Q: What’s the difference between a cochlear implant and a hearing aid?


A: Cochlear implants and hearing aids are both medical devices used to treat sensorineural hearing loss, the most common type of hearing loss.


While both devices treat hearing loss, hearing aids are much more common than cochlear implants. Hearing aids are used to successfully treat varying degrees of hearing loss, from mild to severe. Most people with hearing loss are candidates for and can benefit from hearing aids, which work by amplifying sound frequencies affected by hearing loss.


Cochlear implants are used when hearing aids are insufficient, typically to treat severe-to-profound sensorineural hearing loss due to absent or reduced cochlear hair cell function. Implanted surgically, they work by replacing the function of the damaged cochlea (inner ear) and stimulating the auditory nerve directly.


One cochlear implant for every 16,000 hearing aids

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) estimated in 2012 that roughly 58,000 adults and 38,000 children use cochlear implants in the USA, compared to the more than 12 million Americans who wear hearing aids. To put those statistics into perspective, for every person wearing a cochlear implant, there are roughly 125 who wear hearing aids. Only half of 1 percent of those seeking treatment for sensorineural hearing loss will be fit with cochlear implants.


How cochlear implants work

A cochlear implant has both internal and external parts. The internal parts — the electrodes and the receiver-stimulator — are implanted by a surgeon. The surgeon places the electrode array in the cochlea, bypassing the damaged hair cells, and the receiver-stimulator is implanted just behind the ear.  INSERT IMAGE



The external portion consists of a microphone, processor, and transmitter that sit behind the ear, similar in style to a behind-the-ear hearing aid. The microphone picks up sounds from the environment, and the speech processor selects and arranges those sounds. The transmitter receives signals from the speech processor and converts those into electrical impulses, transmitting them to the surgically implanted electrode array. The electrode array then stimulates the auditory nerve, sending impulses to the brain where they’re interpreted as sounds.


  1. Who is a candidate for a cochlear implant?


  1. Most cochlear implant recipients try hearing aids first, prior to surgery. If hearing aids do not provide maximum benefit, due to reduced cochlear function or poor speech discrimination, cochlear implant surgery is considered. Determining cochlear implant candidacy often involves audiologic testing, medical examination, and imaging studies (X-rays/MRI). Children as young as 12 months can be implanted. Most recipients have profound sensorineural hearing loss or congenital deafness.


Rehabilitation services following implantation are provided by speech language pathologists and audiologists. The cost for one device varies greatly, ranging anywhere from $40,000 to $100,000. Health insurance companies provide varying degrees of benefit for the surgical procedure, device and follow-up services.






This blog was originally published on Starkey.com.

Wireless hearing aids and SurfLink accessories let you live life the way you want.

Our newest wireless hearing aids — A4 and Invisibel [Synergy] — are our most advanced hearing aids ever. Thanks to an all-new operating system and updated technology, they’re designed to make music sound more natural than ever, and speech sound crisp and clear no matter how crowded or how loud the environment that you’re in is.


But to really enjoy all the benefits of our wireless hearing aids, be sure to pair them to one, or all, of our SurfLink accessories.


SurfLink accessories are small and compact. Designed to fit in your pocket or plug into your TV, they provide everything you need to enjoy TV, music, media, and more when paired to your A4 or Invisibel [Synergy] hearing aids.


Here are some of the cool things you can do with our SurfLink accessories:


  1. Enjoy ear-to-ear phone streaming: Your hearing aids become the phone microphone and receiver when used with SurfLink Mobile 2. So once you answer the call, go ahead and talk to your spouse while lifting weights — you don’t need your hands after all.


  1. Watch your favorite show in surround sound: Missed out on the epic season six of Game of Thrones? No worries. Watch new episodes and old with SurfLink Media 2. It plugs into your TV or stereo and streams the audio directly to both your hearing aids so you can hear every sword fight, sound effect and line of dialogue as if you are wearing headphones.


  1. Listen to the football game while your wife naps on the couch next to you: Because SurfLink Media 2 streams TV audio directly to your hearing aids, you can decide the volume you want to listen to whatever you’re watching — while actually muting the sound for the rest of the room, or at least playing it at a volume they find comfortable.


  1. Let everyone choose their own settings: Have more than one person with wireless hearing aids? No problem! Multiple people can connect to a single SurfLink Media 2 device at the same time and choose the volume they each prefer!


  1. Quickly, easily change volume and hearing aid memories without touching your ears: The SurfLink Remote fits in the palm of your hand and lets you change memories, adjust volume and more without lifting a finger to your devices.


  1. Nail that dream job interview: You can use SurfLink Mobile 2 as a lightweight, discreet microphone that can be worn by your conversation partner to help one-on-one conversations be the best they can be.


Want to check out all the SurfLink accessories? Click here!


This blog originally appeared on www.starkey.com.

Q: What do your ears and your oven have in common?


A: They are both self cleaning


It’s true! Your ears can clean themselves with the help of cerumen. Cerumen, the medical term for earwax, forms in the outer one-third of your ear canal, naturally migrating out of your ear with jaw movements, such as talking or chewing, to naturally clean your ears.

Earwax is also thought to have protective, antibacterial and lubricant properties. Wax protects the ear by keeping debris away from the eardrum. Inserting ear cleaning or wax-removal tools can potentially push the wax further down the canal, thereby causing harm to the wall of your ear canal or eardrum. Removing ear wax can also make your ear canal feel dry and itchy because of the natural lubrication it provides.


Is it ever okay to clean your ears?

Despite the wide array of removal tools sold over the counter, the American Academy of Otolaryngology- Head and Neck Surgery Foundation (AAO-HNSF) believes that under ideal circumstances your ears will never need to be cleaned:“Unfortunately, many people mistakenly believe that earwax should be routinely removed for personal hygiene. This is not so. In fact, attempting to remove ear wax with cotton-tipped swabs, bobby pins, or other probing devices can result in damage to the ear including trauma, impaction of the earwax, and changes in hearing. These objects only push wax in deeper, and can block the ear canal entirely.”


How to help avoid earwax build up:

If your ears tend to produce a great deal of earwax, you can help prevent build up and impaction by using a softening agent once a week. Drops like Debrox and Murine are sold over the counter and can soften wax by allowing it to come out on its own more easily. If you feel most comfortable leaving removal to the professionals, you can schedule wax removal every 6 to 12 months with your doctor or hearing professional.


NOTE: If you have tubes in your ears, a hole in your ear, diabetes, or a weakened immune system you should contact your physician before attempting to remove wax on your own.


Signs of an impaction (earwax buildup):

An excess build-up of earwax can lead to impaction and other unpleasant symptoms including pain, infection, decrease in hearing, itching and more.

  • If you notice pain, fullness, or a plugged sensation in your ear you should see a professional to rule out wax impaction.
  • If wax blocks your ear canal you may notice a decrease in hearing, ringing, itching, odor, or an increase in coughing.

A professional trained in earwax extraction can use suction, a curette, microscope or irrigation for removal. Manual removal may be used if the ear canal is narrow, the eardrum has a hole in it, or there is a tube in the ear drum. Individuals with diabetes or weakened immune systems should be especially careful about wax removal.


Hearing aids and earwax

Earwax can wreak havoc on hearing aids. Some hearing aid wearers report an increase in earwax production when they begin wearing hearing aids. Hearing aids can stimulate the glands in the ear canal to produce more wax and block the normal migration of wax from the ear canal. More importantly, earwax can clog a hearing aid’s microphones and receivers, impairing quality and performance. This is why cleaning and maintaining your hearing aids is so important. Your hearing care professional will demonstrate how to properly clean and maintain your hearing aids.




This blog originally appeared on www.starkey.com by Dr. Beth McCormick.


The Innovation Summit was in Las Vegas from January 15 – 19 2014 at the Cosmopolitan Hotel.

It brought together over 3,400 hearing professionals from over 30 countries to discuss recent changes, advancements, and the future of hearing healthcare.

Each day brought with it different speakers and small group sessions in which we learned more about our trade.

Guest speakers included popular hearing scientists, innovators, business advisers and some celebrities also.  Special guest speakers included Donald Trump, President Bill Clinton and President George W. Bush.

The event ended with a private concert performed by Brad Paisley.

Of the images below, you’ll find one of Bill Clinton reaching for his left ear just before he pulled out his hearing aid, which was fit by our lab.  He spoke much of the importance of quality hearing and the role it plays in his life.

For an in-depth read on the events that took place, please see the links below from the company who sponsored the Expo.

Day 1 details.
Day 2 details.
Day 3 details. 

Here are some images from the event.

For more info on the expo, please see www.hearinginnovationexpo.com

We are pleased to announce that our Allentown location has a new state-of-the-art sound proof booth for hearing testing and verification.  It is the largest sound proof booth that we have and has two large windows to keep you comfortable.

The booth was installed just before the 2013 Christmas holiday.

Our hearing tests were always done accurately in the past, but since the office has become busier, people stop in more frequently, and the phone rings often, we felt it was a necessity to keep our patients confident in our work.

The booth was a welcomed upgrade to the office as it grows in the Lehigh Valley!

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Trial periods are fairly standard in our Industry. We have a 30 day evaluation period, for instance, where patients can return hearing devices if we don’t satisfy them.

Anyway, about a month ago, an older man walks into our Pottsville office with his daughter to discuss getting hearing help.

The man barely spoke, he let his daughter do most of the talking.

His daughter explained that he is very hard of hearing, and I’m their last hope. “You see,” she said, “my dad has tried 5 hearing centers so far, and he has returned from all of them.”

“No one could help him,” she explained. “So, you’re our last hope.”

This man was in five different hearing aid trials from five different people. Wow. Those were my thoughts.

His hearing loss was severe – I can’t imagine the muffled life he heard. Really, I cannot imagine how he functioned. He trusted me enough to let me have a final shot at correcting his hearing.

A month later and after a few appointments with me, I saw my schedule today and noticed he was coming back for his last appointment. It was the time for him to decide if he was happy.

I was nervous to see him.

His daughter accompanied him again.

I invited them into the office to take a seat, and as I shut the door, his daughter just kept looking at me to get my attention.

She wouldn’t sit down.

My heart dropped as I was afraid of what she was about to say to my face.

“Well, young man,” she started, “You should feel very proud of yourself. You just did something no one was able to do. You helped my father!”

The man was just all smiles and thanked me a few times.

I don’t feel like I did anything differently than anyone else, but I guess I did. If anything, I listened to what he had to say and did my best to factor all his realistic concerns into his trial period sessions. Maybe that tipped the scales in my favor.

Regardless, I was happy he came here. I was happy he tried a 6th time.

Either way, I’ve seen him over the course of that month, and in that time his personality changed as he became more talkative. He felt left out since his hearing limited his interaction with people. All of changed in his hearing aid trial. He was a different person today, that’s for certain.

Anyone can see that his life will never be the same. He was transformed, and it was improving his hearing that made all that possible.


About ten years ago, a woman came into the office seeking hearing help after she was released from an alcohol addiction clinic.  To not violate any policies, I’ll call her Betty.

She met with my father, Nick, to discuss her inabilities to understand conversations at times.  She explained,  “I can hear, but just not clearly sometimes. It can be hard to make out softer voices or to hear people in noise.  I notice it more on my right side.  I think my left ear is ok.”

After testing her hearing for the first time, Nick counseled her:  “Your hearing is worse in your right ear, but your left ear has a mild loss as well.  In order to do this properly, you should correct both ears.”

Betty commented, “I don’t think I need anything in my left ear!  If my right ear is worse, I only want to correct that side.”

To her liking, Nick entered Betty into a trial with JUST her right ear.   He fit a hearing device that was discreet and calibrated to her right ear’s hearing deficiency.

She was happy and kept the device at the end of her trial.

She has been a terrific patient ever since.  She comes in periodically for cleanings and adjustments.

Now, when I started at Michels Hearing Center about 7 years ago, she was one of the first patients I had met.  We became friends since she’s so active in our hearing maintenance programs.

Well about 3 years ago, Betty wanted to sit down with me to discuss her hearing again.  She knew there was better technology available and felt she’d like to try something newer.   I went through the paces with her: retested her hearing, checked her ear canals, and then counseled her on her loss.

“Betty,” I said, “to be honest, there hasn’t been much change in your hearing for the last few years.”

“Yet, I still feel I am missing out on conversation.”

“Don’t you think it’s time to fit your left ear?” I asked.

“No, I don’t need one in that ear.  I want to try something better in my right ear,” she was quick to respond.

To her liking again, I upgraded her right device.  She noticed quite an improvement in comfort and clarity versus her older technology.  She was happy and kept the device at the end of her trial.

And so, the story continues.  She has been coming in regularly for hearing checks and adjustments since then.

Then we get another call that she wants to sit down and discuss her overall hearing again.  She heard about new technology and is considering trying it.

I tested her hearing again: no change.

“I still cannot hear plainly.  I am missing out in conversation.  I can’t hear the tv well, and my daughter is complaining that I say ‘What?’ too much.  Can I get a better device for my right ear?”

“No,”  I said.

I wasn’t rude, but she looked surprised.

“If you are here for your right ear, then please don’t waste your money.  If you can get one hearing device today, then please, you owe it to yourself to fit your left ear once and for all.”

“Tell me why,” was Betty’s response.

“Betty, I see you wear glasses.  What do you think the optometrist would say the next time you go and insist on only wearing one lens for your right eye?”

Betty smiled as I went on.

“He’d probably laugh!  With one lens, you can surely see better, but you are only seeing half the picture.  No matter how hard you try with your right lens… no matter how hard the doctor tries to adjust your right eye’s prescription, he will NEVER be able to get you to see properly from the left side of your head.”

I explained more, “Your ears are no different. You are asking me to adjust your right ear to the point that it can hear sounds all the way around you.  And it’s impossible.  No matter how great the device is on your right ear, you are still only hearing from the right side of your head.”

She agreed.  Finally.  And so she walked out of the office for the first time in over 10 years with a hearing device in BOTH ears. And I was nervous about what she’d think in the end.

I fit Betty’s left ear 3 weeks ago.

And today… she had her first follow-up appointment.

She came into the office.  She sat down quietly.

I was hesitant to ask: “How has everything been going, Betty?”

“I can’t thank you enough,” she gleamed.  “I can’t believe the difference.  I am hearing exactly the way I wanted to.  The tv is quieter.  My daughter is ecstatic, and I just can’t thank you enough.  I’m finally happy.”

Betty made my day today.

This isn’t an “I-told-ya-so” story.  The fact of the matter is:  we are born with two ears for a reason.  Take full advantage of them.  Whether you have 1% or 99% hearing loss, it is still a hearing loss.

Every second that goes by that you leave your hearing uncorrected, not only can your hearing suffer more, but you miss on the slightest little hearing moments that will never happen again.

I am sure that as of now, Betty regrets not correcting her hearing like this from day one.  Either way, she is finally happy.  And so are we for helping her the right way.

Free 30 day trial

Free 30 day trial!

Relearning to hear is a process, and we take it very seriously at Michels Hearing.  Because you will too.

We offer (to everyone!) free 3o days trial periods so anyone can test drive improved hearing before considering hearing improvement.  In this way, you can see for yourself just how comfortable and discreet improved hearing can be.  Of course, not to mention how clear life should sound.

When you come for your initial visit, you’ll sit down with us to discuss your expectations and hearing history.  We’ll check your hearing and demonstrate within minutes how things should really sound.

For most people, losing hearing has been a slow gradual process, and they don’t realize just what they’re missing… until we turn the hearing devices on!  It’s always an eye-opening and thrilling experience.

From here, you have the choice to take them home with you.  Take them to your favorite restaurant, take them to church, where them at work.  In fact, we encourage you wear them solidly (mostly because you’ll want to) in order to adjust to all the new sounds.

We will call to check on you in your trial period.  Your questions can be answered over the phone.  We will also set up a one week follow-up appointment, so we can adjust your hearing depending on your unique lifestyle and personality preferences.

After wearing them for another two weeks, we’ll bring you back for another short appointment.  We’ll adjust the devices even more.

It is important that you are committed to a trial period.  For new wearers especially, we do not amplify to your hearing loss 100% on day one.  If we did, you may not like it.  We’ll start at about 80% of the recommended volume in order for you to adjust to some of the basic sounds first.  As you come in for your post visit appointments, we’ll slowly raise the volume to your target or recommended level.  So as the trial moves forward, you’ll hear better and better.  You’ll appreciate this process as it eases you into improved hearing.  It’s the only way to relearn how to hear.  Too much too soon is NOT the right approach.

If, for any reason, you are not happy, you have the opportunity to return any hearing device with no pressure to continue forward.

We are sure you’ll love them as much as we do.  So after your trial is complete, we are happy to bring you back routinely for cleanings, adjustments, and subsequent hearing checks to monitor your hearing.  If your hearing changes, we can accommodate those changes by reprogramming your devices.  We provide this service for life of the devices as a compliment to the patient.  There’s never a charge!  No matter what, we will strive to keep you satisfied.

You can read about our award-winning services by checking out our patient reviews at: michelshearing.com/patient-reviews

So that’s how we work!

My Audibel

This is the place to get instant, individualized access to information about your hearing aids – and tips to help ensure long-lasting listening performance and comfort.

Private, convenient and personalized just for you, My Audibel is your single stop for rehabilitation exercises, operation manuals, use & care videos and more!

You get:

  • FREE access to aural rehabilitation tools like Read My Quips, a clinically proven, online speech comprehension tool that patients can do at home.
  • Personalized, one-stop access to all your hearing aid information, like manuals, instructional videos and more.
  • Information on new products and features customized just for you.
  • At-a-glance snapshot and contact information for your hearing center.

Any existing patient can contact us to get started for free.

Have you ever wondered what it’s like to have a hearing loss? Do you have a family member with hearing loss? The Hearing Loss Simulator allows you to choose a specific hearing loss configuration and then listen to sounds as though you have that particular hearing loss. The Hearing Loss Simulator contains pre-recorded common sounds and has the option to let you record your own voice for playback through the different hearing loss configurations. The Hearing Loss Simulator includes graphics to show where the common sounds, speech, and individual speech sounds are located for loudness and frequency.

Read more at iTunes: http://itunes.apple.com/us/app/hearing-loss-simulator/id398352094?mt=8