It's not uncommon in today's noisy world to experience a gradual loss of hearing. However, left undetected or unaddressed, it can become problematic to one's everyday lifestyle.
If you are unable to hear as well as a person with normal hearing, which is about 50 decibels (dB), then you may be affected by hearing loss. It can affect one or both your ears.
To give you an understanding of the decibel levels, city traffic noises are usually 85 dB and sirens are 120 dB. Regular exposure to sound levels above 75 dB might cause hearing loss.
How would you recognize hearing loss?
Newborns are usually tested after birth and the audiologists take appropriate steps. If a child is slow to learn talking or if their speech is not very clear, then their hearing should be checked.
If you, whether young or old, talk very loudly, find it hard to hear a conversation or even hear the alarm, doorbell or watch television very loudly, then you should see an audiologist.
Hearing loss has a stigma and it should not be. According to the World Health Organization, around 466 million people experience from severe loss of hearing, worldwide. Estimates suggest that the numbers will double in the next thirty years.
This means, you are not alone.
Causes of hearing loss
Besides hereditary cause, newborns may be affected with loss of hearing if they have a difficult birth or have jaundice. If the mother had complications during her pregnancy with illnesses like rubella or syphilis, or had certain strong medications, the newborn may have a loss of hearing.
Aging is one of the most common causes of progressive hearing loss. Hearing loss affects their daily life. They may find it difficult to have a conversation or even respond to the doorbell. There is a risk of older people falling into depression and memory loss because of their problems with hearing.
The other common cause of hearing loss is long term exposure to loud noise. Modern life tends to be noisy, including traffic noises, various modern gadgets and loud music. When surrounded by such loud noise, people may experience a gradual loss of hearing.
How does hearing actually work?
In the center of the hearing mechanism is the eardrum, present in the inner ear. The ear is a very sensitive and complex organ. It converts the sound wave to an electrical wave in the brain through a series of steps. The middle ear is a bony structure that vaguely looks like a snail. This structure called cochlea and the fluid inside it helps the sound wave to reach the eardrum which sits deep inside the inner ear. The vibration of the eardrum, in turn, triggers the tiny hairs on it converting it into an electric wave. This wave travels to the brain via the auditory nerve.
What causes hearing loss?
Loud noise, ear infection or putting objects in the ear like a cotton swab can injure the hair cells in the eardrum. A very loud burst of noise like an explosion may cause sudden loss of hearing. Fluid or earwax in the ear acts as a sound barrier and cause a temporary loss of hearing. Otosclerosis or growth of excess bone and Cholesteatoma, which is an abnormal collection of skin in the ear are two conditions where hearing is affected.
Illnesses like Meningitis, Meniere’s disease and certain conditions like high blood pressure, diabetes, stroke, heart conditions, and viral infection can cause loss of hearing. The chances are higher in older people.
Use of certain medicines used for treating severe infections, heart conditions and cancer may affect hearing. These medicines known as ototoxic drugs may damage the eardrum. Otosclerosis is thought to be a heredity condition that affects hearing.
If you feel that you or a loved one might be experiencing gradual hearing loss that is becoming noticeable or problematic, we recommend contacting us at Tinnitus & Hearing Center of Arizona to schedule a simple, quick, and non-invasive hearing test is a great idea. Our friendly audiologists will welcome you into our clinic, discuss your situation, and conduct a painless (and even fun) hearing exam.
Just as you might have an annual eye exam to measure your vision, you should have a hearing test to measure your other important sense - your hearing.
We provide hearing tests for Scottsdale AZ and Phoenix residents, and any patient in the Valley. Call us directly at (480) 831-6159 or use our convenient online scheduler to book an appointment on your computer or phone.
There are several potential drawbacks or risks that come with buying hearing aids online or in a "megamart" store. We get asked if "Costco hearing aids" are any good, and our answer is the same: there are many factors to consider, and your hearing and quality of life are at stake. While we at Tinnitus and Hearing Center of Arizona don't have "cheap hearing aids," we do offer affordable hearing aids from the best brands on the market (in our experience) that have impressive and significant investments in research and leading technologies.
Cheap doesn't always get you what you need
In our opinion, it is best to buy hearing aids from a local provider who will be able to provide ongoing adjustments and service for the lifetime of the hearing aid (normally the purchase price includes this). Free unlimited office visits on the life of the hearing aid are offered by Tinnitus and Hearing Center of Arizona if you purchase the hearing aid from us.
A hearing aid is a type of medical device. There are many reasons why you should not buy one online. You should get tested before you buy hearing aid so that you know what your hearing loss is. Hearing aids are also custom and must be adjusted. If you buy hearing aids online, a majority of medical professionals will not be able to program your hearing aids. It is recommended that you consult with a professional before you make a decision on any of your medical needs, including hearing aids.
The greatest risk, which is something you should be concerned about, is your overall hearing health. Without proper evaluation and testing, you will not know why you have suffered a hearing loss. Without that knowledge, you easily could mask serious problems that could potentially put your health at risk. It could potentially be an undiagnosed medical problem that is causing your hearing loss that could even result in death. Even if you don't have a medical issue that has to be addressed, a hearing aid that is improperly adjusted could damage your auditory system, and lead to even more hearing loss. You should take your hearing aid device purchase very seriously and realize that hearing sciences training is necessary for treating hearing loss properly. I recommend that you find a reputable local audiologist (us, preferably :) ) who can treat your loss properly and who is available for future adjustments and follow-up. When it comes to your hearing health, you definitely get what you pay for.
With hearing aids, it is important to allow your brain to adjust to being able to hear sounds again. If it is the first time you have used hearing aids, be aware that often they will need to be set lower and adjusted several times until you are accustomed to hearing sounds accurately and comfortably according to your preferences (and everyone is different).
You can't just take your hearing aids and be done
It is important to have a good service program with an actual audiologist so that they can be programmed properly for your specific hearing loss, and help you make the adjustments to them. To ensure they are working properly, you need to visit your audiologist regularly for checkups and cleaning. When you purchase hearing aids online or from a supermarket bulk store, chances are you won't be getting service from experts that are necessary when you buy hearing aids.
The following are a couple of "regrets" we hear from customers that bought hearing aids online:
1. Sound is really personal. If you had visited an audiologist instead and gone through the process with them, you might have picked out a different hearing aid than the one you bought online.
2. When you purchase through an internet provider, you can only buy instant fit CRT aids. You might need custom aids or custom tips.
3. Although they might suggest having an audiogram with the hearing aid, what about Real Ear Measurements, over-all levels, feedback, and more? Just sending a hearing aid and audiogram to a patient is not an actual fitting.
It is essential for hearing aids specifically be programmed for the person's individual ear that is based on an audiometric test. Therefore, the first issue is to ensure that the hearing aids are programmed using a current hearing test.
While there are numerous places online that sell hearing aids, some do this without the manufacturer's permission. One manufacturer sent a letter out that stated it wouldn't honor the warranty for any of the hearing aids that were sold through a specific company (second risk).
Although mild hearing losses may be accommodated through an initial fitting, a majority of hearing losses need to be fit by programming the hearing aid below the loss followed by the hearing aid amplification being increased over time (and over several different office visits) as the person's brain continues to accommodate the increased hearing level.
This is not done by online companies themselves. Some contract with a local provider to do the initial fittings and a certain number of follow-up visits. There are other online companies that don't provide any local service.
That leads to the third risk, and it is a major one. Hearing aids all need periodic maintenance and readjustment in order for the patient to get the best results. Even if some initial support is provided by an online company, usually it is not for longer than the first year. You are completely on your own after that and will need to find someone who is willing to work on your hearing aids that they didn't sell to you. That means you will have to pay for each office visit from that point forward. That can cost up to $150 per visit as a single fee and as much as $1,500 to $2,000 for lifetime services. Even warranty-covered repairs require that a licensed dealer send the hearing aid to the manufacturer so it can be refitted. After the hearing aid has been repaired it is then returned, but you will then have another office visit to pay for.
Here are more reasons to avoid cheap hearing aids.
World Hearing Day Puts A Spotlight On The Toll Of Untreated And Unidentified Hearing Loss
Following in the footsteps of the international call from the WHO (World Health Organization) this World Hearing Day, the ASHA (American Speech-Language-Hearing Association) encourages all Americans to have their hearing tested.
With the WHO's observance on March the 3rd every year, World Hearing Day draws attention to how important it is for early identification along with intervention to combat hearing loss as their focus for 2019.
Failing to get the necessary treatments often results in millions of individuals living a poorer “quality of life”. The WHO has projected that close to 630 million people around the world will experience hearing loss that is disabling by the year 2030 unless these people start taking action when it comes to the health of their hearing. By the year 2050, this number might elevate to over 900 million. In addition to this, hearing loss that goes unaddressed is linked with significant costs. At this stage the WHO has said, that hearing loss that has gone untreated imposes a global annual cost of around $750 billion.
Factors linked to hearing loss that goes unaddressed varies. The majority of people that suffer from severe hearing loss come from the low and the middle-income countries, where they typically lack the access to the required interventions and services.
However, in the US, hearing loss is still a very common type of chronic health condition.
The thing that stands out the most in the United States, is a dire need for treatment and identification of hearing loss that occurs in adults, states Shari Robertson, Ph.D., CCC-SLP, 2019 ASHA President. She goes on to say that many of the adults in the US fail to seek the necessary treatments for loss of hearing, which is often caused from a perception that loss of hearing is just an annoyance opposed to an actual medical condition that is serious. Many are not aware that this condition usually affects the overall health of the person, their career success, job, mental health, social life, personal relationships, and their overall quality-of-life.
Adults in the US that are aged 70 or older that suffer from some degree of hearing loss that may benefit from a hearing aid, less than 1 in 3 (30%) have ever used these aids, states the NIDOCD (National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders). And the adults between the ages of 20 to 69, only 16% of these people that can benefit from using hearing aids have used them.
The ASHA states that the public should be asking questions about the current state of their hearing, and individuals should Self-Test for Hearing Loss with these questions:
Do I Need To Have My Hearing Tested?
You should definitely see an audiologist when you answer “yes” to 2 or more of these questions:
Any person who answered yes, and/or is concerned should go for a test with an audiologist that is certified. Thankfully, we here at The Tinnitus & Hearing Center of Arizona are licensed Audiologists who specialize in all hearing conditions for all ages. We're a Phoenix audiologist clinic that sees patients for hearing loss, hearing issues like tinnitus, misophonia, hyperacusis.
And we also consult, fit, and fine tune several major brands of affordable hearing aids, so if hearing loss is a concern, know that we're in your corner. Give us a call at (480) 831-6159 or use our online scheduler.
How Do Different Hearing Aids Work?
Depending on the electronics used, hearing aids operate differently. Digital and analog are the two electronic variations.
Sound waves are converted into amplified electrical signals in analog hearing aids. To fit the exact requirements of the user, analog/adjustable aids are tailor made. The recommendations made by your audiologist are used by manufacturers to program the aid and meet your specific needs. These aids are designed with variable settings or programming. Users can change the settings to fit their listening environments, from wide, open spaces like stadiums or theaters, and crowded, noisy restaurants to small quiet spaces, after their audiologist uses a computer to program the hearing aid. All types of hearing aids can be designed using these programmable/analog electronics.
When compared to digital hearing aids, analog variants are more affordable.
Before amplifying sound waves, digital aids normally convert them into numerical codes, just like a computer’s binary code. These hearing aids can be programmed to increase the intensity of some sound frequencies over others because the numerical code also captures details of the pitch of the sound. When it comes to customizing a hearing aid to the specific listening environment and requirements of the user digital electronics provide audiologists with more options. The direction from which the sounds the user wants the aid to focus on can be specified when using digital aids. All types of hearing aids can be designed using digital electronics.
Which Hearing Aid Should I Choose?
The extent and type of your hearing loss determines which hearing aid you should use. To send a more natural signal to the brain, you should choose two hearing aids if you have lost hearing in both ears. Furthermore, you will be able to easily identify where the direction of the sound and better understand speech by hearing in both ears.
Pay attention to your lifestyle and requirements when you are looking for the right hearing aid with your audiologist. Since the cost of hearing aids ranges between hundreds and thousands of dollars, be sure to consider price as well. Styling details and functionality also affect pricing just as is the case with other electronic devices. When looking for the best hearing aid however, don’t solely rely on pricing. A hearing aid won’t automatically meet all your needs simply because it is expensive than others.
Your normal hearing cannot be restored by a hearing aid. Your awareness of sounds and their origin/sources can however be improved with the help of a hearing aid with time. Choose a well-suited and easy-to-use hearing aid as you will need to wear it regularly to get the most out of it. The manufacturer’s reputation with regard to customer support and quality, potential upgrades, options, repair and maintenance schedule and costs and the warranty cover for services and/or parts are some of the other factors to keep in mind.
Before buying a hearing aid, ask your audiologist the following questions:
Getting Used To Your New Hearing Aid
To use your hearing aid successfully, you will need to be patient. You will be able to get used to using your hearing aid if you wear it more frequently.
Master the features on your hearing aid. Practice wearing and removing the aids, changing out the batteries, distinguish between left and right aids and also how to clean it with your audiologist there. Seek clarification on how test it in listening environments where hearing becomes a challenge to you. When sounds are too low or too loud, find out how you can program it or adjust the volume to make comfortable hearing possible. When all your concerns have been answered, you can leave the audiologist in confidence.
Challenges to expect during the hearing aid adjustment period:
At Tinnitus and Hearing Center of Arizona, we want you to be 100% satisfied, and so we offer additional options for fine tunings and adjustments – far more than the strip mall or megamart stores will provide. It’s a far better move to go with a trusted specialist for your hearing needs. If your looking for hearing aids in Phoenix metro, we encourage you to contact us today for a free hearing aid demonstration and start hearing better today!
Call (480) 831-6159 or use our online scheduler.
Newest Hearing Aid Technology Breaks the Rules to Deliver Speech Understanding on Par with Normal Hearing
Tinnitus and Hearing Center of Arizona is among the first US hearing care professionals to offer Oticon Opn S™, a groundbreaking new hearing aid that allows people with hearing loss to experience speech understanding in difficult listening situations, such as restaurants or social gatherings, at the level of people with normal hearing.*
“Opn S hearing aids push the boundaries of what you can expect from a hearing aid to make a tremendous difference in how you hear and participate in life,” explains Dr. Rohe. “Ultra-fast sound processing opens up a rich, 360-degree world of sound so you can follow conversations in a group of people and focus on what’s important to you, even in noisy environments. And when you need extra help in especially noisy situations, Opn S lets you ‘boost’ the support you receive – whenever you feel you need it.”
This small, discreet hearing aid features Oticon’s exclusive BrainHearing™ technology to provide unprecedented access to the details of speech that helps the brain make sense of sound. People won’t have to work as hard to hear, so they’ll feel less stress and will be more likely to join in conversations.
Dr. Rohe is a nationally-recognized audiologist specializing in Tinnitus Therapy and other hearing conditions.