Taking Proper Care Of Your New Hearing Aid
You can extend the life of your new hearing aid with proper care and maintenance. Follow these care tips:
-Moisture and heat can damage the device, keep it away from them.
-Ear drainage and earwax can damage the device. Keep the aid clean by following the directions provided to the letter.
-When wearing hearing aids, don't use hair care products, such as hairspray among others.
-When not in use, turn the hearing aid off.
-Dead batteries should be swapped out with new ones as soon as possible.
-Tiny aids and replacement batteries should be kept away from pets and kids.
Can I Find Hearing Aid Implants?
Even though hearing aid implants help enhance sound wave transmission in the inner ear by design, their operation differs from those discussed above. For instance there’s a tiny device that is designed to be implanted on one of the bones in the middle ear referred to as a MEI (Middle Ear Implant). The device vibrates the bones directly instead of amplifying the sound waves moving towards the eardrum. To help persons suffering from sensorineural hearing loss to detect sound, both approaches basically strengthen the sound waves making their way into the inner ear.
Another option comes in the form of a tiny device implanted onto the bone behind the inner ear, referred to as a BAHA (Bone Anchored Hearing Aid). The device by passes the middle ear altogether, using the skull to transmit sound waves to the inner ear directly. People who suffer from deafness in one ear or middle ear issues are usually advised to use BAHA devices. However, a huge number of specialists feel that the risks outweigh the benefits of using these devices as both require surgical implantation.
Meeting the cost of hearing aids through financial assistance
Although some insurers cover the cost of getting hearing aids, most don’t. Under the EPSDT (Early and Periodic Screening, Diagnostic and Treatment) service, young adults (age 21 and below) and eligible children qualify for financing for treatment, including the cost of hearing aids, and diagnosis of hearing issues through Medicaid. The State Children’s Health Insurance Program or individual state’s intervention program may meet these costs for kids.
Diagnostic evaluations prescribed by a doctor to help them come up with a plan for treating an adult may be covered by Medicare even though hearing aids are not covered. Where other coverage requirements have been satisfied, Medicare will meet the cost of a BAHA device, since it is categorized as a prosthetic, instead of a hearing aid, under Medicare.
Refurbished or used hearing aids are offered by some non-profit organizations, while others offer financial assistance towards the acquisition of the aids. To learn more about any non-profit organizations providing financial help towards the acquisition of hearing aids reach out to the NIDCD (National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders) information clearinghouse.
Ongoing Hearing Aid Studies
Studies on how to integrate emerging signal processing techniques in the design of hearing aids are ongoing. To match the diminished hearing capacity of individuals using hearing aids, signal processing facilitates the amplification of sound through the modification of normal sound waves. To help improve understanding, researches funded by the NIDCD are looking into ways of enhancing speech signals using hearing aids.
Furthermore, to create and produce improved hearing aids, researchers are also looking into the use of computer-aided technology. Methods of improving the transmission of sound and reducing the occlusion effect, feedback and interference form the basis of other ongoing studies. For groups where testing for hearing ability poses a challenge, like kids among others, some studies are looking into ways of better choosing and fitting hearing aids.
Designing improved hearing aid microphones using observations drawn from animal models is another promising research path. Since the construction of its ear allows it to identify the direction from which sound is coming with ease, the Ormia ochracea fly, which has exceptionally acute directional hearing, is the main focus of a group of researchers also funded by the NIDCD.
Scientists are looking to develop tiny directional hearing aid microphones modeled against the ear structure of the fly. Instead of picking up sounds from all directions, the microphones prioritize sound waves coming from the direction the person is facing. Even when surrounded by noise from all corners, directional microphones hold a lot of potential when it comes to helping individuals focus on a single conversation.
This translates into the research and technology behind the hearing aids of today. They’re smaller, more discrete, and able to utilize customizable features through interfaces and/or smartphone apps. Major companies that we represent, like Oticon, are coming out with new hearing aids like their Opn S that claim, “Opn S hearing aids take the open sound experience to the next level to deliver speech understanding on par with normal hearing.” And the apps that are available to pair with today's hearing aids are amazingly customized to volume levels, speech directionality, tinnitus masking options, and much more.
We at Tinnitus and Hearing Center of Arizona are familiar with this research, and bring on the finest technology hearing aids at affordable costs. We’re confident that you’ll like the performance and our selection, and we encourage you to contact us to schedule a hearing aid demonstration to see what they could do to improve your hearing.
Call us at (480) 831-6159, or use our Online Scheduler to book your appointment online for hearing aids in Tempe AZ.
What is a hearing aid?
Hearing aids are small electronic devices that are worn behind or in your ear. They make sounds louder so an individual who has hearing loss is able to communicate, listen, and participate in daily activities more fully. Hearing aids are able to help individuals hear more in both noisy and quiet situations. However, only around one out of five individuals who can benefit from using hearing aids actually wear them, meaning more people should be wearing them.
Hearing aids are made up of three basic parts: the speaker, amplifier, and microphone. Sound is received by the hearing aid via a microphone, which then converts the sound waves into electrical signals and then sends them over to an amplifier. The signal's power is increased by the amplifier and they are then sent via the tiny speaker to the ear.
How do hearing aids help?
Mainly hearing aids are useful in improving speech and hearing comprehension in individuals who have had hearing loss that is the result of damage to the small sensory cells (called stereocilia, which are tiny hair cells) that are inside of the inner ear. This kind of hearing loss is referred to as sensorineural hearing loss. Damage may have occured due to certain medicines, injuries from noise, aging, or disease.
Hearing aids magnify the sound vibrations that enter into the ear. The larger vibrations are detected by the surviving hair cells and converted into neural signals that get passed along into the brain. The more damage to the individual's hair cells, the more serious the hearing loss is, and greater hearing aid amplification is necessary in order to make the difference up. There are some practical limits to how much amplification can be provided by a hearing aid. Also, if the inner ear has become too damaged, then even larger vibration are not converted into neural signals. A hearing aid will be ineffective in this type of situation.
How can I determine whether I need to have a hearing aid or not?
If you suspect that you may have hearing loss and may benefit from having a hearing aid, consult with an audiologist (like us). An audiologist is a hearing health professional who can identify and measure hearing loss, and can conduct a hearing test in order to determine the degree and type of hearing loss. At Tinnitus and Hearing Center of Arizona, we offer thorough hearing tests and screenings to check for ear diseases as well as chart your hearing performance frequency range.
Are there different styles of hearing aids?
Hearing aid styles:
- Behind-the-ear (BTE): This type of hearing aid comes with a case made of hard plastic that is worn behind your ear and connects with the plastic earmold which fits inside of the outer ear. The case that is behind the ear holds the electronic parts. Sound travels via the earmold from the hearing aid and into the ear. Individuals of all ages use BTE aids for mild to profound levels of hearing loss.
A new type of BTE aid is in the style of an open-fit hearing aid. An open-fit small aid fits completely behind the ear, with a narrow tube that inserts inside of the ear canal, which allows the canal to stay open. For that reason, an open-fit hearing aid can be a good option for individuals who experience earwax buildup, since it is less likely that this kind of aid will be damaged by the substance. Also, some people might prefer an open-fit hearing aid due to the fact that their perception of their own voice doesn't sound like it is plugged up or congested.
- In-the-ear (ITE): This type of hearing aids fit inside of the outer ear completely and are used for hearing loss ranging from mild to severe. A hard plastic case holds the electronic components. There are some ITE aids that might have certain extra features that are installed, like a telecoil, which is a magnetic small coil that enables the user to receive sound via the hearing aid's circuitry, instead of through the microphone. That makes hearing telephone conversations easier. Also, a telecoil helps individuals hear in public places where a special sound system is installed that is called an induction loop system. These can be found in numerous auditoriums, airports, schools, and churches. Usually, ITE aids are not used by young children since the casings have to replaced frequently as the ear continues to grow.
Canal aids fit inside of the ear canal and come in two different styles. An in-the-canal (ITC) hearing aids designed to fit the shape and size of an individual's ear canal. The other type is the completely-in-canal (CIC) hearing aid which is almost completely hidden inside of the ear canal. Both of these types are used for moderately severe and mild hearing loss.
Since canal aids are small they might be hard for an individual to remove and adjust. Canal aids also have less space available for additional devices like a telecoil or batteries. Usually, they are not recommended for individuals with severe or profound hearing loss or young children since their smaller size reduces their volume and power.
At Tinnitus and Hearing Center of Arizona in Tempe hearing aids are one of our specialties, and we encourage you to schedule a free hearing aid demonstration, with a hearing test to check your hearing loss, as well as try on a few hearing aids to see how they can improve your individual hearing. We offer a 30-day risk free trial so you can take them home and see how they perform in daily use.
Call us today at 480-831-6159, or schedule your appointment with our online scheduler and schedule your free hearing aid demonstration today.
If you didn't see your question here, know that we'll post Parts 2 and 3 again next week, and you can also call us at 480-831-6159.
Dr. Rohe is a nationally-recognized audiologist specializing in Tinnitus Therapy and other hearing conditions.