Hearing loss is a critical health issue throughout the country. Many people experience hearing loss over time and come to the point that they must find a solution. Hearing loss due to aging is by far the largest sector of the condition, while the biggest complaint is the inability to understand people talking.
The electronic communications revolution spawned a new era in hearing aid development. Today’s devices are tiny computerized marvels of engineering. They have features unheard of just a few years ago: Bluetooth wireless connections, self-diagnosing controls, intelligent directional and bi-directional amplification, and more.
HEARINC hearing professionals fit, test and adjust every hearing aid to the individual needs of our customers. Every medical condition like hearing loss demands a medical device with exacting quality and a perfect fit.
Styles of Hearing Aids
- In the ear (ITE): ITE hearing aids are powerful and offer many features. The ITE is an electric amplifier in an earmold that fits the outer ear.
- Invisible in canal (IIC): IIC hearing devices are the smallest and lightest available. They are recommended for mild-to-moderate hearing loss.
- Completely in canal (CIC): CIC aids are slightly larger than IIC but are small and powerful, and nearly invisible.
- Full-shell ITE: A full shell is an earmold made to fit the outer ear, or pinna. The electronics and battery are inserted in the shell and fit to the patient.
- Behind the ear (BTE): Sometimes, it is necessary to put the electronics and battery in a compartment that sits behind the ear. In this device, a tube runs to the amplifier in the ear canal. The controls are easier to use than smaller devices, and they use larger batteries.
- Receiver in the ear (RITE): RITE hearing aids offer a smaller BTE electronics package because the sound receiver is in the ear canal. These devices are recommended for mild-to-severe hearing loss.
Most hearing loss conditions in the nation are partly caused by exposure to loud noise over many years. Hearing protection is an extremely important component of having healthy hearing throughout your life. Hearing protection is mandatory in many loud workplaces but should be used in any loud or concussive noise environments.
Hearing Aid Batteries
Most hearing aids are battery powered and use one of four battery sizes. There are rechargeable hearing devices that have a permanent internal battery, but the majority use replaceable batteries. Batteries are color-coded by size and air-activated; when the small color tab is pulled, the battery activates. Do not pull tabs until you are ready to place them in your hearing aids. Here are the four main sizes:
- 675: Color blue, largest regular battery for most powerful hearing aids
- 13: Color orange, medium-size battery
- 312: Color brown, medium-size battery
- 10: Color yellow, smallest regular battery
Hearing Aid Products and Accessories by Manufacturer
HEARINC supplies products from many major manufacturers of hearing aids. Here are brief descriptions of the companies and their hearing goals:
Bluetooth Hearing Aids
The small devices that help you hear better are miniature computers. They include features not heard of just a decade ago. One of the features is wireless connectivity to your other devices like cell phones, computers and televisions. Bluetooth devices are easy to set up and have stable connections.
Captioned telephone, or CapTel, is a home-based phone with a large screen that produces captions of the conversation for you. The CapTel installs quickly and is easy to use.
Cell phone accessories
Although the FCC now requires that hearing aid compatible (HAC) cell phones meet strict guidelines for quality, some hearing aid users wish to further improve their cell phone experience. Add-on devices and cell phone accessories can make cell phones even more compatible with hearing aids.
Many cell phones can be used with hearing aid telecoils. Hearing aid accessories that provide a hands-free option may also be helpful.
Electronic Shooter Protection (ESP)
Individuals who enjoy shooting or hunting are at a high risk of noise-induced hearing loss, making ear protection essential. The electronic ear protector is a custom fit, digital earbud that automatically closes when the soundwave arrives at the ear. When open, the earbud allows normal sounds like voices to pass through.
Esteem Hearing Implant
A hearing implant uses tiny responders that attach to the middle and inner ear. These translate the vibration of the eardrum into a stronger pulse, then send these new electronic signals to the cochlea in the middle ear. This device has three parts: the sensor (at the eardrum), the processor and the driver (near the cochlea).
The changes in the electronic signal stimulate the tiny hair cells in the cochlea to create better “sound” signals for the brain. The result: sound is heard clearly and loudly, often for the first time in a person’s life.
Oticon wants to supply hearing devices “designed to help you communicate, interact and participate fully in life.” The company offers hearing aids of all types and helps people understand that hearing care is healthcare first.
Rechargeable Hearing Aids
Hearing aids have advanced to the point that many features can be installed in a tiny space. One of these is a rechargeable battery with a connection to a charge port. Some of these products even charge magnetically. One of the complaints over the years about hearing aids has been the difficulty of changing batteries.
ReSound has a hearing solution for everyone, taking pride in products that produce some of the clearest sound possible. They have programming called Smart Hearing for those with severe and profound hearing loss.
Starkey as at the forefront of hearing technologies, making products that help fight tinnitus, promote overall wellness and even multitask. Starkey makes a full range of products including those that track your day wirelessly.
Unitron is dedicated to helping the hearing aid user and hearing professional become a better team for combatting hearing loss and other hearing issues. They offer a range of products with a trial program beyond the normal hearing device parameters.
- Unitron Flex Trial: Unitron offers a flexible trial period for its products so you can use hearing aids in your normal environments. Most hearing aid trials are done in the hearing specialist’s office, but that is a tiny fraction of the type of noise situations you live in.