Hearing aids can effectively help approximately 90 percent of people who have some degree of hearing loss. Results will depend on several factors, including the type and degree of hearing loss and how much the willingness of the patient to follow usage guidelines. It usually takes several weeks to see improvements with hearing as adjustments to settings are made and the patient becomes accustomed to wearing the device.
Choosing the Right Hearing Solution
Selecting an appropriate hearing aid will involve a thorough assessment of a patient’s degree of hearing loss. Lifestyle preferences will also be taken into consideration to ensure that hearing needs are met with the recommended device. Properly adjusted hearing aids in both ears produce better results. Features often include:
- Directional microphone systems
- Digital/automatic sound processing
- Feedback cancellation
- Wireless technology
- Remote adjustments and control
- Multiple listing programs
Custom and Non-Custom Hearing Aids
There are three primary types of custom hearing aids: CIC, ITC, and ITE, while Behind-the-ear (BTE) hearing aids are non-custom hearing aids, although such devices can still be adjusted to meet the wearer’s hearing needs.
CIC (Completely-in-the-Canal): CIC hearing aids are especially appealing because they are the smallest device available. CIC devices correct mild-to-severe hearing loss. Some programming options may not be available. Good dexterity is required to insert and change the batteries.
ITC (In-the-Canal): Resting on the lower portion of the outer ear, ITC hearing aids are easier to manipulate than CIC devices. This product is recommended for mild-to-moderately-severe hearing loss. More programming options are available.
ITE (In-the-Ear/Full Shell): Positioned entirely within the ear, ITE hearing aids offer an assortment of features. These devices are recommended for the correction of mild-to-severe hearing loss.
BTE (Behind-the-Ear): Attached to the ear with a custom mold, BTE hearing aids can correct all types of hearing loss. A variety of styles are available.
Technology Specific to Needs
Hearing aid technology can be broken down as basic, advanced, superior, and premium. While price may play a role in a patient’s determination of what level of technology they prefer, lifestyle should also be considered in terms of:
- Degree of activity
- Typical level of background noise exposure
- Specific areas of interest (e.g., a musician would likely want more precise hearing capabilities)
Hearing aids won’t necessarily restore hearing back to normal. Still, hearing aid technology has advanced to the point where many patients who wear such devices often enjoy much better hearing along with an improved ability to communicate and go about daily activities without significant issues. An audiologist will help a patient make a well-informed decision based on their hearing needs.