Ask the Expert: March

Each month we will be doing an “Ask the Expert” blog post. If you have questions for our expert, send them to us at [email protected] and put “Ask the Expert” in the subject line.

Q: How do I know if I have a hearing problem?

A: The easy answer is to say, COME GET TESTED! As you have noticed from our other blog posts, we are big advocates of everybody getting tested so they know if they have hearing loss and how to properly treat it. But here are a few warning signs of hearing loss to be on the lookout for.

  • Do you often ask people to repeat themselves?
  • Do you have a hard time understanding women or children?
  • Do you have difficulty understanding in crowds?
  • Do people sound like they are mumbling?
  • Do you have to see somebody talking to understand what they are saying?

Q: Hearing loss is an old person problem, right?

A: While we associate hearing loss and hearing aids with older people, the fact is that approximately 65% of all people with a documented hearing loss are younger than age 65.

Q: There are so many hearing aid choices out there! Where do I start? And what should I be looking for?

A: It seems like I get this question (or some version of it) nearly every month. But I understand that the process of shopping for hearing aids can be daunting so I will walk you through it again.

It all starts with the hearing test. The hearing test will determine the amount of power you will need based on your specific level of loss. Buying a hearing aid that does not have enough power would be like being a go-cart and wondering why it can’t go 100 miles per hour. But there are several other things to consider when looking at hearing aids.

Power – how much power do you need based on your level of loss? This is the most important factor when choosing a hearing aid. The hearing aid must have enough power to handle your loss. The most common reason that people are dissatisfied with their hearing aids is because they are not equipped to handle their level of loss.

Style – what type of hearing aid will work best for you? Style is determined in two parts. Which hearing aid will fit your loss best from an acoustic perspective. And which hearing aid looks the best to you. We want to make sure you like the way your hearing aids look, otherwise you won’t wear them. Some losses require a specific style, but we try as best we can to give our patients options.

Features – what bells and whistles are important to you? Do you want a hearing aid that will make automatic changes based on your environment, or one that gives you the ability to make those changes yourself? Do you want a hearing aid that will pair to your smartphone to stream phone calls? How about rechargeable hearing aids? Choosing which features are important to you helps narrow down the brand and model that you should purchase.

Price – what makes sense for your budget? A pair of hearing aids that cost $10,000 are going to be better than a pair that cost $4,000. That’s like saying that a new Rolls Royce is going to be better than a new Chevy Cruze. But it doesn’t mean that a Rolls Royce is within everybody’s budget. We work with our patients to make sure that the selection they make fits within their budget and makes sense for them. We offer financing (something with 0% interest) to make the process of purchasing hearing aids easier.

Q: How long do hearing aids last?

A: This is a tough question to answer because there are two parts. If you take care of your hearing aids with properly cleaning and maintenance, they should last at least four to five years. Of course, I have seen plenty of people who’s hearing aids are limping along at the two-year mark because they don’t clean them or take care of them well. They are an investment, protect your investment!

That does not mean that you will not need new hearing aids before then though. Unfortunately, if you have a big change in your hearing, your hearing aids may no longer work well for you. Heart attack, stroke or chemotherapy treatments can cause rapid loss. This can lead to somebody who has a set of hearing aids the work, but they don’t necessarily work for them. This is not common, but I have seen it happen before.

Q: I heard that hearing aids actually make your hearing worse over time. Is that true?

A: There is a myth that existing that says people the wear hearing aids “become dependent on them” or they make their hearing worse over time. This is not true! This myth likely comes from the fact that as you get used to your hearing aids things don’t seem as overwhelming and loud. This is a good thing. There isn’t that shock to the system feeling that you had when you first put them on and people take that as “worse hearing”.

If you have a question that you want answered, contact our office and set up an appointment with one of our hearing specialists.