FAQs ABOUT HEARING AIDS
Any hearing device has three basic parts: a microphone, amplifier, and speaker. The device receives sound through a microphone, which converts the sound waves to electrical signals and sends them to an amplifier. The amplifier increases the power of the signals and then sends them to the ear through a speaker. Modern devices have digital chips that can run personal computers, and make millions of calculations per second to maximize hearing performance in complex environments.
- Auditory deprivation, or “use it, or lose it”- losing more of your ability to understand speech if left untreated.
- Several studies have found links between untreated hearing loss and increased risk for Alzheimer’s disease and dementia.
- Brain atrophy (disintegration) was much more likely even with MILD hearing loss when left untreated.
No hearing instrument can completely eliminate background noise. In fact, background noise is ‘normal’. Most of the time background noise is speech, which is the exact same signal that the hearing aid is trying to amplify. Some hearing instruments can lessen the effects of non-speech noise by using specific microphones and/or technology. Background noise is a nuisance for everyone, even people with normal hearing.
Our brain hears better in both quiet and noise with two ears. In noise, our brain is designed to cancel out some of the noise and help us listen to conversation when both ears are working together. Hearing equally with both ears also helps find the direction of a sound. In our busy daily activities we need to hear where sounds are coming from for our own protection as well as for our enjoyment, i.e. being able to find the bird singing in the tree or hear the car coming from a certain direction. Hearing equally with both ears also makes listening less stressful and gives you a more natural sound quality.
Yes. Hearing aids are incredibly sophisticated devices that are exposed to a damp, waxy environment on a daily basis. Because of this, as well as normal wear and tear, you can expect to face occasional repairs during the lifespan of your hearing instrument. Establishing and maintaining a good preventative maintenance schedule at home and with regular visits to your audiologist’s office can significantly reduce the number of repairs. Usually a repair comes with a 12-month warranty if the repair occurs outside the manufacturer’s standard warranty period.
Today’s devices, when taken care of properly, can last between seven and ten years. However, digital technology changes and improves quickly. Users of hearing aids often find that it is beneficial to upgrade their hearing aids every three to five years to take advantage of the improvements in technology. The benefits experienced by technological advancements can be worth the cost.
Many people don’t realize that they need time to adjust to wearing hearing aids. They think that adjusting to new hearing aids is just like putting on new glasses and having instant clear sight. Some things you need to expect while adjusting to your new hearing aids are:
- Hearing aids will not give you normal hearing
- It takes time to adjust to wearing hearing aids
- Some sounds may seem loud
- Hearing aids cannot fix fuzzy or distorted hearing
- Hearing aids won’t always let you hear well in noise
- You need to be psychologically ready to wear hearing aids
- Most importantly, a new user needs to be patient and allow time for appropriate adjustment, as hearing aids cannot restore hearing to “normal”.
Buying hearing aids on the Internet can sometimes save you several hundred dollars. But these savings can come at a cost. Buying a hearing instrument online will bypass the medical clearance required by the Food and Drug Administration as well as the custom services needed to fit the device to an individual’s needs. Professional follow-up is very important because a poorly adjusted hearing aid can be uncomfortable or even damage the ear. A set of unused hearing aids that sit in a drawer are no bargain. The Internet can be useful for researching the various kinds of hearing aids on the market today and for keeping up with new technology. If you do decide to buy online, be sure to thoroughly investigate the vendor’s reputation, return policy and warranty.
There are a lot of factors that contribute to the pricing of hearing instruments. There is never an easy way to avoid the sticker shock. But understanding what goes into the production and maintenance of all assistive listening devices can help. While the actual size of hearing aids hasn’t really changed over the last 20 years, the technology that goes inside them has changed tremendously. These technology advancements have allowed hearing aids to evolve from a basic amplifier to a sophisticated miniature computer chip that can be housed in a small, damp space on a daily basis and in all types of adverse environments. Daily use of these devices in such environments has forced hearing aid manufacturers to have incredibly stringent reliability and durability standards for every aspect of every hearing aid. In addition, manufacturer warranties are provided for both new hearing aids and out-of-warranty repairs on hearing aids. Lastly, and probably most importantly, the personal fitting and professional knowledge of hearing health care professionals should be considered invaluable. A certified audiologist has a bachelor’s degree and at least a master’s degree and some even have a doctorate degree, usually in the form of an AuD (Doctor of Audiology) or a PhD. The minimum background of education as well as the requirements for keeping up with all the changes and technological advancements not only fulfill licensing requirements but also helps the professional provide appropriate and knowledgeable amplification information to each individual.
The following suggestions will help you care for your hearing aids:
- Keep hearing aids away from heat and moisture
- Replace dead batteries immediately
- Clean hearing aids as instructed
- Do not use hairspray or other hair care products while wearing hearing aids
- Turn off hearing aids when they are not in use
- Keep replacement batteries and small aids away from children and pets
The National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders (NIDCD) supports more than 30 grants for scientists to conduct studies on hearing aid research and development. These studies cover areas such as the application of new signal processing strategies and ways to improve sound transmission and reduce noise interference, as well as psychological studies of the impact of abnormal hearing function on speech recognition. Other studies focus on the best way to select and fit hearing aids in children and other difficult-to-test populations, and on reducing bothersome aspects such as feedback and the occlusion effect. Further research will determine the best ways to manipulate speech signals in order to enhance understanding.
Alexander Graham Bell Association for the Deaf (AGBell)
3417 Volta Place, NW
Washington, DC 20007-2778
Voice: (202) 337-5220
Toll-free: (800) 432-7543
TTY: (202) 337-5221
FAX: (202) 337-8314
American Academy of Audiology (AAA)
8300 Greensboro Drive, Suite 750
Mclean, VA 22102-3611
Voice/TTY: (703) 610-9022
Toll-free: (800) AAA-2336
FAX: (703) 610-9005
American Academy of Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery (AAO-HNS)
One Prince Street
Alexandria, VA 22314
Voice: (703) 836-4444
TTY: (703) 519-1585
FAX: (703) 683-5100
10801 Rockville Pike
Rockville, MD 20852
Voice: (301) 897-5700
Toll-free: (800) 638-8255
TTY: (301) 897-0157
FAX: (301) 571-0457
Hear Now – The Starkey Hearing Foundation
4248 Park Glen Road
Minneapolis, MN 55416
Toll-free: (800) 648-4327
FAX: (612) 828-6946
Hearing Loss Association of America