Hearing Aids: What They Can and Can’t Do

If you’re finding yourself continuously asking people to repeat themselves, or it sounds like everyone around you is mumbling, it might be time to get hearing aids. Due to hearing loss happening over an extended amount of time, it can be difficult for an individual to realize they are having trouble hearing. In many cases, family members or loved ones notice and point out that someone needs hearing aids. 

Luckily, hearing aids have been quickly developing to fit different lifestyles, hearing levels, and comfort standards. According to Value Hearing, “Sound quality has improved dramatically over the last four years, delivering better sounding music reproduction as well as better pick up of soft speech and less distortion in loud environments.”

There are several different types of hearing aids to fit an individual’s needs, from the location of the hearing aid to the type of charge it takes. Dr. Hung Mai, an audiologist at Ample Hearing, explains why hearing aids are an excellent choice for many people. 


Types of Hearing Aids

Taking the first step and finding a hearing aid that fits your needs can be hard and a little intimidating, but by getting a basic hearing test done, audiologists can suggest the right fit for you. 

The two main categories for hearing aids are behind the ear (BTE) and in the ear (ITE). “Between those two main types, there’s a bunch of other subcategories of different sizes and styles,” Dr. Mai says. “The hearing aid will come in different technology levels…the higher the technology, the more features it has to help in more challenging situations.”

A higher level of technology would most likely be recommended for people who are active, out and about, and tend to be in loud areas. Yet, those who are primarily at home, aren’t in noisy environments; a lower technology would work best for them. 

When it comes to which hearing aid is most comfortable, it all varies from person to person because everyone’s ear anatomy is different. 

It all depends on the shape of their ear and picking the right earpiece to go along with that shape, Dr. Mai says. 


Over the Counter

Last year, the FDA approved over-the-counter hearing aids. Dr. Mai suggests getting a proper hearing test before buying over-the-counter hearing aids because it will help to determine what type of aid you need. Based on the findings of that hearing test and your financial situation, an over-the-counter hearing aid might be a great starting point for you. It’s important to keep in mind that over-the-counter aid tends to be limited in terms of durability and warranty. 

With over-the-counter aids, there aren’t as many choices, and it’s hard to find a perfect fit. On the other hand, a provider can tailor the earpiece to fit just right based on the shape of your ear. 


Charging Style

When deciding the type that will best suit your needs, charging convenience should also be considered. From plugging it in every night to changing the batteries, there are several different options. 

For people with dexterity issues from conditions that naturally come with age, like arthritis, a rechargeable battery might be the best choice. Rather than putting batteries into the device, throw it on the charger before heading to bed. 


What Hearing Aids Can’t Do

Hearing aids have been known to improve sound quality and clearness, but they can’t restore or fix anyone’s hearing. Seniors tend to need hearing aids because of nerve damage in the ear, yet the device can’t repair any previous damage.

“What it does is amplify sound to compensate for the hearing loss, so it gives the brain more access to sound than they normally would have gotten,” Dr. Mai says. However, there is an adjustment period. “The brain is going to need some time to adapt to that new sound. Hearing aids have to alter the sound to make it more audible. It will take time to adapt because they’re going to hear sounds that the brain hasn’t heard for a long time.” 

It can take several weeks for the brain to get comfortable with the change in sound. 

Take the first step and schedule a hearing assessment to determine if you need hearing aids. Many of Dr. Mai’s previous clients were happily surprised because they were reintroduced to sounds they hadn’t heard in years. 

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