FAQs: Questions About Hearing Loss

What are the symptoms of hearing loss?

  • Difficulty hearing conversations in the presence of background noise.
  • The inability to hear over the telephone
  • Turning the television or the radio up very loud
  • Misunderstanding parts of a sentence
  • Not hearing birds or other sounds of nature
  • Not hearing the telephone or doorbell ring
  • History of hearing loss in the family

What is this ringing that I get in my ears?
The ringing sound is called tinnitus. It is usually an indication of damage to the auditory system, often noise damage. Unfortunately there is no cure for tinnitus, but certain treatments are available.

What are some of the causes of hearing loss?

  • Noise exposure (gunfire, explosions, machinery)
  • Hereditary factors
  • Certain medications
  • Aging
  • Infections
  • Cerumen
  • Head injury

Can hearing be restored?
Hearing losses involving the middle ear can often be treated medically and hearing can be improved. Sensorineural hearing losses are generally permament.

Why are women's and children's voices harder to hear than men's?
The most typical hearing loss is a high frequency loss. Since women and children typically speak in a higher pitch register, their speech and consonants will be much more difficult to hear. Whereas men have lower pitched voices. So if your hearing loss is normal in the low frequencies, male voices will be heard clearly. 

I don't have a problem 'hearing', I have a problem 'understanding?
Hearing and understanding are 2 seperate components of a hearing loss. Hearing is the ability to recognize speech and the fact that someone is talking. But understanding involved the actual discrimination of words and the clarity of speech. Again, in the case of a high frequency hearing loss, the consonants of speech (which are most vital for speech understanding) are typically not heard, but the volume and vowel sounds are.

Do I need to see an Audiologist or an Ear Doctor to be tested?
Both are qualified to perform the audiometric testing. However any medical assessment or medical intervention needs to be performed by a physician. If no medical contraindication exists, the Audiologist will presribe and fit the appropriate amplification system. Anyone 18yrs or older may however sign a waiver of medical examination

Will a hearing aid restore my hearing to normal?
Hearing aids will most definitely improve your hearing and communication abilities, but NO they will not restore your hearing. They are an 'aid' to your hearing, as the name implies.

Will hearing aids do more damage to my hearing?
No, hearing aids are designed to not exceed allowable volume levels, so they will not further damage your hearing.

Do I need to wear two hearing aids?
If you consider our anatomy, everything is in pairs, arms, legs, eyes, and ears. These organs are designed to function together. If hearing loss is present in both ears, it is recommended that hearing aids be worn binaurally. There is something called binaural summation, which is the ability to hear better when sound is heard in stereo. Additionally, using both ears facilitates identifiying where sounds originate and also improves balance.

Will a hearing aid eliminate background noise?
Noise is present in our environment. If we have normal hearing we hear noise. A hearing aid cannot eliminate sounds that are present in our environment,  but they can help reduce the impact of the noise so that speech is heard over it. This is referred to as increasing the signal to noise ratio. Additionally hearing aids can be equipped with directional microphones that allow for speech to be boosted when you are facing the speaker.

Is the more expensive hearing aid really the best?
The more expensive hearing aids are usually the most up to date digital technology on the market. They are the most adaptive and versatile in terms of fine tuning them to the individual hearing loss. They have the greatest noise reduction capabilities and the greatest speech processing abilities. However, the hearing aid has to be prescribed to the individual's lifestyle as well as to the hearing loss. So for many patients, the most expensive digital hearing aid is not the one of choice. The hearing aid has to be fit with many parameters in mind, and the correct decision is made through a detailed consultation with the Audiologist.

How long will a hearing aid last?
The general life expectancy of a hearing aid is 5 to 6 years.

Will my hearing aid need to be repaired?
Generally during the life expectancy of the hearing aid, it may require 1 or 2 manufacturer repairs. Typically hearing aids have a 1 to 2 year repair warranty from the start, and then a 6 month additional warranty is provided after a 'paid' repair.

What if I don't like the hearing aid after I purchased it?
Most facilities provide a 60 day trial period. If the hearing aid is returned the cost of the hearing aid(s) is returned. Any professional fees however are non-refundable

How long does it take to get used to wearing my hearing aid?
This is very much dependent on the patient and their motivation. For the most part, it generally takes several months to become totally acclimated to the hearing aid and to glean it's optimal performance. Studies reveal that the brain actually goes through a 'remapping' phase, where it essentially learns to 'relisten'.