What You Need to Know About Hearing Aids
Hearing aids used to be simple devices that took in sound from the outside world, fed it through a processor, and then amplified the incoming sounds with the help a speaker placed inside a person’s ear. But thanks to the rise of digital technology and miniaturization, hearing aids today are much more complicated and capable devices.
If you have hearing loss, using a hearing aid is essential. Researchers are beginning to discover that hearing loss can accelerate cognitive decline and even lead to dementia in older people, underscoring the importance of these devices.
Here’s what you need to know about hearing aids:
Hearing aids come in a variety of styles
Just like mobile devices come in the form of phones, tablets and wearables, hearing aids come in a range of styles too.
Behind-the-ear hearing aids (BTE) is the traditional hearing aid design. These devices are split into two main sections: one that sits behind the ear and contains the battery and microphone, and the other which lies in the ear including the speaker. The two parts of the devices are connected by a tube which carries information back and forth.
Completely-in-canal (CIC) devices are another type of hearing aid which has no external components at all: both the speaker and the microphone sit on a single device which is inserted into the ear canal near to the eardrum.
Between CIC devices and BTE devices is a range of other shapes and sizes that fall between the two extremes. CIC has the advantage of being small and discreet, whereas BTE is larger and often packed with features.
BTE hearing aids are the most common
BTE hearing aids are the most common, thanks to their affordability, the ease with which they can be removed and their feature set. BTE devices are also a common choice for children.
Hearing aids need to be replaced eventually
Hearing aids don’t last forever. Just like any electronic device, they eventually reach the end of their useful life and must be replaced. The good news, however, is that most hearing aids will last between five and seven years, giving you plenty of time to use them. And when the time does eventually come to replace them, you can bet that there will be even better hearing aids out there on the market, thanks to ever-improving technology.
Hearing aids will improve your hearing, but not reverse hearing loss
Although hearing aids can substantially improve your ability to hear, they cannot reverse hearing loss. They can, however, stimulate the auditory cortex —the part of the brain responsible for interpreting sounds —which can result in improved hearing for some people.
An audiologist will tell you if you need one
It can sometimes be difficult to work out whether you need a hearing aid. A trained and certified audiologist will be able to tell you whether you have hearing loss and require an assistive hearing device. Audiologists can also consult with you about which features you need and which form factor is best for your particular lifestyle.