Answers to your Most Common Hearing Loss Treatment Questions from Our Mesa Practice Serving All of Phoenix
Many people go through life with undiagnosed hearing loss, unaware that there are simple diagnostic and treatment options available. Dr. Fynes can answer any of your questions about hearing health, and please browse this page for answers to the most commonly asked. For more information on hearing loss treatment, contact Fynes Audiology today if you live in the Mesa and Phoenix area.
- What is hearing loss?
- How do I know if I have hearing loss?
- Why should I see Dr. Fynes for my hearing evaluation?
- What is involved in a hearing evaluation?
- How are hearing aids fitted?
- Why do I hear a whistling noise from my hearing aid at times?
- What is “feedback,” and how do digital hearing aids compensate?
- Can hearing aids cause a “lazy ear,” or cause my hearing loss to worsen?
- Will hearing aids restore my hearing perfectly, much like my eyeglasses do for my sight?
- Will my hearing aids protect me from excessive noises, like an earplug?
- How difficult is it to adjust to hearing aids?
- My ears are sore after wearing hearing aids all day, what can I do?
- Will hearing aids make my tinnitus worse?
- How long will my hearing aid batteries last?
- How long will my hearing aid last?
- Are digital hearing aids really that much better than analog?
- Can digital hearing aids completely eliminate background noise?
Q: What is hearing loss?
A: Every day, we encounter sounds covering a wide range of pitches and volumes; from the low-pitch bellow of a foghorn to the high-pitched tone of a bell, from the quiet rustling of leaves to the deafening roar of a jet engine. A person with hearing loss can still hear, but not the full range of sounds. Depending on the extent of hearing loss, a person may lose the extremes of the ranges, or just very quiet or very high-pitched sounds.
Q: How do I know if I have hearing loss?
A: Aside from that which results from trauma, hearing loss is a gradual process, and it can be very difficult to tell when you have lost some of your hearing capabilities. However, there are some common telltale signs to look for. If your family or friends regularly complain about the high volume of the television or radio while you still have trouble hearing it, or if you have trouble hearing the quieter parts of movies, you may have hearing loss. If you find yourself habitually asking people to repeat themselves, or if you have trouble following conversations, it may be a sign that you are in need of hearing loss treatment.
Q: Why should I see Dr. Fynes for my hearing evaluation?
A: Audiologists hold advanced degrees from accredited universities, with special training and experience in the prevention, diagnosis and assessment, and non-medical treatment of hearing disorders. Dr. Fynes received her Master’s of Audiology from Lamar University in Beaumont, and her doctoral degree from Pennsylvania College of Optometry, School of Audiology.
Audiologists use specialized equipment to obtain accurate results about hearing loss, and are trained to inspect the eardrum and other parts of the ear. Hearing loss is caused by medical problems about 10 percent of the time, and audiologists are trained to recognize these problems, and refer patients to the appropriate professionals.
By virtue of her graduate education, professional licensure, certification, and experience, an audiologist should be your first choice for a hearing evaluation. Thanks to her training in the most current technologies and procedures, Dr. Fynes is eminently qualified to provide hearing loss treatment to patients of Fynes Audiology in the Mesa and Phoenix areas.
Q: What is involved in a hearing evaluation?
A: A hearing evaluation begins by taking a detailed case history of your hearing health. We may ask questions such as “how long have you been experiencing difficulty hearing?” or “what is your most uncomfortable listening environment?” Your answers will provide valuable background information.
A physical examination of your ear will follow, allowing us to assess the general condition of your ear canal and eardrum. We will then conduct a diagnostic hearing evaluation during which you will listen to various tones in a soundproof environment. You will be tested on how accurately you can understand and recognize sounds.
After your evaluation is complete, Dr. Fynes will review and discuss the results with you. If a medical condition is detected or suspected, you will be referred to a medical professional. If the results indicate that a hearing aid would help your hearing loss, we will discuss treatment and product options with you and your family.
Q: How are hearing aids fitted?
A: If your hearing evaluation indicates that a hearing instrument would benefit you, the next step is to begin the fitting process. Choosing which device will be most effective is largely decided by your type and degree of hearing loss, and Dr. Fynes will discuss the option of whether wearing two hearing aids would be effectual for your situation.
You’ll then have the chance to review the various hearing aid models available, and decide among those best suited for your hearing loss based on your personal taste and budget. Once the hearing instrument has been selected, we will take impressions of your ears to custom-fit your device.
Q: Why do I hear a whistling noise from my hearing aid at times?
A: The whistling is called feedback, and it can be caused either by a malfunction or poor fitting of the hearing aid, an incorrect insertion, or through some unseen blockage within the ear preventing the sound from traveling to your eardrum.
Q: What is “feedback,” and how do digital hearing aids compensate?
A: Feedback is an annoying “whistling” noise created by any amplification system when the input (microphone) picks up the output (the sound leaving the speakers) and amplifies the same sound many times over. This can occur in hearing aids if you cup your hand over your ear, or if the hearing aid is not properly fitted to your ear canal. Wearers of analog hearing aids can only turn down the volume of their device to avoid feedback, however this is counter-productive as it decreases the effectiveness of the hearing aid.
Most digital hearing aids, however, have been designed to minimize this problem by monitoring the sound that goes in and out of the device, and check for feedback. If feedback is identified, it will work to cancel the feedback automatically. This removes the annoyance and frustration caused by feedback and allows the hearing aid to function at maximum capability, as it was designed.
Q: Can hearing aids cause a “lazy ear,” or cause my hearing loss to worsen?
A: No, wearing hearing aids will not make your ears “dependent” on the devices. When you remove the hearing aids, your hearing loss will be the same as before you inserted them. Of course, hearing will continue to decline with age, and more rapidly if you are exposed to dangerous levels of sound, but hearing aids will not speed the process.
Q: Will hearing aids restore my hearing perfectly, as my eyeglasses do for my sight?
A: Correcting vision problems is simply a matter of bending the light entering the eye in such a way so as to compensate for the imperfections in the lens of the eye. As long as the prescription is correct, the image entering the eye will be the same as if the wearer still had perfect vision.
Correcting hearing problems are much more complex. Sensorineural hearing loss, the most common kind of hearing loss and that which most often required hearing aids, is caused by the slow deterioration of the tiny hairs in the cochlea which change the vibrations from sounds into electrical impulses. Damaged hair cells not only result in reduced volume of perceived sounds, but reduced accuracy as well, and repairing these hairs once they are damaged is impossible. Hearing aids amplify sound to assist the hairs in perceiving them, and can selectively amplify certain sounds to aid effectively hearing the most important sounds, but cannot restore the original capabilities of the ear.
While there is currently no way to completely reverse the effects of sensorineural hearing loss, the last 50 years have produced amazing technological advances to minimize its effects. Contact Dr. Fynes at Fynes Audiology to explore which hearing loss treatments will best serve you. We help patients in Mesa, Phoenix, and surrounding areas.
Q: Will my hearing aids protect me from excessive noises, like an earplug?
A: No. Though advanced digital hearing aids will not amplify particularly loud sounds, and in some cases can even reduce their volume, they do not provide adequate protection from damaging noises. If you are going to be exposed to dangerous noise levels, remove your hearing aids and wear proper protection to protect yourself from further hearing loss.
Q: How difficult is it to adjust to hearing aids?
A: Adjusting to hearing aids requires that you re-learn how you hear and perceive sounds. As with learning anything else, it can be a challenge. Today’s hearing aids are so flexible and sophisticated that they can be adjusted to almost any hearing loss or environment. However, getting yourself adjusted to the hearing aid is still difficult, but don’t let yourself be discouraged from improving your hearing or quality of life by your own hesitation or the negative experiences of friends or family. Remember to be patient, and speak with Dr. Fynes about any concerns that you may have. When you purchase a hearing aid from Fynes Audiology in Mesa and Phoenix, you’re buying a guarantee that it will fit you perfectly.
Q: My ears are sore after wearing hearing aids all day, what can I do?
A: Even with a perfectly fitted hearing aid, you can expect some tenderness as your first adjust to a foreign object in or behind your ear. However, if this soreness continues after the first couple of weeks, speak to Dr. Fynes, as it may indicate that you are inserting it incorrectly, or that the hearing aid needs to be re-fitted.
Q: Will hearing aids make my tinnitus worse?
A: Not at all. In fact, it is not uncommon for tinnitus sufferers to experience relief through their new hearing aids.
Q: How long will my hearing aid batteries last?
A: The life of your battery will depend on many factors. The type of hearing aid you wear and they type of circuitry it utilizes, the type of battery it takes, and how long you wear your device and in what kind of environments will all affect your battery life. Ask Dr. Fynes about the expected life of the batteries for your particular device.
Q: How long will my hearing aid last?
A: The expected lifetime of a hearing aid will depend on many factors, including the style of the device, how much it is worn, the amount of cerumen (earwax) produced by the user, as well as many other factors. However, on average, a hearing aid can be expected to last four to six years before needing replacement.
Q: Are digital hearing aids really that much better than analog?
A: The sound quality of digital hearing aids is cleaner and crisper than most analog devices, as the sound of a digital CD is superior to that of an analog cassette. Digital hearing aids are also infinitely more flexible, offering a range of adjustments, settings, and programs rather than simple volume control. Also, the processing power of digital hearing aids allows them to “intelligently” filter sound, giving you the best possible hearing loss treatment and listening experience.
Q: Can background noise be completely eliminated by digital hearing aids?
A: Most digital hearing aids offer directional microphones combined with noise reduction processing capabilities that greatly reduce background noise. Many current devices have the processing capabilities to determine which sounds are unnecessary, and are accordingly not amplified or even dampened. However, background noise cannot be completely eliminated by any hearing aid.
Contact Fynes Audiology today if you have any more questions regarding hearing aids, assistive listening devices, or any other form of hearing loss treatment at our Mesa practice serving the Phoenix area.