Advancements in technology and electronics are continually improving hearing aids. Today's devices are more comfortable, less noticeable and more effective than ever before.
Today's hearing aids are digital, meaning that they work from a computer chip that is custom programmed to analyze the incoming sound, to shape the sound according to the patient's hearing needs and to send that signal to the eardrum at a clear and comfortable level, without squealing feedback. It is important to understand, though, that no device can mimic normal hearing and that hearing aids do not:
Reverse or prevent hearing loss
Make background noise disappear
Separate voices in a crowd
Choosing a Hearing Aid
There are a wide variety of hearing aid styles and sizes. While some patients may be candidates for the small, nearly invisible hearing aids, other patients may require a larger size in order to allow for additional features, including advanced circuitry. Also, not every ear will accommodate smaller, in-canal hearing aids.
Since each patient is unique, our audiologists will perform an evaluation at the patient's hearing aid selection appointment. After checking for hearing loss, ear formations and communication problems, devices that best meet the patient's needs will be recommended.
Buying a Hearing Aid
Hearing aid devices typically are not covered by Medicare or other health insurance plans. At Akron General, we offer a wide range of prices and payment options in order to accommodate our patients. All hearing aids are sold with a 30-day return option, as well as a 1-year warranty that covers loss replacement or damage repair. Additionally, there is no charge for office visits, tune-ups or other questions during the first year.
Some hearing aid packages include additional accessories in order to allow for integration with telephones, televisions or computers. Any additional programming or patient education for such accessories is included in the price of the hearing aid.
After the Purchase
Since care and maintenance are critical to successful hearing aid use, we recommend that hearing aids are serviced professionally every 6-12 months. Our team provides on-site cleaning and basic repair services for all types and brands of hearing aids. We also have service contracts with most hearing aid manufacturers in the event that a factory repair is needed. Additionally, we offer batteries, cleaning and storage accessories, replacement earmolds and other assistive listening devices.
Lastly, educational instruction is available for family members, friends or caregivers who would need to assist the patient in using or caring for the hearing aid.
FAQs about Hearing Aids
Q:How does a hearing aid work? A hearing aid is a small electronic device that picks up voices and sounds using a miniaturized microphone. The hearing aid then amplifies the sound according to the patient's hearing needs and sends the enhanced sound into the ear through a tiny speaker. Hearing aids typically are powered by a small, replaceable battery; however, some models are rechargeable. Most hearing aids are custom molded for individual fit before being programmed according to the patient's needs.
Q:What is the best hearing aid? Because each person's ears and hearing loss are unique, there is no one-size-fits-all hearing aid solution. Each hearing aid must be uniquely selected and programmed according to the patient and his or her hearing problem. An experienced audiologist is able to fit each patient and recommend the best solution. It is important to understand that no device can reverse hearing loss, make background noise disappear or separate voices in a crowd.
Q:How long do hearing aids last? On average, hearing aids usually last about five to seven years with proper maintenance and cleaning. The thin plastics and fine wires deteriorate due to body heat, skin oil, ear wax, moisture and normal wear and tear. The programming and digital controls can usually be reset without replacing the aids if hearing loss worsens.
Q:Isn't one hearing aid enough? Do I really need two? In general, most people hear better with two hearing aids. Both ears are needed to provide the brain with a full range of sound. Based on the results from the hearing evaluation, the audiologist will recommend whether patients should be fitted for one or two aids. It's important to note that some forms of hearing loss do not improve with the use of a hearing aid.
Q:Should I wear my hearing aid all the time? Some people only use their hearing aids in certain situations, just as some people only use their glasses for reading or driving. Occasional hearing aid use, however, prevents the patient from realizing the full benefit of the aid since the brain has to re-adapt to the amplified sound quality every time the aid is turned on. Similarly, the patient has to re-adapt to the non-amplified sound when the aid is turned off. The audiologist will explain how to adjust to listening through hearing aids, which could take several weeks or months. During this time your brain will relearn how to identify the amplified sounds, which had not been heard before.
Q:Why do some people have poor hearing even with hearing aids? In some cases, people have difficulty hearing and understanding sounds depending on the type of hearing damage. Hearing aids only provide the sound - they do not help transmit the sounds to the brain or help the brain understand what was heard.
Sometimes, the problem is the situation. Hearing aids cannot make a difficult listening situation more quiet or clear, for example. Other times, poor hearing aid function can be a sign that the aid needs to be cleaned or serviced.