It is estimated that 25% of people over the age of 64 have hearing loss, and that number increases the older people get. The first question we get at Hearing Solutions from people with moderate hearing loss is, “Do I need hearing aids?” The answer depends on several factors like the amount of loss, type of loss and how much it affects your everyday life.
Hearing aids are tiny computers with the power to enable better hearing in most hearing environments. Some are small enough to fit completely in the ear canal while others have power amplifiers behind the ear. Again, the choice of an individual device depends on your needs.
Styles of Hearing Aids
There are several styles of hearing aids that vary in size, where they are worn and capability. The most common include:
- In the ear (ITE): ITE hearing aids are powerful and offer many features. The ITE is an electric amplifier in an earmold that fits the outer ear.
- Invisible in canal (IIC): IIC hearing devices are the smallest and lightest available, providing the most privacy in terms of aesthetics.
- Completely in canal (CIC): CIC aids are slightly larger than IIC but remain small and powerful, and nearly invisible.
- In the ear (ITE): An ITE device is available with both half and full-shell earmold and is custom made to fit the outer ear. The electronics and battery are inserted in the shell and fit to the patient.
- Behind the ear (BTE): Sometimes, it is necessary to put the electronics and battery in a compartment that sits behind the ear. In this device, a tube runs to the amplifier in the ear canal. The controls and battery are easier to use than smaller devices.
- Receiver in the ear (RITE): RITE hearing aids offer a smaller behind the ear electronics package because the sound receiver is in the ear canal.
Custom Earmolds and Earplugs
Earmolds are made for the individual ear from a soft plastic mold of your ear. Each is unique and is used to comfortably and securely hold the electronic parts of your hearing aid. Custom earplugs are designed to allow no sound or some specific sounds through to the eardrum. Some hearing aids today are as small as earplugs, fitting inside the ear canal. These are made from a soft mold of the inside of your ear canal.
The development of hearing protection products increased as better materials became available for their manufacture. Extremely light but durable plastics, both hard and soft textures, are now used for hearing protection in virtually any environment including the deep sea.
Here are some specialized hearing protectors:
- Shooting/hunting: The sharp report of gunfire is damaging to the ears. Earplugs designed to protect against this concussive noise have a filter that instantly closes to the vibration of this sound wave but allows the wearer to hear normal sound when the filter is open.
- Driving/racing: Driving loud vehicles like sports cars or motorcycles, or attending racetracks puts hearing at risk. Earplugs designed specifically for motorsports have channels so they can be worn under helmets with less wind resistance.
- Music: Today’s music venues are loud and concussive. Earplugs designed for musicians and venue workers allow most frequencies of sound waves to come through in a reduced volume, while further restricting loud, piercing or concussive sound from the stage.
- Swimming and diving: Keeping water from the ear canal is an important way to protect hearing. Surfing and diving can result in the violent force of water into the ear, and these products also protect against cold and wind.
- Industrial: Earplugs designed for industrial and manufacturing plants have varying degrees of protection and open hearing ports depending on the level of noise.
Hearing Aid Products and Accessories by Manufacturer
Bluetooth Hearing Aids
Hearing devices are equipped with some amazing technology. Some have Bluetooth wireless connections for a cell phone or computer. Answering phones is one of the difficult tasks people with hearing loss encounter daily. With Bluetooth, the phone call connects directly to your hearing aid. Other uses of Bluetooth include connecting to TV and computer soundbars that enable more straightforward use of those items.
Cell phone accessories
There are a variety of cell phone accessories that can help everyday living become easier. Amplifiers, visual signaling devices and vibrating alerts all serve the purpose.
Oticon Company is dedicated to “people first,” and they offer products that enable people to hear all the sounds in their environment, based on a technology of “BrainHearing” that mimics the way the brain interprets these sounds.
This company wants to keep its products as simple as possible for users and fitters, and still offer the best sound amplification possible. Phonak says that “life is on for everyone” using their sound technology products.
Rechargeable Hearing Aids
Along with an age of wireless communications came the small rechargeable battery. While some hearing aids are too small for this advantage, most hearing aids are now available in a rechargeable version. This eliminates the problem of handling small batteries and fitting them into your hearing aid carriage. Rechargeable batteries last years and many devices recharge simply by returning them to their case which is plugged in through a USB connection.
ReSound makes products featuring the latest technological advances that “make life sound better.” With Smart Hearing products and apps, ReSound strives to make all your listening experience as natural as possible.
With Signia products, “life sounds brilliant.” The company leads in wireless technology and rechargeable hearing products. The connected hearing aid includes apps for tracking and controlling your device.
Westone provides hearing products that enhance your hearing aid experience. They offer protectors, earpieces and accessories. Westone wants every customer to be completely satisfied and help with any hearing questions.