Welcome to our hearing library. Here you will find answers to many of your questions as well as additional information and resources.
What is an Audiologist?
An audiologist is a professional who diagnoses, treats, and manages individuals of all ages with hearing loss, tinnitus, and/or balance problems. Audiologists have earned an advanced degree from an accredited university graduate program and are state-licensed to practice. Your Audiologist will determine appropriate treatment of your hearing and/or balance problems by combining a complete history with a variety of specialized assessments. Audiologists dispense and fit hearing aids as part of a comprehensive hearing rehabilitation program. Audiologists may be found working in medical centers and hospitals, private practice settings, schools, government health facilities and agencies, and colleges and universities. As a primary hearing health care provider, audiologists refer patients to physicians when the hearing or balance problem requires medical or surgical evaluation or treatment.
Why should I have my hearing aid fitting done by an audiologist?
The American public has been able to purchase hearing aids in retail stores for decades. But the hearing aid itself is not the true source of benefit to the patient. Modern hearing aids have sophisticated flexibility so that the adjustment of the hearing aids, not the sale, is a significant component of benefit. Chris Halpern of Massachusetts Eye and Ear Infirmary stated that this expertise requires not only solid experience, which both audiologists and hearing aid dealers have, but also deep knowledge of the principals of auditory and communicative functioning that only audiologists can provide. Audiologists are also the most capable and learned professionals to guide newly fitted patients through the aural rehabilitation process that is required for them to become successful hearing aid users.
Why should I have my hearing tested?
About 31.5 million Americans have hearing loss. Hearing loss typically occurs gradually over time, so the effects are often subtle. The average person waits seven years after the onset of hearing loss before getting a hearing test. Hearing loss can have a large impact on a person’s quality of life. Some people may remove themselves from conversations and activities because they are unable to fully enjoy them as they once did, which often leads to feelings of isolation and depression. Some people with hearing loss frequently ask others to repeat themselves or blame others for mumbling or talking too softly. This can lead to frustration, disagreements, and embarrassment. Having a hearing test and using hearing aids, if indicated, can avoid these negative effects on your quality of life. Hearing is a vital sense that allows us to fully participate in our family lives and in our communities. A hearing test by an audiologist can help you hear what you’ve been missing.
Why should I be evaluated and treated by an audiologist?
By virtue of their graduate education, professional certification and licensure, audiologists are the most qualified professionals to perform hearing tests, prescribe hearing aids, refer patients for medical treatment, and provide hearing rehabilitation services.
What is an audiogram?
An audiogram is like a picture of how well a person hears. It shows how loud an individual needs various tones to hear them. The tones are presented at different pitches, like notes on a piano. The softest sound a normal hearing person can detect is called 0 dB (dB stands for decibel). Very loud sounds over 120 dB cause discomfort or pain. The sounds presented to construct the audiogram are related to speech sounds and can help your audiologist determine whether your hearing is normal or whether you have a mild, moderate, severe, or profound hearing loss. However, be sure that your understanding of speech in quiet and in noise is also tested.
I can hear I just can’t understand. Why do I need hearing aids?
People often give reasons for missing information like:
- there was too much noise in the background;
- she was mumbling; and,
- he was talking too fast.
The culprit here is that you CANNOT hear higher pitched sounds very well if at all. This type of hearing loss is normal for low pitch sounds, like vowel sounds, but decreased for high pitched sounds, like the consonants s, sh, k, t, f, and th. The problem happens because these high pitched sounds start and end most words and, therefore, help us distinguish one word from another – for example, cat, sat, that, fat. A hearing aid can emphasize the speech area for those specific sounds you cannot hear. It also helps if you look at the person who is talking to you.
Why do I need two hearing aids?
Do you prefer listening to music in stereo or from one speaker? We do not have two ears by mistake. God designed our two-ear hearing system to have definite advantages over a one-ear system. If you have hearing loss in both ears, there are a number of reasons why wearing two hearing aids is better than wearing one.
Reasons two hearing aids are better than one:
- you can locate sounds better, telling who is talking to the left or to the right of you.
- you can understand speech better in noisy situations.
- with the normal balance two hearing aids provide, everything sounds more natural.
- you don’t need as much volume.
- there is possibly of risk of losing speech understanding ability in the unaided ear.
- if tinnitus, or ringing in the ears, is a problem, it will be masked out in both ears rather than just one.
Despite the advantages of binaural hearing aids, some people are not able to wear a hearing aid in one of their ears for certain reasons. An Audiologist can perform specialized tests that can determine whether you will benefit from wearing a hearing aid in both ears or whether you should wear only one.
Are digital hearing aids better?
Digital hearing aids have all but replaced conventional hearing aids so this question is becoming insignificant. Nonetheless, digital hearing aids do have features that make them preferable to analog hearing aids. The digitization, or use of a tiny microchip in hearing aids, offers the following advantages. Digital hearing aids:
- can be more accurately programmed for each individual hearing loss;
- have more natural sound quality;
- help prevent unpleasant microphone noise or ongoing background noise, such as the sound of traffic or the hum of a refrigerator; and,
- offer improved management of the whistling noise, called feedback, that some hearing aid users frequently experience.
Ask your audiologist for a thorough explanation of why digital hearing aids may be better for you than the analog counterparts.
What is the best hearing aid?
The one that works for you.
What is the least expensive hearing aid?
The one that works for you.
What should I know before getting my hearing aids?
Batteries - All hearing aids have batteries and your audiologist can provide them for you. The battery goes in a special compartment of the hearing aid. Extra batteries, like the hearing aids themselves, are stored in a safe, dry place.
Controls - Many hearing aids have a volume control and memory button. These help you adjust the hearing aids so you can hear better in various situations. Your hearing aids may have advanced technology so that they self-adjust as the sound around you changes. Your hearing aid may have directional technology that can help you better hear the person you are talking with and reduce unwanted sound behind you.
Feedback - Hearing aids can produce feedback, which is a whistling sound. If the hearing aid is turned on when you put it in your ear, you can expect to hear this whistling sound. You may also get brief feedback when you hug someone or put your hand next to your ear. However, feedback should not occur very often. If it does, your hearing aid may need to be adjusted or remade.
Benefit - Those who benefit the most from hearing aids wear them all day every day unless they are bathing, swimming, or sleeping. Occasional use (for example, only when you go to the store or watch TV) will result in limited benefit. It will take you some time to adjust to re-hearing all the sounds you have been missing for a number of years. With daily use, your brain will naturally adapt to all these sounds over a period of time. Audiologists provide aural rehabilitation, which is training to help you through your adjustment time.
What is tinnitus and what causes it?
'Tin-it-us' or 'tin-night-us' refers to noises in the ear that no one else can hear. Most people have ear noises from time to time that come on suddenly but go away quickly. True tinnitus is an ever present sensation that may seem like ringing, rattling, clicking, or some other sound sensation. Scientists still do not really understand what creates this sensation of sound. The most common reason for this condition is accompanying hearing loss, often brought on by damage to the ears through exposure to loud noise.
What can I do about my tinnitus?
Have a complete audiological assessment including a tinnitus evaluation. You may need follow up testing or a referral to a physician to ensure that your tinnitus is not treatable. Once it has been verified that there is no medical treatment for your tinnitus, the best way to manage it is to AVOID SILENCE so that sound in the surrounding environment masks it out. This may require you to keep a fan running at night while you are trying to sleep and keep a radio on during the daytime while you are working. Many people experience relief from their tinnitus when they use hearing aids or an ear-level masker.
What is an assistive listening device?
Assistive listening devices, or ALDs, are systems that use a transmitter and a receiver to help a person hear when the speaker is at a distance (such as in a worship space or at a play) or where there is extensive background noise (such as in a noisy restaurant or basketball arena). Some people describe ALDs as binoculars for the ears. ALDs have similar components to hearing aids but the hearing aid wearer often uses one part while the microphone is placed on or near the mouth of the speaker.
How are hearing aids powered?
All hearing aids use batteries. Most use a zinc-air button cell battery. Battery life depends on the size of the battery, the hearing aid features, and the sound situations in which the hearing aids are worn. Typically, batteries last about one week. Your audiologist will make sure you know how to insert and remove your battery, how much battery life you should expect, and where you can get replacement batteries.
Why does a watch battery lasts so much longer than a hearing aid battery?
A hearing aid is a marvelous, miniature, electronic device with a microphone, an amplifier, a sound processor, and a speaker. It may also have a volume control and memory button or may handle these processes automatically. All these components draw much more power than the hands on a wristwatch. In addition, state-of-the art hearing aids are constantly monitoring incoming sounds and making adjustments for better speech understanding. This requires increased power when a hearing aid user is in noisy listening situations, like a restaurant.
What is a cochlear implant?
This is a surgically implanted hearing device designed to produce useful hearing sensations for persons with severe to profound hearing loss who receive little or no benefit from hearing aids. The implant is placed inside the ear and electrically stimulates the hearing nerve. The cochlear implant user wears an external device that contains a microphone, sound processor, and transmitter system. This external device looks like a behind-the-ear hearing aid and is worn on the ear. Some cochlear implant users also have a speech processor that is the size of a deck of cards and clipped to a belt or shirt pocket.