If you are one of the 48 million Americans affected by hearing loss, there are many options of treatments for hearing loss, and many types of hearing devices. For people suffering from sensorineural hearing loss, hearing aids can help! Unfortunately, according to the Hearing Loss Association of America, only about one out of five people who would benefit from a hearing aid actually uses one.
Sensorineural hearing loss is a hearing loss that is typically permanent and rarely medically correctible. Hearing aids are the most common devices to treat sensorineural hearing loss and can range from extremely tiny pieces that fit completely in the ear canal, to ones that are placed behind the ear. There are all different models and types depending on your type of hearing loss and causes, and personal preferences.
Hearing technology has changed tremendously in recent years. With updated technology, hearing devices are now more cosmetically appealing and less noticeable, provide a higher quality of sound (using digital processing rather than analog), are more automated and user-friendly, and are more comfortable with more options and customization.
A hearing aid has three basic parts: a microphone, amplifier, and speaker. Sound is received through the microphone, which converts the sound waves to electrical signals and sends them to the amplifier. The amplifier then increases the power of the signals and sends them through the speaker to the ear.
How it Works
Hearing aids are primarily used in sensorineural hearing loss, which is caused by damage to the small sensory cells in the inner ear, or hair cells. Damage to hair cells can occur as a result of disease, aging, or injury from noise or certain medications.
The basic function of a hearing aid is to amplify sound vibrations entering the ear. This helps the surviving hair cells in the ear to detect the vibrations and convert them into neural signals passed along to the brain.
Types of Hearing Devices
There are many different types of hearing devices and several factors of your condition will determine which one will provide you the best results.
- Hearing device style will depend upon the type and severity of hearing loss you experience
- Level of technology will depend upon your lifestyle (noise level of typical environment, etc)
If you suffer from hearing loss, don’t be the 4 out 5 who doesn’t use a hearing aid. Adapting to any type of hearing device will take time and adjustment, but with dedication and patience for the process, is well worth the result for your hearing health. Visit your audiologist and let them help you find the right fit for you and your lifestyle.