Frequently Asked Questions

It's amazing how misunderstood the topic of hearing loss is to the modern American. See below for some questions we get all the time, and our answers.

Q: Does insurance cover hearing aids?

A: This answer varies widely based on the insurance plan. Many insurance companies, unfortunately, do not cover hearing aids. But there are a few that do provide some degree of hearing aid coverage. It is important to ask your insurance company about hearing aid benefits in your plan and if DC Audiology is in network for those benefits.

Q: Do I have to wear the hearing aids all the time? Can't I only wear them when I need them?

A: It is recommended that you wear your hearing aids as often as possible to allow the brain a chance to acclimate to the new/different sounds you will hear and your ears a chance to become accustomed to having something new in them. Wearing your aids spottily will make it feel like a brand new experience each time. Ideally, one would put their aids on in the morning and remove them at night before bed.

RIC hearing aid from behind

Q: Do I have to have two hearing aids?

A: If there is significant hearing loss in both ears, then yes, two hearing aids are generally recommended. (Exceptions apply in the cases of single-sided hearing loss or significant asymmetry). Having amplification for both ears with hearing loss allows you to more accurately identify where sounds are coming from. It also gives an overall boost of perceived amplification (known as binaural summation), and allows the user to make use of special features within the aids where they are wirelessly communicating to shape the sound quality and reduce noise when it is coming from various directions.

Two hearing aids and penny

Q: Is there anything I can do to prevent further hearing loss?

A: The most effective action you can take to preserve your hearing is to protect your ears from hazardously loud noise. Some sources of noise that can be hazardous to hearing are gun fire, motorcycles, power tools, lawnmowers, loud concerts, nightclubs, and loud music via headphones and earbuds. Disposable insert earplugs (when properly inserted), ear muffs, and custom molded hearing protection are effective ways to protect your ears when reducing the volume or limiting time spent around these sounds is not possible. Hearing loss due to genetics, age, and certain lifesaving medications (e.g. chemotherapy) however, cannot be prevented.

Q: Is everyday noise that I encounter (e.g. train noise in the metro, construction sites, loud honking/sirens, etc) going to give me hearing loss?

A: Everyday environmental noises, while annoying, are not going to be loud enough to cause permanent damage to hearing. Intensity level of the sound and duration of exposure are key factors to determining if a noise is hazardous to hearing. For example, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) states that people who work in places where they are constantly exposed to 90 dB of noise are permitted to be exposed to that level of noise for up to 8 hours before the situation is deemed hazardous to hearing! Generally speaking, we are not around most environmental noise that is at or above 90 dB for long enough time for the noise to damage our hearing.

Q: What is the best way to remove wax from my ears?

A: We advise against using Q-tips (or any other object) to remove wax from your ears. Aggressive use of Q-tips can cause irritation or abrasion of the ear canals, or worse, accidental perforation of the ear drum! Aside from these more obvious hazards, Q-tips are rather ineffective tools for removing ear wax. If your ear is impacted with wax and you insert a Q-tip into the ear, you may scoop out some wax but you are also pushing the remainder of the wax in deeper, worsening the impaction. Over the counter drops for ear wax like Earwax MD can be used to dissolve and flush out wax at home. When this doesn't work, it is time to see an ear, nose and throat physician or your primary care doctor to have it professionally removed. If you do not have an issue with chronic wax impaction that requires professional removal, it is best to leave it be! Wax is present in normal and healthy ears and is not a sign of poor hygiene.

Q: Why did my doctor refer me to have a hearing exam if I am having issues with dizziness and vertigo?

A: The hearing and balance mechanisms are housed in the same place in the inner ear. Some disorders that cause vertigo can result in hearing loss that may look in a certain way on the hearing test results. Therefore, having hearing test results help up to reach a differential diagnosis by checking off possible vestibular issues that typically have a hearing loss component to them. You will likely also be seen for a full vestibular evaluation at a second appointment.

Q. What are the signs and symptoms of hearing loss?

This simple quiz can help get you started on your path to understanding your hearing health.

1. Do you have trouble hearing with a lot of background noise?


Hearing Myths

Additionally, there are several false facts we hear constantly on the subject of hearing aids. Read below for some myths and correlating facts.

Myth: Hearing aids are large and noticeable devices. Everyone will see that I am wearing them!

Fact: Cosmetics and aesthetics are important factors that goes into the design of new hearing aids. Gone are the days of big, bulky, beige, and whistling hearing aids sitting conspicuously on the ear. The vast majority of hearing aids offered are small and discreet devices that sit behind the ear with only a thin wire visible going into the ear, or the entire device sits down in the canal making the devices virtually invisible.

Man holding CIC hearing aid

Myth: A friend of family member has had a bad experience with hearing aids, so hearing aids most likely won't work well for me.

Fact: Every person's experience with hearing aids is unique. Factors such as the severity of hearing loss, nature of the loss, speech discrimination ability, performance level, expertise of the audiologist, and many other factors impact the benefit a patient receives from their hearing aids. One person's review of their experience with hearing aids is not the same as a review of other kinds of technology (like printers, televisions, and refrigerators) that are designed to work the same way with any person who uses it.

Myth: If I start wearing hearing aids now, my own natural hearing ability will weaken as I become dependent on them.

Fact: Quite the opposite is true. Research has shown that individuals with significant hearing loss who go years without amplification (and thus a lack of auditory stimulation to the brain) can suffer from auditory deprivation. In these cases, the brain’s ability to process and discriminate speech signals deteriorates. Waiting to pursue hearing aids once speech understanding ability is innately poor, makes it so the patient perceives much less benefit from their aids. Hearing aids cannot make clear what the brain no longer can understand.

Myth: All hearing aids from private practices cost upwards of $6,000.

Fact: At DC Audiology several tiers of hearing technology are offered at varying price points. Each level of technology varies based on how sophisticated the software is within the hearing aids which impacts crucial features like background noise reduction, signal processing speed, and the number of features available to the audiologist to make fine-tuned programming adjustments. Recommendations for the appropriate level of technology are always made based on the patient's listening needs as well as budget.

Signia Silk hearing aids

Myth: Hearing aids purchased at big box stores (e.g. Costco) are the exact same devices sold in private practice for two or three times as much.

Fact: While hearing aids dispensed at big box stores may look the same on the outside, they are not the same level of technology on the inside as the premium or advanced level products sold at private practices. The devices sold there may also sometimes be the previous generation of the models available from certain manufacturers or they may be more akin to the entry level products available in private practices. These devices also will not come with the Secure 4-Year service warranty, which is available at DC Audiology. It is also important to know that devices purchased at Costco are also "locked" and are only reprogrammable at Costco hearing aid centers, should sound quality adjustments be necessary.

Myth: Men tend to lose hearing for higher pitched sounds while women tend to lose hearing for lower pitched sounds.

Fact: With aging or exposure to certain ototoxic medications, men and women may begin to lose hearing for higher pitched sounds first. The sensory hair cells that are responsive to incoming sound waves and send sound signals to brain are arranged from high pitched to low pitched in the inner ear. Because the hair cells responsible for conveying high pitched sounds to the brain are more situated at the "entrance" of the inner ear, they tend to be more susceptible to wear over time, whereas hair cells for low frequency sounds tend to remain more protected. Thus, high pitched hearing loss is common across both sexes. Hearing loss for low pitch sounds is not as common but can be a result of genetic hearing loss, which may can also affect both men and women.

Myth: At-home exercises for vertigo that I've come across on the internet will resolve my issues with vertigo. I don't need to see a professional to address this.

Fact: Exercises such as the Epley canalith repositioning maneuver are designed to treat a very specific type of disorder called benign paroxysmal positional vertigo (BPPV). This is the most common cause of episodic vertigo that people experience and is easily treated with a correctly performed Epley maneuver. However, proper diagnosis of BPPV, and specifically determining which ear is affected are necessary first steps before performing canalith repositioning maneuvers. An audiologist or ENT physician can help determine this by screening for BPPV and guiding patients through proper execution of the Epley maneuver to treat the problematic ear, if deemed necessary. Note that other disorders of the inner ear that cause vertigo that are not BPPV will not be cured by these maneuvers! A full hearing and balance assessment can help to determine other possible causes of vertigo and set you on the right path to recovery.

Make Your Appointment Today

You can book your appointment online through Zocdoc:

Zocdoc logo

Alternatively, you may use the form below to send us a message:

(error message)

DC Audiology logo
2440 M Street, NW Suite 606
Washington, DC 20037

(202) 785-8300
Open M-F: 8:00am – 5:00pm
(Closed 12:00pm – 1:00pm)

Follow us:
menu Home
About Us
Hearing Aids
FAQ & Myths
Contact Us
Frequently Asked Questions
Quick Hearing Survey
Hearing Myths
DC Audiology on Facebook DC Audiology on Yelp