The Top 5 Hearing Aid Myths Exposed

Sometimes, it seems as if we love to mislead ourselves. Wikipedia has an page titled “List of common misconceptions” that contains hundreds of universally-held but false beliefs. Yes, I know it’s Wikipedia, but take a look at the bottom of the webpage and you’ll see approximately 385 references to credible sources.

As an example, did you know that Thomas Edison didn’t invent the lightbulb? Or that sugar does not in reality make kids hyperactive? There are countless examples of beliefs that we just assume to be true, but from time to time, it’s a good idea to reevaluate what we think we know.

For a number of of us, it’s time to reassess what we think we know about hearing aids. Many of the myths and misconceptions about hearing aids are founded on the issues associated with the older analog hearing aid models. But since the majority of hearing aids are now digital, those issues are a thing of the past.

So how up-to-date is your hearing aid knowledge? Read below to see if any of the top 5 myths are keeping you or someone you know from getting a hearing aid.

The Top 5 Myths About Hearing Aids

Myth # 1: Hearing aids are not effective because some people have had bad experiences.

Reality: First, hearing aids have been proven to be effective. A study reported in the Journal of the American Medical Association comparing the effectiveness of three popular styles of hearing aids determined that:

Each [hearing aid] circuit markedly improved speech recognition, with greater improvement observed for soft and conversationally loud speech….All 3 circuits significantly reduced the frequency of problems encountered in verbal communication….Each circuit provided significant benefit in quiet and noisy listening situations.

Moreover, since the release of this research, hearing aid technology has continued to improve. So the question is not whether hearing aids work — the question is whether you have the right hearing aid for your hearing loss, professionally programmed in accordance to your preferences by a competent professional.

Negative experiences are likely the result of purchasing the wrong hearing aid, buying hearing aids online, contacting the wrong individual, or not having the hearing aids customized and professionally programmed.

Myth # 2: Hearing aids are big, bulky, and unsightly.

Reality: This one is relatively easy to disprove. Simply perform a quick Google image search for “attractive hearing aid designs” and you’ll discover a variety of examples of sleek and colorful models from numerous producers.

Also, “completely-in-the-canal” (CIC) hearing aids are available that are virtually or completely invisible when worn. The newer, stylish designs, however, compel some patients to go with the somewhat larger hearing aid models to flaunt the technology.

Myth # 3: Hearing aids are too expensive.

Reality: Today, some flat screen televisions with ultra-high definition curved glass sell for $8,000 or more. But this doesn’t make us say that “all TVs are too expensive.”

Just like television sets, hearing aids vary in price dependent on performance and features. While you may not want — or need — the top of the line hearing aids, you can almost certainly find a pair that fits your needs, preferences, and budget. Also keep in mind that, as is the situation with all electronics, hearing aids are becoming more affordable from year to year, and that the value of better hearing and a better life is almost always well worth the cost.

Myth # 4: You can save time and money buying hearing aids online.

Reality: Remember myth # 1 that maintained that hearing aids are not effective? Well, it was probably triggered by this myth. Like we said before, hearing aids have been proven to be effective, but the one caveat to that assertion has always been that hearing aids have to be programmed by a professional to ensure performance.

You wouldn’t dare buy a pair of prescription glasses online without consulting your eye doctor because your glasses need to be tailored according to the unique characteristics of your vision loss. Buying hearing aids is exactly the same.

Yes, visiting a hearing specialist is more costly, but consider what you get for the price: you can be confident that you get the right hearing aid with the right fitting and settings, along with follow-up care, adjustments, cleanings, instructions, repair services, and more. It’s well worth it.

Myth # 5: Hearing aids are uncomfortable and challenging to operate.

Reality: If this relates to analog hearing aids, then yes, it is generally true. The thing is, practically all hearing aids are now digital.

Digital hearing aids dynamically process sound with a compact computer chip so that you don’t have to worry about manual adjustments; in addition, some digital hearing aids can even be managed through your cellphone. The bottom line: digital hearing aids are being designed with optimum ease-of-use in mind.

Your hearing specialist can also produce a custom mold for your hearing aids, ensuring a comfortable and ideal fit. While a one-size-fits all hearing aid will probably be uncomfortable, a custom-fit hearing aid conforms to the contours of your ear.

How to Read Your Audiogram at Your Hearing Test

Audiogram

You’ve just concluded your hearing test. The hearing specialist is now entering the room and presents you with a graph, like the one above, except that it has all of these icons, colors, and lines. This is supposed to reveal to you the exact, mathematically precise characteristics of your hearing loss, but to you it may as well be written in Greek.

The audiogram adds confusion and complication at a time when you’re supposed to be concentrating on how to strengthen your hearing. But don’t let it fool you — just because the audiogram looks puzzling doesn’t mean that it’s hard to understand.

After reading through this article, and with a little terminology and a few basic concepts, you’ll be reading audiograms like a expert, so that you can concentrate on what really is important: better hearing.

Some advice: as you read the article, reference the above blank audiogram. This will make it much easier to understand, and we’ll cover all of those cryptic marks the hearing specialist adds later on.

Understanding Sound Frequencies and Decibels

The audiogram is essentially just a chart that records sound volume on the vertical axis and sound frequency on the horizontal axis. (are you having flashbacks to high school geometry class yet?) Yes, there’s more to it, but at a elementary level it’s just a chart graphing two variables, as follows:

The vertical axis records sound intensity or volume, measured in decibels (dB). As you move up the axis, the sound volume decreases. So the top line, at 0 decibels, is a very soft, weak sound. As you move down the line, the decibel levels increase, representing gradually louder sounds until you get to 100 dB.

The horizontal axis records sound frequency, measured in Hertz (Hz). Starting at the top left of the graph, you will see a low frequency of 125 or 250 Hz. As you proceed along the horizontal axis to the right, the frequency will gradually increase until it arrives at 8,000 Hz. Vowel sounds of speech are in general low frequency sounds, while consonant sounds of speech are high frequency sounds.

So, if you were to start at the top left corner of the graph and draw a diagonal line to the bottom right corner, you would be increasing the frequency of sound (progressing from vowel sounds to consonant sounds) while increasing the strength of sound (moving from fainter to louder volume).

Examining Hearing and Marking Up the Audiogram

So, what’s with all the markings you normally see on this basic graph?

Easy. Start off at the top left corner of the graph, at the lowest frequency (125 Hz). Your hearing professional will present you with a sound at this frequency through headphones, starting with the smallest volume decibel level. If you can hear it at the lowest level (0 decibels), a mark is created at the intersection of 125 Hz and 0 decibels. If you can’t perceive the 125 Hz sound at 0 decibels, the sound will be presented for a second time at the next loudest decibel level (10 decibels). If you can perceive it at 10 decibels, a mark is created. If not, move on to 15 decibels, and so on.

This exact process is repeated for every frequency as the hearing specialist proceeds along the horizontal frequency line. A mark is made at the lowest perceivable decibel level you can perceive for each sound frequency.

In terms of the other symbols? If you observe two lines, one is for the left ear (the blue line) and one is for the right ear (the red line: red is for right). An X is regularly used to mark the points for the left ear; an O is employed for the right ear. You may discover some other symbols, but these are less significant for your basic understanding.

What Normal Hearing Looks Like

So what is deemed as normal hearing, and what would that look like on the audiogram?

Individuals with normal hearing should be able to perceive every sound frequency level (125 to 8000 Hz) at 0-25 decibels. What would this look like on the audiogram?

Take the blank graph, find 25 decibels on the vertical axis, and draw a horizontal line all the way across. Any mark made below this line may signify hearing loss. If you can perceive all frequencies under this line (25 decibels or higher), then you probably have normal hearing.

If, however, you cannot perceive the sound of a particular frequency at 0-25 dB, you very likely have some form of hearing loss. The lowest decibel level at which you can perceive sound at that frequency determines the amount of your hearing loss.

For instance, consider the 1,000 Hertz frequency. If you can perceive this frequency at 0-25 decibels, you have normal hearing for this frequency. If the minimum decibel level at which you can perceive this frequency is 40 decibels, for example, then you have moderate hearing loss at this frequency.

As a summary, here are the decibel levels associated with normal hearing along with the levels linked with mild, moderate, severe, and profound hearing loss:

Normal hearing: 0-25 dB

Mild hearing loss: 20-40 dB

Moderate hearing loss: 40-70 dB

Severe hearing loss: 70-90 dB

Profound hearing loss: 90+ dB

What Hearing Loss Looks Like

So what might an audiogram with signals of hearing loss look like? Because the majority of instances of hearing loss are in the higher frequencies (labeled as — you guessed it — high-frequency hearing loss), the audiogram would have a downward slanting line from the top left corner of the graph sloping downward horizontally to the right.

This indicates that at the higher-frequencies, it takes a increasingly louder decibel level for you to experience the sound. And, since higher-frequency sounds are connected with the consonant sounds of speech, high-frequency hearing loss damages your ability to grasp and follow conversations.

There are a few other, less prevalent patterns of hearing loss that can show up on the audiogram, but that’s probably too much detail for this entry.

Testing Your New-Found Knowledge

You now know the fundamentals of how to read an audiogram. So go ahead, arrange that hearing test and surprise your hearing specialist with your newfound abilities. And just think about the look on their face when you tell them all about your high frequency hearing loss before they even say a word.

How to Persuade Someone to Get a Hearing Test

We don’t need to tell you the symptoms of hearing loss; you already know them all too well. You have a different type of problem: persuading someone you care for to get their hearing evaluated and treated.

But just how are you supposed to get through to someone who denies there is even an issue, or that simply shrugs it off as “just part of getting old”?

It turns out that it’s not as easy as just recommending to them that they need their hearing tested. They won’t see the need, and you won’t get very far using threats, ultimatums, or other coercive tactics.

Even though it may seem like an impossible scenario, there are other, more discreet approaches you can employ. In fact, you can tap into the massive body of social scientific research that reveals which techniques of persuasion have been determined to be the most consistently effective.

In other words, you can utilize tested, researched, and confirmed persuasive methods that have been shown to actually work. It’s worth an attempt, right? And examining the strategies might help you to think of additional ideas.

With that in mind, here are 6 scientifically tested techniques of persuasion and how you might use them to persuade a loved one to get their hearing tested:

1. Reciprocity

What it is:

The principle of reciprocity is very simple: if someone does a favor for you, you’re strongly compelled to return the favor for them.

How to use it:

Timing is everything. You plan on asking your loved one to get their hearing tested at some point anyway, so why not make the request soon after you’ve done something special for them?

2. Commitment and Consistency

What it is:

We all have a strong psychological desire to think and behave consistently.

How to use it:

The key is to start with small commitments ahead of making the final request. If you start by telling your loved one to get a hearing test, you likely won’t see much success.

Alternatively, ease into the topic by casually sharing an article on hearing loss and how widespread it is. Without mentioning their own hearing loss, get them to disclose that hearing loss is a more prominent issue than they had believed.

As soon as they confess to a couple of basic facts, it may be less difficult to discuss their own individual hearing loss, and they may be more likely to accept that they have a problem.

3. Social Proof

What it is:

We have a tendency to think in terms of “safety in numbers.” We tend to follow the crowd, and we assume that if a number of other people are doing something, it must be safe or beneficial.

How to use it:

There are at minimum two ways to use this technique. One way is to share articles on the many advantages of wearing hearing aids and how hearing aids amplify the quality of life for millions of people in the U.S. and around the world.

The second way to use the technique is to schedule a hearing test for yourself. Inform your loved one that you want to confirm the well being of your own hearing, but that you would feel better if they went with you and had their own assessment.

4. Liking

What it is:

You are more likely to be persuaded by people you personally like than by either a stranger or by someone you dislike.

How to use it:

Solicit the assistance of people you know your loved one likes or respects. Attempt to find that one person whom your loved one consistently seems to respond to, and have him or her talk about and highly recommend a hearing test.

5. Authority

What it is:

We have the tendency to listen to and have respect for the viewpoints of those we perceive as authority figures.

How to use it:

Share articles on how celebrities, athletes, and other popular figures wear and benefit from hearing aids. You can also share articles from trustworthy sources that summarize the necessity of having your hearing tested. For instance, the World Health Organization just recently published an article titled “1.1 billion people at risk of hearing loss.”

6. Scarcity

What it is:

Scarcity produces a sense of urgency when what we want is perceived as limited or in short supply. Scarcity creates the feeling that, if we don’t act quickly, we may lose something once and for all.

How to use it:

The latest research has linked hearing loss to many different serious conditions, including Alzheimer’s Disease, dementia, memory impairment, and rapid cognitive decline. Hearing loss also gets worse through the years, so the earlier it’s dealt with, the better.

To apply scarcity, share articles, such as our earlier blog post titled 8 reasons hearing loss is more dangerous than you think, with your loved one. Show them that every day spent with untreated hearing loss worsens the hearing loss, deteriorates health, and increases the risk of developing more serious conditions.


If all else fails, just give it to them straight. Explain to your loved ones how their hearing loss affects you, combined with how it’s impacting your relationship. When you make it about your needs and emotions rather than theirs, the reaction is usually better.

Have you had success persuading someone to have their hearing tested? Let us know your methods in a comment.

Source

The six principles of persuasion were developed by Dr. Robert Cialdini, and can be found in his book titled “Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion.”

5 Reasons Why People Deny Hearing Loss

It takes the average person with hearing loss 5 to 7 years before getting a professional diagnosis, in spite of the reality that the signs and symptoms of hearing loss are transparent to others. But are those with hearing loss just too stubborn to get help? No, actually, and for a few different reasons. Perhaps [...]

[Continue reading…]

What to Expect at Your Hearing Exam

If the unfamiliar creates anxiety, then a visit to the hearing specialist is particularly stressful. While most of us have experience with the family physician and the hometown dentist, the visit to the hearing specialist might be a first. It sure would be useful to have someone describe the process up front, wouldn’t it? Well, [...]

[Continue reading…]

Exploring a Career in the Hearing Care Profession

While many of us remain up to date with our once-a-year physical, dental cleaning, and eye exam, we typically forget to think about the well-being of our hearing. And when our hearing does start to diminish, it appears so slowly that we scarcely notice and neglect to take action. It’s this lack of interaction with [...]

[Continue reading…]

Avoiding the Biggest Mistake in Treating Your Hearing Loss

Do you recall the Q-Ray Bracelets? You know, the magnetized bracelets that vowed to deliver instant and substantial pain relief from arthritis and other chronic diseases? Well, you won’t see much of that promoting anymore; in 2008, the developers of the Q-Ray Bracelets were legally required to return customers a maximum of $87 million as [...]

[Continue reading…]