What is a hearing aid?
A hearing aid is a small device that can be worn behind or in the ear. It has many electronic components which amplify sounds, so that they can be heard more easily by a person with a hearing loss.
How do hearing aids work?
Hearing aids amplify sounds that cannot be heard by the person with a hearing loss. They amplify sounds based on two factors: frequency (pitch) of sound and the loudness of the sound source.
Clarity of speech is improved by increasing the loudness in certain frequency ranges. Just as hearing loss does not affect all frequencies equally, so the hearing aids must not amplify all the frequencies the same. If all sounds of all different pitches were made louder, everything would sound very noisy and distorted. Therefore, the hearing aid is programmed and adjusted for the particular type and degree of hearing loss to ensure you can hear all pitches and sounds as clearly as possible.
The loudness of the source of the sound will also influence how the hearing aid works. Hearing aids are designed to increase the volume of the soft sounds to make them more audible, but not to increase the louder sounds.
How can hearing aids help?
It is important to be aware that hearing aids do not restore hearing back to normal. They are simply an electronic device that will help you to hear better. By giving you the opportunity to hear sounds that you have not heard for a long time, hearing aids will improve your ability to communicate, thus improving your quality of life.
Hearing aids do not make things louder (or at least they should not make things louder) but rather aim to make speech clearer.
With a hearing aid on you might notice some of the following:
People don’t sound like they’re mumbling as much.
The TV volume can be turned softer.
You can hear the birds singing in the trees again.
You can talk with your friends and family on the telephone easily.
You can hear your partner at the restaurant more clearly.
You can enjoy going to the movies/theater again, knowing you will be able to hear all the scenes clearly.
Am I suitable for a hearing aid?
This will depend on your type and degree of hearing loss, as well as your lifestyle needs.
Having a permanent hearing loss of any degree (ranging from mild to profound) may cause communication difficulties, and therefore you may benefit from a hearing aid. However, the degree of hearing loss is simply not enough to determine whether a hearing aid is appropriate. Hearing aid suitability is also dependent on motivation, lifestyle, other health needs and other factors.
If you notice that you are having some communication difficulty or you can identify a time when you would like to hear better, we recommend you speak with your hearing professional about trying a device.
What are the different types of hearing aids?
There are many different types of hearing aids. Click here to compare the various styles that may be available.
What are the common features of hearing aids?
Hearing aids are very sophisticated devices, and include many high-tech features to help you hear better - with new ones being added constantly. Each manufacturer includes their own features– some of which are now considered standard for every device, whilst others are more specialised. Click here to see what the features are and how they may help you!
What is the best hearing aid for me?
Every person is different. A hearing aid that works for one person may not be the best for everyone. Here are some factors to consider:
How severe is your hearing loss? Certain hearing aids perform better and are better suited to different types and degrees of hearing loss. The needs of a person with a profound hearing loss will be very different to someone with only a mild degree of loss.
How clear does speech sound? For some people, their hearing problem is not just about loudness, but clarity. For these people, no matter how loud the sound is, it will always be distorted. For these hearing aid users, the benefits of the more advanced technology may be limited.
How active are you? Lifestyle is particularly important when deciding on hearing aids. For more socially active people who are in more difficult challenging listening environments, a more sophisticated hearing aid is recommended. The more sophisticate devices will offer more help in noisy environments such as meetings, religious gatherings, restaurants, parties, shops and workplaces. For people who prefer quieter activities at home, such as watching TV and talking to one or two people in quiet, hearing aids that do not include all the high-tech features may be sufficient.
Do you require assistance with a hearing aid? For some people who have limited independence, or who require assistance, there are several factors that need to be considered. Sometimes a volume control may help, whereas other times a fully automatic hearing aid is preferred. Some hearing aid features may need to be switched on/off depending on external factors such as health, independence, manual dexterity and vision.
Is cost a limiting factor? Some of the advanced high-tech features are only available with high end (more expensive) hearing aids.
Are cosmetics important to you? The style of hearing aid that you select is often based on how the hearing aid looks. Often though, the smaller more discreet hearing aids also are more expensive, sometimes are not as technologically advanced and may be more difficult to manipulate. Your hearing professional will be able to demonstrate the different styles to you. Please click here to see different hearing aid styles that are available.