Questions and Answers About Hearing Loss

Q&A About Hearing Loss

There are currently some 48 million Americans living with hearing loss, yet only about one out of five of us is wearing hearing aids. Researchers continue to discover new reasons why treating hearing loss is of the utmost importance, so if you’re currently trying to decide whether to pursue a set of hearing aids, it is strongly recommended that you get a hearing test and find out whether they would benefit you. Those who adopt hearing aids earlier have better outcomes for physical, mental and emotional health than those who avoid treatment, and it is easier to adjust to wearing them.

If, like most people, you haven’t paid much attention to what’s going on with hearing aids up until now, this Q&A may serve as a useful primer about what you can expect when you start your journey toward better hearing.

Are All Hearing Aids the Same?

Not at all! There is a hearing aid style or model out there for just about every type of hearing loss and lifestyle. More active folks might appreciate a waterproof model, while those who listen to or perform music may want the absolute best sound quality available. Many models are available with a rechargeable battery option, while others are so small they are invisible, once inserted into the ear canal. When you meet with your hearing care specialist, they will ask questions about the kinds of activities that are important to you and the times when your hearing loss poses the most problems. This will help them guide you to the most appropriate set of hearing aids for your specific needs and lifestyle.

How Long Will it Take to Get Used to Wearing Them?

A few people seem to adjust to them immediately, while most others may need a little time—especially if they’ve been living with untreated loss for a while. Our brains adjust to living with hearing loss, so putting in a new set of hearing aids for the first time can bring back a lot of environmental noise that you’re no longer accustomed to ignoring. The fridge or air conditioner buzzing, or your feet shuffling on the floor, might be sounds you’ve become accustomed to living without, but your brain will once again get used to ignoring them for you over time.

Your hearing care specialist will give you instructions on acclimating to your new hearing aids. For some people, additional fitment (programming) adjustments can help ease the transition, so make sure to get your hearing aids from a reputable local business that offers free adjustments during the first months of wear.

Are There Side Effects from Hearing Aids?

Aside from the adjustment period, there are no side effects of hearing aids. They should be comfortable in your ears and amplify the sounds around you without causing pain. If you experience pain, soreness, skin irritation or bleeding in your ears, contact your care provider immediately. This can happen from an error in fitment, but is not a normal part of wearing hearing aids.

Normal loud sounds should not be painful in your hearing aids, either. If a car door slamming or normal street noise is painfully loud to you, you should contact your hearing care provider immediately for an adjustment in your programming.

How Good Will My Hearing Be with Hearing Aids?

This is another question that cannot be answered the same way for everyone. Those with mild hearing loss will be able to hear more with a set of hearing aids than those with severe hearing loss. Hearing aids amplify sound, but they cannot restore hearing.

However, today’s hearing aids are significantly more advanced than those of the previous generation. They can emphasize speech over background sound, help with spatial localization, and connect wirelessly to smartphones, tablets, laptops, and many assistive listening devices (ALDs) via Bluetooth. Even though your hearing may not be perfect once you start wearing hearing aids, they will still do a lot to make sure you can follow a conversation and be much more aware of what’s happening in your environment.

If you or a loved one is living with untreated hearing loss, make an appointment for a hearing test today and find out what a good set of hearing aids can do to improve your life!

Kenneth H. Wood, BC-HIS

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With so many myths and misinformation about hearing loss and hearing care, it’s often the unknowns or confusion that holds us back from making the right decisions.

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