Ask the Experts: Seniors & Aging

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Potomac Audiology

Gail Linn, AuD, CCC-A


11300 Rockville Pike, Suite 105 Rockville, MD 20852
187 Thomas Johnson Drive, Suite 3 Frederick MD 21702


Phone: 240-477-1010


Q: Is there a style of hearing aid you like better than others? Why?

A: I prefer receiver-in-the-ear hearing aids, where most of the electronics are behind the ear, and a thin wire leads from the hearing aid to a small receiver inside the ear. Aside from comfort and cosmetic appeal, it is virtually invisible, this style of hearing aid is very flexible, with an interchangeable receiver that allows the same device to correct mild to profound hearing loss. Additionally, wireless antennas make these hearing aids capable of pairing with cell phones and other electronic devices.

Q: Do you recommend over-the-counter hearing aids?

A: Over-the-counter hearing devices can help with mild hearing loss, but anyone with moderate to severe hearing loss will find them inadequate. We purchased a few sets, measured them in patients’ ears to see how they work, and found they correct hearing loss about 30-35 percent. Over-the-counter hearing aids tend to fall short of the prescriptive target by 40-50 percent in the low- and mid-frequencies, getting closest to target at the beginning of the high frequencies, about 3,000-4,000 Hz, and then dropping off in the ultra-high frequencies about 50 percent. The acoustics in each person’s ear are different; therefore, experiences will vary. But I would not recommend over-the-counter hearing aids for anyone with more than mild hearing loss.

Q: What are Real-Ear Measurements? Why are they so important to your practice?

A: The gold standard of hearing aid fitting, this method allows us to measure what the device is delivering to the eardrum, taking into account the acoustic properties of the ear canal. Without it, we cannot determine whether a hearing aid is providing amplification across the frequencies to correct the hearing loss.

Dr. LinnĀ earned her Doctor of Audiology from Salus University. She has a certificate of clinical competence in Audiology (CCC -A) from the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA), where she served as Director of Private Practice and Industry. She is a Board Member and former Treasurer of the Maryland Academy of Audiology.

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