Hearing loss can happen for any number of reasons
Birth defects to damage caused by certain illnesses, long-term exposure to loud noise.
Sometimes its a type of medications or just the inevitable process of growing older.
Why you need a Hearing Aid
Different types of hearing loss require different methods of treatment.
Hearing aids and devices tend to be somewhat specialized and each type of hearing aid usually only treats one type of hearing loss.
How our Ears Work
The human ear is usually divided into three separate system components
The outer ear, which is the ear canal, which channels sound waves towards the eardrum,
The eardrum which vibrates when hit by sound waves.
Next comes the middle ear which contains the tiny bones or ossicles called the incus, the malleus, and the stapes.
These bones receive the vibrations from the eardrum and transmit them to the cochlea in the inner ear.
The inner ear consists of a spiral-shaped tube called the cochlea and is filled with liquid and tiny hairs.
The movement of those tiny hairs stimulates the cochlear nerve
The Cochlear Nerve transmits signals to our brains and our brains then interpret those signals as sound.
All the parts of our ears need to be in proper working order for us to be able to hear properly.
If any part develops a problem, some type of hearing loss will result.
Determining if you need a Hearing Aid
For many people, the way they discover their hearing loss is by a family member or friend telling them to go get a hearing test.
Most times its because they are sick of repeating themselves all the time.
Hearing loss often happens so gradually that people don’t realize it’s going on until they get some type of wake-up call.
Most times its in the form of an exasperated family member or friend yelling at them.
What to do if you Suspect Hearing Loss
At that point, most people make an appointment with their family doctor to see if they need a hearing test.
The doctor can perform a limited range of tests in their office.
Tests include an examination of the ear canal to see if a patient has a wax buildup or visible damage to the ear canal or eardrum.
They can use a tuning fork to check on a patient’s ability to hear high frequency and low frequency sounds.
The last test is the whisper test to check for general hearing loss.
If any of these tests indicate that there may be a problem they will refer the patient to an audiologist for a full hearing test.
Full Hearing Test
A hearing test requires specialized equipment.
The exam is not painful at all and doesn’t involve any invasive procedures.
The test is done in a soundproof booth wearing a set of headphones.
You listen for various sounds and either press a button or lift your hand to indicate that you have heard a sound.
This allows the technician to determine what your personal range of hearing is.
Your ears are always tested separately so it is easy to tell if one or both ears have problems and what those problems are.
The test dertimines if your ears can distinguish words through a lot of background noise
Another test is to determine if you can hear sounds at different pitches and sounds at certain frequencies.
Hearing Range problems require more specialized testing to narrow down the problem to one specific area.
Damage to the outer ear (a huge wax buildup or damage to the eardrum, say) can muffle all sound to a certain extent.
However damage to some of the microscopic hairs in the cochlea can mute sounds at only one pitch or frequency.
How to Buy Hearing Aids
Make sure that you have answers to all your questions from the doctor before you make a final decision.
Remember that a hearing aid can’t quite give you your normal hearing back.
At best, the sound is artificial and some people find that disconcerting and uncomfortable.
Before you spend a lot of money on a hearing aid, you need to be sure you will be comfortable actually using it.
How Hearing Aids Work
Most hearing aids have three basic components
A microphone that picks up sounds, an amplifier that amplifies the sounds.
A speaker that then blasts the sounds directly into the ear canal.
This can overcome many common hearing loss issues, basically just with sheer force.
The parts of the ear that have reduced sensitivity will respond to the much stronger sound waves transmitted by the hearing aid.
This results in some level of hearing restoration in all but the most severe cases.
A standard hearing test can determine if you have hearing loss
It also can determine where that hearing loss has occurred.
At that point an audiologist can tell a patient which type of hearing aid will benefit them the most.
You now have some choices to make.
As you can tell Hearing aids are most definitely not a “one-size-fits-all” solution to hearing loss.
There are several types to choose from no matter what caused your hearing loss.
It is just a matter of finding the best one for their particular needs and situation.
Should you Wear a Hearing Aid ?
Only about 1 in 5 people who have hearing loss actually wears a hearing aid on a regular basis.
Some people say that wearing their hearing aid makes their own voice sound odd.
As though they have a severe head cold.
Others complain that their hearing aid causes wax buildup in their ears which can be painful.
If this pain gets bad enough it can make a hearing problem even worse.
Some people have issues with feedback from their hearing aids.
Many have trouble adjusting it for different situations.
Some people just find their hearing aids uncomfortable and awkward to wear.
Types of Hearing Aids
All of these complaints are heard about the most common older type of hearing aid.
Ones with a curved plastic case that goes behind the ear and molded plastic form that fits into the outer ear.
Generally they also have a tube and earpiece that fits inside the ear canal to block it completely.
They are called Behind-the-Ear, or BTE hearing aids.
One of the newer types of BTE hearing aids is called an open-fit hearing aid.
The BTW has a plastic case that fits behind the ear with only a small tube going into the ear canal.
This type of hearing aid does not make a person’s voice sound strange to them.
It also doesn’t block the ear canal and cause wax buildup, making it a more popular choice.
Invisible Hearing Aids
There are hearing aids that fit completely inside the ear canal
Others that fit inside the outer ear, and some that are surgically implanted.
There are analog types that allow wearers to change settings in different hearing environments.
Digital ones detect the need to change settings themselves but are more expensive than the analog types.
Each type has its advantages and its drawbacks.
You will need to choose the type that will work best for them.
Fortunately most hearing aid manufacturers have a grace period.
This allows the user to try out the hearing aid and return it if it does not suit them.
Despite returning the Hearing Aids there is still a restocking Cost.
Especially if personalized modifications have been done on the hearing aid.
Prices for hearing aids range from a few hundred dollars to several thousand dollars.
Even a partial refund can be a significant chunk of change.