If you’re one of the over three million Australians with some level of hearing loss, you may have wondered if your hearing could be improved with the addition of a hearing aid. The good news is that with the support of a qualified hearing care professional, the answer is absolutely yes – you can be fitted with a hearing aid to fit your preferences, lifestyle and budget needs to improve not only your hearing but your overall quality of life.
Hearing loss isn’t just a matter of finding it difficult to hear the television – research has found that people with hearing loss are more likely to struggle with study or in the workplace, experience stress and frustration, and become socially isolated or withdrawn. It’s a serious concern that our hearing care team takes very seriously. We are committed to working with you to find a hearing aid to best suit your needs.
With up to 1 in 7 Australians now wearing a hearing aid, hearing devices have notably evolved to keep up with increased demand and technological advances. They now offer rechargeability to avoid fiddling with pesky batteries, fall detection, connectivity to phones and television, and more. They also come in various styles and sizes so that they are much more discreet than ever.
So how do hearing aids work, what types and style options are available, and how can our hearing care specialists support you in selecting the best hearing aid for you? Let’s take a closer look.
What Are Hearing Aids And How Do They Work?
A hearing aid is a small electronic device that makes it easier to hear and comprehend speech and sound by making some sounds louder so that a person with hearing loss can more easily communicate, keep safe through hearing alerts such as phones, fire alarms and oncoming traffic, and participate more fully in daily activities.
All hearing aids consist of a microphone, amplifier, and speaker:
• The hearing aid picks up on sound vibrations through the microphone
• These sounds are converted into electrical signals and sent to an amplifier
• The amplifier increases the power of these signals and then sends them through the speaker to the ear
• The hair cells within the air detect the louder vibrations of these sounds and convert them to neural signals sent to the brain.
If a person has damaged hair cells, also known as sensorineural hearing loss, which can be caused by disease, ageing, medications or injury, hearing aids such as this can be very effective. The greater the degree of damage the person has to their hair cells, the more severe the hearing loss and the louder the hearing aid amplification will need to be. If a person has widespread damage to the hair cells, a hearing aid may not be effective, and your hearing care professional will be able to discuss other treatment and management options.
Types Of Hearing Aids
Hearing aids differ by where they are located in relation to the ear, their technology, and their additional features. The hearing aid that will work best for you depends on the type and severity of your hearing loss and your preferences. Our team of qualified hearing care professionals is highly experienced in recommending a hearing aid that best suits your needs and lifestyle. The four main types of hearing aids include:
1. Behind-The-Ear Hearing Aids
Behind-the-ear (BTE) hearing aids have a compartment that fits behind the ear, which contains the device’s electronics, with a clear tube that loops over the ear and connects the case to a plastic mould fitted at the entrance to the ear canal. While these are one of the more traditional hearing aid styles, they are now much smaller and sleeker than ever before.
• Suitable for all ages and are a great choice for children as the earmold can be replaced as the child grows
• Suitable for mild to profound hearing loss
• The external electronics are less likely to be damaged by moisture or earwax, resulting in fewer repairs and a longer lifespan
• Easy to handle
• A custom ear mould can be created for extra comfort
• Longer battery life than smaller hearing aids, and many models are rechargeable
Things to think about:
• These are one of the largest and most visible types of hearing aid
• The plastic tube may not be best suited to certain types of glasses or sunglasses
As it does not fit too deeply into the ear canal, care must be taken to help prevent it from magnifying external sounds such as wind
2. In-The-Canal Hearing Aids
In-the-canal (ITC) hearing aids consist of a lightweight plastic device that fits completely inside the outer ear canal and is made to fit the shape and size of your ear. There is also a variation called the completely-in-the-canal (CIC) hearing aid, which is the smallest hearing aid available and sits deep within the ear canal, becoming practically invisible and offering no feedback when using a telephone.
• Lightweight and comfortable to wear
• Very small and discreet, so people are very unlikely to see it
• Appropriate for mild to moderately severe hearing loss
Things to think about:
• May not be best suited for young children as the casing needs to be replaced frequently as their ear grows
• You should assess on a case-by-case basis whether you find their small size easy or difficult to use, remove and adjust
• Not recommended for profound hearing loss
• Need to take care when it comes to wax and moisture build-up
• Due to their small size, they may be less able to be fitted with extra features, if you need them
3. In-The-Ear Hearing Aids
In-the-ear (ITE) hearing aids are slightly larger than ITC aids. All electrical components are held within a plastic shell that fits into the outer part of the ear canal. Some ITE hearing aids can have added features installed, such as a telecoil, allowing the wearer to hear sounds through induction loop systems rather than through its microphone, such as those found in churches, schools, and airports.
• Appropriate for mild to severe hearing loss
• Can have added features such as a telecoil
• Available in a range of shades to match your skin tone
• Great sound clarity
• Many ITE models result in more natural sound through noise reduction and directional technology
• Fitted for the contours of your ear, so they are very comfortable
• May be easier to insert, remove and clean than smaller hearing aids
• Some designs options can be fitted with Bluetooth connectivity
Things to think about:
• Not best suited for people with profound hearing loss
• Potential feedback issues for users when on the telephone as the hearing aid is located closer to the receiver
• More noticeable than the CIC hearing aid
• Care must be taken if you tend to have a high amount of ear wax build-up
4. Receiver-In-Canal (RIC) Hearing Aid
The receiver-in-canal (RIC) hearing aid is similar to the BTE hearing aid; however, it is smaller as the receiver is placed inside the ear canal instead of in the casing behind the ear. RIC hearing aids have a thin, clear wire that connects the speaker to the hearing aid casing, which is nearly invisible.
• Smaller than a BTE
• Does not completely block the ear canal, so some natural sound can enter the ear canal and improve sound quality
• Appropriate for mild to profound hearing loss
• Far fewer problems with feedback compared to other designs
• Some styles are rechargeable and are connectable to digital devices such as phones and televisions
• It can be fitted with other features, including noise cancellation and water-resistant coatings
Things to think about:
• It may be more visible than some hearing aid styles
• Care must be taken for wax and moisture build-ups
What About Hearing Aids For Conductive Hearing Loss?
Unlike sensorineural hearing loss that results from damage to the hair cells, conductive hearing loss means that something in the outer or middle ear is preventing the sound waves from travelling through to the inner ear, which leads to a loss of loudness so that it sounds like you’re listening to people or other sounds from a distance.
If you have conductive hearing loss, or you suspect you might, our experienced hearing care professionals can carry out a comprehensive exam to make an accurate diagnosis, discuss other treatment options available, which may include implantable hearing aids, and make the appropriate referrals where needed.
Don’t Delay: Book Your Audiology Appointment At Kevin Paisley Today
If you may be developing hearing loss or require a hearing aid, it’s time to book an appointment. Selecting the right hearing aid is an important choice, with individual hearing needs, preferences and lifestyle all playing a part. Here at Kevin Paisley Hearing, our team of hearing care professionals are highly experienced in helping you to find the best hearing aid for you by offering an advanced hearing assessment to assess your overall ear health, uncover the underlying cause of your hearing concerns, and create a tailored management plan to help while recommending and fitting you with the best hearing aid for your needs.
Hearing loss can be caused by various factors, including age-related conditions and other complications, such as impacted ear wax or a perforated eardrum. Therefore, formally examining your hearing can provide peace of mind that you’re on an appropriate treatment plan to prevent further hearing loss and minimise its impact on your life.
Book an appointment with our friendly team at your local centre here.