Family Talking in a Living Room

Frequently Asked Questions

At Foster Hearing Center in Cincinnati, Ohio, we want to make sure you thoroughly understand not only about the ear, but also all your options for hearing aids and devices.

How does the ear work?

Sound vibrations are received by the outer ear and move through the ear canal to the eardrum. Tiny bones in the middle ear transmit these vibrations to the inner ear where tiny nerve endings (called hair cells) are stimulated, sending electrical impulses along the auditory nerve to the brain.

What are the most common hearing impairments?

There are two basic types: A “conductive” loss occurs when abnormal conditions, such as immobilizing these tiny bones, create a loss of sound sensitivity of the outer and /or middle ear. A “sensorineural: loss occurs when there is a loss of sound sensitivity to the brain produced by abnormal conditions of the inner ear or nerve pathways. A combination conductive/sensorineural loss is called a “mixed” loss.

What can cause these losses?

Wax buildup in the ear canal, punctured eardrum membranes, or ear infections can produce a conductive loss. Constant exposure to loud noises, the aging process (called presbycusis), virus infections, head injuries, birth or hereditary defects, even certain medications can produce a sensorineural loss.

Will surgery help?

Many conductive losses may be successfully helped either medically or by surgery, often with the added use of hearing aids. Generally, sensorineural or nerve losses cannot be corrected either by surgery or medicine.

Will hearing aids help nerve losses?

An overwhelming majority of people wearing hearing aids today have a nerve-type loss.

What are the symptoms of an unaided hearing problem?

Many clues are obvious like raisin TV volume, difficulty understanding where background noise is present, suggesting speakers mumble or don’t speak loud enough, reading speakers’ lips, occupying the same place in public places to improve understanding, and ringing noises in the ears (called tinnitus).

What are the results of an unaided hearing problem?

Fatigue and/or inattentiveness, indifference, social withdrawal, insecurity, indecision, suspiciousness, false pride, speech deterioration, loneliness, unhappiness, and a need to dominate conversation.

What is a hearing evaluation?

Basically, it consists of simple procedures that are used to help determine a person’s ability to hear and understand. Part of the evaluation includes the use of different tones, transmitted to the subject to determine if and how well they can be heard. These sounds are transmitted through an electronic instrument called an audiometer. The evaluation also includes the use of special groups of spoken words that are repeated by the subject. As the words are repeated, the Marcon hearing aid specialist determines the levels of loudness at which the words were first heard and how clearly they were understood. Total evaluation results help determine whether or not wearing hearing aids is indicated.

Will hearing aids restore natural hearing?

They will not restore normal hearing, nor can they prevent or improve a hearing impairment resulting from an organic condition. However, they still offer a rewarding experience in improved hearing for millions of hearing impaired people.

How does a hearing aid work?

It is a tiny sound amplification system. A microphone receives airborne sound waves and changes them into electrical signals, made louder through a small amplifier. A receiver similar to a loudspeaker, changes the signals back into sound waves. Hearing aids are powered by tiny batteries.

What kinds of hearing aids are there?

There are five basic types: in-the-ear and in-the-canal instruments are worn entirely within the contours of the ear. Other ear-level instruments are behind-the-ear and eye-glass models. A larger aid is worn on the body or is attached to clothing. Body aids are used largely by children or to help the most severe aidable hearing impairments.

What is an earmold?

Also called an earpiece, it’s a device that fits in the outer ear and conducts sound waves into the ear from a hearing aid receiver. The earmold is obtained by making an impression of the ear, using a soft plastic material. A permanent plastic mold is made from this impression.

How popular are in-the-ear instruments?

During their earliest development, they were used primarily for “part-time” hearing losses. Space-age and computer technologies have changed that. Today they account for about 80% of all hearing aids worn. The latest models will help some severe impairments.

Should I buy two hearing aids or one?

One hearing aid offers the benefits of hearing better in just one ear. Since normal hearing people achieve normal listening responses through the use of two ears, it is logical to assume the hearing impaired require use of both ears for maximum listening benefit. Many binaural or two-ear instrument wearers report two-ear hearing is better for the following reasons: Better hearing with less power, equal hearing from both sides; better sound localization/ more natural sound quality.

Will I be able to try hearing aids before I buy them?

The purchase of hearing aids represents a major investment for many people and your complete satisfaction is vitally important. Therefore, most hearing aid specialists offer a trial/rental or return program that lets you try before you buy.

What about service and/or repairs?

Because of delicate and sophisticated construction, it is very important not to perform more than simple maintenance suggested by your specialist. Most hearing aids receive more constant daily use than other appliances, and average life is about three years, although with proper care they may operate longer. It is suggested you maintain periodic contact with your specialist. He or she can make simple instrument adjustments to assure proper operation and suggest other services enabling you to continue receiving maximum benefits.

Can I buy hearing aids by mail?

Although there are several companies offering mail-order hearing aids, we strongly advise against obtaining them in this manner. The fitting of hearing aids is a complex science. Only an experienced, knowledgeable hearing aid professional can help you obtain the proper instruments and assure you of prompt, continuing care and guidance in their use.

Are all hearing aids the same?

Hearing aids, like automobiles, come in several models and styles. There are basic instruments designed primarily to provide proper amplification. There are also more sophisticated instruments with adjustable tone and power controls, automatic sound processor circuitry, switches for telephone usage, and other special features. They are designed for the mildest to the most severe aidable hearing impairments. Whet different models and operation features available, hearing aid prices will vary. To obtain the best instruments for your particular needs and at a reasonable price, we suggest you seek out an ethical, reputable specialist.

How about surgical implants?

Cochlear implants – the implanting of various amplification devices in the mastoid area – were designed primarily for people with only the severest hearing impairments. These devices are generally recommended only when conventional amplification is no longer useful.

How do I find a reliable hearing aid specialist?

Look for the hearing aid specialist who displays the Better Business Bureau name.

What does the hearing aid specialist do?

Besides performing the necessary hearing evaluations, the specialist will determine which instruments offer the most effective degree of amplification. Continuing guidance, consultation, and instruction in the care and use of these instruments will be provided, together with simple adjustments for proper operation, repair services, and batteries and other accessories.

Why should I wear hearing aids?

In addition to reversing or totally eliminating some of the answers to questions six or seven, consider this: According to the International Hearing Society, a survey of 1200 hearing impaired persons showed their combined incomes rose 790 percent after a year of hearing rehabilitation. Yearly loss of earnings due to communicative disorders is estimated at nearly $2 billion.

How many people have hearing impairments?

Conservative estimates in the United States suggest 20 million or more. At least 14.4 million of them could benefit from hearing aid use. If the number of normal hearing friends and relatives in daily communication is factored in 60 million people or more may be directly affected by hearing problems.

Why don’t more people seek help?

Some of them may not be aware a problem exists; many others may not want to face the problem or hope it will go away; there are also people who may not know what to do or where to go for help. Actors, comedians, former presidents, even professional athletes have shown us there should be no stigma attached to hearing aid use. Why not join the ranks of those who believe good hearing is essential to the fullest enjoyment of life?

Make an appointment today for better hearing and a better quality of life.