Hearing Aids

Are you considering a new set of hearing aids?

 If so, good for you! Hearing aids are still the best treatment for sensorineural hearing loss, and they’re better than they’ve ever been.

There’s a set of hearing aids for every need and lifestyle. Hearing Care Centers is here to help you navigate the marketplace of hearing aids and arrive at the best choice for your situation. Every hearing test we do begins with a conversation about what issues you’ve been noticing (if any) and what’s most important to you. We can help you find your way to a set of hearing aids that’s going to work best for your life. Still, it’s a lot of information to digest, so it may be helpful to know a few things about modern hearing aids before you come to our office.


Hearing Aid Styles

Hearing aids come in a variety of different styles. Each has its advantages, and each is better-suited to some individuals and types of hearing loss than others.

Behind-the-Ear (BTE)

Perhaps the most common modern type of hearing aid, BTEs have a small tube that goes from the unit behind your ear into your ear canal. While some models can be quite small and inconspicuous, the size increases as amplification needs may become stronger (the “power” hearing aid options, for example). BTEs tend to be the most versatile and functional of hearing aid types, since they have more space to accommodate computer technology and batteries, but people who wear glasses may find them uncomfortable, and those who desire a more inconspicuous hearing aid may not like them.

Receiver-In-Canal (RIC)

RIC hearing aids have become popular in the last few generations of hearing aids. They look and function almost the same as BTEs but have the microphones placed on the earpiece instead of the larger unit behind the ear. This provides a more natural way of locating sound in your environment.

In-the-Ear (ITE)

These are the largest hearing aids that do not sit behind the ear. Accordingly, they can provide more power for those who require it, and can accommodate more features and larger batteries. Their fit is always customized for your specific ear canal, and they can be a very comfortable option. Some manufacturers even offer rechargeable models of ITEs at this point.
Personal Amplifiers

In-the-Canal (ITC)

Less conspicuous than BTEs or ITEs, ITCs can still accommodate batteries that provide days of power, and can incorporate features like directional microphones and on-board volume controls.
Amplified Telephone - Captel

Completely-In-the-Canal (CIC)

CICs sit even deeper in the canal than ITC models. At this size, they usually cannot provide the amplification required to aid severe hearing loss, but are appropriate for mild to moderate hearing loss.
Personal Amplifiers

Invisible-In-the-Canal (IIC)

The smallest hearing aid type available, IICs sit deep in the ear canal. They work with mild to moderate hearing loss, and tend to be less full-featured than larger types. They are so small and sit so deeply in the ear canal that you can actually wear a pair of earbuds while using them.

Modern Hearing Aid Technology

Around the turn of the millennium, hearing aids started to go digital. Prior to that time, hearing aids simply amplified sound by an amount that could be controlled with a volume knob, while utilizing an analog equalizer to match a patient’s hearing loss profile. Digital hearing aids opened the door to DSP (digital signal processing), which can be far more powerful than analog processes.

The hearing aids on the market today can not only provide just the amplification you need at the frequencies you need, but much more. They can load different programs appropriate for different types of environments, in many cases automatically when they detect changes in the environmental sonic profile. Imagine walking from a quiet kitchen into a busy dining room with tall ceilings. These environments couldn’t be more different, but with some of the technology on the market today, your hearing aids can automatically sense that there are more voices and that they are more reverberant, reduce the sound of background noise, and zero-in on the speech that’s in front of you.

It may sound complicated, but these complicated processes all happen in the background, meaning that you need to think less about your hearing aids than ever before while they do all the heavy lifting.

Telecoil

Telecoil (often called “T-coil”) essentially works like a microphone that only picks up electromagnetic signals. It was originally introduced to make using the telephone easier with hearing aids, but has since found its way to loop, FM, and other systems, where audio can be easily transmitted wirelessly within a specific perimeter. It can be a great benefit when using hearing aids in public spaces like museums, lecture halls, houses of worship, and theaters.

Bluetooth

Bluetooth is becoming more and more common in hearing aids, and rightly so. Most gadgets you buy today like computers, smartphones, tablets and even car stereos come with Bluetooth capability. If your hearing aids also have Bluetooth, you can set them up so that they connect automatically with the different Bluetooth devices you use on a regular basis, allowing you to directly stream music, phone calls and TV to your hearing aids’ speakers, without having to pass through the microphones and the speakers from a separate device. This results in much better sound quality and better speech intelligibility over the phone, video conferences and more.

But that’s not all. Most hearing aid manufacturers have created smartphone apps that let you control many different parameters in your hearing aids. Volume, program selection and more can be easily accessed from your smartphone, meaning you never need to touch your hearing aids to change volume or programs, or carry an extra remote control. You can even use these apps to get in touch with us if you need a fitment adjustment, which we can provide remotely while on the call. It’s just as effective as if you were to come into the office, but you can remain in the comfort of your own home, workplace, or wherever you choose to conduct the call.

Rechargeable Batteries

Rechargeable batteries are also quickly becoming the norm for most hearing aids. While disposable batteries are still a good option and widely available, rechargeables have a couple advantages.

First, you never need to buy batteries! Most hearing aid users will go through an average of 125 batteries in a year. Over the lifespan of your hearing aids that’s an average of 625 batteries! With rechargeables, you’ll only need one battery for each hearing aid. Simply plug them in at night, and they’ll last for up to 22 hours of use before needing another charge, even while streaming via Bluetooth.

Second, battery compartments are notorious for allowing dirt and moisture to infiltrate the sensitive electronics inside a set of hearing aids. With rechargeable batteries, there is no need for a battery door that allows the outside elements into your hearing aids, making them significantly more resistant to water and dirt.

Call Hearing Care Centers today to make an appointment for a hearing test and have all your questions about hearing aids answered. We’re happy to go over all your options with you and spend the time it takes to determine which set of hearing aids will be the best solution for you.

Assistive Listening Devices (ALD's)

What Are Assistive Listening Devices?

Around the turn of the millennium, hearing aids started to go digital. Prior to that time, hearing aids simply amplified sound by an amount that could be controlled with a volume knob, while utilizing an analog equalizer to match a patient’s hearing loss profile. Digital hearing aids opened the door to DSP (digital signal processing), which can be far more powerful than analog processes.

The hearing aids on the market today can not only provide just the amplification you need at the frequencies you need, but much more. They can load different programs appropriate for different types of environments, in many cases automatically when they detect changes in the environmental sonic profile. Imagine walking from a quiet kitchen into a busy dining room with tall ceilings. These environments couldn’t be more different, but with some of the technology on the market today, your hearing aids can automatically sense that there are more voices and that they are more reverberant, reduce the sound of background noise, and zero-in on the speech that’s in front of you.

It may sound complicated, but these complicated processes all happen in the background, meaning that you need to think less about your hearing aids than ever before while they do all the heavy lifting.


Loop Systems

Loop systems work with a set of T-coil-enabled headphones (usually provided on location) or hearing aids. A T-coil (or telecoil) is a type of electromagnetic receiver that was originally intended to make hearing aids work better with telephones. A loop system is a literal loop of wire that surrounds the perimeter of a room, theater, auditorium, or other space. When the wire is charged, it allows all T-coil devices within the perimeter to pick up the sound directly from the loop.

FM Systems

Similar to T-coil systems, FM systems are used in spaces where a more permanent loop system is not installed. They use FM radio waves, the same as the airwaves that radio stations use. A signal from (usually) a microphone is transmitted to a receiver with a small T-coil loop that can be worn around the neck.

Infrared Systems

These work a lot like FM systems, but use a beam of infrared light to transmit the signal rather than radio waves. These are especially useful where confidentiality is important, since the signal cannot pass through walls, or where too many FM signals are already in use.
Personal Amplifiers

Personal Amplifiers

Personal amplifiers are useful when the above systems are not installed or available, or when a smaller set of more portable equipment is required. Usually battery-powered, these devices resemble a personal listening device like the Sony Walkman® but contain a microphone and amplifier to boost the signal of surrounding sounds. Some are also capable of reducing background noise to some extent. While these can be handy in many situations, it should be noted that they are not an acceptable substitute for hearing aids.
Amplified Telephone - Captel

Amplified Telephones

For most people with hearing loss, T-coil- or Bluetooth-enabled hearing aids will allow for more effective telephone communication. However, we’re not always wearing our hearing aids, especially at night. An amplified telephone can be a good ALD to keep on the bed stand for late night phone calls or emergencies, when hearing aids are not being worn.

Hearing Aid Brand-Specific ALDs

Sometimes called “accessories,” most hearing aid brands offer specific ALDs meant to integrate with their hearing aids. The most popular of these include TV adapters and microphones.

TV Adapters

A TV adapter plugs into the audio output of your television. Then, using your Bluetooth-enabled hearing aids, you can connect wirelessly to the TV adapter. Assuming everyone in the house has the same brand of hearing aids, multiple sets can be connected at once and volume can be controlled individually via your smartphone app or remote control. This allows everyone in the house to enjoy the TV at their appropriate level! TV adapters, while marketed for use with televisions, can just as easily be connected to computer audio outputs or stereo systems for direct streaming of music or other content.

Microphones

Sometimes the microphones in your hearing aids are just too far from the source you’re trying to hear, or there’s simply too much background noise. This can be the case when traveling, or in crowded spaces when you’re trying to communicate with a partner, friend or loved one. By using the microphone sold as an accessory to your hearing aids, you can effectively get your ears closer to the voice you want to hear, wherever you may be!

If you have questions about ALDs, hearing aids, or other hearing-related questions, get in touch with Hearing Care Centers today and we’ll gladly help you navigate the world of sound.