Hearing loss is a common condition that millions of Americans deal with. Fortunately, hearing aids are a great solution that can enhance a person’s quality of life when dealing with a hearing loss issue. With so many different types of hearing aids on the market, it can be confusing to understand how and which ones will help you the best.
What Are Hearing Aids?
Hearing aids can be simply defined as small electronic devices that are situated on or in the ear to assist the user with hearing loss. Each device can be fully customized to address the hearing loss issues that the individual is dealing with. Each device comes with a number of basic components. These include the following:
- Microphone – To pick up sound from around the user.
- Computer Chip – This component amplifies the sound and processes it for the user.
- Speaker – Also known as a receiver, this sends the processed sounds to the user’s ear.
- Battery – Each device runs on either disposable or rechargeable power.
As hearing aid technology advances, many optional features are available. Most devices will effortlessly connect to your smartphone for easy access controls. Some even connect directly to your radio or television for seamless listening. The add-on features will vary depending on the device manufacturer and model.
How Do Hearing Aids Work?
Before you can truly understand the level at which type of hearing aids can assist with hearing loss, it’s important to first learn how these hearing assistance devices work. At a birdseye view, hearing aids work by amplifying the noises in a user’s surroundings. Those who suffer from hearing loss have damage to some of their tiny hair cells in their inner ear.
These remaining hair cells are responsible for picking up sounds and sending neural signals to the brain. The amplification process simply allows those remaining hair cells to better understand the sound waves. As the sound travels through the microphone of the device, the computer chip works to convert the sound to a more usable format for the user. Then, that converted sound is released to the ear via the speaker.
The Various Levels Of Hearing Loss
The degree of hearing loss is very specific to the individual person. Audiologists define hearing loss on a scale ranging from mild to profound. Each score is measured by the lowest decibel rating that the person can hear. A person with normal hearing will be able to hear sounds from -10 to 25 decibels.
- MildThe lowest level of hearing is between 25 and 40 decibels. Some examples of sounds in this range are the rustling of leaves at 20 decibels and a running refrigerator at 40 decibels.
- ModeratePeople in this range can hear sounds down to between 40 and 55 decibels. Sounds in this range are light traffic, moderate rainfall, and quiet conversations.
- Moderately SevereHearing loss suffers in this range can hear sounds as low as 55 to 70 decibels. Noises in this decibel range include a normal conversation, a car running, and a clothes dryer running.
- SevereThose with severe hearing loss can only hear down to between 70 and 90 decibels. Sounds in this range include city traffic, a running vacuum cleaner, and a toilet flushing.
- ProfoundSuffers in this range can hear sounds as low as 90 to 120 decibels. Noises in this range include a chainsaw, hairdryer, and ambulance siren.
When you speak with your audiologist, they’ll detect your level of hearing loss based on this scale. In addition to decibels, they’ll measure your hearing level at different frequencies as well. This will assist them in determining exactly at what decibels and frequencies that you have difficulty hearing.
What Type Of Hearing Aid Is Best?
There are six main types of hearing aids that are available for people suffering from hearing loss. These include:
- In The Canal (ITC)
- In The Ear (ITE)
- Behind The Ear (BTE)
- Receiver In Canal (RIC) / In The Ear (RICE)
- Completely In The Ear (CIC)
- Open Fit
The style that you choose will depend a lot on the level of comfort and operation that you desire. For those who are looking for right type of hearing aids that last all day, they’re going to want to use a BTE, RICE, CIC, or open fit. These batteries last longer. However, those who want an inconspicuous device and don’t mind charging up their devices during the day will enjoy an ITC or ITE.
When selecting your preferred style, you’ll need to consider whether a standard model or a powered model is right for you. A standard model is ideal for those suffering from mild to moderate hearing loss. Those suffering from moderately severe to severe hearing loss will want to invest in the power model.
How Well Does A Hearing Aid Work?
As you’ve discovered above, a hearing aid simply amplifies the sounds in your natural environment. Therefore, it can be helpful for those who are suffering from mild to moderately severe hearing loss. Those suffering from profound hearing loss typically don’t have success with hearing aids due to the degree of nerve deafness they experience.
Most people are under the assumption that, as soon as they put the aids in, they’ll automatically hear better. This isn’t the case. Rather, it can take months to get used to hearing the amplified sounds. You’ll need to consistently work with your audiologist to adjust your hearing aids until they work perfectly for you.