Frequently Asked Questions About Hearing Aids

Will a hearing aid restore my hearing to normal?
Hearing aids are designed to make things easier to hear; however they do not restore normal functioning of the ear.

Will a hearing aid last forever?
The life of a hearing aid is approximately 5-7 years. Many hearing aids are still functioning well after six years, while most need some tune-up and repair services after 1-2 years.

How long do hearing aid batteries last?
This depends on the number of hours per day the hearing aid is worn and the type of battery. The larger the battery, the longer it will last. A battery can last from three days to three weeks.

I have hearing loss in both ears. Is it necessary to wear two hearing aids?
There are a few reasons why two hearing aids can be better than one: (1) Better hearing in background noise. (2) Improved sense of direction from where sounds are coming. (3) Prevention of possible deterioration of the unaided ear. We hear in our brain, not in our ears. The ultimate goal of hearing aids is not just to send sound into the ear. It is also essential to re-train the central auditory system in the brain. While it is uncertain whether hearing sensitivity (ability to hear soft sounds) will decrease if your ear is not stimulated adequately, research now suggests that there can be changes in the way in which your brain processes sound when it is "starved." Thus, providing stimulation may be important in preserving your auditory potential.

How much time is needed to adapt to hearing aids?
While each person's experience will vary, hearing aids may allow a person to hear certain sounds they have not heard before (or have not heard for many years). Re-learning takes place in the central auditory nervous system, and the brain needs some time to learn to use the new sound. You will have a trial period that allows you to adjust to the new sound and evaluate your benefit from the aids.

Why do hearing aids cost so much?
You can expect to pay from $1800 to $3300 per hearing aid. In general, the more features a hearing aid has, the more expensive it will be. The high cost reflects the technology used to develop the miniature components of the aid, and the mark-up covers the dispenser's services. If hearing aids were sold as often as calculators, the price would drop considerably. However, they are a low-volume item as markets go. Additionally, the cost of follow-up visits with the audiologist is usually included in this price.

Why do some hearing aids whistle?
The whistle you hear is called feedback. External feedback is produced by leakage of amplified sound out of the ear canal and back into the microphone of the hearing aid. It is normal for feedback to occur when the hearing aid is being inserted or removed or when your hand is cupped near the device. If however, you experience feedback when you speak, chew, yawn, or change position, you need to consult your audiologist. Feedback is more likely to occur in smaller hearing devices because the microphone is closer to the speaker port where the sound comes out into the ear. So, a behind-the-ear style may be less likely to produce feedback than an in-the-canal style device.