There is not one "best" hearing instrument on the market. A hearing instrument that works well for one person may not produce the same result for another person since everyone has different listening needs and hearing. Each major manufacturer makes a product that is highly comparable to other manufacturer's products. The "best" hearing instrument for you is one that can meet your lifestyle and needs, offers you a good warranty and service, and one that your audiologist is experienced in fitting.
No hearing instrument can completely eliminate background noise. In fact, background noise is 'normal'. Most of the time background noise is speech, which is the exact same signal that the hearing aid is trying to amplify. Some hearing instruments can lessen the effects of non-speech noise by using specific microphones and/or technology. Background noise is a nuisance for everyone, even people with normal hearing.
Our brain hears better in both quiet and noise with two ears. In noise, our brain is designed to cancel out some of the noise and help us listen to conversation when both ears are working together. Hearing equally with both ears also helps find the direction of a sound. In our busy daily activities we need to hear where sounds are coming from for our own protection as well as for our enjoyment, i.e. being able to find the bird singing in the tree or hear the car coming from a certain direction. Hearing equally with both ears also makes listening less stressful and gives you a more natural sound quality.
Yes. Hearing aids are incredibly sophisticated devices that are exposed to a damp, waxy environment on a daily basis. Because of this, as well as normal wear and tear, you can expect to face occasional repairs during the lifespan of your hearing instrument. Establishing and maintaining a good preventative maintenance schedule at home and with regular visits to your audiologist's office can significantly reduce the number of repairs. Usually a repair comes with a 6-month warranty if the repair occurs outside the manufacturer's warranty period.
Yes. Typically, the hearing aid manufacturer you purchased your hearing aid through provides a warranty that covers repairs for the first two years and will replace a lost or damaged hearing aid one time during the first year for a minimal fee (about $200). Most manufacturers as well as outside venders provide various types of extended warranties at a cost at your choosing.
Hearing aids should last about five years if they are properly cared for. Although digital and programmable hearing aids can adapt to various changes in hearing, a significant hearing change may require different hearing aid technology or hearing aid type. In five years time, generally there are advances in technology that you may want to consider and try.
Hearing with hearing aids in both quiet and moderate noise should improve, however your hearing in even moderate background noise is not going to be as good as your hearing in quiet. That being said, your hearing in very noisy situations should not be worse than without the hearing aids. Although your own voice may sound very different and may take some time getting used to, it should at least be acceptable to you. Hearing aids and ear molds should be comfortable and not cause any feedback when seated correctly in the ear. Even when wearing your hearing aids, you should combine your vision and your hearing to maximize your hearing aid benefit. Most importantly, a new user needs to be patient and allow time for appropriate adjustment, as hearing aids cannot restore hearing to "normal".
Many people don't realize that they need time to adjust to wearing hearing aids. They think that adjusting to new hearing aids is just like putting on new glasses and having instant clear sight. Some things you need to expect while adjusting to your new hearing aids are:
Buying hearing aids on the Internet can sometimes save you several hundred dollars. But these savings can come at a cost. Buying a hearing instrument online can bypass the medical clearance required by the Food and Drug Administration as well as the custom services needed to fit the device to an individual's needs. Professional follow-up is very important because a poorly adjusted hearing aid can be uncomfortable or even damage the ear. A set of unused hearing aids that sit in a drawer are no bargain. The Internet can be useful for researching the various kinds of hearing aids on the market today and for keeping up with new technology. If you do decide to buy online, be sure to thoroughly investigate the vendor's reputation, return policy and warranty.
There are a lot of factors that contribute to the pricing of hearing instruments. There is never an easy way to avoid the sticker shock. But understanding what goes into the production and maintenance of all assistive listening devices can help soften the blow. While the actual size of hearing aids hasn't really changed over the last 20 years, the technology that goes inside them has changed tremendously. These technology advancements have allowed hearing aids to evolve from a basic amplifier to a sophisticated miniature computer chip that can be housed in a small, damp space on a daily basis and in all types of adverse environments. Daily use of these devices in such environments has forced hearing aid manufacturers to have incredibly stringent reliability and durability standards for every aspect of every hearing aid. In addition, manufacturer warranties are provided for both new hearing aids and out-of-warranty repairs on hearing aids. Lastly, and probably most importantly, the personal fitting and professional knowledge of hearing health care professionals should be considered invaluable. A certified audiologist has a bachelor's degree and at least a master's degree and some even have a doctorate degree, usually in the form of an AuD (Doctor of Audiology) or a PhD. The minimum background of education as well as the requirements for keeping up with all the changes and advances in technology not only fulfill licensing requirements but also helps the professional provide appropriate and knowledgeable amplification information to each individual.
The inside mechanisms of hearing aids vary among devices, even if they are the same style. Three types of circuitry, or electronics, are used:
The following suggestions will help you care for your hearing aids:
The National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders (NIDCD) supports more than 30 grants for scientists to conduct studies on hearing aid research and development. These studies cover areas such as the application of new signal processing strategies and ways to improve sound transmission and reduce noise interference, as well as psychological studies of the impact of abnormal hearing function on speech recognition. Other studies focus on the best way to select and fit hearing aids in children and other difficult-to-test populations, and on reducing bothersome aspects such as feedback and the occlusion effect. Further research will determine the best ways to manipulate speech signals in order to enhance understanding.
Alexander Graham Bell Association for
American Academy of Audiology (AAA)
American Academy of Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery (AAO-HNS)
Self Help for Hard of Hearing People, Inc. (SHHH)
© 2006 Ohio Ear Institute, LLC