Frequently Asked Questions
How can I recognize a hearing problem?
Most of the time hearing loss begins gradually, without discomfort or pain. Family members often learn to adapt to it, without even realizing they are doing it. Here are some questions to ask yourself to determine whether hearing loss is present:
1. Do I often ask people to repeat themselves?
2. Do I have trouble following conversations with more than two people?
3. Do I have difficulty hearing what is said unless I’m facing the speaker?
4. Does it sound like other people are mumbling or slurring their words?
5. Do I struggle to hear in restaurants, malls, crowded places, etc…?
6. Do I have a hard time hearing women or children?
7. Do I prefer the TV or radio volume louder than others?
8. Do I experience ringing or buzzing in my ears?
If you answered “yes” to one or more of these questions, call us to make an appointment.
What causes hearing loss?
The main causes of hearing loss are: excessive noise exposure, infections, injury to the head or ear, birth defects or genetics, ototoxic reaction to drugs (ex: antibiotics, chemotherapy, radiation treatment), earwax impaction, and aging.
Are there different types of hearing loss?
Yes, the main types of hearing loss are sensori-neural, conductive and mixed. The most common is sensori-neural loss, which occurs in the inner ear and interrupts the transmission of sound through the cochlea or auditory nerve. Conductive loss occurs when the transmission of sound through the outer ear or middle ear is interrupted. Many conductive impairments can be treated medically. A mixed loss is a combination of sensori-neural and conductive.
Doesn’t hearing loss only affect old people?
Hearing loss can occur at any time, at any age. In fact, most people with hearing loss (65%) are younger than age 65! There are six million people in the U.S. ages 18-44 with hearing loss, and around one-and-a-half million are school age.
I Can Hear But why Don’t I Understand Speech?
Most hearing loss occurs gradually, usually affecting the high frequencies first. When this occurs, you may hear a dog barking, a truck going by and hear men’s voices better than women’s and children’s voices. If you have this type of hearing loss you have the sensation of hearing but not understanding. Speech has two main components, vowels and consonants. Vowels are the loudest and occur in the low frequencies. They contain about 70 percent of the volume of speech but only about 30 percent of the information we need for intelligibility. Conversely, consonants occur in the high frequencies. They contain only 30 percent of the volume of speech (they are soft) but have 70 percent of the intelligibility. A person with a high frequency loss may be able to “hear” low frequency vowels, but not be able to “hear” the consonants. The individual will get words mixed up and may complain that people “mumble”. For Example-Did you say: “Hat” or “Mat”, “Run” or “Fun”,” Stability” or “Ability”, “Changing” or “Ginger”, “Water” or “Better”?
Should I have a physician examine my ears?
A physician should always be used if you suspect something other than a hearing loss that can happen with age.
If I had a hearing loss, wouldn’t my family doctor have told me?
Only about 13% of physicians routinely screen for hearing loss. Since most people with hearing impairments hear just fine in quiet environments (like your doctor’s office), it can be very difficult for your physician to recognize this problem. Only a trained hearing professional can determine the severity of your hearing problem, whether or not you could benefit from a hearing aid, and which type would be best for you.
Should I get hearing aids from a Hearing Instrument Specialist or an Audiologist?
Either one is capable of fitting you with hearing aids. Nonetheless, it is important for you to understand the difference between these professions. Audiologists specialize in diagnosis and treating diseases of the ear. While Hearing Instrument Specialists do not diagnose or treat diseases of the ear, their main specialty is testing, selecting, fitting, and counseling for hearing aids. However, if there is a medical concern, a Hearing Instrument Specialist will refer you to a medical doctor for further examination.
Why should it matter what hearing aid office I go to?
Service and good follow-up service are some of the most critical aspects of a hearing aid purchase. Without good service your hearing aid investment could be a “bad” investment.
How do hearing aids work?
Hearing aids fill the gap created by a hearing loss by receiving and amplifying sound. While there are many different types of hearing aid technology, four basic components are common to them all (1) a microphone, which received sound and translated it into electrical impulses (2) an amplifier, which makes those electrical impulses stronger (3) a receiver (speaker), which translates those new stronger impulses into louder sounds (4) a battery, which serves as a power source for the whole system. Hearing aids vary widely in their styles, sizes, and levels of circuit technology. Our dispensers will help you choose the hearing aid style and circuitry that is right for your hearing loss and lifestyle.
Will a hearing aid actually restore my hearing?
While no hearing aid (except in cases of very mild hearing loss) can restore your hearing to normal, modern advanced hearing aids will allow you to hear soft sounds that you couldn’t hear before, and will prevent loud sounds from becoming uncomfortably loud for you. Your ability to understand speech will also be improved.
Will I be able to hear in noisy places?
While no hearing aid can filter out all background noise, modern advanced hearing devices can reduce some types of background noise so that you can enjoy conversation and improve communication in places like restaurants, business meetings and social gatherings.
How much do hearing aids cost?
The cost of hearing aids vary widely depending on your needs and expectations and they are usually quoted individually. After you have had your hearing evaluated, your hearing professional will discuss prices specifically for your hearing loss, your cosmetic concerns, lifestyle and budget. Our prices are fair and competitive. Hearing aids range from $999 to approximately $2,599, depending on the features. Check with your insurance company to see if they offer you reimbursement for hearing aids. Medicare does not cover the cost of hearing aids but the Oregon Health Plan (Medicaid) does, with limitations. We offer no-interest financing (on approved credit) with monthly payments as low as $50 a month.
The cost of hearing aids is due to new technology that has advanced over the years giving improved sound and therefore, providing better comprehension. Some of these improvements include programmability, sound processing, feedback reduction technology, and directional microphones. These advancements cost manufacturer’s money for research and development, which are passed on to the consumer. Another reason is the size of the hearing aid. Smaller hearing aids require smaller components and small components are more expensive to manufacture. Lastly, a large part of the cost of the hearing aids is the professional care. Hearing aids will do you no good if you do not have a professional to fit them, program them, and troubleshoot them, not to mention the follow up care for years to come.
I saw on TV a hearing device for $49.99 so why do I need to spend the high prices?
These products that you see on TV are a very different product than you would buy at a hearing aid center or clinic. If you pay attention to the commercial they call these devices “personal amplifier” because they are not hearing aids approved by the FDA. Hearing instruments should only be fitted by a licensed professional and all major manufacturers advise against internet purchases. We only fit products that are designed specifically for your hearing loss and do not over or under amplify in the frequencies that you do not need. Many over the counter devices can do you damage because they can be too loud when you don’t need it.
I saw a hearing aid advertised for $500. Would that work for me?
Our experience tells us that a cheap, poorly designed hearing aid will provide you with distorted low quality sound. It may be similar to listening to music through a cheap radio tuned in between stations, as compared with a fine stereo system tuned perfectly. Even though they may seem like a bargain, you would most likely feel as if that money was wasted. Good quality hearing aids will help you hear clearly in a variety of situations. They will be easier to get used to. They will be programmed specifically for your unique hearing abilities. They will be reliable and pleasurable.
At Mt. Hood Hearing Aid Center you will be fit by professionals who are dedicated to providing you with the best possible solutions for your hearing health needs. You will be fit by a compassionate person who is an expert experienced in hearing testing, counseling and fitting.
What is the best brand of hearing aid?
There are many hearing aid manufacturers, each producing exceptional quality products. Which brand is right for you is determined by the results of your evaluation, your lifestyle, your cosmetic requirements, your dexterity, and budget. We select the brand only after selecting the type of circuit best for your individual hearing loss as indicated by your audiogram.
Should I consider purchasing a hearing aid online?
We believe that you achieve the best possible results with your hearing aids by consulting with a hearing aid professional in person, so manufacturers do not endorse retailers selling over the Internet. It is often tempting to buy hearing aids online because of the low price but people quickly realize after the purchase that they don’t have any support and the hearing aids often end up in a drawer.
Should I Get One or Two Hearing Aids?
If you have hearing left on both ears, ideally you should get two. Our brain “hears” better with two ears. In noise, our brain cancels out some of the noise by comparing the signal from both ears. The brain cannot do this comparison unless it receives two signals at equal levels. Another advantage to amplifying both ears is being able to locate sounds. Also, hearing equally in both ears allows you to hear sounds coming from all directions. You would not have a “weak side”. Also, wearing two hearing aids allows more information to reach your brain and makes it easier to hear speech against background noise. You will have more balanced hearing with two hearing aids. You will be able to tell the direction a sound is coming from. You will be able to hear conversation on either side of your head whether you are, for example, the driver or the passenger riding in a car.
Won’t wearing a hearing aid make me look old or handicapped?
A lot of people who know they have a hearing loss are too embarrassed or feel they’re showing weakness if they acknowledge the problem. While you are no doubt concerned about appearance, others will be much less aware of your hearing aid than you. Most hearing aids are very discreet (keep in mind that hairstyle can also play a role). Ultimately, an untreated hearing leads to actions like smiling or nodding when you don’t understand what’s being said and are far more obvious than a hearing aid. Most likely, once you have a hearing aid your quality of life will be so improved that cosmetics won’t be as much of an issue for you. In fact, some hearing aids today even come in bright colors, making hearing aids a fashion statement instead of something to hide!
Will my hearing aid amplify loud sounds and change my hearing further?
Your hearing aid will be programmed to a safe level of maximum amplification. However, keep in mind that we may need to readjust your aid especially during the first 60 days of wearing the aid. Also, will need to re-train yourself to loud startling sounds that are amplified by your hearing aid. There is an adjustment period for the brain to get used to these sounds. Be patient with yourself and remember that you are retraining your brain to hear.
What changes or adaptations are necessary with a hearing aid?
First, you need to understand that it is not possible for a hearing aid to completely restore your hearing. What it can do is enhance sound and thus allow you to hear better. Since hearing loss is gradual, over the years you may have become unaccustomed to normal environmental sounds such as traffic noise, the hum of a refrigerator or air conditioner, nature sounds, or background conversation. Therefore, when you begin to wear a hearing aid, it is necessary to re-educate your brain to practice selective listening and learn once again to choose only those sounds which you wish to hear and ignore the rest.
It is important that you wear your hearing aids as much as possible. This is the best way for you to get used to them and the way that they work. This also helps you to become more skilled at recognizing sound direction, learning what hearing aid settings work best in different situations, and using visual clues in difficult hearing environments.
Patience is the key. Your friends and family can be very helpful in the whole process. Encourage them to speak to you in a normal voice without over enunciating or over-emphasizing their lip movements. These people can be very helpful to you as you become accustomed to your new hearing instrument.
If, for some reason, you continue to find the adjustment to be difficult, our staff of hearing professionals will be happy to answer any questions which you may have and help you solve any of your hearing-related problems.
What if I have a problem with my hearing aid? Is there a guarantee?
You can typically expect a 30-day trial period with a money-back guarantee in the event that you are not adapting satisfactorily to your hearing aids. Once you have purchased the hearing aids, if there are any problems with the instruments, they come with a manufacturer’s warranty which ranges from one to three years. It is important to give yourself a reasonable chance to adjust to your hearing aid, typically most people find 30 days enough to adapt to amplification.
Two of my friends wear hearing aids that look the same, but each friend paid a different amount. They came from the same dispenser. Why are the prices different?
Hearing aid shells look alike, but it is the circuits inside that you are paying for. The moderately priced hearing aids are entry-level digital and basic digital; the most expense circuits are advanced digital and premium digital. To use an automobile as an example: within each body style the consumer has a choice of 4-cylinder, 6-cylinder or 8-cylinder engines, a choice of radios, interiors and wheel covers. So although the outside of two same-model cars may look alike, they can be priced completely different depending on the features they each have.
Why did my hearing aid specialist sell me such a big hearing aid compared to my friend who has such a small one?
The size or style of the hearing aid goes in accordance with the type and degree of the hearing loss you have. Choosing the right amplification for a patient is very critical and everyone’s needs are very different. Determining the correct hearing aid should be based on your current hearing loss, anticipated increase of loss over the next few years, your lifestyle, budget, and expectations.
What if I only want hearing aids that you can’t see? Can I get what I want?
Yes, you can invest in the smallest aids made. However, we will determine candidacy to make sure that this is the apropriate device for you.
What should I do if I or a loved one has a hearing loss?
The first step should be a professional hearing examination conducted by an otolaryngologist, audiologist, or hearing aid dispenser. This will help to determine the degree and type of your hearing loss. The proper treatment with either medical attention or a hearing aid will be recommended. With today’s modern technology, many hearing losses can be successfully corrected with a hearing aid. However, only about one-fourth of those people who could benefit from the use of a hearing aid actually do so.
If my loved one does not want to do anything about his/her hearing loss is it really hurting anything?
While each hearing loss is unique, most people share common results from their loss. They often feel isolated from their surroundings. It is often more difficult to meet new people or face new surroundings. They often complain of appearing incompetent or feeling insecure. Hearing loss treatment was shown to improve:
- Earning power
- Communication in relationships
- Intimacy and warmth in family relationships Ease in communication
- Emotional stability
- Sense of control over life events
- Perception of mental functioning
- Physical health
Exactly how will a hearing aid improve my quality of life?
Receiving treatment for hearing loss can literally transform your life. Research on people with hearing loss and their significant others has shown that hearing aids play a significant factor in a person’s social, emotional, psychological and physical well-being. More specifically, treatment of hearing loss has been shown to improve:
- Communication in relationships
- Intimacy and warmth in family relationships
- Ease in communication
- Earning power
- Sense of control over your life
- Social participation
- Perception of mental functioning
- Emotional stability
When you consider all the benefits of better hearing, you can see that hearing aids hold great potential to positively change your life.
What do I do to have my hearing checked?
Call 503.669.8070 to schedule an appointment for an evaluation. It is often helpful to bring someone with you, as “4 ears” are better than “2” for remembering the explanation of the results and for asking pertinent questions. The appointment will take from 1/2 hour to 1 1/2 hours. You will be asked background questions relative to your hearing, your ears, your medical history and your lifestyle. Your ears will be examined with a magnified light (otoscope) to check for possible abnormalities, disease or excess wax. Excess cerumen may need to be removed. You will be asked to listen to and respond to speech and tones in order to evaluate your hearing. Other testing may be performed as needed, based on your specific situation. The examination is not painful. The results of the evaluation will be reviewed following the session.