Hear the Difference

Frequently Asked Questions


1. What chance do I have of being truly hearing-impaired?

The odds are that you or someone close to you has some degree of hearing impairment. In fact, it has been estimated that 20 million Americans suffer from some form of hearing impairment.


2. If I suffered from hearing impairment, I would certainly be aware of it?

Not necessarily, often an impairment develops subtly and slowly. We build in defenses that may make it difficult for us to determine if we do or do not. A simple hearing test is really the answer.


3. If someone is hearing impaired, that just means that the sounds aren't loud enough?

That's just the tip of the iceberg. Maybe that person has trouble hearing in group situations or perhaps they don't always understand exactly what is being said. Many times words just sound mumbled. These are just a few of the various symptoms.


4. Will hearing aids restore my hearing to normal?

Hearing aids are designed to "aid" a person's hearing. They cannot restore human hearing nor can they retard the progression of nerve deafness. They are, however, a large part of hearing rehabilitation.


5. Will hearing aids help in the presence of background noise?

Your overall benefit may depend on the severity of your loss, the proper fit and the amount of technology you as a patient are willing to accept.


6. Most people don't want to wear hearing aids because they're big and unsightly, correct?

Not at all. Most people aren't aware of the latest technological advances that have been made in the hearing aid industry in the past few years. For example, CIC (completely in the canal) and open fit mini BTE's hearing aids are practically invisible and amazingly discreet.


7. Isn't wearing a hearing aid a sign that you're getting old?

There are many factors that go far beyond just age in determining if you're a candidate for a hearing aid. Just how well do you want to hear your loved ones, co-workers, etc.? Does your employment depend on understanding others? No matter what the situation, your hearing loss is far more noticeable than your hearing aid!


8. Aren't hearing aids extremely expensive?

Since when has hearing become a privilege? What kind of investment in your hearing is TOO MUCH? The latest technology and very best hearing instruments for your loss is probably well within everyone's reach. Payment plans are available. Correcting your hearing could be the best investment you make in your future.


9. Are you providers for any insurance programs?

Certainly! We work with insurance programs such as National Ear Care Plan, Blue Cross Blue Shield of Illinois, United Health Care and many others.


10. Which hearing aids are best for me?

Hearing aids are available in numerous sizes and circuit options. Following your evaluation, the audiologist will provide you with all your options. Ultimately, you will decide which aid is best for you and your lifestyle.


11. What happens if I am totally unsatisfied with my new aids?

There is always a trial period. If, after a cooperative effort, you aren't satisfied with the hearing instruments, you may return them as long as you're still within your trial period. However, since these are custom made medical devices, there is a minimal restocking fee.


12. Are hearing tests painful, inconvenient and expensive?

In a word, NO!  A complete hearing examination and consultation is approximately $140.00 to $250.00. Utilizing our computerized equipment, the test takes less than an hour.


13. Is it really necessary to wear two hearing aids, or can I get by with one?

There are four main reasons why binaural (two eared) listening is superior to monaural (one-eared) listening. They are:

1. Better Hearing in Noise: An individual's hearing in noise can be improved if the signal reaching each ear arrives at a slightly different moment in time. This is technically referred to as phase. When the brain receives slightly different, yet still audible signals at the two ears, it has the ability to cross-correlate and process the primary signal (usually speech) better than if the signal is received monaurally.

2. Improved Signal versus Noise Level from Optimizing Position: Sound loses intensity (loudness) when it travels across the head. This occurs mostly for the high frequencies which are the most important for the understanding of consonants, such as /s/, /t/, /f/, and /sh/. If you have a hearing aid on only one ear, say the left one; and the person you wish to hear is speaking to you from the right side, the consonants may be decreased by nearly 20 decibels by the time it gets to your aided ear.

Two Hearing aids improve signal versus Noise Level from Optimizing PositionUnfortunately, noise level is not decreased, the speech level is. Wearing two hearing aids ensures that the speech sounds will not be diminished any more than necessary because of your position in the room.

3. Improved Localization Ability: We determine where a sound is coming from on the basis of

1) the relative time in which the sound arrives at each ear,
2) the relative difference in loudness at the two ears,
3) the relative difference in the pitch of the sound at the two ears. When there is a large difference in hearing between two ears (as might occur when a person with similar hearing in both ears only wears one hearing aid) the brain cannot make use of these subtle relative differences and their ability to locate sounds may suffer.

4. Possible Deterioration of the Unaided Ear: We hear in our brain, not in our ears, the ultimate goal of hearing aids is not just to send sound into the ear. It is also essential to retrain the central auditory system in the brain. While it is uncertain whether hearing sensitivity (ability to hear soft sounds) will decrease if your ear is not stimulated adequately, research now suggests that there can be changes in the way in which your brain processes sound when it is "starved". Thus, providing stimulation may be important in preserving your auditory potential.


14. What are digitally programmable hearing aids?

Some of the characteristics of the sound produced by hearing aids can be modified using computers or other devices. Hearing aids that have this capability are called "digitally programmable."

They have several advantages over non-programmable instruments.

1. Flexibility: Changes in hearing can easily be accommodated, as can unusually shaped and fluctuating hearing losses.

2. Multiple Programs: It is often useful to be able to change the hearing aid characteristics depending on the environment one encounters. With these hearing aids, you can change programs with the touch of a button or remote control.

3. Advanced Compression Circuitry: Most hearing-impaired people suffer from an abnormally rapid growth in loudness perception. This is why some hearing aid users complain that they can't hear soft sounds, but when sounds are made just a little louder, they are much too loud for comfort. Therefore hearing aids are designed so that they will amplify soft sounds more than they will amplify loud sounds. This is called compression. Compression works almost like an invisible finger reaching up and changing the volume control so that soft sounds are made loud enough to hear and loud sounds are turned down so that they don't become uncomfortable.


15. What should users of new hearing aids realistically expect?

When wearing hearing aids:

  1. Your hearing in quiet environments (one to one communication watching TV, etc.) should be improved.
  2. Your hearing in moderate background noise should be improved.
  3. Your hearing in background noise is NOT going to be as good as your hearing in quiet.
  4. Your hearing in loud background noise should be NO WORSE than without the hearing aids.
  5. Soft speech should be audible, average speech should be comfortable; loud speech should be loud, but never uncomfortable.
  6. Your earmolds should be comfortable.
  7. Your own voice should be ' acceptable ' to you.
  8. There should be no feedback when the hearing aids are properly seated in your ears.
  9. You may hear sounds you have not heard for a while (like footsteps or the refrigerator humming). This is not abnormal.

Be patient. It requires time to adjust to hearing aids. Your listening skills should improve gradually as you become accustomed to amplification. Hearing aids WILL NOT restore your hearing capabilities to 'normal' or to preexisting levels. For more information in this vein - please link to American Academy of Audiology.

Have Questions? Contact Us.