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FAQs

How can I get a hearing aid?

Hearing aids can dramatically improve the quality of life for some patients with hearing loss. If you think you could benefit from a hearing aid, there is no need to wait for a referral from your family doctor. Simply book an appointment for a complementary and comprehensive hearing test and hearing aid evaluation.

One of our Doctors of Audiology will meet with you, perform a comprehensive hearing exam and make recommendations based on the results.

How much does a hearing aid cost?

There are several types of hearing aids ranging from the very basic to the more sophisticated which can offer additional features. A basic hearing aid may cost less than $1500, while you can expect the more sophisticated hearing aids to be closer to $4000.

Some of the features of the more expensive devices include better performance when there is background noise, improved sound quality, easier to adjust and even such advanced features as wireless connectivity.

Residents of Ontario are able to offset the cost of hearing aids through a grant program called the Assistive Devices Program. This allows for a $500 grant towards the cost of each hearing aid every 3 years.

If you are interested in learning more about the types of hearing aids available and which one is best for you, call our office for an appointment.

What Service Items Are Included with the Purchase of a Hearing Aid?

Buying a hearing aid is much different than buying a piece of clothing or the latest smartphone. It is important to make sure that the device is perfectly suited to the patient and this requires a certain level of personalized service.

When you purchase the hearing aid, we will give you a custom fitting to ensure it is comfortable for you. More than that however, we also program the device as well as perform multiples tests and follow up appointments to ensure that your hearing is the best it can be.

Specifically our services include:

  • Electroacoustic analysis of the hearing instruments.
  • Initial personalized computer programming of the hearing aids
  • Verification of the fitting using RealEAR Measures
  • Validation of the fitting
  • Counselling and training on the uses of devices
  • Connection of remote controls and BlueTooth devices (if applicable)
  • Earmolds or earmod impressions
  • Cleaning supplies/accessories
  • Follow up appointments after 2 weeks, 30 days, and 6 months
  • Additional follow ups upon request
  • Annual reprogramming of the hearing aids following your annual hearing exam
Is there any funding available for hearing aids?

Residents of Ontario with a valid OHIP card are able to offset the cost of hearing aids through a grant program called the Assistive Devices Program. This allows for a $500 grant towards the cost of each hearing aid every 3 years.

Additional funding may be available for some individuals through coverage offered by Veteran’s Affairs Canada, the Workplace Safety and Insurance Board (WSIB), Ontario Disability Support Program (ODSP), the Ministry of Community and Social Services and Ontario Works.

Some private health insurance plans may also cover in part or in full, the cost of hearing aids.

What New technology can help me?

Just like many other medical devices, hearing aids have become quite sophisticated in recent years and the introduction of new technology has been able to provide even greater benefits to those with hearing loss.

Included in this new technology are features such as remote controls and Bluetooth connectivity with devices such as your television, computer, phone and other electronics.

There have also been advancements that allow for extended frequency range and improved sound quality and background noise reduction.

Does my warranty cover loss and damage?

Just as there are many types of hearing aids with different features, warrantees can also vary between devices. While most hearing aids come with a 2 year warranty against defects and a one year warranty for loss and damage, it is important to know the terms of the warranty for your specific device.

During your consultation, we will make recommendations about the type of hearing aid that is best for you and include information about warrantees.

Is it okay to wait a few more years to get hearing aids? (auditory deprivation)

When a doctor recommends hearing aids to a patient for the first time, a common reaction is that the patient wants to delay getting them. Possibly, this is because the patient is self-conscious and is worried about how he or she may look with a hearing aid – or maybe they are concerned about the expense. But what the patient may not realize is that a delay in getting hearing aids when they are needed can actually cause their problem to become worse because of a condition known as auditory deprivation.

What is Auditory Deprivation?

In the simplest terms, auditory deprivation is something that occurs when the hearing mechanisms of the ear lack atrophy due to lack of stimulation. If you’ve ever had to wear a cast on your arm or leg, you’ve probably noticed how weak the muscles were after you had the cast removed. This is because our bodies are meant to be used, and when they are not used they weaken – sometimes permanently.

When a person has hearing loss, the nerves in the unaided ear and auditory centres in the brain lack stimulation. This has been shown to result in atrophy of the nerves and even neuronal structural changes in the brain.

Using hearing aids can not only help people improve their hearing, but it can also provide much needed stimulation and help to protect and further damage. The sooner hearing loss is addressed through an assistive device such as a hearing aid, the better the odds of success.

You’ve Already Been Waiting Longer Than You Think

It is not uncommon for a patient to wait many months or even years after they start experiencing hearing loss to get a hearing evaluation. This is usually not because of any neglect on their part, but often it is simply because for a long time, they did not realize that they had a problem.

Because the onset of hearing loss can happen so gradually, it is common that patients do not realize they have a problem until other people start pointing it out to them – and this can be a long time because often people who notice a problem don’t want to be “impolite” by pointing it out.

So when a hearing test is finally conducted and recommendations for a hearing aid are made, atrophy in many cases has already begun – the patient is highly advised not to prolong treatment further.

How Can Delay Be Avoided?

For those that wish to delay getting hearing aids because of appearance, they can take comfort in the fact that many of today’s hearing devices are very discreet and hardly noticeable. Even if they are noticed, a bit of initial self-consciousness is nothing compared to losing one’s hearing.

If cost is a factor, patients will be happy to know that in many cases a portion of their hearing aid may be covered either by insurance or government funding. Even if the costs are not covered, a payment plan can be worked out with the clinic.

If you require hearing aids, it is best to get them as soon as possible. Hearing aids can greatly improve a patient’s communication abilities as well as how they feel about themselves – but more than that, they protect the patient against even worse hearing loss due to auditory deprivation.

Do I really need two hearing aids? Is one good enough?

Whether a patient is recommended one or two hearing aids depends on their unique circumstance. In instances where hearing loss is due to an accident or trauma and is only in one ear, then one hearing aid will be recommended. This however, is an exception to the rule. In most cases, hearing loss is the result of gradual deterioration and it occurs in both ears. When hearing loss is in both ears, it is recommended that you get two hearing aids.

While some patients may wish to get only one hearing aid because of the cost, this is not ideal. There are many good reasons why two aids are better than one.

Better Filtering of Background Noise

When a person has normal hearing, their brain has the ability to filter out the unimportant noises and concentrate on the important noises. An example of this is having a conversation at a party. Your ears hear both the person you are speaking with, and the additional chatter of the other people in the room. But your brain filters out the background chatter and allows you to focus on the conversation you are having.

In order for your brain to properly filter background noise however, you need to be able to hear through both ears. Excessive background noise is one of the biggest complaints of patients who only wear one hearing aid.

Localization

Localization refers to your ability to determine which direction sound is coming from. When a person wears a hearing aid in only one ear, it can seem as if all the sound is coming from the same direction. This is more than a mere annoyance. It can also be a safety issue – such as being able to hear properly when driving.

Clarity and Volume Control

Many people who have hearing loss, have what is called high frequency hearing loss. This interferes with their ability to determine what people are saying – they may hear the person’s voice, but not be able to make out the words.

When a person who needs two hearing aids only wears one, they will have trouble understanding speech clarity unless they are very close to the person who is speaking. They may try to compensate by turning up the volume on their hearing aid, but this will increase background noise. People who only wear one hearing tend to be constantly needing to adjust the volume on their hearing aid.

Preventing Auditory Deprivation

Just like any other part of our body, we need to use our ears to keep them healthy. When a person has hearing loss that is not corrected through the use of a hearing aid, it can cause what is known as auditory deprivation. This is the deterioration of the auditory nerves in the ear which occurs because the ear is not picking up sound – not being used like it should.

Hearing aids are important to people not only to improve their hearing but to help prevent further damage. When only one hearing aid is worn, it leaves the remaining ear susceptible to auditory deprivation.

If two hearing aids have been recommended to you by a qualified specialist, it is for good reason. It is advisable that you follow your doctor’s advice and correct the hearing in both ears rather than only one.

Age Related Hearing Loss (Presbycusis)

One of the most common problems which affects older adults is age related hearing loss, also known as presbycusis. It is estimated that as many as one in three North Americans between 65 and 74 years of age have some degree of hearing loss. After age 75, this number increases to one in two.

Typically presbycusis or hearing loss happens gradually over a long period of time and it affects both ears equally. Often the advancement of hearing loss is so slow and so gradual, that the person may not even realize it is happening until concerned friends and family members start mentioning it to them.

Left diagnosed or treated, hearing loss can go from being a mere inconvenience to becoming a debilitating problem. Not being able to probably hear conversation, can leave the patient feeling socially isolated. Activities that were once enjoyable such as going for lunch with friends or seeing a movie can become frustrating as sound becomes faint or muffled.

In more severe cases, it can even pose a safety risk to a person who cannot properly hear oncoming traffic, a doorbell or a fire alarm.

Causes of Hearing Loss

Hearing loss can be caused by a number of factors. Noise induced hearing loss occurs when a person is exposed to levels of noise which are either too loud or last for too long. You might think of the stereotypical teenager with their music too loud, but this type of hearing loss can also be attributed to noisy work environments – even ones where the volume doesn’t seem too loud.

Other reasons for hearing loss can include high blood pressure or diabetes. In some circumstances, hearing loss can even be caused by abnormalities in the middle or outer ear.

Despite having many possible causes however, most hearing loss is as treatable as it is common.

What to do if you suspect hearing loss

The most important thing that you can do if you suspect that you or a loved one is experiencing hearing loss, is to get a professional evaluation by a trained health care professional. Through a series of tests and questions, a specialist in this area can help to determine the type and extent of the hearing loss and recommend a solution.

Treatments and Devices for Hearing Loss

There are a variety of hearing aids and other treatments that can help a person who is experiencing hearing loss. Because the causes and severity of hearing loss vary from one person to the next, some treatments that work well for some people may not be the best solution for others.

Treatments include hearing aids (of which there are a variety of different types), cochlear implants (devices which are surgically implanted in the ear), bone anchored hearing systems (devices which by the middle ear and ear canal and transfer sound through bone conduction), and assisted listening devices such as TTC telephones.

Age related hearing loss can be a frustrating problem but it doesn’t have to control your life. If you are noticing changes in your hearing – no matter how minor – schedule a hearing examination today.

Is it okay to wear my hearing aids only occasionally?

Wearing your hearing aids only occasionally or only when you go out is actually a really bad habit to get into. Unfortunately it is a habit common to many hearing aid wearers. This is because people mistakenly think that they only require their hearing aids to properly listen to conversation or to hear a movie or concert that they are going to see.

They don’t think that they require hearing aids to sit at home and read or to work out in the garden. They don’t think that it is important to hear the hum of the furnace or the wind rustling in the trees. But the truth is that it is actually very important for them to hear these things.

When the brain is not exposed to sound through the ears, it can lead to a condition known as auditory deprivation. This is the atrophy of the nerves in ear as well as neuron changes in the brain. The end result is that hearing can actually get worse.

By wearing hearing aids consistently – even when you are home alone and you don’t think that there is anything to listen to – you will begin to re-teach your brain what normal sound is like. This will also help you to become more accustomed to the amplified sound that is provided by your hearing aids. So when you do go out to that movie or concert, it will actually begin sounding more natural than it would if you only wore your hearing aids on occasion.

Sometimes when a patient wears their hearing aid only occasionally, it results in them giving up on the device completely. In part, this is due to the fact that each time they wear it, the brain has to get used to it all over again because it has not been worn consistently. The brain will likely perceive difficulties with volume as well as with interfering background noise.

Getting used to a new hearing aid takes time. Often the excitement a patient feels when they are looking forward to hearing clearly again with a new hearing aid fades when the device does not immediately perform the way that they had hoped. The brain may feel over stimulated and as a result the patient may not want to wear the hearing aid all the time. But you need to persevere through this phase. With consistent use, the sound from the hearing aid will sound more and more natural until regular use no longer bothers you.

Think of it like learning to ride a bike. When you were a child, the idea of riding a bike sounded exciting – oh the freedom that it would give you! But then you learned, that if you wanted that freedom, you had to practice – training yourself not to fall off. Learning to hear again with hearing aids is much the same. It takes some practice and training of your brain – but oh the freedom that you will have when you can hear clearly once again.

Why do people complain about their hearing aids? (Directional microphones and noise reduction)

When a person receives a hearing aid for the first time, there is generally an expectation that the device will enable them to hear and understand conversation and other sounds the way that they did prior to their hearing loss. When this expectation is not met, patients may complain that the hearing aid did not help them. It’s not that the patient doesn’t have improved hearing as a result of the hearing aid – they do, but many patients find that in addition to conversation, their hearing aids also pick up a great deal of background noise – making it hard for them to understand what people are saying.

One solution to this problem is to use hearing aids with directional microphones and noise reduction.

Why Hearing Aids Don’t Meet Expectations

Getting a hearing aid is not the same as getting a pair of eyeglasses. Where eyeglasses may help a person see better instantly, a patient will likely have to take some time to get used to their hearing aids and only experience the true benefit over a bit of time.

This is because when a person has been experiencing hearing loss for some time, they need to re-train their brain to hear the important sounds and filter out the unimportant ones. The first time a patient wears their hearing aids, the brain will not filter out the unimportant sounds and they are therefore often overwhelmed – it is not what they expected.

How Hearing Aids Have Improved

Manufacturers of hearing aids have made great improvements in recent years to help patients cope with excessive background noise. Directional microphones in hearing aids are a sophisticated development in which there are two microphones located within the device – one in the front and one in the back.

When the sound comes from the front, it is picked up by the front microphone first and there is a small delay before it is picked up by the back. This allows the hearing aid to be able to filter out certain background noises.

Directional microphones in hearing aids may either be automatic or adaptive. If the microphone is automatic, it means that when the patient goes from a quiet environment to a noisy one, the hearing aid will automatically switch from being omnidirectional to directional. If the microphone is adaptive, it means that it will change its polar pattern in order that sound from directions other than the front is minimized.

Getting Used to Your Hearing Aid

Despite advancements in hearing technology, it still takes some time to get used to a new hearing aid – you simply cannot re-train your brain to hear and filter instantly. Because of this, it may be tempting not to wear your hearing aids in quiet environments or to try to go without them. Doing this however, will only prolong the time that it takes to get used to them.

If you continue having difficulties with your hearing aids, ask for a follow up evaluation with your doctor. There may be adjustments that can be made that will help. Just don’t give up – as your brain adapts, your hearing will improve.

Can I get natural sounding hearing aids? (open fit, receiver in the ear hearing aids, advanced hearing aids)

The biggest request that we get from patients ordering hearing aids, is that they want the sound to be natural. Whether it’s from a patient who has had bad experiences with previous hearing aids, or whether it’s someone getting a hearing aid for the first time and has heard stories about how someone else’s hearing aid did not meet their expectations, hearing aids have gained a reputation for not sounding natural. Fortunately, thanks to more advanced technology, the sound quality of hearing aids has improved dramatically in recent years.

Why Don’t Hearing Aids Sound More Natural?

There are several reasons why the sound from a hearing aid does not come across as natural as your previous hearing.

One reason is that hearing aids can pick up background noise. A person with normal hearing hears background noise as well, but their brains have learned to filter it out and to focus on what is important. After a person has had hearing loss for some time (and they usually have by the time they get a hearing aid!), their brain has un-learned this filtering and must be re-trained. That is why hearing aids initially take some getting used to.

Another reason for unnatural sound applies specifically to in the hear (ITE) hearing aids. Have you ever plugged your ears and listened to yourself talk? If so, you will notice that your voice seems to echo inside your head. People with ITE hearing aids may experience this sensation when talking or eating.

Finally, not everyone experiences hearing loss the same way. For example, some people have trouble with higher frequencies but not lower ones. But if all frequencies are amplified, then the low frequency sounds will seem very loud.

Hearing Aid Solutions for a More Natural Sound

Ever since hearing aids started to become widely used, manufacturers have been looking for ways to make them sound more natural. A number of solutions have been developed, and the solution that works best for a patient will depend largely on the type and extent of their hearing loss.

Open Fit Hearing Aids

Open fit hearing aids solve the problem of the ear sounding “blocked” because the majority of the device is placed outside the ear – very similar to behind the ear (BTE) except that the part of the device that sits behind the ear is much smaller than regular BTE hearing aids.

The tip of the hearing aid is very light and it keeps the ear ventilated, thereby enabling low frequency sounds to be heard without amplification.

Receiver In The Ear Hearing Aids

Receiver in the Ear (RITE) hearing aids is a small yet powerful type of hearing aid. These are a more natural sounding type of hearing aid that can help to eliminate feedback that wearers often experience when speaking on the phone.

To get the maximum benefit from either of these types of hearing aids, it is important that your device is properly fitted by an audiologist with experience in these hearing aids.

Hearing aids have come a long way in recent years and it is possible to experience much more natural sound than it has been in the past. Consult your audiologist about which models are likely to work best for you.