Hearing Aid FAQs
Common Hearing Aid FAQs
Many patients we see go years before they realize they are suffering from hearing loss. In fact, the average person goes seven years with hearing loss before being treated. We often see that the person who first notices the hearing loss is the patient’s spouse, or close friend or relative due to them having to speak louder and/or repeat themselves. Some common signs of hearing loss include:
- Getting people to repeat themselves in conversation
- Turning the television volume louder than is comfortable for other people in the room.
- Having difficultly engaging in conversations in noisy environments (i.e. restaurants, bars, etc).
- Having more difficulty hearing women and kids rather than men.
- Consistent ringing in the ears.
If you think you may be suffering from hearing loss, we recommend you come into our practice for a free hearing consultation. During your consultation, we will test your hearing to either confirm or deny your hearing loss. Based on your results, we will make recommendations, fit you for a hearing aid, and then discuss financing options. We have many different programs that allow you to demo the hearing aids for several days before purchasing.
A hearing aid is a small electronic device that you wear in or behind your ear. It makes some sounds louder so that a person with hearing loss can listen, communicate, and participate more fully in daily activities. A hearing aid can help people hear more in both quiet and noisy situations. However, only about one out of five people who would benefit from a hearing aid actually uses one.
A hearing aid has three basic parts: a microphone, amplifier, and speaker. The hearing aid receives sound through a microphone, which converts the sound waves to electrical signals and sends them to an amplifier. The amplifier increases the power of the signals and then sends them to the ear through a speaker.
The hearing aid that will work best for you depends on the kind and severity of your hearing loss. If you have a hearing loss in both of your ears, two hearing aids are generally recommended because two aids provide a more natural signal to the brain. Hearing in both ears also will help you understand speech and locate where the sound is coming from.
You and your hearing care professional should select a hearing aid that best suits your needs and lifestyle. Price is also a key consideration because hearing aids range from hundreds to several thousand dollars. Similar to other equipment purchases, style and features affect cost. However, don’t use price alone to determine the best hearing aid for you. Just because one hearing aid is more expensive than another does not necessarily mean that it will better suit your needs.
A hearing aid will not restore your normal hearing. With practice, however, a hearing aid will increase your awareness of sounds and their sources. You will want to wear your hearing aid regularly, so select one that is convenient and easy for you to use. Other features to consider include parts or services covered by the warranty, estimated schedule and costs for maintenance and repair, options and upgrade opportunities, and the hearing aid company’s reputation for quality and customer service.
Hearing aids are primarily useful in improving the hearing and speech comprehension of people who have hearing loss that results from damage to the small sensory cells in the inner ear, called hair cells. This type of hearing loss is called sensorineural hearing loss. The damage can occur as a result of disease, aging, or injury from noise or certain medicines.
A hearing aid magnifies sound vibrations entering the ear. Surviving hair cells detect the larger vibrations and convert them into neural signals that are passed along to the brain. The greater the damage to a person’s hair cells, the more severe the hearing loss, and the greater the hearing aid amplification needed to make up the difference. However, there are practical limits to the amount of amplification a hearing aid can provide. In addition, if the inner ear is too damaged, even large vibrations will not be converted into neural signals. In this situation, a hearing aid would be ineffective.
While hearing loss may be less severe in one ear versus the other, we generally recommend you getting hearing aids for both of your ears- in fact, studies show that around 90 percent of patients need hearing aids for both of their ears.
There are three basic styles of hearing aids. The styles differ by size, their placement on or inside the ear, and the degree to which they amplify sound (see the following illustration).
Behind-the-ear (BTE) hearing aids consist of a hard plastic case worn behind the ear and connected to a plastic earmold that fits inside the outer ear. The electronic parts are held in the case behind the ear. Sound travels from the hearing aid through the earmold and into the ear. BTE aids are used by people of all ages for mild to profound hearing loss.
A new kind of BTE aid is an open-fit hearing aid. Small, open-fit aids fit behind the ear completely, with only a narrow tube inserted into the ear canal, enabling the canal to remain open. For this reason, open-fit hearing aids may be a good choice for people who experience a buildup of earwax, since this type of aid is less likely to be damaged by such substances. In addition, some people may prefer the open-fit hearing aid because their perception of their voice does not sound “plugged up.”
In-the-ear (ITE) hearing aids fit completely inside the outer ear and are used for mild to severe hearing loss. The case holding the electronic components is made of hard plastic. Some ITE aids may have certain added features installed, such as a telecoil. A telecoil is a small magnetic coil that allows users to receive sound through the circuitry of the hearing aid, rather than through its microphone. This makes it easier to hear conversations over the telephone. A telecoil also helps people hear in public facilities that have installed special sound systems, called induction loop systems. Induction loop systems can be found in many churches, schools, airports, and auditoriums. ITE aids usually are not worn by young children because the casings need to be replaced often as the ear grows.
Canal aids fit into the ear canal and are available in two styles. The in-the-canal (ITC) hearing aid is made to fit the size and shape of a person’s ear canal. A completely-in-canal (CIC) hearing aid is nearly hidden in the ear canal. Both types are used for mild to moderately severe hearing loss.
Because they are small, canal aids may be difficult for a person to adjust and remove. In addition, canal aids have less space available for batteries and additional devices, such as a telecoil. They usually are not recommended for young children or for people with severe to profound hearing loss because their reduced size limits their power and volume.
Purchasing Hearing Aid FAQs
Depending on what style and brand, hearing aids can cost anywhere from $3000 to $6000. While this may seem like an unattainable price for you, rest assured we will work with you and your budget to present financing options that help you get the hearing aids you need and deserve.
While we will admit, many people are shocked at the price of a hearing aid, we encourage people to think about how much technology is packed into these little devices. In addition, we include many follow-up services in the price- ensuring you enjoy your hearing aids, and fix any issues with ease as they arise.
We find that in most cases, yes, insurance will cover at least a portion, if not the full cost of new hearing aids. Please make sure you check out our insurance page to see what insurance companies we accept.
Before you buy a hearing aid, ask your hearing care professional these important questions:
- What features would be most useful to me?
- What is the total cost of the hearing aid?
- Do the benefits of newer technologies outweigh the higher costs?
- Is there a trial period to test the hearing aids? (Most manufacturers allow a 30 to 60-day trial period during which aids can be returned for a refund.)
- What fees are nonrefundable if the aids are returned after the trial period?
- How long is the warranty?
- Can it be extended?
- Does the warranty cover future maintenance and repairs?
- Can the provider make adjustments and provide servicing and minor repairs?
- Will loaner aids be provided when repairs are needed?
- What instruction does the provider provide?
That’s a great question! We have many different financing options available to our patients. Your monthly payment will depend on many things, including style, brand, credit history, etc. We are often able to get patient’s a new set of hearing aids for as low as $37 per month!
We have a 100% satisfaction guarantee here at Smoky Mountain Hearing Specialists. What does that mean? It means we will do whatever we need to do to get you a set of hearing aids that you love and are happy with. From offering trial periods, to working with you after your hearing aid purchase, rest assured that we will do whatever it takes to ensure your satisfaction.
Hearing Aid Maintenance FAQs
Hearing aid batteries are known to last anywhere from 6 to 15 days. We realize this is a pretty large range, and it is good to know that the range of your hearing aid batteries depend on several factors including:
- How many hours you end up wearing your hearing aids in a day
- What features and technology your hearing aids have
- The size of your hearing aid. Larger hearing aids have larger batteries, while smaller ones, have smaller batteries
When your hearing aids are running low on battery, they will begin beeping- informing you it is time to change your hearing aid batteries.
We find that many patients spend less than $50 per year on hearing aid batteries. An option you might consider is rechargeable hearing aid batteries.
Hearing aids take time and patience to use successfully. Wearing your aids regularly will help you adjust to them.
Become familiar with your hearing aid’s features. With your hearing care professional present, practice putting in and taking out the aid, cleaning it, identifying right and left aids, and replacing the batteries. Ask how to test it in listening environments where you have problems with hearing. Learn to adjust the aid’s volume and to program it for sounds that are too loud or too soft. Work with your hearing care professional until you are comfortable and satisfied.
You may experience some of the following problems as you adjust to wearing your new aid.
My hearing aid feels uncomfortable. Some individuals may find a hearing aid to be slightly uncomfortable at first. Ask your hearing care professional how long you should wear your hearing aid while you are adjusting to it.
My voice sounds too loud. The “plugged-up” sensation that causes a hearing aid user’s voice to sound louder inside the head is called the occlusion effect, and it is very common for new hearing aid users. Check with your hearing care professional to see if a correction is possible. Most individuals get used to this effect over time.
I get feedback from my hearing aid. A whistling sound can be caused by a hearing aid that does not fit or work well or is clogged by earwax or fluid. See your hearing care professional for adjustments.
I hear background noise. A hearing aid does not completely separate the sounds you want to hear from the ones you do not want to hear. Sometimes, however, the hearing aid may need to be adjusted. Talk with your hearing care professional.
I hear a buzzing sound when I use my cell phone. Some people who wear hearing aids or have implanted hearing devices experience problems with the radio frequency interference caused by digital cell phones. Both hearing aids and cell phones are improving, however, so these problems are occurring less often. When you are being fitted for a new hearing aid, take your cell phone with you to see if it will work well with the aid.
Proper maintenance and care will extend the life of your hearing aid. Make it a habit to:
- Keep hearing aids away from heat and moisture.
- Clean hearing aids as instructed. Earwax and ear drainage can damage a hearing aid.
- Avoid using hairspray or other hair care products while wearing hearing aids.
- Turn off hearing aids when they are not in use.
- Replace dead batteries immediately.
- Keep replacement batteries and small aids away from children and pets.
Interested In Hearing Aids?
A free hearing consultation is the best first step to take! During your consultation we will evaluate your hearing loss, recommend hearing aid options, and discuss payments options- all at no cost to you!