Frequently Asked Questions

Common questions about hearing loss

If you have a question not answered below, please call us at (616) 796-9387. You can also post your question on our Facebook page. You will receive a personal reply, and your question, with Dr. Van Doorne's answer, may be posted below.

About 80% of hearing impairments can be traced to either heredity or prolonged exposure to loud noise. Certain illnesses and medications can also be causes of hearing loss.

One of every five Americans currently has some degree of hearing problem. For those aged 65 or older, the ratio is almost one in three.

While each hearing loss is unique and there are varieties of hearing problems, most people share common effects from their loss. 

  • They feel isolated from friends and family. 
  • It's more difficult to meet people or face new surroundings.
  • They feel incompetent or left out, like when they miss the punch-line of a joke.
  • Studies show relationships between hearing loss, depression, and stress.

The first step is a hearing test by an audiologist.  This will determine the level and type of your hearing.  The proper treatment with either medical attention or a hearing aid device will be recommended.

Hearing aids fill the gap created by a hearing loss by receiving and amplifying sound. While there are many types of digital hearing aid technology, five basic components are common to them all:

  1. a microphone, which receives sound and translates it into electrical impulses;
  2. an amplifier, which makes those electrical impulses stronger;
  3. a receiver (speaker), which translates those stronger impulses into louder sounds; and
  4. a battery, which serves as a power source for the whole system; plus
  5. algorithms, which recognize and memorize sound environments and make adjustments accordingly.

Hearing aid devices vary widely in their styles, sizes, and levels of circuit technology.  We will help you choose the style and circuitry that is right for your lifestyle and budget.

From the BetterHearingInstitute.orgSergei Kochkin, Ph.D., Executive Director, Better Hearing Institute, Alexandria, VA

Many people are aware that their hearing has deteriorated but are reluctant to seek help. Perhaps they don't want to acknowledge the problem, are embarrassed by what they see as a weakness, or believe that they can “ get by ” without using a hearing aid. And, unfortunately, too many wait years, even decades, before getting treatment.

But time and again, research demonstrates the considerable negative social, psychological, cognitive and health effects of untreated hearing loss . . . with far-reaching implications that go well beyond hearing alone. In fact, those who have difficulty hearing can experience such distorted and incomplete communication that it seriously impacts their professional and personal lives, at times leading to isolation and withdrawal.

Studies have linked untreated hearing loss to:

  • Irritability, negativism and anger
  • fatigue, tension, stress and depression
  • avoidance or withdrawal from social situations
  • social rejection and loneliness
  • reduced alertness and increased risk to personal safety
  • impaired memory and ability to learn new tasks
  • reduced job performance and earning power
  • diminished psychological and overall health

Hearing loss is not just an ailment of old age. It can strike at any time and any age, even childhood. For the young, even a mild or moderate hearing loss could bring difficulty learning, developing speech and building the important interpersonal skills necessary to foster self-esteem and succeed in school and life..

There are more than six major manufacturers of hearing aid devices, each producing exceptional quality hearing instruments.  The best hearing aid for you is determined by your hearing test, lifestyle, cosmetic requirements, your dexterity and budget. Our holistic pre-selection criteria, objective post-fitting tests, and follow-up for the life of your hearing aid device ensures your success with your hearing instruments. This ongoing attention to your needs by your audiologist is what sets Van Doorne Hearing Care apart from their competitors.

Your hearing instrument will be programmed to a safe level of amplification which cannot be exceeded. However, keep in mind that you should expect to hear loud and startling sounds that occur naturally in your environment.

It is true that there are several complaints that are sometimes mentioned by hearing aid users. Here are two of the most common:

"My own voice sounds strange."

Hearing instruments amplify some or all sounds. This includes the sound of your own voice. Your voice may sound different because it is being amplified by the hearing aid. The new open tube fitting also eliminates the "plugged-up" sensation that many people experience with other hearing aids.

"I have a problem with whistling sounds or feedback."

There are several common causes of this problem all of which are easily solved.  Usually, your hearing aid fits too loosely.  This allows the amplified sound to escape from your ear and be picked up again by the microphone, thus resulting in feedback.  New digital hearing aid technologies incorporate an anti-feedback algorithm, eliminating annoying whistling sounds.

It is not possible for a hearing instrument to completely restore your hearing. What it can do is enhance sound and allow you to hear better. Since hearing loss is gradual, over the years you became unaccustomed to normal environmental sounds such as traffic noise, the hum of a refrigerator or air conditioner, nature sounds, or background conversation. Therefore, when you begin to wear hearing aids, it is necessary to re-educate your brain to practice selective listening, to choose only those sounds you wish to hear and ignore the rest. This usually takes four to six weeks. This retraining process also may be influenced by other factors. We have a computer program in our office that provides assistance in the retraining process.

It is important that you wear your hearing aids as much as possible after your initial adjustment period. This is the best way to get used to them and how they work. This also helps you recognize sound direction, learn what hearing device settings work best in different situations, and use visual clues in difficult hearing environments.

Patience is key. Your friends and family can be very helpful in the whole process. Encourage them to speak to you in a normal voice while facing you. If for some reason you find the adjustment to be difficult, your audiologist, Karen Van Doorne, will be happy to answer any questions you may have and help you solve any of your hearing problems.

Hearing aid shells look alike, but the processor inside makes them different. The most important consideration is to program your hearing device to closely match your hearing loss, as well as your budget.

The least expensive processors are good, but often without sophisticated noise reduction programs. Moderately-priced processors are more flexible in their design, allowing easier accommodation of your hearing loss. Many of them have automatic directional microphones, noise-management programs, feedback cancellation, as well as data logging. The most expensive hearing aid processors represent the most recent research and the highest level of sophistication available, allowing a user to have better hearing at a distance and to hear the most natural sound possible.