Is there such a thing as an independent Audiologist?

Some years ago, before I actually got hearing aids, I went to a local Audiologist for a hearing test. Afterward, she counseled me that with my loss, it would be difficult to find a hearing aid that would help. We didn’t actually even mention my buying an aid from her. Years pass, and now I have some aids I bought used off eBay, plus some new Marvels I got from the VA. Neither seem to help me hear better. I have programmed both numerous times with varying results, but none successful. I decided that maybe I need to see an Audiologist to see if they could offer any programming tips that could help. I called the office of the lady I saw a few years ago only to find that she has retired. The gentleman who replaced her will not see anyone who has aids not bought from them. I have also checked with a couple of local hearing aid suppliers, and got the same story. If you didn’t get them from us, get lost. I don’t have much faith in the VA Audiologists. They set the aids up for prescriptive gain, and out the door you go. I was told flat out that they don’t fool with frequency lowering technologies. Being an hour and a half away doesn’t help either. So, is there such a thing as an independent Audiologist? Every one around here is associated with some hearing aid brand, and won’t touch anything they didn’t sell.

I think they’re out there, but a rare breed. If you’ve truly exhausted all local sources, including asking if there’s anybody they could suggest, I don’t have any ideas.

I do find interesting that the VA said they “don’t fool with frequency lowering technologies.” That’s the general attitude I’ve seen too. The last one said something like there’s no evidence that they work. I’d almost agree and compromise that there’s not a lot of evidence, but it’s clear that without frequency lowering, I am not going to hear the higher frequencies.

I own some MicroTech hearing aids that the dealer could never program to my loss. These are Starkey aids for all purposes, but branded as MicroTech. I called Starkey and got the names of a couple of local Starkey dealerships. Both were willing to program my aids for a set per-visit fee. I settled on one audiologist and had her adjust them further. They still were not right, but after joining the forum I asked that they be adjusted for REM. She did that, and the aids, while not perfect for some things such as phones, are much better than they were. The REM adjustment was significantly different from what it had been before.

You might call the manufacturer and ask if there are dealerships in your area that would work with you.

My VA Audi does frequency lowering and also CI fittings. It depends on the clinic

Could you look at my audiogram and tell me would discussing frequency lowering w/ my audiologist assist my hearing. I’ve been reading this forum looking for areas/ things I can do to maybe improve my hearing aids efficiency for my hearing loss. I’m going to use closed domes today vs vented to see any difference. TIA

People’s responses to frequency lowering vary wildly (from loving it to hating it) To boot, there are different ways of doing it so one way might help and another might not. I’m by no means an expert, but I think it would be worthwhile giving a try, especially if you end up sticking with open domes.

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I looked at the University of Alabama at Birmingham Hospital website and they have an Audiologist listed. I would think that she wouldn’t be tied to a particular hearing aid brand. I am going to call her for an appointment.
With regard to frequency lowering, I think that is about all I have left as a possibility. I have used it, and with it enabled, I can hear 8 KHz. It produces a lot of artifacts though, and in real life, doesn’t help with speech recognition all that much. I just hope there is a combination of gain and SR2 settings that will hit some sweet spot and enable me to understand speech better. I have been told that it works best in children, and I can believe that. At 72, there isn’t a lot that can be done for someone like me who not only has severe to profound high frequency loss, but is hypersensitive to loud sounds. The last two concerts I went to were uncomfortable to say the least, and the couple before that were almost unbearable. My hearing aids blast my ears with so much noise and extraneous sounds, they actually make my hearing worse. Especially in noisy environments.

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I was thinking a University might be a good option. Using frequency lowering to let you hear out to 8000 hz sounds too aggressive. Do you know what the highest frequency you hear without frequency lowering? I’d try for maybe hearing 1-2000 hz above that.

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How are open domes affected my frequency lowering ? Do You think closed domes help with word recognition. I’ll have to do my homework research on frequency lowering. My problem is - I like my HAs, Signia Pure 13, but since earlier this year I didn’t think I was hearing as well, so had my yearly hearing test. My Audi, said there was ‘hardly’ any change and didn’t require adjustments. I doke to my Audi yesterday and it kinda like pulling teeth to get her to recommend anything. For example I mentioned of closed domes would help me, she said well can try. They might’. I wish she was more pro active, as I don’t know the questions to ask to ensure My HA are as efficient as they can be for my hearing loss.
The down side is she’s 2 hours away :crazy_face:. I’m will to make the drive if she is willing to work with me for improvement. My Speech or Word Recognition Is 75 in both ears.

75% word recognition in both ears isn’t “bad.” Closed domes allow more gain to be given to the higher frequencies without generating feedback, so less “need” for frequency lowering. If you’re in open domes, I think trying at least vented domes would be a step in the right direction. Closed domes would be fine too if you tolerate them. My understanding is that the more closed fitting one can tolerate, the better.

Many (this edit made as I learned more about this profession) audiologists negotiate a contract with a specific manufacturer; or 2. In rare cases 3. Those are the brands they are trained in, those are the brands they have software for, and that is how they make their money . . . by commission on hearing aids sold. So no, they aren’t going to touch a hearing aid that is a brand they don’t sell. They aren’t trained in that brand and honestly, would you WANT someone untrained and lacking the software to make changes to a hearing aid?

If you are thinking you can buy a car and go to a local mechanic rather than a dealership, that works for cars but not for hearing aids. The local mechanic spent some money and bought a package for (just as an example) the Toyota Prius. (As a hybrid, it has many things a regular car doesn’t have which is why I selected that car make and model). If the local mechanic doesn’t have the package and hasn’t attended a continuing education class in the Prius, he is not going to take your appointment. Audiologists do not have the option of getting training, software and spec sheets for brands they are not contracted to sell.

I think the one way you will find work is first, you have to find an audiologist who sells the brand you have, and then you have to say you moved, make it well over 100 miles. (Do NOT say you bought them from ebay, or the VA). Then they will help you with programming, but you won’t get unlimited visits. So be prepared with specific things you need set or reset. And even then, they will need to run a test for you first so they know what to set the hearing aid to for your specific loss. Probably best not to take along the file folder you have with prior tests in it, as you do not want to share those. As it is, the new audiologist is going to see a big difference in how the hearing aids are programmed (if they are the ones you got on ebay) vs. what your hearing is. Say your hearing has changed over the years. The other thing is, a good audiologist is going to know right off how old the hearing aids are that you bring in. If you bought 3 year old aids from ebay, and have had them 2 years, well, you see the problem

You mentioned you found Un. Alabama, just ask in a phone call which brands the audiologist offers. That will tell you whether or not it is worth making an appt and driving in. For the reasons set out above.

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Your experience with audiologist is similar to mine, except Costco. They have been really great in my opinion.

If a person’s upper frequency hearing is bad enough that it’s difficult for hearing aids to apply enough gain, frequency lowering is great. This example is also a balance with open/closed domes versus gain.

Another example for frequency lowering is if the person can not hear in the upper frequencies. This has proven well with my hearing loss.

The sweet spot for frequency lowering in my case is much more aggressive than the hearing aid software recommended.

I made an appointment with the Audiologist at UAB. It is for November 22. I had to call the general UAB Hospital appointments number and be transferred. When I got to the person who makes appointments for her, she asked my name, why I wanted an appointment, and what kind of aids I have. When I told her “Phonak”, she said “excellent”, which sort of indicated to me that the Audiologist was familiar with Phonak. If this appointment doesn’t go as well as expected, I can just walk a few blocks to the VA clinic and be seen there. I don’t really know what they will say, or do, but at that point, I have nothing to lose. I do know they prefer Resound. I felt lucky when one Audiologist there said he would be happy to order the Marvels for me. The one who fitted the Marvels said they didn’t do much with Phonak, so…

I’m in the UK and yes my audiologist/dispenser is local, albeit he is part of a national “chain link” of independent audiologists.

Your vet audiologist sure sound like Phonak is not his cup of tea. Might be why you have not been fitted well or it sounds that way.

Good luck with the new audiologist.

Would you happen to be around a university that has an Audiology Department. They will work with you.

John_green, here is a suggestion for your uncomfortable concert experience: Get some custom molds made that will provide total occlusion. At the concert turn down the volume on the HAs until the sound seems comfortable. Also ask your audi to program a dedicated program for live music listening. Hope this helps.
Here is a link to a service that provides repair and programming for HAs:
Phone is 714-534-3277

I am using closed domes today. Put them on last night and they seem fine. I ‘think’ I might hear better, but too early to tell. Things do sound differently but we will see. Plan on making an appt. with my audi to do adjustment for these closed domes.

I have no idea what that means. You’re either independent or you’re part of a chain. Personally, I run an independent business, which means I’m free to choose between the best offerings of the manufacturers - anyone who doesn’t have the same level of autonomy (including those independents who run with big manufacturer debt) isn’t independent.


I don’t know if this is what poster meant or not, but I’m familiar with an audiologist that sells all one “brand” of hearing aids, but that brand includes all the major manufacturer’s models so he is capable of fitting any major brand of hearing aid.