When it is time for a hearing aid you can go to an audiologist or a hearing instrument specialist. An audiologist is a licensed and certified professional who has earned a doctoral degree in the field of audiology. They are trained to diagnose and treat hearing and balance disorders, perform comprehensive hearing evaluations, fit hearing devices and counsel patients and their families on communication strategies.
While hearing instrument specialists are required to have only completed high school or, in some states, possess a two-year degree. They must pass a written and practical exam to earn a state license. They are trained solely in the interpretation of hearing assessment instrumentation, hearing device electronics and specifications, and programming hearing aids.
At Ear, Nose and Throat Surgical Associates, in Appleton, we employs only audiologists to identify, diagnose and treat hearing related issues. This ensures our patients receive the finest care possible.
A hearing aid is the most popular treatment for hearing loss. Over the years, hearing aids have evolved beyond anything you may remember your parents or grandparents using. The hearing aids on the market now are complex electronic devices produced by a number of world-class manufacturers. While deciding upon the right one may seem daunting, you do not have to take on this challenge alone.
The audiologists at Ear, Nose and Throat Associates will work with you every step of the way. Please contact our office at (920) 734-7181 to start your journey toward better hearing.
Choosing a hearing aid is a big decision. You will need to take your hearing lifestyle, budget, personal aesthetic and desire for additional features into consideration.
There are four types of hearing lifestyles: private, quiet, active and dynamic. Each hearing lifestyle requires a different level of hearing aid technology. Determining your correct lifestyle ensures you do not purchase a device that is more or less sophisticated than you need.
A private lifestyle is for those that lead a relatively calm and quiet lifestyle. Their hearing aids only needs to deal with minimal background noise and must ensure the user can hear quiet conversations, doorbells and alarms. Those with this lifestyle require an economy treatment plan with limited technology.
If you fall under the quiet hearing lifestyle your hearing aids will need to work with occasional background noise. Those with a quiet lifestyle will need their hearing aids to use the telephone, attend small family gatherings and eat in quiet restaurants. They will need slightly more sophisticated hearing aids than those with a private style.
An active lifestyle involves a moderate level of background noise. Hearing aids for this lifestyle must provide excellent flexibility and performance in a variety of listening environments. Those in this category take part in small group meetings and frequent movie theaters and shopping malls. Individuals with this style require an advanced treatment plan with a hearing aids that contains more technology and many additional features.
Dynamic is the most advanced lifestyle. Those who fall into this category experience frequent background noise and need their hearing aids while they participate in outdoor activities, eat in busy restaurants and participate in frequent social gatherings. They are often in demanding listening environments, which means their hearing aids needs to keep up.
Once you have determined which hearing lifestyle fits you, you will then need to decide what style of hearing aid you want.
There are six major styles of hearing aids. Each has its advantages and disadvantages. You and your audiologist will work together to determine which style is right for your type and degree of hearing loss.
This is the smallest and most discrete style of hearing aid, as it sits within the ear canal. Since this is the smallest device it uses the smallest battery, which has the shortest battery life. This size also prevents the device from containing any additional features. Adults with mild to moderate hearing loss are able to use this style.
This model sits half within the ear canal and half outside. It is slightly larger than the CIC model, which means it is able to use a slightly larger battery and contains a few additional features. This model can be used by adults with mild to moderate hearing loss.
This style comes in two varieties, one that takes up the whole outer ear (called full shell) and one that only takes up half of the outer ear (called half shell). This type is larger than the ITE style, which means it has a longer battery life and can contain even more additional features. This device can be used by those with mild to severe hearing loss.
This is the largest and most visible style of hearing aid. This style contains two parts; one that sits within the ear canal and one that sits behind the ear. The parts are connected with tubing. This model has the longest battery life and includes the most additional features. This style works for all ages and types of hearing loss.
This style is very similar to the BTE; it has two pieces but instead of being connected with tubing they are connected with a thin wire. This creates a more discrete hearing aid with just as much battery power and additional features as the BTE model.
This style is similar to the RIC. It contains two parts, which are connected with a thin wire. Unlike the RIC style, the piece that sits in the ear canal leaves most of the ear canal open. This allows low-frequency sounds to enter the ear naturally while the higher frequency sounds must still be processed by the hearing aid. This style is ideal for those with mild to moderate hearing loss.
Hearing aid accessories enable you to get more from your hearing aids. These devices can be used to help extend your hearing aid’s reach, help with intimate conversations and can even help you watch television with your loved one.
A telecoil (t-coil) is an important part of the hearing aid as it enables you to connect with a number of accessories. A t-coil is a coil of wire that works as a miniature wireless receiver. Most modern hearing aids come t-coil enabled. The t-coil is able to pick up electromagnetic signals from various systems and turn those signals back into sound within your hearing aid.
A hearing loop is needed to transmit the electromagnet energy to the t-coil. The hearing loop is made up of four parts: a sound source, an amplifier, a thin loop of wire that surrounds the room and a t-coil enabled hearing aid. As long as the user is within the wire loop, the sound picked up by the amplifier is passed directly into your hearing aid, eliminating any distracting background noise. Hearing loops can be found in theaters, churches and conference centers.
FM systems use radio signals to transmit sound. The speaker must wear a small microphone connected to a transmitter, which broadcasts to a receiver worn by the individual with hearing loss. T-coil enabled hearing aids work as FM receivers. This system is used primarily in classrooms.
An infrared system uses infrared light to transmit sound. A transmitter converts sound into light which is sent to the t-coil enabled hearing aid. Since light cannot pass through walls, this system is ideal for locations where confidential information is being discussed, such as a courtroom.
Bluetooth® enabled hearing aids allow the user to wirelessly connect with most of their electronic devices. This means the user can have the sound from the television, cell phone or personal music player directly broadcast into their hearing aid, thus eliminating distracting background noises. More electronics than ever come Bluetooth enabled.
Small, individual microphones are a popular accessory. The microphone can be clipped to the shirt or worn around the neck of your conversation partner. Everything they say will be wirelessly broadcast directly into your hearing aids. This is especially helpful if you are having a conversation in a noisy restaurant, as the background noise can be distracting.
Pocket-sized remote controls are helpful for those who find it challenging to fiddle with the small buttons and dials on a hearing aid. You are able to adjust almost every setting on the hearing aids with just a click of a button, and can even mute the devices.
A hearing aid is your gateway to the hearing word. It helps you regain your independence and participatie in social activities that you may have shied away from before you sought treatment for your hearing loss.
Daily Battery Check
Hearing aid batteries contain zinc and behave differently than the traditional mercury batteries you are used to. Zinc batteries will go from seemingly full to dead in an instant, so just because your hearing aid was working fine in the morning does not mean it will last all day. To ensure this does not happen you should check your batteries every morning with a battery tester. You should also carry additional batteries with you, just to be safe.
If your hearing aid is weak or dead
If the sound from your hearing aid is distorted
If your hearing aid squeals or whistles
The best way to ensure your hearing aids continue to work is to schedule follow-up visits every six months. This gives your audiologist a chance to professionally clean the hearing aids. Your audiologist will also be able to fine-tune the hearing aids to ensure they are working well with your degree of hearing loss.
If you are still having problems with your hearing aid, contact our offices at (920) 734-7181 to schedule an appointment.
Wearing a hearing aids for the first time takes a little getting used to. You should not expect to put the hearing aids on and immediately hear as well as you used to be able to. If you follow these tips you will help your brain get used to the devices faster.
If you are in an uncomfortable or challenging listening environment, write it down. All information gathered within your 45-day adjustment period can be used by your audiologist to fine-tune the hearing aids at your first follow-up visit. Incorporate your hearing aids into your daily routine. Just like brushing your teeth, soon caring for and using your hearing aids will become second nature.