Because it is important to us that our patients are fully informed about their hearing, we take the time to answer every question you may have throughout your treatment. We have gathered some common questions about the basics of hearing loss, as well as advice as you prepare for your new hearing aids.
Click each question to see its answer!
There are three main kinds of hearing loss: conductive hearing loss, sensorineural hearing loss, and mixed hearing loss. Conductive hearing loss refers to something blocking the conduction of sound in your ear, generally in your middle ear; this is often either cerumen (earwax) or fluid buildup. We can remove cerumen from your ear, which may eliminate the problem, but if you need more specific medical treatment, we can refer you to a specialist.
Sensorineural hearing loss means that there has been damage to the nerve or cochlear hearing loss. Mixed hearing loss is a combination of the two and is usually treated first by addressing the conductive loss (removing the blockage) and then with the help of a device such as a hearing aid.
The causes of hearing loss can vary. Sometimes hearing loss is simply a result of aging. In other cases, hearing loss can be caused by exposure to loud noise, such as live music, construction sites, or hunting, which is why it's so important to use hearing protection in these situations to avoid having hearing loss down the road. Hearing loss can also result from illness or from some medical treatment. One can also be born with hearing loss, and this is known as congenital hearing loss.
If you have found yourself asking people to repeat themselves more often, if you are having to turn the TV up louder, if people tell you you are being too loud, or if it seems like everyone else is mumbling, these are all signs that you may have hearing loss. The only way to be sure is to have your hearing tested, which is a quick and painless process. Once we have evaluated your hearing, we will be able to tell you whether you are a candidate for hearing aids or not.
In our experience, hearing loss usually does not go away - so the answer is yes, but that is not necessarily a bad thing. You will not become dependent on your hearing aid, and hearing aids will not make your hearing worse, which are two concerns we have heard from patients.
Instead, what happens is that once patients see how hearing aids improve the quality of their lives, they usually do not want to give them up. Think of it this way: If you have been struggling to read and then you put on reading glasses, you will read so much more efficiently; why would not you want to use them? With hearing aids, it is the same thing. You will not have to ask people to repeat themselves because you will hear what they say the first time.
Both hearing aid dispensers and audiologists are able to fit patients with hearing aids, but there are significant differences between the two. Only an audiologist can give you a full hearing test, including the audiological evaluation you would receive from a hearing aid provider as well as additional testing.
Because a good hearing test is essential to a good hearing aid fitting, it is important to have the best, most thorough test you can. In order to become an audiologist, we have had to complete years of graduate-level coursework and advanced training that has prepared us to help patients with more complicated hearing loss and given us a deeper understanding of the hearing system from a medical perspective.
Hearing aids can change your life for the better, but they may take some getting used to, especially if you have never worn them before. Fortunately, modern technology has made the experience of adjusting to new hearing aids much more comfortable. We are able to program your hearing aids to your specific needs. Gone are the days of general adjustments using a screwdriver!
If you are about to get hearing aids or you have recently been fit with a new pair, the following advice may help you know what to expect and have the smoothest experience as you start wearing them. Click on each header to see more.
We usually recommend that if patients are having a difficult time adjusting to the hearing aids, try wearing them for 4 hours on the first day, six hours on the second day, eight hours on the third day, and so on until you are wearing them all day long. Ultimately, you will want to be in the habit of putting them on in the morning and wearing them until you go to sleep.
Before you go outside, where you will be faced with even more sounds, we recommend that you make sure you can wear your hearing aids comfortably at home. When you are ready, try wearing them for short periods outside until you are accustomed to them. Some people find that it is a very easy transition to make, but in general, it never hurts to try easing into it just in case.
Hearing loss means that you have been living in a relatively quiet world, but the world is not actually quiet — clocks tick, fridges hum, and floors creak. When you are first fitted with your hearing aid, you may feel overwhelmed by ambient noise. We warn patients that the first time you flush the toilet, it is going to sound like Niagara Falls! But your brain will get used to it, if you wear your hearing aids every day. You just have to be persistent. If you find that you do not adjust and everything really does seem too loud, please bring your hearing aids in and we will adjust the settings for you.
Your hearing has decreased gradually over time, so sometimes we have to give you your hearing back gradually to help you adjust. In these cases, we will start you at a lower level and then change your hearing aid settings at three months and six months. Our goal will be to have you at your full prescription within a year.
If you do not like the way your own voice sounds after we make adjustments, read the paper or a book to yourself out loud so your brain becomes familiar with your voice. Eventually, your brain will filter out the sound of your own voice and you will notice it much less than when you first start wearing your hearing aids. Having conversations with other people can also help.
Hearing aids should last for 3-5 years or longer if you take good care of them, which means keeping them dry, cleaning them every day, and changing the batteries when necessary. Most hearing aids come with cleaning supplies, and we will show you how to wipe them down, which you will need to do every night when you take them off. Most hearing aids these days have wax maintenance systems; we will demonstrate how to remove the wax filter and insert a new one.
We recommend changing the wax filter every month or every two months; if you have a RIC model, also change the domes every time you change the filter. Keep your hearing aids away from moisture; do not go swimming with them or wear them in the shower, and do not store them in the bathroom overnight. If you have problems with humidity, we carry electronic devices that will disinfect your hearing aids and drain out any moisture overnight. Finally, you need to keep your batteries fresh in order for your hearing aids to continue working properly. We will explain any audio cues or battery messages your hearing aids will give you when it is time to change batteries, and we will walk you through removing and inserting batteries.
Recently, hearing aid manufacturers have introduced rechargeable hearing aids, which have really revolutionized the hearing aid experience for many people. This eliminates the need for changing batteries and disposing of used batteries, so it is a great environmentally friendly option. If you are interested in rechargeable hearing aids, talk to us and we will see if you are a good fit.