Hearing Aid Devices
For the millions of Americans who have hearing loss, hearing aids are usually the best option to help correct untreated hearing loss and resume a high quality of life. Many types and styles are available to suit every preference and lifestyle. So get your hearing tested first, then we will help you to choose the right device.
Hearing aids are small electronic devices that can be highly customized to address different types of hearing loss. All digital hearing aids contain at least one microphone to pick up sound, a computer chip that amplifies and processes sound, a speaker that sends the signal to your ear and a battery for power. More sophisticated models provide additional features, such as direct connection to a smartphone or rechargeable batteries.
What is a digital hearing aid?
Hearing aids are small electronic devices that can be highly customized to address different types of hearing loss. All digital devices contain at least one microphone to pick up sound. As well as computer chip that amplifies and processes sound, a speaker that sends the signal to your ear and a battery for power. More sophisticated models provide additional features, such as direct connection to a smartphone or rechargeable batteries.
How do they help with hearing loss?
It amplifies the sounds going into the ear. They are most often prescribed for people who have a type of hearing loss known as “sensorineural“. This means that some of the tiny hair cells of the inner ear are damaged. The surviving healthy hair cells pick up the sound delivered by the hearing device and send them as neural signals to the brain via the auditory nerve.
For people with mild-to-moderate hearing loss, standard hearing devices work best. “Power” models are often used for people who have severe-to-profound hearing loss.
Hearing aid technology
Many types of hearing devices produced today use telecoils and wireless technology. Telecoils improve hearing in public settings, such as theaters and airports. Meanwhile, wireless technology allows two (one on each ear) to communicate with each other and essentially operate together as one complete hearing system. It also means hearing aids can connect to external sources of sound that are transmitted wirelessly, such as via Bluetooth.
The Benefits of Modern Hearing Aids
Modern hearing aids are smart. In part, that’s because they incorporate the latest technologies and hearing assistance algorithms. But the effectiveness of modern hearing devices is achieved in part because each device can be refined and calibrated on a patient-per-patient basis (sometimes they calibrate based on the level of background noise).
Customizing hearing devices means that the sensitivity and output signals can easily be calibrated to the specific hearing levels you might have. The better your hearing aid works for you, the more likely they are to help you mask the buzzing or humming from tinnitus.
Hearing Aids to the Rescue
That’s why treating your hearing loss is essential. According to one study, 97.3% of those with hearing loss who wore aids for at least 18 months showed a marked stabilization or improvement in their cognitive functions.
Various other studies have shown similar results. Hearing aids really help. When your brain doesn’t have to strain quite as hard, your overall cognitive function improves. Sure, a hearing device isn’t a memory panacea–cognitive decline or memory problems can be a complex mixture of causes and elements.
Hearing aid fitting
Once a hearing healthcare professional recommends hearing devices for you, a number of factors will be considered when selecting and fitting a device. The best fit for you will depend not only on the severity and type of hearing loss you have but also your budget, cosmetic preferences, career demands and other concerns.
Because hearing aids are personalized, not every brand, style or technology level of hearing device is suited for everyone. Even two people with the same hearing loss may end up with different hearing aids based on other selection criteria. This can make comparing hearing aids difficult. It’s best to talk to your hearing healthcare provider about what options and features are ideal for you.
Adapting to the new device.
Adapting to the new hearing device is really adapting to two new sensations. The physical sensation of having the aid in your ear canal and your brain’s reaction to processing sound after a long period of diminished hearing. Your initial experience with new hearing devices might be that they are too loud or high pitched as they are now amplifying sound your brain has been straining to hear. On average, people endure hearing loss for years before trying hearing aids, so this didn’t happen overnight.
What’s most important is that you don’t give up on wearing your hearing aids. It’s tempting to put them aside, but remember that it’s your overall health that’s at stake. Like hypertension or diabetes, hearing loss will gradually erode your health if left untreated. With treatment, however, it is a powerful ally in combating serious diseases such as high blood pressure and dementia.
Partner with your hearing care professional while you make the adjustment to hearing aids, and you’ll be one step ahead in maintaining your wellness.
The Average Hearing Aid Lifespan
It is possible to speak in general terms about how long you might expect your hearing device to last (we’ve got to give you some numbers, right?!). The average lifespan of a typical hearing device is going to be anywhere from 3 to 5 years.
But that’s not a hard and fast rule, and you need to have your hearing checked periodically to make sure your hearing device is still the best option for you. Assuming your hearing doesn’t change, some models age more quickly than others and technology is constantly changing.
Can You Make Your Hearing Aids Last Longer?
We have to acknowledge that hearing devices are pretty personal things. In many cases, they are programmed specifically for your ears and may have custom molds. They are also a significant investment. So getting the most bang for your buck–getting your hearing device to last as long as possible–is a common goal.
And it’s one you can achieve. Really, the best thing you can do to make sure your hearing aids last as long as possible is to take care of them. Try not to drop them or get them wet. And make sure you do all the required maintenance and cleaning (seriously–no one likes cleaning, but it’s like a chore–you’ve got to do it).
You’ll usually be able to get a good five years out of a hearing aid. Whether you can get more than that is, often, up to chance. But sometimes it’s up to you.