Frequently Asked Questions
Hearing Aid Questions
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Hearing aids are designed to compensate for a defined hearing loss. Personal sound amplification products (PSAPs) are designed to assist individuals without hearing loss to magnify environmental sounds.
Download the FDA’s Consumer Updates on Personal Amplifiers for more information.
An audiologist is a professional who evaluates, diagnoses, treats, and manages hearing loss and balance disorders. The majority of hearing loss cannot be treated with medicines or surgery but can be treated by an audiologist with the use of hearing (re)habilitation (counseling, education, auditory training/exercises), hearing aids and/or assistive listening devices (products to use to enhance television viewing, phone amplifiers, etc.). Audiologists make medical referrals to a physician when appropriate (e.g., ear pain, drainage from the ear, sudden hearing loss, etc.).
Audiologists receive extensive education in hearing and balance disorders. Most audiologists have earned masters and/or doctoral degrees and you may see the initials Au.D., (Doctor of Audiology – clinical degree); Ph.D. (Doctor of Philosophy – research and/or clinical research degree); or Sc.D. (Doctor of science – usually a clinical degree) to designate advanced training.
Audiologists specialize in a multitude of work environments such as members of cochlear implant teams, managing hearing conservation programs, evaluating for and prescribing hearing aids and other hearing assistive devices, and perform hearing-related surgical monitoring. In addition, audiologists also screen the hearing of newborns, teach listening skills and strategies, assess individuals with central auditory processing disorders, and assess and treat individuals who suffer with tinnitus (ear noises). Audiologists work in clinical settings such as a hospital, private practice or other medical facility; many are professors at universities and colleges; there are researchers and some who work within the hearing and balance manufacturing industries.
Hearing aids are medical devices regulated by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and must be recommended and prescribed by licensed professionals. This standard is in place to protect the individual with hearing loss as not all individuals are candidates for amplification. Additionally, an improperly fit hearing aid or hearing aid sold online without a face-to-face evaluation with an audiologist can potentially cause various problems. Without a face-to-face evaluation, the consumer will not have an otoscopic evaluation (have the audiologist look into the ear canal) and medical problems such as ear drainage or ear blockages which can cause hearing loss will not be identified. Additionally, hearing aids that are not adjusted to the individual needs of the patient have the potential for increasing the hearing loss if the devices are not set appropriately. Lastly, audiologists can tailor a comprehensive treatment plan for each individual patient so as to ensure maximum performance from any device that may be prescribed.
Hearing aids are priced according to performance capabilities. As with most technology, the devices that do more, cost more. In general, noise reduction capabilities improve as cost rises. ENT Hearing Specialists will work with you to match the right technology to your lifestyle, listening needs, and budget.
Hearing aids come in many sizes and styles and are packaged according to performance capabilities. Your individual hearing loss, listening environments, options needed, cosmetic concerns, manual dexterity, and budget factor in finding the best individual solution. ENT Hearing Specialists will take the time to guide you through the process.
Almost all medical insurance covers the cost of the hearing evaluation. Some medical insurance plans provide coverage for a portion of the expense for hearing aids. Generally, you pay something out-of-pocket for better hearing. Our staff can assist you with discovering if, and to what amount of coverage is available.
The following tips will extend the life of your hearing aid: 1) Clean hearing aids as instructed. Wax buildup can damage your hearing aid. 2) Avoid 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. 7) See your audiologist every few months for a hearing aid check up. 8) Call the audiologists at ENT Hearing Specialist with any questions you may have. Our friendly and well trained staff will be happy to assist you.
Digital hearing aids convert sound waves into a desired response based on your degree of hearing impairment. It is able to automatically adjust the incoming sound making soft sounds louder and loud sounds softer. This allows you to remain comfortable with the response of your hearing aid without even using a volume control. The digital response also includes information about a sound’s pitch 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.
Follow-up care is the most important aspect of any hearing aid fitting. Hearing aids require a period of re-training your hearing. Follow-up visits are always part of your treatment plan. Periodic adjustments may be needed to optimize performance as characteristics of your loss change over time and to accommodate your preferences in various hearing situations. Your hearing aids should also fit comfortably. Hearing loss should be managed over time throughout your life. If you experience changes in your ability to hear or problems with fit, you should call ENT Hearing Specialists to set an appointment immediately.
Generally two-ear assistance is superior to that of a single instrument. Even in instances where hearing loss between the ears differ, two hearing aids can provide balanced hearing , improved understanding of speech in noise or when there is more than one person speaking and better localization of sound. Our highly trained audiologists will make appropriate recommendations based on the results from your evaluation. However, one hearing aid is always better than no hearing aid at all.
Yes, you will hear better by allowing your brain to receive more speech information. The digital advancements in hearing aids allow for selective reduction of frequencies where competing signals exists without negatively affecting the speech frequencies. Advanced hearing aids can also automatically adjust the scope of what we hear, removing competitive sounds that challenge our understanding.
When someone states that you cannot be helped, get a second opinion! Most physicians are not experts in hearing science and treatments. It’s acceptable to seek the expert advice of a hearing care professional like an audiologist and obtain a second opinion. 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 see an audiologist to have a thorough test to evaluate your hearing and discuss your options for improvement in your everyday hearing ability.
Today’s advanced hearing aids offer a variety of discrete and comfortable options. Award-winning designs have proven to be aesthetically appealing, naturally comfortable, and virtually unnoticeable. ENT Hearing Specialists can provide great acoustical performance that is completely discrete.
With advanced digital technology, we are able to adjust the hearing aids when changes in your hearing occur. Rarely would we need to change a hearing aid due to changes in hearing. On average, people upgrade their hearing aids every 4-5 years, usually to take advantage of new technology.
Hearing Loss Questions
Most hearing loss can be categorized as conductive, sensory, sensorineural or central. Treatment options vary for the different types of hearing loss.
Sensorineural hearing loss results from damage to the neurons within the inner ear or auditory nerve dysfunction. 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 hearing aids.
A sensory loss results from damage to the neurons in the inner ear. This damage is peripheral to the auditory nerve. This damage is typically treated with the use of hearing aids.
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 medical or surgical intervention. Your audiologist has been trained to make the appropriate medical referral when appropriate.
This is a hearing loss that originates from the central nervous system or the brain. It is characterized by poor understanding and slow processing of speech. Treatments may vary from medical to auditory rehabilitation. The audiologists at ENT Hearing Specialists are trained to diagnose and treat many types of hearing loss, including central auditory disorders.
While hearing loss is common as we age, there are many factors that can contribute to hearing loss. The ear is a very vascular mechanism. It requires oxygen and the many nutrients of the blood supply to remain healthy. Anything that disrupts the blood supply or alters the body chemistry may cause auditory side effects. We made a list of some common causes of hearing loss. 1) Excessive Noise Exposure (prolonged loud music, gun shots, noisy machinery) 2) Infections 3) Head Injury 4) Genetics or Birth Defects 5) Drug or Treatment Reaction (antibiotics, chemotherapy, radiation) 6) Heart disease 7) Diabetes 8) Stroke.
Hearing loss may be worse in certain pitches than in others. When you have a hearing loss, the brain is always plugging in missing information (redundancy), allowing you to understand what is said. This process is very similar to a spell check on a computer. When the brain no longer has enough of a signal to plug in the missing information, the result is poor understanding of speech.
Hearing aids can be programmed to treat your hearing loss in the specific pitches regions that you need. The result is a greater understanding of speech in a variety of environments.
Hearing Testing Questions
A hearing test is simple for the patient and the cost is covered by almost all medical insurances, including Medicare. It takes most people years 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 test your hearing. 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, which can lead to depression, isolation from others, strained relationships, and insecurity.
Audiologists are health-care professionals who evaluate, diagnose, treat, and manage hearing loss, tinnitus, and balance disorders. Doctors of Audiology obtain their degree following a minimum of seven to eight years of college specializing in hearing science, auditory disorders and auditory rehabilitation (hearing aids).