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Frequently Asked Questions

How common is hearing loss?

Over 36 million Americans are affected by some level of hearing loss, and yet only 1 in 5 people who could benefit from a hearing aid actually wear one.

Types of hearing loss

There are many types of hearing loss. The most common is a problem called SENSORINEURAL – it is a problem with the inner ear, the acoustic nerve, or both. Most physicians call this condition “nerve deafness.” More than 90 percent of all hearing aid wearers have sensorineural hearing loss.  The most common causes of sensorineural hearing loss are; age related changes, noise exposure, inner ear blood circulation, inner ear fluid disturbances and problems with the hearing nerve.

The second most common type of hearing loss is CONDUCTIVE. Conductive hearing loss is due to any condition that interferes with the transmission of sound through the outer and middle ear to the inner ear. This type of hearing loss can be successfully treated in most cases. Conductive loss may result from earwax blocking the ear canal, fluid in the middle ear, middle ear infection, obstructions in the ear canal, perforations (hole) in the eardrum or disease of any of the three middle ear bones. People with conductive hearing loss may notice their ears seem to be full or plugged.  This person may speak softly because they hear their own voice loudly. Crunchy foods, such as celery or carrots, seem very loud to the person with a conductive hearing loss and this person may have to stop chewing to hear what is being said. Even if people with conductive hearing loss are not improved medically or surgically, they stand to benefit greatly from a hearing aid, because what they need most is amplification.

Frequently, a person experiences two or more types of hearing impairment, which  is called a mixed hearing loss. This term is used only when both conductive and sensorineural hearing losses are present in the same ear. However, the emphasis is on the conductive hearing loss, because available therapy is so much more effective for this disorder. For most people with hearing loss, there is help. Properly fitted hearing aids improve communication for at least 90 percent of people with hearing loss.

What is a hearing aid?

A hearing aid is a small electronic device that you wear in or behind your ear. It has three basic parts: a microphone, amplifier, and speaker. The hearing aid receives sound through a microphone, which converts the sound waves to electrical signals and sends them to an amplifier. The amplifier increases the power of the signals and then sends them to the ear through a speaker. It makes some sounds louder so that a person with hearing loss can listen, communicate, and participate more fully in daily activities.

Why choose an Audiologist?

Very simply, the difference is in the amount of training and education.

You can think of an audiologist primarily as a “hearing doctor.” They are a licensed hearing healthcare professional that specializes in the diagnosis and treatment of hearing loss and balance disorders in adults and children. Most audiologists have completed a doctor of audiology (Au.D.) degree, though there are other doctoral degrees within the field (Ph.D., Sc.D., and others).

The most important factor in choosing an audiologist is that they are able to provide a comprehensive approach to diagnosing, treating, and reevaluating your hearing. Partnering with a professional who listens to your needs is critical to the success of your treatment plan.

Audiologists are uniquely qualified and trained to identify a wide variety of pathology and underlying medical conditions of the hearing and balance systems and to refer these cases for appropriate medical or surgical treatment.

At Audicles Hearing Services, you will find our Audiologists are committed to full patient care versus mass-marketed, profit-oriented hearing aid dispenser sales centers.

What to expect in a hearing test?

Following a questionnaire to establish your general health and medical history, we will conduct a painless visual examination of your ears. This examination will reveal obstructions or infections that might be affecting your hearing. If a condition requiring medical treatment is detected, you will be referred to an ear, nose, and throat specialist.

If there is no medical reason for hearing loss—such as wax blockage, perforated eardrum, or other conditions—we will perform a series of tests to determine if you will benefit from hearing aids. We will use an audiometer that emits sounds or tones, like musical notes, at various frequencies and at differing volumes or decibel levels. During some of the tests, you will wear headphones to block distracting sounds. At the sound of a tone, you will be asked to indicate when you hear tones.

We will lower the volume and repeat tones until you can no longer detect them. This process is repeated over a wide range of tones and frequencies from very deep, low sounds, to very high frequency sounds. Each ear is tested separately because sensitivity to sound often differs from one ear to the other. We will then obtain speech understanding scores by having you repeat words back at a comfortable listening level. This information is most important in the hearing aid selection as it gives us an idea of how well you understand words. Using this data we will recommend a hearing solution that best fits your lifestyle, hearing loss severity, cosmetic preferences, and budget.

What to expect with a hearing device?

When hearing aids are professionally fitted and adjusted to the specific user they work very well. However, there is an adjustment period for your ears and your brain to reconfigure to incorporate hearing aids (or new hearing aids) into your life. Things will sound different in the beginning. Nonetheless, they should be comfortable with respect to the physical fit and the sound quality. They will not restore your ears back to exactly what you may remember from years ago and they are not as good as normal hearing. You may be aware of the hearing aids in your ears. Until you get used to it, your voice may sound “funny.”  You will hear your voice amplified through the hearing aid and may describe this sensation as sounding “hollow” or feeling “plugged up.” This is normal and will usually go away in a few days after you have given yourself a chance to get accustomed to your new hearing aids. Some hearing aids have features that make noisy environments more tolerable; however, hearing aids cannot completely eliminate background noise. It is important to have realistic expectation and know what your hearing aids can and cannot do. Hearing aids need to be comfortable, not too tight and not too loose. Don’t wear them if they are uncomfortable.

Do I need two hearing aids?

If you have two ears with hearing loss, and if both could benefit from hearing aids, then you need two hearing aids. It is important to realize there are no “normal” animals born with only one ear. Even the best hearing aid will sound “flat” or “dull” when worn in only one ear.

There are problems associated with wearing only one hearing aid if you are a candidate for binaural (two ears) amplification.

Localization (knowing where the sound came from) is only possible with two ears and it is just about impossible with one ear. Think about how important it is to know where warning and safety sounds (sirens, screams, babies crying, etc.) are coming from. Using both ears together also impacts how well you hear in noise because binaural hearing permits you to selectively attend to the desired signal while “squelching” or paying less attention to undesired sounds — such as background noise.

Binaural hearing allows a quality of “spaciousness” or “high fidelity” to sounds, which cannot occur with monaural (one ear) listening. Understanding speech clearly, particularly in challenging and noisy situations is much easier while using both ears.

Finally, with two hearing aids you can hear people talking to you from either side of your head. People cannot hear well using only one ear. Also know that if you have two ears with hearing problems and you wear only one hearing aid, the unaided ear is likely to lose word recognition ability more quickly than the ear wearing the hearing aid.

What is an ALD (Assistive Listening Device) – Types of ALDs?

Sometimes hearing aids are not the only or best answer to hearing difficulties. There are other devices available to help you in your most difficult listening environments. These devices include systems to better help you hear your television, special doorbells, vibrating alarm clocks, amplified telephones, mobile phone solutions, and many others. We encourage you to share all of your listening difficulties with your Audicles Hearing Services specialist during your evaluation so we can work with you on the most complete solution for your hearing issues.

What do I need to know about hearing aid batteries?

Most people are unaware of the significant cost associated with hearing aid batteries. The average battery lasts only 5-7 days, and if wearing two hearing aids, that results in 125-150 batteries each year! That can translates to hundreds of dollars a year, and a $1000 or more over the life of the average hearing aid. At Audicles Hearing Services, we supply complimentary batteries for the life of your hearing aids—eliminating another “extra” cost that come with the purchase of hearing aids from most hearing aid dispensers.

Today’s hearing aid batteries are “zinc-air.” Because the batteries are air-activated, a factory-sealed sticker keeps them “inactive” until you remove the sticker. Once the sticker is removed from the back of the battery, it is active.

Do Not store zinc air batteries in the refrigerator.  Water particles will form under the sticker and oxygen will reach the battery. Batteries should be stored in a cool location.

All batteries are toxic and dangerous if swallowed. Keep all batteries (and hearing aids) away from children and pets. If anyone swallows a battery, it is a medical emergency and the individual needs to see a physician immediately.  If a battery is swallowed, immediately call the 24-hour National Battery Ingestion Hotline at 202-625-3333 (call collect if necessary) or call your poison center at 1-800-222-1222.

Do hearing aids make my hearing normal?

Hearing aids do not restore hearing to “normal.” Hearing aids cannot “cure” your hearing loss, but they provide benefit and improvement in communication. They can improve your hearing and listening abilities, and they can substantially improve your quality of life.

Can I save money getting my hearing aid on-line?

If you think you might need hearing aids, you’re not alone. Nearly 1 in 6 Americans have hearing loss. That’s a lot of people who could enjoy life more by hearing better. But fewer than 1 in 4 have hearing aids. Why? They’re expensive, complicated, and usually come with a hefty sales pitch. This leads many to look online for cheaper hearing aids, but what you don’t get is one-on-one attention we provide at Audicles, not to mention a lifetime supply of complementary batteries. By working with our audiologists, you are getting professional care and services to ensure that the correct hearing aid is selected and that proper programming of the hearing aid is completed.