Audiology

1. My son is 10 month old and I doubt his responses to sounds. Should I get his hearing checked?

If an infant is not responding to loud sounds or if the responses to sounds are inconsistent then one needs to get the child’s hearing checked by an audiologist. The audiologist will do a few audiological tests to investigate why the child is not responding to sounds. One of the tests done is the BERA (Brainstem Evoked Response Audiometry) test, which determines if the child has normal hearing sensitivity or a hearing loss. The BERA test result will then determine the further treatment for the child and parents will be guided accordingly.

2. My child had failed the hearing-screening test at birth. But she responds to sounds well. Should I get her ears checked again?

Failing the hearing-screening test at birth does not suggest that the child has a hearing problem. There are several reasons (amniotic fluid in ear canal, instrumental error etc.) why even a child with normal hearing may fail a screening test at birth. However as per protocol any child who fails a hearing screening should be re-screened after 3 months and if the child fails the screening test again, he/she should be referred for detailed hearing testing.

Though your child is responding well to sounds you should get his/her hearing checked so as to rule out the possibility of a mild hearing loss and to be sure that your child has normal hearing sensitivity.
 
3. My child is 6 month old and has been diagnosed with a profound hearing loss in both ears. Is cochlear implant the only option that I have?

Cochlear implant is one of the options that you have. Any child diagnosed with a severe-profound hearing loss is first fitted with hearing aids. If the child does not develop speech and language within 6 months after regular hearing aid use, the child can be considered for cochlear implants. Also not every child with a severe-profound hearing loss is a candidate for cochlear implant. Candidacy for cochlear implant depends on many factors. Your child will first have to undergo a few tests to determine whether he/she is a candidate for cochlear implant or not.

4. I have a profound hearing loss only in one ear. Will any hearing aid help me?

Hearing in your better ear will determine if you are a candidate for a hearing aid or not. If you have normal or near normal hearing in the better ear, you are not a candidate for a hearing aid. If you have a mild up to severe loss in the better ear (and only if the better ear is a functional ear), then you can try CROS hearing aids. CROS hearing aids transmit sounds from the poorer ear side (transmitter aid) towards the better ear (hearing aid). You should consult an audiologist for a detailed understanding of the CROS hearing aid. Also an audiologist will guide you on how to manage various listening situations with a unilateral hearing loss.

5. What are we to understand from “more the channels in a hearing aid, better is the hearing aid”?

Sound quality from a hearing aid improves with more number of channels. This is with respect to the signal to noise ratio i.e. more number of channels means better noise filtration such that speech sounds are enhanced and listening in noisy environments is a pleasant experience.

6. My mother is 50 year of age and she has hearing loss in both ears. Will she need hearing aids?

The degree and type of hearing loss will determine the need for a hearing aid. You need to consult an audiologist who will first do a hearing test (audiogram) for her and depending on the findings he/she will guide you regarding the hearing aid that suits her hearing loss and her listening needs.

7. I am 24 years old and I have a moderate-severe hearing loss in both ears, which makes it difficult for me to hear in most situations. I have been advised hearing aids but I am concerned about them being visible. Can you help me?

Cosmetic appeal is a concern for many patients with a hearing loss. These days we have small in the canal hearing aids, which fit deep in the external auditory canal close to the eardrum such that they are completely hidden. We have such hearing aids available at our clinic. You can visit us and we will be happy answer all your queries and help you with hearing aids suited for you.

8. I already have hearing aids but am not satisfied with the sound quality. Can you help me with these aids?

You can visit our clinic for getting your hearing aids programmed. However we will be able to help you only if your hearing aids are of any of the brands that we cater to i.e. Starkey, Phonak, Oticon, GN ReSound and Arphi.

9. I am 70 year old and I think I have normal hearing but my family members think otherwise. I do need repetitions occasionally and I do enjoy the television louder that others but I feel I am doing ok. Should I get my self a hearing test done?

Elderly people may loose hearing with age. This is because of weakening of the auditory nerve. Asking for repetitions and listening to the television at a louder volume are the most common signs of hearing loss among the elderly population. Another common complaint is that sounds are heard but not understood. A person with the above mentioned complaints should get his/her hearing checked by an audiologist to determine the type and degree of hearing loss. The audiologist will then guide them through getting suitable amplification devices (like hearing aids) for themselves.

10. I hear sounds but cannot understand what is being said and thus need to ask for repetitions. Do I need hearing aids?

A complaint like this is suggestive of a nerve deafness i.e. sensorineural hearing loss. You need to get a detailed audiological evaluation done to determine the degree and type of hearing loss. Whether you will need a hearing aid or not will depend on the results of the audiological tests.

11. I have this constant ringing sensation in my ears and it bothers me a lot. What is the treatment for it?

A ringing sensation in the ear (which appears to come from inside the ears) is called tinnitus. This may be temporary or constant. Tinnitus masking and hearing aids with tinnitus maskers are two options available to deal with tinnitus. You should consult an audiologist to learn more about tinnitus management and treatment.

12. Does listening to music from headphones damage hearing?

Listening to loud music from headphones and listening to music from headphones for very long durations are both harmful to the ears and can lead to hearing loss over a period of time.