Hearing Aids FAQs
The following are some frequently asked questions about hearing aids that you might have yourself. Review them at your leisure and feel free to contact us with any clarifications or additional questions you may have.
Hearing Aid Questions
A hearing aid is a small electronic device that you wear in or behind your ear. It makes some sounds louder so that a person with hearing loss can listen, communicate, and participate more fully in daily activities. A hearing aid can help people hear more in both quiet and in noisy situations.
Although hearing aids cannot restore your hearing to normal, they should make significant improvements in your ability to listen with less effort and increase the clarity of what you hear in most environments.
Hearing aids are primarily useful in improving the hearing and speech comprehension of people who have hearing loss that results from damage to the small sensory cells in the inner ear, called hair cells. This type of hearing loss is called sensorineural hearing loss. The damage can occur as a result of disease, aging, or injury from noise or certain medicines.
A hearing aid magnifies sound vibrations entering the ear. Surviving hair cells detect the larger vibrations and convert them into neural signals that are passed along to the brain. The greater the damage to a person’s hair cells, the more severe the hearing loss, and the greater the hearing aid amplification needed to make up the difference. However, there are practical limits to the amount of amplification a hearing aid can provide. In addition, if the inner ear is too damaged, even large vibrations will not be converted into neural signals. In this situation, a hearing aid would be ineffective.
If you think you might have hearing loss you will benefit from a hearing aid. If you’re already wondering if you need a hearing aid, chances are you’re suffering from hearing loss and will benefit from a hearing aid. A hearing care professional such as an audiologist, can help determine the type and severity of hearing loss you have and recommend to you the best hearing aid options for you. To find out the level of hearing loss you’re experiencing you will want a professional hearing test and audiogram performed.
Visit our hearing tests page to learn more.
There are three basic styles of hearing aids. The styles differ by size, their placement on or inside the ear, and the degree to which they amplify sound. The 3 main types of hearing aids are:
- Behind-the-Ear (BTE)
- In-the-Ear (ITE)
- In-the-Canal (ITC)
Each type has more specific sub types creating many different options to choose from.
For more information on the different types of hearing aids, please see our page on Hearing Aid Types.
Hearing aids work differently depending on the electronics used. The two main types of electronics are analog and digital.
Analog aids convert sound waves into electrical signals, which are amplified. Analog/adjustable hearing aids are custom built to meet the needs of each user. The aid is programmed by the manufacturer according to the specifications recommended by your hearing care professional. Analog/programmable hearing aids have more than one program or setting. A hearing care professional can program the aid using a computer, and the user can change the program for different listening environments…from a small, quiet room to a crowded restaurant to large, open areas, such as a theater or stadium. Analog/programmable circuitry can be used in all types of hearing aids. Analog aids usually are less expensive than digital aids.
Digital aids convert sound waves into numerical codes, similar to the binary code of a computer, before amplifying them. Because the code also includes information about a sound’s pitch or loudness, the aid can be specially programmed to amplify some frequencies more than others. Digital circuitry gives a hearing care professional more flexibility in adjusting the aid to a user’s needs and to certain listening environments. These aids also can be programmed to focus on sounds coming from a specific direction. Digital circuitry can be used in all types of hearing aids.
The hearing aid that will work best for you depends on the type and severity of your hearing loss. If you have a hearing loss in both of your ears, two hearing aids are generally recommended because two aids provide a more natural signal to the brain. Hearing in both ears also will help you to understand speech and locate where the sound is coming from.
You and your hearing care professional should select a hearing aid that best suits your needs and lifestyle. Similar to other equipment purchases, style and features affect cost. However, don’t use price alone to determine the best hearing aid for you. Just because one hearing aid is more expensive than another does not necessarily mean that it will better suit your needs.
A hearing aid will not restore your normal hearing. With practice, however, a hearing aid will increase your awareness of sounds and their sources. You will want to wear your hearing aid regularly, so select one that is convenient and easy for you to use. Other features to consider include parts or services covered by the warranty, estimated schedule and costs for maintenance and repair, options and upgrade opportunities, and the hearing aid company’s reputation for quality and customer service.
If you have hearing loss in both ears, we almost always recommend a hearing aid for each ear. Using binaural hearing aids will help maximize your benefit from hearing aids and make you a more effective listener. For a more detailed explanation of why two hearing aids are preferable, see our article, Why You Need Two Ears.
The average life of any hearing aid is five years.
Before you buy a hearing aid, ask your hearing care professional these important questions:
- What features would be most useful to me?
- What is the total cost of the hearing aid?
- How long is the warranty?
- Does the warranty cover future maintenance and repairs?
- Can the hearing healthcare professional make adjustments and provide servicing and minor repairs?
If your hearing changes, your digital hearing aids should be adjusted to compensate for the change. Most hearing aids should be able to handle this, but your audiologist will be able to determine if an adjustment can make the new corrections for your hearing or if you will need new hearing aids. As time changes, so does your hearing. See our Post-Fitting questions below to find out more details about what additional services are available to do after you’ve been fitted for your hearing aids.
Yes. Everyone perceives sound differently and different patients have different hearing needs. In order to fine tune your hearing aids, you will return for a 2 week post fitting check up and an end-of-trial check up after you receive your hearing aids. Some patients need more appointments to continue fine tuning their hearing aids.
Hearing aids take time and patience to use successfully. Wearing your aids regularly will help you adjust to them.
Become familiar with your hearing aid’s features. With your hearing care professional present, practice putting in and taking out the aid, cleaning it, identifying right and left aids, and replacing the batteries. Learn to adjust the aid’s volume and to program it for sounds that are too loud or too soft. Work with your hearing care professional until you are comfortable and satisfied.
You may experience some of the following problems as you adjust to wearing your new aid.
- My hearing aid feels uncomfortable. Some individuals may find a hearing aid to be slightly uncomfortable at first. Ask your hearing care professional how long you should wear your hearing aid while you are adjusting to it.
- My voice sounds too loud. The “plugged-up” sensation that causes a hearing aid user’s voice to sound louder inside the head is called the occlusion effect, and it is very common for new hearing aid users. Check with your hearing care professional to see if a correction is possible. Most individuals get used to this effect over time.
- I get feedback from my hearing aid. A whistling sound can be caused by a hearing aid that does not fit or work well or is clogged by earwax or fluid. See your hearing care professional for adjustments.
- I hear background noise. A hearing aid does not completely separate the sounds you want to hear from the ones you do not want to hear. Sometimes, however, the hearing aid may need to be adjusted. Talk with your hearing care professional.
- I hear a buzzing sound when I use my cell phone. Some people who wear hearing aids or have implanted hearing devices experience problems with the radio frequency interference caused by digital cell phones. Both hearing aids and cell phones are improving, however, so these problems are occurring less often. When you are being fitted for a new hearing aid, take your cell phone with you to see if it will work well with the aid.
Proper maintenance and care will extend the life of your hearing aid. Make it a habit to:
- Keep hearing aids away from heat and moisture.
- Clean hearing aids as instructed. Earwax and ear drainage can damage a hearing aid.
- Avoid using hairspray or other hair care products while wearing hearing aids.
- Turn off hearing aids when they are not in use.
- Replace dead batteries immediately.
- Keep replacement batteries and small aids away from children and pets.
Audiology and Hearing Aid Services, Inc. offers a 30-day satisfaction period. This 30-day satisfaction period begins on the day your hearing aids are dispensed. You will pay for the hearing aids when you receive them, but you have 30 days to return them if you change your mind. If you do change your mind, you would be reimbursed the total amount minus a per ear nonrefundable dispensing fee.
Yes. We give you a written purchase agreement when you place your hearing aid order and pay a deposit. This purchase agreement indicates the hearing aid you are purchasing and the cost as well as explains our most comprehensive healthy hearing program and our 30-day satisfaction period.
Warranty & Repair
You will receive a two-year manufacture’s repair warranty and a two-year manufacturer’s loss/damage warranty. This warranty is for the hearing aids and is not bound to the office where you purchased the hearing aids. This is so if you move during the warranty period, the warranty remains valid.
If your hearing aid stops working, check for wax clogs and change the battery. If it is still not working, you can bring it in to us during our walk-in clean and check hours at our office where an audiology assistant will look it over. If we can’t fix it, we will send it to the manufacturer for repair.
If your hearing aid needs a repair, we will attempt to repair it at our office for you, but if the issue persists, it will be sent to the manufacturer.
If the hearing aid is under warranty, there will be no cost to you unless it is cracked or crushed.
If it is not under warranty, there would be a repair charge to cover the cost of the repair and add a repair warranty to the hearing aid.
If the hearing aid is cracked or crushed, there will be a charge.
Please note, if a hearing aid is over five years old, they are repaired at a higher cost and with a shorter repair warranty.
Purchasing Hearing Aids
Medicare and most insurance does not cover hearing aids. However, it is always a good idea to ask your insurance company to see if you do have hearing aid benefits and who can provide hearing aids if you do have coverage.
Hearing aids are generally not covered by health insurance companies, although some do. Medicare does not cover hearing aids for adults; however, diagnostic evaluations are covered if they are ordered by a physician for the purpose of assisting the physician in developing a treatment plan.