Many consumers are unsure where to find professional help with their hearing. Most adults with hearing loss can be helped with hearing aids. Choosing the right hearing aid can be difficult. There is an enormous amount of information regarding hearing aids and the choices can be daunting. Choosing an Audiologist who can guide you through this process is the first critical decision in purchasing hearing aids. Our highly trained staff at Francis Audiology Associates can provide you with high quality hearing health care and arm you with all the information you need for a successful hearing aid experience. Call our Wexford office or request an appointment online today.
Of course, the first step to a successful hearing aid experience is an accurate audiological evaluation or hearing test. Equally important is a determination regarding your specific needs and lifestyle. It is critical to convey this information to the hearing health care professional. Finally, everyone has a budget. Your budgetary constraints should be discussed. Hearing aids are rarely covered by insurance.
Realistic Expectations: Hearing aids work very well when they are fit and adjusted appropriately. All hearing aids should be comfortable with respect to the physical fit and the sound loudness. If there is any discomfort the wearer should return to their Audiologist immediately for alterations to provide a comfortable fit. Hearing aids provide the wearer with additional information to help that person to hear and understand better. They do not provide "perfect" hearing.
Getting Used to Hearing Aids: People learn at different rates. Some people need a few days to adjust to their new hearing aids but most need a few weeks. There are some who require several months to make the adjustment. In general, the greater the hearing loss and the longer the hearing loss has been present the more difficult the transition to using hearing aids. There is no perfect way to learn how to adjust to hearing aids. Audiologists are uniquely trained to provide rehabilitative programs that should occur after a hearing aid has been fit.
Background Noise: Virtually everyone, hearing aid users and non hearing aid users complain about background noise at one time or another. There is no way for a hearing aid to eliminate the sounds that the wearer does not want to hear. The good news is that there are now hearing aid circuits and features available that help to minimize some unwanted sounds. There is a great deal of research that reveals dual microphones effectively reduce background noise for many people with certain types of hearing losses. Your Audiologist can help you determine the best circuits and microphone options for your hearing loss and communication needs. The best and most efficient way to reduce background noise is through the use of assistive listening devices such as wireless technology. Ask an Audiologist how this technology can work with your hearing aid to improve your ability to hear and understand in difficult listening situations.
One vs. Two Hearing Aids: You have two ears because you need two ears. If you have a hearing loss in each ear that could benefit from hearing aids you should wear two hearing aids. Wearing hearing aids bilaterally (in each ear) will improve your ability to hear in noisy settings, allow you to localize sounds in your environment, improve the ability to understand speech and give sound a fuller quality.
Over 60% of individuals who wear hearing aids are fit binaurally. The benefits of wearing two hearing aids are enhanced ability to (a) hear better in the presence of background noise, (b) determine where sound is coming from, and (c) hear soft sounds at lower levels.
At the time of the hearing evaluation a case history will be taken to determine the type of hearing problem that the individual perceives and how his/her family perceives the hearing problem. Questions will also be asked about the onset of the hearing loss, presence of tinnitus (ringing in the ears) and dizziness. Based on the results of the hearing test and the answers to these questions Our highly trained staff may make a referral to a medical doctor for an examination and possible treatment. If the testing reveals a sensori-neural hearing loss, a hearing aid may be recommended for one or both ears.
There are literally thousands of hearing aids from which to choose. Our highly trained staff will use the information that was provided in the case history and in the audiological evaluation to help narrow those choices for you. The final decision on which hearing aid is purchased is the choice of the wearer. Most hearing aids use digital technology, however there are many different levels of sophistication.
These hearing aids are primarily beneficial for listening in easy, relatively quiet situations, such as one-on-one conversation and listening to the television, because all of the sounds are typically amplified in exactly the same way. This technology provides limited flexibility in meeting individual needs.
Advanced Digital hearing aids are flexible and can be re-programmed by our highly trained staff by using a computer that is equipped with special software as well as hardware that allows the hearing aid and computer to be connected. Digital hearing aids can act on soft sounds in one way and on loud sounds in a completely different fashion. Digital hearing aids also have a variety of bands or equalizers. Depending on the level of the digital technology there may be as few as two bands or as many as twenty + bands. The more advanced the digital chip the more bands that it will possess. Some digital hearing aids have the capability to reduce some environmental noises such as motors running or dishes clanging.
During the hearing aid fitting the device is programmed to meet the needs of the wearer. The new wearer is provided with instructions regarding how to put the hearing aid in the ear and remove it, how to change batteries and how to care for and clean the device. This is also the time that the Audiologist reiterates the function of the hearing aid as it relates to the individual's lifestyle.
Attitude is the key to the hearing aid user's success.
A hearing aid is exactly what it says – it is an "aid" to help you hear better.
Before you buy a hearing aid, ask your Audiologist these important questions:
The digital revolution has made a huge impact on the way hearing aids look, feel and work. They can be so small that they are virtually invisible, so "cool" looking that you will want everyone to see them and so natural sounding, they mimic the way you used to hear before you experienced hearing loss.
There are so many options available to you! There are four basic technology levels... Economy, Basic, Advanced, and Best. Each level offers digital hearing solutions based on your level of hearing loss, lifestyle and budget.
Completely-in-the-canal style hearing aids (CIC): The CIC instruments fit completely in the canal and are custom-made. There is a clear nylon string to help with insertion and removal. They are powered with a #10 hearing aid battery.
In-the-Canal style hearing aids (ITC): these are larger than the CIC devices. They fit within the ear canal and are custom-made. They are powered with a #312 or #10 hearing aid battery.
In-the-Ear style hearing aids (ITE): these are larger than the ITC style. They fit in the ear, filling the entire "bowl" of the ear. They are custom made. The customization along with the lightweight and compact size makes these instruments comfortable and easy to manage. They are powered by a #13 or #312 battery.
Conventional Behind-the-Ear style hearing aids (BTE): the processing components are housed in a case that fits behind the ear. Sounds enter the instrument, are amplified, and travel through a tube that is contoured over the top of the listener's ear and into an earmold inside the ear. BTEs are durable, easy to handle and maintain, and can be easily adapted for use with the wide variety of assistive listening devices. They are powered with a #675 or #13 battery.
Open-Fit and Receiver In the Canal Behind the Ear Style: these are similar to the conventional BTE but are much smaller, making them more discreet. A very small tube leads to the ear canal making this option much more cosmetically appealing while offering superior sound quality.
Invisible in the Canal (IIC) these are the smallest & most cosmetically discreet.
There are three basic styles of hearing aids. The styles differ by size, their placement on or inside the ear, and the degree to which they amplify sound.
Because they are small, canal aids may be difficult for a person to adjust and remove. In addition, canal aids have less space available for batteries and additional devices, such as a telecoil. They usually are not recommended for young children or for people with severe to profound hearing loss because their reduced size limits their power and volume.
Recognize your hearing loss is making communication difficult. Know that help is available. Hearing aid studies have shown that people who have a positive attitude do better with hearing aids. Identify communication settings that are difficult for you. Relate those settings to your Audiologist. If your Audiologist understands your communication needs, they can better address your problems in choosing the best hearing aid for you, programming the hearing aid and helping you to develop strategies to manage your difficult situations. Work with your Audiologist to find the best hearing aids for your hearing loss, your lifestyle and your communication needs. Your neighbor or friend's choice in hearing aids may not be your best choice. No two people are alike.
Be realistic. Hearing loss typically develops over many years. Becoming re-acquainted with sounds while using hearing aids will take practice and time. It is important not to become disillusioned or frustrated while your brain adjusts to the sounds provided by your hearing aids. Be patient with yourself and your new hearing aids. Your Audiologist is your advocate. Continue to ask questions to maximize the use of your hearing aids. If you are thinking about getting your ears checked for hearing loss or are actively shopping for the best hearing aid out there, our Board Certified Audiologists at Francis Audiology Associates are here to help you and make sure you have a pleasant experience with us. Call our Wexford office or request an appointment using our online booking tool and reclaim your hearing today!