Find answers to frequently asked questions about hearing aids and hearing loss. Simply click on any of the frequently asked questions below to reveal the answer. Have more questions? Contact Audiology Associates.
A hearing test is simple and painless. It takes most people years, often as much as 5-7, to notice the gradual onset of hearing loss, so if you are starting to have problems hearing certain voices, if you find yourself asking people to repeat themselves, if others seem to mumble, or if you need to turn the TV volume up to a level uncomfortable for others to enjoy – these are signs that it’s time to obtain a hearing evaluation. Hearing loss is not something to hide or ignore. In fact, untreated hearing loss is more visible to others than hearing aids. Hearing loss can negatively affect one’s emotional and social well-being too and cause depression, isolation from others, breakdown of relationships, insecurity and an overall sense of helplessness. If you think that you might have a hearing loss, take our 5 minute quiz.
Hearing loss is not only a difficulty with hearing sound but its problem understanding speech. Understanding words and sentences is a function of your brain which relies on receiving sound signals unaltered. Your ears collect sound, transform it into nerve impulses and send it to the brain where understanding occurs. Most sensorineural hearing loss occurs in the inner ear where high-pitched sounds that are critical to the meaning to many of our words are located. If you do not understand speech easily, then you could have a hearing loss that creates this understanding problem. Today’s advanced hearing aids are engineered to the most sophisticated audiological specifications so that they help you reclaim a lost sensitivity to many of these higher pitched sounds with the goal to improve your ability to understand speech both in quiet and noise.
While hearing loss is common as we age, there are many factors that can contribute to hearing loss. 1) Excessive Noise Exposure (prolonged loud music, gun shots, loud machinery) 2) Infections 3) Head Injury 4) Genetics or Birth Defects 5) Drug or Treatment Reaction (antibiotics, chemotherapy, radiation).
Conductive hearing loss is caused by a condition or disease that blocks or impedes the movement of sound waves throughout the outer or middle ear. The result is a reduction in loudness or clarity of sound that reaches the inner ear. The treatment for conductive loss can vary and may include surgical intervention depending on the cause.
Sensorineural hearing loss results from auditory nerve dysfunction within the inner ear. It is typically irreversible and permanent. It affects the intensity (or loudness) of sound, but more often results in a lack of clarity of sounds, particularly speech. The treatment for sensorineural hearing loss is prescriptive sound amplification through advanced digital hearing aid technology.
Most always hearing loss is categorized as either conductive or sensorineural. Most hearing loss is sensorineural and commonly referred to as “nerve loss.” A combination of the two types is called a “mixed hearing loss.” Unilateral hearing loss affects one ear; bilateral hearing loss affects both ears. Treatment options vary for the different types of hearing loss. Sensorineural hearing loss cannot be corrected by surgery or medication, but may be treated using advanced hearing aid technology.
With advanced digital technology we are able to adjust your prescription as needed over time. Every 4-5 years, you may need to upgrade your hearing device as technology improves and your listening needs change.
Many years ago hearing instruments were bulky and uncomfortable to wear. Today’s advanced digital technology is significantly smaller allowing for a more discrete and comfortable option. Award-winning designs have proven to be aesthetically appealing, naturally comfortable and virtually unnoticeable. We also now have the capability to dye the receiver tube to your skin color.
Most physicians are experts to the extent of their specialty and may not be up-to-date on the advances in hearing loss treatments. It’s smart to rely on the expertise of an Audiologist. Breakthrough technological advances in the design and performance of hearing aids have given many people the opportunity to enjoy the benefits of amplification. You should have a thorough evaluation of your hearing and discuss your options for improvement in your everyday hearing ability.
Much of the noise in our surroundings is low-toned and tends to compete with weaker, high-pitched sounds that give speech meaning. The digital advancements, directional microphone arrays, as well as hearing aids communicating with one another allow for selective reduction of frequencies where background noise is present without negatively affecting the speech frequencies. The more advanced the devices the more more they will adapt to the background noise allowing for better hearing in difficult situations. Advanced hearing aids can also automatically adjust the scope of what we hear, removing competitive sounds that challenge our understanding. Although noise is not eliminated completely, it’s reduced significantly.
Generally two-ear or binaural hearing devices are recommended if you have a hearing loss in both ears, the benefit is simply superior to that of a single instrument. Even in instances where hearing loss between the ears differ, two hearing aids can provide balanced hearing and better localization of sound that may help preserve speech activity in both ears. Almost always performance is better in background noise and difficult listening situations with hearing aids in both ears. Additionally distance hearing requires both ears, so you will hear much better from distances when we both ears are using hearing devices. While you can get by with a single device you will still have much difficulty on the side that is not amplified. Our audiologists will make appropriate recommendations based upon the results from your hearing evaluation.
Yes – hearing loss should be managed over time throughout your life, similar to vision care and dental care. Hearing aids require a period of re-training your hearing. Follow-up visits are always part of your treatment plan. This is part of the costs of the devices. If a provider of hearing care does not provide follow up visits or it is difficult to be seen for your follow up visits, then reconsider where you purchase your hearing devices. If the cost is very inexpensive, there is probably a reason. Periodic adjustments may be required to optimize performance as characteristics of your hearing impairment will change over time. These adjustments are necessary to accommodate the modifications in the hearing loss as well as your lifestyle. Your hearing aids should also fit comfortably and not cause pain or discomfort. If you experience changes in your ability to hear or problems with fit, call to schedule an appointment for a follow up visit.
Digital hearing aids convert sound waves into numerical codes, similar to the code of a computer, before amplifying them. The code also includes information about a sound’s pitch or loudness, allowing the aid to be custom-programmed to amplify certain sound frequencies more than others. Digital circuitry allows more flexibility in adjusting the aid to a user’s unique hearing loss and to certain listening environments. The digital chips within the devices also allow for automatic volume control, less feedback (squealing), and other high performance capabilities that were impossible in previous generations of devices. Digital hearing aids were first introduced in 1996 and we have had one sometimes two generations of these instruments each year since. The products are getting to be quite beneficial as each new generation is introduced.
The following tips will extend the life of your hearing aid: 1) Clean hearing aids as instructed. Ear drainage and wax buildup can damage your hearing aid. 2) Avoid spraying hairspray and other hair products while wearing your hearing aids. 3) Power off hearing aids when not in use, this will also extend battery life. 4) Keep your hearing aids away from moisture and heat. 5) Replace dead batteries immediately. 6) Store your hearing aids and replacement batteries in a secure location: away from pets and small children.
We offer several convenient payment options, including interest-free financing for up to 12 months. Our audiologists will review costs and discuss the best options available for you.
Frequently, insurance plans cover testing fees; select plans provide coverage of some or all of the cost of hearing aids, if needed. In general, insurance for hearing instruments is rather new. Almost no insurances had a hearing aid benefit prior to 8-10 years ago. Additionally these programs very greatly, some offer a discount, some offer a meager amount and some pay for the highest level hearing instruments without question. Simply depends upon your insurance and the plan that you have chosen. Check with our office about your particular insurance program, we may know it very well or it could be a new one to us, but we will do all we can to assist you in being reimbursed. If you do have insurance, our general policy is that we do not order hearing devices until the patient is approved by the insurance company unless the persons pays us and then gets reimbursed by the insurance.
Hearing aids are feature-packaged and priced according to performance capabilities. As with most technology, the devices that do more, cost more. The audiologist during your consultation will match the right technology to your lifestyle, listening needs and budget. Generally, those with a limited lifestyle require less costly hearing devices as their needs are not as great as those that are still active. Patients that are still working, or active retired going on cruises, tour buses, and without many limitations to the lifestyle should obtain as much technology as they can afford as they will benefit from the extra features and benefits of the higher cost devices.
Hearing aids come in many sizes and styles and are feature-packaged according to performance capabilities. Your individual hearing loss, lifestyle, listening environments, options needed, cosmetic concerns, manual dexterity and budget factor into finding the best individual solution. This is part of your complimentary consultation, your audiologist will present the options to you and justify why you need certain levels of technology.