As people age, a gradual but steady loss of hearing ability is commonplace. Experts believe that about 20% of the population aged 45 and older suffer from some kind of hearing loss. For people aged 65 or older, more than one third have some form of hearing loss and over half of people aged 75 or older report some kind of difficulty in hearing.
Losing the ability to hear properly can cause a number of problems. Hearing loss often causes people to minimize social interactions with others, and go out in public to restaurants or parties less often. Experts have also linked hearing loss anxiety, depression and to an increased risk in falling.
Thankfully, a number of high-quality hearing devices are now available on the market. Where once hearing aids were large, unsightly devices, today’s’ models come in a wide variety of styles and designs. Choosing a hearing aid requires considering a number of important factors. Some technologies are better for certain lifestyles and activities like driving or speaking on the telephone.
Understanding Hearing Aid Technology
In the past, hearing aids were like miniature speakers, amplifying the volume of everything around you, including background noise. Today’s hearing aids use digital technology, which can be programmed to filter out certain sounds like background noise, or tailored to specialized environments like a noisy party or restaurant.
Modern hearing aid styles vary by design and technology. Some of today’s hearing aids use special magnetic induction loops to transmit sound directly from an electronic device to the hearing aid. For example, the audio from a telephone or television can be piped directly into the hearing device, making them much more effective than previous models. Many hearing aids can be directly synced to computers and other gadgets via Bluetooth technology, allowing the wearer to effortlessly control the volume and other settings on their hearing aid.
Advances in technology mean that today’s hearing aids are also much smaller. Many models are designed to be discretely worn in the ear. Other models can be matched to your skin tone and the shape of your inner ear to create a virtually invisible appearance.
Many hearing aids come with special features, including:
- Digital Noise Reduction – Software algorithms help filter out wind and background noise.
- Smart Phone Volume Control – Allows you to adjust the amplification with the help of a smartphone. .
- Low Battery Warning – Warns you when the battery needs to be changed.
- Automatic Volume Control – Helps adjust sounds automatically
- Directional Microphones – Amplifies the sounds in front of you while reducing sound volume behind and to the side of you.
- Rechargeable Batteries – Instead of having to replace the battery, you can simply recharge the hearing aid at night or when it is not in use.
- Synchronization – If you wear two hearing aids, changes made to one aid will automatically be made on the other hearing device as well.
Hearing aid technology is always improving. In a year or two, there may be even more effective hearing technologies available, rendering your current hearing device obsolete. Ask your audiologist about the reasonable expected lifespan of your device so that you have a solid understanding of when it will need to be replaced or upgraded.
Before You Buy a Hearing Device
If you’ve noticed that you’re beginning to suffer from some sort of hearing loss, you may be inclined to rush out and buy the first device that offers relief. Choosing the right hearing device is important, both to help you hear better as well as to prevent unwarranted further damage to your hearing.
Before deciding on which hearing device to buy, be sure to:
- See a Doctor of Audiology- Hearing loss can be caused by a number of factors, including infections and a build-up of earwax. Get a thorough evaluation before proceeding to the next step.
- Plan for the Future – Be sure to ask your audiologist about what type of updates your device will require and when you will need to upgrade or replace the device.
- Warranty – If something goes wrong or the hearing device malfunctions, make sure that it is covered by a warranty.
- Consult Your Budget – Hearing devices come in a wide variety of prices, so be sure to carefully consider your hearing needs with the different models of hearing aids.
- Be Realistic – Avoid fantastical claims that some hearing device manufacturers make about completely blocking background noise and other miraculous improvements to your hearing. Having realistic expectations is very important. Hearing aids do not restore your hearing they help you hear better.
- Consult Your Insurance Provider – Whether you have healthcare coverage from an employer, a private policy, or some form of government plan, be sure to check with your insurance provider to see if they will cover some or all of the cost of a hearing device.
- Choose the right Provider – This is one of the most important points when being fit for hearing aids. Keep in mind that a hearing aid is just a device, and your success will depends on the proper fitting which comes from a doctor of Audiology. Make an educated decision on who you will be trusting to take care of all your hearing healthcare needs.