Dealing with hearing loss can be very difficult, and depending on the type and severity there are few treatments available to cure the problem. The most commonly used and successful treatment is hearing aids, an electronic device worn by people with all kinds of hearing issues. Using a hearing aid can transform the life of someone suffering with hearing loss, whether it is mild or severe. The devices are designed to amplify sounds to make them easier to hear, so although they do not restore normal hearing completely or permanently, they can make a huge difference and improve day-to-day life from work to social meetings. While they take time to get used to, they are easy to acclimatise to using and are one of the best solutions for many people with hearing problems.
How Hearing Aids Work
Hearing aids are battery powered electronic devices that are worn either on or in the ear. The technology and design has come a long way in recent years so they are much smaller and easier to use than older models, and most are now digital. Using a microphone on the outside of the device, sounds are picked up and passed through an amplifier to make the sound louder, and then they are channelled through the ear canal by a receiver.
Types of Hearing Aids
The different types of hearing aids vary in style, price and features. The main styles include in-the-ear (ITE), in-the-canal (ITC), completely-in-the canal (CIC), behind-the-ear (BTE) and receiver-in-the-canal (RIC). The best hearing aids for each patient will depend on the type of hearing loss and the location of the problem in the ear. There are also more specialised hearing aids that are adapted to each patient depending on different factors including deafness in only one ear and those who are unable to wear normal hearing aids. These include CROS and BiCros hearing aids, and bone conduction and bone anchored hearing aids.
Most hearing aids feature controls such as volume and on/off buttons. Cheaper models will be analogue, but the majority of newer models are now digital and feature a tiny computer that processes the sound. Digital devices usually have settings that can customise the hearing aid to work with the user’s hearing and the environment they are in. Some models also feature Bluetooth and technologies to work together with smartphones, apps and televisions, so phone calls, music and programmes can be played through the device either with a cord or wirelessly.
Getting the Most from a Hearing Aid
As with all electronic devices, hearing aids require maintenance to keep them working efficiently. Maintenance may include cleaning and battery charging or replacement. To take better care of the device, make sure to turn it off when not in use and keep it away from heat and moisture. In general, a hearing aid will last between 3 to 6 years, then it will need to be replaced with a new one.
For every user it takes time, usually weeks or sometimes months, to get used to a new hearing aid as it changes how sound is experienced. However with regular use, the correct knowledge on how to use it and follow up appointments with the care professionals who fitted the device, the hearing aid will become unnoticeable over time and hearing will be greatly improved.