The National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders says that nearly 1/3rd of the population between the age 65 and 74 and almost half of the population at and above 75 suffer from difficulty in hearing. Often viewed as comical by people with normal hearing, hearing loss can cause havoc in the life of the sufferer. It can not only impair her/his social life, but also increases the risk of falls by making the person less aware of their surrounding and hampering balance. It can also make driving hazardous. A hearing aid is a simple, non-invasive tool for improved hearing.
What Causes Hearing Loss?
Most of the times, hearing loss is caused by damaged inner ear. You hear a sound when the cells of the tiny hair in the inner ear turn vibrations of sound into impulses which then are carried to the brain by nerve cells. Inner ear is damaged commonly by aging and constant exposure to loud noise. It also can be hereditary.
Another type of hearing loss is caused in the outer or middle ear too and is easily treatable. It’s usually caused by reversible problems like infection causing buildup of fluid, impacted ear wax or certain medications. Aged adults commonly suffer from a mix of both these types.
Types of Hearing Aids
Once the hair cells inside the inner ear are dead, they can’t be brought back to life. However, high or low cost hearing aids can improve hearing ability dramatically.
Digital Hearing Aids: These models work with microphones which pass on sound to a computer chip. The chip magnifies the frequencies and controls the volume so as to improve hearing. They may be added with a program to sieve out background noises and can even be synced with smartphones, allowing the user to hear calls with the help of the hearing aid and the hearing aid settings can be adjusted through the phone.
Hearing loop is another technology which sends a magnetic signal that is caught by a small coiled wire inside the hearing aid, and sends out the sound to the ear.
PSAPs (Personal Sound Amplifiers): You can get these over the counter and usually have less functionality and fewer features than hearing aids. This is a low-cost solution for those who have mild hearing loss. They are not applied the same standards of safety and efficacy as that of hearing aids.
Assistive Listening Devices: These are used for only a little help in hearing. They are available in a wide range and are low-priced. They include portable wireless devices that enable you to listen to TV, other devices with earphones, apps that amplify sound with smartphones etc.
Knowing about the Product
In digital hearing aids, microphone firstly catches the sound, which then is processed by a chip, then amplified and then sent to the ear. Features are included in these to modify sound to make it more realistic and rectify other problems.
Another factor to consider is that different persons have different likings. Thus a hearing aid which is liked by one person may not appeal another, though both persons have the same degree of hearing loss. Moreover, there can be many versions of a particular model. This can make judging brands and models difficult.
Some models have more impressive features like directional microphone and telecoil. However, while choosing the hearing aid, you should be alert about whether you are paying for features that are really useful to you or not. The more the features, the more will be the cost of the device. Don’t pay for those which you will never use.
Even if you find a piece that has just those features which are very useful to you, you may have to reconsider your expectations. While testing the digital hearing aid in a crowded place, you may find that the loud background noises are not totally eliminated.
Tuning in to Different Types of Hearing Aids
Whether a hearing aid is just suitable to you or not depends on various factors like degree of your hearing loss, your manual dexterity and your lifestyle. Hearing aids are classified based on where on the ear they are to be worn and also, sometimes by the number of components: there are two components in behind-the-ear hearing aids, while an in-the-ear hearing aid has only one part.
Behind-the-Ear: These are hardly visible, comfortable, easy to use, with no plugged-up feeling and telephone compatible; but their life may be limited by moisture and wax. They also don’t allow remarkable sound amplification in low frequencies.
Thin Tube or Standard Tube Behind-the-Ear: These can provide significant high- and low-frequency amplification and are good for moderate to severe hearing loss where the user needs considerable amplification over several frequencies. Earmold can be cleaned easily. They are easy to handle because they accommodate larger batteries. Their downsides are they are visible and susceptible to wax and sweat buildup. They can also give a plugged-up feeling.
Completely-in-the-Canal: This type of hearing aid doesn’t require telecoil. Being within the canal, it’s barely visible. Inserting and removing it is easy. Wind noise can’t interfere with hearing. Its minus point is it is too small to contain a directional microphone. Unless it is vented, it can give a plugged up feeling. It’s also susceptible to moisture and wax buildup.
In-the-Canal: This is easy to insert and hardly visible. It features volume control and therefore ease of use. If you choose a larger model, you can include directional microphones too in it. However, this too has the same issues as that of the completely-in-the-canal units. Manipulation becomes harder due to telecoil selector switch. This model also carries the risk of wax and moisture buildup.
In-the-Ear: This type allows more scope for features like directional microphones, telecoil and volume control. It gives less plugged-up feeling while vented. But its downside is that it is visible and also susceptible to moisture and wax buildup.
How to Choose Hearing Aid Provider?
It’s obvious that the provider should have the highest quality products in their stock. But you will also have to check, whether they have convenient timings, if they are open to repair service anytime, do they have thorough knowledge of hearing loss and which product will suit the best for your condition, whether they have a soundproof booth to test your hearing, etc.
Century Hearing Aids is committed to provide low cost yet high quality hearing aids from the best manufacturers of hearing aids from around the world. Visit their site to take a look at their extensive range of products.