Frequently Asked Questions

What exactly is hearing loss, and how does it occur?

Hearing loss, also known as hearing impairment or deafness, is the partial or complete inability to hear sounds. It can occur for various reasons, including:

  • Age-related hearing loss (Presbycusis): Gradual hearing loss that comes with aging, typically due to changes in the inner ear. While this is common, hearing loss is not “normal.”
  • Noise-induced hearing loss: Prolonged exposure to loud noises, like industrial machinery or loud music, can damage the delicate hair cells in the inner ear.
  • Genetic factors: Some people may inherit a predisposition to hearing loss.
  • Ear infections: Repeated or severe ear infections can cause damage to the ear structures, leading to hearing loss.
  • Medications: Certain medications, like some antibiotics and chemotherapy drugs, can have hearing loss as a side effect.
  • Trauma: Head injuries or exposure to explosive blasts can damage the auditory system.

What are the common signs or symptoms of hearing loss?

The signs and symptoms of hearing loss can vary depending on its type and severity. Common indicators include:

  • Difficulty understanding speech, especially in noisy environments.
  • Frequently asking people to repeat themselves.
  • Turning up the volume on the TV or radio to levels that others find too loud.
  • Avoiding social situations or conversations due to difficulty hearing.
  • Ringing in the ears (tinnitus), which can accompany hearing loss.
  • Feeling fatigued or stressed from the effort it takes to hear and communicate.

How is hearing loss diagnosed and treated?

Hearing loss is diagnosed through a series of tests conducted by an audiologist. Common tests include pure-tone audiometry, speech audiometry, and tympanometry. Once diagnosed, treatment options can vary:

  • Proper hearing technology
  • Cochlear implants 
  • Assistive listening devices
  • Medical or surgical interventions
  • Auditory rehabilitation

How is sound perceived in the brain and how can hearing loss disrupt this process?

Sound perception involves a complex interplay between the ear and the brain. Sound waves are captured by the ear, converted into electrical signals, and transmitted to the auditory cortex in the brain. Hearing loss disrupts this process by either impairing the conversion of sound waves into electrical signals (e.g., in sensorineural hearing loss) or by preventing sound waves from reaching the inner ear (e.g., in conductive hearing loss).

What is the brain’s involvement in the treatment of hearing loss? 

Neural plasticity is the brain’s capacity to reorganize and adapt. In the context of hearing loss, the brain can reassign functions and neural pathways to compensate for diminished auditory input. Hearing technology can stimulate these pathways, helping the brain adapt to the new input and potentially improve auditory perception.

What is tinnitus, and what is its relationship with hearing loss and the brain’s perception of sound?

Tinnitus is the perception of a ringing, buzzing, or other sound in the ears when there is no external sound source. It often coexists with hearing loss and can result from damage to the hair cells in the inner ear. The brain’s neural circuits involved in processing sound may become overactive, contributing to the perception of tinnitus.

Read more in our FREE tinnitus research report.

Does untreated hearing loss cause dementia?

There is ample evidence suggesting a link between untreated hearing loss and an increased risk of cognitive decline, including dementia. 

One explanation is that the brain has to work harder to process sounds when hearing is compromised, which may divert cognitive resources away from other cognitive functions. Additionally, social isolation and the resulting lack of cognitive stimulation could contribute to cognitive decline in individuals with untreated hearing loss. A landmark study published in the journal JAMA Internal Medicine in 2013 found that older adults with hearing loss had a higher risk of developing dementia over time compared to those with normal hearing. 

Read more in our FREE report detailing the links of untreated hearing loss and dementia.

How can a hearing aid relieve my tinnitus?

Hearing technology helps to manage tinnitus by amplifying external sounds, which can mask the internal tinnitus noise. They provide auditory stimulation, potentially reducing the perception of tinnitus. Additionally, hearing technology may include sound therapy features to play soothing sounds. Improving communication with hearing devices can also contribute to overall well-being and help alleviate tinnitus-related distress. 

How does my hearing affect my balance?

Hearing is closely linked to balance through the inner ear’s vestibular system. The semicircular canals, responsible for detecting head movement, and auditory input work together to provide information on spatial orientation and balance to the brain. For example, the sound of footsteps helps in balance adjustments. Hearing loss can potentially impact balance, and studies suggest a correlation between hearing loss and an increased risk of falls, especially in older adults. 

For more information on the connection between untreated hearing loss and falling, read our research report.

Why is cognitive screening important during a complete audiological examination?

Cognitive screening is vital in audiological exams due to the growing recognition of the link between hearing health and cognitive function. Hearing involves complex brain processing, and cognitive abilities influence communication and language understanding. Screening helps detect early cognitive decline, ensuring timely interventions. It enables comprehensive patient care, informs treatment plans, and educates patients and families about the interconnectedness of hearing and cognitive health.

Why do my hearing aids often get disconnected from my smartphone?

Bluetooth connectivity issues with hearing devices can be attributed to several factors, and troubleshooting these problems may help improve your experience. Common reasons for Bluetooth connectivity problems with hearing technology include:

  • Interference: Other electronic devices or wireless signals in the vicinity can cause interference with Bluetooth connections. Make sure you are in a relatively interference-free environment.
  • Low Battery Levels: Both the hearing devices and the Bluetooth device (e.g., smartphone) should have sufficient battery levels. Low battery levels can result in unreliable connections.
  • Compatibility Issues: Ensure that your hearing technology and the Bluetooth device you are connecting to are compatible. 
  • Software Updates: Ensure that both your hearing devices and the Bluetooth device have the latest software updates. Manufacturers often release updates to improve compatibility and address connectivity issues.
  • Proximity: Bluetooth connections have limited range. Make sure the Bluetooth device is within the recommended range for connectivity, typically within 35 feet.
  • Signal Obstruction: Physical barriers, such as walls or obstacles between the hearing technology and the Bluetooth device, can weaken the signal. Try to minimize obstructions.
  • Pairing Issues: Ensure that your hearing devices are properly paired with the Bluetooth device. 
  • Device Settings: Check the Bluetooth settings on both your hearing technology and the connected device. Ensure that Bluetooth is enabled, and the devices are set to be discoverable or paired with each other.

If I have hearing loss in both ears but one ear is worse than the other, can I use only one hearing aid and get by with my better ear well enough?

In many cases, if you have hearing loss in both ears but one ear is worse than the other, it is still recommended to use hearing technology in both ears. Here are several reasons why using two hearing devices is often beneficial:

  • Binaural Hearing: Our brain is wired to process sound from both ears, enabling us to locate the source of sounds and understand speech more effectively. Using two hearing devices (binaural amplification) helps preserve the natural binaural hearing process.
  • Improved Sound Localization: Having hearing technology in both ears enhances your ability to locate the direction of sounds in your environment. This is particularly important for safety and situational awareness.
  • Balanced Hearing: Wearing hearing technology in both ears provides a more balanced and natural listening experience. It can help create a sense of equilibrium in your hearing, improving overall communication and sound perception.
  • Enhanced Speech Understanding in Noise: Binaural hearing devices can improve your ability to understand speech in noisy environments. The brain can use input from both ears to focus on speech and filter out background noise more effectively.
  • Sound Quality: Using two hearing devices provides a fuller and more natural sound experience. It can enhance your enjoyment of music and other auditory experiences.
  • Preventing Auditory Deprivation: Even if one ear has significantly better hearing than the other, using a hearing device in the better ear can help prevent auditory deprivation. Auditory deprivation occurs when an ear is not stimulated with sound, leading to a decline in its ability to process information over time.

To get started on improving your hearing, schedule your Complimentary Richard Kaner-Approved Hearing Consultation today by calling 718-745-6363 or by clicking here to use our convenient online form.

Your appointment includes the following:

  • We Will Carefully Listen To Your Concerns & Goals
  • Thorough Explanation Of Our Process
  • Comprehensive Treatment Plan
  • Receive A Free Copy Of Richard Kaner's Book, “Break Free Of Hearing Loss”

After your consultation, we will recommend further evaluative testing to get a deeper understanding of your hearing loss and the best rehabilitative methods for your needs.

If you’re ready to experience our 5-star rated hearing care, schedule your hearing consultation today. We can’t wait to meet you!

As the premier audiology practice in Brooklyn, NY, our experienced Doctors of Audiology and team at Brooklyn Audiology Associates also provide 5-star hearing care to patients from Western Queens, Staten Island & Lower Manhattan, NY & the surrounding areas.