Hearing aid centre

Hearing aid centre

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.

Common hearing aid styles

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:

Completely in the canal (CIC) or mini CIC

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.

In the canal

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.

In the ear

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.

Behind the ear

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.

Receiver in canal or receiver in the ear

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.

Open fit

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:

  • Noise reduction
    Almost all types of hearing aids come with some amount of noise reduction. The degree of noise reduction, however, varies. Some of these also come with off wind noise reduction.
  • Directional microphones
    These are aligned on the hearing aid to offer improved sound pickup coming from in the front with some reduction of sounds coming from beside you or behind you. Some hearing aids can focus sound in one direction and your ability to hear in an environment with lots of background noise can be improved by directional microphones.
  • Rechargeable batteries
    Some hearing aids come with rechargeable batteries. This can make maintenance less challenging as the need to charge the battery regularly is eliminated.
  • Telecoils
    These make hearing while talking on a telecoil-compatible telephone easier. The sounds from the environment are reduced and the sounds from the hearing-aid-compatible telephone are picked up easily. Telecoils also take up signals from public induction loop systems present in some theatres and churches, allowing you to play a movie or hear a speaker better.
  • Wireless connectivity
    Hearing aids can increasingly interface wirelessly with certain bluetooth-compatible devices like music players, cellphones, televisions, and computers. You may be required to use an intermediary device to pick up phone signals or other signals and send those to the hearing aid.
  • Remote controls
    Some hearing aids are equipped with a remote control so that features can be adjusted without touching them. Some even connect wirelessly to a cell phone and come with a cellphone application to use the remote control.
  • Direct audio input
    This feature of hearing aids allows plugging into audio from a computer, television, or a music device with a cord.
  • Variable programming
    Certain hearing aids have the ability to store pre programmed settings for a range of listening needs and environments.
  • Synchronisation
    If someone has two hearing aids, those can be programmed to work together so that the adjustments made to a hearing aid on one of them (program changes or volume control) will also be made on the other one, allowing for simpler control.

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:

  • Hearing aids can’t return your normal hearing back. However, they can amplify soft sounds and improve your hearing capability.
  • Getting used to your hearing aid may take some time. The more you use it, the more you will get used to it and the more quickly you will get adjusted to the amplified sounds. You must practise using the device in different settings as the amplified hearing will sound different in different environments.
  • Seek support and try to stay positive: Support from friends and family and your willingness to practise help determine the success of the new hearing aid. You can join a support group for people with hearing loss or those using hearing aids.
  • Go back for a follow-up: Make sure to go to all the scheduled follow-up appointments for any adjustments and to ensure that the new device is working well for you. The more regularly you use your hearing aid and the better you take care of it, the more successful it will be.

Depending on the type of hearing aid, those work differently. The two main types of electronics used in hearing aids are digital and analog.

  • Analog hearing aids
    These hearing aids convert sound waves into amplified electrical signals. They are custom-built to meet the needs of each patient. Analog hearing aids come with multiple programs or settings. The aid can be programmed by an audiologist with the help of a computer and the program can be changed for different listening environments— from a quiet, small room to a crowded restaurant to open, large areas like a stadium or a theatre.
  • Digital hearing aids
    These hearing aids convert sound waves to numerical codes before amplifying them. These codes are similar to the binary codes of a computer. Because the code contains information about the loudness or pitch of the sound, the aid can be programmed specially to amplify certain frequencies more than the others. Digital circuitry offers an audiologist more flexibility when adjusting the device to the needs of a user and to certain listening environments. These aids can also be programmed to amplify certain sounds coming from a specific direction. All types of hearing aids can use digital circuitry.

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:

  • What is the total cost of the hearing aid? Do the benefits of newer technologies outweigh the higher costs?
  • What features would be most useful to me?
  • How long is the warranty? Does the warranty cover future maintenance and repairs?
  • Is there a trial period to test the hearing aids? Are the fees refundable if the aids are returned after the trial period?
  • Can the audiologist make adjustments and help in servicing and minor repairs?

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.