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Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery

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Frequently Asked Questions About Hearing Aids

Each individual with hearing loss experiences unique challenges and concerns. Here are several questions our team frequently receives, along with our expert answers. You may have your own questions that are not covered here. If this is the case, you can list them and bring them to your appointment. We will ensure you get answers and help you find a hearing support system that you feel comfortable with.

Frank Lin, M.D. explains a hearing loss diagnosis to patient Frank Lin, M.D., Ph.D. answers a patient's questions after diagnosing the cause of her hearing loss.

How do I know if I need a hearing aid?

First, you need to figure out if hearing loss is affecting your daily life. Your family may have noticed you are not hearing as well as you did in the past. If you are having trouble communicating and keeping up with your regular lifestyle, this can have an impact on your decision. Your audiologist can test your hearing to help determine if you have hearing loss and, if necessary, work with you on options that may help you.

Will a hearing aid restore my hearing to normal?

No, hearing aids are designed to make things easier to hear, but cannot restore the natural functioning of your ear. Hearing aids also do not prevent the progression of hearing loss over time.

How long will my hearing aid last?

The life of a hearing aid is about five to six years. Many hearing aids are still functioning well after six years, while others may need a tuneup or repairs.

Do hearing aids use special batteries?

The majority of hearing aids today use zinc-air batteries. This kind of battery is made specifically for hearing aids and comes in a variety of sizes to work with different devices. You can find hearing aid batteries at almost any store that sells regular batteries, including most pharmacies and grocery stores.

How long do hearing aid batteries last?

This depends on the type of battery and how many hours per day you wear your hearing aid. Smaller hearing aid batteries need replacing within one week, while larger batteries may last two to three weeks.

I have hearing loss in both ears. Is it necessary to wear two hearing aids?

Here’s why two hearing aids can be better than one:

Better hearing in a noisy environment: Hearing in a noisy environment can be improved if the signal reaching each ear arrives at a slightly different moment in time. This time difference can help the brain process a speech signal more efficiently.

Improved signal vs. noise level: Sound source matters: If you have a hearing aid in only your left ear and the person speaking to you is on your right side, much of the speech signal is lost by the time it gets to your aided ear, while the level of the noise in the room enters the aided ear at its normal volume level.

Improved ability to localize sounds: The brain uses the sound entering the ears from the right and left side of the head to determine the direction of the sound source. Having a hearing aid in only one ear can alter this sense of direction.

How long does it take to get used to a hearing aid?

Each person’s experience will be different. Hearing aids can help you hear sounds you have not heard before (or have not heard for many years). Relearning takes place in the central auditory system and the brain needs some time to sort out any new information entering the ears. You will have a 60-day trial period that allows you time to adjust to your hearing aids and evaluate their benefit. Based on your experience, programming changes can be made to help with the adjustment process.

Why do hearing aids cost so much?

One reason is that hearing aids are sold in relatively low volume (about 1.7 million hearing aids for some 30 million people with hearing loss). Also, the amount of time and money spent by manufacturers on research and development is considerable. There is also a one- to two-year warranty for loss and repairs included within the purchase price.

What style of hearing aid I should wear?

Your audiologist can help you make an appropriate choice based on your degree of hearing loss, the shape of your outer ear, the size and shape of the ear canal, your ability to place and adjust the device, any special features you need and any issues with excessive wax or drainage from the ears.

What brand should I choose?

Most audiology practices work with a variety of hearing aid manufacturers. Our clinic works with multiple manufacturers based on the quality of their products and their customer service. Some companies provide unique products with more advanced technology or specialized items.