Advance with MUSC Health

Ask An Audiologist: Hannah Burrick, AuD, Answers Your Questions About Hearing Better with Hearing Aids

Advance With MUSC Health
November 07, 2023
Hannah Burrick, AUD

During Better Hearing Month, we asked what some of your questions were concerning hearing, specifically regarding hearing aids. Hannah Burrick, AuD, is one of our audiologists at MUSC Health specializing in hearing loss. Below, she answers a few frequently asked questions about hearing better with hearing aids.

Q: How do I know if I need hearing aids?

A: The best way to know if hearing aids are a good option for you is to have a hearing test. Based on your hearing, the audiologist can tell you if you are a candidate for hearing aids or not. The other thing to consider is how hearing loss is affecting your quality of life. If you feel that your hearing loss is causing you to withdraw from activities you enjoy or hindering you day-to-day, hearing aids may be a good option for you.

Q: Are there hearing aids now that aren’t as obvious?

A: Absolutely, hearing aids are less obvious than what you may be thinking of! There are many styles of hearing aids.

One option is a piece that fits behind your ear and another small piece that goes in your ear, which is very discrete. Another option is a custom piece that fits directly in your ear, and when you put it in your ear, you really don’t see it. Invisibility is possible!

Q: Who is a candidate for hearing aids?

A: Candidacy for hearing aids is based on the person, their medical history and their hearing. It is important to work with an audiologist, or even an Ear, Nose & Throat physician, to figure out if hearing aids are going to be the best option for you. Other options may include other hearing devices, surgery or changing ways of communication. It is all about finding the solution that best meets your needs.

Q: I am 45. Do people my age often need hearing aids?

A: People of all ages can have hearing loss. Hearing loss is more common as we age, we call age-related hearing loss presbycusis.

At 45 years old, there are some contributing factors to consider. Things like genetic predisposition, family history, ear disorders, and noise exposure are all big factors. If you are experiencing hearing loss, regardless of age, it is important to come in and get a baseline hearing test.

Learn more about presbycusis here.

Q: What are some signs of hearing loss?

A: Signs and examples of hearing loss may include having trouble with background noise or in a restaurant, feeling that people are mumbling or not speaking clearly, or feeling that you can hear someone, but you are having trouble understanding them. Other things that might be related to hearing loss are if you are experiencing ringing in the ears or fullness in the ears.

Q: What are some advantages of getting hearing aids?

A: One advantage of getting hearing aids is that things will be more audible for you. Conversations should be crisper and clearer; you may hear the birds outside a little bit better, and even hear the turn signal on your car. Likely, you will be able to turn down the volume of the television if that is a problem for you. You will have more overall involvement in conversation, especially at a restaurant or in a dynamic setting.

Q: Does a hearing aid restore hearing to normal?

A: Unfortunately, not. Hearing aids restore volume at each pitch to a normal level, however, that does not necessarily mean that the brain is going to get a clearer signal. If the hearing aids are working with a damaged system or distorted ear, they can aid you but they cannot resolve all of the distortion.

Q: How long do hearing aids last?

A: The warranty on hearing aids is typically three years, but that does not mean you have to buy new hearing aids every three years. Big jumps in technology, like rechargeability, Bluetooth connection and waterproofing happen about every five years. It depends a lot on how well you take care of your hearing aids, and changes in lifestyle and dexterity can also impact the lifetime of your hearing aids. If you take good care of them, once every five to seven years is appropriate.

Q: Can I pair my phone to my hearing aids?

A: Most hearing aids can connect to smartphone if it has Bluetooth. This allows for two things. First, you can listen to phone calls, music, and podcasts like you would through a set of headphones. Second, you can download apps and make adjustments through the app.

Q: What adjustments can be made in a hearing aid phone app?

A: There are many adjustments that you can make to your hearing aids depending on the company. Some adjustments include changing the volume of the hearing aids, special programs for specific environments (I.e., restaurants, outdoors), and even the direction that microphones are facing. There is also a ‘Find My Hearing Aid Feature’ that allows you to see the last place that the hearing aid and the phone were connected. Across all the companies, there are a multitude of things you can adjust, so it really depends on the hearing aids that you have.

Q: What made you want to become an audiologist?

A: There are a few reasons why I decided to become an audiologist. First, I really wanted to be in the medical field, but I also wanted to be working with technology and in direct patient care. The field keeps growing and changing, which is nice. I also find the ear very fascinating! Lastly, I appreciate the importance of communication and I want to help people communicate the best that they can.

Experiencing Hearing Loss or Need a Hearing Test?

Hannah Burrick is an audiologist specializing in hearing loss at MUSC Health in Mount Pleasant. Burrick’s true passion resides in working with her patients. She strives for patient-centered care, with the goal of improving quality of life for her patients and their families.

Our facilities are equipped for diagnostic hearing and balance testing, hearing aid dispensing, cochlear implants and full treatment programs.

Learn more here or call 843-792-3531 to schedule an appointment.