HEARnet Online has put together the answers to some of the questions about hearing loss and hearing technologies that people often ask hearing health professionals.
These questions and answers are listed below.
Does having hearing loss mean I can’t hear sounds normally?
When hearing becomes damaged, it is usually not just the volume at which sounds are heard that is affected. Often hearing loss changes the quality of the sounds being heard. This can make it difficult to understand and communicate with others.
The amount of sound distortion you experience when hearing sounds can be measured by an audiologist or an audiometrist as part of having your Hearing tested.
Does my child have hearing loss?
Depending on your child’s age, it may be difficult to see the signs that your child has a hearing loss. If you suspect or are concerned,that your child may have a hearing loss, you should arrange to have a paediatric audiologist to Test Your Child’s Hearing.
In Australia, nearly all children born in Australia have newborn hearing screens to make sure they have normal hearing abilities.
Some children can develop temporary hearing loss caused by Ear Infections. This can be treated by your local doctor or an Ear, Nose and Throat (ENT) specialist. Depending on what State you live in Australia, your child will also have a school-entry hearing screening test.
If you have concerns about your child’s hearing, contact your community health centre or make an appointment see a paediatric audiologist.
Do only people with severe hearing loss need Hearing Aids & Cochlear Implants?
The extent and type of hearing loss, the listening environments you frequent, and your motivation to seek a solution are all factors that will determine your suitability for Hearing Aids, Cochlear Implants or a combination of both, or if other hearing technologies provide better alternatives to managing your hearing loss.
There are many types of Hearing Aids available for people with mild to moderate hearing losses that have a slim designs which are hardly noticeable once fitted.
As a general rule, Cochlear Implants and Hybrid Cochlear Implants are options available to individuals with severe to profound hearing loss.
Why are some Hearing Aids expensive?
As a general rule, the cost of any hearing aid is largely determined by the technology it contains. The more complex the processing technology of a hearing aid, the more expensive it is.
It’s worth noting that a hearing aid’s ability to automatically adapt to different listening environments (e.g. quiet, noisy, listening to music etc.) to improve the listening experience of the wearer requires expensive and complex processing technologies. To make these adjustments, many of the more expensive hearing aids combine information from both hearing aids (that’s if two hearing aids are being used) to determine the best settings for the wearer.
It is not yet really clear whether the more expensive hearing aids are better than less expensive ones for each individual’s unique hearing loss. For this reason, it can be worthwhile trailing different types of hearing aids before making a final decision about which one to buy. Many Hearing Clinics offer hearing aids trials to make sure you get the best match with your hearing needs.
The Australian-based hearing loss consumers magazine Hearing HQ has also published a very useful and informative article called Hearing Aids – How To Choose The Right One? to help people with hearing loss work out what is the right hearing aid from them. They have also published an article that explains the Real Cost Behind Hearing Aids.
Do Hearing Aids restore your hearing back to normal?
While Hearing Aids can help people regain some of their lost hearing through clever processing and sound amplification, they cannot completely restore a person’s hearing abilities.
That said, hearing aids are constantly being improved to provide better quality hearing experiences and to make them lighter, more comfortable and less visible. How much a hearing aid can help a person regain their hearing ability is largely dependent on the type and extent of the hearing loss.
Do Cochlear Implants give implantees normal hearing abilities?
Cochlear Implants partially restore the hearing abilities of adults and children with severe to profound hearing loss. They work by providing the brain with electrical representations of sounds that allow the wearer to better communicate and interact with others and providing a greater awareness of the sounds in their immediate environment.
Some cochlear implants such as Hybrid Cochlear Implants allow wearers to keep their lower-frequency, residual hearing abilities.