Frequently Asked Questions about hearing loss and modern digital hearing aids
What are the different kinds of hearing loss?
There are three types of hearing loss: Conductive, Sensorineural, and Mixed Hearing Loss.
- Conductive Hearing Loss: Conductive hearing loss results from a problem with the conduction of sound from the outer ear (part that you see) to the inner ear (where the nerve is located). This can result from wax buildup, ear infections, trauma to the ear, or any other problem with the eardrum or bones that conduct sound through the middle ear. Those with this type of loss have a problem with volume rather than understanding ability.
- Sensorineural Hearing Loss: Sensorineural hearing loss involves some sort of deterioration of the inner ear or the hearing nerve. The aging process, noise-exposure, some cancer treatments, illness, and other degenerative processes could cause this loss. This type of hearing loss sometimes impairs understanding ability and causes those with the loss to be sensitive to loud sounds.
- Mixed Hearing Loss: Mixed hearing losses contain some conductive elements and some sensorineural elements.
Does earwax cause hearing loss?
Yes, but only sometimes. Common earwax, also known as “cerumen”, is an fatty, oily substance which protects your ear canal. Many people are concerned that they produce too much earwax, but there is usually no cause for concern. While it's possible for earwax to build up and partially or completely obstruct the ear canal it can be removed. Potentially this could result in a mild to moderate Conductive Hearing Loss. When the wax is removed, the hearing is restored.
Can I afford a quality hearing Aid?
Yes you can afford to hear better! Like everything else, hearing aids come in a variety of models and styles. Prices vary based on the hearing aid model and style selected but also upon the degree of your hearing loss, and options chosen to customize your hearing aid.
Absolute Hearing Solutions accepts MasterCard, Visa, Discover and American Express.
What type of warranty comes with a hearing instrument?
The warranty available on a hearing aid can vary depending upon the instrument’s manufacturer. Most hearing instruments come with a 1-year warranty that covers any repairs that might be necessary. Sometimes the manufacturer’s 1-year warranty also covers loss & damage with a deductible.
How often should I go in for an office visit?
Hearing professionals recommend that you have your hearing evaluated once a year. You should always report a change in hearing to your hearing healthcare professional and your doctor.
Your hearing aids should be cleaned and checked 3-4 times a year.
Does Medicare or insurance pay for hearing aids?
Medicare does not cover hearing aids. Some insurance plans will assist with the cost of hearing aids. Most insurance companies will not cover advanced technology hearing aids like digital instruments. Contact your insurance company to see if they provide you with hearing aid benefits.
How long is the entire process from evaluation to hearing aid delivery?
A hearing evaluation takes about 45 minutes. If it is determined that you need hearing instruments, it may take a bit more time so that you and your hearing professional can decide which instruments are best for you.
Once your hearing instruments have been ordered—the order is usually placed at the end of your first appointment—you can expect to receive your new hearing instruments in approximately 2-3 weeks.
What are some symptoms of hearing loss?
- You often miss certain words or find yourself confusing words or misunderstanding conversations.
- You frequently ask the speaker to repeat what was said.
- Your family members or friends have expressed concern about your hearing.
- You avoid certain social situations (for example the theater, restaurants, parties) because it is difficult to hear.
- You have a history of work-related exposure.
- You have difficulty understanding telephone conversations.
- You turn up the radio or television to volume levels that are too loud for others.
- You have difficulty following conversations in groups or in the presence of background noise.
- You have difficulty hearing outdoor sounds such as birds or the wind.
What symptoms indicate the need for a medical evaluation?
- Pain or ache in the ear
- Bleeding/draining from your ears
- Head trauma
- Sudden hearing loss
- Problems with your balance or dizziness
- Fluctuating hearing loss
- Ringing in ears
- Feeling of fullness or pressure in ears
What is the ringing sound in my head/ears?
The ringing sensation that you hear in your head or individual ears is called tinnitus. This ringing is usually an indication of some damage to your auditory system (especially noise damage). It can be constant or periodic and on one specific side or in the middle of your head. There is no magic cure for tinnitus, but there are methods that can help you live with it. Sometimes hearing aids help by bringing more sound to the brain, thus distracting attention from the ringing. If you have ringing consistently on one side, you should ask your doctor about it.
What are some causes of hearing loss?
- Noise exposure (military, hunting, music, industrial, racing, power saws, lawn mowers)
- Certain chemotherapy and radiation treatments
- Certain heavy-duty antibiotics
- Head trauma
- Certain medical conditions
- Ear infections
- Viral infections
What are the classifications of hearing loss?
Hearing loss is classified by several factors: Degree of Loss, Understanding Ability, Location of Loss Along the Speech Frequencies, and Type of Loss.
Degree of Loss: Degree refers to the amount/severity of the hearing loss. Hearing loss is ranked mild (slight difficulty hearing in daily environment), moderate (difficult to hear most sounds in your daily environment), severe (extremely difficult to hear all sounds in daily life) or profound (deaf).
Understanding Ability: Hearing and understanding are different. You may be able to hear sounds but not understand what is being said. Sometimes understanding ability is impaired as a result of a hearing loss. This is usually measured by a percentage of your understanding random words.
Location of Loss Along Speech Frequencies: Usually hearing loss does not affect all speech frequencies the same. For example, loud sounds damage hearing ability in the high frequencies. This creates a problem with hearing sounds that are high in pitch (i.e.. female or children's voices, birds, consonant sounds like "s" and "t"). Some other hearing losses, from head trauma or ear infections, can affect the low pitches (i.e.. male voices, loudness, vowel sounds).
Why do I only have difficulty hearing in crowds?
If you have difficulty hearing in crowds, you could have a high-frequency hearing loss. With this type of loss, you can hear well in one-on-one situations and even in small groups. However when you are around distracting speech/noise, you can hear the noise louder than the speech. This is because your normal low-frequency hearing picks up the low-pitched noise at a normal-hearing level. At the same time, you miss some of the high-frequency speech sounds, where your hearing loss is located, that bring clarity. This hearing loss is not as noticeable when speaking with someone without any competing noise.
Why do I have difficulty hearing female voices when I can hear male voices easily?
You may have a high-frequency hearing loss. Female voices, children's voices, and even a majority of speech understanding lies in the high frequencies. If you have a high-frequency hearing loss you probably have a hard time hearing things, such as your wife's voice. You may hear the low frequency sounds normally but miss the high frequency sounds.
What if I have difficulty understanding but not a problem hearing?
Hearing and understanding are two different things. It is possible to hear something and not understand. This may be due to a high-frequency hearing loss. Most consonant sounds are high in pitch and bring clarity to speech. They help you discriminate between different words (i.e. pick, tick, brick, lick, sick). If you have a high-frequency hearing loss, you miss the consonant clarity sounds while hearing the volume from the low pitches.
Do I need two hearing instruments?
If you have a hearing loss in both ears it is recommended that you wear a hearing instrument in each ear. You can hear better out of two good ears rather than one.
- With equal inputs coming from both sides to the brain, it is easier to understand conversation.
- With good hearing in both ears, it is easier to determine the direction, or source, of sound.
- When you hear well out of two ears, it boosts the loudness of the signal.
- Two good ears hear better in noise than one.
What different types of hearing aid technologies are available? And how do I now what is best for me?
Before this question is answered it is important to outline a few terms. All hearing aids amplify sound. Sound travels through the instrument in the form of waves. These waves of energy ripple across the air in a continuous manner. All hearing devices are designed to amplify these waves of sound energy. All hearing devices have the following miniaturized electronic components: microphone, receiver (speaker), and amplifier. The microphone and receiver in all hearing aids are very similar, however, there are significant differences in the way the amplifier operates in various hearing aids. Essentially, the differences between various hearing aid technologies are related to how the amplifier processes sound.
Hearing aid technology can be divided into two general categories: analog hearing aids and digital hearing aids. In very simple terms, analog and digital refer to how the hearing aids’s amplifier processes sound. Both of these categories can be further divided into more specific subcategories:
- Analog hearing aids amplify the continuous sound wave by simply making it larger. There are 2 subcategories of analog hearing aids: conventional hearing aids and programmable hearing aids. Conventional and programmable unstruments differ in the amount and degree of adjustments the hearing instrument dispenser can perform on the hearing device. A programmable hearing device allows the dispenser to adjust the amplifier more precisely to match your hearing loss. Programmable analog hearing devices when compared to their conventional equivalent provide greater fitting flexibility. This means that the dispenser can more readily change the way a programmable analog hearing device operates through the use of an office computer. Sometimes the added flexibility of a programmable hearing instrument is an important feature.
- Digital hearing aids take the continuous sound wave and break it up into very small, discrete bits of information. This is called digitizing the signal and all digital hearing instruments do this. The very fact that a hearing device is digital does not make it better than a comparable analog device. Beyond just digitizing the sound prior to amplification, there are differences in exactly how various digital hearing devices amplify or process sound. The more sophisticated digital hearing instruments are able to amplify the softest sounds of speech while at the same time subtracting out certain types of unwanted noises. Digital signal processing allows hearing instrument designers to write computer programs called algorithms that can be customized to each individual’s hearing loss. In addition, digital hearing instruments enable important features like dual microphones, and low battery warning signals to be placed into a small in-the-ear device. It is this potential that makes digital hearing devices so promising for so many hearing losses. Selecting the type of hearing instrument that is right for your hearing loss and unique listening needs requires the guidance of a professional well versed in all of variations of hearing aid technology.
Do hearing aids need repair?
Yes, occasionally hearing aids need repair. Hearing aids are exposed to a damp, waxy environment on a daily basis. Because of this, and normal wear and tear, you can expect to face a repair or two during the lifespan of your hearing instrument. Usually a repair comes with another 1-year warranty. Proper care of your hearing instrument (for example, using a desiccate system to help reduce moisture) can reduce the likelihood of needing repairs). If your hearing instrument is being repaired more than you are able to use it, then it may be time to consider new hearing aids.
Besides hearing aids, what is available to help me hear?
Assistive listening devices are available to help you hear the television, telephone, doorbell, baby cries, and to help you hear better in different listening environments.
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