FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

Frequently Asked
Questions about
HEARING CARE

 

Evaluating Your Hearing

Hearing Loss in Adults

Hearing Loss in Children

Testing Hearing in
Babies and Children


Balance Assessment


Hearing Aids

Choosing Hearing Aids

Hearing With Two Ears



Glossary

 

Hearing aids may not provide the same benefit to all users and may not be appropriate for everyone with hearing loss. Your success with hearing aids depends on a competent examination, proper fitting and your ability to adapt to using hearing instruments.

FAQ's ...
questions that may be on your mind.

Won't I be the first to know I have a hearing loss?

Hearing loss often occurs so gradually that the change in hearing sensitivity is imperceptible. Family members, friends, and colleagues may notice that communication is being impeded before the person is aware of his decreased hearing. Consider these questions:

   1. Do women's and children's voices "disappear"?
   2. Is conversation in restaurants or stores difficult?
   3. Do people mumble more than they used to?
   4. Do you need repetition in conversation?
   5. Do you prefer the TV louder than others in the room?

If you have any concerns, schedule an audiological evaluation. It's easy, comfortable, and will provide answers to your questions about your current hearing.


If I want to look into my hearing health, where should I begin?

A visit to an audiologist for a complete audiological evaluation is a great start. An audiologist is trained in the measurement, diagnosis and rehabilitation of hearing loss. The audiologist will offer advice on whether hearing aids are appropriate for you. Today's new hearing aid technology is greatly improved, and most people with hearing loss can be helped with properly selected and fitted hearing aids. The audiologist will also be alert to conditions that may require medical attention, and will make appropriate referrals when indicated. About 95% of adults with hearing loss have "sensorineural" hearing loss related the "wear and tear" changes in the inner ear structures which does not require medical intervention. Call your nearest Audionics office to make an appointment for a hearing evaluation and consultation.

What can I do to protect my ears and hearing?

Avoid excessively loud sounds whether work or socially related. Check with your employer regarding any existing safety recommendations for ear protection in the workplace. Be sure to turn down the sound - don't self induce hearing loss with exposure to very loud music. This is especially true with personally worn devices such as I-Pods, as the sound pressure levels within the ear canal may be high. Wear ear protection during recreational activities that involve high levels of sound.

Avoid improper use of Q-Tips - inserting Q-Tips into the ear canal may exacerbate an existing wax problem by compacting wax deep in the canal. If you produce a great deal of wax, see your physician to remove it professionally or advise you on safe methods of management. Do not insert foreign objects in attempts to clear the ear canal. This may damage the lining of the ear canal, or puncture the ear drum.

Some medications are "ototoxic" which means that they may potentially harm your hearing or balance mechanisms. Ask your physician if the medications you take are safe for your ears.

What are hearing protection devices?

As hearing healthcare providers we are very aware of the need for ear protection in a variety of situations. Our ear mold manufacturers are expert in meeting this need. Here are some special applications:

Musicians' ear protectors: These ear protectors provide uniform reduction of sound level with sacrificing clarity or sound quality. Attenuation of 9, 15, or 25dB is available.

Industrial noise protectors: Custom ear protectors are designed according to the person's individual needs, such as type of noise exposure, need to hear conversation or other sounds, etc.

Swim molds: These are useful for children or adults with myringotomy tubes or tympanic membrane perforations when it is deemed important to keep the ears dry.

What are the benefits of digital hearing technology over the older analog technology?

Digital hearing technology uses digital signal processing (DSP) to manipulate sounds. In analog hearing technology sounds are simply amplified in prescribed ways. But sounds that are processed digitally can be more finely tuned to the individual's hearing loss. This allows for better, cleaner sound quality. Digital processing interacts with the environment, determining whether a sound is speech or noise, or loud or soft, in front or in back, etc. Depending on the analysis of the sounds, decisions are made as to how these various sounds are processed - the goal being to preserve speech understanding even in noise, at the same time keeping the listener comfortable.

What is "feedback" and how do digital hearing aids deal with it?

Feedback is the annoying whistling sound that you may hear when you cup your hand around a hearing aid, or when the hearing aid is not seated securely in the ear. Feedback happens when the sound amplified by the hearing aid returns to the microphone and is continually reamplified. Digital hearing aids are designed to minimize this problem. For example, in one of the more sophisticated hearing aids, a "multi-directional active feedback cancellation" system monitors the sounds that go in and come out of the hearing aid to check for feedback. If feedback is identified the hearing aid will work to cancel the whistle automatically. This not only reduces the annoying feedback, but it allows the wearer to continue to receive adequate amplification - that is, the sound does not need to be reduced in order to eliminate the feedback.

What should new hearing aid users realistically expect?

When starting to adjust to hearing aids, it is important to be realistic and patient. Hearing aids do to claim to restore normal hearing and may not allow you to hear perfectly in every situation. Environmental sounds such as birds, footsteps, turning the pages of the newspaper, and your own voice may take some getting used to, as you have become accustomed to hearing through your hearing loss. It may take a while to adjust to your new hearing aids and reach your full potential. But the good news is that your brain is flexible and adaptable, and with a little time and patience you will adjust. It is also important that you work with your audiologist so that together the hearing aids are fine tuned to enhance your comfort and meet your specific hearing and personal needs.

I have tinnitus. Will hearing aids be a problem or a help?

Tinnitus is a real condition that may affect quality of life. It is a "phantom auditory perception" when no external sound is present. It may be perceived as ringing, humming, hissing, static, steam, or crickets. Some people with tinnitus also have hearing loss, and others do not. Tinnitus often is most noticeable when it is very quiet, such as going to bed at night. Hearing aids enrich the sound environment by amplifying soft sounds that are not heard by the hearing impaired person. Therefore, a secondary benefit to people with hearing loss who use hearing aids may be relief from tinnitus symptoms while the hearing aids are worn, and sometimes for a while afterwards too.

Can you help with my tinnitus if I don't have a hearing loss?

Yes. Although there is no "quick fix" to eliminate tinnitus, you can do something about it so that it's no longer a problem for you. One approach is called Tinnitus Retraining Therapy (TRT). It is based on training the brain to do what it does naturally - ignore sounds it does not need. Just as we routinely keep many sounds (refrigerator, computer) on a subconscious level, TRT teaches the brain to ignore (habituate) to the phantom sounds of tinnitus. There are two parts to TRT: Directive Counseling, which is the education that allows the patient to understand tinnitus, and decouple is from its negative emotional response, and Sound Therapy, which provides a soft, neutral sound, and helps the brain to "lose" the tinnitus within this sound. The first step in determining the best way to help with your tinnitus is to have a complete audiological evaluation.

How can FM systems help hearing aids perform even better?

Sometimes even with the most sophisticated hearing aids it may be difficult to understand speech in challenging acoustic situations. Patients who experience difficulty understanding speech in noisy situations or at a distance, and wish to achieve even greater benefit than they get from their hearing aids alone, may find personal FM systems useful.

In the simplest FM system the speaker's voice is picked up by a microphone in a transmitter and sent to a receiver worn by the user which relays the signal wirelessly to the hearing aid. It is as if the listener is close to the source of the sound! This type of system utilizes the "T" (telecoil) setting on the hearing instrument.

Other systems are available for active people who want to benefit from more complex technology including Bluetooth for mobile phone access, choice of microphone settings to select the focus of reception, etc. These systems may use tiny receivers that input the signal directly to the hearing aid. As always, we do our best to match your needs to the ever-changing tools that are available.

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