Below you will find answers to our most frequently asked questions about hearing loss and hearing aids.
1How do I notice problems with hearing?
Problems with hearing start slowly, with no discomfort or pain the majority of the time. Usually, families will adapt to a loved ones hearing loss, and they will not realize they are doing it. We have developed some questions to ask yourself if you are concerned you have a hearing loss: 1. Do I often have people repeat themselves? 2. Do I struggle following conversations involving two or more people? 3. Do I struggle to understand what is said, if you are not facing the speaker? 4. Do I feel that people often mumbling or slurring their words? 5. When in crowded areas like malls or restaurants, do I have a difficult time hearing? 6. Do I struggle to hear & understand women or children? 7. Do I insist having the TV or radio louder than other people? 8. Do I ever hear ringing, buzzing or whistling in your ears? Yes to any one of these is enough to schedule a thorough hearing test with your local AccuQuest office. Chances of hearing loss are high if you answered yes to two or more of these questions.
2Will my doctor tell my about my hearing loss?
Very few physicians screen for hearing loss. Only 16% of physicians routinely screen for hearing loss & some studies say as few as 13%. A doctors office is usually very quiet, people with hearing problems can hear fine in quiet places most of the time. This makes it very hard for a doctor to recognize any problems with hearing. It is best to consult a trained hearing professional about hearing problems. Only they can determine how severe the problems with hearing truly are. A professional will also know if you would benefit from hearing aids and which type would be best for you and your hearing problems.
3What causes hearing loss?
There are many things that cause hearing loss. The most common causes come from excessive noise, called Noise Induced Hearing Loss or sometimes Occupational Hearing Loss, and from aging called Presbycusis. Exposure to a noisy subway, for just 15 minutes a day, can cause permanent damage to hearing over time. There are other things that can cause, or at least contribute to, hearing loss, including: Injury, viruses, ear infections, birth defects, and reaction to medications that are known as Ototoxic. Ototoxic medications can include certain antibiotics and chemotherapy drugs.
4What are the different types of hearing loss?
There are three types of hearing loss: Sensorineural: This is the most common and happens when damage is done to inner ear nerves (and hair cells) and do not properly transmit auditory signals to the brain. This type of hearing loss is treatable with hearing aids. Conductive: This type of hearing loss usually results from obstructions in the ear. Medical or surgical procedures can treat this type of loss. Mixed: This is a combination of sensorineural and conductive. To learn more about types of hearing loss please contact an AccuQuest location near you.
5Does hearing loss only affect those of older age?
No. In fact, 65% of the people that could benefit from the use of heairng aids are under age 65. According to a study done by Georgetown University, problems with hearing affects more than 4 million Americans over the age of 65 and almost 6 million Americans under the of 65. Hearing loss can occur at any time, at any age.
6Are there medical or surgical options for hearing loss?
There are options for treating problems with hearing medically or surgically. However, these options are extremely expensive and very rare. The majority of Americans must treat their hearing loss with hearing aids. Besides think about those options for a moment: brain surgery (nothing scary or risky about that , right?) versus using something a little bit like a pair of earbuds that are so small they are completely unnoticeable in your ear.
7Will wearing a hearing aid make me look older and weaker?
Quite the contrary. Our clients tell us that their hearing aids help them look and feel strong, vigorous and sharp once again. Our happiest clients were also concerened about the appearance of hearing aids at one time. Yet, the first thing they notice when they start using hearing aids, besides hearing better, is that no one notices their hearing aids at all. All of those worries faded to nothing once they heard how well the hearing aids worked. Once they heard how much they had been missing. Once our clients see how tiny today’s digital hearing aids are, they realize that hearing aids are much less noticeable than asking people to repeat themselves over and over again. Much more discreet than missing the jokes or answering the wrong questions because you misunderstood what someone was saying. Our happiest clients have told us that until they began wearing their hearing aids, they didn’t realize in how many ways they had begun to live smaller lives. That they had avoided social gatherings or stopped hanging out with friends and that hearing aids restored them to life and actually made them feel more confident & independent no matter their age. The advances in today’s powerful digital hearing aids have made them small, discreet, and sometimes even invisible. We have seen hearing aids improve the quality of life in a vast amount of patients so much that appearance hasn’t been an issue.
8How can hearing aids improve the quality of my life?
The majority of hearing aid users said the main improvement in their lives due to hearing aids has been in their ability to communicate effectively. Others have noticed improvements in relationships at home, in their social life, and also in their ability join groups. Other improvements we have seen in patients lives are: -Romantically -Sense of Humor -Cognitive Skills -Earning power -Sense of control over your life -Mental, emotional, and physical health As you can see, there are numerous benefits of fixing your problems with hearing, and hearing aids open doors to many improvements to the quality of life.
9How do hearing aids work?
Hearing aids contain one or more microphones that pick up sound and converts it to an electrical signal. This sound is then processed by an amplifier which increases the strength of the signal. A speaker, or receiver, converts the signal back to sound and sends it through a tube into your ear. Hearing aids use batteries for power and enable the amplifier. Hearing aids are so sophisticated today that they require computer programming so they can adjust to your lifestyle and environments you enjoy.
10Will a hearing aid solve my problems with hearing?
Except with very mild hearing loss, hearing aids do not restore “normal” or “natural” hearing the way that glasses can restore you to 20/20 vision. With vision correction, we correct the signal and then send ot to the brain. If the optic nerve couldn’t transmit the signal to the brain anymore, glasses couldn’t correct vision either. If the optic nerve could only transmit some of the light signals then you might see only red and green but not the full spectrum of light. Similarly if there was damage to the visual cortex of the brain, the nerves could send an accurate signal but the brain couldn’t interpret those signals, glasses wouldn’t do any good. For most people with hearing loss, the sounds are received by the ear just fine. In conductive hearing loss there is a problem with the structures of the ear. Something is physically blocking the sounds. With sensorineural hearing loss the problem is in the nerve pathways, typically damage to the tiny hair cells deep in your ear, the auditory nerve and/or the brain. These devices have been designed to allow you to hear soft sounds you normally could not hear and also to prevent loud sounds from being uncomfortable. It is also important to note that hearing aids are designed to help you hear and understand speech – even in a noisy environment.
11Will hearing aids allow me to hear in noisy places?
Remember that even people with “normal” or “healthy” hearing have difficulty hearing in noisy places or when too many conversations are happening all at the same time. Hearing aids cannot completely filter all background noise, the majority of devices are made to decrease some background noise allowing you to better understand someone and make communication in noisy places easier.
12Are there different types of hearing aids?
Technology of today has led to an advancement in a wide variety of sizes and styles of hearing aids. Variety includes styles that sit behind your ear to some that are invisible. Technology has also led to different hearing aid levels to match your specific needs and budget.
13Which hearing aid is best for me?
There are a few things that must be determined in order to choose the right hearing for you. These include severity and cause of your hearing problems, the lifestyle you enjoy and live, your occupation, frequent activities, and the size and shape your inner and outer ear. Our professionals will be able to properly guide you to the best hearing aid options for your need, your lifestyle and your budget.
14Will I need to get hearing aids for both ears?
Hearing in both ears, referred to as binaural hearing, is better than hearing from one ear. In some cases people only have suffered hearing loss in one ear. In this case one hearing aid would suffice. However, when hearing loss stems from aging or noise it effects both ears and usually to a similar degree. With hearing loss in both ears you will benefit from a binaural solution of two hearing aids. Those who decide to have two hearing aids have reported greater satisfaction than those with only a single device. Sounds not only seem louder when you are picking them up in both ears, you hear sounds tones and word sounds more accurately and it gives you a sense of directionality.
15Why would anyone pay over $2,500 for a hearing aid?
The fact is there are nearly as many technology options as there are levels of hearing loss. Some very sound technologies cost much less than $2,500, and others that cost well above that number–each. AccuQuest offers hearing aids at several levels. One might think of them as good, better and best and each of those in many different styles. The one that is right for you depends on the level and complexity of your hearing loss as well as your lifestyle needs. Ultimately, we’re trying to use technology to compensate for something impossibly intricate: the human sense of hearing. Remember, humans have five senses and despite all of our reasearch and knowledge, we have only discovered how to compensate for problems with two of them: vision and hearing. As much as we can do to correct vision, in most cases, we still can’t restore blindness. There are millions of variables to compensate for, most of which we haven’t even been discovered yet. The technology to compensate for lost hearing requires a lot of sophistication, and is the result of expensive ongoing research and development and some very powerful circuitry in an extremely compact device. Draw this picture in your imagination… hearing aids are a combination of: A very powerful and delicately discriminating microphone(s) An equally precise and delicate speaker and An extremely powerful audio processing computer system that can sample and adjust for all the sounds around you more than 20,000 times per second, identifies the one’s that are more important to you and then delivers those sounds to your ear. Now take all of that and make it so tiny that it can fit in your ear. When you think about them in those terms, hearing aids are pretty amazing! The key when working with your heairng professional is to strike the right balance between your unique needs, the life you’d like to lead and your budget. For a person with a mild loss and quiet lifestyle – for example, a librarian or accountant, that likes to read and garden in their spare time; that doesn’t or has never had much interest in attending public gatherings like church or family gatherings where many different adults and children may be talking all at once; a $750 hearing aid may be just right. However, someone with a more severe loss and a lifestyle that includes work in construction or manufacturing, that enjoys dancing, riding motorcycles, hunting and shooting, attends church and social gatherings with family, friends, and coworkers, may require a hearing aid with $4,500 worth of technology that utilizes directional microphones, speech preservation circuitry, and other advanced & convenience features. Whether you would qualify for that $750 hearing aid, or would be better fit with one that is $2,500, or even $4,500, we can assure you that your life will improve as you take the necessary steps to better hearing.
16Are hearing aids that cost $100 any good?
First don’t let anyone fool you. Devices that are not dispensed by a hearing aid professional are not allowed to be called hearing aids. They are called hearing amplifiers because that is all they do. That is also the problem with them. They amplify everything. Imagine a scene at a concert, a noisy restaurant or at a loud construction site & you want to have a conversation with a friend, family or co-worker. Will it do you any good if everything gets louder? You want to hear what the other person is saying but if the volume of everything gets louder, then you still can’t hear your friend talking any better than before. In fact, it’s probably even worse than before because volume also causes distortion of the sounds you are trying to hear. Devices that are cheaper such as these do not decrease background noise, selectively increase the volume of only certain frequencies or pick up directional sounds like today’s hearing aids are designed to do. What’s worse is that when you have a hearing loss there are still some sounds that you can hear just fine. Just imagine the damage you do to your hearing when you start blasting at high volume the sounds that you could hear just fine. Well, you won’t be hearing them just fine much longer.
17How long does it take to get used to wearing hearing aids?
Getting used to wearing hearing instruments does take time although some people take to them easily. You may have spent a considerable amount of time – on average more than seven years – with an impaired hearing ability; and unaware of such, naturally, you have come to consider what you do hear as “normal”. That, however, is not the case. Once you start to wear your hearing instruments, you will find making & understanding conversation less tiring, using the phone more convenient, and watching TV with loved ones enjoyable again. While many benefits are usually noticed right away, it can take several weeks or even months to fully adjust to wearing hearing instruments. On the other hand getting used to the physical sensation of wearing your hearing instruments, happens much faster. Or haven’t you ever forgotten to take off your glasses before going to bed?
18Do I need to wear my hearing instruments all the time?
During the first couple of weeks, it is best to wear your new hearing instruments in your home environment. Wear them for a few hours every day while watching TV, or while having a conversation. Once you are able to use the hearing instruments for several hours without tiring, try wearing them in more varied situations, such as in small group gatherings, in church, or on the phone. Now that you have gotten used to your hearing instruments’ sound, wear them in even more challenging listening situations and for longer periods of time.
19What should I do if my hearing instruments are not working?
First, check the battery; make sure it is inserted properly, not upside down, or has gone dead. You will need to change out a dead battery. Second, if the battery is not the problem, inspect your instruments’ sound outlet and ensure it is not blocked by wax or debris. You should have recieved a pack of cleaning tools and your professional should have shown you how to use them without causing damage to your hearing aids. Remember, your hearing aids are woking in a challenging environment that is 1) very moist and we all know that electronics at moisture don’t get along well and 2) that ear wax is by design sticky and acidic so that germs will not find your ears a nice place to raise a family which is also not a good mix with electronics and tiny parts and openings. So, in addition to giving your hearing aids a daily cleaning, you will want to plan for a more thorough cleaning by your hearing professional a few times a year & even more often if you are a person that produces a lot of ear wax.
20Will my health insurance cover the cost of these instruments?
Please check with your health insurance company.
“I am extremely pleased with my new hearing aids. I cannot believe the quality of hearing that I now have. I will pass along your name to my friends and family. Your staff is exceptional!” – Linda H. Clemmons, North Carolina