The most common devices are hearing aids. These range from extremely tiny ones that fit completely in the ear canal to ones that are placed behind a person’s ear and that deliver sound into the ear canal via tubing and an earmold. Some aids use just a tubing to deliver the sounds or locate a tiny loudspeaker right in the ear canal.
Hearing aids will not correct hearing like glasses correct vision. Don’t expect 20/20 hearing but they will help you hear in many situations. Your new hearing aids may require follow-up visits for technical tweaks by your hearing professional.
Adjusting to hearing aids takes time and perseverance, but it is worth it. You may have a love/hate relationship with your hearing aid at first as no one is enthusiastic about getting a hearing aid, but after a while, you will not want to be without it.
A hearing aid coupled with your willingness to tell others how to communicate with you and your practicing good speech reading and communication strategies is a winning combination and will get you back to enjoying life as you once did.
All modern hearing aids are digital and thus permit many types of operations not possible with the previous generation of analog aids. These not only allow more precise corrections to the unique pattern of specific hearing losses but also include a number of other, possibly helpful, features.
Among these features are those which provide automatic directional microphones, noise suppression circuits, automatic volume control, and the suppression of acoustical squeals. All or some of these may be helpful for some people in particular instances. New and improved features are continually being introduced. A major factor in all modern hearing aid fittings is to decide just what special feature should be included in the hearing aids.
One feature is certain. Be sure to ask the hearing professional to include a telecoil in your hearing aid. This will enable you to use hearing-aid-compatible phones and hearing-assistive technology. The telecoil transforms your hearing aid into a wireless receiver and provides connectivity that helps you hear better in certain situations. A telecoil will expand the usefulness of your hearing aid.
It is common to recommend two hearing aids, one for each ear. This may be modified depending upon the nature of the hearing loss; the person’s hearing needs, or economic considerations.
Consumer's Guide to Hearing Aid is a booklet illustrating the different styles of hearing aids and comparing different models and features.
Selecting a Hearing Aid
The appropriately selected hearing aid is often the most effective therapeutic measure for an individual with hearing loss. However, the process of selecting a hearing aid can sometimes seem daunting.
Obtain appropriate, well-fitted hearing aids through a certified hearing professional. Professionals who dispense hearing aids include audiologists, hearing aid specialists, and ear, nose, and throat doctors. Hearing aids are necessary and an important first step in treating hearing loss. Hearing aids are not like glasses – they do not correct hearing, but they are helpful in improving hearing and quality of life.
There are a number of other steps that can be taken to supplement the assistance provided by well-fit hearing aids. In the initial evaluation, the hearing professional will determine specifically what further services or information would be most helpful.
Are all hearing aids the same?
Hearing aids differ in design, size, the amount of amplification, ease of handling, volume control, and availability of special features. However, they do have similar components that include the following:
Microphone to pick up sound
Amplifier circuitry to make the sound louder
Receiver (miniature loudspeaker) to deliver the amplified sound into the ear
On/off switch and batteries to power the electronic parts
Some hearing aids also have earmolds (earpieces) to direct the flow of sound into the ear and enhance sound quality. In the case of children, the earmold will need to be replaced fairly often as the ear grows. The best hearing aid for you depends on your listening needs, type of hearing loss, and lifestyle. Your audiologist will advise you on which of the basic hearing aid styles and features best meet your needs and their related costs.
What else will I need to know about my hearing aids?
When evaluating and discussing hearing aid options with your audiologist, make sure you learn how to:
Obtain maintenance and repairs
Use special features (such as the “T” circuit, volume control, and program remote controls)
Determine if a hearing aid is functioning properly
What if I buy hearing aids and can't adjust to using them?
Laws in Canada require a trial period for all hearing aid sales. Most Clinicians provide a trial period, even if it is not required by law. If you decide to cancel your purchase during this trial period, there may be a non-refundable fitting/restocking charge for professional services and your custom earmold. You should discuss these policies with your audiologist prior to purchase.
You may choose to try a different make or model if the first choice is not satisfactory. Hearing aids do not restore normal hearing but do offer substantial benefits to most persons with hearing loss.
Will hearing aids help me hear better on the telephone or in public places?
Depending on your hearing loss, hearing aids typically help make speech over the telephone clearer. If you are on the telephone a lot, consider getting hearing aids with the “T” (telecoil) circuits described above. Telephone sounds are amplified more efficiently and background noises are better eliminated with a telecoil circuit. You should know that only some cordless telephones or cell phones work well with hearing aids.
Will hearing aids eliminate all my communication problems?
With hearing aids, you will hear some sounds you have not heard previously or sounds you have not heard in a long time. At first, background noise may seem loud and distracting. Your own voice may sound louder.
It can take several weeks or months to become adjusted to listening with your hearing aids. Your audiologist will provide hearing aid orientation for you as well as hearing rehabilitation as needed. Hearing rehab will enable you to communicate more effectively using your hearing aids.
Are there other hearing devices that will help me hear with or without my hearing aids?
Hearing aids are very helpful in one-on-one situations, but sometimes they are not enough. A hearing assistive device can help you function better in your day-to-day communication situations.
Hearing assistive devices are available for use with or without hearing aids. These devices provide extra help in specific listening situations, such as listening:
Over the telephone
With noisy backgrounds
In small or large group listening settings (such as restaurants, concert halls, and movie theaters)
At a distance from the sound source
So, even though you have a hearing aid or implant, hearing assistive devices can enhance your communication experience. Your audiologist can advise you about any assistive technologies that might be of value.
Things to Remember
Hearing loss doesn't have to restrict life activities. Properly fitted hearing aids with appropriate communication strategies can help in many listening situations. The step-by-step approach below will help you determine whether hearing aids can improve your hearing:
Get a professional hearing aid candidacy evaluation. Purchase the recommended hearing aid(s). Pay attention to:
Features and benefits
Maintenance and repair
Attend follow-up care orientation and rehabilitation.
Ask about other hearing assistive devices that will work with the hearing aid(s) to improve hearing in difficult or large-area listening situations.
Report problems you are having with communication. Your hearing aid(s) might need a simple adjustment.
Receive regular follow-up care to help you with adjustment to the hearing aid(s) and monitor any changes in your hearing.
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