Personal Amplification: Hearing Aids
If your recommended treatment for hearing loss is to be fitted with hearing aids, our goal is for you to feel more confident about yourself when you use them! People often are concerned about their self-image, with others seeing them using hearing aids… but what about your self-image when you can’t keep up with the conversation, or you misheard someone and give an inappropriate answer? Do they think you aren’t paying attention? Do they think you aren’t very bright? How unbelievably frustrating… and isolating.
Hearing aids are “smart” technology that boosts the sounds that you need boosted, but not the ones you hear well anyway. Hearing aid technology today is very advanced compared to only 5 years ago. Hearing aids are miniature computers that mimic the function of the damaged sensory cells in the inner ear. They are programmed according to an audiological prescription, based on what the patient/partner uses his or her hearing for. Other treatments for hearing loss include “aural rehabilitation” (learning to listen critically, even in background noise), remote microphones, “streaming” devices that let you hear television or telephone better, and visual indicators.
Most permanent hearing loss is not treatable with prescription drugs or surgery. While some hearing losses are due to an underlying medical condition, the vast majority in adults are due to a lifetime of wear-and-tear. Regardless the cause, audiological treatment is geared toward maximizing remaining hearing to make communication as easy as possible. Very often (but not always) being fitted with hearing aids is the choice best-suited for maximizing the hearing that you have, if your hearing is not in the normal range.
How big are hearing aids?
Many people can use hearing aids that are very discrete – they might be completely hidden in the ear canal (“Invisible-in-the-Canal” or “Completely-in-the-Canal” hearing aids) or they may be very small behind-the-ear style hearing aid with a tiny wire sneaking down the side of the ear and into the ear canal (these are called “Receiver-in-the-Canal” hearing aids). Regardless of size, the best hearing aid is the one that you will use! The right hearing aid is a balance between how much better it helps you hear and how you feel while using it: this is why our patients are our partners in their treatment.
Play this sound and adjust the noise so it’s about the same level as someone talking in a normal voice.
Once you set it, don’t change the volume control for these sound demos below:
Here is what mild to moderate sensorineural hearing loss sounds like:
Here is a well-programmed hearing aid to help with that mild to moderate sensorineural hearing loss:
Here's that same sentence for a person with normal hearing: