Communication Tips

Talking with hearing loss

For most people who experience hearing loss, it is subtle at first and gradually worsens. In fact, it can be so gradual that people may not even notice. Quiet, everyday sounds like leaves rustling, the click of a car turn signal, birds, squirrels, toads, and crickets can especially be overlooked. Some may not notice the deficit until they have to ask their friends and family members to repeat themselves several times.

If you experience any of the above, here are a few tips for better communication. First, clarify if the speech is too quiet, the words just seem muffled, or both. When it seems like speech is too quiet, get in front of the person you are speaking to and look at him/her. This should cause the speaker’s voice to seem slightly louder.

Ear exam

If speech seems muffled, it is helpful for the speaker to inject very short pauses between words, enunciating each word very clearly. Again, the voice should seem slightly louder. Make sure the speaker is in front of you, and you are able to see his or her lips. This provides you with visual cues.

It is also helpful if everyone around you understands and provides loving support and encouragement. This can make communication less frustrating for all.

Your ears should also be checked by a professional. If your ears are clear of debris, the next step is to schedule a hearing evaluation with an audiologist. The audiologist will provide recommendations for easing the frustrations of communication.  When these recommendations are followed, everyone's outlook is improved and stress, which is known to cause high blood pressure that can lead to a heart attack, is reduced.

Click here to make an appointment with us to get your ears checked.


Frequently Asked Questions

(Click a question to reveal the answer.)

Q: Will my hearing loss get worse?

A: There are some causes of hearing loss that characteristically involve worsened hearing. There are medications that may need to be taken that may worsen hearing. Continued exposure to very loud sounds may worsen hearing. Untreated hearing loss may cause the understanding of running speech to decline. Most frequently however, treated hearing loss will be stable. It is always in your best interest to have a periodic hearing screening to ensure hearing aids are set according to your hearing loss.

Q: Do I have to wear two hearing aids?

A: Research studies have shown that most people who have hearing loss in both ears will perform significantly better in conversations when both ears are aided than with just one. Preserving sound loudness balance between the ears is what gives us the ability to localize sound sources that we can't see. The exceptions are when an ear is legally deaf (significantly damaged hearing nerve and/or auditory cortex at one side) and when a certain central auditory processing disorder is present. Also there are rare instances where a person's occupation or other circumstance warrants one ear to be clear of any object.

Q: Do I have to have something in my ear?

A: In order to get the sound to be audible, there has to be an earpiece of some sort piping the sound into your ear.

Q: How long do hearing aids last?

A: They last about 8 years on average. Some sustain moisture damage or damage due to dropping them that requires replacement sooner. Hearing aids are able to be adjusted within a range. If the wearer's hearing changes significantly, a new hearing aid with a more powerful set of electronics will be warranted. Hearing aid technology has been advancing with new functions coming available about every 6 months. Sometimes new devices are recommended sooner rather than later if there is an advancement that your dispenser believes will significantly benefit you.

Q: Do all hearing aids require batteries in order to function?
Signia hearig aid battery charger

A: At this time, yes. Some hearing aids are able to be placed into a charger at the end of each day so that the user does not have to open the battery door at night, nor change the battery every 1 1/2 to 2 1/2 weeks. Rechargeable type hearing aids do not come in all styles, so that should be considered. Rechargeable batteries do need to be replaced, but that interval is around one year.



Hearing Myths

Hearing aid on young man

Myth: If I wear a hearing aid, I will appear old.

Fact: Inappropriate responses during conversations due to inability to hear correctly are quite noticeable, can be embarrassing, and can even cause others to question coherency. The average age that men and women start using hearing aids has lowered. The trend of the baby boomer population and their children is to detect and address health issues as early as they can so that they function as well as possible and continue to have high quality of life.

Myth: One can "toughen up" their ears to loud sounds.

Fact: Sound is actually pressure moving through the air in waves, and when very strong waves hit the eardrum and pass through the middle ear to the inner ear, it beats up the extremely delicate, microscopic sensory cells that convert the sound into a signal that the brain can decipher. Once the sensory cells are damaged, they cannot regenerate or mend like skin and other organs can.

Myth: The $20 mail order amplifiers are sufficient; hearing aids aren't that much different.

Fact: Those mail order devices are similar to hearing aids in the 1950's that wearers promptly put in the drawer because they heard too much uncomfortable noise that distracted them from conversations. Current hearing aids are actually mini computers with chips that process sounds and adjust the amount of amplification to them automatically as needed. This auto adjust keeps loud sounds from being amplified too much. It also enables speech located in front of the wearer to be heard as usual while speech and other noise coming from beside and behind are significantly reduced. There is also a function on the most sophisticated hearing aids that almost entirely removes echo. Keep in mind that the dispenser can change how hearing aids respond to sounds. That is not possible with the mail order devices.

Myth: It's just selective hearing; I/s/he hear(s) everything I/s/he want(s) to hear.

Fact: Speech is made up of thousands of different pitched sounds that are at different loudness levels. We can shout an "O" quite loudly so that it is heard two blocks away, but try to get a "p" to be heard two rooms away! So some sounds are just easier to hear. Now add hearing loss to that, and the fact that many hearing losses are greater in the higher pitches (where sounds like the "p" and "s" all have their energy) and you get huge variances in audibility of different words. It gets even more complicated when you add in varying distances from the talker, walls or other barriers that may or may not be between the talker's mouth and the hearing impaired listener's ear, and the presence of other distracting sounds in the area of the conversation. I find most generally, preschoolers through teenagers are more likely to periodically exhibit selective hearing, not adults!

Woman with iPhone

Myth: Everybody who gets hearing aids quits wearing them and leaves them in a drawer.

Fact: Hearing aids may be returned within 30 days if the wearer finds that s/he does not wish to wear them. No modern hearing aid should have a resting place in a drawer. Hearing aids that quit working should be taken to the dispenser or audiologist at your earliest convenience to be serviced or replaced as necessary.

Myth: If I wear a hearing aid in my ear, I will no longer be able to listen to my mp3 player.

Fact: Some current hearing aids have antennas inside them which receive the 2.3GHz signal from ipods so that you can hear music and podcasts directly through the hearing aids. Others can receive signals from blue tooth devices via a device that is worn discretely around the neck and under the shirt or that is placed into the pants pocket. The sound quality is top notch and you don't have earbuds continually shifting out of the ear.

Call us today for a free hearing consultation: (319) 364-3322
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(319) 364-3322

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Audiology Consulting Services
1953 1st Ave. SE
Suite B2
Cedar Rapids, IA 52402