Frequently Asked Questions
You can see if your question is one we often get asked here. If it isn’t covered, or if you want to know more then just get in touch and find out how we can help you.
Here are our answers to some general questions.
How can I recognize a hearing problem?
Most of the time hearing loss begins gradually, without discomfort or pain. What’s more, family members often learn to adapt to it, without even realizing they are doing it. Here are some questions to ask yourself to determine whether hearing loss is present:
- Do I often ask people to repeat themselves?
- Do I have trouble following conversations with more than two people?
- Do I have difficulty hearing what is said unless i’m facing the speaker?
- Does it sounds like other people are mumbling or slurring their words?
- Do I struggle to hear in crowded places like restaurants, malls and meeting rooms?
- Do I have a hard time hearing women or children?
- Do I prefer the TV or radio volume louder than others?
- Do I experience ringing or buzzing in my ears?
The first step in treating hearing loss is to recognize its most common signs. If you experience some of the following symptoms, contact us to have your hearing tested.
- It sounds to you as though people are mumbling or speaking more softly than they used to.
- You are turning up the volume on the TV or radio above the level where others typically listen.
- You can hear people talk, but you have difficulty understanding the words.
- You frequently ask people to repeat themselves.
- You can’t always hear the doorbell or telephone clearly.
- Family, colleagues and friends suggest you might have a hearing problem.
- It has become difficult to understand a speaker at a business meeting or service.
- It is especially difficult to hear women or children speak.
- You often hear a ringing or buzzing in your ears.
- You might notice a slight muffling of sound after noise exposure.
- It can be difficult to hear or understand people when you leave a noisy area.
If I had a hearing loss, wouldn’t my family doctor have told me?
Only about 13% of physicians routinely screen for hearing loss. Since most people with hearing impairments hear just fine in quiet environments (like your doctor’s office), it can be very difficult for your physician to recognize this problem. Only a trained hearing professional can determine the severity of your hearing problem, whether or not you could benefit from a hearing aid, and which type would be best for you.
What causes hearing loss?
There are several causes. The main ones include excessive noise, infections, genetics, birth defects, infections to the head or ear, aging, and reaction to drugs or cancer treatment.
Causes and Types of Hearing Loss
Hearing loss is a natural part of getting older. Already at age 20, we’ve lost the ability to perceive some of the sounds infants can hear. By the time we reach 30 or 40, subtle—but significant—losses have begun to occur. Once we reach our 80s, more than half of us suffer from significant hearing loss.
With the added factor of prolonged exposure to high intensity noise at work and at home, hearing impairment is becoming even more common at an earlier age. More than half of all people with hearing challenges today are still in the workforce.
It’s a Noisy World Out There
Noise levels have increased everywhere. From hair dryers to leaf blowers, lawnmowers, snowmobiles, iPods®, freeway traffic, surround sound speakers and more, we constantly expose our ears to damaging levels of noise.
And that’s just at home. Our work environments are becoming increasingly loud as well. Some of the noisiest workplaces are those where firefighters, factory workers, farmers, teachers, construction workers and musicians spend a significant part of their day.
Other factors that may contribute to hearing loss include:
- blockage of the ear canal by an object or accumulated cerumen (earwax)
- diseases, infections or medical disorders
- medications and treatments like chemotherapy or antibiotics
- physical trauma to the ears or head
Doesn’t hearing loss only affect old people?
Hearing loss can occur at any time, at any age. In fact, most people with hearing loss (65%) are younger than age 65!
Which professions are at most risk for hearing loss?
Some of the highest risk professions include factory workers, construction workers, heavy industry workers, firefighters, police officers, farmers, military personnel, musicians, and entertainment industry professionals.
What are examples of activities that may be dangerously loud?
These include live music concerts, video arcades, movie theaters, health clubs and aerobic studios, sporting events, motorboats, motorcycles, snowmobiles, and “boom” cars.
Aren’t there operations or medications I can take for hearing loss?
Only 5% of hearing loss in adults can be improved medically or surgically. The vast majority of people with hearing loss (95%) are treated with hearing aids.
Won’t wearing a hearing aid make me look old or handicapped?
A lot of people who know they have a hearing loss are too embarrassed or feel they’re showing weakness if they acknowledge the problem. While you are no doubt concerned about appearance, others will be much less aware of your hearing aid than you. Most hearing aids are very discreet (keep in mind that hairstyle can also play a role).
Ultimately, an untreated hearing loss—and actions like smiling or nodding when you don’t understand what’s being said—are far more obvious than a hearing aid. Most likely, once you have a hearing aid your quality of life will be so improved that cosmetics won’t be as much of an issue for you. In fact, some hearing aids today even come in bright colours, making hearing aids a fashion statement instead of something to hide!
Exactly how will a hearing aid improve my quality of life?
Receiving treatment for hearing loss can literally transform your life. Research on people with hearing loss and their significant others has shown that hearing aids play a significant factor in a person’s social, emotional, psychological and physical well-being.
More specifically, treatment of hearing loss has been shown to improve:
- Communication in relationships
- Intimacy and warmth in family relationships
- Ease in communication
- Earning power
- Sense of control over your life
- Social participation
- Perception of mental functioning
- Emotional stability
When you consider all the benefits of better hearing, you can see that hearing aids hold great potential to positively change your life.
How do hearing aids work?
At their most basic, hearing aids are microphones that convert sound into electrical signals. An amplifier increases the strength of the signal, then a receiver converts it back to sound and channels it into the ear canal through a small tube or earmould. A battery is necessary to power the hearing aid and to enable amplification. Most hearing aids today are sophisticated, state-of-the-art instruments that require computer programming to adjust to your specific lifestyle and listening environments.
Will a hearing aid actually restore my hearing?
While no hearing aid (except in cases of very mild hearing loss) can restore your hearing to normal, most hearing aids will allow you to hear soft sounds that you couldn’t hear before, and will prevent loud sounds from becoming uncomfortably loud for you. Your ability to understand speech will also be improved.
Will I be able to hear in noisy places?
While no hearing aid can filter out all background noise, most hearing devices can reduce some types of background noise so that you can enjoy conversation and improve communication in places like restaurants, business meetings and social gatherings.
What are the differences in the types and styles of hearing aids?
A lot of people who are new to hearing aids remember the eyeglass or “body” styles regularly used 40 or 50 years ago (which comprise only about 1% of all hearing aids marketed today). Hearing aids now come in a wide variety of sizes, from those that sit behind the ear to tiny, completely-in-the-canal models.
How do I know which one will be best for me?
There are several factors that will determine which hearing aid will be the right one for you. They include the nature and severity of your hearing loss, your lifestyle, your job, your eyesight and dexterity, and the size and shape of your outer ear and inner ear canal. Ultimately, the hearing professional will be able to instruct you as to the best choice for you.
How about advances in technology?
Like many other products (TVs, personal music players, computers), hearing aids have experienced a major technological revolution in the past decade—and especially in the last couple years. Most hearing solutions today have improved in their performance to patients and are now designed to maximize performance in the most challenging listening environments you deal with today.
These systems eliminate feedback, provide optimal performance in noise, manage power, enhance telephone performance and log crucial data.
Is there an adjustment period?
Yes, most people need an adjustment period of up to four months before receiving the full benefit from their hearing aids. You should, however, expect to notice demonstrable benefits during this trial period.
What to Expect
It will take some time and patience to adapt to the way your hearing instrument delivers sound. This period of adjustment is completely normal. But before long you’ll start hearing the sounds you’ve been missing—as well as many you didn’t even realize were gone.
Relearning to Hear
When you use your instruments for the first time, you’ll notice that the hearing process feels different. That’s because your brain actually has to relearn how to hear sounds—especially the complex range of frequencies in human speech.
Research suggests that speech comprehension increases over a period of several months after first using a hearing instrument. The longer you wear the device, the clearer and more natural these sounds will become.
The following are observations made by first-time hearing aid wearers:
- It takes time to adjust to wearing hearing instruments.
- Your voice may sound different at first.
- Hearing in situations with background noise should improve, but probably not as much as hearing in quiet places.
- You might begin to notice sounds you haven’t heard for some time, such as the hum of household appliances, or the chirping of a cricket.
Will I need a hearing aid in one ear or two?
Two-ear hearing (called “binaural”) is better than one. If you have 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, you will probably benefit more with a binaural solution. Today, about two-thirds of new users opt for dual hearing instruments, and as a group they report a higher level of satisfaction than purchasers of a single instrument.
How much will a hearing aid cost?
The price of a hearing aid will vary depending on the specific model and features you need. Please speak to us about the different financial options we offer.
What about the hearing aids I see advertised for around £60?
These inexpensive models are simply amplifiers that will make everything louder (including all the ambient noises around you). They will not, for example, separate human voices from background noises, or hear directional sounds like the more sophisticated hearing instruments available today.
What if I have a problem with my hearing aid? Is there a guarantee?
You can typically expect a 30-day trial period with a money-back guarantee, as well as a limited manufacturer’s warranty. We want you to have complete peace of mind and offer a 90 day trial period.It is important to give yourself a reasonable chance to adjust to your hearing aid.
So if I think I’ve got a hearing problem, what do I do?
You need to make an appointment with one of our hearing professionals for an evaluation, consultation and hearing test. We offer this evaluation at no charge.