Frequently Asked Questions About Hearing Aids

Do I really need a hearing aid?

The best way to find out is to have a complete audiological evaluation performed by a licensed audiologist. After reviewing the audiometric test results, the audiologist will advise you of the results and determine your candidacy for a hearing aid. Once the need for amplification has been established, the audiologist will ask a number of questions to analyze situations causing you hearing difficulty. This is very beneficial in choosing the proper hearing device.

Hearing aids could be beneficial to the estimated 28 million Americans with impaired hearing. Oddly enough, only 20% of those who need a hearing aid have one.

My hearing isn't that bad yet!

There are countless individuals with significant hearing loss who make excuses for their hearing deficit. "I can hear people, I just don't understand them," or "I could understand people better if they wouldn't mumble," are comments made by individuals with gradual, nerve type hearing loss. Admitting to a hearing loss is the initial step to improving hearing. A complete audiological evaluation will determine the extent of a hearing loss.

What is a "nerve" type hearing loss?

A sensorineural hearing loss ("nerve deafness") is described as damage or deterioration to the tiny hair cells in the cochlea (organ of hearing). Treatment to "restore" damaged hair cells is unlikely. Causes of a nerve-type hearing loss include noise exposure, heredity, aging process and illness. It was once believed individuals with "nerve deafness" could not benefit from amplification; however, this is not true. The majority of today's hearing aid users have this type of hearing loss.

When did I lose my hearing?

Hearing loss can affect any one, at any age. However, the prevalence of hearing loss increases with advancing age. One out of four persons age 65 and over have a hearing loss. One out of three persons age 75 and over have a hearing loss. The identification of baby boomers with hearing loss is growing at a serious rate. In 1997, President Clinton was fit with hearing aids for his high frequency hearing loss.

What can hearing aids do for me?

Improving the overall quality of life is the objective behind using amplification. Isolation, confusion and embarrassment are just a few of the conditions caused by hearing loss. Appropriate amplification coupled with constructive counseling can alleviate these barriers.

Effective hearing aid usage is a step-by-step process. First, the hearing loss needs to be recognized and accepted. Without this acknowledgment, any other progress will be less than effective. Education is the second step. Gain insight on the causes of hearing loss, how the ear works and what can be done to correct the problem. Next, find out the available options to improve the situation. Review all the existing options and make a decision that will best improve your lifestyle. This is a personal decision that should be based on an individual need. The amount of improvement one can expect from a hearing aid can be related to the effort put forth by the user.

What kinds of hearing aids are available?

Technical developments in the hearing aid industry have made tremendous advancements over the past few years. The size of hearing aids has become smaller and smaller, making them more cosmetically appealing. One of the more popular models is the nearly invisible, completely-in-the-canal hearing aid. This hearing aid is worn deep in the ear canal and only a tiny transparent cord extends out of the canal for easy removal.

Advancements in hearing aid circuitry have also made remarkable progress. Hearing aid technology has evolved from "just making sounds louder" to automatically adjusting for specific speech sounds to produce a clear, natural sound quality.

What is the difference between the hearing aid circuitry technologies?

Basic conventional hearing aid technology does little more than "amplify sounds." Manipulation of the sound entering this hearing aid is quite limited. There are many conventional hearing aid users who are not satisfied with their current hearing aids and refuse to wear them. They usually refuse to try a higher level of technology since "the first set of hearing aids didn't work." Hearing aids containing a higher level of technology have features to automatically adjust the hearing aid to fit the listening situation. This means less adjustment is required by the user. The latest in circuitry technology uses digital signal processing to amplify sounds.

What do hearing aids cost?

Hearing aids have a wide price range. The main factors determining the cost of the hearing aid are usually related to the type of technology and size. The less expensive hearing aids usually contain lower grade circuitry and have few, if any, adjustment options. Benefit from this type of aid is usually marginal. Hearing aids using advanced technology, with automatic features, tend to have a higher associated cost. Miniaturizing the circuitry to fit a smaller hearing aid shell also increases the cost.

Another option for those with a mild to moderate hearing loss is a disposable hearing aid. This "one-size-fits-all" hearing aid is new to the market. They are inexpensive (about one dollar a day) and require very little maintenance.

My friend has a hearing aid but never uses it.

Some people do better with hearing aids than others. The degree and slope of hearing loss, type of amplification and personal motivation are factors in determining hearing aid benefit. Many times, people are influenced to purchase a hearing aid based on the cost. These hearing aids are generally lower class technology and may not be the most appropriate for their particular hearing loss or lifestyle.

Sometimes, expectations for hearing aid usage exceed the capabilities of amplification. A misconception among new hearing aid users is their hearing will be "restored to perfect!" The ear is a wonderfully, fine-tuned organ. Reproducing this natural biological process is quite complicated. Using the most appropriate hearing aid device with proper counseling, the audiologist can reduce many of the obstacles hearing aid users encounter.

Is there a trial period?

Each hearing aid comes with a trial period lasting approximately 30 days. If the user feels he/she is not receiving benefit from the hearing aid(s), he/she may return the aid(s) for a refund. The user is responsible for a non-refundable user's fee that varies with the different types of hearing aids.

Is there any other information I need to know before?

Plenty! As a new user, the more information you know, the better. Is one aid enough or do I need one for each ear? How do I take care of the aids? What kind of repair warranty comes with the hearing aids? How long will the hearing aids last?

The audiologist will take the time and answer all your questions during hearing aid consultation. At this appointment, your personal situation will be discussed and a plan will be devised to meet your individual needs.

How do I start the process of getting a hearing aid?

Call and make an appointment with an audiologist to have your hearing evaluated. It is also in your best interest to have your ears checked by an Ear, Nose and Throat physician to make sure your hearing cannot be improved by medical treatment. Usually, both of these appointments can be made on the same day by calling Midwest Ear, Nose & Throat, LLC and Midwest Hearing Aid Center, LLC at 913-764-2737.