Contact Us – Frequently Asked Questions
What is ListenUP! Canada?
ListenUP! Canada is the #1 doctor referred provider of hearing aids in Ontario with over 100 locations across the province. Our mission is to provide individuals who have a hearing loss with the most professional, comprehensive and convenient hearing healthcare services, including high quality, affordable hearing aids, and the counseling and assistance they need to enhance the quality of their lives through better hearing.
All of our hearing aid centres offer no cost hearing tests* by certified hearing healthcare professionals and a broad selection of brand-name, digital hearing aids and assistive listening devices at affordable prices. Hearing aids at ListenUP! Canada come with our unique Don't Worry, Be Happy Guarantee™ , which includes everything you need for three years, even the batteries, lowest price and satisfaction guaranteed.
*Hearing tests are provided free of charge to all adults ages 18 and older.
What is an Audiologist?
An Audiologist is a hearing healthcare professional who specializes in the prevention, identification, assessment, treatment and rehabilitation of hearing difficulties in both adults and children. They provide hearing assessments, and hearing aid prescriptions, fittings and adjustments as needed.
What is a Hearing Instrument Specialist?
A Hearing Instrument Specialist is a hearing healthcare professional who provides assessments, treatment and rehabilitation of hearing difficulties in adults. They provide hearing assessments, fittings and adjustments as needed.
What can I expect at my appointment?
At your first appointment, you will be asked some questions about your hearing difficulties and health history in general. A hearing healthcare professional will look in your ears with an otoscope and complete a variety of hearing tests using a sound-proof booth. These procedures are not invasive or painful.
When your assessment is complete, the hearing healthcare professional will share the results with you and make appropriate recommendations for treatment, if necessary. If hearing aids are recommended, your hearing healthcare professional will discuss the benefits they may offer you.
If you decide to purchase hearing aids, a follow-up appointment will be arranged in about a week to fit your customized prescription. You will be provided with instructions on the care and use of hearing aids, as well as the necessary counseling and education to ensure that you get the most out of your investment.
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What is aural rehabilitation?
Aural Rehabilitation is the technical term used for the ongoing counseling and education process required to assist hearing impaired individuals to learn how to effectively use their hearing aids.
This counseling is highly recommended, particularly for new users of hearing aids to ensure they receive the maximum benefit from their investment. The objective is to assist clients in improving their hearing and their ability to communicate with others.
ListenUP! Canada provides aural rehabilitation through a series of unique counseling and educational workshops, which are a complimentary service provided to our clients.
What is noise?
Noise can be defined as any unwanted sound. When it is loud enough, noise can severely damage your hearing. Generally speaking, the louder the sound, the shorter the time you should be exposed to it. Aside from damaging your hearing, noise can cause tinnitus and be a source of annoyance and stress.
How loud is too loud?
Sounds are measured in decibels (dB). For example, the wind in the trees is 20 dB; a person talking is approximately 60 dB; a chainsaw could be measured up to 95 dB; and a single handgun blast can be as high as 160 dB! Short exposure to a noise of 120 dB or above without hearing protection is highly dangerous and can result in permanent hearing loss.
How can I protect myself from noise?
The most practical and effective protection from noise is simply to avoid any exposure to loud sounds. If this is not possible, then ear plugs must be worn. If you have the option to control the volume of the source, such as a car stereo or iPod, always turn it down rather than up!
The ear can be divided into three parts: the outer ear, middle ear and inner ear.
The outer ear includes the visible part and fleshy ridges known as the pinna. The outer ear also includes the ear canal, which acts as a barrier between the outer ear and the middle ear space.
The sound waves cause the eardrum to vibrate. This vibration of the eardrum, in turn, causes movement of the three small bones in the ear canal known as the “ossicles”. The ossicles amplify and conduct the vibrations of the eardrum to the cochlea in the inner ear.
The inner ear consists of an organ called the “cochlea”, which is shaped like a snail’s shell. The cochlea contains tiny hair cells, called “cilia”, which move in response to the vibrations passed from the ossicles. The movement of these hair cells generates an electrical signal that is then transmitted to the brain via the auditory nerve.
How do we hear?
Before one can begin to understand hearing loss, it is necessary to become familiar with the basic mechanics of how we actually hear.
Sound travels in the form of waves that are comprised of vibrations of air. The outer ear is able to pick up these waves, transport them to the inner ear, where the vibrations are converted into electrical signals. These signals are then transformed into useful sound information, which the brain interprets into language, music or environmental sounds.
Facts about hearing loss
Hearing loss affects more than 10% of all Canadians, and more significantly, 50% of those who are over the age of 65. As a result, it has been determined that hearing loss is the third most prevalent chronic health problem in Canada and almost everyone will be affected by hearing loss at some point in their lives.
However there still remains a large inconsistency between the number of Canadians who suffer from hearing loss and those who actually wear hearing aids. Astonishingly only 1 in 6 Canadians who suffer from a hearing loss choose to wear hearing aids, even though hearing aids can help in 95 out of 100 hearing impairment cases.
What causes hearing loss?
There are many possible causes of hearing loss, the leading sources of which are listed below:
- Noise: 34%
- Age: 28%
- Infection or injury: 17%
- Birth: 2%
What are the different types of hearing loss?
There are two main types of hearing loss: Conductive and Sensorineural hearing loss.
Conductive hearing loss is caused by anything that interferes with the transmission of sound from the outer to the inner ear. These include, but are not limited to:
- Middle ear infections, such as otitis media
- Collection of fluid in the middle ear, such as “glue ear” in children
- Blockage of the outer ear, such as wax
- Damage to the eardrum, such as infection or injury
Sensorineural hearing loss is caused by damage to the auditory pathway from the inner ear to the brain. These include, but are not limited to:
- Age-related hearing loss
- Acoustic trauma, such as injury caused by loud noise
- Viral infections, such as mumps, measles or rubella
- Ménière’s disease – abnormal pressure in the inner ear
- Acoustic neuroma – non-cancerous tumour affecting the auditory nerve
- Infections or inflammation of the brain, such as meningitis
- Congenital hearing loss
- Multiple sclerosis
- Brain tumour or stroke
What is tinnitus?
Commonly described as a "ringing in the ears", tinnitus refers to a constant sensation of sound in one or both ears or in the head when no external sound is present. Other descriptions of the sensation of tinnitus include a roaring, whistling, chirping or hissing. How loud the tinnitus is perceived varies from person to person, ranging from subtle to very intense.
It is estimated that 17% of the population suffers from tinnitus. This equates to 44 million Americans and over 5 million Canadians. In addition, 5% of the general population is severely debilitated by their tinnitus.
Tinnitus can occur in individuals with hearing loss as well as individuals with normal hearing. Tinnitus affects males and females equally.
What causes tinnitus?
It is unknown what the exact physiological causes of tinnitus are. However, research has identified a number of sources associated with tinnitus. The most common contributor to the development of tinnitus has been cited as exposure to loud noise, which may only lead to temporary effects of tinnitus, or long-term exposure to noise, which most often leads to the permanent sensation of tinnitus. In fact, over 90% of tinnitus sufferers also have some level of noise-induced hearing loss.
A significant amount of wax build-up in the ear canal can also lead to the sensation of tinnitus or increase the perceived intensity of the tinnitus.
Medications are also a factor. Some medications are oto-toxic, which means they can produce damage to the hearing organ itself, whereas other medications produce tinnitus as a side-effect and will disappear once the medication is no longer taken. Aspirin is one example of a medication that can cause temporary tinnitus, when taken in large doses.
Ear and sinus infections can also be accompanied by tinnitus. However, it normally disappears once the infection has cleared up.
Jaw misalignment and other facial abnormalities can induce tinnitus as well as any trauma to the head and neck region.
How can I reduce the effects of tinnitus?
There is no cure for tinnitus, nor is there one approved medication that has been successful in permanently eliminating the presence of tinnitus for the general population of tinnitus sufferers. There are, however, several contributing factors that can have an effect on the perception and loudness of tinnitus.
- Exposure to loud noise
- Foods with a high amount of salt or sugar content
- Stress and fatigue
If you suffer from tinnitus, try reducing or eliminating one or more of these contributors and see if you gradually perceive any change in the level or the tone of your tinnitus.
Are there treatments for tinnitus?
Although there is no "cure" for tinnitus, several techniques have been developed to help individuals cope with tinnitus.
Many people find that a neutral external sound can be used to "cover up" their tinnitus to a point where it is not as noticeable. Soft music, a fan, or soothing nature sounds are commonly used to interfere with the perception of tinnitus and can be exceptionally helpful in typically quiet situations where tinnitus is most noticeable, such as when trying to fall asleep.
In addition to, there are two major non-medical treatments currently available for tinnitus sufferers: Masking and Tinnitus Retraining Therapy.
Masking involves the use of an in-the-ear masker device that generates a neutral (white noise) sound that can provide some relief. This is designed to cover the sounds of tinnitus. For some people, once the masker is removed, the tinnitus sounds quieter or is absent for a brief amount of time that may last from a few minutes to a few days. This treatment is designed to provide immediate relief from the effects of tinnitus and can be combined with a hearing aid for those who also have hearing loss.
Tinnitus Retraining Therapy is intended to be a long-term solution to the management of one's tinnitus. It also uses a masker device, but the masker is set to a level that allows the tinnitus to still be heard. Combined with a specific kind of counseling, this treatment is intended to re-train the brain to ignore the tinnitus. The training is much more extensive (8 months to 2 years) for this type of therapy and is not intended to provide an immediate or short-term solution. Instead, this therapy aims to give you the skills to successfully manage your tinnitus permanently.
Do hearing aids help with tinnitus?
Many hearing aid wearers who have hearing loss and suffer from tinnitus report that not only do they hear better when wearing hearing aids, their tinnitus becomes much less noticeable. If you have hearing loss and experience tinnitus, hearing aids can help to increase the amount of sound you want to hear while reducing the effects of tinnitus.
History of hearing aids
Evidence shows that attempts to amplify sounds go back as early as the 17th century. During this time, speaking tubes were used to aid a very special sort of hearing problem commonly experienced by Puritan couples. Custom at the time required the two individuals to sit across from one another, and in order to keep their conversations private, speaking tubes would direct the sound via a narrow pathway so that only the source could hear it.
Hearing trumpets date back to the 18th and 19th centuries and were used by Ludwig van Beethoven, who at the age of only 28 started to experience continual humming and whistling in his ears. Beethoven should not be remembered as a great composer who was deaf by 1801; but as a great composer who overcame his hearing loss by using the technology of his time.
In the late 1800s and subsequently throughout the first 40 years of the 20th century, electronic hearing aids were developed based on the concept of the telephone. These carbon aids were upgraded to a more wearable and practical instrument using a large 3-volt or 6-volt battery, but unfortunately, they were not able to help anyone with severe hearing loss.
As the need for more powerful and suitable hearing assistance grew, electronic hearing aids were designed to help those who suffered from severe hearing loss. The first practical aid was developed in the early 1930s and appeared as a wearable version in 1936. Since these vacuum tube aids required a microphone, headset and two batteries, costs were unfortunately a lot higher than the average individual could afford.
By the 1950s, vacuum aids had become all but replaced by transistor hearing aids – known better as electronic hearing instruments. Their reduced size required only one battery and allowed for the development of a number of styles that are readily available today, but the technology is far more advanced and the solutions a lot easier.
What are digital hearing aids?
Digital hearing aids are the most advanced technology available in the hearing aid market today. They offer more flexibility, more options, and better sound quality compared with other types of hearing aids. Almost all hearing aids sold today use digital technology.
What are the different styles of hearing aids?
There are five different styles of hearing aids, all of which are available at ListenUP! Canada:
- Open-Behind-The-Ear (OBTE): These hearing aids consist of a miniature Behind-the-Ear hearing aid and a thin tube with a soft rubber tip that fits in the ear. With its miniature case and thin tubing, these hearing aids are cosmetically appealing and one of the most popular styles.
- Behind-the-Ear (BTE): These hearing aids fit comfortably behind the ear and are attached to a soft, custom ear mold.
- Completely-in-the-Canal (CIC): These hearing aids are custom-made to fit completely in the ear canal and are almost invisible.
- In-the-Canal (ITC): These hearing aids fit into the ear canal and are slightly larger than the CIC style.
- In-the-Ear (ITE): These hearing aids are custom-made to fill the outer ear area and are larger than the ITC style.
There are a variety of factors that influence a person’s choice of hearing aid:
- Physical factors, such as the shape of the ear
- Hearing-related factors, such as the type or degree of hearing loss
How much do hearing aids cost?
Hearing aid prices are government regulated, but the total cost will vary based on your level of hearing loss, the brand/model prescribed by your hearing healthcare professional, and eligibility for government funding.
There are several programs in Ontario that offer financial assistance toward the purchase of hearing aids, such as the Assistive Devices Program (ADP)
, Department of Veteran Affairs (DVA
), and Workers Safety Insurance Bureau (WSIB)
Remember, hearing aids come with our unique Don't Worry, Be Happy Guarantee™
which includes everything you need for three years, even the batteries, lowest price and satisfaction guaranteed.
Are two hearing aids better than one?
Generally speaking, yes! Most people with a correctible hearing loss will benefit greatly from wearing two hearing aids. This allows for balanced hearing and comfortable communication in a variety of everyday situations. For example, you may achieve better hearing in noisy situations, improved localization to determine where a sound is coming from, avoid possible deterioration of the unaided ear, and enjoy a fuller, more comfortable sound.