At Becker Hearing Center, we believe that education is one of the most important services we provide to clients. We want you to know that there are no stupid questions — your hearing is a vital part of your life, and you deserve to be comfortable and confident with any decision you make about your hearing. Please ask us any questions you have, whether that means giving us a call ahead of your appointment or speaking up during your evaluation if you're not sure what something means.
We have noticed that many of our patients have the same questions or concerns about hearing aids, so we've gathered some of the most common comments we get.
How do I know if I have hearing loss? Generally, if you are questioning whether you might have hearing loss or not, it's worth having your hearing tested — especially because our hearing tests are free of charge, so there's no cost involved for your peace of mind. Some common signs of hearing loss include:
Hearing solutions can't be one-size-fits-all because hearing loss itself varies from person to person. The simplest definition of hearing loss is that you are no longer able to hear as well as you once could. Hearing loss can be caused by different things — damage from loud noise exposure, illness, aging, fluid buildup in the ear, to name a few. It's important to protect your hearing by avoiding loud noises or wearing ear protection, like earplugs, if you will be in a noisy environment such as a construction site or a live music venue. If you have noticed that your hearing doesn't seem to be as clear as it once was, or if things seem muffled, it may be time to have your hearing tested.
There are two main kinds of hearing loss that most people encounter. The first is conductive hearing loss, which means that something is blocking the sound from traveling through your hearing system. If this blockage is fluid buildup, sometimes medication or other medical treatments can help reduce the fluid and give you your hearing back. Some patients also have cerumen (ear wax) buildup, which can be removed by a licensed audiologist to restore your hearing. Most people who wear hearing aids have what's known as sensorineural hearing loss, which refers to damage to the hearing nerve itself. This can be the result of exposure to loud noises or it can be just a side effect of getting older. Many people have sensorineural hearing loss, and these people often find that hearing aids and other hearing instruments are an effective treatment. Mixed hearing loss is a combination of the two and is usually treated in two steps — first, by eliminating the blockage or buildup, and then with the help of a properly fitted hearing instrument.
Hearing loss ranges from mild to profound. The more severe the hearing loss, the more powerful the amplification needs to be. Greater amplification needs more power, and it also puts you at greater risk of feedback or squealing. Therefore, clients with more severe hearing loss generally need physically larger hearing aids (with larger receivers and larger batteries) rather than the smallest CIC (completely-in-canal) or ITC (in-the-canal) models, which are also more likely to have problems with feedback from significant amplification. In these cases, we recommend BTE (behind-the-ear) models.
Very mild hearing loss may not require hearing aids, but it's better to start early than to wait too long. Not only will that ensure that you never risk missing out on the sounds around you, it also means there will never be a break in your brain hearing and interpreting those sounds. If you go without being able to hear the voices around you clearly, your brain may fall out of the habit of understanding words; if that goes on for long enough, then even if you get hearing aids, your brain may still not be able to understand the sounds you can now hear. Additionally, keeping your brain stimulated through hearing can help fight the onset of Alzheimer's and dementia.
It's important to remember that hearing loss affects people of all ages, from infants through older adults. What matters is that you're taking steps to hear better so you can stay active, and staying active keeps you younger. Asking "Huh?" or "What?" a lot is more likely to draw attention to your hearing loss and make you feel older and less connected to the world around you. Chances are high that anyone you talk to won't even notice you're wearing hearing aids, but they'll definitely notice if you have to ask them to repeat themselves.
Try not to judge hearing aids based on what previous generations of hearing aids were like. Feedback reduction digital circuitry has made a world of difference. These days, you won't experience whistling unless something has gone wrong, such as an in-the-ear hearing aid being improperly fitted or loose or else wax in your ear. If you do notice whistling and you can't get it to stop by repositioning your hearing aid, let us know and we'll find a solution.
It's true that your hearing loss may get worse over time, so if you've noticed that they don't seem to be working as well as they used to be, you should definitely come in and let us check them out. But often what's happened is that wax has clogged your ears or your hearing aid, which is a very simple fix so you can get right back to your life without needing any adjustments.
Most people do have hearing loss in both ears; it's just that one ear hears better than the other, so you may not notice loss in that ear. Getting hearing aids in both ears will ensure that both ears are operating at their best and that your brain continues to receive clear signals from both sides (which stimulates all the neural pathways in your brain related to hearing, so you won't lose your auditory processing). Hearing well with both ears also helps you locate sounds around you more effectively, and you'll also be able to hear just as well with less amplification in each ear.