Hearing Aids are amplifiers, which increase the intensity of sound and present it louder to the ear. They are not a therapeutic device. They cannot improve hearing or do harm to the ear.
There are several types of hearing aids. Behind-The-Ear or BTE aids are placed behind the pinna and are connected with a transparent tube to a silicone plug inside the ear canal. The Endaural Aids (Inside-The-Ear or ITE) are placed inside the canal and only the upper part, hosting the minute knobs, is visible. Recently, barely visible or completely invisible hearing aids are very popular (In-the-Canal or ITC and Completely-in-the-Canal or CIC, respectively). Body worn aids provide the strongest amplification of all and are appropriate for nearly total hearing loss.
For selected cases of Hearing Loss, we use the Bone Anchored Hearing Aid – BAHA. The BAHA transmits the sound via the bone of the skull, bypassing possible defects in the sound conduction system of the ear. It provides excellent sound quality, has no contact with the ear and does not occlude the ear canal.
Although modern technology has greatly improved the technical characteristics of the small hearing aids, an old rule still applies: The smaller the size, the smaller the amplification provided by the aid. Therefore, a patient with severe deafness is quite unlikely to benefit from a small CIC aid.
All modern hearing aids are digital, and are programmed with the help of a computer, according to your pure tone audiogram. Some of them come with a remote control, and provide different programmes for different occasions, i.e. music listening, theatre, noisy environment, etc. Also, some of the latest models can be coupled with mobile phones by means of Bluetooth technology.
- If you decide to buy a hearing aid, prefer companies ran by specialized professionals. Ignore attractive commercials giving away “free” hearing aids. No decent devices are given free of charge, and you will certainly need the advice of a profesional to choose your aid and to program it correctly.
- When you take your aid home, familiarize yourself with its use, so you can run it with your eyes closed or in the dark.
- Start using it in quiet environment for a few minutes, then gradually more. Give your ear time to get used to the new, amplified sound.
- If you are not satisfied with the quality of sound, do not hesitate to ask for re-programming, until you hear the best sound possible. Turning up the volume is not the solution for a better sound.
- Use your hearing aid only when you really need it. Wearing the aid all the time will waste your batteries, and increases the possibilites of ear infections, due to occlusion of the ear canal.
- If you have a bilateral hearing loss (in both ears) and your budget allows, discuss with your doctor the option for two aids, one in each ear. This will simulate better normal stereo hearing and will provide better speech perception.