Most hearing losses, mild to severe, can be helped with hearing aids because of advances in computer technology, digitization and miniaturization.
Different types of hearing aids, in a variety of technologies, models and styles, are available for different degrees of hearing loss and different lifestyles.
Digital hearing aids, customized for each patient through computer programming, offer more features for noise reduction and more flexibility in sound processing.
People who have active lifestyles and find themselves in a variety of listening situations, such as restaurants, meetings, and groups, often benefit from the multiple listening programs and features in digital hearing aid technology.
People whose lifestyles are fairly quiet often find that the amplification provided by basic digital hearing aids is adequate to meet their needs.
New hearing aids should be selected and fit by an audiologist after a thorough audiometric evaluation has been completed. Medical clearance from a physician is suggested prior to ordering hearing aids.
The need for one or two hearing aids should be discussed with the audiologist. While one instrument may improve hearing sensitivity, for many people, wearing two hearing aids, further improves localization and speech discrimination ability, especially in background noise.
Successful hearing aid use involves some responsibility on the part of the wearer. This includes proper use and care, changing the batteries and scheduling regular maintenance with the audiologist ITE (in-the-ear) style hearing aids, which include full shell, half shell, canal and CIC (completely-in-the-canal) styles, are custom fit to the wearer's ears and made from impressions of the ears. These styles of hearing aids are appropriate for mild to moderately severe degrees of hearing loss.
BTE (behind-the-ear) style hearing aids attach to custom fit earmolds and offer additional power and flexibility for more severe degrees of hearing loss. They may also alleviate problems caused by excessive wax accumulation and chronic ear infections.
Micro BTE (behind-the-ear) style hearing aids offer the comfort of an "open ear" with a slim tube fitting. For mild to moderate and high frequency hearing losses, this style provides the necessary amplification for speech clarity without occlusion in the ear canal.
Assistive devices may enhance specific listening situations, either used alone or in conjunction with hearing aids. (Examples include a telephone amplifier, closed captioning for television, etc.)
Hearing aids are covered by a manufacturer's warranty, which covers repairs, loss and damage. Warranties vary in length from one to two years, depending on the manufacturer and the level of technology. Warranties may often be extended.
Pricing varies depending on the technology, size and style.
Digital hearing aids, with 100 percent digital sound processing, offer clear, comfortable sound reproduction that improves understanding of speech in a variety of listening situations. Some models are completely automatic with adaptive microphone technology, which enhances speech understanding in the presence of background noise. Other models require patient control of the hearing aids through the use of a discreet push-button or remote control.
Depending on the level of technology and its degree of sophistication, hearing aid prices range form $995.00 to $3000.00 per ear.