Investing in hearing aids: Things you need to know before purchasing in a hearing aid
Hearing loss is something that can happen to anybody. Hearing loss can greatly affect your daily life from work relationship to emotional health. Making the right choice when purchasing a hearing aid
can be a huge difference.
How does the hearing aid work?
The hearing aid is an electronic device that operates on battery power. This small device is designed to improve your hearing. The hearing aid is designed to improve on the quality of the sound you hear. Hearing aids are small and portable and can be easily worn behind the ear. There are three key components that make the hearing aid work. These include:
- A microphone: the microphone picks up sound around you.
- An Amplifier: as the name implies, it makes the sound louder.
- A Receiver: the amplified sound is sent into your ear by the receiver.
The hearing aid may not be beneficial to everyone with a hearing loss. Notwithstanding, one in five people who will benefit from them wear them. A hearing aid is suitable for people who have damage to their inner ear. People with damaged ear nerves can also use a hearing aid
to improve their hearing.
Some of the damages that can cause hearing loss can be as a result of:
- Old age: Aging can come with a lot of complications. From poor site to weak bones, hearing loss is also not an exception. It is common to more advanced people in age with hearing loss problems. This, however, does not mean that hearing loss is associated with only old people. Children and younger people can also suffer from this condition.
- Diseases: There are a couple of diseases that can affect your hearing. Diseases such as otosclerosis, Usher's syndrome, Meniere's disease etc. can all cause hearing loss. Identifying this problem and treating them in time can save you the hearing loss.
- Medications: There are various medications with side effects that include temporal hearing loss. These medications if continue for long can severely damage your hearing ability. This is why it is important to be cautious about the medications you take. This is why self-medication is dangerous.
- Loud noises: One common cause of hearing loss is frequent exposure to loud noises. People who stay close to areas with industries, airports and other noisy location are at high risk of suffering from hearing loss.
The conductive hearing loss
This situation occurs as a result of complications with the ear canal or eardrum. In most cases, this condition can be corrected through a surgery or other medical procedures. These options may not be suitable for everyone. For those with the open and normal ear canal, a hearing aid can be of assistance.
For those born without an external ear canal, a hearing aid cannot be prescribed. These set of people may be required to use a more complex device. There are devices designed to send sound to the inner ear through the skull bones.
The key factor that determines what hearing aid is best for you is your test result. Other factors include your lifestyle and level of dexterity. Having an understanding of how a hearing aid feels can help you make a choice. It is always important to go with a product you’re most comfortable with.
How to get a hearing aid
If you notice some difficulties with hearing on 1 ear or both, don’t hesitate to visit a doctor. The first step of getting a hearing aid is by visiting the ENT unit. It is the duty of the ENT unit to examine and determine the cause of your problem.
There are different kinds of hearing loss. It is, therefore, the duty of the audiologist to examine you. Various kinds of tests are carried out to identify the kind of hearing loss. Depending on the outcome of the result, the audiologist decides what form of treatment is best for you.
It is the duty of the specialist to prescribe a hearing aid for you. The audiologist can prescribe two hearing aids if both ears are affected.
Types of Hearing Aid
There are basically two types of hearing aids. The best one for you depends on certain factors. These factors include:
- The severity of your hearing loss and the type of hearing loss.
- Age can also be a determining factor.
- Your capability when it comes to managing small devices.
- The kind of lifestyle you live.
- The cost of a device can determine if you can afford it or not. Depending on the models, the price may vary from hundreds to thousands.
In the broad sense, hearing aids are generally divided into two types:
- The Analog hearing aids
- The digital hearing aids
Analog Hearing Aids
This is a simple device designed to convert sound waves into electronic signals. These electronic signals are then amplified to improve hearing. This device comes with a simple volume control and they are less expensive. This is suitable for those looking at saving cost on hearing aid purchase. As the name implies, analog hearing aid
is designed to be adjusted manually.
Digital Hearing Aids
This is a lot more complex device. It works by converting sound waves into numerical codes that are similar to computer codes. These codes are then amplified to improve hearing. Digital hearing aid
also gathers information on the direction, pitch, and volume of a sound. The digital hearing aid makes it easier to adjust the sound to suit your surroundings. The digital hearing aid is designed to adjust automatically. It is more effective and smaller than the analog. When compared to the price of the analog type, it’s far more expensive.
Styles of hearing aid available
The hearing aid comes in three different styles or models. These three models differ in sizes, placement, and performance. They are as follows:
This kind of hearing aid comes in three different forms. The key difference about this product is their size and how they are designed to fit.
- In the ear (ITE)
- Completely in canal (CIC)
- Invisible in carnal (IIC)
This hearing aid is also known as ITC and it is designed to fit into your ear canal. This kind of hearing aid is difficult to notice. The smaller version of this hearing aid known as the CIC is almost invisible. The CIC is completely hidden inside the ear canal. This kind of hearing aid helps to correct mild, to moderately severe hearing aid.
Due to the size, canal hearing aid can be a bit difficult to remove or even adjust. This model of the hearing device is not suitable for Children. The same is also applicable to adults who have a problem with very small devices.
The smallest of the canal hearing aid is the IIC. The IIC is well hidden from the view of people. It almost feels like there is nothing there. This kind of device may be worn one day at a time or for several months at a time.
This kind of hearing aid is designed to fit inside your outer ear. The device is encased in a hard plastic container. This type of hearing aid is suitable for those with the mild hearing loss. It can also be used for people with severe hearing loss. The ITE is not suitable for children whose ears are still growing.
Behind the ear (BTE) Hearing Aid
This kind of hearing aid is designed to fit behind the ear. The come in the curved plastic casing with varying cutting edges. BTE is connected via a clear thin tube to a customized ear mold. This earmold fits because it is specifically made for you. This outer mold is designed to channel sound into the ear. The BTE is designed
to ensure that ear wax does not build up. It is also designed to ensure you hear your own voice clearly. The BTE hearing aid is suitable for all ages no matter the amount of hearing loss.
Different types of hearing aids come with different functions. When selecting a device, ensure to check all the features. Ensure to ask if the hearing aid has the features you require.
Some of the features you can find on a hearing aid
There are specific features that come with different models of hearing aids. Some of the common functions we have seen over the years include:
This switch helps you to respond to sound coming from specific angles. It also helps to reduce background noise for sound clarity.
This switch tunes down background noises to make it easier to pick up sounds. Whether you’re in a stadium, auditorium or the church, you can hear clearly. The aim of this simple switch is to make it easier to hear your phone conversation.
Direction audio input:
This enables you to plug in an FM listening device to your hearing aid. Other devices such as a remote microphone and TV can also be connected to the device.
There a whole lot of hearing aids in the market today that function in different ways. There are some made for people without an ear or ear canal. This kind is connected directly to the skull. There are also special ones that are connected to your sunglasses. You can inquire more about other devices that can improve hearing. There are just so many of them you can find and explore.
Learning to adjust to Hearing Aids
If a hearing aid has been prescribed for your hearing problem, it is important to understand that your hearing can never be what it used to be in the past.
You need a lot of patience to get used to the hearing aid. In some countries, a trial period is allowed after you purchase the device. This trial period is to enable you to to get used to the device. Ensure you inquire about the warranty of a product before making payment.
It is very important to take your time to understand how your hearing aid works. Always request for what best fits when purchasing a hearing aid. Working with a qualified audiologist will save you a lot of time and errors. Some of the problems an audiologist can save you from includes the following:
- Hearing an echo from your own voice
- Whistling sound in your ear
- Disturbing background noises
- Buzzing when in contact with a cell phone.
Are you trying the hearing aid for the best time? You may want to keep a record of your experience. A diary can be handy for noting down all your experiences and feelings. This will help your audiologist adjust the hearing aid for best performance.
How to take care of your hearing aid
There are a few things you need to do to prolong the lifespan of your hearing aid. Some of the care tips for your hearing aid are as follows:
- The store in a cool dry place. Moisture and heat can affect your hearing aid negatively.
- Keep out of reach children.
- Keep away from pets.
- Avoid spilling haircare products and other liquids on the hearing aid. Electronic components do not go well with liquids.
- Adhere to the prescription when cleaning the device.
- Turn of the hearing aid when not in use. This will help the battery last longer and keep your device from overworking.
- Ensure to remove and replace dead batteries immediately. Neglecting a dead battery in the device for long can damage the device.
How long a battery will last before a replacement is needed depends on the type. While some batteries will last for a few days others may last for up to a week. Other factors that can affect the battery life include:
- The requirements of the hearing aid.
- How often the hearing aid is put to use.
Generally, a hearing aid can work for a period of 3 to 6 years. Depending on how bad your hearing loss becomes, you may need a replacement sooner. Behind the ear, (BTE) hearing aids are very common today. This is because they can be programmed to fit a different range of hearing loss.
As computer technology continues to improve, the digital hearing aid becomes better. This is the major reason why people need to upgrade their devices from time to time.
Over the counter (OTC) Hearing Aid.
Before August 2017, you were required to see a physician for your hearing aid. After President Donald Trump signed the food and Drug Administration Reauthorization Act
of 2017, it has become easier and cheaper to access a hearing aid. Before the passing of the act, you only had personal sound amplifiers been sold over the counter. Today, you can purchase a high-quality product over the counter to treat your hearing loss. This bill has given rise to a lot of companies developing tailored hearing aids. These hearing aids are built according to specifications to fit different hearing loss conditions.
The bipartisan bill was introduced by Elizabeth Warren and Chuck Grassley. This bill gave patients the power to purchase a hearing aid without a doctor’s prescription. This is contrary to the old bill which requires patients to obtain a doctor’s prescription. This bill sort to allow high-quality hearing aids to be sold directly to patients. OTC hearing aids are regulated by the FDA. In line with the rise of OTC, it is important to differentiate between OTC and PSAP. PSAPs are not hearing aids. They are not designed to cure impaired hearing or hearing loss. PSAPs are only designed to amplify sound and therefore cannot serve the purpose of a hearing aid.
An OTC must be marked as a device that is capable of treating mild to moderate hearing loss.
At Century hearing Aids, we strive to bring you the best hearing aids
at affordable prices. OTC hearing devices are gradually gaining a lot of popularity. Our duty is to keep you abreast with the latest technology at affordable prices.
At century hearing aid, we sell ever thing form hearing aids to its accessories. We also offer repair and servicing of faulty hearing aids.
We also provide customized hearing aids depending on your audiogram
. You can simply utilize one of our 5 listed ways and send us your audiogram.
Why it is important to visit a hearing healthcare professional
There are just so much to be gained from a visit to a hearing healthcare professional. A hearing healthcare professional offers a comprehensive care. They provide the best fitting device for your condition. They also provide a follow-up care and provide the necessary adjustment to your device. Their duty is continuous even after the fitting of the hearing aid.
Currently, hearing aid technology has continued to evolve over the years. There is a need for hearing healthcare professionals go for workshops and training. This will help them determine the best upgrade you need. Often times, you may notice that your device is no longer serving as required.
While you can purchase an OTC hearing aid, it is still important to identify the cause of your hearing loss. This is the best way to figure out what treatment is best for you.
Self-medication has raised a lot of concerns over the years. Lots of people resort to the internet today for self-diagnosis and even prescription. This poses a lot of health risks to the individual. In cases of hearing loss, moderate to severe hearing loss can be associated with severe complications. This is why the Hearing Industries Association (HIA) has made recommendations that OTC should be given to people with mild hearing loss alone. They have also made recommendations to the FDA to set high standards for OTC hearing aids.
It is very important to visit a hearing healthcare professional before you decide to purchase a hearing aid. The problem may not necessarily be one that requires a hearing aid. The results may be surprising to you.
What are the causes of price variations of Hearing Aids?
The prices of hearing aids can differ from one product to the other. While it is cheaper to purchase an OTC, one still wonders why hearing aids are so expensive.
Hearing aids are gradually changing from what they use to be in the past. Today, hearing aids are made of sophisticated technology. These technologies have been scaled down to perfectly fit behind or inside the ear. A lot of research and man hours are put into the production of this device. Most times, they are designed according to specifications provided by the audiologist. This means two devices may not necessarily have the same functions.
The hearing aid is designed to be able to pick up and process information very fast. A hearing aid is designed to fit into different environments and withstand sweat, earwax, and weather. They are also packed with features that help hearing feel a lot more natural. These researches are constantly in progress with upgrades coming up every now and then.
The research may be one of the reasons why this product is so expensive. However, most important is the services you’re going to be receiving. Purchasing OTC may be cheap but you lose out on the professional care. For new users, adjusting to the hearing aid can be a difficult tax. This is why you need the services of a professional to help you through the process. Majority of the hearing aids prescribed by health professionals come with a manufacturer’s warranty. This will cover for the cost of maintenance and other common issues associated with hearing aid. The secure 4-year warranty is very important due to the huge wear and tear the device go through daily. There is no guarantee that you will be getting the same warranty when you purchase OTC.
What can OTC offer at the moment?
The law that signed OTC into power is still very young to determine what we can make out of OTC. The guidelines in reference to product specification are still in the preparatory stage with the FDA. Finding a suitable product may be a bit difficult at the moment. This is why we have the hands working to provide you with high-quality OTC devices.
At Century Hearing Aid, we focus on quality and cost. We help you negotiate for high-quality hearing aids at the best prices. Because we understand the difficulties in searching, we endeavor to provide you with the best.
How helpful will be OTC in the future?
Currently, just about 20 percent of the people who will benefit from this device actually use it. Notwithstanding, when this device becomes very popular, it will certainly close up the gap.
Getting the OTC the required recognition also has a lot of other barriers. There are countries where the hearing aid is heavily subsidized. When you take Switzerland for example, the product is subsidized up to 38%. The same goes for the UK where it’s even as high as 41%.
OTC hearing devices are ideal for reducing the social stigma associated with hearing loss. It also provides a cheaper alternative for the cost of visiting a hearing healthcare professional. People often have this crazy idea that the hearing aid is for older adults. The truth is, hearing loss problem can affect people of all ages.
Hearing loss advocates are working hard to create awareness concerning hearing problems. A reasonable number of people under the age of 20 suffer from one kind of hearing loss or the other.
Over the past 30 years, the price of hearing aids keeps escalating to an alarming rate. This has made it difficult for customers to access the product. The modifications and upgrades are quite not comparable to the exuberant rise in prices. This has greatly affected the adoption rate of hearing aids. Low adoption of hearing aid affects communication adversely. There are also potential risks associated with non-treated cases of hearing loss. Some of such risks include dementia, depression, the decline in reasoning and falls. OTC can play a major role in promoting adoption and reducing the cost of hearing aids. OTC reduces the time of you spend to get a hearing aid. While OTC may pose some problems, they will also play a lot of major roles.
Availability of the OTC hearing aid in the open market
The signing of the OTC hearing aid act hasn’t done so much in commercializing the product. It is still very much difficult to find OTC hearing aid in the open market. Majority of the available brands are found online. This can pose some form of challenges such as fitting problems and performance issues. For the traditional hearing aid, the audiologist carries out a lot of examination to determine what is most suitable for each person. The case is different for OTC. When purchasing an OTC, you’re purchasing a finished product. The product specifications provided by the manufacturer is the only thing you rely on. In some cases, finding what fits perfectly becomes a major issue.
There are, however, high hopes that as OTC continues to advance, it will see a lot of modifications. This also depends heavily on the specifications that will be adopted by the FDA.
How does the OTC affect the job of the professional?
Generally, the job of the professional remains even with the rise of OTC. The device was never intended to replace the services of a professional hearing healthcare personnel. It remains the sole duty of the hearing professional to diagnose your problem. He is in the best position to identify what is wrong with you and proffer solution. However, due to the competition, there is bound to be a huge drop in price. This may be counterproductive to the professional but its appositive step for people with hearing loss problems.
Problems associated with OTC
Like every other product with advantages, there are some disadvantages associated with OTC. The first problem is the idea of one size fits all. Professionals understand that there are different requirements for different problems. It is also good to understand that what fits well with Mr. A may not go well with Mr. B. The companies involved in OTC only builds according to FDA approved specifications. What happens to a patient who does not fall within that specification?
The second problem is the fact that they may not be able to help your brain process sound. Since they are built according to factory specifications and not professional recommendation, you may run into issues using the device.
OTC like other hearing aids can become uncomfortable. Since you’re purchasing over the counter, you lose the access to getting a professional help. Adapting to the new device becomes a lot harder.
Using devices without proper doctor’s prescription can be dangerous to your ear. Using the wrong OTC can lead to further ear damage or even worsen the current situation.
OTC makes you bypass one of the crucial steps when it comes to treatment. The vital step of diagnosing, programming, fitting and follow-up cross-examinations are all undermined by the OTC.
The problem of getting an accurate gain requirement. There are different gain requirements for different people. Buying a readymade OTC certainly leaves you with the choice of accepting whatever the manufacturer offers. Gain is very essential for the correct performance of the hearing aid. Undermining this factor simply means your chances of getting a product that underperforms is very high.
There is a higher tendency of getting a substandard product. This is owing to the fact that it is difficult to ascertain the origin of a particular brand.
Some hearing aid style you don’t know about
Besides the popular styles of hearing aid, there are a few others you may not know about. These includes:
- The Receiver in Canal (RIC) hearing aid
This little device is designed to fit behind the ear and deliver sound directly into the ear. In the case of this device, the receiver is located outside of the hearing aid. The receiver is designed to fit inside the ear canal. This enables sound to be delivered directly into the ear. The receiver and the hearing aid are connected by a tiny plastic tube which houses the wire connecting to the receiver. Depending on your preference, RIC hearing aid may either come with a size 10 (Yellow), size 13 (Orange) or a size 312 (Brown) battery. The size 10 battery can last for a period of 3 to 5 days before a replacement is required. Size 312 battery has a lifespan of 5-7 days while size 13 may last for up to 14 days. The lifespan of the battery is dependent on the number of hours the hearing aid works in a day. The technology level and the severity of the hearing loss can also determine the battery life.
There are some benefits attached to the use of this device and they include:
- This hearing aid delivers a crisper and quality sound since the receiver is situated into the ear canal.
- Depending on the design, it can be more discreet than the IIC and the CIC.
- This device allows you to fit in different receiver power levels. It is, therefore, suitable for different kinds of ear losses.
- Since the receiver can be changed any time, it saves you cost and stress. In case your hearing gets worse, you just need a receiver.
- Designed with dual microphones to improve speech clarity in a noisy
- It comes in options of wireless or telecoil.
- The Microphone in Helix (MIH) hearing aid
This hearing aid is relatively small and designed with a microphone outside of the device shell. The microphone is designed to fit into the inside of our outer ear (cymba concha). The casing of the MIH comes in different sizes and is designed to fit into the lower part of the outer ear (cavum concha). The shell and the microphone are connected by a microphone tube which holds the microphone cord. Extraction cords are made available for hearing aids to make it easier to remove.
Some of the benefits of this device include:
- The device is easier to manufacture in smaller sizes since the microphone is situated outside the shell.
- Since there is no microphone in the shell, there is enough space to fit in an ultra-power receiver. This can greatly boost the performance of the MIH.
- The positioning of the microphone also serves some useful purposes such as:
- Preserve the natural functions provided by the pinna.
- Helps reduce the effect of the noise from the wind.
- Reduces the probability of feedbacks such as the whistling sound since the microphone and the receiver are far apart.
- Comes in wireless as well as telecoil
- Suitable for people with reduced vision and low dexterity.
- The Mini Canal (MC) hearing aid
This hearing aid is bigger than the IIC and the CIC hearing aids but still relatively small. They are designed to fit perfectly into the cavum concha.
This device also comes with an extraction cord for easier fitting and removal. The MC is designed to work with a size
10 (Brown) battery. This battery can last for 5 days before a replacement is required. Like other hearing aids, this is also dependent on the usage and how severe the hearing condition. You may need to replace the battery after 3 days.
Some of the benefits of the MC includes:
- It comes with dual microphones for improved sound quality.
- It is relatively small and low profile.
- A very powerful device that can help in both mild and severe hearing defects.
- Comes in two option. Wireless and telecoil.
Hearing aids are often very expensive. With the emergence of the OTC hearing aid, we may begin to see a relative reduction in prices. This means that more people will have access to the product in a short time.
This does not, however, substitute for the job of a professional hearing healthcare person. The bottom line is, it is very important to always visit the hospital when you notice some problem with your hearing. It is their duty to examine your condition and proffer the best solution you need.
It is important to note that not all hearing problem require a hearing aid. It is also important to note that hearing loss can happen to anybody. It is not only relative to people of certain age bracket.