You Were Asking. . .and Here's the Answers!
When you lose your hearing, or otherwise damage your ears, you often have
a number of questions you want answered. Here are some of the questions people have asked and Dr. Neil's answers
packed with information and advice.
Browse by category:
click on any link below or scroll down)
Learn About Series:
Learn About Series: This series takes several articles on selected
hearing loss topics and puts them together into a single attractive typeset
publication in pdf format so that you can print them out. (Click here to
access titles in this series) or (Top of page).
Sudden Hearing Loss
Sudden Hearing Loss is a Medical Emergency:
Recently I woke up and discovered I had lost the hearing in my left ear while I
slept. I went to my local doctor, but he didn't seem to think it was a big deal.
He told me it was likely my ear plugged up from a cold and to come back in a few
days if it didn't get better. I'm scared. Ten days have gone by, and I still
can't hear out of my ear. What should I do?
loss needs to be treated immediately if you want the best chance of getting your
hearing back. This article explains a simple test to help determine if your sudden hearing
loss is likely a medical emergency or not and tells you what you need to do next. (Click here to read article) or (Top of page).
Finding the Right Doctor for Sudden Hearing Loss and Other Ear Problems:
I woke up this morning completely deaf in one ear. I went to my primary care
physician, and he gave me some drops for my ear and told me to come back in two
weeks if my hearing doesn't come back. This doesn't sound like he is treating my
hearing loss as a medical emergency. What should I do?
Surprisingly, not all medical doctors have expertise when it comes to treating
ear problems. This article helps you locate the true ear specialists in your area
so you can get the help you need. (Click here to read article) or (Top of page).
Sudden Hearing Loss (SHL, SSHL):
My mother suddenly lost her hearing. She never had any known ear illnesses
before. What could cause this?
This article explains some of the causes
and treatments for sudden hearing loss. (Click here to read article) or (Top of page).
Tinnitus & Other Phantom Sounds
Tinnitus—What's That: I've
begun hearing an annoying buzzing or ringing sound in my ears. What's going on?
When your ears ring, roar, hiss, buzz, click or
hum, you are hearing phantom sounds called tinnitus. Learn what tinnitus is,
what causes it and what you can do about it. (Click here to read article) or (Top of page).
Treatment: Is It for Real? What can you tell me about
Neuromonics for treating tinnitus? Is it for real? Does it really work?
Neuromonics tinnitus treatment is a relatively new treatment for tinnitus.
Here is what you need to know about it—what it is, how well it works, is it for
you? (Click here to read article) or (Top of page).
Musical Ear Syndrome—The phantom voices, ethereal music & other spooky
sounds many hard of hearing people secretly experience: My
mother began hearing music in the form of
Christmas carols and other songs. She insisted that she was hearing actual carols coming from a
neighbor's house. I couldn't hear a thing, but I drove around the
neighborhood trying to find a source of this [phantom] music without
success. Is she losing her mind?
If you hear phantom
voices, singing or music, you are not nuts. You are just hearing some of the
strange auditory hallucinations many hard of hearing people experience. Learn
the causes of MES, and more importantly, how to bring these phantom sounds under
control. (Click here to read article) or (Top of page).
I have tinnitus all the time. Sometimes I hear what sounds like music or people
singing or talking. Is this some strange kind of tinnitus?
This article explains the difference between tinnitus,
psychiatric auditory hallucinations and pseudo-auditory hallucinations such as
Musical Ear syndrome (MES). (Click here to read article) or (Top of page).
Drugs That Can Damage Your Ears (Ototoxic Drugs)
Ototoxicity—The Hidden Menace. Part I: Lives in Upheaval: How serious
are the side effects of ototoxic drugs? What can I do to help preserve my
This article is an introduction
to ototoxic drugs and how they turn lives upside down. It includes a list of a few
of the hundreds of ototoxic drugs commonly used. Furthermore, it explains the side effects of such drugs, the
risk factors associated with them, and the steps you can take to reduce this risk. (Click here to read article) or (Top of page).
Ototoxicity—The Hidden Menace. Part II: Ototoxicity and the Practice of
Audiology: I've heard that the ototoxic effects of some drugs and
chemicals are even more pronounced when noise is present. Is this true? In what
frequencies does this hearing loss typically first occur?
This article includes more advanced information on ototoxic drugs and ototoxic
chemicals, including the synergistic effects of noise and ototoxic
drugs/chemicals and how high-frequency hearing testing is critical to assessing
the effects of ototoxicity before it is too late. (Click here to read article) or (Top of page).
Ototoxic Drugs and Hearing Loss: Is it
true that some prescription drugs can damage our hearing or our balance?
This article gives a quick overview of prescription drugs that can damage
our ears. (Click here to read article) or (Top of page).
Drugs and Tinnitus: Put Yourself
in the Driver's Seat: I've begun taking a medication and my ears are
now ringing. What do I do now?
This article gives an overview of how you can take control of tinnitus caused
by the medications you are taking. (Click here to read article) or (Top of page).
Beware of Benzodiazepines—Nasty
Time Bomb Ambushes the Unwary: About 15 years ago I started having panic attacks and
began taking Xanax (Alprazolam) at 1.5 mg/day and have been
on it ever since. Two years ago I had some really bad panic
attacks so my doctor doubled my Xanax medication to 3 mg/day. Now everything is out of control for some reason. For some time I have wanted to try to taper down or get off the
Xanax, but I am scared I will feel worse. How am I going to live
my life without the Xanax? I want to be able to get through the
day, but not like this! I would love to be free and be me again!
What should I do?"
Benzodiazepines are a class of drugs commonly known as
tranquilizers and sleeping pills. They are predominantly
prescribed for anything associated with anxiety or sleeping
problems. They can also damage your ears (and the rest of your body) if you are
not careful. This article tells you what you need to know in order to protect
yourself. (Click here to read article) or (Top of page).
Causes/Kinds of Hearing Loss
Kinds of Hearing Losses:
I have something called a cookie-bite loss. I have no idea what it is,
but that is what my audiologist called it. I have also heard of ski-slope losses
and losses with other weird names. What are they anyway?
This article explains what these weird names for hearing losses mean and
illustrates them with audiograms so you can see at a glance what they are. (Click here to read article) or (Top of page).
The Bizarre World of Extreme
Reverse-Slope Hearing Loss: These articles explain reverse-slope
hearing loss, what it is like to have an extreme reverse-slope hearing loss, and
tips for fitting hearing aids and ALDs to people with reverse-slope losses. They
also contrast reverse-slope losses to the common ski-slope hearing losses that
most are familiar with.
There are two versions—a full version (32 pages) and an abridged version (10
pages). Each article has a link to the other version. (Click here to read
the full article) or (Click here to read
the abridged version) or (Top of page).
Diplacusis—The Strange World of People with Double Hearing:
A musician explained, "I suddenly began experiencing a strange
phenomenon with my hearing. I now hear music through my right ear at the correct
pitch, while, at the same time, I hear the same music a semitone higher in my
left ear. Am I going crazy? What can I do to correct this condition?"
This article explains what diplacusis is, its several forms, what can cause
it, and some tips for dealing with it. (Click here to read article) or (Top of page).
Autoimmune Inner Ear Disease (AIED):
There seems to be a lot of talk about autoimmune inner ear disease now. What
exactly is this? How do I know if this caused my hearing loss? What can I do
This article includes what AIED is; its
characteristics and risk factors; and how doctors diagnose and treat it. (Click here to read article) or (Top of page).
Enlarged Vestibular Aqueducts (EVA
My child has been diagnosed with Enlarged Vestibular Aqueducts (EVA).
Exactly what is EVA; what causes it; and more importantly, what can I do about
This article explains what EVA is, its
characteristics and what you can do to minimize its effects on your hearing. (Click here to read article) or (Top of page).
Successfully Coping with Hearing Loss
The Single Most Effective Hearing Loss Coping Strategy:
If you only had one coping strategy you could employ, and it
mustn't cost a cent, what would your single most effective hearing loss coping
This article explains the one most important thing you can do to help
yourself hear better in any situation. (Click here to read article) or (Top of page).
New to Hearing Loss? Here's the
Help You Need: "Help! I'm losing my hearing. What do I do? Who do I see? Where do I go for
help?" If you are anxiously groping for the answers
to these and other questions regarding your hearing loss or the
hearing loss of a close family member, take heart.
This article gives numerous on-line (and other) sources of information and
help. It also contains an annotated list of a number of good books on various
aspects of hearing loss and other ear problems. (Click here to read article) or
(Top of page).
Practical Coping Strategies for Hearing Loss:
Could you give me some practical tips for dealing with hearing loss in the home
and in restaurants? It hadn't occurred to me that re-arranging furniture in my
home might help me hear better. Can you tell me more? Also about where to sit in
places like restaurants.
This article explains practical (and
free) coping strategies to employ in your home and when dining at restaurants so
you can hear better. (Click here to read article) or (Top of page).
for People with Hearing Loss:
“In the USA in 2006, there were 412,500 home fires that killed 2,580 people
and injured another 12,925 people. That’s scary! On the average, these same
fires killed one person with hearing loss every 15 hours, and injured a person
with hearing loss every 3 hours. That’s really scary if you are one of the 70
million Americans with hearing loss!"
You don’t have to become one of those statistics. Although having a hearing
loss puts you at a decided disadvantage when using standard alerting devices to
warn you of fires, you can put the odds in your favor if you follow the four basic steps
in this article. This article explains a number of practical coping strategies for
both preventing fires from happening in your home and wonderful new alerting
systems to quickly get your attention—even if you have a hearing loss—if a fire
should happen to break out. (Click here to read article) or (Top of page).
Driving Safely with Hearing Loss:
“How do you drive if you can’t hear?” is a question I’ve
been asked a number of times. And I normally answer, “I use my eyes when I
drive. What do you use?” “Judy”, a hard of hearing lady, responding to this same
question, quipped, “I use my hands. My ears aren’t able to reach the steering
This article explains a number of practical coping strategies for driving
safely even though you can't hear honking horns and sirens when you drive. (Click here to read article) or (Top of page).
Captioned Entertainment—Here's the
I've often heard that there are movie
theatres with captioning but have never heard of one near me. Is there some
central place that lists which theatres have such help available? How do you
learn of captioned movies shown in your city? Are they listed as such in
your local newspaper movie line-up or where?
When it comes to finding captioned movies and plays,
many hard of hearing people don’t know where to turn. The good news is that there are several organizations
dedicated to helping us by listing which movies and live theatre events are
captioned. This article shows you where to go to find this information. (Click here to read article) or (Top of page).
I am looking for information on lip-reading—it’s accuracy and associated
difficulties. I understand that lip-reading really is very hard and not
particularly accurate. Is this true?
Speechreading is an invaluable skill for
hard of hearing people to have. This article explains what speechreading is and
what it can and cannot do. (Click here to read article) or (Top of page).
Visor Cards—Bridging the Communications Gap When Stopped by the Police:
I am hard of hearing. If I am stopped by the police at night, what is the best
way for me to let the police know that I can't hear their orders. I don't want
to be manhandled or shot for deliberately disobeying orders I cannot hear.
If you are stopped by the police at night, this free visor card will let the
police know at the outset that you can't hear them before anything bad happens
to you. (Click here to read article) or (Top of page).
Hospital Communication Kits—Boon for Hard of Hearing Patients:
I am going to the hospital shortly and I am worried that I won't be able to
hear, or will misunderstand, the instructions and questions of the doctors and
nurses since I have quite a bad hearing loss. What can I do to make my stay in
the hospital more communication friendly?
The secret is to be prepared ahead of time for your stay in the hospital.
This article explains the steps you should take to do this. It explains what
should be in your hospital kit and gives two sources for good low-cost kits you
can take to the hospital with you to help you effectively communicate with those
you come in contact with in the hospital. (Click here to read article) or (Top of page).
Effective Communication in the Family:
My family and friends just don't seem to get it—that I need them to talk
differently so I can hear them. What can I do to get through to them?
Too often family, friends and
coworkers don't know the right ways to talk to the hard of hearing people. This
article includes a form letter to give to family, friends or coworkers to teach
them the basics of effectively communicating with hard of hearing people. (Click here to read article) or (Top of page).
The International Radiotelephony Spelling Alphabet—A Boon to Hard of Hearing People (If You Know and Use It):
Among most hard of hearing people, the International Radiotelephony Spelling Alphabet
(also called the NATO Phonetic Alphabet, but sometimes erroneously referred to
as the International Phonetic Alphabet) seems
to be a deep, dark secret. This should not be, as the International
Radiotelephony Spelling Alphabet is a most useful communicating aid.
This article teaches you the International Radiotelephony Spelling Alphabet, how to use it,
and most importantly, why it is such a great communication aid for hard of
hearing people. (Click here to read article) or (Top of page).
Devices to Help You Hear Better (ALDs)
Assistive Listening Devices to the
Rescue! A Primer to Help You Get Started: Hard of hearing people often lament, “Hearing aids don't work well for me,
particularly in noisy places such as while driving in the car or talking in
noisy restaurants.” They then ask, “What can I do in order to better hear my
spouse and friends under such conditions? Being unable to communicate freely is
putting a strain on my marriage and my friendships.”
This article explains in simple language the various kinds of assistive
listening devices (ALDs) that can make your communications ever so much easier,
their various benefits and shortcomings, and how to "couple" them to your
hearing aids. (Click here to read article) or (Top of page).
Hear in Noise? You Bet You Can! Here's How:
Hearing aids don't work well for me, particularly in noisy places such as while
driving in the car or talking in noisy restaurants. Being unable to communicate
freely, especially on long car trips, really spoils our vacations and times
together. What can I do in order to hear my wife under such conditions?
This article explains how to use the PockeTalker in those situations where
your hearing aids aren't effective including noisy situations such as riding in a car
or dining in a crowded restaurant. (Click here to read article) or (Top of page).
Loop Systems—The Best-Kept Secret in Town:
Every once in a while I hear hard of hearing people talking about "loop
systems." What are loop systems? How can they help hard of hearing people hear
better? Are they expensive?
This article explains what induction
loop systems are and how to set them up and use them for beautiful clear sound. (Click here to read article) or (Top of page).
Using T-Coils to Couple Your Hearing Aids to Various Audio Devices:
I'm a bit confused about how to use the t-coils in my hearing aids with various
assistive listening devices and other audio devices. What do I need to do? What
do I need to get?
This article explains the pros and cons of using neckloops, silhouettes and ear links in
coupling audio devices to your hearing aids via their t-coils. (Click here to read article) or (Top of page).
Give Yourself the "Gift of
Life"—Alerting Systems That Really Work:
Just because you have smoke detector or CO detector in your house is no
guarantee it will awaken you when you are asleep since hard of hearing people
have special needs and thus need alerting devices that are specially designed to
get their attention.
This article gives you 4 key features you should have in your alerting
system, then helps you decide which system will best fit your needs. (Click here to read article) or (Top of page).
Hearing Aids & Cochlear Implants
Becoming Friends with Your New Hearing Aids:
My audiologist did not adequately prepare me for the challenges I would face in
adjusting to wearing my new hearing aids. What is the best way to adapt to
wearing hearing aids?
This article gives you realistic
expectations of what your hearing aids can do for you, then explains how to
successfully adapt to wearing your new hearing aids. (Click here to read article) or (Top of page).
America Hears—A Hearing Aid Company with a Difference:
Ethical operations, quality hearing aids at reasonable prices and at-home
fitting and adjustments are just some of the things that set America Hears apart
from other hearing aid companies and dealers.
Also, if you've ever wanted to "tweak" you own hearing aids, you can get your
wish as all America Hears aids come with the programmer box, necessary cables
and software. (Click here to read article) or (Top of page).
Are Two Hearing Aids Really Better Than One:
I was recently diagnosed with a hearing loss in both ears. My audiologist
recommends that I get two hearing aids. Isn’t one enough? Do the advantages of
wearing two hearing aids really outweigh the extra expense? (Hearing aids aren’t
cheap you know!)
This article explains 10 advantages to
wearing two hearing aids. It also explains 5 conditions where you should not to wear two
hearing aids. (Click here to read article) or (Top of page).
Finding Hearing Aid
Compatible Cell Phones: How can I tell which cell phones will likely work
the best with my hearing aids?
This article not only explains how to determine a cell phone's hearing aid
compatibility (HAC) and what this HAC rating system really means, but it also
gives a link where you can get a list of the most compatible cell phones for
your hearing aids. (Click here to read article) or (Top of page).
Hearing Aids: Are
hearing aids the real answer to help me hear better?
Hearing aids are a very important step in hearing
better, but they are not the whole answer. Learn why. (Click here to read article) or (Top of page).
Psychological Effects of Hearing Loss
Grieving for Your Hearing Loss:
When I lost my hearing, I felt so sad and depressed. What's happening to me?
Will I ever feel better again?
This article explains the importance of grieving
for your hearing loss and how to work through
the grieving process. When you reach the acceptance stage, you will once more be
excited about living. (Click here to read article) or (Top of page).
"There's Nothing Wrong With My Hearing!":
What is the best way to help someone who is in denial regarding their hearing
loss? The statement, "You need to get hearing aids" just doesn't work!
This article explains why people so often
deny they have a hearing loss. (Click here to read article) or (Top of page).
Hope for Lonely Hard of Hearing People. Bringing Balance to Our Lopsided
World: I recently lost a lot of my hearing. Now I feel so alone. My
family and friends just don't understand what I am going through. I don't know
any one else who is hard of hearing. Where can I go to receive the understanding,
support and friendship I crave so badly?
Hearing loss so often cuts hard of hearing people off from society.
Here is one way to reconnect so that hearing loss isn't a problem any more.
(Click here to read article) or (Top of page).
Hearing Loss & Deafness (General)
Recruitment from Hearing Loss Explained:
Some people can't wear hearing aids because of severe recruitment. Recruitment
seems to be such a weird word for this problem. The word means "to enlist." The
dictionary doesn't describe anything to do with hearing loss and hearing aids.
So what really is recruitment and how did it get this strange name?
This article explains what recruitment really is and why it bothers
so many hard of hearing people. (Click here to read article) or (Top of page).
Hearing Loss—Decibels or Percent:
From time to time, I see people writing, "I have 78% hearing loss in my right
ear and 95% in the left." What does this percent mean? I thought sound was
measured in decibels (dB), not percent? If this is the case what percent is 115
This article explains how to describe our hearing
losses and why hearing loss cannot be expressed as a percentage, but must be
expressed in decibels. (Click here to read article) or (Top of page).
How Much Are You Worth as a Hard of Hearing Person:
I hear the terms "hearing impairment," "hearing handicap" and "hearing
disability" used seemingly interchangeably. Why do we have these terms if they
all mean the same thing? Also, how do you calculate the degree of hearing
This article explains the difference between a handicap and a disability and how to
calculate the degree of disability we suffer as hard of hearing people which, in
turn, is used to calculate how much of a disability pension you may be eligible
for. (Click here to read article) or (Top of page).
Are Microwave Hearing Devices
Slowly Cooking Our Kids?: My question is, Who is evaluating all of
these devices, hearing aids (especially ones that communicate aid-to-aid), FM
systems, soundfield systems, etc. for levels of radiation when used together?
If you put a child with hearing aids, with an FM, and a sound field in a
wireless environment, are they getting slowly "cooked"? I am not sure safety is
taken into account when all of these technologies are applied layer upon
layer—especially with children who have thinner skulls and developing brains.
This article explains the dangers to the health of children (and adults) when
exposed to non-thermal microwave radiation from cell phones, cell towers, Wi-Fi
systems, assistive listening devices, computers, tablets, cordless phones,
bluetooth devices, etc. (Click here to read article) or (Top of page).
Hair Cell Regeneration—Looking Beyond the Hype:
Hair cell regeneration has been in the news for some time now. Will it soon
restore hearing for the millions of hard of hearing people? I'd love to know
your thoughts about this.
Stripped of all the
media hype, this article gives a realistic view of what hair cell regeneration
may do for hard of hearing people. (Click here to read article) or (Top of page).
Hair Cell Regeneration—Overcoming the Challenges:
What are some of the challenges facing researchers in their quest for hair cell
regeneration? Are they unlocking the secrets that make hair cells "tick"?
This article explains what has been done and what still
needs to be done in order for hair cell regeneration to work in humans. (Click here to read article) or (Top of page).
What I Wish Audiologists Understood:
A lot of people are not completely happy with their audiologists. Obviously,
audiologists are missing the boat somewhere. I am an audiologist just starting
my own audiological practice. What is it that hard of hearing people really want
from their audiologist? I want to meet their real needs and have satisfied
Here is what audiologists need to do
(besides fitting and selling hearing aids) in order to really help us. (Click here to read article) or (Top of page).
Aging and Hearing Loss:
Why does hearing get worse as we get older?
This article explains why hearing loss is not really a
product of aging, but is really the cumulative effects of three factors caused
by living in modern society. (Click here to read article) or (Top of page).
Auditory-Verbal Approach to Hearing Loss:
I am interested in the auditory-verbal approach for my child. It teaches a child
to listen in a different way than a normal hearing child and to comprehend what
is being said. Some examples had "deaf" kids (had their aids) behind a door and
they could understand what was being said by the person on the other side.
Used by itself, this is not
the best way to teach hard of hearing people to communicate. Here's why. (Click here to read article) or (Top of page).
Protect Your Balance System—Or Else:
Recently, a drug I took severely damaged my vestibular system. Would you explain
how the balance system works and how my lack of balance can affect my lifestyle?
You have one just one but three
different balance systems. This article explains how they work together and what
happens when the balance system in your ears is damaged or destroyed. (Click here to read article) or (Top of page).
Demystifying Hearing Testing—The
Eight Steps Necessary for a Complete Audiological Evaluation and What It All
Means: I need to get my hearing tested, but I hate taking tests. What
is a hearing test like? What all will a hearing test tell me?
This article explains the various steps in the hearing testing process when
you go for a complete audiological evaluation, the purpose of each of these
tests and what it means to you as a hard of hearing person. (Click here to read article) or (Top of page).
Help, I've Memorized the Word List!—Understanding Hearing Loss Speech
Testing: Whenever I have my hearing tested, it seems the audiologist
uses the same list of words each time. I can understand this for people who have
never been tested before, but when I get my hearing tested regularly, isn't this
sort of ridiculous? I mean, I've half-memorized the word list so I'm not getting
fair test results, am I?
This article explains the various tests using word lists, their purpose and what
the results mean. (Click here to read article) or (Top of page).