Evidence is mounting that untreated hearing loss is a significant national health concern, and studies have linked it with other serious health problems, including depression, a decline in memory and concentration, and perhaps even dementia. While hearing loss is usually irreversible, hearing aids have been proven to improve one’s ability to hear by making sounds louder and easier to understand. With so many hearing aids on the market, selecting the right one for you can be daunting. The more you know about hearing aids the easier the selection process can be.
Understanding Modern Hearing Aids
The right hearing aid for you depends on several factors, including the type and severity of your hearing loss and your lifestyle. Hearing aids have a microphone to pick up sound, an amplifier to make sound louder, and a receiver that sends the sound into the ear canal. Now, in modern digital aids, microphones transmit sound to a computer chip, which adjusts the volume and amplifies the sound frequencies needed to improve your hearing. A hearing professional can program a digital aid to filter out wind and background noise, as well as fine-tune the aid to match your specific hearing loss pattern. It is becoming more frequent that models can sync wirelessly with your smartphone, enabling you to take calls, stream audio, and adjust your aid’s settings using an app.
Hearing Aid Types
Digital hearing aids come in five major styles and are categorized by where on or in the ear they’re worn. At Hearing Care Centers, we can talk about the pros and cons of each design and figure out what design is best for your lifestyle.
Mini-Behind-the-Ear Hearing Aid (mBTE)
Here, the receiver that sends sounds to the inner ear is inside the ear canal. It attaches to the ear with a thin wire and a custom-made earmold. This creates a comfortable and barely visible experience.
Traditional Behind-the-Ear Hearing Aid (BTE)
In this group electronic components are in the plastic case worn behind the ear. Sound is sent to the ear through the tubing that connects the case to the receiver and a custom earmold worn in the ear canal. This offers flexible features and considerable low and high frequency amplification, making it good for those with severe hearing loss.
Completely-in-the-Canal Hearing Aid (CIC)
This design is recessed into the ear canal and fits deep and tight in the ear. Because it’s in the canal, it has low visibility and is less sensitive to wind noise. The downside is that it is too small to include a directional microphone and the battery life is relatively short.
In-the-Canal Hearing Aid (ITC)
This design is barely visible, with a less of a plugged-up feeling because the aid sits deep in the canal.
Traditional In-the-Ear Hearing Aid (ITE)
This model is very visible with all electronic components included within the case, which rests in the bowl of the outer ear. This offers more room for features such as telecoil, directional microphone, and wireless streaming.
- Telecoil A telecoil is a small sensor that wirelessly connects to hearing-aid-compatible telephones and public address systems such as conference rooms, concert halls, museums, taxis, and even subway trains. Telecoil can help people with moderate to profound hearing loss to better understand a speaker’s voice by making it louder and eliminating most background noise and reverberation.
- Rechargeable Batteries Hearing aids of the past have been known to need new batteries every two days or less. This new feature is becoming more and more desirable
- Directional Microphone This feature helps you converse in noisy environments by making the audio signal in front of you louder than the noise from the rear or sides.
- Feedback Suppression Feedback suppression helps quell high-pitched whistling sounds. A proper fit can also reduce feedback.
- Digital Noise Reduction (DNR) Improves listener comfort and communication in noisy environments by blocking out some background noise.
Treat Hearing Loss with Hearing Care Centers
If you suspect you have a hearing loss, contact us at Hearing Care Centers. One of our trained hearing health care providers can conduct tests to assess your hearing aid requirements. There are many hearing technologies, so it is important to work with our team to decide which will be best for you.