At one end of the spectrum, hearing loss creates extreme frustration; at the other end it causes isolation, depression and the inability to enjoy daily life. The Hearing Loss Association of America (HLAA) says that 20 percent of American adults, about 48 million of us, report some type of hearing loss. Loud music, head phones and noisy professions have become the great equalizers when it comes to hearing loss, and it now affects people of all ages- not just the elderly.
The problem is that unless you are born with hearing loss, it sneaks up on you over time. It reveals itself so gradually that you may not realize it’s a problem. Do these things sound familiar to you?
- You hear yourself asking “What?” more often in conversations
- You think people are mumbling when they speak
- You can’t hear the end of sentences when you are watching television
- Hearing conversations while in a noisy restaurant is challenging
Those are the first, and very common, indications of hearing loss. We realize it’s hard to acknowledge that you can’t hear as well as you once could. However, once you recognize it, treatment is usually easy and new hearing aid technology restores hearing in ways that match the digital age in which we live. But before we jump to that, let’s quickly look at exactly what causes your hearing to fade over time.
There are three types of hearing loss
- Conductive hearing loss
- Sensorineural hearing loss, and
- Mixed hearing loss
You can watch a brief video that describes each hearing loss type on our website.
Conductive loss occurs when sound waves are not conducted properly from the outer ear through to the middle ear. Sensorineural hearing loss occurs when there are nerve problems in the inner ear caused by issues ranging from exposure to loud noise to tumors. Mixed hearing loss is a combination of the two and involves problems with the outer, middle and inner ear. Why does that matter? Because hearing loss needs to be diagnosed precisely in order to determine the causes and whether it is mild or severe, temporary or permanent.
The youngest of us can suffer from hearing loss
The HLAA says nearly 15% of school age children between the ages of 6 and 19 have some degree of hearing loss. If you are concerned that your children cannot hear well, have one of our audiologists perform a hearing exam. It’s better to know that they have selective hearing rather than impaired hearing!
Hearing loss can be masked by other seemingly un-related symptoms
Hearing loss can look like other things. A family member may suddenly seem aloof, confused, or exhibit personality changes. Or an older friend may not respond to conversations, appear distracted or may even seem to exhibit symptoms consistent with the early signs of dementia. These types of behavioral changes may in fact be the result of hearing loss, and an audiologist should be consulted before other health assumptions are made. If a person does indeed suffer from dementia, hearing loss exacerbates the disease, increasing confusion and agitation and limiting essential socialization. Even those with chronic diseases and cognitive disabilities benefit from good hearing, sharing conversations, and thus a better quality of life.
Hearing aids for the digital age
These aren’t your grandmother’s hearing aids- far from it. Live Science covers new technology and recently reported on the newest generation of hearing aids that are Bluetooth enabled. They connect wirelessly to smart phones, iPhone®, iPad®, iPod touch® or an Apple Watch® and enable the wearer to hear a phone conversation directly through the hearing aid without needing to hold the phone or mobile device against the ear. Hearing Review reports on ongoing research into hearing aid technology, including efforts to produce a pure sound signal for the brain to decode, and restore the ability to hear high frequency sounds that were previously out of reach for hearing aids.
Selecting the best hearing aid for you is a matter of finding the best amplification to address your specific type of hearing loss. Aesthetically, the majority of hearing aids today are vastly improved from the clunky ones of old. Some hearing aid styles are designed to be hidden (CIC’s – completely-in-canal, and ITE’s – in-the-ear hearing aids) when worn and incorporate advanced technology like micro computer chips, distortion free signals and clear, amplified sounds. They are also self-adjusting so that the sound is transmitted to specifically match your pattern of hearing loss.
We offer a wide range of hearing aid models and styles and our audiologists will find the right one for you. In fact, they will match the hearing aid to the details of your daily life. After discussing your daily activities and lifestyle with you, we will help you determine the appropriate make, model, and style of hearing aid then program it for your listening environments, i.e., quiet conversations at home, dinners in noisy restaurants and movie theaters.
There are eight (8) common hearing aid styles
1: Made for iPhone
As described above, these hearing aids connect directly to your iPhone®, iPad®, iPod touch® or Apple Watch®.
2: Invisible Products
These are placed in the second bend of the ear canal and are most effective for mild to moderately severe hearing loss.
3: RIC (Receiver-In-Canal)
This type of hearing aid is placed on the outside of the ear while the receiver is placed inside. It is used for mild to severe hearing loss.
4: CIC (Completely-In-Canal)
This hearing aid is placed entirely in the ear canal. Only the tiny removal handle is apparent. It is used for mild to moderately severe hearing loss. We also offer Custom Wireless Micro CIC.
5: BTE (Behind-The-Ear)
This is the most common hearing aid style and the entire apparatus sits behind the ear. It is used for moderate to severe hearing loss. We offer a variety of models including Slim Tube and Super Power BTE.
6: ITC (In-The-Canal)
This is similar to the CIC style, with the slight difference that a little more of the hearing aid shows outside the ear. It is used for mild to mildly severe hearing loss. We also offer the ITC HS model, which stands for In-the-Canal, Half Shelf.
7: ITE (In-The-Ear)
This style fits the outer portion of the ear. It is not as transparent as the CIC or ITC but can be more inconspicuous than the RIC or BTE styles. It is used for mild to severe hearing loss.
These hearing aids are designed to deliver relief from ringing in the ears and look like the RIC model.
The holidays are here with parties and large family gatherings. It’s time for you to enjoy them, instead of struggling to participate in conversations. Our audiologists will find the best hearing aid to address your hearing loss so that you can hear all the wonderful sounds of life that you have been missing.