Our Most Frequently Asked Questions

General Questions

I can hear, but I cannot understand what people are saying. Why?

Hearing alone does not mean that a spoken message was understood. The ability to understand an auditory signal depends on the brain’s ability to receive and interpret the message.

How much do hearing aids cost? / Why are some hearing aids so expensive?

  • Let’s be honest, hearing aids are expensive. Also, most people with hearing loss will need two hearing aids. This high price can often be a barrier that prevents people from seeking necessary hearing healthcare. However, hearing aids need to be viewed as a valuable investment and long-term solution, rather than a costly purchase. These devices are worn during all waking hours, seven days a week.
  • A study by the Better Hearing Institute studied 40,000 households and found that untreated hearing loss reduced household income by an average of $12,000 per year, with as much as $30,000 a year. In the same study, they found hearing aids can reduce this effect by 50%, which makes hearing aids a valuable investment!
  • Studies have also linked untreated hearing loss to other health conditions and increased risk of falling. Overall, untreated hearing loss results in higher healthcare costs.

What is the difference between a hearing evaluation and a hearing aid evaluation?

  1. A hearing evaluation includes a thorough case history of your hearing difficulties and a hearing test battery to assess all parts of the peripheral hearing system (outer, middle, and inner ear). Your hearing test results will be plotted on an audiogram, which is a graph of your hearing thresholds across a range of pitches. Your hearing thresholds provide your “hearing prescription”, meaning the hearing aids will be fit to your personal hearing test.
  2. During the hearing aid evaluation, the audiologist will review different hearing aid styles and hearing aid manufacturers. Most importantly, the audiologist will counsel you on realistic expectations of wearing hearing aids. Together with the audiologist, you will decide if you are a hearing aid candidate based on your reported hearing difficulties and type/degree of hearing loss. At this time, your hearing aids will be chosen.

Do hearing aids restore normal hearing? / Restore your hearing back to normal?

  • Hearing aids cannot restore your hearing back to normal or “cure” your hearing loss. Additionally, they cannot stop the progression of hearing loss. However, there are many things that a hearing aid can do:
    • Hearing aids make soft sounds audible, normal conversation comfortable, and loud sounds loud but not uncomfortable.
    • Depending on the degree of hearing loss, hearing aids improve the ability to understand speech/conversations and to localize sounds in your environment.
  • Hearing aids can improve the ability to understand speech and conversations in noise.
  • Hearing aids can improve your overall quality of life.
  • It is important to recognize the amount of benefit derived from hearing aids will vary from person to person. The benefit will also depend on the amount of motivation you have to improve your hearing healthcare.

What is an audiologist?

An audiologist is a healthcare professional that assesses, treats, and rehabilitates hearing, tinnitus, and balance disorders.

Can I just wear one hearing aid?

Two ears are always better than one. Wearing hearing aids on both ears decreases listening fatigue, improves the ability to localize sounds, and improves ability to understand speech in background noise.

Pediatric Questions

Could a hearing aid help my child?

A hearing aid can help your child. Early language is developed through incidental learning, or “random learning” by picking up on conversational language structure. Additionally, consistent sound input is critical for a child to develop the brain pathways for hearing and speech & language development. If an audiologist recommends hearing aids for your child, it is so important that your child wear the hearing aids continuously and consistently for speech & language development.

How will I choose the best treatment option for my child?

When treating a child with hearing loss, there is no one-size-fits-all option. Both communication options and device options must be taken into consideration for your child’s future. Communication options include oral communication, manual communication (sign language), and total communication. Device options may include hearing aids, cochlear implants, bone anchored hearing aids, and hearing assistive technology. Audiologists, support groups, family members, and other healthcare professionals can all provide advice on the best option for your child. Once you have gathered all the necessary information, you will ultimately the best option is for your child—because you know them best!

Why did this happen to my child? / What could have caused my child’s hearing loss?

The NIDCD reports about 2 to 3 out of 1,000 children in the United States are born with a detectable level of hearing loss in one or both ears. Hearing loss in children could be linked to several factors, both genetic and non-genetic. According to the Tennessee Department of Health, the following are risk factors for hearing loss in children:

  1. A prolonged NICU stay of greater than 5 days.
  2. Syndrome associated with progressive or late onset hearing loss and any associated physical findings.
  3. Family history of childhood hearing loss.
  4. Craniofacial anomalies.
  5. In-utero infections such as CMV, Herpes, Rubella, Syphilis, & Toxoplasmosis
  6. Condition at birth requiring use of ECMO
  7. Chemotherapy and other ototoxic medications or loop diuretics (ask your healthcare professional).
  8. Blood transfusions to treat bad jaundice (hyperbilirubinemia).
  9. Postnatal infection associated with hearing loss, such as sepsis or meningitis.

It is important to note that not every child with risk factors has hearing loss. If your child does have one or more of these risk factors, it is important to monitor your child’s hearing and have it tested every 6 months until speech and language has fully developed.

How will the hearing loss affect my child’s speech and language development?

Hearing is critical to the development of oral speech & language. The earlier the hearing loss is identified and intervention begins, the less your child’s oral language and communication skills will be affected.

What is the likelihood that this will happen with my other children?

Genetic testing can be performed to determine this likelihood. If testing does conclude the hearing loss is genetic, specialists can determine the probability your other children will experience hearing loss.

Cochlear Questions

What does a cochlear implant sound like?

Hearing through a cochlear implant is different from normal hearing or hearing through a hearing aid. It will take time to get used to the device. At first, cochlear implant sound quality is commonly described as “mechanical” or “robotic”. With continuous use of the device & both formal and informal aural (re)habilitation, the brain will learn to recognize this new way of hearing. For most patients, sound quality will continue to improve over the first 6 to 12 months.

Which cochlear implant manufacturers do you work with at PAS?

PAS works with all three cochlear implant manufacturers: Advanced Bionics, Cochlear Americas, and MED-EL.

Who can get a cochlear implant?

Cochlear implant candidacy criteria has evolved over the years. Criteria differs by age, insurance, and CI manufacturer. If you or your child are not receiving good benefit from your hearing aids and you are interested in learning more, please reach out to us to schedule an evaluation. Our doctors are prepared to guide you through this journey to better hearing.

What is the cochlear implant surgery like?

For both adults and children, it is usually and outpatient procedure. It takes approximately 3 hours per side. Cochlear implant surgery is not brain surgery.

How are cochlear implants different from hearing aids?

A cochlear implant is not a hearing aid. A hearing aid captures the sound in the environment through a microphone, amplifies the sound based on the person’s hearing loss, and presents the sound to the ear canal. From there, the sound is transmitted through the hearing system in the normal fashion. Unlike a hearing aid, a cochlear implant bypasses the outer and middle ear. The CI microphone captures the sound, converts the sound to an electrical signal, and transmits the sound through the skin to an internal implant & electrodes. The electrodes inside the cochlea will stimulate the auditory nerve directly.

How does a cochlear implant work?

First, sounds are picked up by the external CI processor microphone. The processor then turns the sound into a pattern of electrical pulses. The processor will send this pattern through the skin to the internal implant. The internal implant sits under the skin in the skull, and will send the electrical pulses to the electrodes in the cochlea. The electrodes in the cochlea stimulate the auditory nerve. The nerve sends the electrical pulses to the brain, which detects the pulses as sound.

How can I learn more about cochlear implants?

If you are interested in learning more about cochlear implants, please call to set up a consultation and cochlear implant evaluation. For more information about specific cochlear implant manufacturers, please visit the links below:

  1. https://advancedbionics.com/content/advancedbionics/us/en/home.html
  2. https://www.cochlear.com/us/home
  3. https://www.medel.com/us/