Q: How often should one’s hearing be tested?
A: Anyone regularly exposed to hazardous noise should have an annual hearing test. Also, anyone who notices a change in his/her hearing (or who develops tinnitus) should have his or her ears checked. People who have healthy ears and who are not exposed to hazardous noise should get a hearing test every 2 to 3 years.
Q: Is there any benefit to treating hearing loss early rather than waiting?
A: Yes! There definitely is a benefit to treating hearing loss early. Research tells us that the single best thing you can do for your hearing loss is to begin to treat it with amplification as soon as possible. The hearing nerves are like muscles, if you don’t use them, you lose them. So over time as your hearing loss goes untreated the nerves start to die off and cause distortion of speech, even at loud levels.
Q: How can someone with ringing of the ears benefit from hearing aids?
A: Clinical evidence shows that the use of hearing aids in tinnitus (ringing of the ears) patients provides two benefits: it makes the patient less aware of the tinnitus and it improves communication by reducing the annoying sensation that sounds and voices are masked by tinnitus.
Q: Many individuals have grandparents that put their hearing aids in a drawer, and rarely use them. How does one know if they are not going to be wasting their time and money on hearing aids? Are hearing aids any better now than they use to be?
A: Yes, indeed! The early hearing aids were “broad band” amplifiers that made all sounds louder, even sound at some frequencies where you may have normal hearing. In addition, the older aids did not limit how much sound was amplified. All sounds in the environment, whether they were initially loud or soft, were amplified the same amount. No wonder people often complained that it seemed people were yelling at them when they wore their hearing aids! These devices often spent more time in the dresser drawer than in anyone’s ears.
Fortunately, hearing aid technology has continued to improve over the years. The computer is now an integral piece of equipment in the office of every dispensing Audiologist. Computer programmable hearing aids give us the ability to control the frequency (pitch) and the intensity (loudness) of all amplified sounds. The goal is to make all sounds audible, but comfortable, while maintaining a discernible range of volume. We can modify the response of the hearing aid based on the hearing loss and the needs of the user. Because there is a computer chip built into the circuitry, these aids can be reprogrammed to accommodate any changes in hearing loss.
Q: If someone has a hearing loss in both ears, is it okay to just get one hearing aid?
A: Almost 80% of all people with impaired hearing have a hearing loss in both ears. In most cases, if you have a have hearing loss in both ears, two hearing aids are recommended. The human brain is dependent on input from both ears in order to properly process sound. Balanced hearing provided by two ears affords the ability to tell where sound is coming from, whether the sound is that made by an approaching car or a friend who is calling you. Two equally hearing ears allow us to better hear conversation in the presence of background noise. Research suggests that, when only one ear is aided, the ability of the unaided ear to utilize and meaningfully process sound will deteriorate. Years of clinical and field trial research has shown that the benefits of hearing aids in both ears over just one includes: more normal, balanced sound, better overall sound quality, better understanding in group situationsmore relaxed listening experience (never having to turn to use the “good” ear), and the ability to set volume controls lower, enabling the wearer to hear sound at a softer, more comfortable level.
Q: What should an individual do if they are uncertain if they have a hearing loss and/or if they could benefit from hearing aids?
A: Our audiologist offers free hearing screenings, free professional assessment of hearing, and quality hearing aid selection. If someone is unsure, making a free appointment with our audiologist is a great way to find out!