Hearing loss is quite common in older adults. Many try to ignore this disorder but do not realize how stressful it can be on their physical and emotional well being. Research has shown a relationship between untreated hearing loss and:
- Falls and balance difficulties
- Social isolation and loneliness
- Cognitive decline, including dementia
It is our goal at Queen City Ear, Nose, and Throat to educate the public on hearing loss and hearing aid technology and practices. We strive to fit each of our patients using only the best practice methods and state of the art hearing aid technology.
What is a hearing aid?
A hearing aid is a small, electronic device that is worn behind or inside the ear. It is programmed by a Doctor of Audiology (aka Audiologist) for your specific hearing loss and needs. Audiologists are trained on the anatomy of the ear, and how hearing disorders and appropriate treatments for each to properly improve your ability to both hear and understand speech more clearly.
Although hearing aids vary in shape and size, they contain the same basic components: microphone(s), an amplifier, speaker, and a battery. The microphone picks up sound from the environment and sends them to a computer chip with an amplifier. The amplifier converts the sound waves into electrical signals, analyzes them and adjusts them based on the programming performed by your audiologist. This signal is then converted back into sound waves and sent out into your ear via the speaker.
What style of hearing aid should I get?
Now that all hearing aids are digital and no longer the old-style analog, manufacturers are offering many different styles with incredible features. Our audiologists are not only trained to diagnose hearing loss but have gained expertise at fitting the right type of hearing aid for their patients. They will work with you to determine which solution will work best for both your hearing loss and lifestyle. The major styles of hearing aids available today include:
- Behind-The-Ear (BTE) - Rests behind the ear with a clear, plastic tube which runs in front of your ear to direct the sound into a customized earmold that sits in your ear canals.
- Receiver-In-Canal (RIC) - Rests behind the ear and is typically smaller than the BTE. A thin wire runs in front of the ear which is connected to the receiver or speaker that sits inside the ear canal. This style may or may not use a customized earmold in the ear canals.
- In-The-Ear (ITE) - The largest of the custom-made hearing aid options, this style is made to fit only your ears. It fits partially in the ear canal while also filling up the bowl of the outer ear.
- In-The-Canal (ITC) - Custom-made for you with a smaller portion of the hearing aid sitting in the outer ear than the ITE.
- Completely-In-Canal (CIC) - Custom-made to fit completely into your specific ear canal. This style is almost completely hidden from view.
- Invisible-In-The-Canal (IIC) - Smallest custom option available. It is inserted further down into the ear canal than the CIC making it practically invisible to others when in the ear.
What are common features of modern-day hearing aids?
There have been major advancements in hearing aid technology over the years improving sound quality while decreasing the size of the device itself. Common features in modern hearing aids include:
- Connectivity: Hearing aids use Bluetooth technology to interact with your cell phones, TV and other devices. There are smartphone apps that allow you to control your hearing aid and allow your audiologist the ability to adjust your hearing aids remotely.
- Noise Reduction: Newer hearing aids can recognize and cut down background noise. This allows you to hear the person speaking to you in noisy environments.
- Feedback Managers: Squealing noises from hearing aids, or feedback, is no longer an issue with current technology advancements.
- Rechargeability: Some styles now offer rechargeable devices so you no longer need to replace small batteries.
Call us today at Queen City Ear Nose and Throat to have our audiologists help you learn about your options and improve your hearing experiences with the newest technology.