You are having difficulties in hearing and therefore, you thought that now you should buy hearing aids and made it a habit of wearing them regularly. Bravo, you have been doing great till now! But do you often think that you can get back your natural hearing? Yes, hearing aids have the ability to enable you to hear better.
No doubt hearing aids are the most widely used and are quite effective as a hearing loss treatment solution. But hearing aids do no more than simply amplifying the sounds as they receive. If you think that by wearing a hearing aid machine your hearing will be restored, then you would be wrong. An ear hearing device uses your residual hearing, that is your remaining hearing ability to amplify the sounds and to enable you to hear.
Why is it So?
Let’s get into the basics of the human ear structure. Well, you know that the human ear is divided into three parts, namely the outer ear, the middle ear and the inner ear.
If we take a closer look into the inner ear, we find the spiral-shaped cochlea situated in the rigid bony labyrinth situated in the outer wall of the inner ear. Inside the cochlea, we have thousands of tiny hair-like structures called hair cells - 3,500 inner hair cells and 12,000 outer hair cells. These tiny hair cells are very sensitive and once damaged, they could never be recovered.
How Do We Hear?
Let’s quickly summarise the whole complex procedure of hearing and the functioning of the human ear into some basic steps. The sound waves are received by the outer ear which after travelling down the long passage of the ear canal strike against the eardrum or the tympanic membrane and cause it to vibrate. These vibrations are then transferred to the ear ossicles or the small ear bones which further passes them over to the inner ear. The hair cells in the cochlea of the inner ear convert these sound stimuli into electrical impulses which are then sent to the brain via the auditory nerve. The brain understands and recognises these signals as sounds, and only then can we actually ‘hear’. Although this whole process occurs within a fraction of seconds, yet it is quite a complex one and involves many other by-processes and chemical reactions.
How Do Hearing Aids Work?
A hearing aid machine typically has three parts - a microphone which picks up the sounds, an amplifier which makes the sound louder and a receiver which sends the amplified sounds to the ear canal of the user. Yes, the modern digital hearing aids are advanced and takes the listening experience to a whole new level by transmitting the sound signals to a computer chip which adjusts the pitch and volume by working with discrete sections of the sound frequency according to the hearing requirements of the hearing aid machine user. But no matter how smart and intelligent your digital hearing aids are, your natural hearing ability won’t be recovered. It is because the hair cells once damaged won’t be regenerated again!
Analog or Digital?
Of course, digital hearing aids! While the old hearing aid machine users who are comfortable in using the analog devices of the previous few decades and would say that these devices are really well, we would suggest one and all to try out digital hearing aids. They are designed to enhance your hearing ability. And what’s more? The updated digital devices are packed with so many features that would cater to your individual needs and lifestyle preferences, thus making your life much easier. Also, they are much more user-friendly with easy programmable options and buttons. And not to forget the sleek designs and extremely small sizes which are absolutely lovable.
The maximum that can be done is that your Audiologist can fine-tune your hearing aid machine or filter out the wind or other background noises, and make some certain program upgradation. The digital hearing aids can thus match with your specific hearing loss pattern and customise your listening experience. You can also directly stream audio, take calls and even adjust your program settings using smartphone apps.
Here is a post on the different features one would get in the modern-day digital hearing aids: ‘Latest Technologies Used in Modern Day Digital Hearing Aids’. You can also go through another blog of ours on ‘7 Must-have Features in Your Digital Hearing Aids’
Factors that Affect the Success of a Hearing Aid Machine
Whether or not your hearing aid would work for you depends upon a variety of factors. These include -
The type and severity of hearing loss
Your lifestyle choices
Whether you have ear infections
Your dexterity and ease of use
Whether you have been ignoring your hearing problems for a long time
Whether you have lost your hearing before learning a language or after it
Whether you are going to use it on a regular basis as and when suggested by your Audiologist
You can check out our blog on ‘Does Hearing Aid Machine Work for Everyone?’ for more information on this topic.
Which Would be the Right Hearing Aids Types for Me?
The main types of hearing aids include -
BTE or Behind-the-Ear
RIC or Receiver-in-the-Canal
ITE or In-the-Ear
ITC or In-the-Canal
CIC or Completely-in-the-Canal
IIC or Invisible-in-the-Canal
Each has its pros and cons. Do check out the advantages and disadvantages of each of the hearing aids types in our previously written blog: ‘Advantages and Disadvantages of Hearing Aids Types’
Now that you are aware of what each hearing aid device has in store for you, you can shortlist them by analysing which one would match your needs. Of course, consider discussing with your Audiologist throughout this important decision-making process at a recognised hearing aid clinic near you.
Some Buying Tips
With so many features in today’s digital hearing aids, one would get really confused as to which device to go for. Don’t worry! We are here to help you out. Here is a guide for the hearing aid buyer: ‘10 Tips for Buying Hearing Aids’
Care and Maintenance Tips
Things wouldn’t just end once you buy hearing aids. Your devices need to be taken care of. The more you take care of them, the more they would take care of your hearing. We have a separate blog on ‘Are You Taking Care of Your Hearing Aids?’. Do check it out, it might be helpful.
What If You Meet Hearing Aid Disasters?
While you might try your best to take care of your new hearing aids, accidents are sure to happen. In such cases, we don’t want you to panic. Instead, we have for you a guide to how to cope up and deal with these situations: ‘5 Common Hearing Aid Disasters: How to Deal With Them?’
For more help, check out the blog post from Consumer Reports. It has got some wonderful information and would be a complete guide for the hearing aid buyer: https://www.consumerreports.org/cro/hearing-aids/buying-guide/index.htm
To sum up, you are definitely going to hear and do so quite well, but you won’t get back your normal hearing ability, that is, you can’t hear with using a hearing aid machine.