An estimated one out of five people 12 and older in the U.S. has hearing loss, one of the most chronic public-health challenges worldwide. The good news? Most hearing loss can be successfully managed with today’s exciting hearing technology. Read on to learn more.
How Do Hearing Aids Work?
Back in the days of earlier hearing devices such as ear trumpets, the technology worked by collecting sound waves, amplifying the sound waves by making them more orderly and concentrated, and then amplifying the waves into the ear canal. The amplified sound waves then traveled to the eardrum and beyond, where hearing occurred.
Today’s modern hearing aids operate on the same principles, with two big differences — digital technology and the help of a hearing care expert:
- Directional microphones. Many modern hearing aids have directional microphones, which not only can determine which sounds belong to your conversation partner but can focus on those sounds rather than on background noise.
- Digital processor. Hearing devices typically have a digital chip that optimizes the sound quality by, for example, reducing background noise, canceling feedback, and curbing the noise caused by wind blowing across the hearing device.
- Multichannel amplifier. Today’s amplifiers can analyze incoming sound based on your specific hearing and lifestyle needs and then amplify or reduce the volume accordingly. They can boost your child’s voice, for example, while reducing nearby engine noise or leaving it as is.
- Binaural processing. This involves your hearing aids’ ability to communicate with each other, which keeps them working in sync. You can stream audio from one hearing aid to the other — for example, hearing a call from your smartphone in both ears at the same time.
- Remote, discreet adjustments. Many hearing devices can pair with an app on your smartphone for additional functions. Depending on your hearing technology’s make and model, you can use the app to control the volume and other settings, tailor program preferences to specific locations, and more.
- Experienced provider. At every step in the better-hearing journey, your provider takes into account your hearing lifestyle. Do you attend a lot of virtual meetings? Love to rock out? Value quiet time? Your needs and preferences require nuanced programming a skilled provider is trained to tackle.
What’s the Hearing Aid Selection Process?
Hearing aids come in myriad shapes, sizes, styles, features, and capabilities to improve hearing, but it’s important to always start with a hearing test and a consultation with a licensed, experienced hearing care provider trained to evaluate your hearing and work with you to determine the right technology.
Some of the factors hearing care professionals consider in tailoring solutions to your specific needs:
- Your level of hearing loss
- Your listening lifestyle
- The types of listening situations you find most challenging
- Your personal ear and hand physical situations
- Your cosmetic needs and tastes
Because hearing loss is as unique as the person experiencing it, there is no one-size-fits-all solution. That’s why it’s so important to seek expert help in support of your hearing health.
What Should I Expect at a Hearing Aid Fitting?
Hearing aid fittings are another exciting milestone along the journey to hearing your best. During the appointment, your provider will:
- Check to ensure the devices appropriately fit your ears
- Custom-program the technology to your specific needs
- Discuss how to integrate the devices into your lifestyle
- Help you prepare for changes to expect along your path to better hearing
After programming your new technology, the provider follows up with real-ear measurement. This involves a slim tube microphone placed in your ear along with the hearing aid. The provider uses different sounds to confirm whether the volume reaching each eardrum is correct based on your audiogram, which is the graph that shows your hearing-test results.
This is when you first experience the benefits of your hearing aids, which for many people — and their loved ones — can be an emotional and profound moment.
What Can I Expect When Wearing Hearing Aids?
Hearing aids are all about empowerment. We’ve seen firsthand the positive difference they can make in people’s lives — and in the lives of their loved ones. With a little time, patience, and ongoing assessment, you can discover a whole new world through the gift of improved hearing.
Some things to expect:
- At first, your hearing system may not sound “normal”, and your own voice may seem strange or hollow.
- You’ll begin hearing many sounds you’ve been missing, and you may also experience some unpleasant ones.
- Documenting your observations will help your provider adjust your technology as needed.
- Your devices are designed to emphasize speech sounds, which will initially cause nonspeech sounds to seem altered and unfamiliar.
- At your follow-up appointments, your provider will be able to readjust your technology to significantly reduce the presence of nonspeech sounds.
- With time and practice, your brain can adjust and interpret the sounds you were missing before getting hearing help.
What Do Hearing Aids Cost?
Hearing aid costs can range from a few hundred dollars to several thousand dollars, depending on the type of device, features, capabilities, potential insurance benefits, and other factors.
To help ensure access to the highest quality hearing care, we offer:
- Financing options that allow you to pay for hearing devices over time, subject to credit approval.
- A variety of technology levels designed to fit your needs and help you achieve your hearing goals — all within a price point you’re comfortable with.
Because hearing care experts play such a critical role in the better-hearing journey — from testing to treatment, fittings, follow-ups, and more — it’s important to also keep in mind the value they provide in helping you reach your goals.