Causes and symptoms of hearing loss
Aging and continuous exposure to loud noises can both contribute to hearing loss. The Hearing Center by BayCare Clinic can work with you to determine your type of hearing loss and provide you with the best possible solution.
Signs and symptoms of hearing loss may include:
- Hearing muffled speech or other sounds
- Difficulty understanding words or specific consonants
- Difficulty differentiating noise in a crowd
- Needing to increase volume on devices
- Avoidance in social settings
- Withdrawal from conversations
Additionally, if the cause of your hearing loss is sudden or in one ear additional medical conditions may be present.
The Hearing Center BayCare clinic works closely with BayCare Clinic Ear, Nose & Throat to provide a full array of treatment options for all your hearing needs.
Age-related hearing loss
Approximately one in three people in the United States ages 65 to 75 experience some degree of hearing loss. Once over the age of 75, that number increases to nearly one in two people.
As people age, structures in their inner ear can deteriorate leading to a gradual loss of hearing in one or both ears.
Hearing loss can have a significant impact on your quality of life. Older adults with undiagnosed hearing loss may experience loneliness, increased isolation and even depression.
Age-related hearing loss may initially be diagnosed as a memory and retention condition – leading to a diagnosis of dementia or Alzheimer’s disease. If you or a loved one is experiencing issues related to memory loss or retention, seeing an audiologist to obtain a hearing test first, is highly recommended.
Noise-related hearing loss
Noise exposure can also play a significant role in hearing loss. This includes continuous noise exposure from work environments in industries like farming, construction, foundries, factories or aviation but can also include loud short-term noises like fire arms, motorcycles, carpentry tools, snowmobiles and loud music.
Any noise over 140 decibels has the potential to cause immediate, and sometimes permanent damage to your hearing.
According to data collected by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, your ears can tolerate up to two hours of noise at 91 decibels before damage begins to occur. For reference, a typical conversation between two people occurs at approximately 65 decibels.
The good news is noise-related hearing loss is completely preventable.
There are several products on the market that can help protect your hearing in instances where loud or continuous noises might be present.
If you are continuously exposed to any level of noise, you should consider having your hearing tested regularly.
Our audiologists can provide routine hearing tests and help you determine what steps to take to prevent further damage.
Additionally, if you have already experienced some level of hearing loss, our audiologists can prescribe a variety of different hearing devices to meet the needs of your individual lifestyle.
Your go-to source for a variety of hearing devices
The Hearing Center BayCare Clinic is proud to be a leader in excellence among Wisconsin hearing aid clinics. We strive to provide each patient with the latest in technology to meet your individual lifestyle needs.
We are not contracted with any specific manufacturer, but are one of the only providers in the area licensed to implant Lyric, an invisible inner ear extended-wear hearing aid.
Hearing aid brands carried by The Hearing Center BayCare Clinic
Over-the-counter hearing aids
The U.S. Food & Drug Administration issued final regulations for the sale of over-the-counter hearing aids. Consumers will be able to purchase over-the-counter hearing aids in stores and online, where prescription hearing aids are not available.
Some people, particularly those with mild hearing loss, will benefit from over-the-counter hearing aids. Others, however, will need to see an audiologist for more sophisticated care. That’s because hearing loss is unique to each individual. Most people cannot determine whether their hearing deficiency is caused by a serious medical issue or by something as simple as ear wax.
Click here for more information about over-the-counter hearing aids
Common hearing loss questions
How do I know if I have hearing loss or need hearing aids?
The best way to tell if you have hearing loss and need hearing aids is to have a complete hearing evaluation. There are many signs that indicate your hearing is not as sharp as it should be. You can refer to the Hearing Health Quick Test and see how you score. If you have a score of three or more it may be a sign that it is time for a hearing evaluation.
Who should I see for hearing loss?
It is highly recommended you see an audiologist about your hearing loss. Not everyone who conducts hearing tests is an audiologist, however.
How do I know I know the difference between an audiologist and someone else who might be testing my hearing?
A Hearing Instrument Specialist (HIS) who sells hearing aids may offer hearing evaluations -- possibly even for free. However, an HIS does not have the experience or training an audiologist has. An audiologist must hold either a master’s degree (MS) or a doctorate degree in audiology (AuD) which requires undergraduate and graduate studies, as well as internships.
Does an audiologist charge more for hearing aids?
No, the price for hearing aid devices is consistent across markets regardless of who sells them.
Does Medicare cover hearing aids?
Medicare does not cover the cost of hearing aids, but some commercial insurance plans have hearing aid coverage. It is best to refer to your benefits booklet, contact your human resource department, or contact your insurance carrier prior to your appointment so that you know what to expect.
I can hear I just don’t understand when people mumble. Aren’t hearing aids just amplifiers?
Hearing aids do amplify, but the new digital models are designed specifically to amplify frequencies and pitches where you need help hearing. Most hearing aids on the market have digital processors which adjust automatically to reduce background noise and enhance speech. Hearing aids can be adjusted to meet your individual needs when distinguishing voices from background noise.
I don’t want my hearing aid to be seen. Can everyone wear the tiny ones?
Many of the new hearing aids surprise people because of their small size and discreet appearance. Many fit behind the ear. The type and severity of your hearing loss will play a role in determining the right style of hearing aid for you. Different types of hearing aids serve a wide-variety of hearing conditions. Our audiologists will help you find the right device to meet all your lifestyle and hearing needs.
Are the tiny hearing aids that fit inside your ear canal more expensive than the big ones that go behind your ear?
No, not necessarily. Those are two different styles of hearing aids. The style of the hearing aid has to do with what the hearing aid looks like. How much the hearing aid will cost depends on the type of technology in the hearing aid not necessarily the size.
Why is there such a large price range for hearing aids?
In many cases, the price that you pay for the hearing aids includes much more than just the device. The cost may also cover office visits and appointments, extended warranties, supplies and maintenance. Beyond that, the cost variation will be affected by a large range of technology choices.
I heard that digital hearing aids are better. Do you offer digital hearing aids?
Yes. All hearing aids available today are digital hearing aids, which refers to the type of computer chip and sound-processing inside the hearing device. There is still a wide variety of options and performance abilities in the digital category, however. Some hearing aids work well in quiet environments, but not so well in background noise. Others may be better suited to noisy environments, changing environments or music, and some are designed to work wirelessly with TV's, cell phones and streaming audio players. Our audiologists take the time to help you determine which type of hearing aid will best suit your hearing needs as well as your lifestyle and interests.
Can I get just one hearing aid?
Though not common, some people will only need one hearing aid because they’ve only experienced hearing loss in one ear. Most people, however, experience hearing loss in both ears. Hearing aids can adjust so the volume in both ears matches.
What if I can only afford one hearing aid?
For most people, cost will have some influence on their hearing aid selection process. If cost is a priority in your decision, it is best to remember that even with the great improvements in hearing aid technology, our brains are still the best computers. So, if two hearing aids are recommended for you, you will likely do better with two lower technology hearing aids than you would with one higher technology hearing aid because our brains hear and understand the best when sound comes in equally to both ears. Our audiologists will work with you directly to determine the best fit for your budget and for your hearing needs.
I still don’t know if a hearing aid is what I want or need. Can I try it and return it if I don’t like it?
Yes, we provide a trial period for patients to test out any hearing aid device. If you determine your device is not a good fit, you can return the hearing aid within 30 days of purchase. Our audiologists will take the time to discuss all your options and help you make the best decision for you before the hearing aid is ordered, but if it does not match your needs or your expectations you will have the option of returning it or exchanging it for something different. If you choose to return it, you will be refunded less a small fee that is used to cover the shipping, ear impression and audiologist's time. If you exchange for a different instrument, there is no fee applied. You simply pay the difference in cost.
I have seen advertisements for cheap hearing aids. Are they just as good?
"You get what you pay for" is a dangerous statement when it comes to hearing aids. TV ads, internet ads and magazine ads may sound intriguing, but understand that the price you pay when you visit an audiologist also includes the professional services you receive. An ear impression may be needed to custom design your hearing aid, programming adjustments will likely be needed to fine tune the settings to your specific needs and you will probably have questions once you have the hearing aid in your hands. An Audiologist will be able to help you with all these factors and more. Our audiologists will spend time with you to understand your hearing needs and can work within your budget to make sure you receive the best performance possible from your device.