HEARING AID TECHNOLOGIES
$$$ Premium Digital Hearing Aid. These hearing aids provide the most features with the most sophisticated technology to improve communication in changing listening environments with automatic volume control/feedback reduction and noise reduction circuitry. These hearing aids can adjust automatically from one program to another as the listening environment changes. The premium aids allow for inter-ear communication to provide improved hearing in noise and streaming of phone and other Bluetooth devices to both ears. Automatic directional microphones track and focus on speech, regardless of the direction.
$$ Advanced Digital Hearing Aid. These hearing aids use advanced technology and allow the user to choose more than one specific listening program for different situations e.g.: listening in quiet, noise reduction, telephone. They may include options such as directional microphones, noise reduction circuitry and automatic feedback reduction. Multiple channels may improve speech perception and they adapt automatically to the listening environment.
$ Basic Digital Hearing Aid. This type uses digital signal processing and typically uses a single program which gives priority to the amplification of soft speech. A second program may be available for the phone.
Wireless Connectivity. If the hearing aid is wireless, accessories are available from most hearing aid manufacturers (regardless of price/technology level) which allow the listener direct connectivity with Bluetooth cell phones, iPods, TV, computers and other wireless devices.
HOW DO I PURCHASE HEARING AIDS?
The hearing aid selection process begins with a comprehensive diagnostic audiological assessment. If you are a candidate for hearing aids, your audiologist will conduct a hearing aid evaluation. The audiologist will discuss hearing instrument styles and available technologies to determine the best device/solution for your individual hearing loss and lifestyle. Policies and procedures for dispensing hearing aids, including costs, will be discussed. For many patients, impressions of the ear canal will be made for the manufacture of custom hearing aids or earmolds.
When your custom hearing instruments arrive you will be seen for a hearing aid fitting. The hearing aids will be programmed/adjusted for you at that time. The audiologist will insure that the hearing aids are comfortable, and you will receive extensive counseling on the use and care of your instruments. Follow-up visits will be scheduled so that adjustments and verification measures can be made to the hearing aids over time to insure optimal benefit and comfort.
It is likely that your hearing deteriorated gradually, over time, so you should not expect your hearing aids to immediately return your hearing to normal. Using hearing aids successfully takes time and patience. Remember, every hearing loss is different and your experience with hearing aids may vary depending upon the severity of the hearing loss and ever changing listening environments.
WHAT'S INSIDE A HEARING AID?
A hearing aid is an electronic, battery-operated device that amplifies and changes sound to allow for improved communication. Hearing aids receive sound through a microphone, which then converts the sound waves to electrical signals. The amplifier increases the loudness of the signals and then sends the sound to the ear through a speaker/receiver. Recent advances in technology have greatly improved the circuitry and signal processing in hearing aids.
At the time of your hearing aid evaluation/consultation, the audiologist will guide you through the many options and help you determine which of the four major technologies is most appropriate for you. All technologies are available in any of the styles listed below.
WHAT KIND OF HEARING AIDS SHOULD I CHOOSE?
Hearing aids are available in five distinct styles:
BTE, Behind-The-Ear: The components of this hearing aid fit in a small case worn behind the ear that is connected to a custom fit earmold. This style is appropriate for all degrees of hearing loss and has the most room for options. It uses a larger battery which provides for a longer battery life than the smaller in-the-ear styles. BTEs are also an excellent choice for children who may outgrow in-the-ear-instruments.
RIC/RITE BTE: Unlike traditional BTE hearing aids, receiver in the canal or receiver in the earBTEs are usually smaller and use an inconspicuous tube instead of the traditional earmold in the ear. This keeps the ear canal open to reduce the plugged up sensation (occlusion.) Advances in feedback suppression in digital hearing aids also allow an open fit without annoying feedback (squealing) for some patients with high frequency hearing loss. This type of hearing aid is appropriate for most types of hearing loss.
ITE, In-The-Ear: These custom instruments fit entirely in the outer portion of the ear. This style is appropriate for mild or moderate hearing loss and usually has room to accommodate a telephone switch and directional microphones. The larger style is easier for patients with poor dexterity or arthritis.
ITC, In-The-Ear: Smaller that the ITE, these custom instruments fit entirely in the ear canal. This style is appropriate for mild or moderate hearing loss. Directional microphones and a telephone switch may also be available, depending on ear size.
CIC, Completely-In-The-Canal: These are the smallest custom instruments and fit deep into the ear canal. This style is appropriate for mild or moderate hearing loss, but may not be available to persons with very small ear canals.