Hearing Aids

Hearing loss can be due to the aging process, exposure to loud noise, certain medications, infections, head or ear trauma, congenital or genetic factors, diseases, as well as a number of other causes. Approximately 34 million Americans have some degree of hearing loss.
 

You May Have Hearing Loss If:

    • You hear people speaking but you have to strain to understand their words.
    • You frequently ask people to repeat what they said.
    • You complain that people mumble.
    • You need to ask others about the details of a meeting you just attended.
    • You play the TV or radio louder than your friends, spouse and relatives.
    • You cannot hear the doorbell or the telephone.
    • You find that looking at people when they speak to you makes it easier to understand.
    • You miss environmental sounds such as birds or leaves blowing.

    • If you have any of these symptoms, you should see a hearing professional to have a formal hearing evaluation. This hearing test, or audiometric evaluation, is a diagnostic hearing test performed by a licensed hearing professional. A diagnostic hearing test is not just pressing the button when you hear a beep. Rather, an audiometric evaluation allows the hearing professional to determine the type and degree of hearing loss and also indicates how well or how poorly a patient understands speech. Testing for speech understanding at different loudness levels and in different environments provides the professional with information about how successful amplification may be for a patient’s hearing loss.  
       
      Additional tests of the middle ear function may also be performed. The results of the evaluation are useful to a physician if the hearing professional determines a patient’s hearing loss may be treated with medical or surgical alternatives. Results of the hearing evaluation are plotted on a graph called an audiogram. The audiogram provides a visual view of the hearing test results across various pitches. The audiogram and results from the speech understanding test are used to create a prescription and program the hearing aids.
       
      There are essentially three levels of hearing aid technology: analog, programmable and digital. And, there are many styles and sizes of hearing aids available from a variety of manufacturers.
       
      The degree of the hearing loss, power and options required, manual dexterity abilities, cost factors and cosmetic concerns are some of the factors that will determine the style of hearing aid a patient will use.
       

      Hearing Aid Styles 

      • Open fit hearing aids are similar in style to behind-the-ear (BTE ) aids in that a shell sits above your ear and a wire travels down from there into your ear canal, but that's where the similarities end. Open fit BTEs are much newer technology – the shell above the ear is much smaller and the whole aid is lighter. The earpiece of an open fit hearing aid is a small, soft rubber cap, which is much more comfortable than the tightly fitting earpieces of BTEs, completely-in-the-canal (CICs) aids, etc.

      • In-the-ear (ITE) hearing aids are custom designed and fit directly into your ear, filling most of the visible portion of your ear. All of the components are housed within a single plastic shell. They have no external wires or tubes and are very light in weight.
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      • In-the-canal (ITC) hearing aids are custom designed, smaller in size and fit more deeply into the ear canal than in-the-ear hearing (ITE) aids. They have a wide cosmetic appeal because they are less visible than ITE aids. Because they are smaller in size, however, they can only be used by people with mild to moderate hearing loss.

      • Completely-in-the-canal (CIC) hearing aids are also custom designed. They fit the deepest into the ear canal, so they are the least visible and most cosmetically appealing. The battery life for this style is rather short because the battery is so small. The aid's size can also make it difficult to manipulate, particularly for people who have trouble with finger and hand dexterity (such as from arthritis).

      • Behind-the-ear (BTE) hearing aids are housed in a curved case that fits neatly and comfortably behind or over your ear. A custom ear mold is made to the exact shape of your ear. The custom ear mold is used to direct the sound from the hearing aid into your ear and to secure the hearing aid in place.

      • Learn More About Hearing Loss From a Warren Clinic Otolaryngologist

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