If you suspect a hearing loss, the first step may be an appointment with an audiologist for proper testing and evaluation. Testing is painless, comfortable and safe. It includes checking your ability to recognize everyday words at different volume levels and to hear different tones.
At their most basic, a hearing aid is made of a microphone that picks up sound waves and converts them to electrical signals, an amplifier that makes the signal louder and a receiver that converts the electrical signal back to sound and channels it into the ear.
The first step in providing hearing amplification is for the audiologist and patient to agree that the patient needs and is likely to benefit from a hearing aid. This mutual decision is based upon:
- The audiogram (hearing test)
- A specific hearing difficulty assessment.
- The lifestyle of the patient.
- The patient’s motivation level.
- A realistic discussion about what a hearing aid can and cannot do:-One common misconception is that the aid restores normal hearing just as corrective lenses restore normal vision. Hearing aids do not restore hearing to normal. As a general rule, a hearing aid usually improves hearing by one-half of the loss. As an example, a patient with a 60 dB hearing loss could expect to hear in the 30 dB range with hearing amplification. Thus, the goal of hearing amplification is not to restore normal hearing, but to significantly improve communicative ability and quality of life.
- Age alone is not a factor.
Hearing aids lead to:
- More balanced and better quality sound
- Better understanding in group situations
- A more relaxed listening experience (never having to turn to listen with the better ear)
This has shown to improve significantly the quality of life in terms of:
- Ease in communication
- Sense of control in your life
- Social participation
- Emotional stability
While you are no doubt concerned about appearance, compensating for a hearing loss by asking people to repeat themselves, inappropriately responding to people (or not responding at all), or even withdrawing from social situations is more obvious than wearing a hearing aid.
Today’s hearing aids are small, discreet and more stylish than ever.
There are several styles:
- Behind-the-ear (BTE) aids go over the ear and are connected with tubing to custom-fitted earpieces.
- Open fit receiver-in-the-ear (RITE) aids are a newer design, and while still placed over the ear, they are extremely small and nearly invisible.
- In-the-ear (ITE) hearing aids fill the entire bowl of the ear and part of the ear canal.
- Smaller versions of ITEs are called half-shell and in-the-canal (ITC).
- The least visible aids are completely-in-the-canal (CIC).
The content on the Nairobi ENT website is not intended nor recommended as a substitute for medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your own physician or other qualified health care professional regarding any medical questions or conditions.
- Phan, Nga T., et al. “Diagnosis and management of hearing loss in elderly patients.” Australian family physician6 (2016): 366.