Hearing aid is a tiny device that is worn in or behind the ear. It makes some sounds louder so that someone with a hearing loss can communicate, listen, and participate in daily activities more effectively. A hearing aid allows people to listen more effectively both in quiet and noisy settings. However, it is believed that out of five people who would benefit from using a hearing aid, only one person actually uses it.
There are three fundamental parts of a hearing aid - an amplifier, a microphone, and a speaker. The hearing aid receives sound stimulus via a microphone. Then, it converts these sound waves into electrical signals and directs those to an amplifier. The power of the signals is increased by the amplifier and those are then sent to the ear through a speaker.
Hearing aids are mainly used to improve the hearing and speech comprehension of patients with different types of hearing losses that result from damage to the hair cells, the small sensory cells in the inner ear. The hearing loss of this type is referred to as sensorineural hearing loss. The damage can occur due to ageing, disease, or injury from noise or medications.
A hearing aid increases the intensity of the sound vibrations that enter the ear. Surviving hair cells can detect the larger vibrations and change those into neural signals that can be passed through the brain. The higher the degree of damage to the hair cells of a person, the more severe the loss of hearing and higher is the amplification of the hearing aid needed to make up for the difference. However, if your inner ear is damaged, a hearing aid won’t be effective.
If you or your family member is suffering from symptoms of hearing loss, you have many options. If you are located in Indore, you can visit the Audiology Clinic at Kokilaben Dhirubhai Ambani Hospital, Indore and get expert advice.
Hearing aids vary greatly in terms of their size, price, the way they are placed in the ear, and other special features. Following are some of the common hearing aid styles:
This type of hearing aid is moulded to fit inside the ear canal. It helps improve mild to moderate degrees of hearing loss in adults.
A completely-in-the-canal hearing aid is the smallest hearing aid and one that is the least visible. It employs very small batteries with a shorter life, is less likely to pick up wind noise, and can be challenging to handle. It often does not include additional features like directional microphone and volume control and is susceptible to clogging of the speaker by the earwax.
This type of hearing aid fits partly inside the ear canal and is custom moulded. It can improve mild to moderate degrees of hearing loss in adult patients.
An in-the-canal hearing aid is slightly less visible in the ear than larger styles of hearing aids and includes features that won’t fit on completely-in-the-canal aids, but may be challenging to adjust due to its small size. Its speaker is susceptible to clogging due to earwax.
This type of hearing aid is custom made in two different styles—full shell (one that fills most of the bowl-shaped area of the outer ear) and half shelf (one that fills only the lower part). Both types are helpful for people who have mild to severe degrees of hearing loss. These are also available with directional microphones.
An in-the-ear hearing aid includes certain features that don’t come with smaller style hearing aids, such as volume control. It is also easier to handle and uses a larger battery for an extended battery life. It also comes with several options for rechargeable batteries. Its speaker is susceptible to clogging by the earwax and it may pick up more wind noises than smaller devices. Additionally, it is more visible in the ear than smaller devices.
This type of hearing aid hooks over the top of the ear and rests behind it. The hearing aid is connected by a tube to a custom earpiece called an ear mould that fits into the ear canal. A behind-the-ear (BTE) hearing aid is fit for people of all ages and those with any form of hearing loss.
A behind-the-ear hearing aid has been the largest traditional type of hearing aid although some newer mini designs are barely visible due to their streamlined design. It comes with directional microphones and is capable of more amplification than other styles of hearing aids. It may pick up increased wind noises that other hearing aid styles and may come with rechargeable batteries.
The receiver-in-the-ear (RITE) and receiver-in-canal (RIC) styles of hearing aids are similar to a behind-the-ear hearing aid with the receiver or speaker that sits in the ear canal. A smaller wire, instead of a tubing, connects the earpiece to the receiver or speaker.
A receiver-in-canal hearing aid typically has a behind-the-ear portion that is less visible. It has manual control options and directional microphones. It may come with rechargeable batteries and its speaker is susceptible to clogging by earwax.
This type of hearing aid is a variation of the behind-the-ear type. It has a small tube or the receiver-in-the-ear or receiver-in-the-canal hearing aid with an open dome in the ear. This hearing aid style keeps the ear canal open so that low frequency sounds can enter the ear naturally and high frequency ones can be amplified through the hearing aid. These features make it a good choice for those with better low-frequency hearing and a mild to moderate degree of high-frequency hearing loss.
An open-fit hearing aid is often visible, may be more challenging to introduce into the ear due to the non-custom dome, and does not plug the ear like the in-the-ear hearing aid styles. It has some additional features such as:
It will take some time for you to get used to your hearing aid. You might notice that your listening skills improve progressively as you get accustomed to amplification. You might even notice that your own voice sounds different when you wear a hearing aid. You must keep the following points in mind when first using a hearing aid:
Depending on the type of hearing aid, those work differently. The two main types of electronics used in hearing aids are digital and analog.
Which hearing aid will work best for you depends on many different factors, including the severity and type of your hearing loss. If both of your ears have been involved, two hearing aids will be needed as two aids will provide a more natural signal to the brain. You will also understand speech better and locate the origin of the sound by hearing in both ears.
Your audiologist will help you select a hearing aid that will work for you and suit your lifestyle and overall needs. With more use and practice, a hearing aid will enhance your awareness of different types of sounds. Other features you can consider include services or parts covered by the warranty, costs for maintenance and repair, upgrade opportunities, and the reputation of the hearing aid company for quality and customer service.
Following are the questions you might want to ask your audiologist before buying a hearing aid:
Your hearing is one of your most important senses and it's worth protecting, preserving, or restoring. In fact, it is your most important “social sense”. It is vital for your personal safety as it often acts as an early warning system and also helps improve your quality of life.
The Audiology Clinic at Kokilaben Dhirubhai Ambani Hospital, Indore is dedicated to providing personalised and customised services to patients with different types of hearing impairments. They follow the most innovative and advanced technologies that are compatible with the modern generation style. Equipped with state-of-the-art gadgets and medical equipment, our dedicated team offers a wide range of services making the clinic a one-stop for all kinds of hearing assistance.
Consult the best audiologists in Indore who offer a wide range of hearing assistance services to patients. These include hearing examinations and assessments, providing and servicing hearing aids, prescribing rehabilitation treatments, and providing patient counselling and education on hearing-related topics.