Frequently Asked Questions – All FAQs
Audiologists are primary providers of hearing healthcare. They hold a Bachelors or Master’s degree in audiology and are regulated by the College of Audiologists and Speech-Language Pathologists. Audiologists perform hearing evaluations, prescribe hearing aids, and also repair/troubleshoot hearing aids and assistive listening devices. Audiologists provide treatment for other hearing-related issues including tinnitus, vestibular function, and cerumen management (ear wax removal).
Speech-Language Pathologists possess specialized knowledge, skills, and clinical training in the assessment and management of communication and swallowing disorders. They hold a Bachelors or Master’s degree in speech-language pathology . Speech-language pathologists assess and treat a variety of communication difficulties including cognitive communication disorders, voice disorders, stuttering, literacy, articulation and language delays. Speech-Language Pathologists also provide consultation to other professionals (e.g. teachers, occupational therapists), and provide counselling/coaching to caregivers of those with communication delays.
Speech-Language Pathologists diagnose and provide treatment for children and adults with a variety of speech-language, cognitive, voice, and feeding-swallowing problems.
Sound travels in invisible waves through the air. It occurs when a moving or vibrating object causes the air around it to move, creating pressure waves (or sound waves) that radiate outwards from the source.
When the sound waves hit the eardrum in the middle ear, the eardrum starts to vibrate. When the eardrum vibrates, it moves three tiny bones in your ear. These bones are called the malleus,incus, and stapes. They help sound move along on its journey into the inner ear.
The cochlea is filled with liquid that carries the vibrations to thousands of tiny hair cells. There are two types of hair cells: The outer hair cells take the sound information, amplify it (make it louder), and tune it. The inner hair cells send the sound information to your hearing nerve, which then sends it to your brain. The movement in the fluid causes the cells to carry a message to the nerve that is connected to the brain, which turns the signals into what you hear.
Hearing impairment happens when there is a problem with one or more parts of the ear or ears (“impairment” means something is not working correctly or as well as it should).
Someone who has hearing loss might be able to hear some sounds or nothing at all. People also may use the words deaf, deafness, or hard of hearing when they’re talking about hearing loss.
About 3 in 1,000 babies are born with hearing impairment, making it the most common birth defect. A hearing problem can also develop later in life.
- Exposure to loud noise.
- Head trauma.
- Virus or disease.
- Inner ear disease.
- Hearing loss that runs in the family.
- Aging (presbycusis)
- Malformation of the inner ear.
- Meniere’s Disease.
The external ear and the middle ear conduct sound: the inner ear receives it. If there is some difficulty in the external or middle ear, a conductive hearing loss occurs. If the trouble lies in the inner ear, a sensorineural (SNHL) or nerve hearing loss is the result. When there is some difficulty in both the middle and inner ear, a combination of conductive and sensorineural impairment exists.
1. Conductive Hearing Losses
Any disease affecting the ear canal (external ear), ear drum, middle ear space or the three small ear bones may cause a conductive hearing loss by interfering with the transmission of sound to the inner ear. Such a conductive hearing impairment may be due to a perforation (hole) in the ear drum, partial destruction or fixation of one or all of the three little ear bones, or scar tissue around the ear bones or in the ear drum. Other causes of conductive hearing losses include wax in the ear canal, middle ear fluid or infection or any other process that would prevent sound from reaching the inner ear.
2. Sensorineural Hearing Loss (inner ear hearing loss)
Sensorineural hearing loss is an inner ear hearing loss. The inner ear loss can occur in the cochlea, the cochlear or auditory nerve, the brainstem, or the auditory cortex. The auditory cortex is the region of the brain in which sound is heard. For most cases of sensorineural hearing loss, including sudden SNHL, it is felt that the abnormality is within the cochlea itself. For most case of SNHL, including sudden SNHL, the external ear canal and the middle ear are normal.
3. Mixed hearing loss.
This is a combination of conductive and sensorineural hearing loss. This kind of hearing loss is permanent.
- Require frequent repetition.
- Have difficulty following conversations involving more than 2 people.
- Think that other people sound muffled or like they’re mumbling.
- Have difficulty hearing in noisy situations, like conferences, restaurants, malls, or crowded meeting rooms.
- Have trouble hearing children and women.
- Have your TV or radio turned up to a high volume.
- Answer or respond inappropriately in conversations.
- Have ringing in your ears.
- Read lips or more intently watch people’s faces when they speak with you.
Complaining that people are mumbling, Frequently ask people to repeat what they have said, Prefer the television or radio louder than other people, Have trouble understanding what is being said at the movies or theater, your house of worship, or other public gatherings, Have difficulty understanding conversations in a group, Have trouble understanding someone if they are speaking from a different room, Become more impatient, irritable, frustrated, or withdrawn, Have trouble understanding people when you cannot see their faces, Strain to hear conversations, Avoid being the first person to start a conversation, Have trouble hearing when people speak softly, Have trouble hearing on the telephone, Avoid social occasions, family gatherings and noisy environments
Hearing aids make sounds louder (amplify sounds) so that you can hear them. The goal is to make soft sounds audible, the sound of normal conversation comfortable, and loud sounds loud, but not too loud.
Hearing aids improve a person’s ability to understand speech (such as conversations) by amplifying the sounds (such as high-pitched consonants) not audible to the individual. The extent a hearing aid can improve speech understanding will depend on the degree of the person’s hearing loss and how much noise is present in the listening situations.
People with hearing loss, even in only one ear, benefit the most from wearing a hearing aid in each ear. The benefits of having a hearing aid in each ear include:
- Improved ability to understand speech in background noise
- Less need to turn up the volume of the hearing aid – lower volume reduces the chance of hearing aid ‘whistle’ (feedback)
- Less fatigue at the end of the day because it is easier to listen with both ears
- Improved ability to locate the source of sound
- Possible prevention of the slow loss of hearing in the ‘better’ ear