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Answering Clinical Questions Improves Patient Safety
Do I need a referral from a doctor for a hearing test?
A referral from a doctor is not necessary to go for a hearing test, we do however provide your doctor with a copy of the analysis and report from your hearing test. The cost of a hearing test is approximately $120.00 similar to an eye exam it is unfortunately not covered by OHIP, a screening is however provided at no extra cost.
My husband has been wearing hearing aids for years… should I?
At a certain age, undoubtedly most of us will have problems with our hearing due to the aging processes and the breakdown of cells in the body. After 50 your hearing should be checked as often as your vision as part of an overall physical done once a year. It is important to remember that problems with hearing sometimes signify an oncoming illness or undiagnosed health problem, it is also important to listen to the advice of those around us because often we are the last ones to see that something is wrong with us.
Can I find the same hearing aids in every hearing aid clinic?
Unfortunately no. Only truly independent clinics that are privately owned will have a large variety of hearing aids, these clinics offer true variety and have products from all the major hearing aid manufacturers around the world without bias. Large hearing aid clinic chains usually only offer hearing aids from the major company that they are affiliated with and will not sell other manufacturers hearing aids, these types of clinics offer very little variety and selection and should be avoided.
Is it worth buying hearing aids in a clinic far from home or clinic?
It’s always worth buying products at a place that has a good and established reputation. The service that we receive can vary, the selection of hearing aids may vary and the variety of hearing aid types may be much smaller then at an established hearing aid clinic. Access to the newest available technology may be limited as well, the testing equipment and facility may be very outdated and inferior to today’s (current) equipment and testing booths, access to rehabilitation programs and counselors may be limited or not available at all. Another important factor to consider is that a small non reputable location may only have one specialist working, this would limit knowledge and experience down to one person instead of several, for instance if the specialist you are dealing with does not understand your issues and can’t properly help you, there is little to do about it (except find another clinic).
Please remember that buying hearing aids is just the beginning, there is a lot of work involved in ensuring your ability to understand speech and hear better but it is only possible with the use of a hearing aid.
Does speech recognition improve as soon as I put in my hearing aids?
In the basic sense – yes, but to fully get the best benefit sit takes time, sometimes maybe even months of work and a good rehabilitation program to achieve the desired improvement in speech recognition, this of course also all depends on how bad the hearing loss if as well as other factors such as the amount of effort put into the rehabilitation program.
Hearing aids should be worn at all times, every day for at least 10 hours each and every day – only then will we get their full effect and be able to improve our speech recognition properly as well as get the maximum benefit and improvement in hearing. It comes down to the fact that hearing aids are only a tool that is used by us to improve our quality of life and somewhat help stop the effects of aging, and at the same time help our mind recognize sounds and speech correctly while minimizing outside noise. Wearing them regularly is the only way for them to work properly and do their job in cooperation with our brain.
If I buy modern hearing aids will I be able to hear more and understand people?
You will definitely understand people better. This is where the difference starts, based on how different hearing aid clinics approach the matter. Unfortunately people buying hearing aids will not always get everything explained to them properly. Not wearing hearing aids we lose the ability to understand speech (up to 20% yearly). Only wearing high quality hearing aids can stop and reverse this process. That’s why there are so many government programs in place to help people get hearing aids not to mention private insurance (and benefits) often covering up to 100% of the cost.
Even paying for the hearing aids yourself you need to remember that you are not just paying for the hearing aids but for the ability to hear and understand people again, engage in conversations and improve our speech and hearing recognition, the initial sum spent is not as important as the joy of being able to hear your family and friends every day clearly and loudly without noise.
Is it true that hearing aids are used in therapeutic programs?
Yes, technologically advanced hearing aids have been successfully used in many therapeutic and rehabilitation programs, even in the case of a stroke, with the help of hearing aids speech recognition and understanding as well as the ability to speak has returned, not to mention the improvement in cognitive function. Hearing aids help with the creation of new links through the creation of neurons in the brain, through which our mind is able to take over the function of damaged areas, which may aid in reducing the effects of degenerative diseases like dementia or Alzheimer’s disease. Research has been conducted in the last few years, proving the effectiveness of this method, especially when it came to technically advanced hearing aids.
Am I making the right choice buying high-end hearing aids?
The difference between hearing aid types will be a deciding factor in our understanding of speech and aid with recognition as well as providing our brain with adequate levels of sound, and hindering the amount of distortion and noise signals for clearer and more pronounced understanding. Higher end hearing aids will also stimulate our brain, improving it’s overall efficiency, and will also cooperate with rehabilitation programs, used to aid in sharpening the mind and improving speech recognition. This may also soften the effects of debilitating diseases associated with aging such as dementia.
Can hearing aids fix my hearing?
Yes, in the sense of enhancing the work of hearing centers in the brain, improving the way they work and process hearing information. Physically the state of your ears will remain unchanged, but with hearing aids you will hear and understand audible sounds much better, you will notice a dramatic difference, especially with more advanced digital hearing aids.
What are the different styles of hearing aids?
There are several types of hearing aids, with companies continuously inventing newer, improved hearing aids everyday. Each type offers different advantages, depending on its design, levels of amplification, and size. Here are the four basic styles of hearing aids available today:
In-the-Ear (ITE) hearing aids fit completely in the outer ear and are used for mild to severe hearing loss. The case, which holds the components, is made of hard plastic. ITE aids can accommodate added technical mechanisms such as a telecoil, a small magnetic coil contained in the hearing aid that improves sound transmission during telephone calls. ITE aids can be damaged by earwax and ear drainage, and their small size can cause adjustment problems and feedback. They are not usually worn by children because the casings need to be replaced as the ear grows.
Behind-the-Ear (BTE) hearing aids are worn behind the ear and are connected to a plastic earmold that fits inside the outer ear. The components are held in a case behind the ear. Sound travels through the earmold into the ear. BTE aids are used by people of all ages for mild to profound hearing loss. Poorly fitting BTE earmolds may cause feedback, a whistle sound caused by the fit of the hearing aid or by buildup of earwax or fluid.
Canal Aids fit into the ear canal and are available in two sizes. The In-the-Canal (ITC) hearing aid is customized to fit the size and shape of the ear canal and is used for mild or moderately severe hearing loss. A Completely-in-Canal (CIC) hearing aid is largely concealed in the ear canal and is used for mild to moderately severe hearing loss. Because of their small size, canal aids may be difficult for the user to adjust and remove, and may not be able to hold additional devices, such as a telecoil. Canal aids can also be damaged by earwax and ear drainage. They are not typically recommended for children.
Body Aids are used by people with profound hearing loss. The aid is attached to a belt or a pocket and connected to the ear by a wire. Because of its large size, it is able to incorporate many signal processing options, but it is usually used only when other types of aids cannot be used.
What are Assistive Listening Devices (ALDs)?
You may have certain communication needs that cannot be solved by just using hearing aids. These situations may involve telephone, radio, television, or the inability to hear the door chime, telephone bell, and alarm clock. Special devices have been developed to solve these problems. Like hearing aids, assistive listening devices and alerting devices make sounds louder. Typically, a hearing aid makes all sounds in the environment louder. Assistive listening devices and alerting devices can increase the loudness of a desired sound, like a radio or television, a public speaker, or an alarm system, or may make an auditory alarm (such as a smoke signal) into a visual alarm (such as a strobe light).
Will it be difficult to get comfortable with my new hearing aids?
People learn and adapt at different rates. Some people need a day or two to learn about and adjust to their hearing aids; most people need a few weeks, and others may need a few months.
In general, wear your hearing aids for a few hours the first day and add an hour a day the following day, and the next, and the next, until you are wearing hearing aids most of the day. Start in a favorable listening environment (such as one-on-one conversations in quiet) and work towards more difficult listening situations. Let your friends and family know you’re using your new hearing aids. Please do NOT wear them to a cocktail party or restaurant during the first few weeks, thinking “this will be a good test!” It will absolutely not be a good test. You should not wear hearing aids in noise until you are very accustomed to them.
Will my hearing aids ever need to be replaced?
The most common repairs required by hearing aids are based on dirt and debris blocking the microphones and the receivers. In other words, the majority of repairs required are due to poor maintenance. Your hearing healthcare professional will review with you how to maintain your hearing aids, how to keep them clean and dry, how to change batteries etc. Nonetheless, if the hearing aids are well maintained, generally speaking, they can last 5 to 7 years.
What should I consider when buying hearing aids?
There are several factors you should consider when buying hearing aids. Here are some important topics to think about:
Loss Characteristics: The nature and severity of your hearing loss will play a large role in determining which hearing aids are ultimately recommended to you. Your hearing professional can help you understand your unique loss characteristics, and explain the models that would best suit your needs.
Lifestyle: Consider your life, work, free-time activities. What are the things you do that are most affected by hearing loss? What are the things, if any, that you’re not able to do because of a hearing loss? Define your needs and set priorities. Your job may also be a factor. If you work outdoors in the elements or travel frequently and are concerned about a hearing aid’s durability, you may want to consider a back-up aid.
Technology: Not every technological advance benefits every hearing loss, and it’s safe to say that even basic hearing aids can deliver appropriate sound quality. Consult your hearing professional — he or she will help you assess the level of sophistication you need based on a range of issues.
Handling: The smallest hearing aids are the most discreet, but they are, well, small. If your eyesight or dexterity are less than what they used to be, size may indeed matter. Alternatively, some new aids adjust automatically or via remote control. Your hearing professional will instruct you as to your best choices.
Appearance: Hearing aids come in a variety of sizes, from tiny, completely-in-the-canal models to those that sit behind the ear. Many people are overly concerned about appearance, and it’s wise to remember that others will be far less aware of your aid than you. Most hearing aids are quite discreet. Keep in mind that hairstyle can also play a role.
Physiology: Physical factors can also influence your selection of a hearing aid. The shape and size of the outer ear and ear canal can make it difficult for some people to wear particular styles. For example, if your canal is extremely narrow, in-the-canal aids may not work for you. Your hearing professional will help determine which hearing aid options are appropriate for you.
One Ear or Two? Two ears are better than one. Binaural, or two-ear hearing, is what helps us determine where sounds are coming from, and to distinguish between competing sounds more easily. If you have a hearing loss in only one ear, you may be fine with one hearing aid. Age- and noise-related hearing loss tend to affect both ears, but your hearing profile for each ear is probably different. If there is a loss in both ears, then you will benefit more with a binaural approach. In addition, some of the benefits of digital technology require two hearing aids. Today, about two-thirds of new purchasers opt for dual hearing aids, and as a group, they report a higher level of satisfaction than purchasers of a single aid. Discuss the pros and cons with your hearing professional.
What questions should I ask a professional about hearing aids?
Here is the compiled list:
What are the differences between basic types of hearing aids?
What kind of hearing aids would be best for me?
How are hearing aids priced? Can you break down the cost?
What’s the return or trial period on the hearing aids I’m purchasing?
Are there service fees that won’t be refunded if I return the hearing aids?
What is covered in these fees, and how much can I expect to pay?
What kind of post-fitting and aural rehabilitation programs do you provide?
Can I expect to come back for minor alterations?
Do you provide a written contract or purchase agreement?
Is there a warranty? Who honors the warranty, you or the manufacturer?
Is there financing available for buying hearing aids?
Can I get insurance in case they’re lost or damaged?
What’s the average lifespan of this hearing aid?
What happens if my hearing aids stop working?
Do you repair them or does someone else? What will it cost?
Will I be provided with loaner hearing aids while mine are being repaired?
What happens if my hearing changes?
How do I know if I need a hearing test?
Ask yourself these questions:
Do you hear, but not understand, what is being said?
Do you have trouble hearing the television and/or radio?
Do you feel that other people seem to mumble or talk too quickly?
Do you have difficulty hearing people talk when there is background noise such as at a restaurant or a social gathering?
Do you find yourself watching the mouths of people as they talk?
Do you experience ringing, pain, or fullness in one or both ears?
Do you frequently ask people to repeat what they say?
Is anyone in your family hard of hearing or deaf?
Do you find it difficult to understand others over the telephone?
Do you tend to hear male voices more easily than female voices?
What you should know about hearing loss?
Perhaps these answers will help:
Hearing loss is second only to arthritis as the most common complaint of older adults
Only about 5 percent of hearing losses are improved by surgery or other medical treatment
The vast majority of hearing loss (95 percent) can be treated with hearing aids
The majority of people with nerve deafness are helped with hearing aids
Only 15 percent of physicians routinely screen for hearing loss. Ask your doctor for a hearing screening since it is not a routine part of physical exams.
The vast majority of hospitals now offer newborn hearing screening before discharge from the hospital.
Even a mild hearing loss can seriously impact a child’s ability to learn in a school environment.
Successful treatment of hearing loss with hearing aids is associated with greater earning power.
Treatment of hearing loss will improve interpersonal relationships.
Most public places (i.e. movie theatres, place of worship, government building, schools) are required under the American with Disabilities Act to provide assistive listening devices for the hard-of-hearing.
Noise above 80-90 decibels on average over an 8-hour workday is considered hazardous. Professions at risk of hearing loss include firefighters, police officers, factory workers, farmers, construction workers, military personnel, heavy industry workers, musicians, and entertainment industry professionals.
One in four workers exposed to high levels of noise will develop a hearing loss.
A live rock concert produces sounds from 110 to 120 decibels—easily high enough to cause permanent damage to hearing over a two- to three-hour period. If you have pain in your ears after leaving a noisy area or you hear ringing or buzzing in your ears immediately after exposure to noise consider this a warning sign that the sounds are TOO LOUD.
How widespread is hearing loss?
Here are the statistics:
One out of 10 North Americans has a hearing loss.
An estimated 500 million experience hearing loss worldwide.
One out of 12 30-year-old North Americans is already hearing-impaired.
One out of eight 50-year-old North Americans suffers from hearing loss.
Three out of 1000 children are born with hearing loss.
1.4 million children in North America have hearing loss.
The majority (65 percent) of people with hearing loss are below retirement age.
15 percent of “baby-boomers” have hearing loss.
29 percent of people over age 65 have hearing loss.
The majority (60 percent) of people with hearing loss are males.
More than a third of all hearing loss is attributed to noise: loud music, loud workplaces, loud recreational equipment.
Of the 10 million North Americans aged 45 to 64 who have a hearing loss, six out of seven do not yet benefit from wearing hearing aids.
Why do people lose their hearing?
There are two major types of hearing loss:
Conductive hearing loss involves the outer and middle ear. It usually results from a wax blockage, a punctured eardrum, birth defects, ear infections, or it may be genetic. Conductive hearing loss generally can be corrected surgically.
Sensorineural—or “nerve”—hearing loss involves damage to the inner ear. It can be caused by aging, prenatal and birth-related problems, viral and bacterial infections, genetics, trauma (such as a severe blow to the head), exposure to loud noises, the use of certain drugs, or fluid buildup or a benign tumor in the inner ear. Sensorineural hearing loss usually can not be repaired surgically, but it can often be corrected with a hearing aid.
Does family history play a role in hearing loss?
Family history is extremely important. Hearing loss is often hereditary. When it runs in families from generation to generation, the hearing loss usually follows a hereditary pattern called “autosomal dominant.” However, the absence of a family history does not mean that hearing loss is not genetic. “Autosomal recessive” inheritance is common. It means that neither parent has hearing loss, but both carry a gene that causes it. On the average, the hearing loss will be present in one child out of four.
My son had his eardrum ruptured. Will he need surgery?
Most perforations (holes) in the eardrum heal spontaneously. When one does not, it can nearly always be repaired with surgery. The procedure is usually relatively fast, and may be performed under local anesthesia
Is it a good idea to remove wax inside the ear with cotton-tipped swabs?
No. The ear has a natural self-cleaning mechanism. Ear skin normally sheds from the inside out. If you place a drop of ink on the eardrum and wait a few weeks, it will turn up near the opening of the ear. The ear canal is also a shaped like a funnel, with the narrow end near the eardrum. Cotton swabs generally push wax deeper into the ear than it normally is (wax forms only in the outer segment of the ear canal), and packs it into a mass. As long as there is even a pinhole opening in the packed wax, hearing is usually good. However, when the canal is completely blocked by wax, a substantial hearing loss develops.
Lately, my grandfather has been saying: what? Is it hearing loss?
Hearing loss can sneak up on people. Often family members and friends are aware of hearing problems before the hearing-impaired person. Many people in the early stages of hearing loss of this sort will find themselves asking “what?” more frequently. Other signs are offering inappropriate answers because they have misheard a conversation or question, or socializing less with others.
My daughter listens to loud music with headphones. Can this damage her hearing?
Loud music, especially listened to with earphones, can damage hearing. In some cases, the playing of musical instruments also can damage hearing. This has been reported not only with loud, electrical rock-and-roll instruments, but also with classical music performance such as violin playing and flute playing. One can minimize such problems by using ear protection whenever practical, such as during selected practice sessions. With personal portable music systems, if the person standing next to you can tell what you are listening to through earphones, the music is probably too loud.
Are there other hearing devices that will help me hear?
Hearing aids are very helpful in one-on-one situations, but sometimes they are not enough. A hearing assistive device can help you function better in your day-to-day communication situations. Hearing assistive devices are available for use with or without hearing aids. These devices provide extra help in specific listening situations, such as listening:
Over the telephone
With noisy backgrounds
In small or large group listening settings (such as restaurants, concert halls, and movie theaters)
At a distance from the sound source
So, even though you have a hearing aid or implant, hearing assistive devices can enhance your communication experience. Your audiologist can advise you about any assistive technologies that might be of value.
Will hearing aids eliminate all my communication problems?
With hearing aids, you will hear some sounds you have not heard previously or sounds you have not heard in a long time. At first, background noise may seem loud and distracting. Your own voice may sound louder. It can take several weeks or months to become adjusted to listening with your hearing aids. Your audiologist will provide hearing aid orientation for you as well as hearing (audiologic) rehabilitation as needed. Hearing rehab will enable you to communicate more effectively using your hearing aids.
Will hearing aids help me hear better on the telephone or in public places?
Depending on your hearing loss, hearing aids typically help make speech over the telephone clearer. If you are on the telephone a lot, consider getting hearing aids with the “T” (telecoil) circuits described above. Telephone sounds are amplified more efficiently and background noises are better eliminated with a telecoil circuit. You should know that only some cordless telephones or cell phones work well with hearing aids.
What if I buy hearing aids and can’t adjust to using them?
Laws might require a trial period for all hearing aid sales. Most audiologists provide a trial period, even if it is not required by law. If you decide to cancel your purchase during this trial period, there may be a nonrefundable fitting/restocking charge for professional services and your custom earmold. You should discuss these policies with your audiologist prior to purchase. You may choose to try a different make or model if the first choice is not satisfactory. Hearing aids do not restore normal hearing but do offer substantial benefit to most persons with hearing loss.
What else will I need to know about my hearing aids?
When evaluating and discussing hearing aid options with your audiologist, make sure you learn how to:
Obtain maintenance and repairs
Use special features (such as the “T” circuit, volume control, and program remote controls)
Determine if a hearing aid is functioning properly
Are all hearing aids the same?
Hearing aids differ in design, size, the amount of amplification, ease of handling, volume control, and availability of special features. However, they do have similar components that include the following:
Microphone to pick up sound
Amplifier circuitry to make the sound louder
Receiver (miniature loudspeaker) to deliver the amplified sound into the ear
On/off switch and batteries to power the electronic parts
Some hearing aids also have earmolds (earpieces) to direct the flow of sound into the ear and enhance sound quality. In the case of children, the earmold will need to be replaced fairly often as the ear grows. The best hearing aid for you depends on your listening needs, type of hearing loss, and lifestyle. Your audiologist will advise you on which of the basic hearing aid styles and features best meet your needs and their related costs.
Do I need medical clearance before buying hearing aids?
Government regulations may require a medical evaluation and clearance from a licensed physician prior to the purchase of a hearing aid. Ask your audiologist about these regulations, especially if you receive benefits.