Frequently Asked Questions
Deafness or hearing impairment is often described as the ‘invisible disability’.
This is partly because hearing aids tend not to be obvious and partly because those affected are often isolated through lack of access to communications.
People often wait for years before they seek help for their hearing loss. They ignore the signs, which include:
- Turning the TV or stereo up so loud that others complain
- Frequently needing to ask others to repeat themselves
- Not being able to hear properly on the telephone
- Not feeing comfortable in noisy situations such as restaurants, or where they are straining to hear, such as in cinemas
- Missing out on important parts of conversations
The number of Australians who are deaf or hearing impaired is increasing because of longterm exposure to excessive noise – often in the workplace – accidents, the environment and the ageing of the population.
Family history and other factors can also lead to hearing loss. Having diabetes, or being a smoker are contributors.
We need to eliminate the stigma, the isolation, the lack of real work opportunities, and the associated health issues to improve the overall quality of life for people with deafness and hearing impairment.
What are the signs of hearing loss?
Loss of hearing is often a gradual process. Hearing loss is invisible and more common than people think. Some of the early warning signs of hearing loss are: you can hear but not understand; you find it hard to hear in noisy situations or groups of people; you think people mumble; you need turn the TV up louder than others or, you don’t always hear the doorbell or the phone.
How can I manage noise in my workplace?
Examine quieter alternative work practices. The ultimate outcome is to help create a safer, low noise, working environment.
What is excessive noise?
Noise is considered excessive when you must use a raised voice or shout in order to be able to speak to someone at an arm’s length. It is important to note that a hearing impairment does not protect a person from further noise damage nor does it give a person less www.hearingawarenessweek.org.au susceptibility to noise induced hearing damage. In fact, it is quite critical to protect what hearing remains.
An audiogram is used to display the results of a hearing test. The softest sounds you can hear are your hearing thresholds and these are marked on an audiogram. Hearing tests can tell you the type and degree of hearing loss you may have.
Earplugs and ear muffs do not affect your hearing, they protect your hearing from damage. They do not make your hearing more or less sensitive to noise but help avoid a hearing loss. Earplugs come in a variety of sizes, shapes and noise protection ratings. The soft foam versions found in chemists are for general use. For more specific protection such as earplugs customised for musicians or industrial work environments, a hearing provider will need to be contacted to tailor make the plugs.
Will a hearing aid restore my hearing back to normal?
Hearing devices benefit many people. However, no hearing device can restore your hearing to normal. The benefits depend on the degree of your hearing loss.
Will I become dependent on a hearing aid?
Do not be concerned about becoming dependent. A hearing device will help you communicate better and enjoy life more. Many people wonder how they ever managed without it.
Does it take long to get used to a hearing aid?
This will vary from person to person because every person is different. It takes some time to adjust to listening, and to hearing everything louder. Hearing devices amplify sounds. Following a conversation in a noisy place can be very difficult. With practice, listening can become an enjoyable experience again.
Would a top-up device benefit me?
Top-up devices have extra features. They are made in a range of styles and include the smallest hearing devices available on the market. These very small hearing devices can be difficult for some people to manage, or they may not suit the degree of your hearing loss. Your Australian Hearing audiologist will discuss with you the features and technology of the top-up hearing devices and give you professional advice as to how they may benefit you.
Australian Government Services Program Voucher
A voucher entitles eligible adults to obtain government-subsidised hearing services, which can include appropriate listening devices.
Do I have to pay for a hearing aid?
If you have a voucher, a wide range of government-subsidised hearing devices are available at no cost to you. An annual maintenance fee applies. If you choose a top-up hearing device with a higher-level of technology and features, you will have to contribute towards the cost of that device.