Frequently Asked Questions
At The Dallas Ear Institute, we understand that you may have many questions regarding your hearing health. For your convenience, we have compiled a list of answers to commonly asked questions. If you have questions that are not covered in our audiology FAQ page, please contact us at 469-803-5552. We are committed to helping you with all your hearing healthcare needs and improving the quality of your life.
What Is Hearing Loss?
Hearing loss is abnormal or reduced hearing sensitivity. An estimated 30 million people in America suffer from some degree of hearing loss. There are three common types of hearing loss:
- Conductive hearing loss occurs when damage to the middle or outer ear prevents incoming sound waves from reaching the inner ear. Certain medications or surgery can be used to treat this type of hearing loss; however, if left untreated, conductive hearing loss can lead to permanent hearing impairment.
- Sensorineural (or sensory-neural) hearing loss occurs when the inner ear or acoustic nerve becomes damaged, making it difficult to hear sounds and understand speech. Sensorineural hearing loss is not only the most common type of hearing loss and can typically be treated with hearing aids.
- Mixed hearing loss occurs when an individual has a combination of sensorineural and conductive hearing loss. This means these individuals have experienced damage to both the inner and middle or outer ear.
What Are Some of the Causes of Hearing Loss?
There are many causes of hearing loss, including:
- Noise-induced hearing loss – Hearing loss resulting from loud noises. It is one of the most common causes of hearing loss and the most preventable.
- Presbycusis – Hearing loss resulting from the aging process. This type of hearing loss is also quite common.
- Genetic hearing loss – Hearing loss due to genetic factors. Scientists estimate genes and hereditary cause at least half of all hearing loss cases.
- Temporary blockage – Hearing loss that occurs as the result of blockage from earwax or other fluids and ear infections. This type of hearing loss is common for people with allergies or swimmer’s ear.
- Disease – Hearing loss due to diseases, like Meniere’s disease or meningitis.
- Ototoxic medications – Hearing loss as a result of certain medications and medical treatments that are toxic to the ear.
- Otitis media – also known as ear infection, this is the most common cause of hearing loss in children.
- Otosclerosis – Hearing loss that results from abnormal bone growth in the middle ear.
- Ear or head injuries – Hearing loss resulting from tumors, eardrum perforations, and other head injuries.
How Do I Know if I Have a Hearing Loss?
A hearing loss may vary in degree from mild to profound.
- Mild Loss: Individuals with a mild or high frequency hearing loss may not be fully aware of the problem. However, family members and friends often recognize that the person has trouble hearing in groups or sometimes does not understand what is being said.
- Moderate and Severe Loss: Individuals with a hearing loss will usually know they are having trouble since they have to strain to hear and understand in many situations. They often need the TV volume to be loud or are not able to hear effectively on the telephone.
Hearing loss often occurs so gradually that the individual may not be aware that he/she is losing hearing. Early signs of hearing loss include:
- Misunderstanding conversations, especially in crowded areas
- Turning the television or radio louder than other family members prefer
- Hearing better in one ear than the other
- Feeling that people speak too softly or mumble when they talk to you
- Having people repeat what they said
- Difficulty talking on the phone
- Difficulty hearing the doorbell or telephone ring
- Ringing or buzzing in the ears
What Should I Do if I Think I Have Hearing Loss?
If you suspect you may have a hearing loss, have your hearing tested by The Hearing Center at Dallas Ear Institute. Contact us at 469-803-5552 to schedule a hearing evaluation.
What Is the Ringing in My Ears?
If you hear ringing, whistling, chirping, hissing, or clicking in your ears, you probably have a symptom known as tinnitus. It can occur periodically or constantly and be perceived in one or both ears or the head. Tinnitus often results from noise damage to the ear or from age-related hearing loss.
Approximately 50 million Americans experience some degree of tinnitus, and 12 million of these suffer from severe cases. Tinnitus cannot be cured; however, hearing aids and other treatments can help individuals better manage this symptom.
What Does a Hearing Evaluation Show?
A hearing evaluation is the initial step to finding a solution for lifestyle challenges due to a hearing loss. The hearing evaluation confirms or rules out if you have a hearing impairment. A thorough hearing evaluation will identify your hearing sensitivity for different pitch sounds in each ear. This will show the pattern, type, and degree of your hearing loss. Speech tests will be performed in order to evaluate your ability to understand speech.
How Will I Know if I Need a Hearing Aid(S)?
The results of the hearing evaluation will determine the need for hearing aid(s), the type of hearing aid(s), and whether one or two aids are needed. The Audiologist will review the results of your evaluation and discuss the impact of your loss on general communication. There are many factors when considering candidacy for hearing aids including lifestyle, occupation, and your desire to improve your ability to communicate.
Will Hearing Aids Give Me Normal Hearing Again?
Hearing aids are only an aid for communication and cannot restore your hearing to normal. Although hearing aids cannot restore hearing once it is lost, studies show that hearing loss can be dealt with effectively by wearing hearing aids. Most wearers notice a marked improvement in their ability to communicate, as the devices make speech easier to hear and understand.
What Kinds of Hearing Aids Are Available?
Hearing aids are available in several sizes and styles with different advantages and disadvantages, from devices that fit behind the ear to instruments that fit within the ear canal and are minimally visible. Not all hearing aid sizes and styles are made to suit everyone’s needs. Different hearing aids work better for different people. If you are thinking about investing in a hearing aid, the nature and sensitivity of your hearing loss should be considered when looking for the most appropriate device for you.
Determining what kinds of hearing aid features are useful and/or practical for you and your lifestyle is also important. Individuals who spend lots of time outdoors or in crowded areas will have different needs than individuals who spend most of their time in quiet areas, and will therefore require different features for their hearing aids.
Together, you and your audiologist can determine which type of hearing aid is best for your needs. Our clinic offers a 30 day adjustment period so you can be sure your hearing aid is compatible with your lifestyle. Contact our office to schedule a hearing aid consultation.
What Is the Difference Between Digital and Analog Hearing Aids?
Analog hearing aids amplify all sounds equally to help improve general hearing quality; however, they cannot distinguish between speech and background noise since all sounds are magnified to the same degree. The volume differences in various environments can force wearers to constantly adjust the volume on their analog hearing aids. Historically, analog devices were most effective for people who did most of their communication in a quiet environment.
Digital hearing aids have solved many of the problems associated with analog hearing aids. Digital devices contain a microchip that helps differentiate between speech and noise by converting sound into digital code. This results in more finely tuned sound and allows individuals to hear more clearly. Digital hearing aids can be programmed for different environments, so individuals can enjoy the best sound quality anywhere they go without having to adjust the volume on their hearing devices.
Dallas Ear Institute offers a wide selection of digital hearing aids to help you enjoy the best hearing possible. Contact our office to learn more about the various hearing aid brands and styles.
Will I Need a Hearing Aid for Each Ear?
Two hearing aids provide the optimum benefit when there is hearing loss in both ears. Two hearing aids can restore stereophonic hearing, making speech clearer, especially in the presence of background noise. It also allows wearers to better localize the sounds around them. Additionally, wearing hearing aids helps the brain separate speech from other sounds more effectively. Moreover, wearing two hearing aids can prevent auditory deprivation, a condition that occurs when a lack of sound stimulation from the unaided ear causes the brain to lose the ability to process sound information.
I was previously told that hearing aids won’t help people with “nerve loss.” Is this true?
Not true. When hearing aids were first developed, it was difficult to fit people with sensorineural hearing loss (“nerve loss”). However, with today’s vastly improved technology, people with sensorineural hearing loss can benefit from hearing aids.
Are Hearing Aids Covered by Insurance?
While some insurance plans will cover part of the cost of hearing aids and other hearing devices, many do not. Medicare does not cover hearing aids. Contact you insurance to determine if your insurance plan offers partial coverage for hearing aids. If your insurance does not include hearing aid benefits, you can consider financing to purchase your hearing aids.
Why Do Hearing Aids Cost So Much?
In order to receive maximum benefit from hearing aids, a professionally trained Audiologist is involved in the fitting process. In many cases, the Audiologist will provide a warranty with the hearing aids, professional services such as verification of the hearing aid fitting, ear impressions, patient and family counseling regarding hearing aid use, maintenance and realistic expectations and follow-up care that is bundled into the upfront cost of the hearing aids.
Mail order or budget clubs may sell hearing aids at lower prices because they are often provided to the user with minimal or no instructions and/or adjustments. Additionally, their components may be less technologically advanced.
Hearing aids are sold in relatively low volume compared to other electronic devices yet there is a considerable amount of time and resources manufacturers spend on development and research.
“Return for credit” policies are required by state and federal hearing aid guidelines, allowing new hearing aids to be returned within an established evaluation period. The costs associated with these policies are considerable and must be absorbed in the overall pricing structure.
When calculated over a five year period, the average cost of a hearing aid including all the associated professional visits is about $2.50 cents per day – less than the cost of a gourmet cup of coffee.
How Long Will It Take to Adjust to My Hearing Aids?
Of course, this varies from person to person; however, most people find excellent adjustment within a couple of weeks. The hearing aids will allow you to hear sounds that may not have previously been audible. Your entire auditory system will adjust to the new sounds. We offer a 30-day adjustment period with a provision for refund if the aid is returned. It is recommended that you return to your Audiologist for follow-up care during your first month of use for fine-tuning and to verify your aided performance.
Where Should I Purchase My Hearing Aids?
Hearing aids should be purchased from a licensed and trained Hearing Health Care Professional such as an Audiologist. Audiologists have met the licensing and continuing education requirements of the State and are dedicated to providing the professional assistance needed in the proper fitting and maintenance of hearing aids. An Audiologist will hold a Master’s Degree or an Au.D. and specialize in the identification, assessment, treatment and prevention of hearing loss.
The highly trained and professional Audiologists at Dallas Ear Institute rely on experience, clinical data, and client input to select the hearing aid that is appropriate for your particular hearing loss, communication needs, and lifestyle.
We educate our patients on the advantages and limitations of hearing aids and explain and demonstrate their use and care.
How Often Should I Repair and Replace My Hearing Aid?
Hearing aids can function properly for a long period of time with regular maintenance. Since wax buildup and moisture can cause major problems for hearing devices, you should have them cleaned by your Audiologist at least every six months. Due to rapid technological advances, people usually choose to replace their hearing aids after four to five years of use.
The Audiologist can try to repair the hearing aids on site or send the hearing aid to the manufacturer for repair. If your hearing aid is out-of-warranty, the manufacturer can repair the hearing aid and it comes with a new warranty.
How Can I Troubleshoot My Hearing Aid?
One cause of hearing aid failure is ear wax debris in the speaker opening of the hearing aid, the small hole in the hearing aid that goes into your ear. If your hearing aid stops working, first check this part of the hearing aid to be sure that it is free of any ear wax or other debris. Use the brush or the pick that came with your hearing aid to carefully remove the blockage. Hearing aids should be inspected and cleaned daily to prevent problems. If you have a chronic problem with wax build-up, your Audiologist may offer other solutions.
Weak or Dead Battery
Another cause of hearing aid failure is a depleted or weak battery. Test your battery or replace it with a fresh battery.
If you have cleaned the hearing aid and replaced the battery and your hearing and continues to malfunction, contact your Audiologist. You can also refer to your hearing aid user guide for further troubleshooting information.
What Devices, Other Than Hearing Aids, Are Available to Help Me?
A wide range of products, often referred to as assistive listening devices (ALDs), are available to help people hear better in specific situations. There are ALDs available to improve hearing while watching television or for group-listening situations such as movies, lectures or religious services. Specific devices are also available for individuals who have difficulty hearing the doorbell, car signal, or emergency alarms. Telephone amplifiers are available for individuals who are experiencing difficulty understanding speech while using the telephone.
You may be eligible for a free ALD through the State. Contact your Audiologist to determine if you possibly qualify.
What Is the Best Way to Talk to Someone Who Has Hearing Loss?
Get the person’s attention first by saying their name. Face the person so they can see your face. Speak clearly and naturally.
What You Should Know Before Buying a Hearing Aid Online?
These days, everything you could ever want can be delivered directly to your door: clothes, books, even fresh groceries! We live in a world where purchasing items online is easy and is quickly becoming our standard way of shopping. So, can this means also be applied to medical equipment? Say… to a hearing aid? Consider these things before dumping hearing aids into the same bucket as other (simpler) goods.