Here are the most frequently asked questions concerning hearing loss and hearing aids.
What causes hearing loss?
The majority of hearing loss in those over the age of 60 comes on gradually over time as we age. Other possible causes are prolonged exposure to loud noises, heredity, certain illnesses, and medications. Although there are several types, the most common form of hearing loss is called sensorineural, or “nerve hearing loss”. This comes about as a result of the inner ear not properly transmitting signals to the brain.
How common is hearing loss?
One of every ten Americans currently has some degree of hearing loss. For those aged 65 or older, the ratio is nearly one in three.
How does hearing loss affect individuals?
While each hearing loss is unique, most people share common social and psychological results from their loss. They often feel isolated from their surroundings. It is often more difficult to meet new people or face new surroundings. They often complain of appearing incompetent or feeling insecure.
Does wearing hearing aids really increase the quality of life?
Absolutely! A 2007 study in the Journal of the American Academy of Audiology (JAAA) compared adults with and without hearing aids on their Health-Related Quality of Life. They found that hearing aids reduce the psychological, social, and emotional difficulties of hearing impairment, which in turn enhances life satisfaction. If left untreated, sensorineural hearing loss can lead to social isolation, depression, and decreased life quality.
What is the procedure for obtaining a hearing aid?
Comprehensive Hearing Evaluation: We will complete a thorough assessment of your auditory function and determine the need for any medical referral or hearing assistance devices.
- Communication Needs Assessment/Hearing Aid Selection: This appointment will last approximately 45 minutes. During that time, the styles of hearing aids will be explained as well as the features of digital technology. A discussion will take place to evaluate your listening lifestyle and digital features that will fit your hearing needs.
- Ear Impressions: For custom hearing aids to be made, ear impressions will be taken. The impressions will be sent to a manufacturer to be processed. It can take up to 2 weeks to get the hearing aids back in the office.
- Hearing Aid Fit & Train: At this appointment hearing aids will be physically fit to the ears and adjusted to match you hearing loss. You will be instructed on the use and care of the hearing aids.
- Hearing Aid Follow-up: Follow-up appointments are scheduled after the initial fitting to assess hearing aid benefits, fine tuning and continue with the counseling/rehabilitation process.
Is it really necessary to wear two hearing aids, or can I get by with just one?
We are repeatedly asked by both new and previous hearing aid users if wearing two (binaural) hearing aids is necessary or if they can “get by” with just one (monaural). Over 60% of hearing aid fittings in the U.S. are with two hearing aids. There are numerous reasons why binaural hearing is better than monaural. The following are the most important:
- Better Hearing in Noise: When the brain receives input from both sides of the head, it is better able to process the sound. This allows you to more easily focus on what you want to listen to.
- Improved Localization: It can be more difficult to determine where a sound is coming from (localization) when there is a significant difference between the ears. The brain is able to tell the direction of sound based on which ear receives the sound loudest, differences in arrival time of sounds at two ears, and the difference in pitch of the sound at two ears. Your brain performs these analyses without you even thinking about it. Only wearing a hearing aid in one ear disrupts this process and can make it difficult to locate a sound source.
- Optimizing Your Position: In most situations, background noise fluctuates and you may find yourself in a position where your “good” ear is closer to the unwanted noise and the “bad” ear is closer to the desired sound source. When sound crosses your head and body, there is a decrease in loudness. Thus, it will be more difficult to understand speech if the sound you’re listening to is not on your “good side”. Wearing two hearing aids would eliminate this problem.
- Combining Binaural Signals: A very soft sound can be heard at lower volume levels with two ears rather then one. Also, a loud sound is perceived as being more comfortable when heard with two ears. This allows you to have lower overall volume settings when listening with both ears.
- Possible Deterioration in Unaided Ear: Auditory deprivation is a progressive loss of the ability to understand speech in an unaided ear. Research has shown this ability decreases the longer a person remains without amplification. It goes with the saying, “if you don’t use it, you lose it”.