Whether or not a hearing aid will work for you usually depends on your type and degree of hearing loss. According to the National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders (NIDCD), about 28.8 million U.S. adults could benefit from using hearing aids.
If you suspect you may have a hearing loss and would benefit from hearing aids, our Doctors of Audiology at Coates Hearing Clinic will be glad to conduct a thorough hearing evaluation for you to assess your needs. If hearing aids are recommended for your specific hearing loss, our Audiologists are trained to fit the devices for your individual ear and needs with state-of-the-art technology at their fingertips. Hearing loss treatment is a process and our Audiologists will guide you every step of the way.
Basic Parts of A Hearing Aid
There are three basic parts to a hearing aid: a microphone, an amplifier, and a speaker. Hearing aids pick up sound using a microphone, which converts the sound waves to electrical signals and sends them to an amplifier. The amplifier increases the power of the signals and then sends them to the ear through a speaker.
Digital Hearing Aids
Digital hearing aids use digital sound technology to improve hearing aid performance. They convert sound waves into digital binary code (0’s and 1’s), which helps to produce an exact duplication of each sound. They also use computer chips to analyze speech and other sounds, allowing for more complex processing of sounds during amplification.
With the advancement of digital technology, manufacturers have enhanced the functionality of hearing devices, offering patients several benefits, such as
- They can be programmed with noise reduction algorithms to help reduce background noise;
- They are highly programmable for various listening environments; and
- They can be adjusted to meet specific user needs.
Styles of Hearing Aids
Hearing aids are available in many different sizes and styles thanks to advancements in digital technology and miniaturization of the internal components. Many of today’s hearing aids are considered sleek, compact, and innovative – offering solutions to a wide range of hearing aid wearers.
A wide range of technology and a host of features are available in each hearing aid style. The cost of hearing aids generally depends on the technology and the number of features the instrument has, not necessarily on the style selected. Today’s digital hearing aid styles are typically offered at various levels, such as basic, entry, advanced, and premium. Within each level, different technology and features are available.
Basic digital hearing aid styles generally require the wearer to make some manual adjustments in certain listening environments. For example, they may need to turn a volume control up or push a button to change listening programs. In contrast, a premium or more advanced hearing aid responds automatically to changes in the listener’s environment, making changes based on the signals detected by the hearing aid. The hearing aid wearer is not required to make any manual changes. As the level of technology increases in hearing aids, so does the availability of advanced features.
There are three basic types of hearing aids: behind-the-ear (BTE), in-the-ear (ITE), and in-the-canal (ITC) with the following variations in style:
Behind the Ear (BTE)
Selecting the Right Hearing Aid Style
When selecting a hearing aid style, our hearing specialists consider the following factors to ensure you get the right hearing aid for your needs:
- The degree of hearing loss (power requirements)
- Manual dexterity and visual abilities
- Patient budget
- Skin sensitivities
- Anatomical/medical considerations
At Coates Hearing Clinic, we work with all the major manufacturers, including:
Hearing Aid Costs
Our hearing aids range in cost from $950 to $6,800. The cost depends on many factors including whether or not you need one or two hearing aids, your type and degree of hearing loss, your lifestyle, and many other things as determined by your audiologist.
If you feel your financial circumstances preclude you from affording to purchase hearing aids, come talk to us. There are many options available to help patients cover the cost of hearing aids. In fact, many people have hearing aid benefits as part of their insurance, so they might end up paying little or nothing out-of-pocket. There are also some state programs for children between the ages of 6 through 18 to help with their hearing aid needs, and Coates Hearing Clinic is in-network with a state program that provides one hearing aid for adult patients who qualify. Additionally, we offer deferred interest payment plans, such as 12 months same as cash plans, and there is also our non-profit, Matthew 11:15 in Smithfield.
Benefits of Hearing Aids
Hearing aids help to improve hearing and speech comprehension for people who have hearing loss. A hearing aid magnifies sound vibrations entering the ear. Hair cells detect the larger vibrations and convert them into neural signals that are passed along to the brain. The more severe the hearing loss, the greater the hearing aid amplification needed.
Hearing Aid Evaluation
At the time of your hearing evaluation, a case history will be taken to determine the extent to which your hearing problem impacts your day-to-day life as well as the lives of your family members. Your hearing specialist will review your general health history and ask when and how the hearing loss started, if there is ringing in your ears (tinnitus), and if you experience dizziness.
The results from your hearing evaluation will provide your hearing specialist with an outline of what sounds you may be missing or hearing. In addition, the personal answers about your daily life and your perception of your hearing will provide the basis for a more comprehensive hearing evaluation. You may be referred to a medical doctor specializing in disorders of the ear if you are a candidate for hearing aids or if there are other medical conditions your hearing specialist thinks should be addressed before hearing aids are recommended. This referral is often the first step in the hearing aid examination.
If your hearing test reveals permanent hearing loss, your hearing specialist may recommend a hearing aid for one or both ears. She may explain what sounds you are not hearing and what a hearing aid (or hearing aids) can do to help. It is usually at this appointment that you will get to see and touch different styles of hearing aids. In some cases, you may even be able to listen to a hearing aid. Your hearing specialist will help you choose the best hearing aid style, features, and level of sophistication based on your degree of hearing loss, your lifestyle, and your financial circumstances. The final decision, however, regarding which hearing aid to purchase is yours.