Q&A Topics: The Time Consider Hearing Aids and More

with Dr. Neil Hockstein, MD, of ENT & Allergy of Delaware

Q: I know I have hearing loss. At what point should I consider a hearing aid?A: Our hearing is directly linked to our ability to communicate, and our ability to communicate is directly linked to our quality of life. Unfortunately, as we age, we tend to lose our ability to hear certain sounds, and the sounds that we do hear often lose their distinctness and clarity. The average person waits anywhere from seven to 10 years or more before seeking help for a hearing issue. More often, family members or loved ones notice that you’re not hearing well long before you notice it yourself. This is because you don’t know what you’re not hearing.

Once you’ve come to the realization that you do indeed have a hearing issue, the sooner you address it, the better the results will be. Research has shown not only the potential for decreased speech processing due to lack of neural stimulation, but it has also discovered a link between early onset dementia and even mild degrees of hearing loss. If that weren’t enough, more recent studies have found the potential for atrophy of the auditory portions of the brain due to lack of stimulation; in other words, “brain shrinkage.”

Hearing loss is a medical condition. It can have a significant impact on our quality of life due to its effect on our ability to communicate. Those who seek help as soon as a hearing issue is detected report significant improvements in their communication abilities. Think about what you could gain by seeking help: closer family relationships, power, excitement, success, self-confidence, joy, happiness, and a better quality of life.
Q: What should I expect during a consultation with an Audiologist?A: An audiological consultation is designed to provide you with as much information as possible to help you to make an educated decision about your hearing needs. The visit begins with a comprehensive hearing test. Based on the results, if hearing aids are recommended, then this appointment will help you find the best solution. The Audiologist will spend time learning about you, your specific needs, and your individual hearing goals. This information helps the Audiologist to determine the most appropriate type of hearing instruments that will work best for you.

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There is a special relationship between you and your Audiologist. At ENT & Allergy of Delaware, your goals are our goals. We make it our priority to offer you the most appropriate options. We work with you to find the best solutions for you, for your lifestyle, and for your budget.
Q: If over-the-counter sinus medication is not working, what should I do next?A: Sinusitis is a common problem affecting nearly 30 million Americans each year. You can begin treatment by using over-the-counter medicines such as decongestants, analgesics, and mucolytics, which thin the mucus. If symptoms persist for more than 10 days, or if symptoms increase after five days, you should see a doctor. Often, physicians will order diagnostic testing to confirm the diagnosis of sinusitis, or prescribe antibiotics or other medication to treat underlying medical and allergic triggers. When symptoms of sinusitis persist despite antibiotic therapy or initial allergy treatment, or if symptoms recur, a visit to an Ear, Nose, and Throat Specialist is recommended.
Q: What can I expect from sinus surgery?A: When a patient has symptoms consistent with recurrent sinusitis, physicians will usually recommend a CT scan first. These days, CT scans are safe and simple tests that can be done sitting up, don’t expose patients to the same amount of radiation, and don’t involve an injection of IV dye. If the CT scan shows what is consistent with chronic sinusitis, or factors that may predispose a patient to sinusitis, your Ear, Nose, and Throat Surgeon may recommend endoscopic sinus surgery.

Sinus surgery is typically performed as an outpatient procedure. Patients may experience some discomfort following the procedure, but changes in technology over the last several years have resulted in faster recovery and better results. Many patient worry about nasal packing and have heard horror stories about packing removal, but the truth is that very few patients actually require nasal packing. After sinus surgery, most patients return to normal activity quickly, with better nasal breathing, fewer infections, and improved quality of life.
Q: I have nodules on my thyroid. What are my treatment options?A: Thyroid nodules are very common. Approximately two to six percent of patients will have a nodule that can be detected just by examining the neck. If a thyroid nodule is suspected but can’t be detected through physical examination, an ultrasound can be performed. With ultrasound, small nodules can be detected and as many as 35 percent of all Americans will be found to have a thyroid nodule on ultrasound. Most thyroid nodules are benign and do not require any treatment. Nodules also rarely have an effect on thyroid hormone production, even in patients who have multiple nodules or large nodules.

If a thyroid nodule is detected, a biopsy may be recommended. Recent advances in medical technology allow for very accurate diagnosis of thyroid nodules based on tiny samples taken from a needle biopsy. These new molecular tests are decreasing the need for surgical removal of part or all of the thyroid. Thyroid surgery is recommended when thyroid nodules demonstrate features that cause concern for malignancy, when thyroid nodules are growing rapidly, or when there are symptoms of compression related to the size and location of the thyroid nodules.

If thyroid surgery is warranted, make sure your surgeon routinely performs surgery in the neck and on the thyroid, as we know that increased experience with surgery results in better outcomes.
Neil Hockstein, MD, is a board-certified Otolaryngologist – Head and Neck Surgeon. Dr. Hockstein cares for patients with diseases of the Ears, Nose, and Throat, with particular focus on treatment of nasal and sinus problems, and surgery on the head and neck, including: thyroid surgery, salivary gland surgery, and head and neck cancer. Dr. Hockstein received his undergraduate degree from the Johns Hopkins University. He graduated with honors from Jefferson Medical College and was elected to the Alpha Omega Alpha medical honor society and the Hobart Amory Hare honor medical society. He completed his residency at the University of Pennsylvania, where he served as Chief Resident. He was awarded the residency research prize and the Philadelphia College of Physicians Research Prize. Dr. Hockstein returned to his home town of Wilmington in 2005 to practice with his current partners at ENT and Allergy of Delaware.

Dr. Hockstein is an attending physician and surgeon at Christiana Care and is a lead surgeon of the Head and Neck Cancer Multidisciplinary Team at the Helen F. Graham Cancer Center. He has published more than 25 articles in peer-reviewed medical journals and numerous book chapters, and has lectured across the country and throughout Delaware on the treatment of sinus disease and head and neck cancer. He specializes in minimally invasive surgical procedures and has extensive experience with endoscopic sinus surgery, endoscopic skull base surgery, and transoral robotic surgery. He provides the highest standard of medical care to all of his patients in an informative, compassionate and professional manner.

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In addition to caring for surgical patients, Dr. Hockstein’s practice at ENT and Allergy of Delaware also treats allergies and hearing loss. Comprehensive audiologic services are available including hearing testing and hearing aid services. Allergy skin testing and allergy desensitization with either subcutaneous immunotherapy (allergy shots) or sublingual immunotherapy (drops under the tongue) are also available.

Dr. Hockstein is an avid runner and triathlete. He lives in Wilmington with his wife, Carolyn, and his two children, Leia and Aaron.

Dr. Hockstein sees patients in ENT & Allergy of Delaware offices at the Limestone Medical Center and Foulkstone Plaza, and at the Helen F. Graham Cancer Center.
ENT & Allergy of Delaware
1941 Limestone Road, Suite 210
Wilmington, DE 19808
1401 Foulk Road, Suite 205
Wilmington, DE 19803

Neil Hockstein, MD, of ENT & Allergy of Delaware

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