Frequently Asked Questions

What causes hearing loss?

There are several causes of hearing loss. Some of them include:

  • Head trauma
  • Ear wax
  • Viral infections
  • Noise exposure (military, hunting, music, industrial, racing, power saws, lawn mowers)
  • Heredity
  • Certain chemotherapy and radiation treatments
  • Certain heavy-duty antibiotics

Can people have hearing loss and be unaware of it?

If you answer yes to any of the following questions you may have hearing loss.

  • Do others complain you have the television too loud?
  • Do you have problems hearing birds or wind?
  • Do you have difficulty hearing female voices or children?
  • Do you have difficulty hearing in groups?
  • Do you find yourself confusing words or making silly mistakes misunderstanding conversations?
  • Do other people, or family members, think you have a hearing loss?

What symptoms require medical attention?

  • Head trauma
  • Sudden hearing loss
  • Balance problems
  • Ear pain
  • Fluctuating hearing loss
  • Chronic ringing in ears
  • Feeling of fullness or pressure in ears

What causes ringing in my head/ears?

The ringing sensation that can be detected in your head, or individual ears, is called tinnitus. This ringing is usually an indication of some damage to your auditory system (especially noise damage). It can be constant or periodic and on one specific side or in the middle of your head. Sometimes hearing aids help by bringing more sound to the brain, thus distracting attention from the ringing. If you have ringing consistently on one side, you will want to ask your doctor about it.

What types of hearing loss are there?

Conductive Hearing Loss: Conductive hearing loss results from a problem with the conduction of sound from the outer ear (part that you see) to the inner ear (where the nerve is located). This can result from wax buildup, ear infections, trauma to the ear, or any other problem with the eardrum or bones that conduct sound through the middle ear. Those with this type of loss have a problem with volume rather than understanding ability.

Sensorineural Hearing Loss: Sensorineural hearing loss involves some sort of deterioration of the inner ear or the hearing nerve. The aging process, noise-exposure, some cancer treatments, illness, and other degenerative processes could cause this loss. This type of hearing loss sometimes impairs understanding ability and causes those with the loss to be sensitive to loud sounds.

Mixed Hearing Loss: Mixed hearing losses contain some conductive elements and some sensorineural elements.

How can I restore my hearing?

Usually, hearing loss is permanent. Consult with your doctor to see if your symptoms are medical in nature and need any treatment, especially if you have a sudden hearing loss. Even hearing instruments will not restore normal hearing. Hearing instruments will make previously missed sounds available at the level of stimulation your auditory system needs at that particular pitch.

I only have difficulty hearing in crowds.

You could have a high-frequency hearing loss. With this type of loss, you can hear well in one-on-one situations and even in small groups. However when you get around distracting speech/noise, you can hear the noise louder than the speech. Your normal low-frequency hearing picks up the low-pitched noise at a normal-hearing level, while you miss some of the high-frequency speech sounds, where your hearing loss is located, that bring in clarity. This hearing loss is not as noticeable when speaking with someone without any competing noise.

I hear male and female voices differently.

Female voices, children’s voices, and even a majority of speech understanding lies in the high frequencies. If you have a high-frequency hearing loss you probably have a hard time hearing things, such as your wife’s voice. You may hear the low frequency sounds normally but miss the high frequency sounds.

My hearing is fine, but I have problems understanding.

Hearing and understanding are two different things. It is possible to hear something and not understand. This may be due to a high-frequency hearing loss. Most consonant sounds are high in pitch and bring clarity to speech. They help you discriminate between different words (i.e.. pick, tick, brick, lick, sick). If you have a high-frequency hearing loss, you miss the consonant clarity sounds while hearing the volume from the low pitches.

I have a hearing aid but I don’t wear/like it. ?Can I trade it in for a better one?

Hearing aids are always purchased with a trial period so if your hearing aid is less than 2 months old it can likely be returned to the manufacturer and a new hearing aid can be tried. Older hearing aids can not be traded in but the Assistive Devices Program will help to fund hearing aids every three years as needed.

How long does a hearing test appointment take?

A hearing test can take anywhere from 20-40 minutes depending on the degree of hearing loss. We generally schedule 1 hour for a hearing test to give us time to do a complete audiological assessment and to counsel you regarding your degree and type of hearing loss as well implications of your hearing loss. We will advise you to seek medical intervention as warranted and advise you if you are a candidate for hearing aids.

Do I need a hearing test?

You can find out by going to the following link to the hearing test in the hearing loss section.

How long is the wait for an appointment?

Depending on the type of appointment, the average wait is 24-48 hours unless of emergency.