Frequently Asked Questions
Why aren't my hearing aids helping my test at 8000

The vast majority of hearing aids do not amplify the sounds at 8,000 Hz, but only up to just below 8,000.  The online hearing test offered on this site (as well as most hearing tests) tests the person's hearing at 8,000 Hz.  Much speech clarity and sound localization come from the sounds up to 8,000 Hz, and that is why it tested.

There are some hearing aids that amplify the sounds past 8,000 Hz.  They may provide a more high fidelity sound, improved sound localization, and perhaps better speech understanding in background noise; but the relative value of that is questionable.

Most people with hearing loss tend to have worse hearing the higher the Frequency.  Many hearing aid users would not be able to hear or benefit from frequencies 8,000 Hz or higher.  Additionally, the more powerful the hearing aid (to handle a greater hearing loss) the less the range of frequency.

I can hear a sort of ringing noise when it is quiet...

I can hear a sort of ringing noise when it is quiet, the more quiet it is, the louder this weird sound is. Can you tell me what this is?

The problem you are describing is called Tinnitus (pronounced either ti-NIGHT-us or TIN-i-tus. The condition is a perception of noise even when there is no external source present. Please visit the American Tinnitus Association for information.

The sound or noise that is heard as well as the loudness of it varies from person to person and even from time to time. Many people hear a ringing or noise in their ears only once in a while, others may hear noise all of the time.

For most people when all external sources of sound are reduced the tinnitus seems louder or more noticeable. And when there is outside noise competing with the ringing the tinnitus is less noticeable.

The exact cause(s) of tinnitus is not known. Some potential causes for tinnitus are noise-induced hearing loss, medications, infections, wax build-up in the ear canal, and a number of other diseases or conditions.

There is no known sure cure for tinnitus. There are a number of minerals and herbs that people take that sometimes help. Searching on the internet for these alternative treatments yields many results.

Hearing aids can also provide temporary relief for some people who suffer from tinnitus. If the ears do not hear certain frequencies (often high frequencies) there is no sound to compete with the noise of the tinnitus. Wearing hearing aids can boost those frequencies to mask the noise of the tinnitus or make it less noticeable.

I can hear the noise but not well enough to make out what some people are saying?

I would like to know why I have such a hard time hearing certain people when they talk. I can hear the noise but not well enough to make out what they are saying.  Also if there are back ground noises, like in a store it's even harder to hear correctly.  My husband does not have this problem, just me...  Why is that?

This is an excellent question.  The ability to hear noise is not the same as the ability to understand speech.  Speech is a combination of different sounds or frequencies in complex patterns that our brain recognizes as words.  In order to understand speech we need to be able to both hear the range of frequencies and decipher the patterns.

Hearing the range of frequencies depends on our ear's ability to convert the sound waves coming to our ears to signals being sent to the brain.  The ear must process sounds of various frequencies in speech (250 Hz to 8,000 Hz).  Different people's voices contain different combinations of frequencies (men often have lower-tone voices and women and children higher-tone voices).  Therefore if the ears have problems with high frequencies, for example, certain people or word sounds would be difficult to understand.  Hearing aids can help in this case to increase the intensity of the sound for the frequencies that need help, allowing the brain to get all of the information that it needs.

The brain gets the sound signals from the ears and must process the information to understand speech.  Assuming there is no problem with the ears, the brain may be getting all of the speech information that it needs.  There are conditions where the brain's ability to process the speech patterns are diminished.  Sometimes the brain's ability to distinguish speech properly is reduced after years of not hearing certain ranges of sound.  In these cases, the brain can sometimes relearn to properly understand speech after using hearing aids to provide the necessary sound inputs.

For the case of this woman, I would recommend that she have a professional hearing test to evaluate her hearing across the frequencies as well as to test her word recognition ability.  These tests will help narrow down the problem.  Hearing loss over just some of the frequencies (like the higher frequencies) is deceptive and sometimes difficult to self-diagnose.  Her symptoms of having difficulty understanding certain people and hearing in background noise indicates that she might have a high-Frequency hearing loss.

What are open-fit hearing aids?

Open-fit hearing aids are the latest style of hearing device with many advantages.  Most of the electronics (including the battery and microphone) are in a small unit that fits on top of the ear or slightly behind it.  the sound is brought down into the ear canal by a tiny wire or a sound tube (these are discussed below).  But whichever the method, the ear canal is not "blocked" by the hearing aid.  Natural sound (and fresh air) is allowed into the ear as normal.  The open-fit aid only adds the "extra" should that the person requires.

One variety of open-fit aids is a RITE, or Receiver in the Ear.  In this type a wire goes from the aid (behind the ear) to a tiny speaker that is in the ear canal (close to the ear drum).  This variety of open-fit hearing aid is generally more expensive and may provide better sound.

Another variety of open-fit hearing aid has the Receiver (or speaker) back behind the hear and a sound tube that brings the sound down to the ear canal.  This variety of open-fit hearing aid is generally less expensive.

Do all hearing aids use batteries?

All hearing aids use batteries.  A few hearing aids use rechargable batteries, though.  With a "rechargable" hearing aid you just plug it into the charger unit at night to keep it charged up.

Most hearing aids use disposable batteries.  These are zinc-air batteries.  When you take the sticker off of the back of the battery you let the air in and it "activates" the battery.  Before it is activated it will last on the shelf for a few years.  Once it has been activated it will only be good for about a month.

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