May 28, 2019
Since 1927, May has been Better Hearing and Speech Month. All this month, clinics and hearing organizations have been working extra hard to bring hearing healthcare awareness to the public. This includes things like hosting free walk-in screenings, seminars offered to the public, health fairs, volunteer hours, and possibly offering discounted hearing devices.
Last year, we began collecting questions sent to us via our Contact Us page and Facebook and responded not only directly by email or Facebook Messenger, but we also wanted to list the most common questions and their answers in our blog post this month! This way we are able to more directly assist curious folks out there and assist our readers by answering questions from their peers. We believe that the community plays a big part in healthy hearing and a healthy life.
Here are iterations of some of our most common questions we’ve gathered over the months:
- I know that I have difficulty hearing but I also have constant tinnitus in both ears (it sounds like a million bees buzzing). Will hearing aids make my tinnitus worse? Tinnitus is one of the most common complaints related to the ears and it often occurs with hearing loss. Hearing aids should not worsen the tinnitus. In fact, hearing aids are actually a method of treatment offered for managing tinnitus and have been shown to be quite effective in offering relief for some individuals.
- I have ringing in my ears and I see advertisements for pills that claim to cure it. Do they really work? Not in any reliable or measureable way. There are currently no FDA-approved medications or supplements out that are proven to reduce or cure tinnitus. There are multitudes of companies that have produced “supplements” that claim to reduce or cure tinnitus, but if there is any noticeable effect, it is likely placebo effect.
- I was informed by my doctor that I have permanent hearing loss in both ears. Do I need two hearing aids? In most cases two hearing aids are recommended when there is loss in both ears. Naturally, with normal hearing our two ears work together to gather information about sounds in our environment. The ability to locate where sounds are coming from is improved when both ears have amplification. Other advantages to hearing with both ears include improved speech understanding and reduced listening effort in background noise.
- My hearing professional said I shouldn’t use cotton buds (Q-Tips™) in my ears, but isn’t that what they’re for? This is a battle hearing care professionals have been fighting for years. On most boxes of cotton buds there will also be a small warning to never insert the buds into the ear canal. This is because it is so easy to damage your ear canal or ear drum with a cotton bud, and using them can also cause a wax blockage to develop. If you absolutely must use a cotton bud in your ears, only use them on the external portions that you can see and do not put them down into the ear canal.
- Are all hearing aids the same? No, not all hearing aids are created equally. There is an overwhelming variety of hearing instruments on the market ranging from over-the-counter devices to professionally recommended devices. . There are numerous different brands, styles, features, accessories, and colors available. Several factors must be considered in the selection of an appropriate devices based on type and severity of hearing loss, anatomy, dexterity, listening environments, and other personalized needs. Professional counseling, support, and patient motivation also play an important role. What works well for one person, may not be the correct solution for another.
- My children have been encouraging me to have my hearing tested. I am only 43 years old. Should I be concerned about my hearing at this age? A common misconception is that hearing loss only occurs in older populations. Hearing loss can affect individuals of all ages from birth and on. Professionals often recommend having a baseline hearing screening.
- My hearing has gradually declined in the last 5 years. I can still hear people but not as clearly as I used to. I don’t feel like this is a big problem at this time. Are there any disadvantages to waiting a few more years for hearing aids? Patients tend to have a much easier time adjusting to hearing aids when the hearing loss is mild and short-lived. It is important to keep the auditory pathway in the brain active and familiar to sounds in our environment. Untreated hearing loss is related to increased risk for dementia, depression, anxiety, and social isolation so it is best to seek help as soon as the problem is identified.
- Is there anything I can do to protect my ears from damage? My best advice is to protect your ears from loud sounds. Exposure to loud sounds for long periods of time can result in temporary or permanent hearing loss. Wear hearing protection around excessive noise (gun fire, power tools, lawn mowers, etc.). Also, stop using those Qtips! They can cause physical harm to your ear. If you’re concerned that the daily levels of noise you’re exposed to may be affecting your hearing, contact a hearing professional for a consultation to discuss hearing protection based on your needs.
- What’s the deal with CaptionCall phones? CaptionCall is a free captioned telephone available to residents of Oregon. All you need is high-speed internet (not dial-up) and for your hearing care professional to fill out an application, and someone from CaptionCall will contact you for the best time to install your new phone! They will not only install your phone, but also show you how to use it.
- My spouse wears hearing aids, so why do they still struggle to hear me when I’m just down the hall? Distance makes hearing more difficult for everyone, regardless of hearing status. Sound degrades over distance, especially if it is bouncing off walls (if you are speaking from another room). Folks with hearing loss also tend to read lips to some degree to assist in their understanding. The best way to avoid missed words or miscommunication is to be sure you speak to a listener who is in the same room as you and has their attention directed to you.
If you have any questions that are not included in this list, please give us a call at (541) 228-9233 and we will set you up with a free 30 minute consultation appointment with one of our doctors. Since we are in the business of communication, we also recommend you bring along a close friend or family member, not least because they may have questions themselves, but we may be able to suggest strategies for you and your loved ones to be able to communicate more successfully.