When it comes to hearing loss, hearing aids are the most used treatment – and that is because, in most cases, they work quite well. These days, hearing aids are available in a range of styles and have all sorts of technology and functions that simply were not available in times gone by.

According to the Johns Hopkins Cochlear Center for Hearing and Public Health, approximately 38.2 million Americans report some degree of hearing loss. A significant number of these people will opt for hearing aids to give them the best possible chance of leading a high-quality life without further decline or cognitive impairment, which is common with hearing loss.

First off, what is a hearing aid?

Hearing aids are small electronic devices that can be extensively tailored to manage a wide range of hearing loss. All modern digital hearing aids include at least one microphone, which picks up sound, a computer chip which amplifies and processes the sound, a speaker which sends a signal to your ear and a battery which provides power. There are more sophisticated models on the market, which provide users with additional features – the ability to sync it to your smartphone or recharge batteries.

How do hearing aids support those with hearing loss?

A hearing aid works by amplifying the sounds that enter the ear. They are most used by those who have sensorineural hearing loss. This is a form of hearing loss where the tiny hair cells inside the inner ear are damaged. The undamaged hair cells pick up sounds delivered by the hearing aid and send them to the brain as neural signals via the auditory nerve. 

Hearing aids have different functions, depending on the type you go for. Most allow you to hear sounds more clearly, such as speech or hearing the doorbell ring. They will not necessarily give you perfect hearing, but enough to lead a life that is not impacted significantly by hearing loss. They also generally minimize background noise such as traffic, so that you can listen to more important and close-up noises better.  

Some hearing aids can give you assisted hearing in challenging environments, where noises are tuned into to help you hear the TV or join in with phone conversations. 

What are the different types of hearing aid available?

There are a few different types of hearing aid, but two of the most common are in-the-ear (ITE) and behind-the-ear (BTE). Which one is better for you is entirely dependent on the degree of your hearing loss and what you want to get out of it? ITE’s are smaller and more discreet – but with this comes smaller batteries and fewer features. They are also harder to hold and handle, which is important to bear in mind if you have dexterity issues. BTE’s fit directly behind the outer ear lobe and connect to the inner ear via a thin tube. These are generally larger and obvious but have more features. It is important to speak to your audiologist to find out which form of hearing aid is right for you.

Will you be able to hear immediately after having a hearing aid?

Many people wonder how long it takes to be able to hear normally after having hearing aids fitted and the answer is straight away – they are that effective. Your audiologist will do an initial fitting where they are adjusted and fine-tuned to make sure you are getting the maximum benefit from your hearing aid, although many users may need repeat visits to get it perfect. 

However, they do take some getting used to, particularly if you have lived with hearing loss for a while. Even if you have worn hearing aids for many years, a new one can take some time to adjust to. Persevere with them, and if you do feel like they are not working as well as they could be, speak to your audiologist as soon as possible to see where adjustments can be made. 

As a rule of thumb, it is thought that most people will have adjusted to wearing their hearing aids within a month of wearing them regularly in a range of situations and environments.

For more information about the different types of hearing aid available and how they work, get in touch with us at Siouxland Hearing Healthcare, P.L.C by calling us at (712) 266-3662.