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Offered by: John Wilson, B.S., BC-HIS – Blue Ribbon Hearing & Tinnitus Center

You hear with your brain, not your ears. Your ears a part of a system that takes acoustic or sound energy and transforms it and transports it to the brain to be processed. Hearing loss and dementia are strongly correlated. The negative effects of hearing loss on the brain are clearer than ever. Waiting until hearing loss is “bad enough” to get hearing aids often means that your best possible hearing is nowhere near as good as you would like for it to be.

Ear wax can cause temporary hearing loss when it blocks the canal partially or completely. Using cotton swabs or other instruments (keys, bobby pins, pen caps, paper clips, crochet needles/hooks) can cause temporary and permanent hearing loss. Putting objects in the canal can cause temporary hearing loss by pushing wax and other material deep into the ear canal and impacting it against the eardrum. Permanent hearing loss can occur when foreign objects accidentally perforate the tympanic membrane, or eardrum.

Cheap “Hearing Aids” are usually not true hearing aids. PSAPS, or personal sound amplification products have been available for decades through mail order magazines and some retail outlets. They are currently available online, and are advertised with a barrage of ads on social media sites, such as Facebook, touting the “latest technology” or “breakthrough technology” targeting baby-boomers who may have hearing loss. They are amplifiers that may have a volume control but are not adjustable to a specific hearing loss. There is no such thing as a one-size-fits-all hearing aid.

True hearing aids are controlled by the Food and Drug Administration in part because improperly fit devices could actually damage a person’s hearing. Real “hearing aids” are made of more durable materials, with specialized coatings to reduce the effect of oil, moisture, salts, acids and wax on the devices. They are digitally programmable and can only be purchased with a valid hearing test less than 6 months old performed by a licensed specialist using a certified calibrated audiometer.

Hearing aids do not “fix” your hearing, they are designed to work with whatever hearing you have. When you have your hearing tested, one of the primary tests is designed to determine how well you hear the tones that fall in the human speech range. Hearing aids are then programmed specifically to your hearing loss to pick up the specific sounds you would otherwise miss and make them loud enough for you to hear. Advanced technologies also help to hear better in noise.