Once you hear the term hearing aids, an older adult with a bulky pocket model hearing aid with long cable comes into your mind. But anyone of any age can get hearing loss (irreversible type) and may have to go for hearing aids if recommended by an audiologist. Those bulky pocket model hearing aid days are gone. Nowadays, you can get completely in the canal hearing aids, which are smaller than a small coin. Let us have a clear cut idea about hearing aids and when to go for it.
Hearing Loss - Types and Degree:
Mainly, hearing loss is of three types:
- Conductive hearing loss - here, the problem persists in the outer ear and/or middle ear.
- Sensorineural hearing loss - consists of problems in the inner ear and beyond the area.
- Mixed hearing loss - a combination of conductive and sensorineural hearing loss.
Also, there is something that affects the hearing area of the brain, and that comes under central auditory processing disorders.
Degrees of hearing loss are mild, moderate, moderately severe, severe, and profound according to the average of loss at three frequencies in total (Threshold at 500 Hz + 1kHz + 2 kHz).
When to Go for Hearing Aids?
Most of the conductive hearing loss cases, but not all, can be treated through medicines or surgery. But when it comes to sensorineural hearing loss, mostly medicines and surgeries are not that much effective. If the sudden hearing loss can be detected within 72 hours, then intratympanic steroids help a bit. But mostly management is hearing aid usage.
If, after the hearing tests (pure tone audiometry, speech audiometry, and other tests), the audiologist suggests you go for hearing aids, you should give time to understand what exactly is happening inside and what is the current condition of your ear. Just because you do not feel that you have a loss does not mean the threshold of hearing at every frequency is within normal limits. Maybe you have a high-frequency hearing loss, and you are managing with the better threshold, which is at low frequencies. The more time you are not listening to sounds, the more your hearing area of the brain is deprived. Later, when you make up your mind to go for hearing aids, results may not be that much because already, the hearing area of the brain is deprived.
If a child at birth has hearing loss and you are going for hearing aids, just putting the hearing aids will not solve the problem. Moreover, auditory training and speech therapy should be started as early as possible.
Types and Styles of Hearing Aids:
There are different types of hearing aids:
- Air conduction hearing aids.
- Bone conduction hearing aids.
Styles of hearing aids are increasing with more research, but basically, it is of the following types:
- Behind the ear (BTE).
- Receiver in the canal (RIC).
- Completely in the canal (CIC).
- In the canal (ITC).
- In the ear (ITE).
- Invisible in the canal (IIC).
- Recently, Micro CIC hearing aids are added.
Remember, style selection is fully based on the degree of loss and configuration, so do not force the audiologist to give you a specific style of hearing aid. Let him choose the best one according to your pattern of loss.
Why Are Hearing Aids Too Costly?
In most countries, hearing aids are costly because most of the hearing aid companies are imported from Western countries. You can demand lifetime free programming of the hearing aids (computerized programming, and extra batteries, if possible). The free servicing of hearing aids four times in two years warranty is what you get.
Always remember that this combination creates the best result:
- Better quality hearing aids (not necessarily the best one).
- A qualified audiologist.
- Proper programming.
Does an Increased Number of Channels Mean Better Quality?
Not necessarily. Again that is a controversial topic. Nowadays, channel-free hearing aids are available and work excellent as well. So do not get motivated by the number of channels, and ask for features like noise reduction, dual mic, connectivity, AI, auto-speech detection, etc. Hearing aids having more than 6 channels will increase the processing time (more the number of channels, more the time it will take to process). Research suggests 4 to 6 channel hearing aid are working the best and suit the sensory organ structure and function.
What Should Be Done After Hearing Aid Fitting?
Follow-up after 15 days of initial fitting with the feedback of how you felt in these days should be done. If needed, the audiologist will fine-tune the settings, and you need to wait for some time to get the best result because your ears and hearing area of the brain needs time to get adjusted to the external instrument.
Hearing Aid Care and Maintenance:
- Keep your hearing aid away from water and dust.
- Put the hearing aid inside a dehumidifier box every 15 days (do not put the battery inside the dehumidifier box).
- Keep the hearing aids and its batteries away from children and electronic appliances.
- Do not drop your hearing aids from heights.
- Clean your hearing aid with a brush provided and with dry cotton.
Wireless Hearing Aids and Rechargeable Hearing Aids:
These are the latest hearing aids with wireless technology, which are synchronized with mobile and other devices through Bluetooth. People who are very active professionally or attending frequent meetings can get connectivities in a much better way. Rechargeable hearing aids can be bought, but they are a little costlier, which can be adjusted in no battery purchase. The hearing aids can be charged like a mobile phone because nowadays, rechargeable hearing aids use Li-ion (Lithium-ion) batteries.
AI (artificial intelligence) are getting embedded with hearing aids, which can measure the vitals of the body, and can give a signal if a person is going to fall by alerting through the phone to near and dear. Consult with audiologists and speech therapists online for any speech and hearing issues.