Hearing Aids

Technology and Lifestyle Affect Your Choice

Two people with identical hearing loss may report with different hearing needs depending on their lifestyle, how readily they accept their hearing loss, and stigmas they hold about hearing aids.

Hearing AidsHearing aid sizes range from completely in the ear (ITE) to behind the ear (BTE). See pictures of hearing aid styles for a better idea of the different styles available. Due to wear and tear, exposure to cerumen and the temperature in the ear canal, ITE aids usually perform for 3-5 years. BTE hearing aids last longer needing minor modifications due to the ear growing slightly over time. Technology and multiple microphones have improved a patient’s ability to localize and lateralize multiple sound sources in any size of hearing aid. This makes selecting the size more of a cosmetic decision, than aerodynamic need to place the microphone at the point of the concha.

The level of technology recommended is dependent on the patient’s hearing loss, listening needs, situation, and expectations.

Even ten years ago most hearing aids were simply analog. If the single microphone received a sound, whether speech or the refrigerator running the hearing aid amplified it and created the complaint that hearing aids are “noisy”. When a patient has an active lifestyle with even moderately challenging listening situations, they perform better with more advanced technology. It provides them with higher fidelity, a multiple band signal processing system, multi-channel compression and other features for a comfortable, pleasant listening experience.

Assisted Listening Devices (ALD)

Some patients see a hearing loss in others, but deny the problem belongs to them; it is simply that “everybody mumbles”. While this patient may be resistant to the idea of hearing aids, they may benefit with an Assistive Listening Device (ALD) to amplify sounds in specific situations. For example, an ALD for the television allows you to hear a program at a louder volume than the other people in the room watching the same show. This appeases others and allows your patient time to accept that they need amplification.

Rarely is hearing loss a matter of life and death. However, hearing a smoke alarm is one of those times that your life may depend on "hearing." People with even a moderate hearing loss in a deep sleep may not wake to a smoke alarm away from their point of rest. There are ALDs made to amplify the alarm, set off strobe lighting, activate a lamp, and even vibrate the bed to alert the sleeper. Other ALDs exist to help people hearing on the phone, with a stethoscope, hear an alarm clock, and hear a baby crying.

If you’re not ready for hearing aids and experience difficulty in specific listening setting then an assistive listening device may be just what you need!