Why am I losing my hearing?

There are five main causes of hearing loss:
1. Congenital: This hearing loss exists since birth.
2. Medications: Some medications are “ototoxic” (cause hearing loss).
3. Illness: Viruses, bacteria, heart conditions, stroke, diabetes, head injuries or tumors may cause hearing loss.
4. Noise: Prolonged exposure to loud noises from construction tools, gun shooting, airplane engines, etc. can lead to hearing loss.
5. Presbycusis (prez-bu-kyoo-sis):
Most people lose their hearing as they age.

Why is there a transition period to get the most from my hearing devices?

You hear with your brain, not your ears. The ears capture the sound so that the brain can make sense of it. It takes the brain weeks to make use of new information. When you get hearing instruments, you have to retrain the brain to hear through the devices. This does not happen overnight. At El Dorado Audiology, we work with you during this transition period to ensure you get the most benefit from your hearing instruments.

I have trouble hearing conversations when I’m in a crowded restaurant. How can you help?

Difficulty hearing in the presence of background noise is a common symptom of hearing loss. Today’s hearing devices can have multiple stored programs. We create a dedicated program in your devices specifically to help you hear better in noisy restaurants. It directs the microphone to focus on the speech at your table and reduces noise behind you. You access this program by simply pressing a button on the hearing device itself or by using a small remote control.

My old hearing devices used to whistle a lot. Does new technology solve this problem?

Absolutely! Older hearing aids often squealed. Turning the volume wheel too far could overpower the circuit, causing the hearing aid to whistle. Poor fit or excess wax could also cause a whistle. Today’s hearing devices are built with technology called “feedback management”: When a squeal is detected, the device automatically self-corrects to eliminate it almost simultaneously. By the way, we rarely see patients who want the old style hearing aids with volume wheels!

I want only one hearing aid. Why do I need two?

It takes two ears to know where sounds are coming from. This is important for communication and SAFETY. It takes balanced hearing to understand well in noise. Ultimately, you hear with your brain, not with your ears. So, it’s vital to preserve your brain’s ability to understand speech in both ears. Besides, you are meant to hear in stereo. Why wouldn’t you want to?

Can untreated hearing loss lead to dementia and other memory problems?

Yes! Studies done by Dr. Frank Lin of Johns Hopkins Medical Institutions found that the risk of dementia increased among those with at least a mild hearing loss and went up as hearing problems worsened. So, those with the most severe (untreated) hearing loss were most likely to be diagnosed with dementia, including Alzheimer’s. As for general memory problems, how can you remember what you didn’t hear clearly to begin with?

Why do I have to wear my hearing aids all the time?

It’s important to keep the hearing nerves properly stimulated because you hear with your brain, not with your ears. If you pick and choose when you want to hear better, your brain will get confused. Hearing aid use is like exercise: If you want your muscles to stay in shape, you need to exercise them every day.

Should I worry about hearing loss if I frequently use ear buds with my personal listening device?

Be concerned about hearing loss if you’re playing excessively loud music through your ear buds. Continual exposure to loud noises like music, recreational shooting and power tools can cause hearing loss. An extremely loud sound like a nearby explosion can cause sudden permanent hearing loss. So wear ear protection if you’re going to be close to loud noises and keep the music in your ear buds at a safe volume.

Can wearing hearing aids hurt my hearing?

No, it cannot. We do a thorough evaluation of your hearing. We’ll find the level where you can first understand speech and the loudest limit you can tolerate it. The span between the two is called your Dynamic Range, which is used when programming your hearing devices. It’s important that we adjust your hearing aids to be loud enough to meet your needs but not so loud as to be harmful.

When wearing hearing aids, why do I have to hear sounds that I don’t want to hear?

You can’t pick and choose what you hear. But your brain knows that hearing speech is your most important sound. Eventually, your brain will be trained to put bothersome sounds in the background and you won’t focus on them. After all, you can’t put glasses on and expect to see only the pretty people. You get to see everyone!

Is there a proper way to use hearing aid batteries?

Keep the tab on a battery until you’re going to use it. After removing the tab, wait one minute before inserting the battery into your hearing aid. This gives the battery time to ramp up with air, which charges it. Battery life is driven by several factors, including the amount of hearing loss, features of the hearing aid and the noise environment in which the hearing device is worn.

What is the ringing in my ears?

When you have an internal sound without an external source, it is called tinnitus. If sound doesn’t reach the brain at a certain pitch, the brain often makes its own sound. There is no cure. Caffeine, salt, smoking and fatigue can increase the sound. Many people get relief by wearing hearing aids. When sound comes in, it masks the ringing. Some hearing devices even have a feature that can minimize tinnitus.