Get Answers to Your Questions About Hearing Loss and Hearing Aid Models
Our patients often have many questions about choosing their first hearing aid device. In order to help others, we have collected the most common patient questions and provided the answers on our FAQ page, making it easy for Florida residents to get the information they need about hearing loss.
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What are the most common symptoms of tinnitus?
Most people suspect they are suffering from tinnitus due to the telltale symptom of “ringing in the ears.” Although often referred to as ringing, tinnitus can present itself as any persistent noise in the ears, including whistling, buzzing, whooshing, hissing, or whistling. Some patients are able to hear the noise all the time, while others may only notice symptoms at certain times of the day.
How to Discover the Source of Your Tinnitus
Tinnitus itself is actually a symptom, as many different conditions can result in head noise. Most people with tinnitus experience head noise along with some degree of hearing loss, as degeneration in the ear can result in both symptoms. However, patients may also experience tinnitus as a result of:
- Brain injuries. Sudden-onset tinnitus can be a side effect of a traumatic injury, especially if the injury involved the head, neck, or ears.
- Obstructions. Patients who only hear tinnitus in one of their ears may have a blockage in the ear canal that prevents proper sound transmission. Fluid buildup, swelling from an ear infection, and tumors in the ear canal can all cause one-sided tinnitus.
- Heart problems. Tinnitus that follows a steady rhythm in tune with the patient’s heartbeat is called pulsatile tinnitus, and is usually caused by high blood pressure, circulatory problems, diabetes, or other conditions that interrupt blood flow to the ears.
- Strokes. Heart health and poor circulation affect all areas of the body, and can cause many symptoms to arise simultaneously. Tinnitus that occurs along with personality changes, memory problems, balance issues, or trouble speaking could be due to an aneurysm or stroke.
If you are suffering from a ringing in the ears, you should make an appointment with a hearing care provider as soon as possible. A hearing test can identify potential causes of your tinnitus, allowing you to start treatment and experience tinnitus relief as quickly as possible. Use our easy online contact form to schedule a visit with one of our hearing care professionals near you.
Why should I get a behind-the-ear hearing aid?
Once seen as bulky and cumbersome, behind-the-ear (BTE) style hearing aids have come a long way since their original designs. Modern technology has allowed the cases of these devices to become slimmer and lighter, while their larger casing offers more power and options than most in-the-canal devices.
Is a Behind-The-Ear Hearing Aid Right for Me?
BTE devices remain the most popular style of hearing aids. The device is contained in a plastic shell that fits behind the ear, and is connected to an earpiece placed inside the ear canal via a thin plastic tube or wire. Since the casing of the device is outside the ear canal, users can easily adjust the volume and settings without removing the device.
There are three different types of behind-the-ear hearing aids:
- Standard BTE. These hearing aids can correct all types and degrees of hearing loss, and offer volume controls and buttons to adjust settings on the outer casing. Standard devices can be fully automatic or offer manual control of programs and settings, so you should ask your hearing care provider to show you the differences before choosing your device.
- Fusion BTE. Fusion devices are best for patients with moderate to severe hearing loss, as they can be easily adapted to correct changes in hearing. Patients whose hearing is expected to get worse may want to consider the Fusion option so that they will not have to buy a new hearing aid soon after their first hearing aid.
- Receiver-in-the-Ear hearing aids (RIE). Best for mild to moderately severe hearing loss, this device is similar to a standard BTE in that the casing is hidden behind the ear. However, in this case, the receiver sits inside the ear instead of inside the hearing aid case. As a result, RIE devices may be smaller than other BTE aids. One example of these devices is the Widex Dream 440, which also offers a tinnitus therapy program for people striving to overcome head noise.
In order to choose the right hearing aid to suit your lifestyle and condition, you should be aware of the advantages BTE devices have over other styles of hearing aids. BTE devices offer a variety of benefits, including:
- Size. It may be the largest of all modern hearing aids, but that size comes with many advantages. The casing is large enough to hold many directional microphones rather than just one, allowing the wearer to hear in all directions. It is easier to hold, change batteries, make volume adjustments, and turn on and off, making it a good choice for those with limited dexterity. Finally, it is harder to lose and more difficult to break than other models, making it a good choice for children.
- Power. A larger battery casing allows BTE devices to have the highest power of all hearing aids. For this reason, it is a good choice for those with severe hearing loss or those who have difficulty hearing high-frequency noises.
- Feedback control. Feedback is produced when the receiver and microphone of a hearing aid are too close together, causing sounds to “loop” through the device. In a BTE model, the receiver and microphone are further away from each other, preventing feedback even when the volume is turned up high.
- Customization options. As these devices are likely to be visible, many companies offer them in a range of colors to allow patients to customize their devices. Some companies even offer customizable ear molds to allow a better fit and clearer sound.
- Wireless capabilities. Increased power and space in the housing allows these devices to be outfitted with wireless options and Bluetooth capabilities, something many completely-in-the-canal devices lack. With a BTE device, you can hear people on the phone and have the sounds of your favorite TV shows piped directly into your hearing aid.
If you’re still not sure if a behind-the-ear hearing aid offers the most benefits to you, we recommend visiting our offices for a side-by-side comparison! Use our easy online contact form to schedule a visit with one of our hearing care professionals near you.
Should I have my hearing tested every year, or more often?
It is a good idea for adults over the age of 40 to get their hearing tested at least once a year. However, age is only one indicator of how often a person’s hearing should be tested. Patients who may need more frequent hearing testing include:
- Children. Children have their hearing tested more frequently than any other age group. Infants may have hearing checkups every few weeks to ensure proper development, and toddlers typically have basic hearing response tests at their yearly doctor appointments.
- People who work in noisy environments. Occupational hearing loss is a major cause of early and permanent hearing problems in the U.S. Employees who are regularly exposed to high noise levels, including construction workers, industrial and factory employees, airline workers, and musicians should have their hearing tested at least twice per year, and should discuss custom-made ear protection with their hearing care specialists.
- People who are experiencing hearing loss. If you are having difficulty hearing high-pitched noises, notice that people are mumbling, or have asked others to repeat themselves more than once this past week, you may be experiencing early symptoms of hearing loss. No matter what your age, you should schedule a hearing exam as soon as possible to determine the cause and prevent the condition from getting worse.
- Patients with hearing aids. People who have been fitted with hearing aids will need testing appointments once per year to make sure their devices are programmed properly. If a hearing aid doesn’t seem to be working, a hearing care provider can schedule a test at any time, both with and without hearing aids, to determine if there has been a change in the patient’s hearing.
Come in Today for Your Free Hearing Screening!
Even if you are only suffering from a slight hearing loss, a hearing test can provide a baseline for future exams, making it easier to see the progression of your condition as you age. We offer free hearing testing for patients in the Sarasota area, making it easy for you to get started on your hearing restoration journey. Call us today to schedule your appointment at our office nearest you!
How much do hearing aids cost?
Hearing aids are offered at a wide range of prices to suit any budget, but, generally speaking, you get what you pay for. For many people, the hearing challenges they face require more than simple sound amplification, which is all most inexpensive hearing aids offer. If you lead a busy and active lifestyle, are still in the workplace, enjoy concerts and movies, and frequently socialize with friends, then you will need much more from a hearing aid.
High-Tech Hearing Aids Are Worth Every Penny for Some
A custom-fitted, quality pair of hearing aids from a hearing care center can be pricey, but when you work with a hearing care professional to choose only the options you really need, you can find a solution that fits well within your budget.
According to industry insiders, much of the cost of hearing aids is due to the level of research that goes into developing the technology. One pair of high-tech hearing aids requires the expertise of electrical engineers, audiologists, computer programmers, and musicologists. The result is a tiny technological miracle that you can control through your smartphone and is nearly invisible to others. Some hearing aids can stream wirelessly from your TV and others are completely waterproof. Many models are water-resistant and are ideal for physically active individuals who may be exposing their hearing aids to moisture from sweat. All of these premium hearing aids can be tuned to meet your hearing needs and to adjust to various environments—concerts, intimate conversations, or noisy meetings. If you don’t need features like these, you will be able to save a significant amount of money with a simpler pair.
Some Insurance Companies Do Cover Hearing Aids
According to a recent study of trends in hearing healthcare, the number of health insurance plans that offer some coverage for hearing aids is on the rise. In 2008, around 40 percent of hearing aid wearers reported that they were able to use insurance to offset at least part of the cost. Check your individual health insurance plan and ask about hearing care coverage. If it is an option, it may worth adding the coverage for future years.
A Hearing Aid Is Only as Good as Its Fit
At Medical Hearing Systems, our hearing aid specialists work with you to find the best hearing aid at the right cost for you. The personal attention you get during your exam, fitting, and any follow-up visits will ensure that you are happy with every step of the process. We will not try to sell you more than you need in a hearing aid, but we will listen to your needs and consider your lifestyle when we make recommendations. Call us at 866-517-4415 to schedule a free hearing screening and discuss cost options now.
Will it damage my hearing aid if I get it wet?
Many patients soon become so used to wearing their hearing devices that they forget to take them out. While more and more hearing aids are designed to be water resistant, only a select few devices are considered waterproof—and prolonged exposure to moisture can permanently damage your device.
What Can I Do If My Hearing Aid Gets Wet?
You should always remove your hearing aids before any activities that can immerse your device in water, such as bathing, showering, or swimming. However, if you accidentally jumped into the pool or spent a long time out in the rain while wearing your hearing aid, there are a few things you can do to safely dry out the device:
- Turn it off. Remove the casing from the wet device and remove the batteries (wet batteries will continue to damage the device if left in place).
- Rinse dirty water. Mud, dirt, and salt water can cause corrosion that will cause problems even after drying. If the device was in unclean or salty water, rinse or wipe it down with clean water before drying.
- Air dry. The simplest method for drying hearing aids is to leave the casing open and place them on clean paper. Allow them to air-dry for at least 24 hours. It may help to place the hearing aid within six feet of a table lamp or rotating fan.
- Place in rice. Many people rely on the dehumidifying properties of uncooked rice to absorb the water in wet electronic devices. To do this, place the hearing aid in a sealed container filled with dry rice and leave for 24 hours.
You should never attempt to use high heat to dry a hearing aid. Appliances such as hair dryers, ovens, microwaves, and radiators can do far more damage to a hearing aid than even excess moisture, so always allow a wet device to dry slowly at room temperature.
If you are looking for a device that can be worn swimming or during extreme sporting activities, there are some waterproof devices that can get wet without risk of damage. Visit our Florida office location nearest you to find out more, or call the number on this page to set up an appointment.
Will insurance cover my hearing aids?
Since your hearing loss is considered a medical condition, you may have assumed that the hearing aids you need to correct the condition would be covered, at least in part, by your medical insurance. In most cases, you would be wrong. Most insurance companies do not offer benefits for hearing aids for adults…and those that do only cover part of the cost.
Why Don’t Insurance Companies Cover These Important Medical Devices?
While insurance companies will claim that hearing aids are elective and therefore not necessary medical devices, the real reason they don’t want to cover them is the expense. Hearing aids can be very expensive—$2,000 on average for a single device—and insurers just don’t want to be out that much money. Also, insurance companies profit from collecting more in premiums than they pay out in benefits. With hearing loss, the odds are not in the insurance company’s favor. One in three people over the age of 65 will suffer age-related hearing loss. Ultimately, the insurance industry knows that there is not much profit to be made by covering hearing care, so they elect not to.
Why It’s Important to Get Hearing Aids Anyway
If you have been diagnosed with hearing loss, whether you are young and suffering from noise-induced damage or you are older and are experiencing age-related symptoms, it is vital that you get your hearing corrected. People with uncorrected hearing loss often suffer from the following related conditions:
- Avoidance or withdrawal from social situations
- Impaired memory and ability to learn new tasks
- Depression and isolation
- Reduced alertness and increased risk to personal safety
- Reduced job performance and earning potential
- Diminished overall health
Even without the assistance of Medicare or private insurance coverage, the benefits of getting hearing aids far outweigh the expense.
We Can Help Make Hearing Aids Affordable
At Medical Hearing Systems, we will work with you to select the best available hearing aids for your budget. We offer various financing options, including credit card payments and patient payment plans to help you pay for your hearing care. Schedule a free evaluation now and learn more about how we can make paying for your hearing aids easier.
Why did my hearing aid stop working?
There could be a number of reasons why your hearing aid stopped working or isn't working as good as it used to. Dead batteries, blocked filters, and changes in your hearing needs are all common reasons for compromised sound quality. Before taking your device to a professional for repair and maintenance, patients can try the following at home to restore clear sound:
- Turn it off and on. Your hearing aid could have accidentally been switched off, so turn it off and back on a few times to make sure there is nothing interfering with the switch.
- Check the battery. Hearing aid batteries may not last long if a user is wearing the device every day. Try replacing the batteries with fresh ones to see if it makes a difference. If the device still doesn’t work, check your manual to make sure you have inserted the batteries correctly, and inspect the battery contacts to make sure they are not dirty or corroded.
- Turn up the volume. If your hearing aid has manual volume control, check to see if the wheel has been turned to a low volume.
- Inspect the tubing. If you have a behind-the-ear device, check the tubing that connects the receiver to the hearing aid. The plastic tube may be worn, punctured, or damaged—and if so, replacing the tubing is an easy and inexpensive fix.
- Perform light cleaning. If you hear feedback or whistling sounds, remove the device and wipe down the outside using the cleaning cloth that came with it. Open the battery compartment and check the wax filter for any buildup or debris. Use the device’s tool kit to clean the sound outlet and microphone, and reinsert your hearing aid to see if this has restored sound.
- Check your settings. Depending on which device you have chosen, your hearing aid may have several different settings for different environments. Sound distortion can occur if your hearing aid is in telecoil mode or if you have a wireless device that is not working properly with your phone or television.
We Can Diagnose the Problem With Your Device
If you cannot find the reason why your hearing aid stopped working, our hearing care professionals would be happy to examine, clean, and repair your device. Call us today at 866-517-4415 to make an appointment, or drop by one of our Florida hearing aid offices nearest you.
Why do I need a hearing aid fitting?
No individual is required to have a hearing aid fitting, but there are many benefits to having a hearing healthcare professional advise you when it comes to choosing the right device. Before you send away for a hearing aid, consider how a hearing aid fitting can be invaluable to patients by:
- Examining your hearing test results. Your hearing care provider will perform a short hearing test to determine the type and degree of your hearing loss. This not only helps patients discover which devices will work best for them, it can also identify potential problem areas (such as high- or low-frequency noises) and provide a baseline for future hearing exams.
- Discussing your preferences. Once you know which types of devices will suit your condition, your hearing specialist will ask you about your personal preferences for a device. Do you want a hearing aid that is less obvious to others? Do you prefer a manual volume control, or an automated device? What hearing situations are most frustrating to you? Are you able to change small batteries by yourself, or would you prefer a larger device? The answers to these questions will make it more likely that the device suits your specific needs.
- Narrowing your options. A hearing professional may ask what you want to be able to hear, and what your fears are with your new device. If you want to be able to speak with your grandchildren but cannot hear well over the phone, your care provider can choose a range of devices that pair with your phone. If you hate having to turn the TV or radio up, there are wireless accessories that can connect to your devices.
- Avoiding past trouble. You should tell your provider if you have had a hearing device in the past, and why you did or did not like it. Was there too much sound distortion? Was it so small you were afraid of losing it? Was it uncomfortable or prone to breakdowns? The more information you provide, the more likely it is that you will leave with a device that does exactly what you want (and none of the things you dislike).
A Fitting Allows You to Try Before You Buy
One of the biggest benefits of working with a hearing care provider is the ability to see many different devices firsthand before making a final investment. To get started, call us today at 866-517-4415 to make an appointment at the Florida office nearest you.
Should my relative with hearing loss stop driving?
While many people worry about the safety of their loved ones with hearing conditions, many people can continue to drive safely despite their hearing loss. Studies suggest that distractions and lack of experience are far more dangerous than an inability to hear—that is, as long as the hearing-impaired driver takes proper precautions.
Tips for Hearing-Impaired Drivers
Hearing may not be as vital to driving as the ability to see, but there are many situations where hearing provides vital cues to drivers. A driver with hearing loss may not know there is an ambulance approaching if he cannot hear the siren, or might not hear the approach of an oncoming motorcycle.
Hearing-impaired drivers can customize their vehicles and maximize safety by:
- Increasing vision. Hearing-impaired drivers should sure their side-view and rear-view mirrors are properly adjusted and that they can see every mirror while sitting comfortably. Drivers can also invest in extra wide or panoramic mirrors to see more of the road behind them, or visual alert systems that light up when they detect sirens or honking.
- Maximizing hearing. Drivers should wear their hearing aids every time they drive, or use an FM system when there are passengers in the car to separate and understand multiple speakers. They should avoid turning up the music on the radio, in order to save what hearing they have for the road.
- Obeying the instrument panel. A limited-hearing driver should make sure to check his dashboard lights frequently to make sure fuel is not running low, a turn signal hasn’t been left on, or for visual clues to other problems with the vehicle. If a maintenance warning light comes on, take the car in for service as soon as possible (there may be a serious problem that isn’t obvious to the typical driver).
- Staying alert. If traffic begins pulling over, a driver should watch for the reflections of flashing lights in the car and in nearby building windows for signs of an oncoming ambulance or police car. He should keep in mind that emergency vehicles often travel together, and therefore wait until traffic begins moving to be sure all vehicles have passed. The hearing-impaired driver should take extra care when approaching a railroad crossing and look several times for flashing lights or signs of approaching trains from both directions.
- Knowing their limits. Even if a hearing-impaired person can drive safely, it does not mean he or she feels comfortable doing so—and being nervous leads to more driving errors. If you feel unsafe when driving, explore other options, such as public transportation or coordinating rides with a friend or relative.
Are you sure you will be able to hear the traffic around you? Your hearing needs may have changed in the past few years. Call us today at 866-517-4415 to set up an appointment with one of our hearing specialists.
Are there any hearing aids or accessories for people who play sports?
Yes! Just because you have a hearing condition doesn’t mean you have to stay on the sidelines while your friends enjoy the warm weather. There are many different sports-centric hearing aids and accessories that allow you to hear crisp sound without risking damage to your device due to:
- Sweat. Moisture can prove fatal for many hearing aids. Even if an individual leads a sedentary lifestyle, sweat can still cause hearing aids to fall out and be crushed underfoot, or simply deliver poor sound due to water damage to the components. There is a variety of hearing aid sweat bands that can absorb perspiration while the wearer is running, hiking, or biking, while sport clips can keep your hearing aids securely in place during a high-impact workout.
- Wet weather. If you are the outdoorsy type, you may wish to consider a weather protector for your hearing aid. These are tiny filters that are installed inside the device to provide extra protection from wind, rain, mud, and other potential dangers. For occasional outdoor treks (such as a trip to the beach), you can opt for a hearing aid sleeve, which fits snugly over the hearing aid to prevent sand, sweat, and debris from damaging the components of your device.
- Swimming. Many devices and cases are made to be water resistant; however, few can truly be called waterproof. If you’re an avid swimmer, speak to your hearing care specialist about waterproof hearing aids, which allow you to hear clearly both in and out of the water.
We Can Help Match Your Device to Your Lifestyle
If your hearing aid doesn’t let you do all of the things you love, maybe it’s time for a new device. Whether you need a brand new hearing aid or a few simple accessories, our hearing care providers can point you in the right direction. Call us today at 866-517-4415 to set up an appointment!