Myth 1: Earwax is bad for you
This myth is completely untrue. We often see earwax as something dirty and this causes many people to try and put q-tips into their ears to remove the wax. Firstly, earwax is created by the body to keep the ear clean. It’s used to trap dust and small particles, and collect old skin cells. The earwax leaves your ear naturally taking these things with it and keeping the ear canal clean.
When you try to push something like a q-tip into your ear, it’s true, you often pull it out and there’s some earwax on there. However, the main lump of earwax gets pushed further back into the ear canal by the q-tip. This means the earwax might become impacted and begin blocking your ear! Earwax blockages are the most common cause of hearing loss.
So you feel your ear might be blocked by earwax. So what now? The first step would be to contact your audiologist to have a look into your ear. They can tell you exactly how much ear wax is in your ear canal and what the next step should be. You can also buy ear drops in the pharmacy which soften or dissolve ear wax depending on the brand chosen. I often recommend ear drops with peroxide solution in them as this dissolves the ear wax. You do need to be careful with this, because if you have a hole in your eardrum, then it may not be advisable to use these drops. Your audiologist may also recommend that your GP washes the earwax out for you, or the audiologist may even use a microsuction technique to remove the earwax. None of these removal techniques are painful and your doctor or audiologist will discuss in detail with you what they will do and what you will experience.
Myth 2: Tinnitus is incurable
To an extent, yes this statement is true. Unfortunately, there is no magic pill or procedure that we can do that completely removes tinnitus forever. If you’re new to that pesky ringing in your ears that we call tinnitus you might be feeling a bit of despair right now. This is normal. But there is good news too! Your audiologist can help you with sound therapy and relaxation techniques to distract your brain from the tinnitus. Eventually your brain will be used to the sound, allowing you to ignore it. Sound therapy plays white noise or soothing sounds to give the brain something else to listen to instead of hyperfocusing on the tinnitus sound, but relaxation techniques are just as important! Tinnitus and stress go through the same brain cycle. This means that if you’re stressed, your tinnitus will become worse, which in turn will make you more stressed, causing a downward spiral. Your audiologist can help you break this cycle of stress, which will in turn reduce your tinnitus, until one day you won’t be bothered by it. Some patients can acclimate to their tinnitus very quickly but many people do take up to 18 months to be able to ignore the sound.
Myth 3: Hearing aids are too expensive and you can save money by buying only one hearing aid
Let’s talk about the overall cost of hearing aids first. There are many criteria which may make you eligible for the Hearing Services Program entitling you to free appointments and free hearing aids. To learn more about the criteria read our blog post on the Widex Magnify 50, which is one of the hearing aids we offer for free, or give us a ring and we can check your eligibility for you! But what if you are not eligible? We still have many options that should fit into your budget! Our hearing aids range from $1600 to $7800 per pair. Some people may still say $1600 is a lot of money. But what price can you really put on your hearing? The aids would allow you to bond with your family members and enjoy conversations again in background noise. Using your hearing through the help of hearing aids may even reduce your risk for dementia, giving you a better quality of life.
Now let's talk about part 2 of this myth. Yes to an extent it is true that by only buying one hearing aid you are saving money. One hearing aid would be half the cost of two hearing aids. However, there are drawbacks to using only one hearing aid. Firstly, with only one good ear you won’t be able to localise sound. This means you won’t be able to tell which direction a sound is coming from! Secondly, only one good ear makes it much harder to hear in background noise. You will be straining a lot to hear people speak. Additionally, using two hearing aids causes better sound quality as you will feel balanced between your ears. If you only have one hearing aid, the sound may become distorted. There are always free trials available of different hearing aids, and you can choose to trial one versus two devices before you buy!
Myth 4: I can buy cheap hearing aids online and they’ll work just as well
Everyone loves saving a dime, especially with the rising cost of living at the moment. So some people turn to buying hearing aids off Ebay or other cheap websites. However, this is the worst thing you can do! Everyone’s hearing loss is different. That’s why the audiologist has to measure your unique hearing levels at at least 6 different pitches. The audiologist then loads a prescription onto the hearing aid that matches your particular hearing needs and then they can do more adjustments to make the sound as comfortable as possible for you. Some people may prefer speech clarity, others will choose sound comfort instead. When you buy a hearing aid online, it will either have no prescription at all or be a secondhand aid. No prescription means it will not amplify sounds at all. But the most common thing is that the hearing aid was already used by someone else. This means their settings will be on the hearing aid. They may have a hearing loss that is much worse than yours. The sound will be extremely loud and uncomfortable for you. Or they may have a much milder hearing loss than you. Now the hearing aid is way too soft. You wouldn’t try to put on someone else’s glasses to read a book, so you shouldn’t expect that a second hand hearing aid matches your prescription either.
So let's break the prices down for you. The average second hand hearing aid costs between $200 to $500 online. You then have to come in to see your audiologist to make this hearing aid usable for you. This is a fitting appointment and costs $550. If you are lucky, the hearing aids are new enough that they can be reset and tuned to your exact needs. However, a lot of the hearing aids are so old that they can not be tuned correctly. So they may work to an extent but they won’t grant you full satisfaction. So you have bought one hearing aid and fitted it for $750 to $1050 and it may not even be perfect! To compare if you bought one brand new hearing aid at our cheapest price this would be $800 (or $1600 for 2). The fitting appointment would now be $75 with a guarantee that we can tune the settings to your liking. So for a new hearing aid you would spend $875 if you bought one or $1675 if you bought two. In the end both options cost the same, but one will leave you much more satisfied!
Myth 5: Hearing aids might make my hearing worse!
It is a common myth that hearing aids make hearing worse. The theory behind this is that loud noise causes hearing damage. A hearing aid creates louder noise to overcome deafness so surely it must be bad. This is completely wrong. Hearing aids do make sounds louder to overcome your hearing loss. However, they are programmed to not go over a specific volume which may be harmful to your hearing. This works through something called compression. For example, for every 1dB of sound, your hearing aid may make the sound 2dB louder. Once a sound reaches a harmful level, for example 95dB. The hearing aid would not double this sound. That would blow your ears off! Instead, compression begins which suppresses the sound volume which means your hearing aid will not make this sound louder. The goal of the hearing aid is to assist you with hearing sounds but the audiologist will program a maximum output level into the aid, which will stop it from becoming too loud.
There are many more myths surrounding ears and hearing aids. If you have any questions on a particular topic please contact us either by phone on 0403 690 980 or 08 8271 5876. Alternatively, you can also leave us a message on Facebook or send us an email