Q. Will a hearing aid make me lose more hearing?
A. No, a hearing aid will not cause your hearing loss to get worse. Your audiologist will set your hearing aid so that the hearing aid does not amplify sounds above a level that could cause additional hearing loss. Actually, wearing a hearing aid may help prevent future hearing loss. Research studies have shown that wearing a hearing aid may slow down the progression of hearing loss because it is keeping your ears active by stimulating them with new sounds.
Q. Why should I see an audiologist?
A. By virtue of an audiologist's graduate education (audiologists hold either a master's or doctoral degree from accredited universities and are required to complete a full-time internship and pass a national competency examination), they are the MOST qualified professionals to perform hearing tests, refer patients for medical treatment of hearing and/or ear disorders and provide hearing rehabilitation services.
Q. Why can I hear some people talking and not others?
A. Hearing loss can affect different pitches (frequency) and loudness (intensity). Therefore, if you have a hearing loss for high-pitched sounds, you may have difficulty hearing and understanding children and female voices but can understand men's voices just fine. Your ability to understand others may also depend on the situation. If someone is speaking to you from another room, you will probably have more difficulty because the person is far away from you and you cannot see the speaker's face. However, if that same person is speaking to you in the same room, you may have no difficulty at all.
Q. What is an audiologist?
A. An audiologist is a professional who diagnoses, treats and manages individuals with hearing loss or balance problems. Audiologists have received a master's or doctoral degree from an accredited university graduate program. Their academic and clinical training provides the foundation for patient management from birth through adulthood. Audiologists determine appropriate patient treatment of hearing and balance problems by combining a complete history with a variety of specialized auditory and vestibular assessments. Based upon the diagnosis, the audiologist presents a variety of treatment options to patients with hearing impairment or balance problems. Audiologists dispense and fit hearing aids as part of a comprehensive habilitative program. Audiologists may be found working in medical centers and hospitals, private practice settings, schools, government health facilities and agencies, colleges and universities. As a primary hearing health provider, audiologists refer patients to physicians when the hearing or balance problem requires medical or surgical evaluation or treatment.
Q. What causes hearing loss?
A. There are many conditions that may cause a hearing loss, including impacted earwax, fluid in the middle-ear space (behind the eardrum), middle-ear bones that are not connected properly or that have an abnormal growth, an abnormal growth in the middle-ear space, exposure to loud noises, exposure to certain medications, heredity, genetics and age. Following the hearing evaluation, the audiologist will be able to tell you if you have a hearing loss and, if so, how much hearing loss is present. However, she may not be able to tell you the exact cause of your hearing loss.
Q. Is it difficult to adjust to hearing aids?
A. No, it is not difficult to adjust to hearing aids, but all hearing aids do require an adjustment period, usually one to two months. The adjustment period occurs because the hearing aids are bringing in new sounds that you are not used to hearing. Your brain (the part of our body that actually does the listening) must learn how to interpret this new information coming from the hearing aids. The best way to adjust to new hearing aids is to wear them as much as possible. For other tips on how to adjust to hearing aids, link to Hearing Aid section.
Q. How often should I have my hearing tested?
A. Many primary care physicians will complete a hearing screen at the time of an annual physical. People who work in noisy environments are sometimes required by OSHA (Occupational Safety & Health Administration) to undergo periodic evaluations. By about age 60 years, everyone should have an initial, baseline evaluation. If hearing is found to be normal, then repeat evaluations every two to three years is recommended. Once hearing loss is diagnosed, hearing evaluations should be completed every year.
Q. How often do hearing aids need to be replaced and repaired?
A. Generally speaking, hearing aids should last for at least five years. The need for new hearing aids may occur if a patient's hearing status changes or if the hearing aid can longer be repaired. With the availability of programmable and digital hearing aids, changes can be made in the audiologist's office and should reduce the need to order new hearing aids merely because of changes in hearing status. The number of times a hearing aid needs to be repaired varies for each individual, depending on the style and care of the hearing aid. In-the-ear, in-the-canal and completely-in-the canal hearing aids tend to have higher repair rates than behind-the-ear hearing aids due to the electrical components being directly exposed to ear canal. Earwax is the No. 1 reason that causes hearing aids to stop working. There are steps that can be taken to ensure proper care of hearing aids and lessen the likelihood of repairs:
1. Clean your hearing aid daily with the tools provided by your audiologist.
2. Continue to see your audiologist for routine hearing aid checks about every six months.
3. Keep the hearing aid away from moisture.
4. Open the battery door at night to help dry out any moisture that may be in the hearing aid.
Q. Does a hearing aid help in background noise?
A. Hearing people speaking in the presence of background noise, such as at a restaurant or family gathering, is always more difficult to understand, even for people with normal hearing. There are some hearing aids, however, that are specifically designed to help reduce the level of background noise. If you are frequently in situations in which there is background noise, talk to your audiologist about the most appropriate hearing aid for you and your lifestyle.
Q. Are hearing aids covered by insurance (including Medicare)?
A. Your health insurance may cover part or all of the cost of a hearing aid. Medicare does not pay for any costs associated with purchasing a hearing aid. Medicaid does cover the cost of one analog hearing aid every four years for adults and two digital hearing aids every five years for children. Please contact our office if you have questions about your health insurance coverage for hearing aids.
Q. How long do hearing aid batteries last?
A. Battery life varies depending on the size of the battery, how much you wear the hearing aid and the amount of hearing loss you have. On average, a size 675 battery (blue sticker) will last two to three weeks, a size 13 battery (orange sticker) will last two weeks, a size 312 battery (brown sticker) will last one to two weeks, and a size 10 battery (yellow sticker) will last five to seven days. Hearing aid batteries do not last as long as watch batteries because a lot of power is required to operate a hearing aid.