Choosing the Right Hearing Instrument for Your Personal Needs
Choosing the right hearing instrument is a very personal decision. There are many types to choose from depending on individual taste and on the extent of hearing loss. A good hearing practitioner or audiologist will give advice on what works best, after a thorough examination.
Hearing devices have come a long way since the first one came out of Bell Laboratories years ago. The Body Worn aid consists of a smart phone sized case worn on the body that connects to a mold in the ear canal. These have been replaced mostly by the Behind the Ear (BTE) devices. However, there are still some in use by those unable for accommodation reasons to use more modern versions.
The Behind the Ear (BTE) aid consists of a slim receiver worn behind the ear connected to the earmold by a small tube. Sound comes into the receiver, is amplified and transferred into the ear. These devices can aid mild to severe hearing loss. One of the advantages is that the aid is worn outside the ear, keeping earwax and moisture from damaging it. For this reason, such devices usually last longer. Since the earmold is separate, the BTE works well for children who need changes as they grow.
The In The Ear (ITE) aid fits right into the outer ear and can be seen if one looks for it. They fit snugly and since they are flesh colored are barely noticeable. Generally, these devices are custom molded and are very popular. One of the drawbacks is feedback or whistling caused by leaking sound that is amplified again. This common problem has been solved in many instances by better technology. Traditionally, the ITE has not been used for children until recently when a silicone material was developed to allow for growth.
The Completely In the Canal (CIC) device is even smaller and fits deeply into the ear canal. For cosmetic reasons, the barely visible quality of this aid makes it a good choice for many types of hearing loss. A custom mold that undergoes many intricate steps makes it a more expensive choice.
Hearing devices can be powered by analog or digital receivers. The analog technology has enabled individuals to make very simple adjustments by turning a small knob on the aid. The more advanced digital instruments are adjusted in the office. Several visits may be necessary to get everything right, but it is well worth the time. Learning the unique lifestyle needs of an individual enables the hearing professional to customize these devices for the best hearing experience, going way beyond what was available a few years ago. Feedback is reduced, background noise minimized like that found in a restaurant, and countless other situations are enhanced by fitting the device to the individual's needs.
For those that are technically savvy, there are programs to make individual adjustments to a hearing device on a home personal computer. Audio signals can even be sent wirelessly to other devices, like smart phones. Discoveries are being made every day that will soon enhance the experience of those wearing a hearing instrument.
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