A hearing aid is a small, battery-powered device that fits in or over your ear and amplifies sounds. Although a hearing aid can be fitted to only one ear, hearing aids are usually placed in both ears to provide the best overall hearing. Amplification of sound in both ears allows the person to hear speech more clearly and helps him or her to distinguish where sounds are coming from, especially in noisy surroundings.
Although many models of hearing aids are available, most can be placed into one of the following categories. Behind-the-ear hearing aids fit over the ear and are connected to a custom-made earpiece. In-the-ear hearing aids sit inside the outer ear and the outer part of the ear canal. In-the-canal hearing aids are small, unobtrusive devices that fit inside the ear canal. The smallest and least visible devices are completely-in-the-canal hearing aids, which fit more deeply inside the ear canal. In-the-canal hearing aids and completely-in-the-canal hearing aids are the most cosmetically appealing because they provide powerful assistance to hearing without being visible. Many hearing aids also come with telephone pickup switches that provide special assistance while you are on the phone or listening to a public sound system. The type of hearing aid that is right for you depends on your degree of hearing loss, the size and shape of your ear and ear canal, your lifestyle, and your budget.
Custom-made hearing aids vary in price, depending on style and special features. Prices typically range from $500 for a standard hearing aid up to $2,500 for hearing aids that are fully computerized and programmable. However, price should not be your only consideration when choosing a hearing aid. You should also consider factors such as comfort, appearance, durability, reliability, and the service agreement.
Before choosing a hearing aid, you should have a thorough hearing evaluation performed by an otolaryngologist or an audiologist. You can purchase the hearing aid directly from the doctor or the audiologist or from an independent, licensed hearing aid distributor. A wax impression of your ear will be made so that the laboratory can create a hearing aid that fits your ear exactly. No matter where you purchase your hearing aid, however, it is essential to have it custom-fitted to your ear for best results. It is important to note that hearing aids purchased through mail order usually cannot be custom-fitted.
When you receive your hearing aid, you will be tested to determine how well you can hear and understand speech while wearing the device. You will also learn how to care for your hearing aid, how to insert and remove it, how to change the batteries, and how to use your hearing aid correctly. You will need to have your hearing aid tested and adjusted regularly to ensure that it is working properly. Once you begin wearing your hearing aid, give yourself time to adjust. You should begin by wearing the device first in quiet surroundings and gradually work up to noisier situations. Although a hearing aid cannot cure your hearing loss, it can allow you to hear sounds and voices more clearly so that you can communicate better and more easily participate in your usual activities.
Posted in Ears