Get Answers About Your Hearing
What no one tells you about hearing loss and hearing aids
Hearing loss usually develops gradually without discomfort or pain, making it hard to recognize. Family members usually notice it first, and people with hearing loss often find ways to compensate.
If you answered yes to some of these questions, you likely have some form of hearing loss and should call us to get your hearing tested.
A hearing aid is a small electronic device worn in or behind the ear. Hearing aids contain a microphone, an amplifier and a speaker. These components are used to detect sound, make portions of it louder and send the enhanced signal to the ear. The louder sound makes hearing easier and allows people with hearing loss to listen, communicate and participate more fully in daily activities.
Most types of hearing loss are classified as sensorineural hearing loss (where the nerve cells of hearing have become damaged due to disease), exposure to loud noise or aging. The bad news is that hearing loss of this kind cannot be naturally recovered, but the good news is that you can make better use of the hearing you still have with the right hearing aids.
Hearing aids send an amplified signal to your ear; your surviving hair cells then detect the signal and send the amplified sound to your brain. Your brain then perceives the sound as being louder–resulting in enhanced, effortless hearing.
The best way to see if hearing aids will help you is to talk to us and demo a pair for free.
- Audiologists are professionals with a master’s or doctorate degree in audiology, the study of hearing. They specialize in testing, evaluating and treating hearing loss and balance disorders, including the fitting of hearing aids.
- Hearing Instrument Specialists are trained in fitting and dispensing hearing aids. Hearing Instrument Specialists undergo extensive educational and clinical training and are often state-licensed and board-certified to test for hearing loss and fit hearing aids.
- Otolaryngologists are medical doctors that specialize in the diagnosis and treatment of ear, nose, throat, head and neck disorders. Otolaryngologists are also known as ENT doctors.
If you think you may have hearing loss, the first step is to schedule an appointment at our office to get your hearing tested. Our hearing professionals are trained to measure your hearing loss and provide expert recommendations for treatment.
There are many styles of hearing aids; some sit behind the ear while others fit completely inside the ear canal, making them nearly invisible. Today’s hearing aids also come equipped with a host of features that allow you to talk on the phone, stream music, and listen to conversations in noisy environments.
Talk to us. Our hearing experts can help you find the right one for your specific needs and lifestyle.
All hearing aids amplify sound, but the electronics used may be different. The older analog hearing aids amplify sound, converting the sound waves to signals that are passed on to the inner ear.
Digital hearing aids are like miniature computers, taking the sound waves and converting them into bits of information that the computer can manipulate and amplify.
These new digital hearing aids provide our hearing experts with more flexibility to custom tune the signals based on your own unique hearing loss. As a result, digital hearing aids can filter out background noise and enhance speech recognition in ways that analog models cannot.
Honestly, it depends. The right hearing aid will be selected based on the characteristics of your hearing loss, which can only be determined with an audiogram (hearing test) performed by a hearing care professional.
Once we have your hearing test results in hand, we’ll know how much amplification you’ll need and which features will be beneficial to you and which won’t. For example, you may need two hearing aids if you have hearing loss in both ears, you may need telecoils if you speak on the phone a lot, and you may want completely-in-the-canal hearing aids if appearance is a concern.
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Before you buy a hearing aid, ask your hearing specialist these important questions:
- What features would be most useful to me?
- What is the total cost of the hearing aid?
- Do the benefits of newer technologies outweigh the higher costs?
- Is there a trial period to test the hearing aids? (Manufacturers allow a 30- to 60-day trial period during which the hearing aids can be returned for a refund.)
- What fees are nonrefundable if the hearing aids are returned after the trial period?
- How long is the warranty?
- Can the warranty be extended?
- Does the warranty cover future maintenance and repairs?
- Can the hearing specialist make adjustments and provide servicing and minor repairs?
- Will loaner aids be provided when repairs are needed?
- What instruction does the hearing specialist provide?
If you have hearing loss in both ears, you should be wearing two hearing aids. Since you use both ears to locate the source of sound, restoring your hearing in only one ear will make it difficult for you to determine where sound is coming from. Sound could also be perceived as “flat” or “dull” with the use of only one hearing aid. Your audiogram from your hearing test will show you if you have hearing loss in one ear or in both ears.
The benefits of better hearing are worth the effort, but you need to understand that, like anything new, it’s going to take some time and patience to get used to them. On average, most hearing aid users feel comfortable in their new hearing aids within a couple of months.
You may experience some issues with discomfort, distracting background sounds, or the amplified sound of your own voice. This is normal, and problems can either be corrected by fine-tuning the hearing aids or just slowly adapting to the new sounds.
Proper maintenance and care will extend the life of your hearing aids. Make it a habit to:
- Keep hearing aids away from heat and moisture.
- Clean hearing aids as instructed. Earwax and ear drainage can damage a hearing aid.
- Avoid using hairspray or other hair care products while wearing hearing aids.
- Turn off hearing aids when they are not in use.
- Replace dead batteries immediately.
- Keep replacement batteries and small aids away from children and pets.
Just like other digital technology (computers, TVs, cell phones), hearing aids are becoming smaller, more powerful and more affordable. Today’s hearing aids are discreet (some are essentially invisible), filter out background noise, allow hands-free phone calls, stream music and sound directly to the hearing aids, enhance speech comprehension, interact with smart phones and much more.
Financial assistance is usually available in some form. Check with your insurance provider to see if they can offer any assistance. If not, financing is usually available through your hearing specialist, and you can also check to see what your insurance may cover.
The effectiveness of your hearing aids is dependent on how they’re programmed, which is, in turn, dependent on the unique characteristics of your hearing loss. Even if you know exactly which hearing aid you need, the key to making it work is in fitting and programming it, something only a trained hearing expert can do. Making a purchase without having your hearing tested is a big mistake and you’ll likely end up with a hearing aid that won’t work for you.
The smart move is to seek the help of a licensed audiologist or hearing instrument specialist. Our professionals are highly trained in testing hearing and fitting hearing aids.
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Doug W., Patient