What is a Hearing
Aid?

A hearing aid is an electronic assistive device that is most often...
worn behind, or in the ear and basically consists of a microphone, a receiver (i.e. loudspeaker) and an amplifier microchip powered by a tiny battery. Thanks to recent developments in digital technology and advanced electronic design, today’s hearing aids can be so small that they are virtually invisible in the ear canal. Despite their small size, there is no compromise in the quality of sound reproduction, which is transmitted with the clarity of a CD recording. Although a hearing aid may not provide its wearer with completely “normal” hearing, it should be able to provide considerable benefit in overcoming the effects of a hearing loss. One of the biggest problems for hearing aid users is the disturbing effect of background noise. The computer chips in today’s most advanced digital hearing aids are able to reduce noise effectively and enhance speech by adjusting the sound smoothly and automatically.
hearing-aid-devices

Myths about Hearing Aids

There is still a great deal of misunderstanding about...
using hearing aids. Many people still believe:

  • That hearing aids are big and clumsy
  • That they continuously whistle
  • That they need a remote control as big as those used for TV
  • That they are difficult to operate and maintain.

Fortunately, none of the above is the case.

The smallest hearing aids on the market today are not much bigger than a coffee bean and problems with feedback whistling have been considerably reduced. Most hearing aids have automatic functions and are individually programmed for people’s specific needs, so operating them is very easy. Maintaining the earmould is also straightforward, when using the cleaning tools supplied with the hearing aids.

The Different Types of Hearing Aids

There are three main types of hearing aids in use today...
behind-the-ear, in-the-ear and completely-in-canal.

1. Behind-the-ear (BTE) Hearing Aids

Behind-the-ear hearing aids consist of a plastic casing containing the electronics, from which the amplified sound is fed through a clear plastic tube to an earmould. The ear hook on the behind-the-ear hearing aid connects to this tube, which itself forms the connection to the custom made earmould worn in the user’s ear. It is very important that the earmould fits well and is placed correctly in the ear, so the user obtains the best possible performance from the hearing aid and avoids acoustic feedback (whistling). The tube must also be adjusted to the correct length and be soft and pliable. Volume is adjusted either automatically, or with a manual volume control in the form of a small lever or wheel. Most BTE models also have a “T” switch to select the tele coil mode, for receiving sounds transmitted from an induction loop (see Alternative Assistive Listening Devices). On some models, the battery compartment has a built-in on/off switch; on others the on/off function is combined with the “T” switch. Behind-the-ear hearing aids are available in a wide range of types and performance levels. High power hearing aids help people with severe hearing losses. Hearing aids with directional microphones make it easier for the user to hear speech in background noise, as they amplify sound coming from the front of the user more than unwanted sounds coming from behind. Some models are equipped with a remote control for selecting different listening programs in different sound environments, while others accomplish this automatically.

2. In-the-Ear (ITE) Hearing Aids

Unlike behind-the-ear hearing aids, in-the-ear hearing aids are placed inside the ear and consist of only one part (the shell) into which the electronics are built. The shell is custom-made from an impression of the user’s ear canal. This type of hearing aid is often 100% automatically controlled, but on some models it is possible to adjust the volume manually by means of a small lever or wheel. The battery compartment on some ITE aids has a built-in on/off switch and on others the on/off function is combined with the volume control. Others the on/off function is combined with the volume control. ITE models can usually be ordered with a “T” switch (space permitting) to select the tele coil mode, for receiving sounds transmitted from an induction loop.

3. Completely-in-Canal (CIC) Hearing Aids

As the name indicates, these kinds of hearing aids are placed deeply within the ear canal. Despite the small size, this hearing aid type contains the latest technology of equal quality to larger models. They are almost invisible in the ear, so nobody can see you are wearing hearing aids. The position of CIC aids deeper in the ear canal provides certain natural acoustical advantages. These diminish problems with wind noise; make it easier to speak on the telephone using a normal handset and also help to determine from which direction sounds are coming. The CIC is usually fully automatic and has no space for any additional manual controls. The battery is located in the lid of the CIC, which also functions as its on/off switch. It is not possible to incorporate a tele coil into a CIC model. Although hearing aids cannot restore your original hearing ability, they can make the most of your remaining hearing ability. They may also be your way back to active life, where you do not have to make a constant effort to hear. The latest technology has brought us much closer to the goal of offering total compensation for each individual hearing loss.

Behind
The
Ear (BTE)

In The Ear (ITE) &
Completely In
Canal (CIC)

Communication
...
...

The ability to communicate is likely to be affected when a person has...
hearing difficulties. Communication is a basic need for all of us, so it is important to remember that good communication requires the efforts of at least two people. It is consequently very important that you play your part in ensuring optimum communication when you are together with hearing impaired people. This link contains some helpful advice and tips for communicating with hearing aid users and people with hearing difficulties.

Becoming accustomed to hearing aids

It is a great advantage to have some knowledge about hearing...
aids when someone close to you is a hearing aid user. Many people commonly believe that hearing aids can completely restore people’s hearing, but this is, unfortunately, an exaggeration. Hearing aids are an invaluable help to hearing impaired people, but first-time users usually need time to adjust. The overall sound of the world around them is changed, their own voice sounds different, and sounds that have been “lost” for years may now be heard again. It takes the time to become accustomed to hearing aids, but the support of family members, friends and colleagues can make a big difference.

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