Hearing loss is quite common in older adults. Many patients try to ignore hearing loss, 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 the following complications:
- Falls and balance difficulties
- Social isolation and loneliness
- Cognitive decline, including dementia
These complications can potentially be avoided with appropriate timely treatment for hearing loss.
What is a hearing aid?
A hearing aid is a small, electronic device worn behind or inside the ear. It is programmed by a Doctor of Audiology (aka Audiologist) for your specific hearing loss and needs. Audiologists have advanced training on the anatomy and function of the ear, and they can accurately diagnose hearing loss and provide appropriate treatments to 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: a microphone, an amplifier, a 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 through the speaker.
What style of hearing aid should I get?
Today, hearing aids are digital and no longer use the old-style analog design. Hearing aid manufacturers offer many different styles with advanced features to accommodate all types of hearing loss. Our audiologists provide expertise to fit the right type of hearing aid for each of 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 ear mold 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. Compared to the ITE, only a smaller portion of the hearing aid sits in the outer ear.
- 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, making it practically invisible to others when in the ear.
What are common features of modern-day hearing aids?
Major advancements in hearing aid technology over the years have improved 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 make adjustments. These applications also give your audiologist the ability to adjust your hearing aids remotely.
- Noise Reduction: 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.
- Rechargeability: Many styles now offer rechargeable hearing aids, so you no longer need to replace small batteries.
Call Queen City Ear Nose and Throat at (704) 703-1080 or book an appointment online today to have our audiologists help you learn about your best options and improve your hearing experiences with the newest technology.