Ear and Balance Clinic FAQ
Read our FAQs below for more information about our clinic.
What is an Audiologist?
An audiologist is a university-trained professional with skills to perform diagnostic assessments of hearing and balance and to perform rehabilitative therapies for hearing and balance disorders. Audiologists evaluate all ages from infants to seniors by conducting non invasive office tests to determine the nature and origin of an individual's hearing loss or balance impairment. They also prescribe and fit hearing aids, hearing assistive technologies, custom ear plugs and molds, and other ear items.
What are some causes of hearing loss?
There are many contributing factors to hearing loss that can accumulate over time. Some of the most common factors include:
- Exposure to Loud Noise (Military, Music, Hunting, Power Tools)
- Presbycusis (Hearing Loss from Age)
- Certain Chemotherapy and Radiation Treatments
- Ototoxic Medications
- Head Trauma
- Earwax or Foreign Bodies
- Bacterial, Fungal, and Viral Infections
- Metabolic Conditions such as Hypertension, Diabetes, and Autoimmune Disorders
What are the different kinds of hearing loss?
There are three primary types of hearing loss:
- Conductive Hearing Loss: reduced conduction of sound from the outer ear to the inner ear; such as occluding wax, infections, fluid in the middle ear, or problems of the ear drum or hearing bones called ossicles.
- Sensorineural Hearing Loss: deterioration of the inner ear, hearing nerve, or auditory pathways; such as can be caused by presbycusis (hearing loss associated with aging), noise exposure, some cancer treatments, and generalized illnesses.
- Mixed Hearing Loss: Involves components of both conductive and sensorineural hearing loss.
What are some symptoms of hearing loss?
Hearing loss is experienced differently among individuals, since it is a perception that can be unique to an individual and a listening environment. Often, people with a hearing reduction will notice that they don't hear conversations clearly. Some of the most common warning signs of reduced hearing include:
- Misunderstanding, Not Hearing, or Confusing Words and Conversation
- Asking for Frequent "Repeats" of Words
- Increasing Difficulty Understanding Phone Conversations
- Difficulty Following Group Conversations or Understanding Words in Background Noise
- Friends and Family Expressing Concern about Your Hearing Words or Conversations Incorrectly
- Avoiding Group Social Situations like Parties and Movies
- Turning the TV or Radio Volume Up Too Loud for Others Nearby
If I had hearing loss, wouldn't my doctor tell me?
Not necessarily. Only about 13% of physicians routinely screen for hearing loss, and many people with impaired hearing can function fine one on one while facing one another, in quiet well-lit environments like a doctor's office. Because of this, physicians in a usual examination might not recognize that a patient has reduced hearing clearly in a group or the low level background sound of everyday living. It takes a trained hearing professional to test and determine the severity of your hearing loss and whether or not you can benefit from hearing aid(s).
Will a hearing aid restore my hearing to normal?
Hearing aids improve the audibility of sounds that would otherwise be missed due to hearing loss, making them easier to hear with less effort. However, they do not restore normal hearing to the ear. Also, hearing aids don't create a "dependency" on amplified sound that can worsen one's underlying hearing.
Is it necessary to wear two hearing aids?
Two hearing aids are typically recommended for the following hearing goals:
- Increased Speech Understanding
- Improved Hearing with Background Noise
- Improved Localization (Knowing the Directions Sounds are Coming From)
- Giving a Sense of Balance Between the Ears
- Improved Conversation Understanding when Hearing Loss is Worse in One Ear but Present in Both
How much time is needed to adapt to hearing aids?
While each person's experience is different, hearing aids allow people to hear sounds they have not heard for many years or perhaps, ever. Relearning occurs in the central auditory system and the brain needs time to learn to use these new sounds. After being fit with hearing aids, there will be time to adjust to the new sounds and receive fine tuning of the hearing aids by the audiologist for you to evaluate the benefit from the hearing aids.
Does health insurance cover hearing aids?
Typically, standard health insurance does not cover hearing aids. However, there are some plans that have a hearing aid benefit. Be sure to check with your insurance plan to see if your health insurance includes a hearing aid benefit. If you prefer, we can check your insurance for you on your behalf.
How much do hearing aids cost?
You can expect to pay from $1500 to $3800 per hearing aid. Generally, the more features or technology a hearing instrument has, the higher the price. Hearing aid cost reflects the research and development of the technology, complexity of electronics and features you need or choose, warranty and insurance, and the skill of the licensed hearing professional who provides knowledgeable service at each visit.