According to the Better Hearing Institute, hearing loss is now the third most common health problem in the country today, behind only arthritis and heart disease with more than 50 million Americans suffering from its effects. There are some common questions I get from patients in regards to their hearing, hearing loss and hearing aids so I would like to answer a few of the most common:
1. How does hearing work?
Sounds start as moving waves and enter the ear canal, and then the sound will vibrate your eardrum and send the signal through your middle ear bones, to your permanent hearing organs or your cochleas. The cochleas then transmit the sound to the brain to be processed into speech and other sound information. The brain takes the sound coming from both ears to be able to tell where sound is coming from.
2. What causes hearing loss?
Hearing loss can be caused by a variety of factors. There are a few major factors that can affect hearing:
• Genetics – hearing loss can have a familial link.
• Natural Aging Process – the slow deterioration of hearing over time can get more progressive the higher up in age we go.
• Toxicity/Trauma – head trauma or a fall can sometimes affect the physical parts of the ear which transmit sound. Some medications are toxic to the ears (ototoxic). See this pdf for more information on ototoxic medications: www.chchearing.org/sites/default/files/Ototoxic_Brochure.pdf
• Noise Exposure – two types of sound exposure can cause noise-induced hearing loss: prolonged noise exposure or a sudden, loud, single burst of sound like a bang from a firecracker. Always wear hearing protection if you are in a high noise environment to prevent any hearing loss.
3. Will my hearing get worse?
There are no predictions when it comes to hearing loss changes. I recommend baseline hearing evaluations if you feel you are having difficulty. Then as years go on, if you feel your hearing has changed or after exposure to dangerously loud noises, your hearing can be re-tested and compared to previous results.
4. Why do I need two hearing aids?
Hearing happens at the level of the brain. If you are diagnosed with hearing loss in both ears, it will always be medically recommended to correct the loss in both ears because the brain needs sound coming through both of your ears equally and evenly to process the best signal possible. Using just one hearing aid when a hearing test result indicates that you need two, reduces your brain’s hearing and understanding by 50%.
5. What hearing aids are right for me?
You don’t just purchase hearing aids, you see a certified and qualified audiologist to listen to your individual hearing concerns and make the best recommendation for your specific listening needs. There are hundreds if not thousands of different hearing aids on the market today, and choosing a trusted Audiologist is the first step to finding the hearing aids that are best for you. Then, you and your audiologist create a plan together to meet all of your expectations for better hearing. As an Audigy Certified professional, I believe in providing the highest level of patient care.