Frequently Asked Questions

Is A Hearing Test Painful?

A hearing test is not painful at all. It does take quite a bit of time though. Depending on your degree of hearing loss the test could take up to an hour/ hour and a half. A hearing screening will only take five to ten minutes and is really just a pass-or-refer test. A full hearing test includes an inspection of your outer ear, the “beep” test, as well as a series of speech tests, often with and without background noise. When you receive a hearing test, make sure that the audiologist performs a full test and not just a screening.

How Long Should A Hearing Test Take?

A hearing screening is a pass/fail test and should take fewer than 15 minutes. A full hearing assessment could take 45 minutes to 90 minutes to complete. Your hearing test should include a series of beeps and tones, as well as word and speech tests. You should schedule your hearing test during the time of day that you are most rested and alert. If you work around a considerable amount of noise, you should schedule your assessment for a time at least 24 hours after you have been in that noise.

What Causes Hearing Loss?

Hearing loss can be caused by many factors. Conductive hearing loss can be caused by an excessive build-up of wax, a perforated (torn) eardrum, or other dysfunctions of the middle ear, including otosclerosis. Sensori-neural hearing loss (SNHL) can be caused by excessive noise exposure, birth defects, high fevers, prescription or street drugs, the aging process, genetic weakening of the nerves, toxins in the environment, traumatic head injuries, and some viral infections.

Will My Hearing Get Better?

If you have a conductive hearing loss, you may be able to improve your hearing with medical treatment. If you have a sensorineural hearing loss, the loss will be more of a permanent nature and your hearing will either plateau or will continue to deteriorate.

Do I Need To Wear One Hearing Aid Or Two?

This depends on your hearing loss. If both ears are damaged (binaural/bilateral loss) you will need two hearing aids. If only one ear is damaged (monaural/unilateral loss) then one hearing aid will be fine.In some cases one ear has no response. It is referred to as a “dead” ear, and the opposite ear has hearing. Imagine sitting at a table and hearing only the people on the right, but being unable to hear the people on your left. In this case the dead ear can be fitted with a hearing aid like device called a CROS or Bi-CROS that will transfer the sound to the hearing side so that sound from both sides can be processed.

What's The Difference Between Hearing Aids?

There is a huge difference between hearing aids in the market today. There are differences in size, whether they fit in or on the ear, and how the sound is processed within the hearing aid.

How Big Are They?

Hearing aids can be so small they are undetectable in your ear, or they can be much larger, fitting either in or behind the pinna (ear). In most cases, size does not matter. Some people prefer a very small size that cannot be seen whilst others feel better with a larger hearing aid because it can be easier to manipulate and may have more features. The size of your hearing aid is a very personal choice and should be discussed with your audiologist. You should always be given options.

Is A Hearing Aid Difficult To Put In?

Not at all. The first time may seem awkward and frustrating, but with a little practice it will be an easy and quick part of your day. Remember when you were given a new watch or bracelet? The first time you put it on you probably asked for help. But before long it seemed natural and easy to get on. Practice makes perfect!

Do Hearing Aids Make Weird Noises?

Hearing aids should not make any weird noises. The first few days you wear new hearing aids you will find out there are plenty of things you haven’t been hearing that sound new and unfamiliar.

What Makes A Hearing Aid Squeal / Whistle?

We call this whistle – feedback. Good news – most modern hearing aids do not feedback at all! It has been years since this has been a problem, thanks to great digital, anti-feedback algorithms. Hearing aids with older technology or that fit poorly may squeal because the sound is leaking out of the ear; the microphone on the hearing aid is picking up its own noise and amplifying it some more, creating an acoustic loop that sounds like a whistle. Often you can force a hearing aid to squeal when it’s in your hand or on the table, because it’s only designed to operate correctly in your ear. The squeal is enough to know that your hearing aid is working and the battery is good.

Does My Hearing Aid Need To Be Adjusted?

Yes, it does. You, your ears, your hearing loss, and your lifestyle are unique to you. The first few weeks you wear a new pair of digital hearing aids it is important to attend your follow-up appointments so that the hearing aids can be adjusted for your comfort and needs. Your hearing should be retested annually and your hearing aids can be adjusted to keep up with any further deterioration in your hearing. Keep in touch with your audiologist and be sure to let them know when you have significant changes in your listening environments, which may be a good time for more adjustments.With today’s digital technology, hearing aids can be set to be completely automatic, and you don’t need to adjust them yourself. However, if you would like to have some control of your hearing aids, digital aids can be set to give you the control you may desire.

How Long Will My Batteries Last?

Batteries will last anywhere from three days to three weeks. The two things that have the most bearing on battery life are:How small the hearing aid battery is. Hearing aid batteries come in four sizes: 10, 312, 13 and 675 (from smallest to biggest). If your hearing aid is very small, it will take a very small battery, which has less overall power, causing you to change more often.

How Expensive Are Hearing Aids?

Digital hearing aids will run anywhere from R 10 000 each to over R 40 000 each. And remember, if you have a hearing loss in both ears you will probably need two hearing aids.Hearing aids that are less that R7000 are most likely analogue aids and you deserve better.Be very careful of any advertisements you see with low priced products. These ads referred to as “Bait and Switch” ads. The business is luring you with low prices, and once you make an appointment they will convince you that you need a more expensive product. While they are right in encouraging you to buy a more advanced product, do you really want to entrust your precious hearing to someone who deceives you in order to earn your business?With hearing aids you do get what you pay for. A good rule of thumb is the more different listening environments you’re in (home, church, restaurant, work), the more you should invest in hearing aids.

How Many Hours A Day Should I Wear My Hearing Aids?

You should wear your hearing aids all waking hours of your day except when showering, swimming, or during any other activity in which they may get wet. They should be a part of you. Once you have a sensori-neural hearing loss there is no time that you don’t “need” them.

Do I Take My Hearing Aids Out At Night?

Yes, it is recommended that you always remove your hearing aids at night. Doing so gives your ears a chance to “air out” and will prevent fungus from growing deep in the ear canal. If you live alone and feel that you don’t hear well enough to wake up if something were to happen in the middle of the night, it would be recommended that you only wear one aid to bed, alternating between the two each night.NOTE: please do not leave your hearing aids on your nightstand or table if you have pets. Pets like to eat hearing aids because they smell and taste like you. Always keep your hearing aids in their case if they are not in your ears.

What Will Sound Different When I get My New Hearing Aids?

Everything! It depends on your hearing loss how much difference you will notice. This is a great question to ask your audiologist when receiving your hearing aids.It is a good idea to spend the first day or two of hearing aid use at home where it is quiet. Don’t take your hearing aids to a restaurant on the first day to try them out; your brain might not be ready to keep up with you. After a few days, add in more noises. With every success try something new.

Do Hearing Aids Really Cut Out Noise?

Yes, and no. The reason you need to wear hearing aids is because you don’t hear enough, so the main purpose is to help you hear more. Right? At first, you will perceive some of the new sounds as noise, but you will get used to them. It is just the world around you, and it is good to hear what’s going on. Hearing aids in general, at this point in technology, do a good job of managing noise. Different products do this in different ways, and the more expensive hearing aids do it a lot better than the less expensive ones.If you were wearing hearing aids designed ten years ago and then switched to today’s top-of-the-line hearing aids you would notice how much better and more natural everything sounded. But if you’ve never worn hearing aids and you have a moderate hearing loss, you will hear noise around you with any hearing aid. For example, if you are sitting around a table with five friends and two of you are having a conversation with the other three telling jokes and laughing boisterously, the laughter will seem like noise. If you just hear the joke and laugh along, you won’t perceive your friends’ laughter as noise.If you love potato chips and your spouse opens a bag and you hear the crinkle as his/her hand reaches in to get a few of the crunchy, salty treats, the crinkling of the bag would sound like music because you know that your hand is next. However, if you hate potato chips and you are trying to talk to your friend on the phone while he/she is chomping away, you may be annoyed by the noisy chip bag.In summary, today’s hearing aids are very natural and keep noise in check, but the hearing aids do not read your mind and amplify only what you think you want to hear.

How Do I Help My Parent Or Loved One Seek Help?

Never tell your loved one that they need to wear hearing aids. It is better to gently encourage them to have their hearing tested. Let a professional break the bad news to them about their hearing loss and the need for hearing aids. The professionals have been trained to help patients with the emotions that go along with accepting hearing loss. Never enable your loved one to continue living in denial about their poor hearing. Speaking loud and repeating what you say to them makes you their hearing aid and does nothing to help them seek help for themselves. If the TV is too loud, turn it down. If they ask you to repeat something, try writing it down. Asking for repetition can become a very bad habit that your loved ones don’t even know they are doing. You could ask them to put a Rand in a jar each time they ask “What?” this would help them realise how much they are missing.Remember, if you are repeating and talking loud for them, who is going to be their “hearing aid” when you are not there? Try to give them the gift of helping themselves so they can live their lives independently.

All My Friends Say I am Fine, So Why Should I Have My Hearing Tested?

Unless your friends are audiologists and test your hearing, how would they know what you do or don’t hear?Often your friends will either be the first to tell you you’re having trouble or they will never tell. If the latter, it’s probably because they don’t know how or they are struggling as well.

All Of My Friends Hate Their Hearing Aids, So Why Should I Try?

There are so many reasons not to let someone else deter you from living your best life.Every hearing loss is different. Your motivation to hear will drive you to success. You are responsible for your own choices of technology and following your audiologist’s plan for hearing success. It’s time for you to step up and show them how it’s done.

How Long Can I Wait Before Wearing My Hearing Aids?

As soon as hearing loss is detected, hearing aids should be used. It is much easier to adapt to amplification with a mild hearing loss, and hearing aids prevent misunderstanding and missing out on the important sounds around you. The longer you wait the more your brain’s ability to interpret the sounds is compromised. If you wait too long, hearing aids are more difficult to adapt to and the help they can provide is more limited.

What Is An Audiologist?

Audiology can be described as the paramedical profession which is concerned with all types of auditory impairments and their relationship to all types of communication disorders. Audiologists tend to be involved in the identification, assessment, diagnosis, evaluation, treatment and management of disorders of peripheral or central auditory impairments (hearing loss/impairment and/or deafness), balance system disorders/dysfunction, tinnitus and other neural systems.The Audiologist is trained to identify and evaluate the range, nature and degree of hearing / hearing loss in babies, children and adults. They are further involved in the provision of audiological (aural) habilitation and rehabilitation to both children and adults, and are trained and capable with regard to planning, conducting, directing and participating in the management of persons with hearing loss, whether it be referral for medical management, or the selection, fitting and provision of suitable hearing amplification systems such as hearing aids and other assistive listening devices to both children and adults.Audiologists are also involved in hearing conservation or the prevention of hearing loss, through auditory training, counselling, guidance and the provision and fitting of hearing protective devices such as noise plugs.An Audiologist is a professionally trained university graduate who has successfully completed at least four years of intensive academic and clinical training. In order for an Audiologist to practice in South Africa it is necessary to be registered with the Health Professions Council of South Africa, HPCSA.

How Do I Know I Am Receiving Good Service?

Today, communication is one of human beings most important skills, and communication depends on our sense of hearing. Hearing impairment is considered to be the most prevalent impairment worldwide. Almost 600-million, an estimated 10 percent of people worldwide, have a mild or worse hearing loss. Two thirds of the world’s hearing impaired population reside in developing countries.“Hearing is a complicated process, as evidenced by all of the tiny parts of the ear that are involved,” says Dr Susan Strauss, president of the South African Audiology Association (SAAA).“The selection, fitting, verification and dispensing of hearing aids and other hearing assistive devices requires specialized skill and expertise. For example, an ill-fitting hearing aid may result in too much amplification which could, in fact, cause further damage to your hearing.”It is, therefore, essential for individual’s with a hearing loss or impairment to consult only registered audiologists or hearing healthcare providers, who will have the necessary expertise to diagnose the hearing loss, determine the degree of severity, identify exact needs and recommend the most suitable product to accommodate those needs. Audiologists are the only professionals trained to fit hearing aids to children. Once the appropriate hearing device has been selected, the audiologist will fit and fine-tune the instrument to exact specifications. Recently the Health Professions Council of South Africa (HPCSA), the statutory authority with the mandate to protect the public and regulate specific healthcare professions, including the profession of audiology, issued a warning to the public against purchasing hearing aids or amplifiers directly from retail pharmacies and other non-registered persons. Not only are these pharmacies acting in contravention of the law, but these amplifiers could cause irreversible hearing loss in normal hearing members of the public. In their advertising “hearing aids” are dispensed by trained nurses who do not fall under the ambit of the HPCSA, and are placing the public at risk by illegally administering treatment for clinically unproven hearing problems by supplying unprescribed amplifiers, and are as such in breach of the law and also practicing outside their scope of practice.The public should be aware of the impact of noise and increased intensity levels on hearing and are advised to only consult registered audiologists for professional hearing tests, should they suspect any hearing difficulty.For further information, contact the South African Association of Audiologists or email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..To ensure that you are receiving a good service: the audiologist conducting the test should take a full case history, complete a full diagnostic assessment in a sound proof booth. You should receive a full explanation of the results directly after the assessment and a full description of the management plan should be given. Remember there are no “quick-fixes” when it comes to managing a hearing loss.

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