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Department of Audiology
134 Thurbers Avenue
Suite 215
Providence, RI 02905
P: (401) 453-7751

Hours

Monday through Friday, 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.; evening appointments available on the last Tuesday of every month.

No Show Policy

We have a policy for missed appointments at all Women & Infants' physician practices. If you need to reschedule or cancel an appointment, please give us at least 24 hours notice. Learn More

I feel that I am having trouble with my hearing, can I be seen at Women & Infants Hospital?

Yes, our audiologists see patients of all ages and we see adults of both genders.

How do I know if I am ready for hearing aids?

  • Family and friends often observe difficulties hearing and comment on them.
  • You may misunderstand phone numbers and difficult-to-predict words in a conversation.
  • You may be accused of having “selective hearing.”
  • t may seem as if people and things sneak up on you.

If you have any concerns, have your hearing checked by one of our licensed audiologists. Knowing if you are ready to use amplification may be a bit more difficult - this is a very personal decision. Consider the benefits and drawbacks of proceeding. For example, consider the impact on your communication with friends, family and co-workers. If you could hear better, could you:

  • More fully engage in social activities?
  • Take classes?
  • Hear better in church?
  • Enjoy more time with your grandchildren?
  • Waste less energy struggling to hear?
  • Land a better job?

On the other hand, do you feel there is a downside to proceeding? What is making you think twice about trying hearing aids? Perhaps that downside can be addressed with the help of the Department of Audiology.

If people would just stop mumbling, I would hear fine.

Hearing loss is not an all or nothing thing. Sometimes hearing decreases in a narrow pitch range, so voices seem to be loud enough but the sound isn’t clear. For many people, the higher-pitched sounds in speech become more difficult to hear, while hearing for the lower-pitched sounds remains normal. As a result, some people may be easy to understand, while others are more difficult. Perhaps women and children are more difficult to understand because their voices tend to be higher in pitch than men’s voices. Hearing aids can very easily turn up some sounds while leaving other sounds alone. Think of treble and bass controls on your car radio. Sometimes you need certain pitches to be louder, but not all of them. Once you hear all the pitches well, people will stop “mumbling”.

How much do hearing aids cost?

Hearing aids can cost between $800 or $900 up to over $3,000. The more expensive instruments tend to have more advanced technological features pertaining to background noise reduction, detection of certain types of soft, high-pitched sounds, or automatic adjustments made by the instrument itself. For many individuals, these more sophisticated instruments will have a clear advantage over the less-expensive models. For others, the lower-cost hearing instruments, which have somewhat less sophisticated circuitry, will work well in most situations. This is an important discussion to have with your audiologist.

Does insurance pay for hearing devices?

Medicare does not cover hearing testing for the specific purpose of fitting a hearing device, nor does it cover the cost of the devices or the services involved in the fitting process. For other forms of insurance, call your insurance company and ask what your benefit is. Some insurance carriers do provide a hearing aid benefit and it is important for you to understand how this benefit works.

What is the process for trying and using hearing aids?

Our experienced staff of licensed audiologists recommends and fits amplification devices to patients of all ages using state of the art equipment. In order to have a successful hearing device experience, a valid hearing test completed with-in the previous six months is necessary. The audiologist who evaluates your hearing will discuss the results and any recommendations with you. If use of a hearing aid is advisable, the audiologist can discuss options based on your individual communication needs. Once this step is completed, medical clearance for the use of amplification will be obtained from your physician. Devices can be ordered and fit typically within two weeks. On the day of the fitting, testing will be completed to be sure the devices are working optimally. You will be taught how to put in and take out the device and how to use it. Care and maintenance will be discussed. After using the hearing aid(s) for a week or two, you will return for a follow-up visit to review any questions that may have arisen.

Why do I have to come back regularly?

In the beginning of the hearing aid process, the devices are often adjusted as you become more accustomed to hearing again. There may need to be adjustments made to the sound quality as you gather experience and make observations using the instruments in your day-to-day listening environments. Part of the job of a new hearing aid user is to report back to the audiologist as to what is working and what is not working, so that the instruments can be properly tuned. Over time, listening needs can also change. For example, hearing may worsen somewhat as you get older, or a new job may necessitate a review of phone options. For children who wear hearing devices, frequent visits are needed to refit earmolds and to make adjustments to the hearing devices’ settings as the ear canals grow and listening needs evolve. Regular cleaning and maintenance also greatly extends the lifespan of the devices.

Can I have the same hearing aid as my golf buddy?

There is no single best hearing device type or brand. Each person’s hearing loss is different. Each person has individual hearing and listening needs. What works well for your friend or relative may not work so well for you. Using their training and experience, our staff can guide you in this transformative journey.

How does the audiologist make a recommendation?

Through taking a case history, obtaining comprehensive and accurate hearing test data, and assessing your communication needs with you, the audiologist is able to make appropriate suggestions based on sound clinical judgment. Think about what you would like to do if hearing was not a challenge. This helps us tailor a recommendation for you. For example, an adult with a certain type of hearing loss, level of manual dexterity, work environment and desire to use Bluetooth devices may be given a different recommendation than a child with a similar hearing loss. Infants will be given different suggestions than school-age children. Adults with similar hearing loss may be given very different recommendations based on lifestyle. People who have mild forms of hearing loss can use different devices than people with more severe forms of hearing loss.

Will it hurt?

No part of the process will hurt. Neither the device nor the amplification it provides should cause any discomfort. Modern hearing devices adjust themselves to optimize your hearing as well as prevent loud noises from hurting you.

How are they powered?

Using hearing aid batteries. They last one to two weeks depending on the device, how it is used, and how strong the amplification needs to be. Batteries are inexpensive and easy to change. They cost about a dollar a piece and are available in our clinic or in many pharmacies and grocery stores.

My grandmother was always fiddling with her hearing aids. Will I?

Modern hearing devices rarely need to be adjusted once you have them on. Feedback or whistling is much less problematic than it used to be.

My ears ring and buzz. Will the hearing device make this louder?

Tinnitus, or ringing in the ears, is often more annoying when you do not hear well. With external sounds made louder by the hearing device, you are much less likely to notice the tinnitus. Amplification works very well for people who have tinnitus.

Can I use hearing devices with my cell phone, MP3 player, computer, etc?

Many hearing devices have Bluetooth capabilities as well as telecoils and direct audio input, allowing for connecting with regular consumer electronics. These devices are usually surprisingly easy to use and very effective.

My family drives me crazy with the TV volume. Can you help with that?

Often, wearing hearing aids will provide immediate and significant benefit with television and most other listening situations. If a hearing aid user still struggles with television, many hearing aids can be adjusted to provide direct input from the TV to the hearing aid.