Hearing Aids 101 - Basics to Understanding Hearing Aids
If you arrived at this article in hopes of understanding how hearing aids can help either you or a loved one, you have taken a great step in the right direction & this article will enlighten you all about hearing aids. Even though hearing has such an important role in our quality of life only 1 in 5 people who need a hearing aid uses one. Finding one that works well for you will greatly improve your ability to communicate with your friends and family, complete day-to-day tasks, and enhance your awareness of your surroundings. This is important not only to enjoy life but also for safety. Recognizing nearby dangers and alarms are important so you can take the precautionary and reactive responses needed to keep you from getting hurt. While hearing loss can be permanent, hearing aids can create a life where you forget that is the case.
What are the Hearing Aids
Credit: Fix Your Ears
Hearing aids are small devices that allow a person to hear better in quiet or noisy environments. They allow the users to listen and communicate with others, and be able to go about their normal activities, even after they have been affected by hearing loss.
Hearing aids improve hearing by magnifying sound vibrations that enter the ears. They convert sound that is received through a microphone and amplify it through an ear fitting at the right volume for the level of hearing loss that a person has.
Even as recently as a few decades ago, many who suffered from hearing loss felt embarrassed to wear hearing aids due to their large design that stood out to others. Thankfully now there are many discreet options that are almost impossible to spot.
How do Hearing Aids Work
Hearing aids are electronic machines that amplify the sounds of your surroundings into your ear so that you can hear them better. With a variety of styles and conformations, there is sure to be one that is most comfortable to you so the key is to keep trying different models until you find one that you love. There are three essential parts to a hearing aid: (1) microphone, (2) amplifier, and (3) receiver. The microphone picks up the sounds and sends them to the amplifier which will make the sounds louder. Lastly, the receiver will send these sounds into your ear. Hearing aids are adjustable so you can control how loud you want the amplifier to go.
Different Types of Hearing Aids
Hearing aid technology has advanced in leaps and bounds over the past century, and today, there are two types of hearing aids commonly found:
Credit: Center For Hearing
Analog Hearing Aids
Analog hearing aids first came on to the market in the 60s and 70s but are still used today. They have a microphone that transforms sound into a current, which is then amplified and played through a speaker or receiver. While they are not as advanced as digital hearing aids, analog devices are a cheaper alternative and mean that people who cannot afford expensive aids are still able to obtain assistance with their hearing.
- Simple to use
- Pre-programmed settings
Digital Hearing Aids
The most advanced technology that we’ve seen in the world of hearing aids has brought us digital devices that are much more comfortable and discreet than any previous designs. They work in a similar way to analog models, but they convert sound waves into numerical codes, and you have more control over how you receive the sounds around you. Digital hearing aids include practical settings and features and are able to analyze your environment to give you the best sound quality.
Digital hearing aids come in a variety of forms to fit the needs of users. You can find:
- Over ear
- Behind the ear
- In the ear canal
- Receiver in the canal
- Invisible in the canal
While hearing aids can function differently, they can also be worn differently. There are three main types of hearing aid placement - canal, in-the-ear (ITE), and behind-the-ear (BTE).
Canal hearing aids are smaller machines that are popular for those who enjoy a more discreet look to their hearing aids. Effective for mild to moderately severe hearing loss, it covers a wide span of needs. It can also be a daily aid that you would take on and off or can be left in for several months depending on the brand and style. There are three main subcategories: in-the-canal (ITC), completely-in-canal (CIC), and invisible-in-canal (IIC). ITC hearing aids are costumed to your own ear canal so it's a more comfortable fit. CIC are smaller and almost entirely hidden in your ear and offer a more subtle style. IIC takes it a step further and is completely hidden. Canal hearing aids offer discretion for those who don't want others seeing their hearing aids. By accomplishing this mission, they are typically very small so they might be tough to handle for the children and adults who have trouble with smaller devices.
ITE fits on the outside of the outer ear and works well for wild to severe hearing loss. However, because they fit outside of the ear, they are not ideal for growing children.
BTE are encased in a plastic cover and sit behind your ear with an ear mold that fits the inside of the outer ear to direct sound in. Able to accommodate from mild to very severe hearing loss, BTE's are a popular choice. There are several subcategories one being the mini BTE. It fits completely behind the ear preventing earwax build up and allowing you to hear your own sounds clearer. Receiver-in-canal (RIC) and receiver-in-the-ear (RITE) are two styles that are made of two components: (1) a behind-the-ear part and (2) a receiver in the ear or ear canal. This design allows for low frequency sounds to enter the ear naturally while the device adjusts for high frequency sounds.
With so many choices at your disposal, it's good to consult an audiologist. The perfect hearing aid will take into consideration your age, degree of hearing loss, lifestyle, preference, and budget. With so many considerations, an important factor is patience through trial and error. At Nano Hearing Aids, you will have a full 45 days to try out your hearing aid. If you don't like it, you can return it!
How to Get One
If you haven't already, it's best to consult an ear, nose, and throat doctor (ENT) to assess your hearing loss so they can find out what caused it and what the severity is. You can find this specialty doctor by searching the internet or asking your regular general practice doctor for a recommendation. Consulting with and ENT along with an audiologist will give you enough information to find the hearing aid best suited for your needs.
We hope you found this beginner crash course to hearing aids helpful. For something that you will use every day of your life, finding a hearing aid that will give you the best results and comfort as well as suiting your needs is important. This is job we take seriously at Nano Hearing Aids by providing you with the best quality hearing aids on the market for a reasonable price. Hearing accounts for 20% of our senses but when we loss it, it feels like a much heavier loss. Our mission is to give you back your quality of life so that you can continue to make great memories with your loved ones and your community. Call us for more information and our friendly staff would love to answer all your questions!
Learning the hearing aid basics if not all about hearing aids, can significantly help you or to care for your loved ones who is suffering from hearing difficulties to have a better quality of life and we hope this article might have just done that.
Frequently Asked Questions
Q. What is the difference between deafness and hearing loss/impairment?
Ans: Deafness refers to the profound loss of hearing ability in one or both ears with little to no hearing at all. Whereas, hearing impairment is a broad term that can be defined if one has a problem or suffer damage to one or both ears. It also refers to a diminishing ability to experience sound like most others. Deafness itself is a form of hearing impairment.
Q. At what point do you need a hearing aid?
Ans: People with normal hearing can hear sounds less than 25 decibels (dB). If the softest sounds you can hear are 30 dB or louder, you may be missing a significant amount of what is said to you and are probably a candidate for a hearing aid. It's important to note that hearing aids are only amplifiers.
Q. What percentage of hearing loss qualifies for disability?
Ans: If you have a word recognition score of 60% or less using the Hearing in Noise Test, then it qualifies as a disability.
Q. Is it okay to wear one hearing aid?
Ans: It's completely okay to wear one hearing aid if you have mild hearing loss in one ear. But make sure to check-up regularly whether your good ear is still hearing well or not.
Wilson PS, Fleming M, Donaldson I. Prevalence of hearing loss among people aged 65 years and over: screening and hearing aid provision. Brit J Gen Practice. 1993;43:406–409.