Hearing FAQ’s

Find answers to frequently asked questions about hearing aids and hearing loss. Click on any of the frequently asked questions below to reveal the answer. Have more questions? Contact our Ashland Audiology today.

What is an Audiologist?

Audiologists are health-care professionals who evaluate, diagnose, treat, and manage hearing loss, as well as other conditions like tinnitus and balance disorders. An audiologist is a person who holds a minimum of a Master’s degree in Audiology; professionals seeking education in Audiology who do not currently hold a Master’s degree must now pursue a Doctoral degree in Audiology (Au.D). Additionally, Audiologists must be licensed in the state where they practice, and these hearing professionals are regulated by the Division of Consumer Affairs.

An Audiologist may be awarded the Certificate of Clinical Competence in Audiology by the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA), otherwise known as the CCC-A. With additional training and expertise, the Audiologist may receive the honor of Fellow, which is bestowed by the American Academy of Audiology (AAA).

Audiology Diagnostic Tests and Treatments

Some typical occupational duties provided by an audiologist include:

  • Performing technical diagnostic hearing tests.
  • Prescribing and fitting hearing aids (when additionally licensed to do so).
  • Billing insurance for medically necessary diagnostic testing and hearing aids, when patients have policies that cover these benefits.
  • Assisting in cochlear implant programs.
  • Performing ear- or hearing-related surgical monitoring in hospital settings.
  • Clinically coordinating, monitoring, and supervising newborn hearing loss detection programs.
  • Designing and implementing hearing conservation programs.
  • Providing hearing rehabilitation auditory training.
  • Assisting with speech-reading training.
  • Offering listening skills training

For further information about audiologists, contact the American Academy of Audiology or the American Speech-Language-Hearing-Association.

Are ALDs Only for People Using Hearing Aids?

Assistive listening devices (ALDs) are not only for people who use hearing aids. Individuals with all degrees and types of hearing loss can benefit from these units. Even people with normal hearing can benefit from assistive listening devices. Some ALDs are used with hearing aids, whereas others are used without hearing aids. Suitable candidates for ALDs include individuals who:

  • Suffer from mild to moderate sensorineural hearing deficit secondary to presbycusis, which is age-related hearing loss.
  • Were previously exposed to loud noise over a long period of time.
  • Have a genetic disorder that resulted in hearing problems.
  • Suffered a head injury or ear trauma that rendered them hearing impaired.

» Learn more

What is an Auditory Processing Disorder (APD)?

Auditory Processing (also called Central Auditory Processing) refers to the means by which we make sense of what we hear. Auditory Processing Disorder (APD) refers to the abnormal interaction of hearing, neural transmission and the brain’s ability to make sense of sound. People with APD have normal hearing sensitivity, however, they have difficulty processing the information they hear. Individuals may experience difficulty understanding speech in the presence in noise, problems following multi-step directions, and difficulty with phonics or reading comprehension.

Parents, educators, physicians, speech-language pathologists and psychologists realize the role that auditory processing plays in a child’s ability to learn, leading to an increase in referrals to audiologists with expertise in this area. Proper diagnosis can be made only after the completion of a battery of special tests, administered and interpreted by an audiologist. There may be other neurological factors contributing to the symptoms of APD as well, which should be examined by a physician. Individualized treatment programs, possibly including assistive listening devices, are available to help strengthen auditory processing skills in children and adults diagnosed with APD.

How can I tell if I need a hearing test?

A hearing test is simple, quick and painless. It takes most people years, often 5-7, to notice the gradual onset of hearing loss. If you are starting to have problems hearing certain voices, if you find yourself asking people to repeat themselves, if others seem to mumble, or if you need to turn the TV volume up to a level uncomfortable for others to enjoy – these are all signs you need a thorough hearing evaluation. Hearing loss is not something to hide or ignore. In fact, untreated hearing loss is more visible to others than hearing aids. Hearing loss can negatively affect one’s emotional and social well-being, lead todepression, isolation from others, breakdown of relationships, insecurity and an overall sense of helplessness. If you think that you might have a hearing loss, take our 5-minute quiz.

Are there different types of hearing loss?

Most always hearing loss is categorized as either conductive or sensorineural. Most hearing loss is sensorineural and commonly referred to as “nerve loss.” A combination of the two types is called a “mixed hearing loss.” Unilateral hearing loss affects one ear; bilateral hearing loss affects both ears. Treatment options vary for the different types of hearing loss. Sensorineural hearing loss cannot be corrected by surgery or medication, but may be treated using advanced hearing aid technology.

What is conductive hearing loss?

Conductive hearing loss is caused by a blockage that impedes the movement of sound waves through the outer or middle ear. The result is a reduction in loudness or clarity of sound that reaches the inner ear. The treatment for conductive loss can vary and may include surgical intervention depending on the cause. Our audiologists work closely with physicians to help identify medically treatable hearing loss.

What is sensorineural hearing loss?

Sensorineural hearing loss results from auditory nerve dysfunction within the inner ear. It is typically irreversible and permanent. It affects the intensity (or loudness) of sound, but more often results in a lack of clarity of sounds, particularly speech. The treatment for sensorineural hearing loss is prescriptive sound amplification through advanced digital hearing aid technology.

Does Caffeine hold a Tinnitus Cure?

Research findings show that tinnitus, that awful persistent ringing, chirping or hissing in the ears, may be reduced by caffeine, a stimulant most often associated with coffee. The rate of tinnitus was 15 percent lower among participants who consumed between four and six cups of coffee compared with those who drank a cup and a half each day. The study followed over 65,000 women over 18 years and asked them to self-report their lifestyle, caffeine consumption and medical history.

Although researchers from Boston have not found enough evidence to explain the results, previous studies indicate that caffeine’s stimulant effects on the nervous system also benefit the inner ear. Approximately one in six adults suffer from tinnitus, which may stem from an underlying condition, such as an ear injury, excessive noise exposure or hearing loss. If you do struggle with tinnitu, come see us. We offer effective tinnitus treatment options that might make you a little less jittery too.

My hearing is getting worse. If I get hearing aids now, won’t I just have to replace them later?

With advanced digital technology we are able to adjust your prescription as needed over time. Every 4-5 years, you may need to upgrade your hearing device as equipment can wear out, technology improves and your listening needs change.

Are hearing aids difficult to wear or get used to?

Many years ago hearing instruments were bulky and uncomfortable to wear. Today’s advanced digital technology is significantly smaller allowing for a more discrete and comfortable option. Award-winning designs have proven to be aesthetically appealing, naturally comfortable and virtually unnoticeable. We also now have the capability to dye the receiver tube to match your skin color.

I can hear people speak, but sometimes I can’t understand what they say. Why is that?

Hearing loss is often both a difficulty with hearing sound and understanding speech. Understanding words and sentences is a function of your brain which relies on receiving sound signals properly. Your ears funnel sound, transform it into nerve impulses and send it to the brain where understanding occurs. Most sensorineural hearing loss occurs in the inner ear where high-pitched sounds that are critical to the meaning to many of our words are located. If you do not understand speech easily, then you could have a hearing loss that creates this understanding problem. Today’s advanced hearing aids are engineered to exacting specifications to help you reclaim a lost sensitivity to many of these higher pitched sounds.  The goal is to help you understand speech both in quiet and noise.

Is hearing loss just part of growing old?

While hearing loss is common as we age, there are many factors that can contribute to hearing loss. Excessive noise – loud music machinery gunfire.

  • Infections
  • Genetics or birth defects
  • Head injury
  • Drugs –some antibiotics, chemotherapy and radiation
  • Other diseases like kidney disease, cardiovascular disease, diabetes and cognition issues

Is hearing loss just part of growing old?

While hearing loss is common as we age, there are many factors that can contribute to hearing loss. Excessive noise – loud music machinery gunfire.

  • Infections
  • Genetics or birth defects
  • Head injury
  • Drugs –some antibiotics, chemotherapy and radiation
  • Other diseases like kidney disease, cardiovascular disease, diabetes and cognition issues

My doctor told me hearing aids wouldn’t help. Is that true?

Most physicians are experts to the extent of their specialty and may not be up-to-date on the advances in hearing loss treatments. It’s smart to rely on the expertise of an Audiologist. Breakthrough technological advances in the design and performance of hearing aids have given many people the opportunity to enjoy the benefits of amplification. You should have a thorough evaluation of your hearing and discuss your options for improvement with our audiologists.

I struggle with hearing in groups. Will hearing aids help me follow conversation in a crowd?

Much of the noise in our surroundings is low-toned and tends to compete with weaker, high-pitched sounds that give speech meaning. The digital advancements, directional microphone arrays, as well as hearing aids communicating with one another allow for selective reduction of frequencies where background noise is present without negatively affecting the speech frequencies. The more advanced the devices the more they will adapt to the background noise allowing for better hearing in difficult situations.

It is important for your audiologist to understand your communication lifestyle so technology selected appropriately meets your communication demands. Advanced hearing aids can also automatically adjust the scope of what we hear, removing competitive sounds that challenge our understanding. Although noise is not eliminated completely, it’s reduced significantly.

Do I have to wear a hearing aid in both ears or can I get by with one?

Generally  a two-ear recommended if you have a hearing loss in both ears.  The benefit is superior to that of a single instrument. Even in instances where hearing loss between the ears differ, two hearing aids can provide balanced hearing and better localization of sound that may help preserve speech activity in both ears. Almost always performance is better in background noise and difficult listening situations with hearing aids in both ears. Additionally, distance hearing requires both ears, so you will hear much better from distances when we both ears are using hearing devices. While you can get by with a single device you will still have much difficulty on the side that is not amplified. Our audiologists will make appropriate recommendations based upon the results from your hearing evaluation.

Do I need any follow-up care after getting hearing aids?

Yes. Hearing loss needs to be managed over time just as vision care and dental care. Hearing aids require a period of re-training your hearing. Follow-up visits are always part of your treatment plan. This is included in the costs of the devices. If a hearing care provider does not provide follow up visits or it is difficult to be see for follow up visits, then reconsider where you purchase your hearing devices. Periodic adjustments may be required to optimize performance as characteristics of your hearing impairment will change over time. These adjustments are necessary to accommodate the modifications in the hearing loss as well as your lifestyle. Your hearing aids should also fit comfortably and not cause pain or discomfort. If you experience changes in your ability to hear or problems with fit, call to schedule an appointment for a follow up visit.

What is a digital hearing aid?

Digital hearing aids convert sound waves into numerical codes, similar like a computer, before amplifying them. The code also includes information about a sound’s pitch or loudness, allowing the aid to be custom-programmed to amplify certain sound frequencies more than others. Digital circuitry allows more flexibility in adjusting the aid to a user’s unique hearing loss and to certain listening environments. The digital chips within the devices also allow for automatic volume control, less feedback (squealing), and other high performance capabilities that were impossible in previous generations of devices. Digital hearing aids were first introduced in 1996 and we have seen one two generations of these instruments each year since. The products are getting better as each new generation is introduced.

How do I care for my hearing aids?

The following tips will extend the life of your hearing aid:

  1. Clean hearing aids as instructed. Ear drainage and wax buildup can damage your hearing aid.
  2. Avoid spraying hairspray and other hair products while wearing your hearing aids.
  3. Power off hearing aids when not in use, this will also extend battery life.
  4. Keep your hearing aids away from moisture and heat.
  5. Replace dead batteries immediately. Remember to let the hearing aid batteries sit un-tabbed for one-minute before putting them into your hearing aid. 6
  6. Store your hearing aids and replacement batteries in a secure location: away from pets and small children.

Do you offer financing?

We offer several convenient payment options, including interest-free financing for up to 12 months. Our audiologists will review costs and discuss the best options available for you.

Are hearing aids covered by insurance?

Frequently, insurance plans cover testing fees; select plans provide coverage of some or all of the cost of hearing aids, if needed. In general, insurance for hearing instruments is rather new. Almost no insurances had a hearing aid benefit prior to 8-10 years ago. Additionally, these programs vary greatly, some offer a discount, some offer a meager amount and some pay for the highest level hearing instruments without question. Simply depends upon your insurance and the plan that you have chosen. Check with our office about your particular insurance program, we may know it very well or it could be a new one to us, but we will do all we can to assist you in being reimbursed. If you do have insurance, our general policy is that we do not order hearing devices until the patient is approved by the insurance company unless the persons pays us and then gets reimbursed by the insurance.

First check with your own insurance program to determine what, if any, hearing aid benefits are available with your plan. Then if you have coverage, we will help confirm the benefit and provide the best ‘out of pocket’ estimate we are able before the hearing aids are dispensed.

Why do some hearing aids cost more than others?

Hearing aids are feature-packaged and priced according to performance capabilities. Like most technology, the devices that do more, cost more. During your consultation, our audiologists will match the right technology to your lifestyle, listening needs and budget. Generally, those with a limited lifestyle require less costly hearing devices as their needs are not as great as those that are still active. Patients that are still working, or active retired should obtain as much technology as they can afford as they will benefit from the extra features included in the higher cost devices.

Which type of hearing aid works best?

Hearing aids come in many sizes and styles and are feature-packaged according to performance capabilities. Your individual hearing loss, lifestyle, listening environments, options needed, cosmetic concerns, manual dexterity and budget factor into finding the best individual solution. This is part of your complimentary consultation, your audiologist will present the options to you and justify why you need certain levels of technology.