For those who experience sensorineural hearing loss, hearing aids are a great way to improve their hearing abilities, with approximately 10 million US adults wearing a hearing aid. Hearing aids work by amplifying the sound you would usually hear in your outer ear, helping the vibrations to be picked up by the hair cells that adorn the cochlea. These hair cells then convert the sound vibrations into electrical signals, which can then be transported by the auditory nerve to the brain and interpreted as sound.
Which hearing aid is for me?
When searching for a hearing aid, it’s important to consider several things, including what style, size and features you want.
Hearing aids can be divided loosely into four categories:
- Behind-the-ear (BTE) hearing aids: The electricals and batteries for BTE hearing aids can be found in a small box behind the ear and are connected via a small plastic tube to an inner ear microphone. BTE hearing aids are often more adjustable than inner ear varieties and are therefore better for children or those with progressive hearing loss as they can be adjusted as necessary without needing an entirely new aid. For people with fairly mild hearing difficulties, there is also a sub-category of behind the ear hearing aids called open-fit BTE, which are smaller in size and minimally visible.
- In-the-ear (ITE) hearing aids: ITE hearing aids are one of the most versatile varieties and can be used for a wide range of people with both mild and severe hearing difficulties. In the ear hearing aids sit in the entrance to the ear and are one of the larger and more visible kinds on the market, however, a larger and more visible hearing aid is not always a negative as they can accommodate bigger batteries meaning that they have much better battery lives and can also be more easily adjusted as necessary.
- In-the-canal (ITC) hearing aids: As the name suggests, ITC hearing aids sit inside the ear canal, making them less visible than in the ear or behind the ear hearing aids. Because they are much smaller, in the canal hearing aids are really only suitable for those with less severe hearing impediments, and it can be more difficult to access them to change or charge their batteries; however, they are a great option for those looking for a minimally visible solution.
- Completely-in-canal (CIC) hearing aids: The most inconspicuous group of hearing aids available are those that sit completely in the canal. Because completely in the canal hearing aids sit quite a long way into the ear canal, these aids are barely visible, and many need to be removed via a small wire. These devices are commonly recommended for individuals with mild-to-moderate hearing loss, but may not be suitable if you have dexterity issues due to their small size.
How are hearing aids made?
Hearing aids are highly personalized and are created for each individual with the help of their audiologist. Having assessed your hearing abilities, your audiologist will often then take an imprint of your ear using a soft, moldable material, which will then be used by the hearing aid manufacturer to create you a hearing aid that fits perfectly inside your ear.
Do hearing aids come with a guarantee?
Choosing to improve your hearing by purchasing a hearing aid is a big decision, and understandably you will want to make sure that you find the right one. Your audiologist is on your side, and most reputable providers will offer you a trial and at least a 30-day guarantee on the hearing aid you purchase. It’s important to remember that, like any new device it can take up to four months to feel the full benefits of your new hearing aid, and you will need to work closely with your audiologist during this time to ensure that you experience the maximum benefits.
What to do next?
Here at The Speech & Hearing Center, we have been hearing health experts since 1953 and have over 65 years of experience in delivering the highest quality hearing care. We put patients before profits and are dedicated to providing lifelong care to those who use our services, from your initial interview to your hearing aftercare we will be with you every step of the way to ensure that you receive the quality care and support you deserve. To find out more about the services we offer, get in touch today by calling 423-622-6900.