Hearing Loss Questions

The team of experts at The Hearing Loss Clinic has gathered a list of popular questions that our customers have about hearing loss, hearing devices and other general concerns. Should you have further concerns or questions, please submit your personal question to our compassionate team of Audiology experts today!

I’ve heard of new hearing aids called RIC’s or OTE’s. What are they and how do they work?

RIC’s (Reciever in Canal’s) and OTE’s (On the Ear) hearings aids are a newer style of hearing device that were designed for people with mild to moderate hearing losses, specifically in the higher frequency ranges. It consists of a small device which sits behind the ear and a thin wire or tube which sits in the ear.

 

The difference between the two devices is that the RIC has its receiver (or speaker) in the ear canal, and the OTE has the receiver (or speaker) in the hearing aid behind the ear. Both devices are light weight and do not occlude the ear canal giving you the feeling that there is nothing in the ear.

 

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What is this ringing in my ear and can it be cured?

The ringing in your ears is called Tinnitus. Many people experience Tinnitus intermittently or for short periods of time, while others describe it as constant. Tinnitus is said to affect approximately 17% of the general population and approximately 4% of the general population significantly suffers from tinnitus.

 

Tinnitus is not a disease but a symptom and can be related to such things as high blood pressure, noise exposure, neck injuries and hearing loss to name a few.

 

Although there is no “cure” for tinnitus, there are treatments which can help reduce annoyance. These treatments include the use of hearing devices and/or noise generators , and Tinnitus Retraining Therapy. The first step to treatment is a hearing evaluation in order to determine if a hearing loss is present.

 

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What are the benefits of wearing two hearing aids?

The answer to this question varies from one individual to the next and only a proper diagnostic hearing test will determine whether you should be wearing one or two hearing aids. The majority of the population however would benefit from wearing two hearing aids.

 

There are several important reasons to consider wearing two hearing aids versus one hearing aid. They include; better hearing in noise, the ability to localize sounds, more clarity, prevention of auditory deprivation, and ease of listening and balance.

 

We are born with two ears for all these reasons. If you had problems seeing clearly from both eyes, would you wear a monacle?

 

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What is an FM System?

An FM System or Frequency Modulated system is a device used to make difficult listening situations easier. Hearing impaired individuals and children with learning difficulties, have problems hearing in noisy environment and when a speaker is at some distance. An FM system is used to overcome difficult listening situations, in school and at home.

 

An FM system consist of a microphone and transmitter which picks up a speakers voice, and can also be attached to audio devices such as TV’s or MP3 players. The transmitter then sends the wireless signal to the receiver which is worn by the listener. The FM range is approximately 50 feet.

 

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I get a lot of wax in my ears. Is there anything I can do prevent the wax from building up?

Production of wax the ears is a sign of a healthy ear. The outer 1/3 of the ear canal has wax producing glands which serves to protect the eardrum from dirt and debris. The jaw joint (TMJ) sits just beneath the ear canal and as you chew and talk during the day, the wax makes its way out the ear.

 

The wax cannot make its way out quite as effectively if you have small narrow ear canals or if you wear a hearing aid in your ear. Although you cannot stop the ear from producing wax, you can prevent the wax from building up in the ear canal by having your ears examined regularly and cleaned if needed by your family physician or audiologist.

 

The worst thing you can do is use Q-tips as this pushes the wax further into the ear making it very difficult and painful to remove. Remember…don’t put anything smaller than your elbow in your ear!

 

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What are the psychological effects of the hearing loss?

“Helen Keller once said that deafness cuts one off from people whereas blindness cuts one off from things”

 

Hearing loss is the “misunderstood or invisible handicap” in the eye of observer.

 

In elderly hearing impaired, frustrations in communication, along with any physical discomforts, may cause them to appear irritated or intolerant. In children, however, hearing impairment may cause them to appear slow or not bright. The potential psychological effects of hearing loss are different for children and adults, and an individual’s personality affects adaptation to hearing loss. In general, hearing loss makes interaction with the outside world difficult.

 

Hearing loss interferes with our most vital link to people: communication through language and sound. The effects of this invisible disability are profound.

 

Psychological effects of hearing impairment:

 

In Adults

1. Denial of loss
2. Loss of sense of security
3. Paranoia
4. Lowered self-esteem

 

In Children

1. Fear of nonconformity
2. Aggressive-depressive behavior
3. Lack of creativity
4. Social withdrawal

 

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How does a Directional Microphone differ from a standard microphone in a hearing aid?

A standard microphone is omni directional which means it picks up sounds from all around you and amplifies it. A directional microphone is one that only picks up sounds in front and beside you and amplifies it but does not amplify sounds from behind you. These microphones are designed to help people hear in the presence of background noise.

 

With advancements in technology, hearing aids will now function in an omni directional mode in quiet and will switch automatically to a directional mode in a noisy environment.

 

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I am profoundly deaf and would like to know if there is a device that will alert me to emergencies?

There many devices now available to help those with a range of hearing loss and they are referred to as ALDs (Assistive Listening Devices). These include amplified telephones, wireless TV headphones and amplified alarm clocks.

 

For those with profound hearing losses, there are devices with vibrotactile or visual alerting signals. These include such things as an alarm clock with a pillow shaker, or you can have doorbells, fire alarms, and telephones, which will flash lights in your home. These devices can be customized based on your needs and your environment. They are generally available at your audiologists office.

 

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I am a working professional and I have a difficult time using my cell phone with my hearing aids. Are there Bluetooth devices that work with hearing aids?

There have been much advancement in terms of hearing aids and Bluetooth technology. Clearsounds and MaxIT are two such devices that will pair with a Bluetooth device. Unlike the regular Bluetooth device seen worn in people’s ear, this device in worn around your neck and it transmits the sound directly to your hearing aids wirelessly.

 

Your hearing aids must however be equipped with a telecoil. Bluetooth is not built into the hearing aids yet but I am certain we will be seeing such advancements in the near future.

 

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My teenage daughter would like to be able to use her MP3 player with her hearing aids. Is this possible?

This is possible and there is a simple solution. Instead of plugging in headphones, you would plug in a telecoil neckloop. This a loop that she would wear around her neck and the sound would be transmitted directly to her hearing aids wirelessly.

 

Her hearing aids must be equipped with a telecoil. The telecoil neckloop is inexpensive and can be purchased from an audiology clinic.

 

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Can MP3 players cause hearing loss?

Audiologists are concerned that people are causing damage to their hearing and are likely to suffer loss of hearing and tinnitus due to iPod use. If you are currently using the standard ear buds that are supplied with your MP3 player it is recommended that you do not exceed two thirds of the volume and that you limit your listening to a maximum of one hour per day.

 

I would recommend Sound-isolating earphones from companies such as Future Sonics, Shure and Etymotic, or In-Ear Monitors from Starkey which reduce ambient noise outside the ears so that listeners don’t have to pump up the volume as high. Another option is noise-canceling headphones from Bose.

 

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I work in a noisy environment and the earplugs I’m supplied with don’t stay in my ear. Are there alternatives?

I would recommend custom made ear plugs. There are many kinds available depending on the type of work that you do. They can be made in several different materials ranging from hard plastics to very soft pliable silicones.

 

You can also have them filtered in order to still hear some extraneous sounds. There are also Musicians Earplugs which will still allow you to hear, but at a reduced volume. Also available are sleepmolds and floatable swimplugs.

 

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My mother currently wear hearing aids but because of the nerve damage in her ears she still doesn’t hear clearly. Are there strategies I can use to help her?

There are several strategies that you can implement to help you mother better hear and understand. Make sure that you are facing the listener when you speak as this will allow her to lip-read. Situational context is a major helping mechanism if you cannot hear. If a hearing impaired person has some inkling as to what is being said, the ability to follow the conversation is much improved.

 

Another form of context is the actual words people use in sentences. Hearing impaired people learn to hate when others speak in only one word utterances. Where possible, carry on conversations in quiet places and always remember to speak slowly to allow time for comprehension.

 

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Why do hearing aids break down?

By far, the most common breakdowns are the result of wax and moisture build up. Both of these causes can be dramatically reduced by regular maintenance both by the user and by taking the instruments back to the service provider, generally for no cost.

 

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Why do many hearing aids have volume controls, I thought most were automatic?

Most, if not all hearing aids, are automatic. Volume controls are included because some people still prefer to have control over their environments. Especially those, that got used to using volume controls with their older hearing aids.

 

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I don’t feel comfortable with the person or place I bought my hearing aids from, should I change to a different office?

Absolutely. A hearing loss is stressful and by nature, is a long term problem that can lead to even more problems as the hearing loss gets worse.

 

More important than any device you have bought, is your relationship with the professional because it is likely going to be a long term one. You may well learn it is the service and caring nature of a professional, not the instruments you purchased, that leads to most of your satisfaction.

 

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What is a cochlear implant, can I get one instead of a hearing aid?

A cochlear implant is a device that is surgically implanted and it functions as a replacement for a deaf or very hard of hearing ear. They are generally recommended once a hearing aid no longer helps. Very often, even after surgery, adults wear a cochlear implant in one ear and a traditional hearing aid in the other.

 

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I see lot's of different kinds of hearing aids, some bigger, some smaller, which is the best?

Just like glasses that have many different frames, hearing aids have different frames, some are bigger and some are smaller. There is no “best” size hearing aid, each size has pros and cons associated with it.

 

As a rough rule, the more severe the hearing loss, the higher liklihood that the patient will need to wear larger hearing aids, although current technology allows for many exceptions to this rule. Despite there being no “best size” hearing aid, current trends indicate that the miniture hearing aids that fit behind the ear are the most popular at the moment.

 

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How do I motivate my spouse to wear his hearing aids more often, he is always taking them out?

Tough question, the phrase “you can lead a horse to water comes to mind”.

 

You might start by finding out what he feels the problem is with the hearing aids. Does he work in loud noise and therefore can’t wear them very often. Do they bother his ears in some way. Is he having problems adjusting to the new sounds.

 

I think the starting point is to return to the prescriber and let them know. It can be helpful if the couple sees the practitioner rather than just the person wearing the hearing aids. Often the story we hear is remarkably different when both persons give the story.

 

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How long does it take to get used to hearing aids?

It depends on a number of factors. First of all, you could almost say that people never get fully used to hearing aids because they never restore hearing to it’s natural state.

 

But, as a rough rule, between three to six months sounds about right for most of my patients, providing that they were wearing them full time during the period. I think another factor is the time the person went without hearing aids after having developed a hearing loss. Those that wait years and years to get hearing aids likely take a longer time adjusting to the new sounds of the world than those that get hearing aids sooner into their hearing loss.

 

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s there such thing as a water proof hearing aid?

Starkey and Phonak are two manufacturers whom have developed hearing aids which are 100% resistant to water, humidity, perspiration and corrosion. Although I would not completely submerge them in the swimming pool or go scuba diving with them in you ears, they are very reliable in the rain or when splashed by water.

 

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Is there funding available towards the cost of hearing aids?

There is funding available for children and Adults over the age of 65 through Alberta Aids to Daily Living. There also funding available for low income adults through different Foundations.

 

Private insurance companies will generally contribute a portion towards hearing aids. For more information on organizations that may help towards the cost of hearing aids, speak with you audiologist or Hearing Aid practitioner.

 

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My child has had chronic ear infections for several years now. Will she eventually outgrow this?

In general, most children do outgrow ear infections. Ear infections are the result of a fluid build-up behind the ear drum that may or may not be infected. It is generally caused by a narrow and/or horizontal eustacian tube. As a child grows, the eustacian tube strengthens and grows more vertically reducing the likelihood of ear infections developing.

 

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My hearing aids feel loose in my ear and don't fit like they used to. Is this normal?

The ears continue to grow as you get older and it is not uncommon for hearing aids to fit differently in the ear over time. Changes in your overall weight may also affect the way the hearing aid fits in your ear. Hearing aids or earmolds may need to be remade to accommodate these changes.

 

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What is the life expectancy of hearing aid batteries?

Hearing aid batteries will generally last from 7 to 21 days depending on the size of the battery required. It is important to note that the noisier the environment you are in, the harder the hearing aid is working to reduce background noises, therefore it will increase your battery drain.

 

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What happens if a hearing aid is lost? Is there insurance available?

When a hearing aid is purchased, it will generally include a loss and damage warranty. This may be anywhere from one year to 5 years. I would recommend insuring them on your home insurance policy as a precaution.

 

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How do I know when my hearing aid battery is dead? Is there a way to test it?

Hearing aids are now equipped with a low battery indicator, either a voice or tone, which will signal you that your battery requires replacement. Battery testers are also available and easy to use. Contact your hearing health care professional for this accessory.

 

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Have hearing aids improved with telephone use?

Hearing aids have improved leaps and bounds in the past 5 years, and this includes their compatability with the telephone. Hearing aids will now automatically switch to telephone programs to increase volume and reduce feedback when using the telephone. Some hearing aids are now equipped to use Bluetooth technology allowing hands free telephone use.

 

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Hearing aids are making sounds louder therefore can they damage your hearing?

Hearing aids are programmed to bring your hearing levels as close to normal as possible. They amplify soft sounds and protect your hearing from the loud sounds. It is not advised however to wear your hearing aids in extreme noise such as an industrial setting. In this situation it is recommended that you wear hearing protection.

 

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What is the smallest hearing aid available?

The smallest hearing aid available is called the Otolens invisible-in-the-canal hearing aid from Starkey and it features the latest most advanced technology on the market today. This is a custom made hearing aid which sits very deep in the earcanal. For more information on the Otolens visit www.starkeycanada.ca.

 

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I have heard of people getting tubes in their ears to treat hearing loss. Does this work for all types of hearing loss?

Pressure Equalization (PE) tubes are used to prevent fluid from building up behind the eardrum, a conductive type of hearing loss. PE tubes do not restore hearing for those suffering from any other type of hearing loss, including aging loss, noise induced hearing loss or sensorineural hearing loss.

 

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What is the difference between an audiologist and ENT specialist?

An audiologist is the healthcare professional who evaluates, identifies, and diagnoses hearing problems. Audiologists are professionals who monitor hearing levels and provide non-medical treatment such as hearing aids or assistive listening devices. The ENT is a medical professional who treats the medical aspects of hearing problems, e.g., medications, surgery, etc.

 

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