For individuals who are hard of hearing or completely deaf, a hearing aid is a non-surgical, temporary, and convenient option that can provide you with the ability to hear. Any degree of hearing loss can be detrimental, but with the right type of hearing aid, your disability will not be nearly as noticeable to you and others. With as many as two to three children out of every 1000 born and up to 65% of adults experiencing hearing difficulties or diagnosed deafness, it’s reassuring to know that medical science and technology have been able to join together to create innovative hearing aids that are effective, cost-efficient, and comfortable to wear. Additionally, there are numerous styles of hearing aids to fit not just your ear, but to provide you with the specific hearing needs that you have.
When shopping for hearing aids, it’s best to start with a recent medical exam that includes a comprehensive test of your degree of hearing loss. While most hearing aid companies and stores offer tests via their trained audiologists, having your own medical test done beforehand can assure accurate and consistent results, which means selecting the hearing aid that is best suited for your needs. With seven degrees of hearing loss, it’s important to know exactly where you fall on the scale.
Hearing aids work in different ways: self-adjusting for volume based on the current surroundings feedback reduction to remove “noise” that can interfere with hearing what other people are saying sound amplification based on the direction your head is turned towards (so sound coming from behind you will be diminished, while sounds coming toward your face and ear will be increased and fine-tuned for optimal clarity)
Once you have determined the proper hearing aid you need for your specific hearing loss, you can move on to choosing the style of hearing aid that is most comfortable for you to wear. The size of your inner and outer ear are the biggest determinations in hearing aid style, but you may also choose from in-the-ear (ITE) hearing aids, or behind-the-ear (BTE) hearing aids. Both are designed to be as compact as possible, so that even if your ears are uncovered the hearing aid will still be very discreet – unless someone is standing very close to you they may not even notice it! Depending on your budget or health insurance benefits, you may be limited to choosing from a particular brand, such as Miracle-Ear hearing aids, or a particular price range. Either way, you will want to choose function over comfort, as you can always adapt to the “feel” of a hearing aid, but you can’t adapt to the loss of hearing without a an appropriate hearing aid!
Depending on your lifestyle and work environment, one type of hearing aid may be better than another. For instance, if you work outdoors where wind and other weather may be an issue, more durably constructed hearing aids that attach more firmly to the ear would be your best choice. For children, smaller hearing aids that do not protrude and thus tempt hands to fidget with them are always an ideal option.
If you have questions about your hearing aid, or are concerned that it is not seated or functioning properly, take it to the center or medical professional who initially fitted you with it. They can help you troubleshoot the issue, and make adjustments so that your hearing aid is both fully functional and comfortable.