Get Answers | FAQ

What is a hearing aid?

A hearing aid is a small electronic device worn in or behind your ear(s). This device has a microphone, and amplifier and filter circuits built into a tiny housing, plus a speaker (or receiver) that sends the improved louder sound to your ear drum.

How can hearing aids help?

Modern hearing aids improve the hearing and speech comprehension of people who have hearing loss that results from damage to the small sensory cells in the inner ear, called hair cells. This type of hearing loss is called sensorineural hearing loss. The loss can occur as a result of heredity, disease, aging, or injury from noise or certain medicines.
The greater the damage to a person’s hair cells, the more severe the hearing loss, and the greater the hearing aid amplification needed to make up the difference. There are a (very) few hearing losses that can NOT be treated with aids. Extreme cases may require a cochlear implant.

Do I need a hearing aid?

If you have been told you need an aid or if you suspect you have a hearing loss, come see us at Parker Hearing Institute ASAP. We are the premier audiology practice in Southern California, and we have helped over 40,000 patients since 1975. On your first appointment we will consult with you, ask about your hearing challenges and lifestyle, and conduct a quick (and FREE) hearing screening to see how you track normal conversations. Assuming your ear canal is not plugged with wax (we check that too with a video otoscope) we will advise you. Maybe you don’t need hearing aids, in which case we send you home with a smile.
If we discover a hearing loss, we will talk further and on your approval will conduct a complete hearing test using the very best diagnostic equipment in the region.

Do all hearing aids work the same way?

Not really, hearing aids work differently depending on the electronics used. The two main types of electronics are analog (old) and digital (new).

 The use of analog processing in hearing aids is virtually extinct today.

Digital aids convert soundwaves into numerical codes, similar to the binary code of a computer, before amplifying them. Virtually all the music you hear today has been digitized. In hearing aids, the aid can be specially programmed to amplify some frequencies more than others. Digital circuits gives a hearing professional more flexibility in programming the aid to a user’s needs and to certain listening environments. These aids also can be programmed to focus on sounds coming from a specific direction using tiny directional microphones built into housing.

Digital circuits are now amazingly complex, and hearing aids borrow from smart phone technology breakthroughs. A modern digital hearing aid is a tech marvel. The number of circuits combined, of course, impacts the price of the hearing aid. Quality digital aids are not cheap, despite what you may see and hear in advertisements.

Which hearing aid will work best for me?

This depends on the kind and severity of your hearing loss and what features (circuits) you wish to enjoy. If you have a hearing loss in both of your ears, two hearing aids are recommended because two aids provide a more natural signal to the brain. Hearing in both ears also will help you understand speech and locate where the sound is coming from.

We work with you to select a hearing aid that best suits your lifestyle and needs, and that also fits your budget.  Style and circuits can affect cost and the most expensive hearing aid may not always be the best suited device for you. A person who spends the day at home watching TV has different needs than someone in the work force who attends meetings and uses technology. We will not sell you features you don’t want or need.

A hearing aid will not restore your normal hearing. Using hearing aids takes some getting used to. With practice and our guidance, however, hearing aids will improve your life and get you back into the conversations, enjoying the laughter, re-connecting with family and friends. You will want to wear your hearing aid regularly, so we help you to select one that is convenient and easy for you to use.

What questions should I ask before buying a hearing aid?

Before you buy a hearing aid, ask our hearing professional these important questions:
  • What features would be most useful to me?
  • What is the total cost of the hearing aid?
  • Is there a trial period to test the hearing aids? Ours is 30 days, no risk.
  • What fees are nonrefundable if the aids are returned after the trial period?
  • How long is the factory warranty?
  • Can the warranty be extended?
  • Will loaner aids be provided when repairs are needed? Ours are free to Premium Club members.
  • What instruction and services will the hearing professional provide? This is our Service.

How can I adjust to my hearing aid?

Your first day with hearing aids can be shocking, so we try to bring power up incrementally for you. Hearing aids take time and patience to use successfully. We become partners in the process (wearing aids is a process and NOT just a purchase) Wearing your aids daily will help you adjust to them.

Become familiar with your hearing aid’s features. Work with your us until you are comfortable and satisfied. This is our great advantage, as Parker Hearing Institute is renowned for our empathy and patient hearing care.

How can I care for my hearing aid?

Proper maintenance and care will extend the life of your hearing aid. We will send you home with a care kit, but here are basic guidelines, make it a habit to:
  • Keep hearing aids away from heat and moisture. Ask about a Store-n-Dry from us.
  • Clean hearing aids as we instruct you. Earwax and ear drainage can damage a hearing aid.
  • Avoid using hairspray or other hair care products while wearing hearing aids.
  • Turn off hearing aids when they are not in use. Open the battery door when not in your ears.
  • Replace dead batteries immediately.

Are new types of aids available?

Although they work differently than the hearing aids described above, implantable hearing aids are designed to help increase the transmission of sound vibrations entering the inner ear. A middle ear implant (MEI) is a small device attached to one of the bones of the middle ear. Rather than amplifying the sound traveling to the eardrum, an MEI moves these bones directly. Both techniques have the net result of strengthening sound vibrations entering the inner ear so that they can be detected by individuals with sensorineural hearing loss.

A bone-anchored hearing aid (BAHA) is a small device that attaches to the bone behind the ear. The device transmits sound vibrations directly to the inner ear through the skull, bypassing the middle ear. BAHAs are generally used by individuals with middle ear problems or deafness in one ear. Because surgery is required to implant either of these devices, many hearing specialists feel that the benefits may not outweigh the risks.

Can I obtain financial assistance for a hearing aid?

Hearing aids are generally not covered by health insurance, with rare exceptions like ILWU and bigger trade unions. We can quickly find out if your policy covers testing and/or devices. We can finance hearing aids, and we even offer 12 month no interest financing available. For eligible children and young adults ages 21 and under, Medicaid will pay for the diagnosis and treatment of hearing loss, including hearing aids, under the Early and Periodic Screening, Diagnostic, and Treatment (EPSDT) service. Also, children may be covered by their state’s early intervention program or State Children’s Health Insurance Program (SCHIP).

Medicare does not cover hearing aids for adults. However, hearing tests are covered if they are ordered by a physician for the purpose of assisting the physician in developing a treatment plan. That’s the bad news, the good news is we can finance the devices for you, and bill you separately from our clinical follow-up service. Talk to us at the office, we will walk you through your coverage and payment options.

What research is being done on hearing aids?

We sell hearing aids from only the big manufacturers with Research and Development departments, and they are very active these days. Hearing aid technology has taken great strides in recent years, borrowing highly advanced circuits from smart phones and computers, who have the advantage of much bigger buying blocks to amortize research investments. Signal processing is the method used to modify normal sound waves into amplified sound that is the best possible match to the remaining hearing for a hearing aid user. Major universities are now researching signal processing and big players like iPhone, LG and Samsung are pushing circuit design into territories that help hearing aids greatly.

In hearing aids, and in life in general, an important consideration of quality is Signal-to-Noise ratio (s/n). This means the wanted sound or signal must be “lifted” from the unwanted noise floor surrounding it (background noise, street noise, crowd noise, etc). We all need more signal and less noise. Consider the sounds of a busy restaurant with hard walls and music playing in the background. Hearing one speaker at your table is very difficult even for persons without hearing loss. Hearing aid circuitry must, somehow, identify that one speaker, amplify his/her voice and subdue (or turn down) the background noise. Each new environment presents it’s own challenges, so some aids store presets for filters and amplification.

 Directional microphones are great for making it easier for people to hear a single conversation, even when surrounded by other noises and voices. Some aids feature “sound zones” that you can turn up or down from your smart phone, and some aids have GPS memories to store frequented locations where specific filter presets are important. If you like tech talk, visit our research room here.

What is the difference between an Audiologist and a Hearing Instrument Dispenser?

An audiologist is a licensed professional who has a masters or doctoral degree in audiology. Audiologists are clinically, academically and professionally trained to determine which hearing losses require medical referral and/or assistive listening devices. The audiologist appropriately refers patients to physicians when the history, physical presentation, or the results of the audiometric evaluation indicate the possibility of a medical or surgical problem. Audiologists also dispense (sell and service) hearing aids and related assistive listening devices for the telephone, TV and special listening situations.

Audiologists are not the only people allowed by law to dispense hearing aids. The hearing aid specialist (also know as a hearing aid dispenser) is licensed to perform basic hearing tests for the purpose of selling and servicing hearing aids and related products. This individual has a minimum of an associate’s degree (in whichever major they chose) that includes four hearing-related classes.

We have both kinds of Providers here at Parker Hearing Institute, and they work together to bring you the best service possible.

How do I know if I have hearing loss?

If you hear, but you don’t understand, you probably have a hearing loss. Hearing loss can sneak up on you, so you may not be aware until someone TELLS you that you need hearing aids. This is when you, reluctantly, call on us. It is human nature to resist bad hearing health news. This explains why 80% of persons with hearing loss ignore it and continue to play act through the day.

You may have hearing loss if…

  • You hear people speaking their words are mumbled.
  • You don’t laugh at jokes because you miss too much of the story or the punch line.
  • You understand men but not women and children
  • You need to ask others about the details of a story you just heard.
  • You play the TV louder than your friends or family.
  • You cannot hear the doorbell or the telephone.
  • You find that looking at people when they speak helps.

Why should I get two hearing aids?

Nature gave us two ears for good reasons. Our brain computes the incoming info from each ear to place or localize the source of sounds. Localization is not just a sound quality issue; it may also be a safety issue. Think about how important it is to know where warning and safety sounds (sirens, screams, babies crying, etc) are coming from. Using both ears together also impacts how well you hear in noise because binaural hearing permits you to selectively attend to the desired signal, while “squelching” or paying less attention to undesired sounds such as background noise.

People cannot hear well using only one ear. Binaural hearing allows a quality of “spaciousness” or “high fidelity” to sounds, which cannot occur with monaural (one ear) listening. Understanding speech clearly, particularly in challenging and noisy situations, is easier while using both ears. Additionally, using two hearing aids allows people to speak with you from either side of your head – not just your “good” side!