Your questions answered


Here we’ve tried to answer as many of your questions as possible. But if there’s anything we’ve missed, or if you’d like to know more about your hearing, please get in touch and make an appointment with one of our expert audiologists.


What are the common signs of hearing loss?

Some of the common signs of hearing loss include:

  • Asking others to repeat themselves
  • Turning up the TV or radio to volume levels others find loud
  • Having trouble understanding conversation in noisy places
  • Feeling like other people mumble or slur their words
  • Having trouble hearing women's and children's voices
  • Having trouble hearing on the telephone
  • Feeling more irritable or depressed
  • Avoiding social situations that were once enjoyable
  • Having difficulty following a fast-moving conversation
  • Missing important information in meetings
  • Being told by others that you have hearing loss

Many of us don't notice the early signs of hearing loss because we slowly adjust to the change. On average, people wait 10 years between first noticing their hearing loss and finally taking action..

If I had hearing loss, wouldn’t my doctor have told me?

Not necessarily. Since most people with hearing impairments hear OK in quiet places (like your doctor's office), it can be very difficult for them to recognise the problem. Only a trained hearing professional can determine the severity of your hearing problem, whether or not you could benefit from a hearing aid, and which type would be best for you.

What are the most common causes of hearing loss?

There are several different causes. The main ones include excessive noise, infections, genetics, birth defects, infections of the head or ear, aging, and reaction to drugs or cancer treatment.

Are there different types of hearing loss?

Sensorineural hearing loss is the most common type. It occurs when the inner ear hair cells (and acoustic nerves) are damaged and don’t properly transmit auditory signals to the brain. This type of hearing loss can only be treated with hearing aids.

Conductive hearing loss is usually the result of malfunctions or obstructions in the outer or middle ear. Conductive hearing loss can sometimes be treated medically or surgically.

Mixed hearing loss is a combination of both sensorineural and conductive hearing loss.

Doesn’t hearing loss only affect older people?

Hearing loss can happen at any time, at any age. Most people with hearing loss (65%) are actually younger than 65.

When should I take action?

The sooner the better. Over time, reduced stimulation to your ears and brain can actually impair the brain’s ability to process sound and recognise speech. The more speech recognition deteriorates, the more difficult it is to recover. And when you can’t hear what’s going on around you, your mental sharpness suffers. The sooner you take action, the sooner you put a stop to the negative effects of hearing loss, and the sooner you begin to regain sharpness, confidence and control.

Will wearing a hearing aid make me stand out?

Today’s hearing aids are smaller, more discreet and more stylish than ever before. Some are even invisible. And once you have a hearing aid, the chances are that your quality of life will improve so much that cosmetics won't be as much of an issue for you.

How will a hearing aid improve my quality of life?

Research on people with hearing loss and their families and friends has shown that hearing aids play a big part in a person's social, emotional, psychological and physical well-being. Treatment of hearing loss has been shown to improve:.

  • Communication in relationships
  • Intimacy and warmth in family relationships
  • Ease in communication
  • Earning power
  • Sense of control over your life
  • Social participation
  • Emotional stability

When you think about all the benefits of better hearing, you’ll see all the positive opportunities that hearing aids can create to change your life. Source:

How do hearing aids work?

Basically, hearing aids are microphones that convert sound into electrical signals. An amplifier increases the strength of the signal, then a receiver converts it back to sound and channels it into the ear canal through a small tube or earmould. Power is provided by the hearing aid’s battery.

Will a hearing aid restore my hearing?

No hearing aid can restore your hearing. But they are designed to let you hear soft sounds that you couldn't hear before, and prevent loud sounds from becoming unbearable. They’ll also help to improve your ability to understand speech, even in noisy places like restaurants and shopping malls.

Will I be able to hear in noisy places?

Hearing aids can’t filter out all background noise. But advanced hearing aids are designed to reduce some types of background noise, so that you can enjoy conversation and improve communication in situations like business meetings and social gatherings.

What are the different types of hearing aids?

Today’s hearing aids come in a wide range of sizes and styles. Some sit behind the ear, while other are completely invisible. They also include different levels of technology to suit your specific needs and budget. You can stream stereo sound from TVs and radios directly to some hearing aids and talk on your phone hands-free, amongst other things.

How do I know which hearing aid will be right for me?

Things to consider include; the nature and severity of your hearing loss, your lifestyle and the activities you regularly take part in, your job, your eyesight and dexterity and the size and shape of your outer ear and inner ear canal.

Only highly trained hearing professionals, like the audiologists at Mary Hare Hearing Centre, can determine the severity of your hearing loss, whether or not you could benefit from a hearing aid and which type would be best for you.

How long will it take to get used to wearing hearing aids?

Most people need up to four months to adjust to wearing their hearing aids and get the full benefit out of them. But, you should expect to notice obvious improvements during this time.

Will I need a hearing aid for both ears?

2 ear hearing is better than 1. If you only have hearing loss in 1 ear, you may be fine with just 1 hearing aid. Age and noise related hearing loss tend to affect both ears, but your hearing profile for each ear is probably different.

How much do hearing aids cost?

Hearing aid prices vary depending on what you need. Hearing aids are highly sophisticated medical devices, but they’re not all alike. Like all technology, from televisions to mobile phones, there’s a wide range of pricing that applies to hearing aids. They’re available in a variety of styles, with a range of high-tech features, which means the bigger and more basic models will typically cost less than the models which are smaller and crammed with technology. Features that cancel noise, eliminate feedback and enable direct connectivity to phones, TVs and music will greatly enhance performance and everyday listening, but will also increase the cost.

I have a constant noise in my head. What is this?

The medical term for the sensation of hearing sound in your ears or head, when there’s no external sound, is tinnitus. Some people describe it as "ringing in the ears," while others hear hissing, buzzing, whistling, roaring, humming or even chirping. There are many different causes of tinnitus and it can affect people of all ages, including children. Currently there’s no single treatment for tinnitus that works for everyone, but hearing aids have been shown to significantly benefit those with the condition. For further help and information on tinnitus contact your GP or go to:

How do I protect myself from excessive noise?

Permanent hearing loss can happen almost instantly if you’re exposed to certain sounds without hearing protection. According to hearing loss experts, exposure to sounds louder than 85dB (things like motorcycles, headphones and lawnmowers) can be dangerous and have the potential to lead to permanent hearing loss.

To protect yourself from noise:

  • If the sound level where you work is above 85dB, reduce the noise or wear hearing protection.
  • Lower the volume of your television, stereo and iPod. Take special care if you use headphones or earbuds.
  • Be careful not to turn up your car stereo volume too loudly to compensate for noise from the engine or the wind.
  • Wear custom noise filters or solid earplugs if you go to rock concerts or nightclubs, and don't stand near loud speakers.
  • Wear noise-cancelling headphones or solid earplugs if you use noisy equipment such as drills, lawnmowers, etc.

Noise level guide - how loud is too loud?

The decibel (dB) is used to measure sound levels. Here's a quick guide to the decibel level of a range of common sounds, so you know when to think about taking action to protect your hearing.

Decibels Activity Risk
40dB Quiet room  
60dB Conversation, dishwasher  
70dB Busy traffic, vacuum cleaner  
85dB Beginning of Health and Safety Executive (HSE) Noise Regulations, hairdryer  
90dB Lawnmower, lorry traffic, blender, food processor Risk of hearing damage in 8 hours
95dB Motorcycle, power saw Risk of hearing damage in 4 hours
100dB Chainsaw, stereo headphones Risk of hearing damage in 2 hours
105dB Jackhammer, helicopter Risk of hearing damage in 1 hour
110dB Night club, symphony orchestra Risk of hearing damage in 30 minutes
115dB Baby's cry, jet ski Risk of hearing damage in 15 minutes
120dB Rock concert, sandblasting

Risk of hearing damage in 7 minutes

125dB Air raid siren, firecracker

Pain threshold

140dB Jet engine at takeoff

Immediate danger to hearing

160dB Shotgun

Immediate danger to hearing


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