Key Hearing Frequently Asked Questions
1) What exactly is your business? What do you sell?
Key hearing is a medical audiology clinic. Because of this we are equipped to offer services for comprehensive hearing testing, vertigo & dizziness assessment (videonystagmography aka VNG), custom hearing aids, and a variety of custom hearing protection and ear related products. Many people are unaware of what audiologists are. An audiologist is a medical professional who diagnoses, treats, and manages individuals with hearing loss or balance problems. Audiologists have received a master's or doctoral degree from an accredited university graduate program. We are both licensed and certified to provide audiologic services.
Audiologists study the intricate functions of the entire human ear, and the physics of sound and hearing. Audiologists' expertise of human hearing and balance exceeds that of other hearing professionals. Audiologists do not perform ear surgery or prescribe treatment for diseases of the ear.
More information on the differences between audiologists and hearing aid dispensers.
2) When did you start your business and why?
I have been practicing audiology since 1998, and Key Hearing opened its current location in Renton in January of 2007. I saw a need for a comprehensive independent audiology practice that would offer full services, not just hearing aids to the community. As a medical professional I can bill insurance and work closely with the surrounding medical community to provide a high level of service and care. Opening the clinic also allowed me to offers products such as the customized protection that were not commonly available. I strongly believe in taking preventive steps against noise-induced hearing losses. Most cases could have been prevented with the correct hearing protection.
3) What is your most popular item?
Currently our most popular item is iPod adapters. Many people’s ears do not accommodate the ear buds, my own included. The custom adapters allow the existing ear bud to snap in to a custom mold of your ear. Sound is then fed directly into your ear rather than against the wall of your ear canal. The result is usually better sound quality, better comfort and, the part that I care about, a reduction in volume (which means less chance of a noise-induced hearing loss).
4) What is the age and gender of your average customer?
This is a full-service clinic with a wide variety of services, so there’s a very wide spread in the ages of patients. As for genders, it’s almost 50-50. I have provided hearing test and hearing aid services for children as young as 2 and 3 years old and my oldest patient was 97.
5) What is your favorite product that your company sells?
Definitely custom musician plugs. I wear a pair myself. Most general earplugs or hearing protection cut out more of the high pitches than the low, giving unequal protection as well as that "muffled" effect most people dislike. The musician plugs provide flat attenuation so all pitches are reduced equally. The result is music and speech is not distorted by the plugs but comes through at a safer level. I personally use mine for much more than just music. They can be used for industrial purposes, to reduce road noise when traveling, and numerous other situations.
6) How long does a fitting take?
The initial appointment, which involves taking ear mold impressions usually takes about 15 minutes. It takes approximately 2 weeks for the device to be made and the follow-up appointment is another 15 minutes, depending on the type of device. I review care, cleaning, insertion of the device, and of course to verify the fit.
7) What sort of response do you get from customers?
The reception of the custom products has been very positive. The best treatment for hearing loss is prevention. I think the best feedback I received was from a 13 year old boy who commented that he turned his volume down to ¼ with the iPod adapters and that his iPod now sounded great.
8) What other types of custom products are available?
There are numerous products depending on a person’s activity and need. For example, custom swim plugs are excellent for children and adults who are prone to ear infections but want to engage in swimming and water activities. They are also very good for kids who needed ear tubes. I’ve had some patients who are on swim teams and need protection when practicing. This is fun as I can have the plugs made in the school colors if desired.
- Recreational firearm enthusiasts also have the option of un-amplified or amplified shooter’s plugs that provide low or no attenuation of sound when in quiet but respond to impulse noise such as a firearm discharge.
- Sleep plugs can be vital for those whose spouse or significant other snores or those who live in a high noise environment.
- Bluetooth and cell phone adapters are always beneficial for people with small ears such as myself.
9) Why is there a need for custom hearing protection?
There is a growing problem with noise pollution in our society. Improved technology has resulted in improved but also louder stereos and equipment. Heavier traffic creates a constant ambient level of sound that, while not always at the level to harm the ears, results in increase stress and all of the associated negative attributes. Protection now may result in prevention of hearing loss later. A noise induced hearing loss is one of the most preventable types of hearing loss, however, once it occurs there is no treatment for it other than hearing aids.