If you think that you might need hearing aids, you’re not alone – 37.5 million Americans over the age of 18 have reported some kind of hearing loss. For a majority of people with hearing loss, hearing aids might be the best option for regaining some of your hearing. This could aid in restoring your quality of life. Hearing aids technology has advanced so much today that many options are available to fit all kinds of preferences, budgets, and lifestyles. Before you decide what is best for you, here are some things that you need to know about hearing aids.
Hearing aids can be recommended by your hearing health professional if you show certain degrees of hearing loss. Regular hearing screenings will be your first defense in helping to save your hearing. By including regular hearing exams in your wellness routine, you can stay on top of any hearing loss and can make informed decisions with your healthcare provider. Hearing aids are also sold in a wide variety of options and styles. They can often be the key to getting you back some level of your hearing and restoring your quality of life.
Digital hearing aids contain at least one microphone, a computer chip, a speaker, and a battery. These components are the “guts” of the hearing aid and they all work together to amplify sound and transmit it into your ear. While these are the basic parts of any hearing aid, they also come in many styles and packages. Your hearing care specialist will help you consider the options available for your situation and guide you towards the appropriate device specifically for you. There are two main groups of hearing aid styles that several types of hearing aids fall into which are in-the-ear (ITE) styles and behind-the-ear (BTE) styles. Within these two groups are the following:
- Invisible-in-the-canal (IIC) and completely-in-the-canal (CIC) hearing aids are the tiniest models made. They fit deep into the ear canal and are usually for mild or moderate hearing losses.
- In-the-canal (ITC) hearing aids sit in the lower portion of the outer ear. They are typically easier to use and are worn for wide ranges of hearing loss.
- Low profile hearing aids fill half of the outer ear. They are slightly larger and easier to handle and usually include options like volume control.
- Mini BTE hearing aids with slim tubes hide behind the outer ear and have ultra-thin tubing to send sound into the ear. This style is used for a greater degree of hearing loss.
- Receiver-in-the-ear (RITE) or receiver-in-canal (RIC) hearing aids have the speaker built closer to the eardrum with the rest of the aid behind the ear.
- BTE hearing aids with earmolds are for any type of hearing loss. Their longer shape allows for more features, controls, and power.
Hearing aid technology has changed dramatically over the years with most modern hearing aids being digital and wireless. Today’s hearing aids require professional fitting and programming by a specialist. These hearing aids offer more freedom and flexibility than previous generations because they can be programmed for custom settings to meet the needs of each individual. As technology has improved, the features have become more automatic, adjusting to any listening situation quickly. Some hearing aids will even offer user-controlled features such as voice prompts and program changes.
Once you and your doctor have decided that hearing aids are right for you, several factors need to be considered. The best choice for you will first and foremost depend on the severity and type of hearing loss you have. Several other factors such as budget, cosmetic preference, lifestyle demands, and physical needs will all need to be considered. Because hearing aids are personalized pieces of technology, not every brand or style will be suited for everyone. This can make for some difficulty in comparing and reviewing hearing aids. The best source of information and advice will come from your healthcare provider. Healthcare professionals will perform an initial fitting so that they can fine-tune features and adjust levels. This will ensure that you are getting the most benefit from your devices. After you get a new hearing device, there will be an adjustment period as it will take some time to get used to wearing new hearing aids. You may even need to revisit your hearing specialist to have some fine adjustments made. Finally, you should always wear the hearing aids according to the instructions of your hearing healthcare professional and let them know as soon as possible of any challenges you encounter. It’s helpful to advocate for yourself by asking questions when you visit your hearing specialist. Making the right choice when it comes to hearing aids can put you on a journey to better hearing as well as a better quality of life.