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How do I know if I have a hearing loss?

Hearing loss often occurs so gradually that you may not be aware of a problem. In fact, it is not uncommon for a hearing
loss to be first detected by a family member or co-worker, who has to speak louder or repeat themselves.  

Early signs of hearing loss include:
  • Turning the TV or radio volume louder than other family members prefer.
  • Difficulty hearing in noisy situations such as restaurants, malls, or crowded meeting rooms.
  • More difficulty hearing women and children, than men.
  • Difficulty following conversations involving more than 2 people.
  • Requiring frequent repetition.
  • Think that other people sound muffled or like they're mumbling.
  • Ringing in the ear(s) when no external sound is present.

What causes hearing loss?
Hearing loss can have many causes. Most common is the deterioration of inner ear structures due to aging. Occupational and recreational noise exposure are major contributors to pre-mature hearing problems. Even excessive ear wax can cause temporary hearing loss. Young children can frequently have temporary hearing loss as a result of middle ear fluid that can be successfully treated by appropriate medical care.

What is nerve loss?
Nerve loss, also called sensorineural hearing loss, is the most common type of hearing problem. It is the result of damage to the inner ear. It is typically irreversible and permanent. Hearing loss due to aging and noise exposure are examples of nerve hearing loss. The treatment for sensorineural hearing loss is amplification through hearing aids.

What is that noise in my ear(s)?
Tinnitus is the medical term for the perception of sound in one or both ears or in the head when no external sound is present. It is often referred to as "ringing in the ears," although some people hear hissing, roaring, whistling, chirping or clicking. Tinnitus can be intermittent or constant-with single or multiple tones-and its perceived volume can range from subtle to overwhelmingly loud.  Pulsatile tinnitus is a rare type of tinnitus that sounds like a rhythmic pulsing in the ear, typically in time with one's heartbeat. This type of tinnitus can be caused by abnormal blood flow in arteries or veins close to the inner ear, brain tumors or irregularities in brain structure and requires further diagnostic evaluation. For more information on Tinnitus click here.

What should I do if I think I have a loss?
If you suspect that you have a hearing loss, consult with an audiologist. The audiologist will identify, diagnose, treat and manage your hearing loss. An audiologist is trained to identify whether a hearing loss requires medical or non-medical treatment and will refer you to the appropriate medical specialist when necessary. If your condition is not medically treatable, your audiologist will guide you toward the appropriate intervention, which may include hearing aids.  

Which hearing aid is right for me?
Together, we will discuss your hearing loss, life style, activities and any health, safety, dexterity and cognitive issues that need to be considered and we will choose the best technology for your specific needs.  

Does Medicare or Medicare Supplemental insurance pay for hearing aids?
Medicare will usually pay for the initial audiologic evaluation, but unfortunately, they will not pay for hearing aids. Hearing aids are generally an out-of-pocket expense.

Does traditional health insurance cover hearing aids?
Typically, standard health insurance does not cover hearing aids. However, there are infrequent occasions when special hearing aid benefits are included in health care coverage. Check with your insurance provider or human resource department to learn if your insurance includes hearing aid benefits, the need for pre-authorization, and the extent of that coverage.

What devices, other than hearing aids, are available to help me?
A wide range of products, often referred to as assistive listening devices (ALDs), are available to help people hear better in specific situations. For example, assistive listening devices are available to improve hearing while watching television or for group-listening situations such as movies, lectures or religious services. Specific devices are also available for individuals who have difficulty hearing the doorbell, alarm clock or emergency alarms. Telephone amplifiers are available for individuals who are experiencing difficulty understanding speech while using the telephone.

Speak with an audiologist concerning your specific situation.

Hearing Loss: Frequently Asked Questions