Many patients say, “I heard that hearing aids don’t help.” Have you ever gone to a restaurant at a friend’s recommendation and ended up hating it? Everyone is different and we all have different experiences. In regards to hearing, everyone has a different configuration of hearing loss, different sized ear canals, different communication needs in their lives, and different preferences for how they like sound. There are a lot of decisions that go into choosing the right hearing aid. There are many different manufacturers who process sound differently and many levels of hearing aid technology to fit your individual needs. Finding the right manufacturer and level of technology is key in the successful use of hearing aids. People who are unhappy with their hearing aids may have any combination of these factors. It is the job of your audiologist to work with you to find your personal solution.
The first step in the process is to have your hearing tested. A full diagnostic exam is necessary to helping you choose the right hearing aid. Based on the severity and shape of your hearing loss your audiologist will make recommendations for the best hearing aids to help you.
After your diagnostic hearing test is completed and your audiologist has determined the type and severity of your hearing loss, he or she will complete a hearing aid evaluation. During this time you will talk about all of the difficulties you have with your hearing and your goals for better hearing. During this appointment, you will discuss options and different measures will be used to help determine the right hearing aid for your needs.
Once you purchase hearing aids you will return for a fitting. At this appointment your audiologist will set your sound quality based on your hearing needs and show you how to use your hearing aids. There will also be multiple follow up appointments and measures used to make sure that the hearing aids are the right fit for you.
There are six different styles of hearing aids. Typically, the smaller and more discrete the hearing aid is, the fewer features are available, and battery life is shorter. Not every style is appropriate for every configuration of hearing loss. Your audiologist is able to recommend the best styles for your hearing loss.
Completely-in-the-canal (CIC)aids are molded to fit entirely inside your ear canal, making this style practically invisible. This model is the smallest, which means it can fit the least amount of additional features and takes the smallest batteries; the smaller the battery the shorter the battery life.
In-the-canal (ITC)style hearing aids fit partially inside the ear canal and partially outside of it. This model is slightly more visible, can include more features, such as additional programs or a volume control, and fits a larger battery than the CIC model.
The in-the-ear (ITE)style sits in the outer ear and comes in two versions: full shell or half shell. This model is more visible than the last two, but can fit even more additional features and uses a larger battery. This model can be used for individuals with severe hearing loss.
Behind-the-ear (BTE)is a two-part style: one part of this hearing aid sits behind the ear and the second part, connected by a tube, often has a custom-fitted earpiece that sits within the ear canal. It contains the most features, has the longest battery life and can work on patients of all ages with any degree of hearing loss.
The receiver-in-canal (RIC)style is similar to the two-part design of the BTE except instead of being connected by the tube, the two pieces are connected with a wire, making this style less visible. This is the most popular style because it disappears behind the ear, has a good battery life, can fit many additional features and is appropriate for most hearing losses.
There is an ever-expanding list of additional features that can be added to a hearing aid. A few of these options are listed below.
• Directional Microphones – ordinary hearing aids only pick up sounds from directly in front of you. Directional microphones are able to pick up sounds from in front and behind you. This can help you hear better in crowded environments.
• Remote Control – this allows you to adjust the settings of your hearing aid, such as the volume, without fiddling with small buttons or dials.
• Wireless Microphone – this improves one-on-one conversations by transmitting your speaking partner’s voice directly into your hearing aid. The microphone is simply clipped onto your partner’s shirt or worn around their neck. This is especially helpful in noisy environments.
• Wireless Connectivity – this allows you to wirelessly connect to Bluetooth® enabled devices, such as cell phones. The sound from these devices will be broadcast directly into your hearing aid.
• Environmental noise control – this works to block out background noise, including wind noise reduction, and is especially helpful for those who spend a lot of time outside.
The most important part of choosing a hearing aid is discussing your options with your audiologist. After completing a hearing evaluation your audiologist will be able to provide recommendations based on your specific type and degree of hearing loss.
Hearing loss can occur because of any number of reasons: exposure to loud noise, head trauma, normal aging, or a virus or disease. While many of these are unavoidable, noise-induced hearing loss can be prevented.
Noise-induced hearing loss can be caused by exposure to one really loud sound or continuous exposure to any sound over 85 dB. To put this in perspective, normal conversation clocks in around 45 decibels, heavy city traffic is 85 decibels and a firecracker is 150 decibels.
There are a one thing you can do to prevent noise-induced hearing loss is to use earplugs. Whenever you are in a loud environment, such as a concert or a sporting event, earplugs should be worn. There are different types of ear plugs, from filtered plugs that allow you to hear music to solid plugs made for shooting guns, that are meant to help you enjoy your favorite activities while protecting your ears from the noises that are dangerously loud.
If you are going to be constantly exposed to loud noises or would just like a product that is more comfortable, custom earmolds are a great option. Custom earmolds are made from an imprint taken of the inside of your ear. This means the earmold will fit securely and comfortably inside your ear and provide the highest quality of sound protection.
There are different types of earmolds for many hobbies, such as swimming, hunting, and playing or listening to music just to name a few. If you enjoy any loud hobbies, come in to FYZICAL and let our audiology team explain how we can help you enjoy yourself while protecting your hearing.
There are three types of hearing loss: conductive, sensorineural and mixed.
Conductive hearing loss occurs when there is a problem with the outer or middle ear. This problem can often be medically or surgically treated. Sensorineural hearing loss occurs in the inner ear or the auditory nerve that connects the ear to the brain. Exposure to loud noises, illness, or natural aging are common causes of this type of hearing loss. While this type of hearing loss is usually permanent, it can often be treated with the use of hearing aids. Mixed hearing loss occurs when the same ear experiences both conductive and sensorineural hearing loss. To treat this condition, the conductive hearing loss is addressed first with medical or surgical intervention, and then the sensorineural loss is treated.
Hearing loss can affect people of all ages. 65% of those who suffer from hearing loss are younger than 65; six million are between the ages of 18 and 44. While anyone of any age can experience hearing loss, it is more common in older individuals. One out of every three people aged 65 to 74 experiences hearing loss, and one out of every two people over the age of 75 is affected.
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