You should see an Hearing Aid Centre for a hearing test first. Your Audiologist will then determine the type of hearing loss you have and determine if you are a candidate for a hearing aid. Hearing aids vary greatly in quality, their sizes, styles, and features. Your Audiologist will determine which is the best for you, according to the type and degree of your hearing loss, your dexterity, your specific needs and your lifestyle.
An AUDIOLOGIST is the professional who specialises in hearing and the non-medical aspects of hearing loss. Audiologists have extensive knowledge and clinical training in managing hearing problems. They conduct a wide variety of tests to determine the exact nature of an individual’s hearing problem. Audiologists present a variety of treatment options to patients with hearing impairment. They dispense and fit hearing aids, administer tests of balance to evaluate dizziness and provide hearing rehabilitation training. Audiologists refer patients to physicians when the hearing problem needs medical or surgical evaluation.
Audiologists have special training in the prevention, identification, assessment and non-medical treatment of hearing disorders. By virtue of their graduate education and professional certification, Audiologists are the most qualified professionals to perform hearing assessment, to refer patients for medical treatment and provide hearing rehabilitation services including fitting of hearing aids.
Basically, if you have hearing loss on both sides, with a few exceptions, you need to use hearing aids on both sides to enjoy the benefits of a binaural (two ear) hearing. In fact, both ears work together to bring the sound signal to the brain.
If you do not receive treatment for your hearing loss your brain (central auditory system) does not receive proper stimulation (it receives distorted versions of the actual sound all the time). This is called “auditory deprivation” and results in speech discrimination loss that cannot be compensated by amplification by hearing-aids.
There have been many studies done on auditory deprivation to determine the long-term effects on the brain. These studies suggest that if the brain is not stimulated, the potential to “forget” how to hear is great and is closely related to the length of time the brain goes without stimulation. The longer the patient goes without treatment (amplification) the more likely it is the brain will forget how to hear and understand speech even after treatment is implemented.
- Keep them clean. Wipe them at night with alcohol, taking care not to make them too wet.
- Keep them dry. (Do not wear them in the shower, even under a shower cap.)
- Remove the aids and turn them off at night.
- Don’t take them off over a hard surface. You might drop them and damage delicate parts.
- Remove them when you want to use hairspray.
- Remove them when you go to the hairdresser. Do not sit under the dryer while wearing them.
To maximally communicate, you need to use hearing from both ears (binaural hearing) and you need to use your eyes and ears together. You will not communicate well using your hearing aids alone. To facilitate optimal communication, you will need to pay attention to the speaker’s gestures and facial expressions! To maximise communication remember to watch the person speaking, reduce the distance between the speaker and yourself, reduce or eliminate background noises from the listening environment and use good lighting. If someone is speaking to you from across the room, while the TV is on, while doing the dishes, it will be very difficult to adequately communicate, despite fantastic hearing aids!
Tinnitus is the term for the perception of sound when no external sound is present. It is often referred to as ”ringing in the ears,” although some people hear hissing, roaring, whistling, chirping, or clicking. Tinnitus can be intermittent or constant, with single or multiple tones. Its’ perceived volume can range from very soft to extremely loud.
The exact cause (or causes) of tinnitus is not known in every case. It is believed that the ringing is due to spontaneous activity in the cochlea. The most common cause of tinnitus is hearing loss, and in particular sensorineural hearing loss. This is probably because the majority of patients with sensorineural hearing loss have some damage in the cochlea that is causing the hearing loss. It is these damaged sections that are presumed to be producing the spontaneous signals. There are a number of likely factors which may cause tinnitus or make existing tinnitus worse: noise-induced hearing loss, age-related hearing loss, ear diseases and disorders, wax build-up in the ear canal, certain medications, ear infections, , jaw misalignment, cardiovascular disease, certain types of tumors, thyroid disorders and many others. Of these factors, exposure to loud noises and hearing loss are the most probable causes of tinnitus. I strongly recommend that an Audiologist and a Physician should evaluate all presentations of tinnitus.
There are many options for people who experience tinnitus. Some wear hearing aids to help cover up their tinnitus, some wear tinnitus maskers. Additionally, there are combined tinnitus maskers and hearing aids – all in one unit! Some patients require counselling to help them develop strategies to manage their tinnitus.