The following FAQs are the ones most asked by people about
hearing loss. The Links section
also contains several consumer-based hearing health-care web sites.
What is an audiologist?
Audiologists are the only professionals who are university trained and licensed
to identify, evaluate, diagnose, and treat audiologic disorders of hearing. Audiologists
may practice in Private Audiology Offices, Hospitals, Medical Practices, Universities,
Public Schools, Private and Public Agencies.
All individuals with suspected hearing loss require audiological evaluation to
determine the type, degree, and cause of the hearing impairment. Insurance companies and
managed care organizations are realizing that efficient cost-effective hearing health care
requires that primary care physicians refer patients directly to audiologists to determine
whether rehabilitation or medical/surgical treatment is indicated. Insurance companies
recognize that only 20% of all individuals with hearing loss require medical or surgical
treatment for their hearing loss. Rehabilitation treatment consists primarily of design,
selection and fitting of hearing aids and/or assistive listening devices. These services
are provided directly by audiologists.
Services provided by audiologists include:
- Comprehensive Audiological Evaluations including tests of hearing sensitivity, speech
understanding, middle ear function, inner ear and auditory nerve function.
- Diagnostic Tests for Balance/Dizziness Disorders.
- Auditory Processing Evaluations for Children and Adults.
- Design, selection and fitting of hearing instruments and/or assistive listening devices.
- Design, selection, installation and monitoring of classroom amplification systems.
- Hearing conservation programs for industry.
- Rehabilitation therapy for hearing disorders which might include strategies to improve
aided and unaided hearing, speech-reading (including lip- reading) and sign language.
- Rehabilitation for Auditory Processing Disorders.
- Rehabilitation for Vestibular (balance) Disorders.
How do we hear and what are the ear parts?
The ear has three main parts: the outer ear, the middle ear, and
the inner ear.
The outer ear includes the visible portion of the ear and the ear
canal. Sound waves travel through these two areas of the outer ear.
The middle ear includes the eardrum (the tympanic membrane) and
three small bones (ossicles). The movement of the tympanic membrane makes the ossicles
The inner ear includes a snail-shaped fluid-filled cochlea, which
contains thousands of sound receptors (hair cells). The inner ear is responsible for
changing the sound vibrations into electrical signals. The electrical signals are picked
up by the hearing (acoustic) nerve. The acoustic nerve sends the sound to the brain.
When an adult or child has a hearing loss, one or more of these parts
are not working in the usual way. In order to fully test hearing, all parts of the ear,
the acoustic nerve, and the brain pathways that are involved in hearing must be tested for
Why should I see an audiologist?
Audiologists hold a masters, research doctoral (Ph.D.) or clinical doctoral
(Au.D.) degree from an accredited university with special training in the prevention,
identification, assessment, and rehabilitation of persons with hearing impairments. In all
States audiologists are licensed to practice audiology by the State's Medical Board of
Examiners. Audiologists are required to complete a full-time professional experience year
and pass a demanding national comprehensive examination following completion of their
masters or doctoral program. Additionally, they are required to obtain 10 continuing
education hours per year to maintain their license. By virtue of their graduate education,
professional certification, and licensure, audiologists are the most qualified
professionals to perform hearing tests, dispense hearing aids and assistive listening
devices, provide rehabilitation services and refer patients for medical treatment. sources
to locate an audiologist: American
Academy of Audiology -Academy
of Dispensing Audiologists -Ohio Academy of Audiology - Illinois Academy of Audiology.
How do I know if I have a hearing loss?
The only precise way to determine if you have a hearing loss is to have your hearing
evaluated. There are a series of simple questions you can ask yourself to confirm you are
having hearing difficulties: Do you often ask people to repeat what they have said? Do you
need to turn the television or radio louder than others around you? Do you have trouble
hearing on the telephone? Do people seem to mumble? Do you have difficulty listening to
conversation when in a restaurant or noisy listening environment? If you answer yes to one
or more of these questions it may be time to have your hearing tested.
What is a Audiogram?? The results of hearing tests are recorded on a
chart called an audiogram. An audiogram is a graph with red Os, representing the
right ear and blue Xs indicating the left. Marks near the top (between 0- 25
decibels) of the graph are an indication of better hearing while marks further down the
graph denote worse hearing. Located across the top or bottom of the audiogram are
frequency numbers ranging from 125 Hz, a very low tone, to 8000 Hz, a very high tone.
Along the side the graph a series of decibel (dB) numbers indicate loudness. Very soft
sounds are at the top (-10 or 0 dB) and loud sounds (110 db) are located at the bottom.
Zero dB does not mean that there is no sound. This level is merely the softest sound a
person with normal hearing ability can perceive 50% of the time. A normal conversation
usually occurs at about 65 dB on the decibel scale.
Looking at your audiogram you can tell which ear you hear better with, as well as how
mild or severe your hearing loss is. You can also determine the frequencies at which you
hear best and worst.
What are pure tone tests? A device called an
audiometer electronically generates "pure tones" of sound which vary in tone and
volume. This test helps the audiologist to determine the threshold at which a patient
hears different frequencies. Each ear is tested individually. You will indicate when you
hear a tone by raising your hand or pressing a button, depending upon the type of
What is noise? .. and how much can your hearing handle?
A simple definition of noise is "unwanted sound". What is noise to one person
is just entertainment to another. From a legal standpoint the definition of noise is
different. Legally noise is exposure to sounds exceeding an average of 90 dB of noise for
eight hours per day. A TWA (time weighted average) of 90 dB equals the current maximum
legal noise exposure (in the US) for an individual without an existing hearing damage. The
exposure limit for someone with an existing hearing damage is 85 dB. The exposure level is
currently being reviewed and NIOSH is recommending that the TWA is reduced to 85 dB for
The decibel scale is a logarithmic scale, which means that the scale is not linear, and
we really have a hard time relating to the numbers. Every three dB represents a doubling
of the sound level, and every 10 dB represents a tenfold increase in sound intensity. Add
two machines making 90 dB each, and the result is 93 dB.
Noise erodes the small hair cells inside the cochlea of the human hearing organ. It is
a very gradual process, and not a very noticeable one in the early stages. The damage that
occurs on a daily basis is at first a temporary hearing damage. With repeated noise
exposure the temporary damage turns into a permanent damage. At this stage the damage is
How can you prevent this from happening to you or your employees? Noise control
measures should come first. Eliminate or reduce the noise whenever possible. When all
measures have been taken to improve the environment, hearing protection offers another
convenient alternative. An average hearing protector will reduce noise with 20 to 29 dB.
Considering that every 3 dB cuts the noise in half, you can get a lot of protection from
an ear muff or ear plug. But hearing protection has to be used correctly or they will lose
a great proportion of their effectiveness.
AAC Hearing Help Library -You can always stop here for the most current consumer
information about hearing, hearing loss, hearing aids, and other audiology related areas.
Get some general information by browsing this list of articles from this site. The
Audiology Awareness Campaign is proud to offer the internet's most complete list of
brochures in these areas. All of the articles are written in non-technical language and
are aimed at providing information in an easy-to-understand manner.
What is Tinnitus? Tinnitus
is a ringing, buzzing, hissing or other head noise that does not come from an external
What is the cause of tinnitus?
One of the most common causes is exposure to loud noise. Workplace
noise can cause hearing loss and tinnitus. If those exposed to loud sound do not wear
proper hearing protection devices, they may find they gradually lose their hearing and
suffer from tinnitus. Excessively loud sound can also be from music, power tools and chain
saws, gunfire, explosives, and motorcycles.
Tinnitus may only be an annoyance for some people; however, for
others it is a chronic condition, which can cause sleeplessness and lack of concentration.
This can be a serious problem that can be avoided by proper precaution. A person who tells
a physician about tinnitus may be told to Go home and live with it. This is
possible for some, but others need treatment. Feeling there is no cure for tinnitus can
turn a benign symptom into a feeling of helplessness and despair. Negative counseling
which provides no hope can actually increase the patients perception of tinnitus as
he feels it will go on forever, may get worse and cannot be effectively treated.
There is help! There is a national organization dedicated to
silencing tinnitus. Any person suffering from tinnitus should con tact the American
Tinnitus Association (ATA) at 1-800-634-8978. They will be told about tinnitus clinics
throughout the United States that work with patients in alleviating tinnitus. Self-help
groups sponsored by the ATA provide information and support. American Tinnitus Association
has their materials available for the worker who says that tinnitus is causing distress,
sleeplessness and affecting his or her work. Provide the employee with ATA s website
The information on this site is reliable so the individual is not reading anecdotal
information from unknown sources.