Frequently Asked Questions
Question: I don’t think my hearing is that bad, but my spouse and children are often complaining that I’m not hearing well. Do I really need to have my hearing tested if I think it’s still fine?
Answer: Hearing loss occurs very gradually. It typically starts around the age of 40 and slowly progresses over time. Because it’s such a gradual process, the individual with the hearing loss is often not aware how much they are missing. It’s often that others realize you have a hearing problem, long before you realize it. If family members, friends, or co-workers are expressing concerns about your hearing, it is recommended to schedule a hearing test.
Answer: Yes. If ear wax builds up in your ear canal to the extent that it occludes the entire canal, it can completely block sound from traveling to your eardrum. This will not cause one to be completely deaf because sound and vibration is still picked up through the skull; however, ear wax which is occluding can cause significant hearing impairment. This hearing impairment is temporary since ear wax can be removed.
Answer: Yes and No. Ignoring hearing loss will not affect the actual sensitivity of your ears to hear sounds. In other words, your ability to hear tones like those presented during a basic hearing loss will be the same regardless if you treat your hearing loss or not. HOWEVER, your ability to hear clearly may change for the worse if you ignore your hearing loss. Studies have shown that the ear’s ability to correctly identify words was significantly worse over time if left untreated. Untreated hearing loss can lead to negative consequences such as inability to function optimally at work or in social settings, social withdrawl, depression, and even dementia. A landmark study by Dr. Frank Lin at Johns Hopkins found a strong association between untreated hearing loss and cognitive decline. It’s very important to take action if you suspect hearing loss.
Answer: This perception of sound that only you can hear is called tinnitus. Tinnitus may be perceived as buzzing, ringing, hissing, or many other sounds. Although it rarely indicates a severe medical problem, tinnitus is often caused by some damage or pathology in the auditory system. If you have tinnitus it is important to have a complete audiological evaluation.
Answer: An audiologist is a healthcare professional who diagnosis and treats hearing and balance disorders. Most audiologists have a clinical doctorate degree. Audiologists are uniquely qualified to treat individuals with hearing loss and other auditory disorders. If you suspect hearing loss, the first step should be to make an appointment with an audiologist. The audiologist will diagnose your hearing loss and determine the best treatment plan. If you are a candidate for surgery or have hearing loss that can be treated by medicine (only about 10% of individuals), your audiologist can refer you to an Ear, Nose, and Throat physician.
Answer: Hearing aids are sophisticated medical devices which incorporate advanced digital processing. Hearing aid manufacturers invest heavily in research and development to create devices with enhance the quality of speech and filter out unwanted sounds and noise. In order to be fit appropriately, a hearing professional needs to spend considerable time performing hearing evaluations and properly programming and fitting the devices. In addition, the hearing aid manufacturers provide technical and audiology support to the professionals in the field. Unlike consumer electronic devices which can be bought over the counter, hearing aids need to be appropriately fit and serviced by a hearing care professional.
I know I have some hearing loss and I struggle to hear in certain situations, but do I really need hearing aids?
Answer: An individual does not need to have a severe hearing loss, in order to enjoy the benefits of better hearing that hearing aids provide. Individuals with even mild hearing loss can experience difficulty hearing in noisy situations or have difficulty understanding children or soft-spoken adults. Wearing hearing aids allows the individual to fully participate in conversations and be more engaged both socially and in the workforce. Unlike hearing aids of the past which were large and bulky, many of today’s hearing aids are extremely small and discrete.