Q&A About Hearing Loss

Q&A About Hearing Loss

Olga Lis, MS, CCC-A

Those who have hearing loss are intimately acquainted with the experience of straining to hear and only gathering fragments of sound. Although each person can describe to you in detail what they are hearing, each experience of hearing loss is unique. The similarities between individual accounts allow us to observe some general principles when it comes to hearing loss, but we must be careful to listen to what individuals have to say about what they hear. No individual experience is quite the same, so a considered conversation is necessary to get to know what your loved ones encounter in the sounding world. Despite this individualized nature of hearing loss, there are some general principles to understand and some common experiences to keep in mind when you interact with others. 

Does hearing loss eventually lead to total deafness?

The most common cases of hearing loss have to do with damage to the tiny hairlike organelles of the inner ear called stereocilia. These receptors, once damaged, do not regenerate on their own. However, the most common forms of hearing loss are noise-induced and age-related hearing loss, both of which occur due to damage to the stereocilia. Although this damage is currently thought to be permanent, these conditions do not lead to a total loss of hearing in all frequency ranges. The most common forms of hearing loss do not lead to total deafness. 

Do hearing aids bring back all hearing ability?

Hearing aids are individually tailored to amplify the sounds that are difficult to access for those with hearing loss. Although they are remarkably adept at turning up the volume on the sounds that are needed most, including the voice of a person speaking closest to an individual, they don’t work like eyeglasses. Instead of “focusing” the sound back to crystal clarity, hearing aids work on a fine-grained level to raise the volume of certain tones, and they are unlikely to bring back all hearing ability as if hearing loss had never occurred. They take some time for adjustment and acclimation to the new sounds that are clear and the sounds that might remain in the background. 

Do hearing aids benefit everyone?

Hearing aids are the best tool we have to bring back hearing ability for people with the most common forms of hearing loss. Despite the remarkable innovations in hearing assistive technology, they don’t bring back the entire sonic spectrum to all who receive treatment. Those with profound hearing loss are likely to need other assistive technology to join up with hearing aids in producing the best communication ability possible. Although these hearing benefits can be varied, they do offer many other benefits in terms of health and wellness. Those who wear hearing aids have better outcomes in cognitive ability as the years go by than those with untreated hearing loss. They are also less likely to get in accidents, such as slips and falls or head injuries. The list of benefits of getting treatment for hearing loss goes on and on, and these benefits extend far beyond the ability to hear.  

How long does it take to adjust to hearing aids?

As we know hearing aids don’t work exactly like eyeglasses, immediately focusing the world into view. Instead, hearing aids can take some time to get used to the range of sounds that are now audible. Some people are able to walk out of the office of their hearing health professional and immediately use hearing aids for any situation, but that experience is not the norm. Most people do best by giving themselves time to adjust to wearing them at home, in a relatively quiet environment, before trying them out in a social setting, while running errands, or while driving. The process of adjustment is different for everyone, but with a little time and patience, the benefits will present themselves. 

If you have hearing loss and want to know more about your condition, all you need to do is contact our offices to schedule a hearing test. This complete diagnostic visit will give you a sense of your current hearing ability, as well as the possibilities for treatment that are out there. Don’t delay making the call!