Hearing loss occurs when there is a problem with one or more parts of the ear, but it is a natural process of aging. Aging takes a toll on most parts of the body and the first to get effected are the ears and eyes. Eyesight problems are treated as soon as they occur, but hearing impairment is neglected more often than not. A very common cause for hearing loss in the elderly is Tinnitus, which is a ringing, swishing type of noise that seems to originate in the ear or head. Hearing loss is evident when a person cups his ear to hear better or wants the volume of broadcasts higher than normal or asks for repeats of conversation and very importantly withdraws from socializing with family and friends. The ideal solution is to take the person with hearing loss to a hearing aid clinic for assessment and then fit them with a customized hearing aid to suit their needs.
There have been many advances made in the hearing aid technology that most people do not know about. The elderly especially know very little about the advancements in technology. They try to hide the fact that they are hearing impaired because they feel it reflects on their age and disabilities. They also feel embarrassed wearing the large and very noticeable hearing aids which loudly announce their hearing loss. Economics too play a significant role in opting for hearing aids.
A hearing aid consists of a microphone (which receives sound), amplifier (receives sound waves from microphone and sends to the speaker) and speaker receives the sound waves to facilitate hearing. Hearing aids run on batteries. Hearing instruments do not restore lost hearing or stop the progression of loss due to age or noise-related hearing loss. But smart new technologies, including the ability to amplify or adjust sound as per the surroundings help most people to hear better even in difficult situations. They provide improved communication and hearing and listening abilities, substantially improving the quality of life.
Types of Hearing aids:
IIC (invisible in the canal): Invisible hearing aids which use the latest cutting edge technology are customized to ﬁt completely into the ear canal and are completely invisible to outsiders.
BTE (Behind-the-ear): In these hearing aids most parts are contained in a small plastic case that rests behind the ear. The case is connected to an ear mold or earpiece by a piece of clear tubing. BTE Hearing aids are easy to clean and handle, and are relatively sturdy. There is another new type of BTE Hearing aid called the mini BTE (or “on-the-ear”) aid. This increases comfort and reduces cosmetic concerns.
ITE (In-the-ear): All parts of the hearing aid are contained in a shell that fills in the outer part of the ear. The ITE aids are larger than the in-the-canal or completely-in-the-canal aids and are easier to handle than smaller aids.
Hearing aids come in different shapes and sizes from the almost invisible to the very visible, from in the ear canal to behind the ear, from analogue to digital. Hearing aids can be customized to suit every age group.
Technology has been refined tests to precision, hearing aids developed to become invisible and counseling has helped the care taker as well as the affected at hearing aid centers.
An audiologist at the hearing aid center gives professional advice, care and services to ensure that the hearing aid prescribed is the concurrent to that particular hearing loss treatment is selected and programmed to needs of the elderly, keeping in mind the economic status of the patient.
Despite so much of progress there are a lot of myths and misgivings about hearing loss and hearing aids. The fact remains that hearing aids, no matter how sophisticated, will not work unless you are willing to wear and adapt to it.