How Do Hearing Aids Work?
What Kinds of Hearing Aids Are Available?
Hearing aids come in a variety of sizes and styles, each with its own set of benefits and drawbacks. Here is a brief overview of some of the most common hearing aid styles:
In-the-ear (ITE) hearing aids are customized to fit comfortably in the outer ear, and are typically larger than ITC and CIC aids, yet more discreet than BTEs. ITE hearing aids are easier to manipulate and adapt to individual preferences than smaller aids. Some models are equipped with specialized features such as directional microphones.
Behind-the-ear (BTE) hearing aids sit outside of the ear, with a tube that runs from the body of the aid into the ear canal. Although they tend to be larger than other hearing aid types, BTEs are a good option for those with profound hearing impairment because they provide higher power and more advanced features. In addition, many BTEs are now available in different hues to blend in better with skin and hair tones.
In-the-canal (ITC) and completely-in-the-canal (CIC) hearing aids are custom made to fit snugly inside your ear canal. ITC and CIC aids are less visible than other types of hearing aids, but they may be more difficult to handle and adjust. These aids also require more frequent cleaning to prevent wax buildup.
Receiver-in-canal (RIC) hearing aids are similar in size and shape to ITC and CIC aids, but the speaker (or receiver) is located outside of the ear canal in a small plastic case that rests behind the ear. RIC aids are often preferred over ITC and CIC aids for their superior sound quality and advanced features such as directional microphones available in some models.
Pediatric: Children are usually fitted with behind-the-ear (BTE) hearing aids. BTEs are the most powerful and effective for relaying consistent, understandable sound. Due to their reliability and power, they are considered the best option for children whose language skills development is a higher priority than cosmetic concerns.
When a child has mild hearing loss, in-the-ear (ITE) hearing aids might be suggested. These hearing aids are custom-made to fit comfortably in the ear canal and are more discreet than BTE hearing aids. However, ITE hearing aids may not offer as much amplification or distinct sound quality as BTE hearing aids and may require more frequent replacement.
Choosing The Right Hearing Aid For You
If you are experiencing hearing loss, a hearing aid may be a good option for you. With so many different types and features available, the process of choosing the right one might be overwhelming.
Here are a few things to consider when selecting a hearing aid:
- The type of hearing loss you have. Hearing loss can be grouped into two main categories: conductive and sensorineural. Conductive hearing loss occurs when there is a blockage or malfunction in the outer or middle ear, which prevents sound transmission to the inner ear. Sensorineural hearing loss is the most prevalent form of hearing loss, resulting from damage to the inner ear or auditory nerve.
- The severity of your hearing loss. Hearing loss is categorized as mild, moderate, severe, or profound. The severity will impact what type of hearing aid is best for you.
- Your lifestyle and listening needs. Consider how and where you will be using your hearing aid when making your selection.
- Your budget. Hearing aids range in price from a few hundred dollars to several thousand dollars. Choose the best option for your needs; and be sure to ask about what your insurance covers.
- The features you want. Hearing aids now offer a multitude of options, including Bluetooth connectivity, rechargeable batteries, and directional microphones. Determine which functions are of primary concern to you.
- The size you want. Hearing aids come in a variety of sizes, from completely invisible to larger behind-the-ear models. Choose the size that best suits your needs and preferences.
Pediatric Hearing Loss
What Are The Benefits Of Hearing Aids?
Studies indicate that hearing aids offer psychological, social, and physical benefits that then correlate to a better quality of life. Specific ways in which this can happen include:
- Being more capable of engaging in conversation with loved ones and colleagues.
- Enjoying higher-quality relationships as a result of improved engagement.
- Feeling more confident in professional and social situations.
- Having a generally better sense of self-esteem.
- Increasing productivity at work and a better ability to concentrate on all types of tasks.
- Feeling more energetic, independent, and secure.
How Long Will It Take For Me To Get Used To My Hearing Aids?
You may know that wearing a hearing aid doesn’t mean your hearing will go back to a completely normal state. Hearing aids work by amplifying sound. There is an adjustment period that your brain has to go through to sort out the information that is coming into the ears. You might find that certain pitches or sounds feel entirely too intense. You might even have to get used to hearing the sound of your own voice through your hearing aids. The sounds of voices and the environment around you may become much more familiar after a few weeks of wearing your hearing aids consistently. Consistent wear is the key here, and, even with that, you may continue getting used to hearing for several months.
Why Should I See An Audiologist Before Getting Hearing Aids?
Hearing loss doesn’t occur in exactly the same way in every case. Your hearing loss is completely unique to you, so it cannot be addressed with full accuracy without some personalization. This is where your audiologist comes in.
An audiologist has special training in the area of hearing. The tests that this professional performs, such as the real-ear measurement, help identify where your hearing loss has occurred and to what extent. Your audiologist can discover if your hearing loss is in your middle ear or inner ear, and can measure the hearing in each ear. This is important because one ear may have significantly better hearing than the other, and this information guides how we program your devices.
In addition to measuring your hearing and adjusting your hearing aids to accommodate your needs, your audiologist can also address tinnitus, ringing in the ears. This condition often coincides with hearing loss, and it may require some special tips or the customization of special programs on your hearing aids.
Getting hearing aids is primarily about helping you be more engaged in your life. That said, the entire experience can be new and somewhat stressful or frustrating. This can be particularly true if you’ve waited a long time to address your hearing loss. Working with an audiologist, you gain the benefit of personal care. Your audiologist can program your hearing aids with lower volume at first, gradually increasing the volume and adjusting other aspects, to ensure that your acclimation goes as smoothly as possible.
How Often Do Hearing Aids Need To Be Replaced?
Hearing aids can last anywhere from approximately 3 to 7 years. The lifespan of a hearing aid will depend somewhat on the type of device and also on how well the device is maintained over time.