How do I know if I have a hearing loss?
Hearing loss occurs gradually and painlessly over the course of many years. The hearing impaired person, as well as their family and friends, often unknowingly make adjustments to the way the communicate. Here are some questions you can ask yourself:
Do I frequently ask people to repeat themselves?
Do I have problems understanding conversations with more than two people or in the presence of background noise?
Do I have difficulty hearing children and women?
Do I have tinnitus (ringing or buzzing) in one or both ears?
Do I feel like everyone mumbles?
If you answered yes to one or more of these questions, please contact us for a complimentary baseline screening.
Are all hearing losses the same?
No. There are three kinds of hearing loss, sensorineural, conductive and mixed.
Sensorineural hearing loss
The most common type of hearing loss, it occurs when inner ear nerves are damaged and do not properly transmit sound signals to the brain. It is the most common type of hearing loss caused by the withering of the hair cells in the inner ear due to age, noise damage or medications. Without healthy hair cells the ear cannot detect sounds properly.
Conductive hearing loss
Conductive hearing loss is typically the result of obstructions in the outer or middle ear, which prevent sound from entering the middle ear. Voices and sounds may sound faint, distorted or both. Most conductive hearing loss cases can be treated medically or surgically.
Mixed hearing loss
Mixed hearing loss is a combination of sensorineural and conductive hearing loss.
Doesn’t hearing loss only affect older people?
Hearing loss can occur at any time, at any age. In fact, most people with hearing loss (65%) are younger than age 65! There are 6 million people in the U.S. ages 18-44 with hearing loss, and around 1.5 million are school age.
What are the hidden risks of hearing loss?
Several studies have indicated that there is a connection between hearing loss, brain function decline and loss of brain tissue. Brain “shrinkage” occurs as a natural part of aging, but older adults with hearing loss appear to lose brain mass at a faster rate than individuals with normal hearing.
The study, conducted and published by researchers from Johns Hopkins and the National Institute on Aging, “adds to a growing list of health consequences associated with hearing loss, including increased risk of dementia, falls, hospitalizations, and diminished physical and mental health overall.”
A related study by the same team found that older adults with hearing loss were far more likely to experience problems with thinking and memory than individuals with normal hearing, and indicated that “hearing loss should not be considered an inconsequential part of aging. It may come with some long-term consequences to healthy brain functioning.”
Most general practitioners do not discuss hearing in a general physical exam, so if you suspect you have hearing loss or are concerned about a loved one, be sure to bring this up with your doctor during any general exam.
If I think I have a hearing loss, what do I do?
It’s important to get help for hearing loss as soon as you suspect you have a hearing problem. If you’re worried about cost, Clarity & Comfort Hearing Center offers a no-cost baseline screening with your first visit. Early treatment is key. Here’s why:
By the time they’re ready to ask for help, people with hearing loss (and their family members) have already suffered social, psychological, cognitive, financial and health effects related to hearing loss. Early hearing loss treatment is key for preventing the effects listed here.
The social and psychological impacts of hearing loss
Untreated hearing loss can be harmful to relationships. The inability to communicate effectively with others leads to isolation and alienation – moving people into their own world, rather than the shared world.
- With untreated hearing loss, the sheer effort it requires to communicate causes fatigue, irritability, negativism, anger, tension, stress and depression.
- Because it is so difficult to communicate, hearing loss can lead to avoidance or withdrawal from social situations, social rejections and loneliness.
The cognitive impacts of hearing loss
Many symptoms of the “aging brain,” such as poor memory and the ability to learn new tasks, might actually be signs of hearing loss. Research shows that the ability to think and multitask is diminished when the brain is working overtime to communicate. Those with hearing loss and their family members need to understand that symptoms of cognitive decline may in fact be symptoms of hearing loss.
Can you repair my hearing aid?
Yes. Many times repairs can be done in-house. If a repair cannot be done in-house, we can send them for repair. Clarity & Comfort Hearing Center is capable of repairing all makes and models.
Will wearing a hearing aid improve my quality of life?
Treatment of hearing loss has been shown to improve:
- Communication in relationships
- Intimacy and warmth in family relationships
- Ease in communication
- Earning power
- Sense of control over your life
- Social participation
- Emotional stability
Hearing aids can provide valuable benefits to improve your quality of life in a number of important ways. They can help you to:
Hear better in situations that are important to you – Fully participate with family, friends and co-workers again.
Stay connected – Hearing loss can lead to isolation and depression. With hearing aids, you can connect with the world and regain your quality of life.
Avoid becoming a burden to those around you – Wearing a hearing aid can be a courtesy to others, reducing frustration and eliminating the need for them to raise their voices or repeat things to you.
Identify speech in noise – Hearing aids can improve the brain’s ability to process speech when there is competing background noise, like in a restaurant or crowd. Hearing aid technology continues to improve and hearing better in noise is a primary focus of the current hearing aid technology.
Stay sharp – Hearing loss contributes to reductions in cognitive and communication abilities — it can even be misdiagnosed as dementia. Hearing aids can help improve your abilities, keeping you on top of your game.
Be alert to what’s happening around you – Hearing enables you to sense alarms, sirens, traffic, telephones, doorbells and other important signals at home, work and in the community.
Work longer and earn more – Studies clearly demonstrate that untreated hearing loss can impact your success on the job, with even a mild hearing loss reducing earning potential. Using hearing aids can help you communicate successfully on the job so you maintain your productivity, professional standing and income.
How do I know what hearing aid is best for me?
Clarity & Comfort Hearing Center has helped thousands of Baltimore area individuals hear to their highest potential for over 20 years. We are highly trained and can help you zero in on just the right hearing aid for your needs. The nature and degree of your hearing loss will factor into your decision, as some styles are not effective for severe hearing loss.
Your lifestyle and job are important factors too, and we will also look at the activities you enjoy. If you have difficulty seeing or working with small objects like buttons or dials, there are hearing aid models that can make adjusting your hearing aid much easier. Finally, there are some things you cannot change like the size and shape of your ear and ear canal which will also dictate the type of hearing aids you can wear.
When considering hearing aid features, it’s important to consider your loss , lifestyle, expectations and budget.
- What hearing situations bother you the most?
- Are there certain sounds or voices you have trouble hearing?
- On an average day what do you do? Where do you go?
- How often do you frequent noisy environments like restaurants, shopping centers, places of worship or sporting facilities?
Will I need a hearing aid for both ears or can I just wear one?
Human hearing is designed for two ears. The technical term is binaural listening, and the auditory system is wired for it to allow for the best possible hearing and understanding.
If base-line screening indicates that you have hearing loss in both ears, two hearing aids may be recommended. While it may be tempting to try to limit the cost by going with a single hearing aid, the truth is that one hearing aid simply cannot do the job of two.
Two hearing aids:
Provide a full listening experience
As we know from listening to music, hearing in “stereo” rather than “mono” improves the quality of sound. Stereo is more natural and distinct, with a fuller and richer sound. The brain is naturally able to hear sound in this way, but it needs the input from both ears to do so. Using one hearing aid when two are needed does not provide the full input the brain requires.
Give your brain the information it needs
Just as you have two ears, you have two halves of your brain, and they both work together to create what is known as auditory intelligence. Each ear sends a different signal to your brain, and the signals travel a complicated neural pathway. Some signals stay on the same side of the brain; others cross over to the opposite side where they are received differently and have different effects on perception and understanding. This complex system — involving both ears and both sides of the brain — helps increase auditory intelligence and gives you a better understanding of everything you hear.
Help you detect sound direction
Sound signals from both ears give your brain the ability to locate where sounds are coming from. This can be important socially because it lets you quickly identify which person in a group is speaking so you can bring your attention to them. It is also important for reasons of personal safety; for example, binaural hearing helps you identify the direction from which traffic is approaching.
Contribute to better listening
Being able to hear speech from people on both sides of you in a group setting is critical to participating fully in a conversation. If you’re only wearing a hearing aid in one ear, you cannot hear the person on the other side of you. Whether you’re in a business or social setting, understanding is increased with two hearing aids.
Reduce the need for volume
When two hearing aids are worn, you can keep them at a lower volume and still hear adequately. With just one hearing aid, you often need to turn up the volume to an uncomfortably high level in order to compensate. This can cause one of the most frequent complaints of hearing aid wearers, “Everything sounds too loud!” Keeping the volume down also helps protect your hearing from further damage.
Help you separate voices from noise
Two hearing aids with directional microphones enable you to weed out the background noise in an environment and focus on the person who is speaking. With only one hearing aid, noises blend together and it is difficult to discriminate between the sounds you want to hear and those you don’t.
If you suffer from tinnitus (ringing in the ears), the use of two hearing aids can help. Hearing aids are frequently recommended for tinnitus relief — but a single hearing aid alone will not mask the ringing sound in the unaided ear.
Deliver higher satisfaction with hearing aids overall
Studies show that people who wear two hearing aids when needed are more satisfied with their hearing aids than those who choose to wear only one. The quality of sound provided by two hearing aids significantly enhances the listening experience. Most say once they’ve tried two hearing aids, they would never go back to wearing just one.
Provide more relaxed listening
For all the reasons above, listening with two hearing aids is less tiring. You don’t have to strain to hear in order to make sense of the sounds around you.
How much do hearing aids cost?
Hearing aids, like other medical devices and equipment, are a significant investment, and also like most things, you get what you pay for.
The price of a hearing aid will vary depending on the specific style and features you choose. Like many things you buy, from tires to televisions to cell phones, there is definitely a “good-better-best” hierarchy that applies to hearing aids. It’s a matter of weighing the costs and advantages of hearing aid features then ranking their importance to you and your family.
Clarity & Comfort Hearing Center will work with you to align your lifestyle needs to your hearing aid features.
Guide to financing and financial assistance
When it comes to paying for hearing aids, there are a variety of resources that may be available to you.
Typically Medicare does not cover routine hearing evaluation or hearing aids.
Most state Medicaid programs cover partial or complete costs for hearing aids. (Medicaid must cover hearing aid costs for children 18 and under.)
There are different eligibility conditions. Contact medicaid directly to see what they are.
Private health insurance
Hearing aid coverage for adults is not mandated in every state. Some private health insurance companies cover the costs of hearing tests, a hearing aid evaluation and even partial or full coverage of a hearing aid — while others provide none at all. Check your individual plan coverage by calling the member services phone number on your insurance card.
Flexible medical spending plans
Some employers sponsor Flexible Medical Spending Plans, which allow you to set aside a portion of your earnings on a pre-tax basis. The money can be used throughout the year to pay for medical expenses not covered by your insurance provider. Using pre-tax flexible spending dollars is an excellent way to offset hearing aid expenses.
Health savings plans
Health savings plans are tax-advantaged medical savings accounts available to taxpayers who are enrolled in high deductible health plans. The money contributed to health savings plans is not taxed at time of deposit and accumulates year over year, with interest, if it is not spent. Health savings plans can be used for medical and healthcare related purchases not covered including hearing aids.
Credit financing programs
Clarity & Comfort Hearing Center offers Care Credit financing for 0% interest for either 6 or 12 months. Applying is quick and easy. Just call 800-365-8295 or apply on line at www.carecredit.com.
Deducting your costs
If you itemize your taxes, healthcare costs that exceed a certain percentage of your adjusted gross income can be deducted from your federal income tax. Hearing aids and hearing aid batteries are among the qualified medical costs that are deductible. Talk to your tax preparer for more information.
What are some of the advanced features of hearing aids today?
Hearing aid technology has made tremendous gains over the past decade and researchers continue to work hard to understand and learn to mimic the relationship between the ear and the brain.
Full, rich sound quality
Our latest hearing aids provide better sound quality for both speech and music.
Personalized listening experience
We all have a unique perspective of sound. By customizing the relationship of soft sounds to loud sounds for each individual, your hearing professional can greatly enhance listening comfort with today’s hearing aids.
Comfortable sound and conversation in every environment
A new advanced operating system identifies the environment you are in and automatically focuses on preserving speech. This makes hearing and understanding easier, no matter what the noise source.
Enjoy the conversation, enjoy the music!
Our hearing aids now have the ability to tell the difference between music and speech, and can automatically change settings to let you hear and enjoy music.
Music the way you like it!
Music and speech are very different. For the first time, music can be processed with all its richness and nuance to provide the best sound quality and listening experience.
Enjoy hearing your phone calls!
Use your iPhone to hear phone calls directly through your Halo 2 hearing aids without an intermediate device. With our Muse hearing aids, imagine putting your phone to one ear and hearing the call in both ears! Improves your ability to hear, understand and connect with your world!
You have the control in your hand
Use our TruLink® app on your smartphone to quickly and easily control and personalize sound quality to your liking, no matter the setting.
Your hearing aid knows where you are
Imagine a hearing system so smart it can tell when you are at your favorite restaurant, in a place of worship, or at work, and then automatically adjust sound quality to that environment. That system is available today.
Hearing aids continue to get smaller and more powerful. Many styles, including wireless options, rest comfortably inside your ear canal, where they are virtually invisible to others.
Everyone enjoys TV at a comfortable volume
Plug our SurfLink Media 2 into your TV or stereo, and you can stream TV, music, or the game straight from the source to your hearing aids. No one else needs to hear it if they don’t want to, or if you don’t want them to.
Portable, personalized wireless accessory
Our SurfLink Mobile 2 works with your hearing aids to talk on your cell phone, listen to music or just do better at the card game!
Durable, dependable hearing aids
Our hearing aids come with Surface Nanoshield, our leading water, wax and moisture repellent. Surface Nanoshield protects hearing aids from the elements that cause them the greatest challenges, so you can wear them more and repair them less.
Customizable tinnitus relief
Starkey’s newest hearing aids feature our advanced Multiflex Tinnitus Technology. This technology allows you and your hearing professional to customize a soothing sound stimulus designed to help manage your tinnitus.