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All About Hearing Aids

Frequently Asked Questions

Q. Are hearing aids difficult to maintain?

The most difficult part of maintaining your hearing instrument is not losing them! They can be quite tiny and easy to misplace, so make sure that whenever you take them out of your ear, you returning them to their case.

The other aspects of maintenance are not too difficult or intrusive to handle. For example, opening the battery door when you take your devices out at night will help their batteries last longer.

Moisture and earwax buildup are the two biggest reasons for repairs on hearing devices, so cleaning them regularly can save a lot of hassle. The best (and the easiest) way to do this is by purchasing a cleaning and drying kit. Putting your devices into the kit at night will remove moisture while also killing germs and bacteria. You can also use a clean, gentle cloth to wipe excess dust and earwax off.

Q. What are some common challenges when adjusting to hearing aids?

When you have untreated hearing loss, your brain gets accustomed to its current hearing ability. It forgets what it’s like to hear at a normal volume. For this reason, sounds can seem startlingly loud or unnatural when you first start using hearing aids. However, this doesn’t last long. The more you use your new devices, the more quickly your brain can readjust and define a “new” normal.

Click here for some tips to use in order to adjust to hearing aids more easily.

Q. Do hearing aids set off metal detectors?

Since the majority of the parts in hearing aids are plastic, they shouldn’t set off any metal detectors.

If you’re at an airport and they ask you to remove your devices so that they can be x-rayed, you can tell the TSA official that you’d prefer to have a manual, physical inspection of the devices. Visit www.tsa.gov for more information.

Q. Do microwave ovens interfere with hearing aids?

No. If it were possible for a microwave to interfere with electronics, then this would also be an issue with things like cell phones. However, for no reason should you ever put your hearing aid inside a microwave.

Q. Will hearing aids help me earn more money at work?

Yes! When you can hear better, you feel more empowered in all areas of life—including at work. Using hearing aids can boost your self-confidence, personal happiness, interpersonal skills, and overall health. This can definitely help you improve your job performance and secure a higher income.

However, it goes both ways. A national study conducted by the Better Hearing Institute found that those who do not treat their hearing loss can lose as much as $30,000 annually. Make an appointment with your local EarQ provider to address any hearing loss today.

Q. What is an ear impression?

An ear impression is a silicone-based mold made from the exact shape of your ear or ear canal. It’s needed in order to create in-the-ear, in-the-canal, or completely-in-the-canal hearing aids, as well as things like custom-fit earplugs or swimmer’s plugs.

The process for making an ear mold is not painful or difficult. Your hearing health professional will place the soft, doughy material into your ear and let it sit for a few minutes and mold into shape. Once it has hardened, he or she will remove the material and have a completely accurate model of your ear to send to the hearing aid manufacturer.

Q. Is it okay to use cotton swabs to clean my ears?

Unless you're using the cotton swab to clean the very outside of your ear, the part that sticks out from your head, the answer is no. Believe it or not, your ear canal is self-cleaning, and a little earwax actually helps to keep dirt from getting to the important parts of the ear.

You may be wondering, how exactly is my ear canal self-cleaning? There's a layer of tissue that lines the length of your ear canal and grows outward at about the same pace as your hair or nails. Dirt, bacteria, fungus, and other unwanted matter are captured on this tissue and over time, pushed back to the outside before it gets to the area of your ear that could be damaged from this material. When you use a cotton swab to clean your ear, you're damaging the tissue that is doing the job better than any cotton swab could!

Besides the fact that swabbing is making your ear less healthy, you can actually be pushing wax deeper into the ear canal to a point that is unreachable by the cotton swab, and it may start to affect your hearing.

Q. Common problems adjusting to hearing aids

The thing about hearing loss is that it's not just a problem that resides in the ears, but also in the brain. The auditory cortex in the brain adjusts and copes when someone has hearing loss. So when a hearing aid is used and sounds are sent to the brain at a closer to normal volume and clearness, the brain can react in almost a surprised way. The surprised brain will result in things sounding too loud, or the tone of your voice sounding like you're talking in a barrel. Things like the sound of the wind might even be alarming to you at first, since it's been a while since you've been able to clearly hear them. Don't worry though, this will go away. The brain will adjust, and everything will start to sound normal again. But be patient, and realize that the more you wear your hearing aids the more your brain will get used to it. We recommend wearing your hearing aids for a few hours the first day and add an hour a day until you're wearing them most of the time that you are awake. Strike up conversations to see how it feels to be speaking to someone. Wait a few weeks until you try them out in a noisy environment as it can be overwhelming for new users at first.

Q. Tips for getting used to wearing hearing aids

 • When you first get your hearing aids, only wear them where you're the most comfortable.
 • If you're uncomfortable, don't press yourself. Wear them only as long as you feel you can.
 • The best way to test them out is to try using them while you're having a conversation.
 • Do not get discouraged when you're not hearing perfectly – even people with normal hearing don't hear everything.
 • Background noise will be overwhelming at first, don't let it get to you.
 • Do exercises like figuring out where something is only by the sound it makes, or relearning to discriminate between different sounds of speech.
 • Loud sounds will be jarring at first. Take it slow when trying to increase your tolerance.
 • Listen to some books on tape
 • Gradually start wearing them in group environments

 

Hearing Loss Information for Family Members
Hearing loss in family

Hearing loss affects not only the person who experiences it, but all those around the person. The most important thing to do is to see the doctor first. The hearing loss should be examined by a doctor to see if it's medically related. The next step is testing. If it's not medically related, then getting tested by a trained professional sets the foundation for the care and assistance to come.

Getting tested can be a difficult step to take. There are many feelings associated with the loss of hearing. However, once hearing is tested, it's time to move on to solutions. Once the reasons are uncovered, there's hearing "gain" with support and assistance from things like hearing aids.

 

What to Look For

If an individual thinks that he/she may have hearing loss or know someone who does, look for these things:

• not engaged in certain activities
• not turning toward sound
• repeating
• trouble hearing in groups
• thinking that things sound muffled
• not able to hear people talking behind them
• turning up the volume on the TV or car radio
• having difficulty hearing on the phone
• having trouble hearing the alarm clock
• having difficulty hearing at the movie theater

How to Talk to Family Members with Hearing Loss

Communication happens with or without hearing aids. Here are some tips for people with and without hearing loss that may be helpful:

• make sure to have someone's attention
• face people directly
• avoid noisy places or backgrounds
• don't shout to get the point across
• speak clearly—and not too fast
• don't talk with a mouth full of food or gum
• rephrase something to make sure the point is made
• be patient and relaxed if someone is slow to respond

Encourage Diagnosis and Treatment

It's important to remember that hearing loss may be limiting at times, but support and assistance can help. Many people experience hearing loss. Don't enable them to be less than themselves. There are trained professionals who can assist them and address the losses and gains.

 

Purchasing FAQs

Q. Will my insurance cover hearing aids?

While some insurance plans offer coverage of hearing aids and other hearing healthcare services, others do not. If your plan doesn’t offer any coverage, your audiologist or other hearing healthcare professional will work with you to find the best hearing aids in your price range. Many offices also offer great financing options.

Q. What are the available financing options?

Financing options vary from practice to practice. Some accept payment plans, credit cards, CareCredit, or others. Some practices, however, do not have any financing options in place. The best way to find out if your hearing health professional offers financing is to give them a call on the phone and ask.

Q. Where do I go to buy hearing aids? Do I need to do anything before I can buy them?

In order to find the best hearing aids for your lifestyle and budget, you should first make an appointment with an audiologist or licensed hearing healthcare specialist in your area. After they perform a simple hearing evaluation, they’ll determine the type and severity of your individual hearing loss and discuss which hearing aids in your price range will perform best for you.

Click here to find your local EarQ provider.

Q. What is the typical hearing aid selection process?

It’s important that you selecting hearing aids that are easy for you to use and fit comfortably into your lifestyle. Otherwise, you may not be satisfied with your devices or use them on a consistent basis. You should also consider the warranty, necessary maintenance, repair costs, upgrade options, and the hearing aid company’s customer service. 

After you have your hearing evaluated, your hearing health professional will help you pick a device that works for your hearing and lifestyle needs. Some also allow you to test hearing aids for a period of time before you decide to purchase them.

If you aren’t satisfied with hearing aids you purchased, don’t just put them in a drawer and forget about them. Talk with your hearing health professional to find a better option so that you can get back to hearing your best.

Q. Where can I go for hearing aid reviews?

It’s only natural that you’d want to read some consumer reviews on hearing aids before you decide which one to purchase. However, this may not be as helpful for you as you think it would be.

Hearing aids have hundreds of variables to consider. Everyone’s hearing loss is different, so everyone’s experience wearing a hearing device is going to be different. Each device is programmed according to the individual’s needs and preferences, and everyone uses their hearing devices in different environments. There’s no way to know what your experience will be with a hearing device until you wear it.

It’s for this reason that we don’t recommend using hearing aid reviews to make a choice. Rest assured that your EarQ provider will give you an array of options and take the time to go through the benefits of each product. You’ll be able to make an educated decision on which hearing aid is right for you.

Q. Why do hearing aids cost so much?

Many people do experience a bit of sticker shock when they first consider purchasing hearing aids. However, there is a lot of technology packed into that little device, and many follow-up services are likely included in the price. Your audiologist or licensed hearing aid dispenser will be there with you every step of the way, helping you to adjust and understanding what you’re going through. There is really no substitute for high-quality service and a relationship like this.

Click here to read more.

Q. Should I buy hearing aids at Costco or online?

Purchasing a hearing aid at a big-box retailer or over the internet is not a good substitute for visiting a qualified hearing health provider. You deserve more attention and service than you’d get through these channels.

While you may see ads for sound amplifiers or other hearing devices online, remember that hearing aids are medical devices regulated by the U.S Food and Drug Administration. In order to perform properly, they must be programed to best suit your personal level of hearing loss and adjusted to fit comfortably to your ears. Learn more here.

To help ensure your safety, health, and happiness, it is very important that you work with an audiologist or licensed hearing healthcare specialist to find the right hearing aids for you. Click here to find your local EarQ provider.

Q. Should I purchase used hearing aids?

Since all hearing devices are customized for your individual needs and hearing loss, it’s not recommended that you purchase used hearing aids.

Q. Are bargain hearing solutions an acceptable substitute for traditional hearing aids?

"Bargain" hearing solutions purchased online or through the newspaper are not hearing aids, they’re sound amplifiers. That $29 device is basically a tiny speaker in your ear that just makes everything louder. Hearing loss is complex, and simply turning the volume up will not do the trick. Today’s hearing aid technology can reduce the volume unimportant sounds and amplify others, increasing your level of understanding. For a full description of product features, visit the products page.

Q. Should I get a Personal Sound Amplification Product (PSAP)?

No. According to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), a personal sound amplification product (PSAP) is a wearable electronic product that is not intended to compensate for hearing loss. They’re meant to amplify quiet sounds in the environment for people who have a normal hearing ability, like when a hunter is listening for a deer.

Attention: PSAPs are not hearing aids and should not be used to substitute or replace hearing aids. They are not medical devices and do not require a prescription. While the technology found in PSAPs may appear similar to that found in a hearing aid, it’s of an inferior quality and could damage your hearing even further.

 

Hearing Aid Styles

Q. What are the differences in hearing aid styles?

Hearing aid stylesDepending on your personal preferences and hearing needs, today’s hearing aids come in a wide variety of styles:

Behind-the-Ear: As the name suggests, BTE hearing aids are designed to rest comfortably behind your ear. A small, clear, plastic tube transfers sound from the device to a tiny speaker or custom ear mold that sits in your ear canal.

Receiver-in-the-Canal: RIC hearing aids also rest behind your ear, but their sound receivers sit within your ear canal instead of inside the device unit. The part behind your ear just contains the technology that processes the sounds.

In-the-Ear: ITE hearing aids are designed to rest completely inside your outer ear. To ensure the devices are a perfect fit, your hearing healthcare professional will take a mold of your ear.

In-the-Canal: ITC hearing aids sit almost completely inside your ear canal and are designed to be less noticeable than other styles. Similar to ITE hearing aids, ITC devices are created using a custom mold of your ear canal.

Completely-in-the-Canal: Extremely small, CIC hearing aids are comfortably molded to sit fully inside your ear canal, making them invisible to others.

Q. Are hearing aid styles based on hearing loss type?

While all of today’s hearing aids offer exceptional sound quality and comfort, certain styles are better suited to address some types of hearing loss.

For example, if you have profound hearing loss and require a more powerful hearing aid, behind-the-ear hearing aids would be best for you because they hold larger batteries. If you have dexterity issues, very small styles such as in-the-canal or completely-in-the-canal hearing aids may not be the right choice for you, because the controls on these devices are tiny. Your local EarQ provider can work with you to find the style that best matches your needs.

Analog vs. Digital Hearing Aids

All hearing aids receive sound through a microphone and transmit it into the ear through a speaker. However, they process sounds in different ways.
Analog hearing aids convert sound waves into electrical signals which then get amplified. They’re custom built and programmed by the manufacturer based on recommendations from an audiologist or licensed hearing aid dispenser.

Digital hearing aids, on the other hand, convert sound waves into number codes (like a computer) before they get amplified. This helps to make sounds clearer as well as louder, and it gives the hearing health professional more options to program and adjust the aid to your needs and environments.

Open Fit Hearing Aids

Open fit hearing aids do not completely fill your ear canal. Instead, an open fit device is usually a very small behind-the-ear hearing aid with a small tube or wire that connects to a speaker in the ear canal.

Key features: 

  • Leaves the ear canal open; doesn’t plug the ear
  • Reduces or cancels out feedback (like that sound when a microphone is held too close to a speaker)
  • May use very small batteries
  • Better for those with tinnitus because plugging the ear can make symptoms louder

Custom Fit Hearing Aids

Custom fit hearing aids are just that—custom molded to fit inside your ear canal. They can be completely inside the ear canal, fit partly inside, fill the lower portion of the outer ear, or fill most of the bowl-shaped area of the outer ear.

Key features:

  • Easy to insert into the ear
  • Easy-to-adjust volume control
  • May be more visible than open fit
  • Uses larger batteries, which typically last longer and are easier to handle

Cochlear Implants

Cochlear implants are small electronic devices that are surgically placed under the skin behind the ear. They help people with severe or profound hearing loss or deafness. They work by avoiding the damaged portions of the ear and directly stimulating the auditory nerve. The auditory nerve then sends the signals directly to the brain so that you can recognize sound patterns.

Bone-Anchored Hearing Aid (BAHA)

As the name suggests, a bone-anchored hearing aid (BAHA) is surgically attached to the bone behind your ear. These small devices can transmit sound vibrations directly to your inner ear through your skull, avoiding the middle ear completely. Therefore, a bone-anchored hearing aid may be an option for you if your hearing loss stems from problems in the middle ear.

 

How Do Hearing Aids Work?

Hearing aids used to be much simpler than they are today. A microphone picked up sound, the hearing aid made it louder, and a speaker projected it into the ear. However, simply making noises louder doesn’t make them sound crisper or cleaner, and so today’s technology goes even further by using digital technology.

When the computer chip in a digital hearing aid receives information, it uses complex algorithms to manipulate the sound. This allows it to keep the sounds that are important and eliminate the sounds that are not. Digital devices can even reduce background noise in the tiny pauses between syllables of speech or adjust to different environments where sounds are typically louder or softer.

Digital technology allow hearing aids to have multiple settings which can be changed as your hearing needs do. If you hearing loss gets worse, for example, you don’t necessarily have to get new hearing aids. Your devices can be reprogrammed for your new needs.

Learn more about hearing aid features here.

 

Q. Should I buy hearing aids for mild hearing loss?

As soon as you begin experiencing hearing difficulties, it’s crucial for your overall health and happiness that you see a hearing healthcare professional as soon as possible. They can help you find a solution that fits your needs, whatever those may be.

While you may feel that your hearing loss isn’t that bad, your brain disagrees. When it comes to the speech recognition, if you don’t use it, you lose it. Using hearing aids to address even a mild hearing loss is far simpler than trying to retrain the parts of your brain that understand and process speech.

It’s also important to note that hearing loss is often gradual, so you may not notice its true severity. You might be missing out on important life moments that you can never get back. What’s more, untreated hearing loss is associated with the development of other debilitating conditions, including cognitive decline, cardiovascular issues, diabetes, depression, and hypertension. Receiving an annual hearing evaluation is the best way to monitor your hearing health so you can quickly take action when needed.

Schedule an appointment with your local EarQ provider to get started.

Q. Do I need one or two hearing aids?

More than 95% of people with hearing loss require two hearing aids. Someone may occasionally have hearing loss in only one ear, but it doesn’t happen often.

While each of your ears may not have the same degree of hearing loss, your brain is meant to receive sound input from both of your ears. If you’re only using a hearing aid in one ear, the other will overwork itself in order compensate and lose its hearing ability even more quickly.

Some hearing aid technology even allows two hearing aids to work together in order to help you identify the direction from which sounds are coming.

Q. How long do hearing aids typically last?

You can expect your hearing aids to last about three to four years, depending on how well you take care of them. Like any electronic device, dust, moisture, and being dropped will all affect a hearing aid’s performance and lifespan. The more careful you are, the longer it will last.

Every EarQ hearing device comes with the EarQ 4-Year Warranty, which is the longest in the U.S. and covers your maintenance costs. We’ve got you covered!

Click here to find an EarQ provider who can help you find the EarQ hearing device that’s right for you.

Q. Will wearing a hearing aid make me look old?

While many people think that wearing a hearing aid will make them seem “old,” the truth is that untreated hearing loss is far more aging than hearing aids are. If you have to constantly ask others to repeat things or find yourself mishearing conversations, others will notice your hearing difficulties much more quickly than they would if you were wearing hearing aids.

Q. Do attractive hearing aids exist?

Absolutely! Hearing aid developers are always looking to create devices that cater to what people want. Hearing aids come in all different shapes and styles, ranging from those that sit behind the ear to those that sit invisibly within the ear canal.

They also make colorful and stylish devices that emphasize the good feelings associated with finally being able to hear clearly instead of focusing on the negative stigma of wearing a hearing aid. Some devices have even won design awards for their extremely attractive colors, forms and styles.

View the full gallery of EarQ hearing aids to see all styles and colors available.

Q. Will wearing a hearing aid hurt my ears?

Well-fit hearing aids should not hurt your ears. Your hearing healthcare professional will adjust and mold your hearing aids to ensure they’re a perfect fit. They can also make further adjustments throughout the life of the hearing aid in order to keep them comfortable and working as best as possible.

Q. Will hearing aids make my hearing worse?

Hearing aids that are fit correctly and programmed to your hearing needs will not harm your hearing ability. It might seem like amplifying sounds directly into your ear might be dangerous, but rest assured that with hearing aids, this is not the case. You hearing health professional will set the amplification volume to the level that is right for your needs and no louder.

It may seem like your hearing has worsened after you’ve been using your new devices for a few weeks, but this is a trick of perception. Once your brain is used to hearing better with your devices, the true severity of your hearing loss becomes noticeable.

Click here to read more about this topic.

Q. Will wearing hearing aids make me dependent on them?

You may feel like you’re dependent on your hearing aids once you start using them, but that’s not a bad thing. It’s the same as being dependent on your own ears and hearing ability to experience the world around you.

In order to help you achieve a happier, healthier life, you should wear your hearing aids during all waking hours (except while you swim or shower, of course). This allows your brain to get used to hearing better, and you’ll be more satisfied with your devices as a result.

Q. Do hearing aids affect the enjoyment of music?

Yes... in a good way! Today’s hearing aids are perfect for music lovers. While hearing better means hearing music in finer detail, many of today’s hearing aids can also sync right to your smartphone and allow you to stream music directly into your ears.

Q. I can't hear high-pitched sounds well. Can hearing aids help?

The vast majority of people with hearing loss have high frequency loss. Many people can hear lower tones with no difficulty, but when it gets high pitched, they lose it.

Hearing aids can specifically address high frequency hearing loss. While no one can promise that hearing aids will restore every pitch or tone, we can promise that they’ll improve your hearing situation. Having an EarQ provider check your hearing and explain the options that fit your needs will help you find the devices that are right for you.

 

New Hearing Aid Technology
Hearing aids and smartphones

Environments like airports, offices, and stores are constructed now with new technologies and advancements that help people with hearing loss. Thanks to our wireless world, hearing aids are also keeping up with new technologies and advancements. Hearing aids are easier than ever to wear, are smaller in size, and are more discreet. They are invisible, wireless, and more resistant to water, sweat and earwax.

There are also directional microphones with hearing aids that help people hear better in noisy environments. Hearing aids can filter out background noise, produce crystal clear sound, and automatically turn up or turn down the volume. In addition, they are computer programmed to meet the needs of each person with hearing loss.

 

Invisible Hearing Aids

Invisible hearing aids rest completely inside the ear canal and remain hidden from view. Because of the discreet size, they may not include some features that other hearing aids have. Their batteries are also smaller and therefore may not last as long.

Invisible Hearing Aids

Bluetooth Connectivity

Many of today’s hearing aids can sync with Bluetooth devices like smartphones and computers. They transmit sounds wirelessly to the hearing aid, keeping you tuned in to the world around you. With a Bluetooth-enabled device, you won’t have to hold a smartphone up to your ear or wear headphones to listen to music!

Wireless Hearing Aids

Smartphone Compatibility

Similar to Bluetooth connectivity, some of today’s hearing aids can sync directly with smartphones and other electronic devices.

Smartphone Compatible Hearing Aids

Waterproof Hearing Aids

Waterproof hearing aidsSome hearing aids can stand up to high-performance activities and water sports. They’re made of materials that make them more durable and waterproof. Read more about water-resistant vs waterproof hearing aids here.

Waterproof Hearing Aids

Oleophobic

Some hearing aids have an oleophobic surface, meaning they resist oil buildup. This helps to keep the devices clean and extend their lifespan.

 


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