Frequently Asked Questions
- How do I know if I have a hearing loss?
You might consider taking the short test on this web page - do I have a hearing loss? If you answer "yes" to one or more questions, you may consider calling your local hearing instrument specialist for a complete hearing evaluation. Upon completion, your hearing professional will be able to determine the type and degree of hearing loss you have and whether amplification would be helpful for you. Most professionals offer this evaluation free of charge. Your hearing instrument specialist is specially trained to help you identify the nature of your hearing loss. This expert will also select and fit the proper hearing instrument for you and will provide support, encouragement, counseling and instruction as you learn to use the hearing instrument to your best advantage.
- Cosmetics are very important to me, how big do my hearing aids have to be?
Hearing aids come in several different sizes or models as pictured below:
CIC (Completely in the canal) is the smallest size available in a hearing instrument. This model fits deep in the ear canal and in most cases cannot be seen by others. A small string is attached to this model for easy removal. Though small, this instrument is very powerful and fits a variety of hearing loss needs.
Canal (ITC - in the canal) is one of the most popular models fit today. This hearing instrument fits in the ear canal and cannot be detected when someone looks straight on but can be detected from the side or behind.
Full shell (ITE - in the ear) fits completely in the outer ear, extending into the canal. This model accommodates a wide variety of hearing losses.
Behind the ear (BTE) model is a small hearing instrument housed in a curved case that fits securely behind the ear. It is attached to the ear mold by a short, plastic tube. Sound is delivered from the hearing instrument through the ear mold and into the ear canal. BTE models will fit the widest range of hearing losses. Body worn hearing instruments, though powerful with easy to manipulate controls, have been replaced for the majority of applications by smaller and more powerful models of hearing instruments.
- How do I choose a hearing instrument specialist?
This is a very important choice. As a consumer, you may use one of the following methods:
a) Personal referral from friends or family. You may consider asking acquaintances who wear hearing aids for possible recommendations.
b) Contact the Georgia Society of Hearing Professionals for a list of hearing instrument specialists near you. Or, you can simply type in your zip code near the top of this page and click “search”. A free information packet about hearing loss is also available by request. You may consider interviewing local hearing instrument specialists in your area. This would give you the opportunity to see the environment of their offices and the equipment used for hearing evaluations, as well as meet prospective hearing instrument specialists who would be working with you. Most hearing aid dealers offer a free hearing evaluation. Find a hearing instrument specialist you feel comfortable with, as this will be a lasting relationship. You will be seen regularly during the testing and adjustment period as well as afterward for maintenance and service, as necessary.
c) Contact the Better Business Bureau and inquire regarding any complaints of unfair business practices.
- What type of hearing aid will be best for my lifestyle and hearing loss?
If hearing loss is found during the hearing evaluation performed by your hearing instrument specialist, a recommendation will be made as to the type of instrument that would best correct your hearing loss. Several factors must be taken into consideration when selecting the type of hearing aid which would best suit you. Occupation, lifestyle, environment and physical limitations (because of the dexterity needed to adjust the hearing instrument's volume, change batteries, etc.) must all be considered before proper selection of the hearing instruments can take place.
Price should not be the primary concern when selecting hearing instruments, except for the limitations of your budget. The objective is to select instruments that will meet your needs by providing the most effective assistance for your hearing impairment.
Expert personal assistance is required in the evaluation of your hearing, the selection and fitting of the hearing instrument, and the follow-up services needed for the successful use of your hearing system. This can only be accomplished through a professional relationship between you and your hearing instrument specialist.
- Why do I need two hearing aids and not just one?
Extensive laboratory and field research has scientifically proven that people benefit most from wearing a hearing instrument in each ear. This is commonly referred to as a binaural fitting. In most cases, if a sensorineural hearing loss exists, that loss occurs in both ears to some degree.
Several reasons for wearing hearing instruments in both ears are:
Patient is unable to detect which direction sound is coming from with only one instrument. This problem proves to be uncomfortable for some patients.
Two instruments provide better speech discrimination or understanding for the hearing impaired patient.
Speech understanding in groups or noisy background situations is increased.
Hearing is easier and more relaxed; the patient no longer has to strain to use the best ear.
The patient is provided with a feeling of more balanced hearing.
Studies show that when only one hearing instrument is worn, the speech discrimination ability in the unaided ear often becomes worse.
- What if I don't like my new hearing aids after I spent all this money?
Most hearing instrument dealers provide a 30-day trial adjustment period to allow every patient the chance to see the advantages of amplification to correct a hearing loss. This means that within this time period a patient can return the instruments for a partial refund if they prove to be unsatisfactory. This business practice provides every hearing impaired individual the opportunity to try amplification at little to no risk. Make an appointment today with your local hearing specialist for a hearing evaluation.
- How do I know what brand of hearing aid to get?
There are many companies that supply high quality state of the art technology hearing instruments. Most of these companies provide a full line of products with many unique features available to serve the needs of most patients. Your hearing instrument specialist is knowledgeable about the products and features available from these different providers and should be able to make informed suggestions for the best instruments for your lifestyle and hearing loss.
- My father got hearing aids years ago but he never wore them because he couldn't stand the "background noise". Am I going to have the same problem?
Background noise has always been the biggest complaint about hearing aids in the past, but with the advanced circuit technology recently developed, background noise is no longer the problem it was in the past. Some hearing instruments have features which, when activated, will further filter the background noise for certain situations. The technology today is so superior to the technology available for your father that there is no comparison. You owe it to yourself and family members to try the technology of today. Make an appointment right away with your local hearing instrument specialist.
- Is age a determining factor for hearing aids?
Hearing loss is an equal-opportunity symptom of ear pathology that affects people of all ages. Since hearing loss is sensory deprivation, it changes a person's life dramatically. People of any age who have auditory deficits may feel frustrated, angry, or isolated from family, peers, and community. Assessment of hearing is an integral component of the hearing instrument specialist's practice as any degree of hearing loss affects one's quality of life
- Are there any other devices available which could be helpful to make my hearing loss easier to cope with?
There are many assistive listening devices which can prove to be helpful for the hearing impaired individual and provide safety on some level.
Some of these helpful devices are:
Vibrating alarm clock
Strobe light alarm clock
Personal television amplification system
Telephone amplification system
- What can I expect the hearing test process to contain? How long will this test process take?
Certainly, the test process will vary with each hearing instrument specialist, although there are basic tests you can expect with every comprehensive hearing test given. These are as follows:
Air conduction test - this test is done with headphones or inserts placed on the patient. This test process will be done in a sound dampened booth by some hearing healthcare specialists as pictured below.
Patient tested: The other method of testing is done without a booth; still using headphones placed on the patients ears in a quiet setting as pictured below.
During this test a series of pulsating beeps will be presented to the patient at different frequencies or tones. The patient is instructed to press the patient response button when they hear the tone, even when they think they hear the tone. The response for air conduction is then recorded on the audiogram form.
Bone conduction test - during this part of the hearing test a bone conductor or oscillator is placed behind the patient's ear on the mastoid bone. Once again a series of pulsating tones are presented to the patient who has been instructed to press the patient response button when they hear the tone, even when they think they hear the tone. This bone conduction test is a measurement of hearing due to vibration, directly to the cochlea or inner ear.
*If the results of the air conduction test are significantly different from the bone conduction test there maybe a conductive hearing loss and this patient should be referred for a medical evaluation. Many times a conductive hearing loss can be medically corrected.
Speech reception threshold (SRT) is a measurement of the lowest volume a patient can hear and repeat at least 50% of spondee words presented. This measurement is used in determining the appropriate prescription for a hearing instrument.
Most comfortable level (MCL) is a measurement of the volume level, which is a comfortable listening level for the patient. This measurement is used in determining the appropriate prescription for a hearing instrument.
Uncomfortable listening level (UCL) is a measurement of the volume, which becomes uncomfortable for the patient when presented. This measurement is used in determining the appropriate prescription for a hearing instrument.
Speech discrimination test (SDT) is performed using one syllable words. The patient is instructed to repeat the word they hear while being provided the necessary amplification. Sometimes with a sensorineural hearing loss it isn't that the patient can't hear the words as much as they can't understand the words. The score received by the patient on this speech discrimination test will provide the hearing instrument specialist with some idea of the success this patient may enjoy with amplification.
The time necessary to the test process will vary between hearing instrument specialists - usually between 30 minutes and an hour. Certainly the patient's ability to respond and follow directions is the largest factor to consider in the testing time.