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Hearing Loss: Answers from Experts Andrea Marlowe and Kim Webster

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One in five Americans is affected by hearing loss, but there are many different causes and treatment options for hearing loss patients.

A doctor fits a man's hearing aid

Hearing experts Andrea Marlowe and Kim Webster answered questions on the Johns Hopkins Medicine Facebook page. View the chat.

Q: What causes ringing in the ears?

A: There are many causes of tinnitus also known as ringing, buzzing or chirping in your ears. A history of hearing loss, certain medications, stress, and food triggers can worsen tinnitus. There are many food triggers that could worsen tinnitus and each person is different. Red wine, salt, chocolate, caffeine, tomatoes and certain cheeses have been reported. 

Q: How is tinnitus treated?

A: There's no cure for tinnitus, but if hearing loss is involved, a hearing aid or cochlear implant can cover up the ringing during the day. Eliminating food and stress triggers and altering the offending medication, can relieve some tinnitus or lower the volume.

Q: What is the difference between hearing aids and a cochlear implant?

A: Hearing aids make sounds louder. Cochlear implants can make speech clearer for patients with significant hearing loss. If speech clarity is a problem, the cochlear implant will be the better option in most cases.

Q: Why don’t many insurance companies cover hearing aids?

A: Insurance companies tend to cover hearing aids only for children because they're still acquiring speech and language and learning in school. However, more insurance policies are starting to cover hearing aids in adults. It's still rare, but we recommend that you explore different insurance policies and contact your legislator to discuss federal programs expanding hearing aid coverage.

More About Hearing Loss

Learn more about hearing loss and cochlear implants in the Johns Hopkins Health Library.

More About Cochlear Implants from Other Experts

Introduction to Cochlear Implantation

Cochlear implant surgeon Dr. Howard Francis answers questions about cochlear implants, the surgery and what patients can expect after surgery.

Cochlear Implantation Activation Process

Steve Bowditch, an audiologist with the Johns Hopkins Listening Center, answers questions about the activation process of cochlear implants.

Implantation Auditory Rehabilitation

Deborah Bervinchak, an auditory rehabilitation therapist with the Johns Hopkins Listening Center answers questions about adult and pediatric auditory rehabilitation following cochlear implantation and activation.

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