When to Consult an Audiologist?
If you feel that you are having trouble hearing, it is important to schedule an appointment with your Audiologist as soon as possible. Hearing loss can occur gradually and over long periods of time; however, the longer the hearing loss is present, the longer the brain goes without stimulation of the auditory pathways. This can have a significant impact on the successful outcome of treatment plan and intervention method you and your Audiologist will choose. If you have a sudden onset hearing loss, contact your doctor and/or Audiologist immediately. Sudden onset hearing loss can be linked to a variety of serious medical conditions, and early identification and intervention are paramount in the treatment and possible recovery of your hearing.
Why do we have earwax and how do we get rid of it?
Although earwax may seem like a nuisance, it does have a purpose. Earwax, or Cerumen, is a naturally occurring material that keeps our ear canal moist and irritation free. It also provides an important protection against infection and foreign objects. Typically, earwax migrates out of the ear canal on its own. Occasionally, it can accumulate and become lodged in the ear canal and professional removal will be necessary, especially if it has lead to physical discomfort, ringing in the ears or hearing loss. Although it may be tempting to use Q-tips, this can actually worsen the problem by impacting the earwax further. A few drops of mineral oil in the ear canal a few days prior to the professional removal will help.
Will using hearing aids make my hearing worse?
Quite the contrary! Although some people argue that hearing aid use has worsened their hearing because they now feel dependent on them, this outcome is actually most desirable; it is an indication that you are receiving proper auditory assistance, something essential to preserving your listening abilities. In fact, the ‘’use it or lose it’’ principle applies when it comes to hearing. Today’s research has shown that the longer someone with a hearing loss goes without hearing help, the more speech understanding deteriorates. Research has also shown a link between the use of hearing aids and the maintenance of cognitive abilities. This is of utmost importance in light of the fact that diminished cognitive abilities leads to poor memory, lack of problem-solving skills, and other non-hearing related issues.
How much has hearing aid technology really improved in recent years?
The pace at which today’s digital technology is advancing is astonishing! Binaural synchrony, which allows your two hearing aids to work together instead of in isolation, is now available for example. There are also more sophisticated noise reduction and speech finding systems available. These new developments help the common problem of speech understanding in background noise. Feedback managers have also improved, reducing whistling and allowing for open ear hearing aids which have a more natural sound quality. In addition, hearing aids are now available with Bluetooth capabilities as well as rechargeable batteries and have undergone significant miniaturization. Today’s hearing aids are certainly not what they used to be!
Can I get a same-day appointment?
For emergencies such as a sudden onset hearing loss, it is imperative that you get in for an assessment immediately, and we will ensure to get you scheduled in the same day if possible, even outside of clinic hours. Otherwise, we may be able to get you in for a same day appointment for wax removal if we have a space, however, it is more likely that there may be a wait up to a week or more. However, you can request to be put on our waitlist, so that when there is a cancellation we would call to offer an earlier appointment.
Will my insurance cover my visit?
OHIP does not cover your visit, but if you have private insurance, you may be able to get at least partial coverage. It would be up to you to contact your insurance company to find out what they would cover, and we would provide an official receipt that you can submit to them for reimbursement. Our services are also considered a medical expense if you do claim those on your taxes.
Can today's hearing aids eliminate all background noise?
I wish I could say yes but unfortunately even today’s premium hearing aids do not completely eliminate all background noises.That said, today’s technology is much superior to previous generation hearing aids at reducing troublesome background noises.The most common way to reduce background noises is for the hearing aids to use two microphones instead of one.This enables special treatment of the environment. Sounds coming from the front can be emphasized while side and back inputs are reduced, improving speech understanding in background noise.
I love concerts but I worry that I am damaging my hearing. What can I do to protect my hearing and still be able to talk to my friends and enjoy the music?
In order to continue being able to enjoy the qualities of music, it’s important for everyone to take steps to protect their hearing. While you can’t always turn down the volume or walk away, there are several types of hearing protection available. Musician plugs for example would be excellent for your particular need. Unlike the foam plugs, these plugs are not only custom made to fit your ear perfectly they are designed to reduce the intensity of all the different pitches equally. This keeps the sound quality intact while protecting your hearing.
Two Hearing Aids or One?
Research has shown that where a hearing loss is present in two ears, two hearing aids can often lead to a more balanced and natural sound (Katz et al, 2009). Firstly, two ears are essential in the ability to localize where sound is coming from, particularly when the source of the sound is not visible. This is due to the auditory system’s processing and integration of sound signals and binaural cues based on timing and distance (Yost, 2007); when only one ear is hearing normally, the brain is not as easily able to make use of these cues in order to identify the source of a sound.
Secondly, two ears often are more help in deciphering speech in noise. This is because the ear is very sensitive to the acoustic properties of speech, but when there is a considerable amount of background noise, these acoustic properties can be ‘masked’. Two ears have a better chance of extracting speech from noise than one alone; what one ear might miss, the other might catch.
There are some situations such as one-sided hearing loss where two hearing aids are not recommended. A complete audiological assessment and discussion with your Audiologist will be necessary in order to determine the best intervention for you.