WHICH STYLE BEST SUITS YOU AND YOUR HEARING LOSS?

As we have discussed in previous articles, there are many factors that go into investing in hearing aids.  Our priority, first and foremost, is basing technology and components inside the units on your lifestyle to ensure they are doing their job for the life you want to live.  It should not be based on what the hearing aid looks like.  With that being said, there are many different styles of hearing aids.  The range of style options allows hearing care professionals to work with the wants and needs of each patient; however,....

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HEARING VERSUS UNDERSTANDING

Too often, the process in which we hear is overlooked.  As a hearing care professional, it is crucial for patients to recognize how our ears and brain work in order to understand the process in which we hear vs. how we understand.  I have worked with many patients and feel that the most successful have a clear understanding of these differences which provides realistic expectations during the hearing aid process.

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MEDICAL CAUSES OF HEARING LOSS

Did you know your health could be negatively affecting your hearing? It’s true!  Hearing loss is associated with a number of different health problems ranging from hypertension to heart health. Today’s article is not to scare you, rather to inform you, and a lot of information will be hard. Working with your primary care physician or another certified healthcare professional can go a long way, especially when we are talking about medical causes for hearing loss.

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THE 411 ON HEARING AIDS

much more costly. Services you receive include but are not limited to understanding how to properly insert and remove the device, clean it and change the battery. Additionally, adjustments are necessary as your brain gets used to the new units. Being able to follow up with a professional will allow those adjustments to be completed. As to how the hearing aids work, they do not treat all sounds equally. The increase in volume is based on your hearing evaluation. Each frequency in the hearing aid is adjusted differently based on your specific needs. Repairs are no problem. A professional can often fix the units while you're in the office and if not, we know where to send them for repair.


Mistakes When Getting Hearing Aids


 1. Believing hearing aids will immediately fix everything. Hearing loss is typically a progressive issue. It took years - based on research, likely more than seven, to be exact - before the hearing loss began to become bothersome. During that time, your brain got used having a hearing loss. When hearing aids are fit, it is going to take time for your brain to once again adjust. The added volume and the ability to filter unwanted sounds takes time. That is why there is always an adjustment

period built into the investment. Research shows it can take up to 60 days before the brain adjusts to the new units. It is crucial you take every moment of that time to familiarize your brain with as many sounds as you can in order to fully acclimate and benefit from the technology. Another way to adjust to the amplification more quickly is to make sure you wear the units consistently. If the hearing aids are only worn in certain situations, you never fully get the help you need. When they are worn inconsistently, the brain is sometimes getting the volume it needs while other times it is not. Therefore, the brain cannot fully adjust because it doesn't know which volume it is going to get.


2. Focusing on price rather than technological  capabilities. It is of utmost importance to understand that what the hearing aids look like on the outside does not indicate how much help they will provide. Similar-looking hearing aids can range from being completely digital and incredibly smart to very basic and only amplifying sound. Specifically, in the age of digital technology, true hearing aids can have the technology to be fully automatic and switch from program to program without any work from the user. Similar-looking hearing aids can be purchased over the counter and turn everything up or down with no flexibility. These hearing aids do not take your hearing loss into account and unfortunately could cause further damage due to the variability of volume within the device.


Additionally, comparing apples to apples is very important because one provider could only be charging for the units themselves while another provider is including office visits, hearing evaluations, warranties and batteries, as well as the units, in their cost. Understanding what the investment means and how the specific technology inside the unit will help is CRUCIAL. Also understand  that this can affect your benefit and that should not be taken lightly.


3. Deciding which option to wear based on looks rather than needs.  If we are being honest with ourselves, no one is excited about wearing hearing aids. When that time comes, most patients decide to move forward with hearing aids because they want to be able to communicate more easily. As a consumer, when you are talking with your provider, identify situations that are most important to you when it comes to communication to make sure your expectations can be met.


Myths About Hearing Aids


"Only people with serious hearing loss need hearing aids."

An individual's lifestyle will determine an individual's need for hearing aids. More often than not, hearing aids will be necessary for day-to-day communication. Whether a patient is a teacher, lawyer, doctor, manager or someone working with people all day long, just to name a few, amplification can help.


"Hearing aids will make me look 'old'."

If hearing aids help an individual function like a "typical" person day to day, the stigma can be removed. Audiologists and hearing aid manufacturers  fully understand the cosmetic issues associated with hearing aids, and that is why they offer many types of hearing aids to fit ALL their patient's needs. I think  


"Do hearing healthcare professionals really know what they are doing?"

The Better Hearing Institute recently conducted research regarding this very topic. Hearing healthcare professionals received a customer satisfaction rating of 92 percent. Additionally, nine out of 10 people reported an improvement of their quality of life with hearing aids.


Conclusion


Working with a professional and determining what is appropriate for the patient based on his or her hearing health history, hearing evaluation and lifestyle is the best starting point when considering which route to take as a new hearing-aid user. Do your research and ask friends or family who wear hearing aids. When everything is all said and done, the correct hearing aid can absolutely change a person's life.

DR. BREWER

Dr. Brewer completed her Doctor of Audiology degree at the University of Louisville’s School of Medicine and her undergraduate degree in Speech Pathology and Audiology at Miami University in Oxford, OH. She is licensed by the state of Kentucky as an audiologist and hearing instrument specialist. She is also a member of the American Academy of Audiology, Academy of Doctors of Audiology, Kentucky Academy of Audiology and American Speech-Language-Hearing Association.  

more articles by dr brewer

To say the is an infinite number of options regarding different forms of amplification and hearing aids is an understatement. Too often, the decision about which device is the right choice can be very overwhelming. I would like to spend time breaking down some important differences patients need to know. Hopefully this information can make the decision making process a little less stressful.


Why in the world do hearing aids cost so much?


Have you ever questioned why you can't just order a hearing aid through the mail, especially when the price ranges are so different? If so, you are not alone. This is a question we get asked weekly. Too often the decision about which hearing aid to choose is typically made based on price. However, for many hearing aid users, the difference is really between a good value and a true investment.


A good value is just that. The mail-order hearing aid is typically made of a plastic that is not high quality. Additionally, when sounds are amplified, everything is made louder or softer at the same time. What if the unit breaks? If it was ordered online, there isn't typically a place to go to have it fixed.


Seeing a professional is part of the reason the investment is so