1. What are some signs that your hearing may be declining?
Most people start to notice that they can hear other’s speaking, but that they cannot understand what they are saying. This is common complaint of people who slowly lose their hearing due to the aging process. Another strong sign is that family members and friends have noticed your hearing loss and are forced to repeat themselves so that you understand what they are saying.
2. How has technology improved over the last 15 years regarding hearing aids?
Hearing aid technology has increased significantly over the last 15 years. The overwhelming majority of hearing aids fit today are digitally programmable. Digitally programmable hearing aids allow audiologists to make more precise fittings to match individual hearing losses and sound quality desires from patients. Also, the hearing aids can be re-programmed to fit your hearing loss if you continue to lose more hearing in the future.
Today’s hearing aids offer automatic volume control’s and features that allow better speech and noise management. Some hearing aids communicate with each other while the patient is wearing them to allow for automatic volume and noise management in each ear at the same time.
Today’s technology now has some hearing aids that use rechargeable batteries, remote controls, and direct Bluetooth connections to telephones, TV’s and other electronic devices.
3. Are all hearing aids sold by licensed audiologists?
No. Audiologists are the most highly skilled and trained professionals to manage and treat hearing loss. New audiologists are now required to hold a Doctorate of Audiology degree to be licensed to practice. I strongly recommend that people seek an Audiologists’ opinion before purchasing a hearing aid. Audiologists are trained to identify certain auditory conditions and refer to physicians for medical intervention before hearing aids are fit.
Hearing aids are also sold by hearing aid dispensers. The level of training for Audiologists vs hearing aid dispensers is significantly different. Many hearing aid franchise establishments employ hearing aid dispensers instead of Audiologists. At Sonus, an Audiologist is required.
4. What is the price range of a hearing aid package?
Common price ranges are from $1000.00 to 3,000.00 per hearing aid. I caution people not to shop for hearing aids based solely on price. The most expensive hearing aid on the market, fit on the wrong hearing loss or fit incorrectly, will produce poor results. On the other hand, someone with an active lifestyle will need the correct hearing aid technology to match that lifestyle and hearing loss. If it is not met correctly, the hearing aid will not be able to keep up with the patients listening lifestyle and the results will be poor. It is important to match the level of hearing aid technology to the patient’s hearing loss AND lifestyle.
My suggestion is to get a complete diagnostic audiological evaluation and hearing aid consultation. A hearing screening is NOT the same as a complete diagnostic audiological evaluation. They are simple indicators to whether further testing is needed. I do not recommend being fit with hearing aids solely from a “free hearing screening/evaluation”.
5. How long do hearing aids last?
The general life of most hearing instruments is commonly 5-7 years. I do see patients with 8 -10 year old hearing aids that are functioning very well. All things considered, hearing aids are very small and have a tremendous amount of technology placed into a tiny area. They are used every day, all day, by most patients. If you take good care of your hearing aids, you will get the maximum amount of life from them.
6. Why do some people do better with hearing aids than others?
It depends on the person and the hearing loss that they have. When we test your hearing, we are commonly looking for how much hearing sensitivity you have left and how clearly you can hear speech. It’s the clarity of speech issue that really separates many people. The human brain is much more powerful than even the most sophisticated hearing aids. Our ears are just the way in. Once someone gets new hearing aids, the brain will take some time to adjust to the new sound it is now receiving. Full adjustment takes about 6months for the brain to “re-wire” itself to the new sound.
If people use their hearing aids once in while, or just on one side, or even just a few hours a day, then the brain does not get a consistent auditory signal and results are poor. If you have hearing aids, you should be using them during all waking hours. Your brain needs to get a consistent signal and it needs to hear the sounds you are regularly exposed too. Even if you live alone or commonly live in a quiet environment. It is important that you hear the normal sounds in your house while using aids (ex. Air conditioner, refrigerator, ceiling fan etc…). You will eventually learn how to disregard the sounds of your home because you are so experienced at listening to them daily. When someone does come to your home or calls you on the phone, your brain is already trained to ignore the sounds of your home and concentrate on the speech you are trying to hear.