Hearing aids are small electronic devices worn in the ear that amplify sound. Originally invented in 1898, these devices have been life-changing for patients with low-to-moderate hearing loss for more than a century.
Hearing aids make social situations less confusing and more enjoyable for those with hearing difficulties. They also enable patients to participate in many “hearing” activities such as talking on the phone, listening to music, and watching videos without additional support.
Still, purchasing a hearing aid for the first time might seem overwhelming. Deciphering medical jargon and learning about the different features and styles available can be time-consuming and make it difficult to find the right option for your specific needs.
In this blog, we’ll break down the benefits of hearing aids. We’ll also discuss the different types of hearing loss solutions available to help you find the right choice.
How Do Hearing Aids Work?
Hearing aids are sophisticated devices that improve hearing by amplifying sounds in the patient’s ear. They consist of a microphone, an amplifier, and a speaker.
The microphone picks up external sounds and converts them into electrical signals. These signals are then sent to the amplifier, which boosts their strength. Finally, the amplified signals are transformed back into sound waves by the speaker and delivered into the ear.
Modern hearing aids are digital, so they can be programmed to amplify specific frequencies more than others. This allows patients to adjust their hearing aids to match their unique hearing loss profile.
Hearing aids don’t just make sounds louder—they also enhance clarity and improve the patient’s ability to interpret sounds. These devices also adjust to your settings in real time, whether you’re in a quiet room or a noisy public space. Many hearing aids even filter out background noise to focus on speech, making conversation easier.
Types of Hearing Aids
Hearing aids aren’t one-size-fits-all devices. There are many different hearing aid styles to choose from, depending on the type of hearing loss you have.
Here are the primary types of hearing aids and how they work.
1) Behind-the-Ear Hearing Aids (BTE)
BTE hearing aids are one of the most popular choices available due to their versatility. They sit in a small plastic case behind the ear and are connected to an earpiece. These work well for many different types of hearing loss.
2) In-the-Ear Hearing Aids (ITE)
ITE hearing aids sit entirely inside the outer ear, making them less visible than BTE options. They work well for mild to severe hearing loss and are easier to use than smaller versions that sit in the ear canal.
3) In-the-Canal Hearing Aids (ITC)
These hearing aids are molded to fit inside your ear canal, rather than sitting in your outer ear. Many patients prefer them because they are less visible than BTE or ITE hearing aids.
However, they only work best for mild-to-moderate hearing loss because they aren’t as powerful as other options.
4) Completely-in-Canal Hearing Aids (CIC)
These hearing aids sit entirely in the ear canal, which makes them nearly invisible. They are best for mild hearing loss and may not come with advanced features.
5) Receiver-in-Canal Hearing Aids (RIC)
RIC hearing aids are similar to BTE hearing aids, with a piece that sits behind the ear and a smaller earpiece in the ear canal. These hearing aids provide high-quality sound and work best for mild to moderate hearing loss.
6) Receiver-in-Ear Hearing Aids (RIE)
This is a variant of the RIC hearing aid where the earpiece sits in the outer ear instead of in the ear canal.
The Benefits of Hearing Aids
✓ Improved Communication Abilities
Hearing difficulties often make communication tricky in day-to-day life. Hearing aids help you better understand conversions, which helps both social and professional interactions run more smoothly. With hearing loss solutions, you won’t have to strain to hear what others are saying and can avoid many misunderstandings.
✓ Enhanced Quality of Life
Hearing aids open up a world of opportunities and help you live your life to the fullest. With hearing aids, you can experience everything from the joy of listening to music to the subtleties of a movie’s dialogue to the simple pleasure of hearing birds sing. Activities like social gatherings and live shows become accessible and enjoyable again for a true quality of life enhancement.
✓ Cognitive Health
Research indicates a strong correlation between untreated hearing loss and cognitive decline, which includes risks for conditions like dementia. Hearing aids mitigate this risk by keeping both your auditory nerves and your brain engaged. They also ensure your brain doesn’t have to work overtime to interpret sounds, preserving mental acuity.
✓ Safety and Awareness
Using hearing loss solutions enhances your situational awareness and helps keep you safe. With improved hearing, you’ll be more likely to detect and respond to environmental cues like car horns, fire alarms, public announcements, and more. This heightened awareness is critical for long-term safety.
✓ Emotional Well-Being
Untreated hearing loss often leads to feelings of isolation, depression, and anxiety. Hearing aids help combat these issues by reconnecting you with your loved ones and your environment. This increased social engagement will have a significant positive effect on your well-being, making you more confident and less prone to withdrawal.
How to Get a Hearing Aid
The first step to getting a hearing aid is a professional evaluation with an audiologist. Your healthcare provider can refer you to an audiologist if you don’t have one already.
This evaluation includes a comprehensive hearing assessment, which consists of a series of tests that measure different aspects of your hearing. The audiologist will assess things like tone, speech comprehension, and even your ear’s response to different frequencies.
With this data, your audiologist will diagnose the type and degree of your hearing loss. Each person’s hearing loss is unique, and a correct diagnosis will help you find the right hearing aids for your needs. A well-fitted hearing aid will provide the best possible sound quality and prevent discomfort.
Hearing aids are a significant investment, but many insurance plans provide partial or full coverage. There are also alternative financing options available to make them more accessible.
Recent legislation allows customers with perceived mild-to-moderate hearing loss to purchase over-the-counter hearing aids at the pharmacy. These hearing aids are not intended for patients with severe hearing loss or patients under the age of 18. It’s still best to consult with hearing professionals to help you find the best hearing aids for your specific needs.
Learn More About Hearing Aids – Visit Klingensmith’s
If you’re interested in hearing aids, visit your local Klingensmith’s Drug Store or visit our Rx Hearing page. We carry a wide range of options to suit your needs and preferences, and we offer free in-store hearing tests to help you find the correct model.
Our stores are conveniently located throughout Western Pennsylvania. If you have questions about our hearing aids, don’t hesitate to ask our staff or pharmacists—we’re here to help you hear (and live) better.