Frequently Asked Questions
Your ears have three major areas:
The Outer Ear, The Middle Ear, & The Inner Ear.
You Outer Ear catches sound waves, and those sound waves travel down the ear canal towards the Middle Ear.
In the Middle Ear, the sound waves vibrate the eardrum, and those vibrations are amplified.
These amplified sound waves are then carried to the Inner Ear.
In the Inner Ear, the vibrations translate into nerve impulses (thanks to specialized ‘hair cells’ or cilia) that travel instantly to the brain via the auditory nerve.
Hearing loss can happen for a variety of reasons.
Still, doctors generally divide the causes into 3 types:
The most common causes of hearing loss are aging and chronic exposure to loud noises. Over 30% of all Americans between age 65 and 75 have some degree of hearing loss. This number increases to 50% for those over 75.
The answer is a little complicated and depends on what is causing your hearing loss.
If the cause is something like excessive ear wax buildup or an ear infection, your doctor can easily clear up those problems and get you hearing again.
For most people (around 90%), the cause of their hearing loss is from damage to the Inner Ear, and permanent.
However, just because you can’t reverse the level of damage, doesn’t mean you can’t improve your hearing.
Because hearing aids help amplify sound, the undamaged cilia can pick up the signals and transmit them to the auditory nerve. With the increased stimulation, your auditory nerve maintains its vitality, and the brain gets the input it needs to relearn how to recognize speech and sounds.
It is essential to get a hearing aid from a trained professional, rather than an “As Seen On TV” solution. While they may seem cheaper in the short term, these sound amplifiers do more harm than good.
Hearing aids amplify specific sound frequencies based on programming from hearing test results. This means that your healthy, undamaged hair cells get just the right amount of extra stimulation. With generic sound amplifiers, ALL sound is amplified. This overstimulates the hair cells & damages them further, leading to complete hearing loss faster than if you had no intervention at all.
The only way to know for sure if you need a hearing aid is to have your hearing checked.
But, if you think you might need a hearing aid, or your loved ones have suggested it to you, There’s a pretty good chance you have hearing loss significant enough to require a hearing device.
Studies have shown that by the time people decide to get treatment, they have already been experiencing hearing loss for at least NINE YEARS.
Living with even mild hearing loss can be difficult. It is frustrating for you and the people around you. Noisy environments become stressful; it becomes challenging to follow conversations with lots of background noise, leading to social isolation.
People with hearing loss also are more prone to chronic fatigue, anxiety, depression, & dementia.
Higher frequencies often affected first, making people sound as if they are mumbling.
Tinnitus, noise sensitivity, and dizziness are also symptoms of hearing loss, making people with hearing loss more prone to fall injuries.
Aging often brings degradation of the Inner Ear’s anatomy. Loud noises, on the other hand, slowly damage and destroy the hair cells of the Inner Ear over time.
Without hearing treatment, your hearing loss can get worse.
When the mechanisms of hearing are compromised, you deprive the hearing system of sound, and the auditory nerve is not stimulated. Without stimulation, the nerve will atrophy, meaning “waste away & decay.”
Without nerve signals to interpret, the speech processing areas of the brain forgets how to process sound and speech. Once this happens, restoring hearing is very difficult and sometimes impossible.
Once the auditory nerve or cilia are damaged, they cannot be repaired. This is why getting a hearing aid sooner rather than later is so vitally important.
Earlier treatment means you can preserve more of your hearing.
The longer you wait, the more hearing you’ll lose and never recover again.
There is no Best Hearing Aid.
But there is a best hearing aid for you. It all depends on your level of hearing loss, your symptoms, your lifestyle, your goals, and what you feel comfortable with.
Each hearing aid model is distinct. Some manufacturers address some symptoms (such as tinnitus) better than others. Each style feels different, works differently, and has different features available.
There are a variety of sizes available, some so small they sit in the ear canal itself and are virtually invisible.
How small a hearing aid you can wear depends on how much hearing loss you have. However, technology has changed rapidly, and the size of even the larger hearing aids is tiny compared to the ones available even just ten years ago.
Many models of hearing aids have Bluetooth connectivity. A Bluetooth hearing aid means you can not only stream sound from your TV, laptop, or smartphone, but you can use an app to control your hearing aid yourself.
Apps allow you to make quick adjustments, create and save settings based on different environments and situations. You can activate tinnitus management features – even help you find your hearing aids if you misplace them!
More and more manufacturers are allowing telecare capabilities. Providers can connect with patients for remote programming. No more trips to the office if you need an adjustment!
Rechargeable hearing aids are becoming more cost-effective and eliminating the need to buy batteries. Simply put them in their charger when you go to bed at night!
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