Hearing aids have come a long way from the days of clunky devices that couldn’t separate out background sounds. Patients also had to continuously push a button to operate them. Today’s digital hearing aids work automatically and can significantly decrease background noises and amplify speech.
There is a wide range of types of hearing aids, each designed to help different types of hearing loss. There are also different quality and price levels for hearing aids. At Clark Audiology and Hearing Aid Center, we recommend the product that best matches your needs for comfort, operability, improved hearing and price.
Below you will find some frequently asked questions (FAQ’s ) regarding hearing aids. However, remember that everyone is different, and what is best for one person is not necessarily what is best for someone else. Please schedule an appointment to discuss how YOUR needs can be met through hearing aids.
Q. How can I recognize hearing problems?
A. Most of the time hearing problems begin gradually, without discomfort or pain. What’s more, family members often learn to adapt to someone’s hearing loss, without even realizing they are doing it. Here are some questions to ask yourself to determine whether hearing loss is present:
- Do I often ask people to repeat themselves?
- Do I have trouble following conversations with more than two people?
- Do I have difficulty hearing what is said unless I’m facing the speaker?
- Does it sound like other people are mumbling or slurring their words?
- Do I struggle to hear in crowded places like restaurants, malls and meeting rooms?
- Do I have a hard time hearing women or children?
- Do I prefer the TV or radio volume louder than others?
- Do I experience ringing or buzzing in my ears?
If you answered yes to several of these questions, chances are you do suffer from hearing loss.
Q. Which technology is best for me?
A. Everyone’s needs are unique. In order to determine what is best for you, we would need to perform a diagnostic hearing test and ask you about your particular needs and concerns. Your input is what helps us determine the technology needed to suit your lifestyle.
Some hearing aids are designed to perform better in complex environments than others. The technology that enables a hearing aid to sort through extraneous noises and enhance speech is what ultimately determines the cost difference between hearing aid technologies.
Q. Do all hearing aids work the same?
A. No. Hearing aids work in many different ways to provide the needed and desired speech signals of the listener. The hearing aid’s performance is different in each of the tiers of technology and the individual’s hearing loss and the integrity of the neural system affect how the instruments work. This is why it is important to talk with your Audiologist about your specific needs and where you and your family struggle the most. Communication, between yourself, your Audiologist and family is very important in this decision making process.
Q. How long do hearing aids last?
A. If properly taken care of, they should last about 5 years, often longer. In most circumstances, patients usually change hearing aids, not because their aids are worn out, but because they want the newer technology, or their hearing loss has dropped outside the limits for what their aids can provide. Today’s aids are lasting longer than aids of the past with proper care.
The most common repairs required by hearing aids are based on dirt and debris blocking the microphones and receivers. Like oil changes in cars, hearing aids need regular maintenance. Many repairs are due to poor or low maintenance. It is very important that you follow regular cleaning and performance measurements recommended by your Audiologist for optimal function of your instruments. Protect your investment.
Q. If I had hearing loss, wouldn’t my doctor have told me?
A. Not necessarily. Only about 13% of physicians routinely screen for hearing loss. Since most people with hearing impairments hear just fine in quiet environments, it can be very difficult for your physician to recognize this problem. Only a trained hearing professional can determine the severity of your hearing problem, whether or not you could benefit from a hearing aid, and which type would be best for you.
Q. What are the most common hearing loss causes?
A. There are several causes. The main ones include excessive noise, infections, genetics, birth defects, infections to the head or ear, aging, and reaction to drugs or cancer treatment.
Q. Are there different types of hearing loss?
A. Yes. There are three types of hearing loss:
- Sensorineural:The most common type, it occurs when the inner ear nerves (and hair cells) are damaged and do not properly transmit auditory signals to the brain. Can be treated with hearing aids.
- Conductive:Is typically the result of obstructions in the ear. Can usually be treated medically or surgically.
- Mixed:A combination of sensorineural and conductive.
Q. Doesn’t hearing loss only affect old people?
A. Hearing loss can occur at any time, at any age. In fact, most people with hearing loss (65%) are younger than age 65! There are six million people in the U.S. ages 18-44 with hearing loss, and around one-and-a-half million are school age.
Q. Are there operations or medications I can take for hearing loss?
A. Only 5% of hearing loss in adults can be improved medically or surgically. The vast majority of Americans with hearing loss (95%) are treated with hearing aids.
Q. How will a hearing aid improve my quality of life?
A. Research on people with hearing loss and their significant others has shown that hearing aids play a significant factor in a person’s social, emotional, psychological and physical well-being.
More specifically, treatment of hearing loss has been shown to improve:
- Communication in relationships
- Intimacy and warmth in family relationships
- Ease in communication
- Earning power
- Sense of control over your life
- Social participation
- Perception of mental functioning
- Emotional stability
When you consider all the benefits of better hearing, you can see that hearing aids hold great potential to positively change your life.
Q. Will a hearing aid restore my hearing to normal?
A. While no hearing aid can restore your hearing to normal, hearing aids are designed to let you hear soft sounds that you couldn’t hear before, and prevent loud sounds from becoming uncomfortably loud for you. They are also designed to improve your ability to understand speech, even in noisy environments.
Q. Will I be able to hear in noisy places?
A. While no hearing aid can filter out all background noise, hearing aids are designed to reduce some types of background noise so that you can enjoy conversation and improve communication in places like restaurants, business meetings and social gatherings.
Q. What are the different types and styles of hearing aids?
A. Today’s digital hearing aids come in a wide variety of sizes and style — from those that sit behind the ear to completely invisible hearing aids — and feature different technology levels to match your specific needs and budget.
Q. How do I know which hearing aid will be best for me?
A. There are several factors that will determine which hearing aid will be the right one for you. They include the nature and severity of your hearing loss, your lifestyle and the activities you regularly enjoy, your job, your eyesight and dexterity, and the size and shape of your outer ear and inner ear canal. Ultimately, your audiologist will be able to advise you as to the best choice for you.
Q. What are some advances in hearing aid technology?
A. Like many other high-tech devices (TVs, phones, computers), hearing aids have experienced a major technological revolution in the past decade and especially in the last couple years.
The best of today’s digital hearing aids are designed to virtually eliminate feedback; make listening in noisy environments easier and more comfortable; stream stereo sound from TVs and radios directly to the hearing aid itself; and much more. All in instruments that are smaller (in some cases, invisible) and more comfortable and powerful than ever before.
Q. Is there an adjustment period to wearing hearing aids?
A. Yes. Most people need an adjustment period of up to four months before becoming acclimated to — and receiving the full benefit of — wearing their hearing aids. However, you should expect to notice demonstrable benefits right away.
Q. Will I need a hearing aid for both ears?
A. Two-ear hearing (“binaural”) is better than one. If you have hearing loss in only one ear, you may be fine with one hearing aid. Age- and noise-related hearing loss tend to affect both ears, but your hearing profile for each ear is probably different. If there is a loss in both ears, you will probably benefit more with a binaural solution. Today, about two-thirds of new users opt for dual hearing aids, and as a group they report a higher level of satisfaction than purchasers of a single hearing aid.
Q. How much will a hearing aid cost?
A. The price of a hearing aid will vary depending on the specific model and features you need, and how effective it is in various noise environments. Financial plans are available.
Q. Is there a Return Policy?
A. Yes. There is a standard 30-day money-back guarantee, but it is important to give yourself a reasonable chance to adjust to your hearing aid.