We know you have plenty of questions about hearing care and hearing aids. Understanding hearing health helps you make the best-informed decisions about your hearing and treatment options, and makes you feel more relaxed and confident as you head into your hearing check. Below are some of the most common questions we hear regarding hearing health, along with the answers you’re seeking.
Hearing loss, especially age-related hearing loss, often develops so gradually the person affected isn’t aware it’s happening. Hearing loss isn’t usually accompanied by pain or discomfort, and many individuals subconsciously adapt to impaired hearing. Often, it’s family members or friends who first suspect someone has diminished hearing.
You may be experiencing hearing loss if any of the following statements apply:
Multiple types of hearing loss exist. The most common is age-related hearing loss, or presbycusis. Age-related hearing loss is a type of sensorineural hearing loss, which is caused by damage to the inner ear or auditory nerve. Sensorineural hearing loss causes permanent hearing loss and is usually treated with hearing aids. Hearing loss caused by exposure to ear-damaging noise is another type of sensorineural hearing loss.
Conductive hearing loss occurs when sound cannot pass through the outer and middle ear. Multiple conditions can cause conductive hearing loss, including fluid in the ear, ruptured ear drums, excess earwax, infection, or congenital ear deformities. Unlike sensorineural hearing loss, conductive hearing loss can often be reversed with the right treatment.
Mixed hearing loss, as the name implies, is caused by both sensorineural and conductive hearing loss. Treatment may reverse the effects of conductive hearing loss but hearing aids may be needed to address sensorineural causes.
Hearing loss is treated by audiologists, ENT doctors, licensed hearing care professionals (HCP) and licensed hearing instrument specialists (HIS). Audiologists are specialists in the study of hearing, known as audiology. They test, diagnose, and treat hearing loss, and can also fit you with hearing aids.
Ear, nose, and throat (ENT) doctors are more properly called otolaryngologists. An ENT doctor specializes in disorders of the ear, nose, throat, head, and neck. If your hearing loss is accompanied by balance problems or pain, you may need to see an ENT doctor. Many ENT doctors work in conjunction with audiologists in order to provide the best possible care.
Licensed HCPs and HISs are hearing health professionals who focus on fitting and dispensing hearing aids. They are licensed to provide a comprehensive assessment of your hearing issues, as well as diagnose any underlying medical conditions that may be causing the problem. They can perform hearing loss tests and guide you on the proper course of treatment.
It does take time to get used to wearing hearing aids. You should experience an improvement in hearing quickly, but it takes time to physically get used to wearing the device. Your brain has become accustomed to diminished hearing and will need time to get used to sounds and pitches it hasn’t heard in a while.
You will need time to acclimatize to restored sounds. High frequency sounds and environmental noises may sound odd or too loud at first. Wearing your new hearing aids as much as possible, coupled with realistic expectations and a little patience, will help you adjust to both your restored hearing and the new sensation of wearing hearing aids.
You should visit your licensed hearing care professional regularly during the adjustment period can make the process smoother and faster. You should expect to see your professional 2-4 times in the first month to adjust your settings and to make sure you’re getting the most out of your hearing aids.
In most cases, Medicare does not cover hearing health care, with a few exceptions. Up to 80 percent of diagnostic hearing and balance exams costs may be covered if your primary healthcare provider recommends the need for the exam. Hearing tests, hearing aids, and hearing aid fittings are not covered under Medicare A or B.
If you have a Medicare Advantage plan (Medicare Part C), you may be covered for hearing tests and hearing aids. As each Medicare Advantage plan is different, it’s important to check your individual plan to see if hearing health is covered.
The price of hearing aids depends on the model and features you need. Generally, the more technologically advanced the hearing aid, the more expensive it will be. Though more expensive, the more advanced models come with enhanced features such as improved noise reduction capabilities, crystal-clear microphones, and Bluetooth connectivity.
Your level of hearing loss will also affect hearing aid price, as severe or profound hearing loss requires more powerful hearing aids. The addition of Bluetooth connectivity, rechargeable batteries, and other options will affect price.
Check your health insurance to see if your plan covers hearing aids. If not, most hearing professionals offer flexible financing options.
Hearing aid batteries may last anywhere from 3 to 22 days, depending on the size of the battery, the style of hearing aid, and the amount of time the hearing aid is used. Larger batteries tend to have longer lives, while small batteries, such as those used to power invisible hearing aids, hold less power and don’t last as long.
Some behind-the-ear and receiver-in-canal hearing aids now come with rechargeable batteries. Whether you prefer rechargeable or disposable hearing aid batteries depends in part on your lifestyle and how often you use your hearing aids.
With so many styles of hearing aids on the market, it can be difficult deciding which type of hearing aid is right for you. Do you go with receiver-in-canal (RIC), behind-the-ear (BTE), in-the-ear (ITE), or an in-the-canal (ITC) model?
Your choice depends on the severity of your hearing loss, your lifestyle, and the level of discretion you want (sometimes people don’t want others to know they're wearing hearing aids). Consulting with a licensed hearing care professional will help you select the right type of hearing aid for you. Fortunately, there’s a solution available for every lifestyle and budget.
While age-related hearing loss is the most common reason for wearing hearing aids, people of any age can develop hearing problems. According to the National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders, 15% of adult have some level of hearing difficulty, while 2 to 3 out of every 1,000 children are born with hearing loss. No matter what your age, if you live with hearing loss you may benefit from a hearing test and hearing aids.
Hearing aids have a positive impact on quality of life. Better hearing makes you more likely to engage in social activities. You’ll have higher quality interactions with family and friends, and be able to better enjoy music, television, and other entertainment.
Modern hearing aids are comfortable to wear and very discreet. Many are so small that other people will never notice you’re wearing them. You’ll be able to fully engage with others at work or at home just as you did before your hearing loss.
If you think you’re experiencing hearing loss or you’d like to learn more about how hearing aids can improve your life, schedule an appointment with a licensed hearing care professional today.