Located within Paradise Valley Hospital Outpatient Pavilion, South Bay Hearing Aid Center Inc. is a breath of fresh air. This office itself speaks of patient education and of help for those with hearing impairment. Amy M. Bryan, M.A., CCC-A, Audiologist and CEO of this South Bay business, prides herself on providing "excellent, affordable, family-oriented services and products" to our community. Testing can be provided in Spanish, English or Tagalog to best serve our patients. Bryan claims every person over the age of 55 should have their hearing tested annually. Persons particularly at risk for hearing loss are those individuals with history of noise exposure (such as military service) and those with any family history of hearing loss. Consultations to discuss use of hearing aids are free of charge. This allows the patient to ask questions regarding style, technology level, and price of hearing aids at no financial risk. Many insurance companies, including Medi-Cal, will provide hearing testing and hearing aids (if necessary) at no cost to the patient. Hearing loss is important to detect early as it can indicate other medical disorders requiring immediate treatment. In addition, the earlier a person is fitted with a hearing aid, the more successful the fitting. "You may have a hearing loss if you can hear that people are talking but cannot clearly understand all of the words," Bryan said. "Many times family members may notice your hearing loss before you notice it. If you have more trouble understanding conversation in large groups of people, this is an indication of hearing loss. "Hearing aids are not a sign of old age, quite the opposite. This is a proactive step my patients take to ensure they can communicate accurately with their children and grandchildren. One of my largest groups of new hearing aid users is adults in their 50s. Like getting glasses or taking prescription medication, hearing aids are essential for a healthy lifestyle." Hearing aids of today are much better than hearing aids of the past. Today's hearing aids adjust themselves to provide comfortable, clear speech sounds with less interference from background sounds than hearing aids of the past. Hearing aids fit comfortably and do not make squealing sounds when fit appropriately. "All our hearing aids come with a one-year warranty. All are provided with a 30-day money back trial period to ensure the wearer's satisfaction. We want our patients happy and we do all we can to ensure they are," Bryan said. Hearing aids come in a variety of sizes, some so tiny they are not visible from outside the ear. Testing and consultation will allow your audiologist to guide you into the best choice for your hearing loss and lifestyle. For more information call South Bay Hearing Aid Center Inc., 655 S. Euclid Ave., Suite 401, National City, (619) 474-7338 or visit www.hearsandiego.com.