for individuals over 18 years of age). We encourage people even without hearing difficulty to schedule a hearing test to establish a baseline and determine their current hearing thresholds. The results can then be used to compare with any future testing to track possible changes in one’s hearing.
Does Culford Family Hearing conduct surgeries or treat ear infections?
No. A physician specializing in the ear, nose, and throat (ENT) performs ear-related surgeries. Treatment of ear infections is within the realm of ENT physicians as well as your family doctor. Culford Family Hearing cannot write prescriptions or refer directly to an ENT. The patient needs to see their family doctor to obtain an ENT referral.
A family doctor may request a hearing assessment prior to recommending an ENT referral. The Audiologist will conduct a hearing assessment, review the results, make recommendations, and send a report to the family doctor. It is beneficial to the patient to have a hearing test prior to seeing the ENT as this will establish a baseline and current hearing thresholds. A post-visit assessment depending on the condition can also be done to evaluate any improvement.
How much do hearing aids cost?
Hearing aids can range in price from $500 up to $3,000 per aid ($800-$3300 out of pocket per aid after the Assistive Device Program grant and the dispensing fee). There are several factors that influence the cost of hearing aids, most notably the technology and hearing loss, but also the needs and requirements of the patient.
Hearing aids are offered at different “technology levels”, from basic to advanced and this directly influences the price of the aid. The technology determines how well the hearing aid functions in various environments and situations. The physical style of the aid, whether it is a behind-the-ear unit or one that fits in the ear canal, is not a factor in determining the price of the hearing aid. Rather it is the technology inside – for hearing aids you can say it’s what’s inside that counts!
The level of technology can be a factor in difficult hearing situations such as restaurants where there is background noise, music or live-theatre venues, family gatherings, or when there is more than one person speaking at a time. Hearing aids with a higher level of technology have enhanced processing features and abilities allowing them to perform better under these conditions. The higher level of technology can result in a greater cost; however, this outweighs the benefit to the patient and their improvement in hearing. When hearing loss is properly addressed and treated, the quality of life can drastically improve.
We are committed to working with each patient to determine the hearing aid the would best fit their lifestyle, hearing loss, and budget. All hearing aids come with a 60-day trial period, guaranteeing full satisfaction. This also allows the patient to become accustomed to the hearing aid and to ensure they are receiving the most benefit.
Do hearing aids use batteries? How long do they last?
Yes, hearing aids require batteries. The batteries are air-activated cells that begin working when a pull-tab or “sticker” is peeled off. Each hearing aid has a battery door that will open allowing the person to take out or insert a new battery.
Hearing aids will operate using one of 4 different battery sizes. Typically, the smaller the aid, the smaller the battery. Sizes are: 10, 312, 13, and 675. It can be difficult to remember the specific size of battery, so they are also colour-coded. Size 10 are in yellow packaging, size 312 in brown, size 13 in orange, and size 675 in blue.
Being an air-activated battery, the typical lifespan is about a week; however, it does depend on the size of the battery and the hours of use. A size 10 battery may only last 4-5 days and a 675 may last several weeks.
With every hearing aid purchase, we provide enough hearing aid batteries for 3 years. You can rest assure that you will have batteries when you need them.
There are now several hearing aids on the market that have a rechargeable battery option. These hearing aids have either an integrated lithium-ion battery or a removable rechargeable battery. The hearing aids are placed in a docking station overnight to be charged. They will last the entire day and can even be equipped with a portable power pack that can be used when travelling. These new rechargeable aids are becoming very popular. They are a convenient option for those who struggle with removing and replacing batteries.
Does the government provide any funding?
The Ministry of Health and Long-term Care offers a provincial grant towards the cost of hearing aids (Assistive Device Program). The patient must be an Ontario resident with a valid Ontario health card who requires a hearing device for 6 months or longer. The grant consists of 75% of the cost up to a maximum of $500 per ear. The patient will receive the $500 discount (per ear) at the time of purchase. Patients can also apply for a replacement hearing aid or device if their medical condition has changed and the device is no longer meeting their needs. Furthermore, the grant will also apply if the equipment is worn out, no longer covered by warranty, and cannot be repaired at a reasonable cost. This is typically the case when hearing aids are over 5 years old. The ADP grant will not cover the cost to replace a lost and/or damaged hearing aid.