Hearing Loss FAQs

How Do I Know I Have a Hearing Problem?

Many times, a person is unaware that he has a hearing problem. Quite often, his family and friends notice the hearing loss first. He may be turning the TV up louder or not responding to portions of conversations. The best way to determine if you have a hearing loss is to undergo a hearing evaluation by a licensed audiologist.

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Do All Hearing Losses Require the Use of Hearing Aids?

Not all types of hearing loss require the use of a hearing aid. Some problems can be repaired or restored by surgery or medicine. Our audiologists can determine which option is appropriate. If the hearing evaluation shows you may have a correctable problem, we'll refer you to a medical doctor who specializes in ears, nose and throat disorders. These physicians are called Otolaryngologists, or ENT doctors.

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Is the Free Hearing Test at the Mall or Drug Store the Same as the Test I Would Get at the Audiologist's Office?

Typically, the hearing evaluation you get at the mall or a drug store is not conducted by a licensed audiologist. Also, many times the testing is not held in a controlled environment, such as a sound-treated booth. It's more accurate to describe the store tests as screenings. They are not diagnostic tests. A diagnostic Audiology test includes more than just listening to tones. Click here to look at the components of a diagnostic test on this website.

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Will Wearing a Hearing Aid Make My Hearing Worse?

No. In fact, using amplification for your hearing problem as soon as you notice it will keep your listening skills sharper than if you waited until your hearing got worse. Also, all hearing aids have maximum output values to ensure that they don't get loud enough to cause damage.

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How Common is Hearing Loss?

Approximately one out of three individuals over age 65 has some degree of hearing loss.

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How Does Hearing Loss Affect Individuals?

While each person's struggle with hearing loss is unique, most people experience a common reaction to the problem. In addition to denial and a sense of frustration, many people feel isolated from their surroundings, friends and family. They may also complain of feeling insecure or appearing incompetent.

Our experienced Audiologists understand the physical results of hearing loss, as well as the emotional and psychological effects. With proper diagnosis and individualized care, we can alleviate some, if not all of these problems for most of our patients.

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What Should I Do If a Loved One or I Have a Hearing Loss?

The first step should be a professional hearing examination performed by an audiologist. This will determine the level and type of the hearing loss. Then, proper treatment with either hearing aids or a referral for medical attention will be recommended.

With today’s modern technology, many hearing losses can be corrected successfully with hearing aids. Unfortunately, only one-fourth of those people who could benefit from hearing aids actually seek help.

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How Do Hearing Aids Work?

Hearing aids fill the gap created by a hearing loss by receiving and amplifying sound. While there are many types of hearing aid technology, the four basic components common to each are:

  • A microphone, which receives sound and translates it into electrical impulses.
  • An amplifier, which makes those electrical impulses stronger.
  • A receiver, which translates those now-stronger impulses into louder sounds.
  • A battery, which serves as a power source for the whole system.

Hearing aids vary widely in their styles, sizes, and levels of circuit technology. Your audiologist will help you to choose the hearing aid that's right for your hearing loss and lifestyle.

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What Sorts of Changes or Adaptations Are Necessary to Use Hearing Aids?

First, you need to understand that it's not possible for hearing aids to completely restore your hearing to "normal." What hearing aids can do is enhance sound, which allows you to hear better.

Since hearing loss is gradual, over the years you may have become unaccustomed to normal environmental sounds, such as traffic noise, the hum of a refrigerator or background conversation. So, when you begin to wear a hearing aid, it may be necessary to re-train your brain to practice selective listening. In other words, you'll need to re-learn to hear only those sounds you wish to hear while ignoring the rest.

It's important that you wear your hearing aids as much as possible. This is the best way for you to get used to them and the way they work. This also helps you become more skilled at recognizing sound direction and using visual clues in those environments where it's difficult to hear.

Patience is the key. Your friends and family can be very helpful during this learning process. Encourage them to speak to you in a normal voice without over-enunciating or over-emphasizing their lip movements.

If, for some reason, you continue to find the adjustment difficult, talk with us. Our audiologists will be happy to answer any questions you may have and work to help you solve any of your hearing-related problems.

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Why Are Hearing Aids So Expensive?

One answer is that they really are not expensive, especially when compared to other types of medical and health-related devices. The price of a hearing aid - adjusted to current dollars - is lower than it was 20 years ago, and the quality and performance levels are much higher.

Hearing aids may seem costly because, generally, you have to pay for the device up front, but the per-hour cost of wearing hearing aids, including the cost of the battery, is about the same as the cost of having cable television, and much less than talking on the telephone.

Unlike computers, the worldwide market for hearing aids is very small, yet the amount of money that manufacturers spend on research and development is substantial. The investment they make is reflected in the purchase price.

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Why Is There Such a Big Price Difference in Hearing Aids from Brand to Brand?

As with many other categories of products, there are quality and performance differences between hearing aids. The problem is that you cannot see these differences just by looking at a hearing instrument.

Some of the better companies invest substantial resources to conduct scientific research in order to make hearing aids that better address the complexities of hearing impairment in the real world. This research increases the cost, but also improves the product. Other companies use off-the-shelf technologies or designs that are ready-made, so they cost less to produce.

Your audiologist is trained to help you find the hearing aid that best meets your needs and your budget.

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Do I Need Hearing Aids for Both Ears?

In most cases the answer is a resounding YES! If you have hearing loss in both ears (and most people with hearing loss do), wearing a hearing aid in each ear is very important. Two will help you hear better, and will help you with background noise. A pair of hearing aids also will help you locate where sounds are coming from more effectively.

There are also scientific reasons you should amplify both ears if you have hearing loss in both ears. For more details, talk with your audiologist.

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Most People I Know Say That Their Hearing Aids Don’t Work or Are Noisy. Why Is This?

There are many reasons people feel they don't benefit from using their hearing aids.

It may have to do with the type or quality of the hearing aid they're using. It may be because their hearing aids weren't properly fitted.

A person who does not wear their hearing aids consistently may not readily adapt to them and, therefore, may perceive that they provide no benefit. It takes time for the brain to learn how to process the sound from a hearing aid, especially in noisy environments.

Also, some types of hearing losses respond better to amplification than others. Today's hearing aids have components that help users hear voices better among background noise.

Keep this in mind: it's a noisy world, and even those with normal hearing sometimes have trouble with background noise.

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