Hearing Aids

Hearing Aid Hickory NC | Lincolnton NC | Morganton NCHearing aids are a common non-invasive treatment option for hearing loss. A hearing aid is a small electronic device that is worn in or behind your ear and amplifies sounds so they can be heard better and listening and communicating with others is made simpler. The device consists of a microphone, amplifier and speaker. The sounds are received through the microphone and then increased in power by the amplifier, which then sends the signals to the ear through a speaker.

Hearing aids magnify sounds based on the severity of a patient's hearing loss. Hair cells within the ear detect these magnified sounds and convert them into signals to pass to the brain. There is a limit on how much amplification can be given to sounds, so hearing aids are not for everyone.

There are 3 basics of hearing aids that vary in size, placement and degree of amplification. Determining which is best for you depends on the severity of your hearing loss.

Hearing Aid Hickory NC | Lincolnton NC | Morganton NC

  • Behind the ear (BTE) - These hearing aids are worn behind the ear and connected to a plastic mold that is placed inside the outer ear and are used by people with mild to profound hearing loss. New technology has introduced a smaller BTE aid that only places a small tube into the ear canal, keeping the canal open and keeping the device from being damaged by wax buildup. It also provides a clearer sound.
  • In the ear (ITE) - These hearing aids are smaller devices that fit inside the outer ear. They can be used for mild to severe hearing loss but are not typically used for children because the device will be too small as ears grow.
  • Canal - Canal aids are the smallest type of aid and fit either in the canal (ITC) or completely in the canal (CIC). Since they are so small, they may be hard to adjust and do not have extra space for batteries and other devices. Therefore, canal aids are recommended for people with mild to moderate hearing loss.

Aside from the different types, hearing aids also work in different ways depending on how they are programmed electronically. 

Analog - These aids convert the sound waves into electrical signals which are then amplified and transmitted back to the ear. They can be custom made to fit each patient's hearing needs. They can also be customized for different listening environments and can be changed by the patient. Analog aids can be used in any type of hearing aid.

Digital - Digital hearing aids have superior features compared to analog aids. They convert the sound waves into numerical codes and then amplify them based the patient's hearing loss and sound environment.  Digital aids can also be programmed to focus on sounds coming from a certain direction.  This helps reduce background noise to allow the wearer better understanding in noisy situations. These aids tend to be the most flexible and deliver the best results for the patient compared to analog.

Frequently Asked Questions about Hearing Aids - Want more information about hearing aids?  These Hearing Aid FAQs are a great resource from the American Academy of Audiology for patients considering the purchase of hearing aids.

Are Hearing Aids Worth It?

Research shows that the rewards of hearing aids can be substantial. In fact, identifying and addressing hearing loss has been shown to positively influence virtually every aspect of an individual’s life, helping people personally, professionally and even financially.

New technological advances have revolutionized hearing aids in recent years. Today’s hearing aids can automatically adjust to all kinds of sound environments and filter out noise. Many are virtually invisible, sitting discreetly and comfortably inside the ear canal. Some are even waterproof, and others are rechargeable. Best of all, many are wireless, so you can stream sound from smartphones, home entertainment systems and other electronics directly into your hearing aid(s) at volumes just right for you.

When it comes to the purchase of personal items that enhance your life, there’s more than one way to measure value. Here are six ways that investing in professionally fitted hearing aids—if recommended by a hearing care professional following a comprehensive hearing evaluation—could bring you a greater return on your investment than you ever imagined.

Unleash your earning potential. Using hearing aids reduced the risk of income loss by 90-100 percent for those with milder hearing loss, and from 65-77 percent for those with severe to moderate hearing loss, according to a Better Hearing Institute (BHI) study. People with untreated hearing loss lost as much as $30,000 in income annually, the study showed.

Maintain your cognitive function. Research shows a link between hearing loss and dementia, leading experts to believe that interventions, like hearing aids, could potentially delay or prevent dementia. Research is ongoing.

Keep you on your feet. A Johns Hopkins study showed that people in middle age (40-69) with even just mild hearing loss were nearly three times more likely to have a history of falling. The intensive listening effort demanded by unaddressed hearing loss may take cognitive resources away from what is needed for balance and gait, experts have suggested.

Relieve stress and lift your mood. When people with hearing loss use hearing aids, many feel more in control of their lives and less self-critical, Better Hearing Institute research shows. One study found that the majority of people with mild and severe hearing loss felt better about themselves and life overall as a result of using hearing aids.

Tame that ringing in your ears. Hearing aids can help reduce the prominence of tinnitus by amplifying background sound. Just taking the focus off the tinnitus can provide relief for many people. Hearing aids also reduce the stress associated with intensive listening, which alone can help relieve tinnitus symptoms.

Strengthen your relationships. Research shows that using hearing aids can help improve interpersonal relationships. In one BHI study of people with hearing loss, more than half of the respondents said using hearing aids improved their relationships at home, their social lives and their ability to join in groups. Many even saw improvements in their romantic lives.

Addressing hearing loss really is a smart buying decision!

Make the investment in your life today by calling our offices to set up an appointment with one of our Certified and Licensed Audiologists:  Julie Lorhman, Au.D., CCC-AJulie A. Palazzolo, M.A., CCC-A or Sara C. Mooney, Au.D.

To learn more about our Ear, Nose & Throat and Head & Neck Surgery Services, please contact us today to schedule an appointment!