Frequently Asked Questions

Find answers to frequently asked questions about hearing aids and hearing loss. Simply click on any of the frequently asked questions below to reveal the answer. Have more questions? Contact Pittsburgh Audiology today.

How can I tell if I need hearing aids?

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 you 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.

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.

Is hearing loss 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, loud machinery) 2) Infections 3) Head Injury 4) Genetics or Birth Defects 5) Drug or Treatment Reaction (antibiotics, chemotherapy, radiation).

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.

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 results in a lack of clarity of sounds, particularly speech. The treatment for sensorineural hearing loss is prescriptive sound amplification through advanced digital hearing aid technology.

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.

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 over time. Every 4-5 years, you may need to upgrade your hearing device as technology improves and your listening needs change.

Are hearing aids difficult to wear or get used to?

Many years ago hearing instruments were bulky and uncomfortable to wear. Today’s advanced digital technology is significantly smaller allowing for a more discrete and comfortable option. Award-winning designs have proven to be aesthetically appealing, naturally comfortable and virtually unnoticeable.

My 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 the advances in hearing loss treatments. It’s smart to rely on the expertise of an Audiologist. 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.

I struggle to hear in groups. Will hearing aids 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 is present 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.

Do I have to wear a hearing aid in both ears or can I get by with one?

Generally two-ear assistance is superior to that of a single instrument. Even in instances where hearing loss between the ears differ, two hearing aids can provide balanced hearing and better localization of sound that may help preserve speech activity in both ears. Our audiologists will make appropriate recommendations based on the results from your hearing evaluation

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, call to schedule an appointment.

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.

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 spraying 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. Pittsburgh Audiology provides minor repairs in our offices while major repairs are sent to the hearing aid manufacturer.

What kind of financial assistance options are there?

We offer several convenient payment options including zero interest payment plans. Our audiologists will review costs and discuss the best options available for you.

Are hearing aids covered by insurance?

Frequently, insurance plans cover testing fees; select plans provide coverage of some or all of the cost of hearing aids, if needed.

Pittsburgh Audiology & Hearing Aid Center is an approved provider for most insurance plans including: UPMC, all Highmark Blue-Cross Blue-Shield plans (Security Blue, Select Blue, Community Blue, Premier Blue and others), Aetna, Health America Health Assurance, Keystone, United Auto Workers, USX, National Ear Care Plan and others not listed.

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. Pittsburgh Audiology will match the right technology to your lifestyle, listening needs and budget.

Which type of hearing aids works best?

Hearing aids come in many sizes and styles and are feature-packaged according to performance capabilities. Your individual hearing loss, lifestyle, listening environments, options needed, cosmetic concerns, manual dexterity and budget factor into finding the best individual solution. Our Doctors of Audiology at Pittsburgh Audiology will guide you through the selection process.