Frequently Asked Questions
- What is the difference between an audiologist and a hearing instrument specialist (HIS)?
- How much does a hearing test cost?
- Why do some hearing aids cost more than others?
- Does insurance cover the cost of hearing aids?
- Do you offer a payment plan?
- If I lease my hearing aids, do I own them at the end of the lease?
- Which type of hearing aid works best?
- How long will take for me to get used to my new hearing aid?
- How do I care for my hearing aids?
- What is a digital hearing aid?
- Do I need any follow-up care after getting hearing aids?
- Do I have to wear an instrument in both ears or can I get by with one?
- I struggle with hearing in groups. Will hearing instruments help me follow conversation in a crowd?
- A doctor told me hearing aids wouldn’t help. Should I trust him or her?
- Are hearing aids difficult to wear or get used to?
- My hearing is getting worse. If I get hearing aids now, won’t I just have to replace them later?
- What causes hearing loss?
- Are there different types of hearing loss?
- What is sensorineural hearing loss?
- What is conductive hearing loss?
- Is hearing loss just part of growing old?
- I can hear people speak, but sometimes I can’t understand what they say. Why is that?
- How can I tell if I need a hearing test?
- What is tinnitus?
- What causes tinnitus?
- How is tinnitus treated?
What is the difference between an audiologist and a hearing instrument specialist (HIS)?
There are a number of different hearing healthcare professionals available, but each has different education and training requirements. An audiologist and a hearing instrument specialist (HIS) are two of the most common professionals when seeking treatment for hearing loss. To better understand which professional is best for you, it’s important to distinguish the differences between the two.
Audiologist: An audiologist is trained to diagnose, treat and monitor disorders of the hearing and balance system. They are trained in anatomy and physiology, amplification devices, cochlear implants, electrophysiology, acoustics, psychophysics and auditory rehabilitation. Doctors of Audiology complete, at a minimum, an undergraduate and doctoral level degree in audiology, as well as a supervised externship prior to state licensure and national certification. This usually requires eight years of post-secondary education (four years of college and four years of graduate school). The graduate school years focus on the medical, diagnostic and rehabilitative aspects of hearing loss, hearing aids and the vestibular system. Upon completion of training, audiologists must also pass a national standardized examination in order to be eligible for state licensure. Continuing education requirements must be met in order for an audiologist to maintain state licensure. For individuals with hearing loss, auditory issues or balance problems, an audiologist is the most qualified professional to assist with diagnosis and treatment.
Hearing instrument specialist (HIS): A hearing instrument specialist is licensed to perform audiometric testing to sell and fit hearing aids. In order to obtain a license, a HIS generally has to take a certification program in hearing aids, complete in-the-field training hours and pass an exam. Hearing instrument specialists are able to fit and repair hearing aids, however, they cannot diagnose a hearing loss.
Hearing Aid Questions
How much does a hearing test cost?
Our hearing evaluation is complementary. You will have a full audiological evaluation completed by an Audiologist who holds a Doctorate in Audiology, is licensed in Delaware and Pennsylvania and is Board Certified in Audiology. We don’t believe in charging for the hearing test because we know it takes most people a long time to come to the decision to do something about their hearing and we don’t want a small charge for a hearing test to keep you from making that decision.
Why do some hearing aids cost more than others?
Hearing aids are feature-packaged and priced according to performance capabilities. As with most technology, the devices that do more, cost more. Brandywine Hearing Center will work with you to match the right technology to your lifestyle, listening needs, and budget. Our low pricing includes generous product warranties, loss/damage coverage, and office visits.
Does insurance cover the cost of hearing aids?
Some insurance plans provide coverage for hearing aids, but generally you pay out-of-pocket for better hearing. Our staff can assist you with discovering if, and to what amount of coverage is available.
Do you offer a payment plan?
We have several payment options available. The most popular is our Leasing Advantage. This is a 36 month lease which allows you to pay for your hearing aid over a 3 year period. The leasing option provides batteries and warranty against malfunction for the life of the lease. Again, there is no upfront cost and no down-payment. After your trial period, if you are satisfied, you start making your monthly payments. We can send you a bill each month or we can keep your credit card information on file and charge your card automatically each month. There is even an option to pay yearly which gives you a one month discount! We also offer a 6 month, no interest financing option which allows you to pay off your hearing aids within 6 months without any interest.
If I lease my hearing aids, do I own them at the end of the lease?
This is a very good question. Just like leasing a car, you do not own your hearing aids at the end of the lease. At that time you will have several options. You can return your hearing aids and do nothing. You can purchase your hearing aids for an additional cost or, as most of our customers do, you can lease a new set of hearing aids. We find the average life of a hearing aid is 3 to 5 years. For most people, after 3 years of use, it is time for new hearing aids. This is because your hearing loss has likely changed, the size and shape of your ears has changed, the technology has likely changed significantly and, simply, the hearing aids have started to wear out. So, you have a new hearing test, we try new hearing aids for 21 days and, if you like the new aids, you sign a new lease and keep the previous set as spares at no extra charge. Now, you have new hearing aids that are under warranty and spare hearing aids that you can use if you have any problems with the new aids.
Which type of hearing aid works best?
Hearing aids come in many sizes and styles and are feature-packaged according to performance capabilities. Your individual hearing loss, listening environments, options needed, cosmetic concerns, manual dexterity, and budget factor in finding the best individual solution. The experts at Brandywine Hearing Center will guide you through the process.
How long will take for me to get used to my new hearing aid?
We have found it can take several weeks to several months to fully adjust to a new hearing aid. That also means that, as you adjust to the hearing aid, we will need to make changes to the programming. This is perfectly normal and part of the adjustment process. You should know within the 21 Day Trial period if the hearing aid we have selected is working for you, or not.
How do I care for my hearing aids?
The following tips will extend the life of your hearing aid: 1) Clean hearing aids as instructed. Ear drainage and wax buildup can damage your hearing aid. 2) Avoid hairspray and other hair products while wearing your hearing aids. 3) Power off hearing aids when not in use, this will also extend battery life. 4) Keep your hearing aids away from moisture and heat. 5) Replace dead batteries immediately. 6) Store your hearing aids and replacement batteries in a secure location: away from pets and small children. Brandywine Hearing Center provides on site repairs, hearing aid maintenance, and hearing aid cleaning for all our patients.
What is a digital hearing aid?
Digital hearing aids convert sound waves into numerical codes, similar to the code of a computer, before amplifying them. The code also includes information about a sound’s pitch or loudness, allowing the aid to be custom-programmed to amplify certain sound frequencies more than others. Digital circuitry allows more flexibility in adjusting the aid to a user’s unique hearing loss and to certain listening environments.
Do I need any follow-up care after getting hearing aids?
Yes – hearing loss should be managed over time throughout your life, similar to vision care and dental care. Hearing aids require a period of re-training your hearing. Follow-up visits are always part of your treatment plan. Periodic adjustments may be needed to optimize performance as characteristics of your loss change over time and to accommodate your preferences in various hearing situations. Your hearing aids should also fit comfortably. If you experience changes in your ability to hear or problems with fit, you should call to set an appointment immediately.
Do I have to wear an instrument in both ears or can I get by with one?
This all depends on your hearing loss. For most people, yes, you will do MUCH better with hearing aids in both ears compared to only one ear, especially if your hearing loss is similar between your two ears. You will hear better in background noise and you will be able to tell where sound is coming from (your right side or your left side) far better with two hearing aids versus one hearing aid. Some people have a significant difference in hearing between their ears. For them, they may really do better with one hearing aid only. The best way to find out the free trial! Try hearing aids in both ears. If you feel, at the end of the trial period, that you only want to keep one aid, we will accept the other hearing aid back. This way, you have figured out for yourself if you need one or two hearing aids.
I struggle with hearing in groups. Will hearing instruments help me follow conversation in a crowd?
Much of the noise in our surroundings is low-toned and tends to compete with weaker, high-pitched sounds that give speech meaning. The digital advancements in hearing aids allow for selective reduction of frequencies where background noise exists without negatively affecting the speech frequencies. Advanced hearing aids can also automatically adjust the scope of what we hear, removing competitive sounds that challenge our understanding. Although noise is not eliminated completely, it’s reduced significantly.
A doctor told me hearing aids wouldn’t help. Should I trust him or her?
Most physicians are experts to the extent of their specialty and may not be up-to-date on advances to all hearing treatments. It’s smart to rely on the expertise of an Audiologist first. Breakthrough technological advances in the design and performance of hearing aids have given many people the opportunity to enjoy the benefits of amplification. You should have a thorough test to evaluate your hearing and discuss your options for improvement in your everyday hearing ability.
Are hearing aids difficult to wear or get used to?
Many years ago, hearing instruments were bulky and uncomfortable to wear. Today’s advanced hearing aids offer a variety of discrete and comfortable options. Award-winning designs have proven to be aesthetically appealing, naturally comfortable, and virtually unnoticeable.
My hearing is getting worse. If I get hearing aids now, won’t I just have to replace them later?
With advanced digital technology, we are able to adjust your prescription as needed with time. Every 4-5 years, you may feel as if you need to upgrade your hearing device as technology improves and your listening needs progress.
Hearing Loss Questions
What causes hearing loss?
Hearing loss can be due to several factors such as the aging process, exposure to loud noise, medications, infections, head or ear trauma, congenital (birth) or genetic factors, diseases, as well as a number of other causes. It is estimated that nearly 20 percent of adults in the United States (48 million) report some degree of hearing loss. Hearing loss often occurs gradually throughout a lifetime.
Are there different types of hearing loss?
Most always hearing loss is categorized as either conductive or sensorineural. Most hearing loss is sensorineural and commonly referred to as “nerve loss.” A combination of the two types is called a “mixed hearing loss.” Unilateral hearing loss affects one ear; bilateral hearing loss affects both ears. Treatment options vary for the different types of hearing loss. Sensorineural hearing loss cannot be corrected by surgery or medication, but may be treated using advanced hearing aid technology.
What is sensorineural hearing loss?
Sensorineural hearing loss results from auditory nerve dysfunction within the inner ear. It is typically irreversible and permanent. It affects the intensity (or loudness) of sound, but more often result in a lack of clarity of sounds, particularly speech. The treatment for sensorineural hearing loss is prescriptive sound amplification through advanced hearing aids.
What is conductive hearing loss?
Conductive hearing loss is caused by a condition or disease that blocks or impedes the movement of sound waves throughout the outer or middle ear. The result is a reduction in loudness or clarity of sound that reaches the inner ear. The treatment for conductive loss can vary and may include surgical intervention depending on the cause.
Is hearing loss just part of growing old?
While hearing loss is common as we age, there are many factors that can contribute to hearing loss. 1) Excessive Noise Exposure (prolonged loud music, gun shots, noise machinery) 2) Infections 3) Head Injury 4) Genetics or Birth Defects 5) Drug or Treatment Reaction (antibiotics, chemotherapy, radiation).
I can hear people speak, but sometimes I can’t understand what they say. Why is that?
Hearing loss is an ‘understanding’ problem. Understanding words and sentences is a function of your brain and relies on receiving sound signals unaltered. Your ears collect sound, transform it into nerve impulses, and send it to the brain where understanding occurs. Most nerve loss in the inner ear occurs with high-pitched softer parts of speech, which give meaning to many of our words. Advanced hearing aids are engineered to help you reclaim a lost sensitivity to many of these higher pitched sounds with the goal to improve your ability to understand.
How can I tell if I need a hearing test?
A hearing test is simple and painless. It takes most people years to notice the gradual onset of hearing loss, so if you are starting to have problems hearing certain voices, if you find yourself asking people to repeat themselves, if others seem to mumble, or if up need to turn the TV volume up to a level uncomfortable for others to enjoy – these are signs that it’s time to test your hearing. Hearing loss is not something to hide or ignore. In fact, untreated hearing loss is more visible to others than hearing aids. Hearing loss can negatively affect one’s emotional and social well being too and cause depression, isolation from others, breakdown of relationships, insecurity, and an overall sense of helplessness.
What is tinnitus?
Tinnitus is a common disorder affecting over 50 million people in the United States. It is often referred to as "ringing in the ears," although some people hear hissing, roaring, whistling, buzzing or clicking. Tinnitus is not actually a disease, but a symptom of another underlying condition of the ear, auditory nerve or other influencing factor. Tinnitus can be intermittent or constant, with single or multiple tones. The perceived volume can range from very soft to extremely loud and may be recurrent or constant.
What causes tinnitus?
The exact cause of tinnitus is not known in every case. However, there are several likely factors that may worsen tinnitus. These include:
- Noise-induced hearing loss
- Wax build-up in the ear canal
- Certain medications
- Ear or sinus infections
- Age-related hearing loss
- Ear diseases and disorders
- Jaw misalignment
- Cardiovascular disease
- Certain types of tumors
- Thyroid disorders
- Head and neck trauma
How is tinnitus treated?
Depending on the severity and underlying condition causing the tinnitus, there are several treatments available to improve the perception of unwanted noise. The most common treatments for tinnitus include:
- Hearing aids with tinnitus-masking features
- Tinnitus retraining therapy
- Sound therapy
- Avoidance measures
- Avoidance of certain medications
- Behavioral therapy