Hearing Aid Facts

When properly fitted, hearing aids can vastly improve the quality of life for 95% of people with hearing loss. Your provider is your partner in the process of what, for many, is the equivalent of learning to hear again. The key to success is to establish realistic goals and to work with your hearing care provider to achieve them.

Myths About Hearing Aids

The consequences of hiding hearing loss are better than wearing hearing aids.

What price are you paying for vanity? Untreated hearing loss is far more noticeable than hearing aids. If you miss a punch line to a joke, or respond inappropriately in conversation, people may have concerns about your mental acuity, your attention span or your ability to communicate effectively. The personal consequences of vanity can be life altering. At a simplistic level, untreated hearing loss means giving up some of the pleasant sounds you used to enjoy. At a deeper level, vanity could severely reduce the quality of your life.

Only people with serious hearing loss need hearing aids.

The need for hearing amplification is dependent on your lifestyle, your need for refined hearing, and the degree of your hearing loss. If you are a lawyer, teacher or a group psychotherapist, where very refined hearing is necessary to discern the nuances of human communication, then even a mild hearing loss can be intolerable. If you live in a rural area by yourself and seldom socialize, then perhaps you are someone who is tolerant of even moderate hearing losses.

Hearing aids will make me look “older” and “handicapped.”

Looking older is clearly more affected by almost all other factors besides hearing aids. It is not the hearing aids that make one look older, it is what one may believe they imply. If hearing aids help you function like a normal hearing person, for all intents and purposes, the stigma is removed. Hearing aid manufacturers are well aware that cosmetics are an issue to many people, and that’s why today we have hearing aids that fit totally in the ear canal. This CIC style of hearing aid has enough power and special features to satisfy most individuals with hearing impairment. But more importantly, keep in mind that “an untreated hearing loss is more obvious than a hearing aid.” Smiling and nodding your head when you don’t understand what’s being said, makes your condition more apparent than the largest hearing aid.

Hearing aids will make everything sound too loud.

Hearing aids are amplifiers. At one time, the way that hearing aids were designed, it was necessary to turn up the power in order to hear soft speech (or other soft sounds). Then, normal conversation indeed would have been too loud. With today’s hearing aids, however, the circuit works automatically, only providing the amount of amplification needed based on the input level. In fact, many hearing aids today
don’t have a volume control.

Our hearing systems anchor us to the soundscape of our environment with an incredible ability to detect and differentiate infinitesimally small acoustic cues. Our brains store the neural equivalents of acoustic patterns – voices, music, environmental sounds, danger signals – that make it easier to process and recognize both familiar and unfamiliar signals. Hearing loss misleads our brain with a loss of audibility (sounds are softer, not as loud) as well as a distortion of the information that reaches the brain. Changes in the effectiveness of the brain to process stimuli, through head trauma, neurologic disease or disorder, or the naturally occurring process of aging, can result in symptoms that mimic hearing loss – inattention, inappropriate responses, confusion, a disconnect from the those around us, for example. The ears and the brain combine in a truly remarkable way to process neural events into the sense of hearing and all that it encompasses. It’s fair to say that we “hear” with our brain, not with our ears!