What are typical
symptoms of hearing loss?
A: Persons with untreated hearing loss
misunderstand others unless they are
ask others to repeat
- tend to turn
up the volume on TV or radio
try to avoid
social gatherings due to difficulty understanding in group settings
withdrawing from social contact with friends and family
- have trouble
speaking on the phone
deny they have problems
and instead, accuse others of
Recognizing a hearing
problem is the first step toward accepting a hearing loss. Then it's
necessary to do something about it. Usually, the first sounds
one misses are sounds in the higher pitched range. Losing the higher
pitched sounds primarily reduces word clarity.
Especially difficult are:
- hearing women
- hearing in
- hearing at a
without being able to see the other
Where should a person go
if they have a hearing problem?
A: There are three professionals who treat people with
hearing problems. Their training is very different. It is important that
consumers understand the differences and qualifications of hearing health
treat patients with
medical conditions of
hearing loss. Ear physicians have an M.D. or D.O. degree.
are university trained professionals
who treat non-medical conditions of hearing loss including fitting
hearing aids. Audiologists have a Master's degree (M.A., M.S. M.C.D.
etc.), or doctoral degree (Au.D., Ph.D., Ed.D. Sc.D.).
dispense hearing aids. Hearing aid specialists
must complete a home study course on hearing aid techniques before
being registered in Colorado. Otherwise, hearing aid specialists are
not required to have any formal training.
What are some of the causes of
A: The two main factors causing permanent hearing loss
are long term exposure to loud or constant noise and
aging. Nonetheless, hearing loss can occur at any age
factors (e.g., born hearing impaired, or acquire hearing loss as a
middle ear infections
during pregnancy (e.g., rubella,
childhood (e.g., meningitis, measles,
injury (e.g., total deafness in one ear following an accident)
disorders of the inner ear such as Meniere's disease or
- exposure to
certain medications which are toxic to the ears (e.g., very strong
I.V. antibiotics, chemotherapy)
affecting the auditory nerve
Are some types of hearing loss
A: Yes, but temporary losses constitute only 5-10% of
hearing losses and most involve problems of the middle ear - for example, ear infections in children.
Unfortunately, most people have hearing loss
affecting the inner ear which is a permanent disability.
How common is permanent hearing
A: Most (i.e., 90%) of hearing loss is
"permanent" in nature. Current surveys estimate
Americans have enough hearing loss to be communicatively significant.
Here are some
general guidelines regarding the incidence of hearing loss:
- 3 in 10 people over age 60 have
- 1 in 6 baby boomers (ages 41-59),
or 14.6%, have a hearing problem;
- 1 in 14 Generation Xers (ages
29-40), or 7.4%, already have hearing loss;
- At least 1.4 million children (18
or younger) have hearing problems;
- It is estimated that 3 in 1,000
infants are born with serious to profound hearing loss.
Reference: Better hearing
Can hearing aids really
help people who suffer from hearing loss?
A: Yes, in 95% of cases, people can be
helped. It is important that realistic expectations
between the benefits vs. limitations should be disclosed by your audiologist or hearing aid specialist.
For example, new hearing aid users
who are 90+ years or have very limited high frequency sensitivity will not
be as successful using hearing aids as compared to patients 85 or younger,
or who have relatively flatter configurations of hearing
Why do some people
refuse to get help for their hearing loss?
A: Surveys on hearing impaired/non-users indicate that
the main reasons are:
they do not
think their hearing loss is that bad yet (most common)
do not think
hearing aids will
help that much
have heard that hearing aids are useless in background
think a hearing aid will make them look old
blame other people for not speaking clearly
cannot afford hearing aids
What is the best brand of
A: There is NO one best brand. With more than 30 major
manufacturers/brands of hearing aids, quality is relatively good across
the board. Tip for consumers: There are no data to show that
companies who advertise the most are any better or worse in quality.
However, they tend to be more expensive.
long do hearing aids typically last?
A: I tell patient approximately
six years (by my best estimation). Some users get
10-15 years of excellent service using the same hearing aid. However, most
people consider getting upgraded hearing aids every 4-6 years due to
improvements in hearing aid technology and/or because of gradual changes
in their own hearing. As a general rule, I prescribe an additional 10dB of
gain since the average person over 65 loses approximately 1dB per year. In
this way, I am hoping patients will get about 10 years of service with
each hearing aid.
Are hearing aids covered by
most health insurances?
A: The best answer is "rarely."
However, if you have any questions, check with your insurance
Does Medicare cover hearing aids?
Medicare has never covered hearing aids, and in
these days of reducing Medicare coverage and social security benefits to
elderly persons, it is unlikely that they ever will (include hearing
Q: How much do hearing aids
A: In our office, hearing aids range from $1000.00 to
$2500.00 per hearing aid. Usually, the difference is
dependent upon two factors:
of hearing aid (in-the-ear, in-the-canal, behind-the-ear,
- Sophistication of circuitry
programmable circuits, digital, many
does it cost for a hearing test?
A: Audiologists can charge between $35.00 to as much
for an audiologic evaluation (CPT code #92557). Our office does
for the hearing test when the purpose is hearing aid related.
The reason we do not charge is because Medicare stipulates that
it will not cover the cost
of a hearing test if it has anything to do with the process of
determining the need for hearing aids. Most
audiologists bypass this stipulation and charge Medicare for the hearing
test anyway which is illegal and subject to Medicare fraud.
What are the basic styles of
A: There are five
- Completely-in-canal (CIC)
- Micro-canal (MC)
- Open-fit BTE's with receiver in the
Q: Is there a trial period for hearing
A: In Colorado, every potential buyer has a right to a
30-day trial period. If the buyer chooses not to purchase the hearing aid
(for any reason), the dispenser must return at least 95% of the cost. In
many cases, dispensers will refund 100% of the cost (as we do in our
Aren't all hearing aids the
A: No, there are huge differences. Each hearing aid
fitting takes into account:
- level of
amplification based upon frequency response
- need for
of hearing aid
While conventional hearing aid fittings tend to have
similar benefits and limitations, the newer technology hearing aids have
greatly expanded the benefits of amplification.
Patients may tell me about a friend who has a hearing
aid that works really well for them and request the SAME make and model.
Unfortunately, what is
appropriate for one individual may be completely wrong for someone
else. I think it's good when a patient tells me about their friend's
experience, but trust your audiologist's opinion regarding what is most
appropriate for you.
Should people always
get two hearing aids or is one sufficient?
A: Usually, people hear and understand better with two
hearing aids, but not always. As such, about 70% of fittings in the last
several years were
binaural (two ears).
Factors which tend to contraindicate two hearing aids
- age (e.g.,
patient over 90 years of age)
differences between ears for word understanding (e.g., more than 40%
- relatively "flat" hearing loss (people with
sloping hearing loss perform much better with two)
hearing aids will normally cost twice as much as one)
realistic improvements can be
expected with hearing aids?
A: The basic goal in fitting hearing aids is to
improve patients' ability to hear and understand words. The percentage of
improvement varies significantly between people depending upon each