Ask five different people what comes to mind when you mention hearing aids, and you’ll probably get responses including several different stigmas and stereotypes.
“Hearing aids are clunky and obtrusive.”
“Hearing aids just make everything louder and don’t help that much.”
“Hearing aids are just for the elderly.”
The list could go on and on. The truth is, today’s hearing aids are much different than what some people think they may be. They’re helpful for those of all ages suffering hearing problems, and they are on the cutting edge of technology that continues to advance and improve.
If you are dealing with hearing loss, the first step in determining what type of hearing may be best for you is to have a hearing screening performed by a qualified audiologist.
There are a few other things you may not realize about modern hearing aid technology:
* Many of the leading hearing aids are programmable digital devices, typically self-adjusting, that analyze sound signals to determine whether incoming sound is noise or speech, and makes modifications to provide a clear signal.
* They’re practically invisible: Invisible-in-canal (or IIC) hearing aids sit discreetly within the ear canal, out of sight to those around you.
* They automatically adjust: There’s no need to fumble with controls. The latest hearing aids automatically adjust to changes in volume and loudness in a variety of environments.
* They are durable: Wearing a hearing aid doesn’t mean living a dull life. With waterproof and weather-sealed models available, you can remain as active as you decide.
* They work with other technology: Wireless digital hearing aids are the norm, and feature connectivity with everything from smartphones to MP3 players. Some even have built-in tinnitus relief, or work in conjunction with tinnitus smartphone apps that stream therapeutic sounds directly into a user’s ears.
* They’re always ready: Long-lasting rechargeable batteries allow you to charge overnight, and wake up in the morning with hearing aids that are ready for a new day.
There are several different styles of hearing aids, with “in-canal” units among some of the most popular:
* Invisible-in-the-Canal (IIC): These are the smallest, custom hearing aids, sitting in or past the second bend of the ear canal, rendering them undetectable to bystanders. They are designed for mild to moderate hearing loss.
* Completely-in-the-Canal (CIC): Also for mild to moderate hearing loss, this style fits deeply in the canal.
* In-the-Canal (ITC): For mild and moderate hearing loss, sitting in the lower portion of the outer ear bowl and having longer battery life than IIC and CIC models.
* In-the-Ear (ITE): Flexible for mild to severe hearing loss, sitting flush with the outer ear bowl.
There are also Behind-the-Ear (or BTE) styles that sit behind or atop the outer ear, with tubing that directs sound into the ear canal. Different sizes of BTE hearing aids include different features, battery types, and more power than smaller units.
Despite all the differences in available hearing aids, one thing remains the same: The technology continues to improve. Modern hearing aids truly do improve quality of life. Don’t let hearing loss put a damper on your life. Today’s hearing aids are advanced and discreet, and allow you to live your life to the fullest.
Nola Aronson, M.A., CCC-A, is owner and founder of Advanced Audiology and has been fitting hearing aids for more than 30 years. In 2014, she received the Community Champion at the SCV Leadership Awards.