Frequently Asked Questions
- Hearing Loss - Adults
- Hearing Children - Children
- Auditory Processing Disorders (APD or CAPD)
- Hearing Aids
How do I know if I have hearing loss?
There are many signs of hearing loss. Some are more obvious than others – not hearing a phone or doorbell ring, asking others to repeat, or trouble hearing in groups, all are signs of hearing problems. Please click here to complete a questionnaire that can help determine if you may be at risk for hearing loss. Call us to schedule an appointment for a complete hearing evaluation so you can know for sure!
Are there different kinds of hearing loss?
Yes. There are four types of hearing loss: conductive, sensorineural, mixed and central. A hearing evaluation is necessary to determine the type and degree of loss.
Conductive loss is an issue of transmitting the sound to the hearing nerve at the inner ear (nerve). There can be a problem with the canal (ear wax or foreign object causing blockage), ear drum, or middle ear bones. Ear infections or trauma to the ear can cause this type of loss. It can sometimes be treated medically or surgically.
Sensorineural or nerve loss is a problem with the inner ear (cochlea). It can be caused by heredity, certain medications, illness or noise exposure. Damage to the nerve is generally not correctable, but it can be treated with hearing aids or, in some cases, cochlear implants. This type of loss sometimes results in distortion of sound as well as less volume. Correctly programmed hearing aids are standard treatment. In some cases, those with severe or profound losses can be helped with cochlear implants.
Mixed loss is a combination of sensorineural and conductive losses. Many times the conductive issue can be treated with medication or surgery, resulting in better hearing overall. However, the nerve loss generally stays the same.
Central loss is due to problems with the brain processing acoustic information correctly. Auditory processing disorders are a type of central hearing loss. This can also happen as a result of a stroke, dementia, or other medical conditions.
My hearing isn't really that bad. Do I really need a hearing aid?
Yes! Hearing is what connects you to your environment and to other people. Not hearing well compromises your relationships, quality of life, and safety. While everyone is different in their ability to function in their daily life, studies have shown that untreated hearing loss will result in something called auditory deprivation. One of the effects of auditory deprivation is a reduction in the ability to understand speech over time.A recent study by Johns-Hopkins has also linked hearing loss to dementia. Refer to the hearing loss questionnaire to help assess your level of hearing difficulty, then contact us for an appointment. We can discuss your hearing and what your options are to improve your quality of life.
Even when things are louder, it is not clear. What is going on?
Most people think that hearing loss is simply a matter of 'not loud enough'. For many, that is the case. However, some types of hearing loss involve distortion within the auditory system as well, which affects clarity. Your audiologist will explain your hearing in detail and make sure you understand what the test results mean for you, your family, and your life.
Why do I hear ringing/buzzing in my ears?
Tinnitus (head noise) has many different causes: hearing loss, exposure to loud noise, medication, injury, or TMJ problems. It is different for every person. It has been described as ringing, buzzing, waterfalls, fan noise, hammering, chirping, crickets, hissing, or pulsating. It is very important to have your hearing tested if you notice tinnitus, or if you have a history of tinnitus and it changes (suddenly louder, worse on one side than the other, etc.). Tinnitus is often a sign of hearing loss and may be what is noticed first. Hearing aids are often very effective in reducing tinnitus, especially if hearing loss is the cause. Other devices, called maskers, can be used if no hearing loss is present. Call our office to schedule a hearing evaluation if you are experiencing tinnitus.
What are signs of hearing loss in children?
Some signs of hearing loss in children are: late talking, inconsistent response to environmental sounds or their name, or persistent unclear speech. There are other issues that can cause these same symptoms, so it is important to have hearing loss ruled out. Many babies are screened at birth for hearing loss. However, normal hearing as an infant does not guarantee that hearing loss will not develop later in infancy or childhood. Call our office if you have questions or concerns about your child's hearing.
What causes hearing loss in children?
One of the most common causes of hearing loss in children is ear infections. Fluid in the middle ear space causes a conductive hearing loss until the fluid is resolved (see Different Kinds of Hearing Loss in the Adult Hearing Loss FAQ). Hearing loss from ear infections is usually treated medically. Children can also have sensorineural or mixed hearing loss from medications, genetic disorders/heredity, accidents, or exposure to loud noise. A thorough hearing test can help determine how well your child is hearing.
Do children wear hearing aids?
Yes, children who have hearing loss need hearing aids. It is critial for children to be able to hear well for learning language and literacy skills. Children also need to hear well for safety. Please call our office if you have concerns about your child's hearing.
What is an Auditory Processing Disorder?
An Auditory Processing Disorder is when the brain is unable to correctly use what is heard, even though hearing is 'normal'. There are symptoms that mimic hearing loss, such as asking for repetiton, trouble following verbal instructions, inattention or other signs of poor listening. APD can also look like language problems, learning disabilities or attention deficit in the classroom, so it is important to have your child tested if your child is having trouble in school. Click here for a chart that shows the difference between APD, AD/HD, and language processing problems.
Can adults have APD?
Yes, both adults and children can have APD. Children generally cannot be given diagnostic APD testing before age 7. Due to the nature of the auditory system, testing before age 7 is not considered accurate. There are screening tests that can help pinpoint auditory deficits at an earlier age if there are concerns. Integrated Hearing Health is able to test children and adults for APD. Call our office if you have questions about APD testing.
My child is being treated for AD/HD and while behavior is improved, he/she is still having trouble in school. Can it be APD?
Yes. Very frequently APD is present when there are other learning issues such as AD/HD or dyslexia. Specialized APD testing can help determine the whole picture of your child and allow for appropriate interventions. See our APD Comparison Chart on the APD page of this website for more information. Call our office if you have questions about APD or APD testing.
What are risk factors for APD?
Some risk factors for APD include: a family history of learning problems, frequent ear infections, mixed dominance, head injuries, and certain pregnancy/birth complications such as prematurity or jaundice.
I have hearing loss. Do I really need hearing aids?
Yes. Hearing is what connects you to your environment and to other people. Not hearing well compromises your relationships, quality of life, and safety. While everyone is different in their ability to function, studies have shown that untreated hearing loss will result in something called auditory deprivation. One of the effects of auditory deprivation isa reduction in the ability to understand speech over time.A recent study by Johns-Hopkins has also linked hearing loss to dementia. Refer to the hearing loss questionnaire to help assess your level of hearing difficulty, then contact us for an appointment. We can discuss your hearing and what your options are to improve your quality of life.
Can I get by with just one hearing aid?
If you have hearing loss in both ears, two hearing aids will be recommended in most cases. However, there are occasions when only one aid is appropriate.
We are designed to hear with both ears. Hearing 'in stereo' allows you to understand speech better – especially in noise, and to hear twice as far away with less effort. You are able to tell what direction sounds are coming from when hearing is equal at both ears. Numerous studies have shown that about 85% of those with hearing loss would benefit from having aids in both ears. There is a risk of developing auditory deprivation at the untreated ear. Your audiologist can discuss the benfits and drawbacks of one aid vs. two, and which option will give you the best hearing.
What do hearing aids look like?
Please see our hearing aid page for examples of different styles of hearing aids. The style of aid is somewhat determined by the amount of hearing loss you have. Your audiologist will recommend appropriate styles for you based on your hearing loss and other issues such as dexterity and vision. Please call us for an appointment to discuss different hearing aid styles.
Is one manufacturer better than another? Which is the best?
There are many good hearing aid companies that provide excellect products and services. Integrated Hearing Health has experience fitting Hansaton, Phonak, Unitron, Siemens, GNResound, Oticon and Starkey. We choose hearing aids based on excellent product quality and serivce from the company as well as your lifestyle, budget, and listening needs. For example, if you need aids with rechargeable batteries or a remote control, then we work with a manufacturer whose aids have those features.
Many places work with the same manufacturers and get the same great quality hearing aids we do. The difference at Integrated Hearing Health is our expertise in fitting and programming, our personalized service, and our dedication to getting the best hearing for you!
Are hearing aids uncomfortable?
No. Properly fit hearing aids should be comfortable enough to wear all day. Just like new shoes, it takes some time to get used to wearing them, and comfort issues may not be apparent at first. If your aids are uncomfortable in any way, be sure to tell your audiologist immediately so that adjustments can be made.
Will hearing aids make my hearing worse?
No. Correctly fitted and programmed aids will not make your hearing worse in everyday situations. However, hearing aids should not be worn in extremely noisy situations or when operating heavy machinery such as lawn mowers. Hearing protection such as earplugs or muffs should be worn to protect hearing. Noise can damage your hearing even if you already have hearing loss. It is important to protect the hearing you have!
Will hearing aids make my hearing normal?
No. Hearing aids can improve your hearing by making the sounds you are missing easier for you to hear. For the majority, this means being able to participate in most of their regular activities with little difficulty. They feel their hearing is close to 'normal' when they are wearing their aids, and they are able to communicate more easily with less effort.
Unfortunately, if there is a great deal of distortion within your auditory system, hearing aids are not as helpful. However, hearing aids can optimize and enhance the hearing you have and enable you to participate in activities more easily than without aids.
No one should tell you that hearing aids will make your hearing normal. At Integrated Hearing Health, we believe in giving you reasonable expectations for what hearing aids can and cannot do for your particular hearing loss, so that you can make the best choice for you.
How do I take care of my hearing aids?
Your audiologist will review things like cleaning, batteries, and storage for your hearing aids. There will also be literature provided that will detail how to care for your aids. Daily cleaning and regular maintenance will extend the life of your aids and ensures the best listening experience. Please call the office and ask the audiologist if you have questions about caring for your aids.
What can I do with old hearing aids that aren't being used any more?
It is a good idea to have a backup, just as you would for prescription lenses. If you have aids that are no longer useful, Integrated Hearing Health is a collection site for HearNow, an organization that reconditions old hearing aids that are then donated to those in need. Donated aids are tax deductible.
Can I bring a friend or family member with me to my appointment?
Absolutely! We encourage you to bring someone you trust with you to your appointment, such as a family member or close friend. Small children, unless they are being tested, should have another adult to supervise them during your appointment.
Can I get a copy of my results?
Yes! We are happy to give you a copy of your test results and any associated reports. We will also forward them to your physician or any other person (power of attorney, caregiver, etc.), as you request. Test results can be sent via email (.pdf document), fax, or US postal service.
What will happen during my hearing evaluation appointment?
There is some paperwork to complete - you may do this ahead of time by downloading and printing our new patient forms from the website before your visit. The audiologist will review your paperwork and ask you questions about your hearing and medical history. If you have hearing aids, they will be checked. Your ears will be examined with an otoscope. You will be seated in a special room (sound booth) for the test. Soft insert earphones will be placed in your ears, and you will be asked to respond when you hear a series of beeps or tones. You will also be asked to repeat words in order to check your speech understanding. If necessary, another test called a tympanogram will be performed. It checks eardrum function and is painless. Your results and recommendations will be discussed after the test.
Children over age 5:
Testing for children over age 5 is similar to adult testing and always includes tympanometry to rule out middle ear fluid (ear infection). Results and recommendations will be discussed after the test.
Children age 2 ½ -4:
The only difference for children this age is we have them drop blocks in a bucket (or play some other sort of game) to indicate that they have heard the tones.Speech understanding is tested with a picture-pointing task, if appropriate. Results and recommendations will be discussed after the test.
Babies age 4 months – 2 ½ years:
Infants will have their ears examined as well as tympanometry testing. Babies sit on an adult's lap in the sound booth. Sounds will be played through speakers in the booth. A screen above each speaker will show pictures when a sound is played. The child learns to associate the picture with the sound. After the child is conditioned to this, a sound is played in one or the other speakers without the picture. When the child turns his head toward the sound, then the picture is displayed. The pictures change frequently to maintain the child's interest. Results and recommendations will be discussed after the test.
Auditory Processing Testing:
A standard hearing test and tympanometry are performed first. If those tests are normal, then the auditory processing testing follows. APD testing consists of a battery of tests that include listening to different words in both ears at the same time, listening to very rapid speech, speech in noise or distorted speech. The total amount of time for the APD portion of the testing is over 1 hour, but the tests are fairly short in duration – usually 5-15 minutes each. Some preliminary results may be available immediately after testing. However, some tests require time to interpret fully. The audiologist will give you as much information as possible following the test.
How much do hearing aids cost?
At Integrated Hearing Health, hearing aids and hearing aid services are priced separately. This allows you to pay only for the services you feel are necessary, and it helps you to control your costs.
Our hearing aids are organized into 4 different levels based on technology and are priced accordingly. The most basic aids cost less. They have few, if any, automatic features and are best for quiet environments. More sophisticated aids have higher cost, but have more features. They adapt to most environments automatically and work well in noisy places. We factor your lifestyle and budget into determining the best technology for you.
We have 4 service plans available. Service plans are based on the amount of warranty, number of follow-up visits, in-office repairs, etc., that you feel you would need. A service plan is required with each hearing aid purchase.
Accessories such as custom earmolds, remote controls, and bluetooth streamers are priced separately.
Hearing aids are a substantial investment, but price is not the only consideration when purchasing a hearing aid. You need to get the best value for your money, and that includes the relationship you develop with your audiologist. What sets us apart is our expertise in programming and fitting along with personalized service.
Please call our office if you have questions about hearing aid pricing, hearing aid service plans, financing options, or to schedule a consultation.
Will Integrated Hearing Health bill my insurance company?
In order to keep costs down for everyone, we do not file insurance claims. However, we are happy to provide whatever paperwork you need to file for reimbursement through your insurance company yourself. Fees are due at the time of service, and we accept cash, checks, Visa and Mastercard. We also have financing options available. Please contact our office with questions about financing, or see our Financing page.
Does insurance pay for hearing testing or hearing aids?
Insurance coverage for hearing testing is generally limited, and very few policies offer coverage for hearing aids at all. Contact your insurer for details on what your policy covers. We are happy to provide whatever paperwork you need to file for reimbursement through your insurance company.
What financing options do you offer?
Integrated Hearing Health uses CareCredit for financing. There are 6-month and 12-month interest-free options as well as traditional payment plans with no up-front fees and no prepayment penalty. Please call our office with questions or to get a CareCredit brochure, or see our Financing page.