North Florida Center for Otolaryngology
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FAQ
Below is a list of commonly asked questions and their answers. If you have additional questions not listed on this page, please send them to: Carolyn@northfloridaent.com

Click here for Helping Family and Friends Cope with Hearing Loss.

 

Q: What is an Audiologist?
A: An audiologist is a University-trained professional, usually a doctorate level, who specializes in the non-medical diagnosis, treatment and management of hearing and balance disorders.  Audiologists are allied healthcare professionals.  They have intensive training in the anatomy, physiology and pathology of the human hearing and balance systems.  Some settings in which you may encounter an audiologist are in an ENT office, in the school system, in a hospital setting, or in a private audiology practice.  Not all audiologists sell hearing aids; some work exclusively with children, some specialize in cochlear implants, some work for the Veterans Administration, and others perform only diagnostics.

Our audiologist performs a combination of diagnostic testing and hearing aid fitting.  Our office can also provide patients with custom fit hearing protection, bluetooth earpieces, swimming earplugs, MP3 headphones, amplified telephones and television amplification systems. 


Q: I only have difficulty in hearing background noise.  Isn’t this a normal part of aging?
A: No matter what the age, some people are better able to function in background noise than others.  Part of this is a trait called Acceptable Noise Level (ANL), and cannot be changed.   The other component to this is that you may likely have some loss of high-frequency hearing.  High-frequency hearing loss causes you to miss the consonant sounds of speech such as S, T, K, Th, and F.  Missing these sounds can make speech sound muffled or mumbled.  In a quiet room, your brain can work fast enough to fill in the blanks that your ears are missing.  However, when background noise is introduced, your brain is busy filtering out the noise and cannot keep up with the missed consonants, causing you to have a more difficult time understanding what people are saying.  You hear the words, but they are not clear. 


Q: My neighbor bought $8,000 hearing aids and never wears them.  I don’t want to spend that much money for something I don’t use.  Will my situation be the same?
A:  Top-of-the-line hearing aids would cost about $6000, however very few people require that level of technology.  Most people end up spending much less on a pair of hearing aids.  Also, it is important that once you receive your hearing aids you are proactive about getting them adjusted.  During your 30-day trial, we will have weekly appointments to make adjustments to the settings.  We want your hearing aid use to be a comfortable experience.  If you are not comfortable with the hearing aids, there are always adjustments that can be made.  If you determine during your trial period that you no longer wish to pursue hearing aids, you may return them.


Q: Is there an adjustment period when I get new hearing aids?
A:  There is absolutely an adjustment period with new hearing aids.  The first thing that you will notice is that your own voice seems to echo.  This will go away after a few days of full-time use of the instruments.  When you are first fit with hearing aids, we start at a very conservative setting.  Your hearing has been lost of the course of many years and you cannot expect to have it all back at one time and be comfortable.  It will take some time for your brain to re-adjust to hearing a balance of all the sounds again.  If you suffer from a high-frequency hearing loss, things will seem tinny at first because we are essentially turning up the treble.  It is important during this adjustment period to not be discouraged and try to wear the aids faithfully.


Q: Do I need two hearing aids or can I get away with one?
A:  When we recommend hearing aids, we look at your ears independently.  If you have two ears with hearing loss, we recommend two hearing aids.  Your brain is wired to hear with input from both sides.  The ability to determine where sounds are coming from is dependent upon having equal hearing from both ears.  Also, the ability to hear speech sounds over background noise is best accomplished with two ears.  There is another phenomenon called auditory deprivation which is thought to cause deterioration of speech understanding when an ear with hearing loss goes un-aided.


Q: Will loud sounds from hearing aids damage my hearing further?
A: Hearing aids have a set limit to the volume that can be played into your ear.  No sound that comes through a hearing aid will do further damage to your hearing.  That being said, hearing aids do not prevent your hearing loss from worsening over the years.  Often times hearing loss has a genetic component which will cause your hearing to slowly worsen as you age.  This is why we recommend having annual hearing evaluations to determine if the hearing aids are set most appropriately for your hearing loss and to monitor any unusual or unexpected changes to your hearing.


Q: My hearing loss is noise-induced.  How can I protect my ears from further damage?
A:  The best way to protect your hearing in noisy environments is to wear hearing protection anytime you suspect the sound levels will be very high.  The human ear has a Daily Noise Dose that it can tolerate before permanent damage is done.  A person can be in an 85dB environment for 8 hours before permanent damage is done.  For every 5dB increase in sound, that time is cut in half.  For instance, if you are in a factory where the noise level is 100dB, you only have one hour to be in that environment without hearing protection before you can cause permanent damage to your hearing.  If you suspect that the noise level will be high, take your hearing aids out if you have them and use earplugs.  You can purchase foam earplugs at any drug store.  Custom earplugs can also be made by our audiologist if you frequent noisy environments.  Common times that earplugs should be used are at concerts, while mowing the lawn or on farm equipment, at a shooting range, or while woodworking, just to name a few.

For more information on hearing conservation, visit:
http://www.asha.org/public/hearing/disorders/noise.htm.

For more information on Noise-Induced Hearing Loss, visit:
http://www.nidcd.nih.gov/health/hearing/noise.asp


N. Fl. Center for Hearing & Balance philosophy is to provide our patients with high- quality, cost-effective health care.

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