What causes hearing loss?

Hearing loss happens for different reasons. Many people lose their hearing slowly as they age. This condition is known as presbycusis. Doctors do not know why presbycusis affects some people more than others, but it seems to run in families. Another reason for hearing loss with aging may be years of exposure to loud noise. This condition is known as noise-induced hearing loss. Many construction workers, farmers, musicians, airport workers, yard and tree care workers, and people in the armed forces have hearing problems even in their younger and middle years because of too much exposure to loud noise.

Hearing loss can also be caused by viral or bacterial infections, heart conditions or stroke, head injuries, tumors, and certain medicines.

How do I know if I really have a hearing loss or need a hearing aid?

Do you…

  • Have trouble hearing over the telephone
  • Find it hard to follow conversations when two or more people are talking
  • Often ask people to repeat what they are saying
  • Need to turn up the TV volume so loud that others complain
  • Have a problem hearing because of background noise
  • Think that others seem to mumble
  • Can’t understand when women and children speak to you

Will a hearing aid really make that much difference?

Hearing aids can be of great benefit to you and those around you by helping you better hear and understand speech as well as environmental sounds.  If you think you are in need of a hearing aid, contact our audiologists to discuss your options.

What styles of hearing aids are there?

There are four primary styles of hearing aids:

  1. Behind the ear (BTE)
  2. In the ear (ITE)
  3. In the canal (ITC)
  4. Completely in the canal (CIC)

Each style of hearing aid is specially designed for a specific type and degree of hearing loss.

hearing aids.jpg

Credit: NIH Medical Arts

Will I have to wear one or two hearing aids?

Each patient’s situation is unique. Our audiologists will help you determine whether one or two hearing aids is best for you. In general, wearing two hearing aids gives you the advantage of sending your brain sound information from both ears, which helps to increase speech understanding, localize sounds and filter out background noise.

What should new users of hearing aids realistically expect?

Just like with anything new, a little patience will help you transition smoothly. Some people get used to a hearing aid in a few days, while others may need a few weeks to adjust. Gradually the sound quality of hearing aids will improve as your brain becomes accustomed to amplification. Below is a list of some things you can expect when wearing a hearing aid.

  • Hearing in quiet environments should improve (watching TV or one-on-one conversations)
  • Hearing in moderate background noise should improve
  • Hearing in loud noise will not be as good as in a quiet environment
  • Soft speech should be audible, average speech should be comfortable and loud speech will be loud, but never uncomfortable

Are there any drawbacks to wearing hearing aids?

The benefits of hearing aids far outweigh the drawbacks. Over time, most of the "drawbacks" will not be noticeable.

In the beginning:

    • You will be aware you have a hearing aid in your ear, but it should fit comfortably
    • Your own voice may sound different to you, however you will quickly become accustomed to the difference
    • You may notice sounds you have not heard in a while, like the refrigerator humming, paper moving or footsteps however your brain will quickly learn to “tune them out”