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What Is Hearing Loss?

The sounds that we hear everyday cover a range of pitches from the sound of a low pitched foghorn to the sound of a high pitched squeal. We also hear sounds at different loudness levels. Sounds ranging from soft, like the rustling of leaves, to loud, like jet engine noise during its take off, can be heard. A person with a hearing loss can still hear for the most part, but not the full range of sounds. Depending on the extent and pitch range of the loss, a person with a hearing loss may only miss some soft, high-pitched sounds; while others with a more severe degree of hearing loss may not be able to hear a significant amount of conversation. In effect, part of their hearing range is lost.

What Are Some of the General Effects of a Hearing Loss?

The most direct effect of a hearing loss is the inability to hear soft sounds. Depending on the degree of the hearing loss, some people may have a hard time hearing conversational sounds or even loud sounds. Some people may hear speech sounds but they may not understand their meaning. This is referred to as impaired discrimination ability and is especially noticeable in noisy places. In addition, many people with a hearing loss also notice a constant ringing or rushing sound in their ears (tinnitus). Like vision loss, hearing loss is also a problem that affects the quality of life.

How Many People in the United States Suffer From a Hearing Impairment?

Approximately 32 million of Americans have some degree of hearing loss. By age 55 about 25% of all population have some degree of hearing loss and by age 80 around 90% of the population will have hearing loss.

What Age Group is most affected by Hearing Loss?

Hearing loss can affect people of all ages. However, it is most frequently seen in the mature population as a natural consequence of aging (presbycusis) and history of noise exposure.

If I Want To Check My Hearing, Where Should I Begin?

You should visit a professional Audiologist as a start. An Otolaryngologist is a physician trained in the treatment of ear (nose and throat also) diseases that have a medical origin. She/he will offer advice on whether the hearing problem that you have can be treated medically through medication or surgery. An Audiologist is trained in the measurement, diagnosis and rehabilitation of hearing loss. The audiologist will offer advice and recommendations on whether your hearing problem can be helped through the use of hearing aids (if so, which type etc) and training in communication strategies, such as lip reading. In many states a hearing aid dispenser is also able to recommend and fit hearing aids after your hearing loss is diagnosed. Any of these professionals will be able to make the right referral to the others when appropriate.

How do I find a good Audiologist?

The American Speech Language Hearing Association (ASHA), the certifying organization for audiologists, can provide you with names of certified audiologists in your area, by clicking here. During your first visit, determine whether or not you are comfortable with this person. Much like when you select your primary care physician, you need to feel that you trust the person and that you have good rapport. If not, try someone else. This will be a long term relationship, so be sure you are comfortable with the person from the start.

What is the difference between audiologists and hearing aid dispensers?

Audiologists are health care professionals with a minimum level of education of a master's degree. They are certified by the American Speech Language Hearing Association. The letters CCC (Certificate of Clinical Competence) follow the names of qualified audiologists and the CCC-A indicates certification in the fields of Audiology. In contrast, hearing aid dispensers are not required to have a college degree. They may have some training in the measurement of hearing tests and should be licensed by their State to sell and service hearing aids.

Why should I see an Audiologists?

Audiologists are health care professionals with a minimum level of education of a master's degree in Audiology. They are educated and trained in many medical centers and hospitals to receive a thorough knowledge of the functioning of your hearing system. Some hearing problems may be an indication of a more serious situation. An Audiologist will be able to detect those symptoms and refer you to a Doctor for a complete evaluation.

Is it difficult to arrange a hearing check up?

It is simple to arrange a hearing check up and you do not need a referral from your doctor. Simply call Milford Audiology Center at (508) 478-0723 or visit our contact page to arrange an appointment at our main office in Milford, MA. The consultation can take as little as 30 minutes and in most cases it is covered by your health insurance plan.

What is the difference between digital hearing aids and other types?

Hearing aids are described as analog or digital, depending on the technology they use to process sound. Analog hearing aids relied chiefly on amplification of ambient sound, which by itself does not necessarily bring clarity where sound volume is not the main problem. Digital technology affords many enhancements such as the ability to truly individualize settings, filter extraneous background noise, and operate successfully in the tiniest components.

What about Decibels?

Intensity of sound is measured in decibels (dB). The scale runs from the faintest sound the human ear can detect, which is labeled 0 dB, to over 180 dB, the noise at a rocket pad during launch. Decibels are measured logarithmically. This means that as decibel intensity increases by units of 10, each increase is 10 times the lower figure. Thus, 20 decibel is 10 times the intensity of 10 decibels, and 50 decibels is 10,000 times as intense as 10 decibels.

What should users of new hearing aids realistically expect?

When wearing hearing aids it is important to be realistic and patient. Hearing aids do not claim to restore your hearing to "normal" and may not allow you to hear perfectly in every listening situation all the time. Familiar sounds such as birds, turning the pages of your newspaper, or even your own voice or footsteps may be strange to you initially because you have not been used to fully hearing these things for some time. It may take a while to adjust to your new hearing aids and realize your full potential. This is when the skill and experience of a certified Audiologist plays a crucial role in your adaptation process.