Learn Everything You Need to Know About Hearing Aids
Hearing is a vital sensory function in our body. It allows us to avoid danger, communicate, receive information, and is weaved through all other aspects of our modern lives. Moreover, our ears help us maintain balance. Therefore, it’s fair to say that a suffering from any levels of deafness can be debilitating and tragic. Even with the advancement of science and technology of today, we still have no cure for most types of hearing loss. For the most part, we can prescribe treatments, but no technology can actually reverse it. Employing the help of hearing aids is one of the best treatments, but there’s just one bit of a problem.
The Plague of Misconception and Common Knowledge
Medicine and science, in general, will always be a victim of conventional misconceptions. And the worst part is that misconceptions infect people before they even know it, spreading to others so easily as well. Myths and rumours keep the facts hidden, and unless we take the time to unravel it, the truth stays hidden. In the world of audiology, it means that many people with any levels of deafness will never seek treatment.
As with any treatments, you should learn everything that you need to know first before you make any conclusions. After all, getting to the right answers is just a matter of asking the right questions. So, let’s discuss each of them so you can understand hearing aids better. Here are:
10 Important Questions in Understanding Hearing Aids
1. What is a Hearing Aid?
The name speaks for itself—it is a wearable electronic device which helps people hear sound better. The situation gets a little more complex when we consider that your ears and the way it functions, is as unique as your fingerprint. Hearing aids are individually programmed to help turn up sounds that a person suffering from any levels of deafness would otherwise not hear. They are selected and adjusted to suit each person’s needs. In this sense, hearing aids are like tiny custom-made wearable computers that vary how much sound is given at each pitch and apply this differently to help in a whole range of diverse soundscapes of life – from conversation over coffee with friends to classical music, enjoying the sounds of waves crashing on the beach and countless others along the way.
2. How does it work?
The operation is almost universal, meaning that in the most general terms, most of them work similarly. The variation is more into the preferred output as prescribed for each patient.
A miniature microphone receives sound and converts it into electronic signals. Then the signal goes through a process to meet the requirements of the patient’s prescription. Finally, another miniature speaker transmits the sound into the type of ear fitting that is right for the device and the person’s ear.
3. What’s with digital hearing aids?
Digital hearing aids are the modern versions of the device that have been around since the 1990s. In fact, the previous analogue technology is no longer available. Compared to its analogue counterpart, they are more responsive and can be adjusted to fit the patient’s needs more specifically, as well as the patient’s lifestyle. In simpler terms, they are more easily personalised. While all modern hearing aids are digital, the differences between them can be huge. Generally, each successive generation becomes faster, better at reducing background noise and whistling, and more readily integrated with phones and other digital technologies in our lives. That’s just the start.
4. What is a telecoil setting?
Getting the ability to hear sounds near you is one thing but being able to clearly hear a speaker from public places is another. Thus, it would be wise to ask about the telecoil settings in your hearing aids with your audiologist so that you can use it in public places. And be able to hear sounds through a hearing loop system amidst the noise in public places, like theatres, banks, airports and others.
5. What types of hearing aids are there?
The variety of this device is more with respect to personalisation. In fact, sometimes it’s easy to fall for the design more than the actual performance of the device, and there can be a trade-off. Due to the impression that hearing aids reflect a person’s disability, many would prefer an inconspicuous design to hide the fact that they are using it. Audiologists are professionally bound to provide the best for your clinical needs, prescribe the best devices for each patient as required by the severity of deafness, the ear’s health and many other essential factors. While aesthetics are important and given consideration, it is considered in light of the person’s other needs. The major types of hearing aids are as follows:
- BTE (Behind the Ear)
- ITC (In the Canal)
- ITE (In the Ear)
- CIC (Completely in the ear)
- RIC (Receiver in the canal)
6. Which type would I need?
The answer will greatly depend on your prescription. In general, newer innovations and more advanced devices are more easily adjustable and responsive to changes to the dynamic world of sound (for example, tracking and reducing the noise of a moving truck while allowing you to maintain a conversation with a friend by the side of the road). As for the type that you should get, there is no way of knowing before you meet with your Audiologist. Audiologists will ask about your preferences, so it is a good idea to think of what you would like to have while staying open to other options in case your preferred style or product is not suitable for you.
7. How will I adjust to it?
As much customisation and responsiveness as a hearing aid can have, adjusting to it takes time. It’s all about the brain relearning to hear, and that’s not always easy. The severity of your deafness and its duration can also be big factors in adjusting, as well as your lifestyle, personality and consistency of use. It’s very important to use hearing aids as often as you can to let your brain make the most of it. Your audiologist will dose the sound gradually, rather than hit you with it all at once. They will also guide you and support you through the process, knowing the pitfalls and the tricks to help you set up for success. Another crucial factor – support from close family and friends – so, bring them to the appointment.
8. What can I do with the Settings?
It depends on the variety that you are using. Most hearing aids have automatic adjust settings for the kind of sounds of your environment, so changing settings is not necessarily required. If you prefer the control, talk to your audiologist about onboard adjustments, remote controls or applications on your smartphone.
9. How Costly is it?
The cost would vary greatly on your situation and the type that you need. Upon prescription, the cost and its inclusion will also be discussed to you. But in general, hearing aids come with a 3-year warranty and would require replacement after 5-6 years. Funding options are private health funds, federal government programs and insurance companies. Talk to your audiologist about your eligibility.
10. Can I get Insurance?
Due to their size, hearing aids are easy to misplace. So, yes, they should be insured. As for insurance with Medical Audiology, you may check our funding hearing implants page for more information.
We can never really take advantage of any services, innovations and technology unless we have a comprehensive understanding of them. Thus, we will be publishing more insights and information regarding Medical Audiology in the future.
Do you want to know more?
Browse the website for more information, videos and publications to understand audiology treatments even better. You can also stay tuned for more blogs in the future. Or if an actual conversation with our experts is more convenient for you, then get in touch with us today!
Also, learn more about hearing loss by reading our pdf published article: Degrees of Hearing Loss and Expected Challenges