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Hearing Loss and Hearing Aids FAQs
Hearing loss occurs to most people as they age. Hearing loss can be due to the aging process, exposure to loud noise, certain medications, infections, head or ear trauma, congenital (birth or prenatal) or hereditary factors, diseases, as well as a number of other causes. In the year 2001, there are some 28 million people in the USA with hearing loss. Hearing loss is the single most common birth “defect” in America. Hearing loss in adults, particularly in seniors, is common.
You may have hearing loss if…
- You hear people speaking but you have to strain to understand their words.
- You frequently ask people to repeat what they said.
- You don’t laugh at jokes because you miss too much of the story or the punch line.
- You frequently complain that people mumble.
- You need to ask others about the details of a meeting you just attended.
- You play the TV or radio louder than your friends, spouse and relatives.
- You cannot hear the doorbell or the telephone.
- You find that looking at people when they speak to you makes it easier to understand.
If you have any of these symptoms, you should see an Audiologist to get an audiological evaluation. An Audiological Evaluation (AE) is the term used to describe a diagnostic hearing test, performed by a licensed hearing care professional. An AE is not just pressing the button when you hear a “beep.” Rather, an audiological evaluation allow up to the hearing aid wearer, typically patients ges the hearing care professional to determine the type and degree of your hearing loss, and it tells the professional how well or how poorly you understand speech. After all, speech is the single most important sound, and the ability to understand speech is extremely important. The AE also includes a thorough case history (interview) as well as visual inspection of the ear canals and eardrum. The results of the AE are useful to the physician should the hearing aid consultant conclude that your hearing problem may be treated with medical or surgical alternatives.
How long does it take to adjust to hearing aids?
The adjustment period to hearing aids varies among individuals. The longer you wait to treat your hearing loss with hearing aids, the longer it takes for your brain to adjust to your new hearing aids. Success can be as little as two weeks for experienced hearing aid wearers. For others, especially new hearing aid wearers, the process can be anywhere from one month to one year.
The success rate is up to the hearing aid wearer, typically patients get a faster result when they:
Wear hearing instruments at all times
Follow guidelines of the after care program
By working closely with your Audiologist on follow up visits and adjustments to your hearing aid settings, the adjustment period may go quicker.
Sound from my hearing aids doesn’t seem natural. Why?
You are now hearing speech sounds that you were not able to hear before because of your hearing loss. This unnatural sound quality will eventually improve as your hearing nerve and brain adapt to hearing these frequencies (sounds) again. Your auditory nerve and brain need time to adjust and eventually the quality will improve as well as your speech comprehension ability.
Continue to wear your hearing aids as much as possible. Many users want to remove them due to the unnatural sound quality. By removing them you are not allowing the nerve and brain to be stimulated and it will take longer for them to adapt to the new sound.
Is it normal for my ears to be sore from my hearing aids?
Minor physical sensitivity may occur in the first few days of wearing new hearing aids. As your ears become familiar with your hearing aids this problem should subside. If irritation persists or a sore develops, consult your Audiologist immediately.
In some cases your hearing aids may need to be slightly modified physically for a better fit. The Audiologist has specialized tools to modify the physical fit and improve wearing comfort.
What do I have to do to maintain my hearing aids through the years?
You should visit your Audiologist at least once a year to have your hearing tested as well as have your hearing aids cleaned and checked.
Your hearing aids are susceptible to earwax, dirt and dust, and varying degrees of moisture depending upon your climate and level of physical activity. All of these factors can eventually inhibit the performance and operation of your hearing aids.
Continual care for your hearing aids involves cleaning your hearing aids as instructed by your Audiologist in addition to following the care instructions listed in your operation manual.
If you live in a climate with high humidity or use your hearing aids during physical activity, it is recommended you place your hearing aids in a hearing aid dehumidifier at night to reduce the amount of moisture inside the hearing aids.
Moisture and wax build up are often the most detrimental to hearing aids and if steps are taken to reduce the negative effects of these factors the performance and life of your hearing aids can be extended.