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Frequently Asked Questions About Hearing Aids, Hearing Testing, and More

You may ask a thousand questions before deciding on the device that is right for you. Luckily, we have the answers you’re looking for. On our FAQ page, we offer answers to the most common questions about hearing aids, hearing testing, tinnitus maskers, and other ways to combat hearing loss.

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  • How often should I have my hearing tested?

    Although most people wouldn’t dream of skipping a yearly physical, many patients nationwide fail to give their ears the same care they give their bodies. People who are relatively young and are not experiencing any signs of hearing loss may not think twice about having their hearing tested, but the truth is that these exams can provide a valuable baseline for tests in the future—and can even identify trouble before it starts.

    Certain Patients May Need Hearing Testing More Often Than Others

    Generally speaking, it is a good idea for adults over the age of 50 to have a hearing test at least once a year. However, adults of all ages should schedule a hearing examination any time they are experiencing trouble hearing. If you cannot hear high-pitched noises or have to keep asking others to “slow down” or “speak up,” it is best to undergo a hearing test as soon as possible so that the condition can be diagnosed and you can start treatment.

    Some patients may even need hearing tests twice a year, such as:

    • Industrial workers. People whose work environments involve loud noises are at higher risk of hearing damage, including construction workers, gardeners, entertainers, military members, and concert venue employees. A hearing screening every six months will allow a patient to catch any hearing loss in its earliest stages and be fitted with custom-made ear protection.
    • Tinnitus sufferers. People who are experiencing a persistent ringing in the ears known as tinnitus may require more frequent checkups to change or alter their treatment plans.
    • Patients with hearing aids. Patients who are treating their hearing loss with hearing aids may need frequent adjustments on their devices. Each hearing test provides a baseline reading for further treatment, allowing your hearing care specialist to program your device to perfectly suit your degree and type of hearing loss.

    Our hearing care providers make it easy for patients to get started on the hearing restoration process. We offer free hearing screenings to diagnose the extent of your condition, and have many different office locations across Philadelphia so our patients can get help without traveling far. Contact us today to make an appointment with our office nearest you!

  • What kinds of conditions are diagnosed in hearing screenings?

    Hearing tests are generally used to diagnose a patient’s degree and type of hearing loss. However, these screenings can also provide valuable information about a person’s health, including identifying the underlying causes of hearing difficulties. If your hearing loss is due to a serious medical condition, a hearing care professional can spot the symptoms in an exam, allowing you to start treatment as quickly as possible.

    Conditions That May Be Identified Through Hearing Screenings

    Your hearing care provider should be concerned with all aspects of your hearing health, beginning with proper diagnosis and treatment of your hearing loss. As part of your exam, your hearing professional should look into your ears to determine if there could be a blockage that prevents sound transmission (common in patients who can hear in one ear only). This can also identify any tumors inside the ear canal, allowing the patient to undergo surgical removal.

    If your ears appear normal, your hearing specialist can perform many different diagnostic tests to determine if a condition other than aging could be related to your hearing loss, such as:

    • Tinnitus. While tinnitus does not cause hearing loss, it is often a symptom that goes hand-in-hand with hearing degradation. As the hair cells in the inner ear age, they become less likely to carry electrical signals to the auditory nerve in the brain. This can make it less likely for patients to hear sounds, while at the same time make the patient “hear” sounds that are not there—such as a ringing, buzzing, or whooshing noise. Many different factors can make tinnitus worse, so a thorough evaluation of your condition is necessary to find the right therapy option to ease head noise.
    • Vertigo. Patients may experience hearing loss in combination with dizziness or nausea. These symptoms are controlled by the fluid levels inside a person’s ear, and if the fluids are not balanced, a patient can feel as if his or her environment is spinning. Balance disorders can often be treated with medications, helping a person maintain balance and overcome persistent motion sickness.
    • Meniere’s disease. Patients with severe vertigo may be suffering from Meniere’s disease, a condition that often causes tinnitus and hearing loss as well as balance problems. There is currently no cure for the condition, but medications, steroid injections, and surgery can all be used in treatment.
    • Cardiovascular problems. The structures of the ear need continuous blood flow to work properly. Blood clots, heart disease, strokes, high blood pressure, and other heart and circulation problems can interfere with how sounds are perceived, as well as risk the health of the patient.
    • Chronic disease. Many different health conditions, including diabetes, chronic ear infections, and rheumatoid arthritis can all cause hearing loss. In these cases, controlling the underlying condition can relieve the symptoms of hearing loss.
    • Otosclerosis. Bone conduction is essential for normal hearing. Patients who are suffering a hardening of the bones in the middle ear (otosclerosis) are often unable to hear because the conduction of sound is interrupted before it reaches the auditory nerve. Otosclerosis is often treated with surgery.
    • Paget’s disease. Paget’s disease is another bone disorder that can cause hearing loss, but often has more complications than otosclerosis. Symptoms of hearing loss, severe headaches, bone and joint pain, and curvature of the spine often begin later in life, and hearing aids are often required to reverse hearing loss symptoms.

    A whole-body approach to hearing health provides our patients with the most effective way to treat and overcome their conditions. Some patients may benefit from hearing aids to painlessly correct their hearing loss, while others may benefit from medications and surgical procedures. Our hearing care providers always look for the best possible solution for each of our patients’ conditions, helping them hear their best at every future appointment.

    Whether your hearing problem is due to natural hearing loss or an underlying medical problem, one thing is certain: the earlier your hearing is tested, the sooner you can get relief. Our Philadelphia-area hearing care specialists can get you started on the road to hearing restoration! Click here to make an appointment for a free hearing screening, or call the number on this page today to make an appointment with our office nearest you.

  • How does diabetes cause hearing loss in some patients?

    Medical science hasn’t yet discovered the exact reason why diabetes can cause an increased chance of hearing loss. Some doctors have hypothesized that high glucose levels in the blood that are associated with diabetes can damage to the small blood vessels in the ear, much like the way in which diabetes has been known to cause trouble in a patient’s kidneys and eyes.

    However, others believe that hearing loss may be caused by the nerve damage that leads to peripheral neuropathy in diabetes sufferers. Diabetes may cause changes in the sensory neurons or fibers of the auditory nerve, making it more difficult for patients to perceive or understand sounds. Regardless of the exact cause, there is definitive evidence that diabetes patients are more likely to suffer from hearing loss than those with normal blood glucose levels.

    The Overlap in Patients With Diabetes and Hearing Loss

    According to the American Diabetes Association, an estimated 30 million people in the U.S. have diabetes, while nearly 35 million are suffering from some degree of hearing loss. It appears that many people are suffering from both conditions—and it’s probably not a coincidence. A recent study published in the Annals of Internal Medicine found some interesting factors when researcher examined diabetes patients for signs of hearing problems:

    • Hearing loss is twice as common in diabetes patients as it is in people who have no diabetic symptoms.
    • Diabetes-related hearing loss was significantly worse in women, especially for patients whose diabetes was not under control.
    • Patients with pre-diabetes had a 30 percent higher rate of hearing loss than patients with normal glucose levels. Pre-diabetes, a condition where glucose levels are elevated but not considered diabetic, affects roughly 86 million adults in the U.S. and often leads to the development of type 2 diabetes, heart disease, and possibly strokes.

    If you are experiencing the early signs of hearing loss, our Philadelphia-area hearing care specialists can get you started on the road to recovery. Call the number on this page to make an appointment with our office nearest you and get the treatment you need today!

  • What is ototoxic hearing loss?

    When medications can cause hearing loss or dysfunction of the inner ear, they are called ototoxic, meaning poisonous to the ear. Some of these drugs will affect the cochlea or hearing nerve, resulting in deafness, while others affect the vestibular center of the brain, causing nausea and balance problems. In many cases, ototoxic drugs can have negative effects on both hearing and balance, and can cause the patient to suffer these side effects even if he or she stops taking the medication.

    Four Medications That Can Cause Hearing Loss and Balance Problems

    While some drugs may cause hearing changes, ototoxicity will vary depending on the size of the dose, how long a person has been taking the medication, kidney function, and whether the patient has taken more than one drug that can cause hearing damage. The following medications have ototoxic properties:

    • Antibiotics. Strong antibiotics, including streptomycin, gentamicin, tobramycin, and vancomycin, can cause problems hearing as well as balance impairment. One of the most ototoxic of these drugs is neomycin, which can cause temporary or permanent hearing loss if it is used during surgery to sterilize open wounds.
    • Chemotherapy drugs. Patients who receive chemotherapy treatments that contain platinum (such as cisplatin) are at high risk for both tinnitus and hearing loss. Hearing loss can occur anywhere between the first infusion and the completion of treatment, and is often severe and irreversible.
    • Diuretics. Some classes of diuretics, commonly called water pills, have ototoxic properties. These drugs include Lasix (furosemide) and Demadex (torsemide), and can cause ringing in the ears or hearing loss that usually goes away when the medication is discontinued.
    • Aspirin. High doses of aspirin (salicylate) or aspirin-containing drugs have been known to cause temporary hearing loss and tinnitus symptoms in patients.

    These drugs are often used in life-and-death situations, so it is vital that you discuss any symptoms with your doctor before discontinuing any medications. If you have been struggling through symptoms of hearing loss, our Philadelphia-area hearing care specialists will be happy to provide a painless hearing exam to diagnose your condition and start treatment as soon as possible. Call the number on this page to make an appointment at our location nearest you!

  • What causes hearing loss?

    Hearing impairments can have a number of different causes, from health conditions to the natural aging process. Depending on the cause, a hearing problem can be temporary or permanent, can come on suddenly or progress slowly over time.

    The most common causes of hearing loss include:

    • Ear infections. The most common cause of hearing loss in children is an infection in the ear canal, which causes inflammation and fluid buildup behind the eardrum. In most cases, hearing loss from an ear infection is only temporary.
    • Blockages. Anything that blocks the ear canal has the potential to affect hearing ability. Excessive earwax, tumors inside the ear, and foreign objects can all prevent the proper transmission of sound to the brain.
    • Heredity. Genetics can play a role in the development of hearing disorders, such as birth defects, malformations in the ear structures, and inherited conditions that cause sensory impairment.
    • Trauma. An injury to the head or neck may affect the brain’s ability to process the sounds it receives, while trauma to the inner ear or eardrum can prevent the cochlea from receiving sounds at all.
    • Noise exposure. Exposure to loud noise is a major cause of sudden and early hearing loss, as well as causing tinnitus (ringing in the ears). Even constant exposure to low-level noises can gradually cause a loss of hearing ability.
    • Medical conditions. Some chronic illnesses and diseases can result in hearing changes, as well as prescription medications taken to treat other conditions.
    • Aging. Most hearing loss is a result of a breakdown in the structures of the inner ear, a natural result of the body as it ages.

    Let Our Specialists Determine the Cause of Your Hearing Loss

    Proper diagnosis of your hearing condition is key to getting proper corrective treatment. Our Philadelphia-area hearing care specialists can perform simple testing procedures and listen to your concerns about your hearing, getting you the treatment you need to live your life to the fullest. Call the number on this page to make an appointment with our office nearest you!

  • Why do my hearing aids whistle?

    The disturbing whistling or squeaking noise coming from your hearing aid is caused by feedback. Feedback occurs when the sound coming out of your hearing aid loops back around and goes into the hearing aid’s microphone. This sound is annoying to you and to those around you, but you should be able to reduce or eliminate the noise by taking a few simple steps.

    Eliminating Hearing Aid Feedback

    Sound can leak from your hearing aids for several reasons. If you are experiencing a lot of feedback in your new hearing aids, one of the following reasons could be to blame:

    • Poor fit. If your hearing aid’s earmold does not fit in your ear properly, sound will leak out and back into the device’s microphone, causing the whistle sound. If you do not have custom earmolds, this problem may continue. If you did have earmolds made to fit your ear, you should return to your hearing care provider to check the fit. If he or she determines that poor fit is the cause of your feedback, the earmold will have to be remade.
    • Wax in your ears. Our ears produce wax naturally to trap and expel foreign substances, but when you have wax build-up in your ears and insert your hearing aids on top of the wax, the sound coming out of the amplifier will be blocked and returned to the microphone, causing a squeal. Unfortunately, a quick swipe in your ear with a cotton swab probably will not do the trick. If this is a continual problem, see your hearing care professional for help.
    • Blocked microphone. If the hearing aid’s microphone is covered with wax or debris, it will make a noise. Gently cleaning the holes of the microphone with a wax pick or hook should solve the problem.

    Some hearing aids are more sensitive to feedback than others. If feedback is an ongoing problem despite taking these steps to eliminate it, schedule a visit with your hearing professional.

    Feedback Cancellation Features

    Many new digital hearing aids have a feature called feedback cancellation. This system monitors the part of the signal that returns to the microphone and removes it before the sound is re-amplified. With this system, your hearing aid will automatically adjust itself based on anticipated feedback sounds and will not whistle or squeak. Feedback cancellation gives you peace of mind so you can take off a hat or hug a friend without worrying about a squawk from your hearing aid.

    Tru-Tone Hearing Aid Centers Are Committed to Your Happiness

    When you get your hearing aids at a Tru-Tone Hearing Aid Center, you will get our personalized service and a commitment to making your hearing aids work for you. If you are annoyed by feedback, we will work with you to fix the problem. Call now to schedule your hearing evaluation.

  • How long will my hearing aids last?

    The lifespan of a hearing aid depends a great deal upon the wearer. With proper care—and assuming your hearing doesn’t change drastically over time—your hearing aids could last five or six years. If your hearing aids are often exposed to moisture and dirt and you don’t clean them regularly, they will not last that long. Also, you may choose to upgrade before your hearing aids actually go bad to take advantage of new technology.

    Let’s look at some of the factors that will affect the life of your hearing aid.

    A Hearing Aid’s Worst Enemies

    If you are hoping to get a full five or six years out of your hearing aids, you must take proper care of them, which means avoiding the four elements that do the most harm. When these things can’t be avoided, you must take the time to clean and dry them thoroughly. A hearing aid’s four worst enemies include:

    • Shock. Dropping your hearing aids or handling them roughly can break the delicate inner workings of the device. Keeping a storage case anywhere you frequently remove your hearing aids is a good idea for keeping them safe. Don’t just put them on a bathroom counter at night. Instead, put them in a case and keep them in a drawer.
    • Temperature change. It is not extreme temperatures that damage hearing aids as much as frequent changes from one extreme to another. Going in and out of heated buildings in a cold Pennsylvania winter can create condensation on your hearing aids which can damage them. Be aware of frequent temperature changes and dry off any moisture that develops.
    • Moisture. Unless you have invested in a moisture-resistant or waterproof hearing aid, your hearing aids cannot tolerate any kind of wetness. This includes water from rain, hairspray, sweat, a swimming pool, bath, or shower. Take steps to keep them dry when you are in a wet environment and always remove and dry them off when you accidentally get them wet.
    • Wax and grit. Earwax and grit will normally build up in your ears and on your hearing aids. Gentle cleaning every day will keep the speakers and ports on your device clear of these damaging substances. If you have spent some time gardening or on the beach, remove your hearing aids and clean them as soon as you can.

    Why You May Not Want a Five-Year-Old Hearing Aid

    Even if you are diligent and manage to keep your hearing aids in good working order for several years, you may choose to upgrade before they actually fail in order to take advantage of the new features and better technology that emerge every year. Compatibility with cell phones and sound systems, waterproof casings, better sound quality, and sleeker designs may tempt you to trade in your outdated devices. Another reason to get new hearing aids even if your old ones still work is a significant change in hearing that could benefit from a different hearing aid model.

    Whatever Your Goals Are, We Will Support You

    At Tru-Tone Hearing Aid Centers, we support our clients in whatever path they choose for their hearing aids. We will teach you how to properly care for your hearing aids and provide maintenance and repairs if you want to extend the life of your devices, or we can show you the latest and greatest models as they come out if you are interested in the newest technology. Schedule a free hearing evaluation now to learn more about our services.