Do you find yourself listening closely while others speak louder to ensure you hear them properly? Are you constantly asking, “What did you just say?”
You’re not alone. In fact, over 35 million Americans are affected by hearing loss. While hearing loss is typically associated with aging, there are other factors that affect your ear’s ability to detect sound including diseases, noise and heredity.
Loss of hearing can occur over time, causing embarrassment, insecurity and anxiety. Today’s technology can benefit the hearing impaired by:
- Making sounds louder and easier to hear
- Keeping sound from becoming too loud and helping to reduce the effects of background noise
- Hearing speech over the telephone more clearly
- Improving communication
There are numerous types of hearing devices available on the market today designed to fit different needs with a wide variety of styles and sizes. When choosing a hearing device, it is important to consider your specific hearing-loss characteristics, physical anatomy, lifestyle, preferences in device style and cost.
Common Hearing Devices
Some of the most popular types of hearing devices are:
- Completely-in-the-Canal (CIC): these are the smallest type, almost invisible when placed in the ear. It is for mild to moderate hearing loss and is the most difficult to place and adjust.
- In-the-Canal (ITC): it is larger than CIC, but still discreet. It fits in the canal of the ear and is fairly unnoticeable. It is for use with mild to moderate hearing loss and is easier to use than CIC.
- In-the-Ear (ITE): a larger device filling the “bowl” of the ear and has many features with larger sound amplifiers. It meets a wide variety of hearing impairments and is easier to use than CIC or ITC models.
- Behind-the-Ear (BTE): a circuitry and microphone is fitted behind the ear and meets a wide range of hearing needs, including severe hearing impairments and dexterity problems. It is the largest of the standard hearing device models, durable, allows maximum power and flexibility in fitting and is good for children.
Common Hearing Device Questions
Choosing a hearing device can be difficult and stressful. Here are three common questions many patients have when making their decision:
Q: How does a hearing device work?
A: The microphone in the device picks up the sound in the environment and changes it to electrical energy that goes to a set of amplifiers and other modifying and adjusting circuits. The modified electrical signal is then sent to a miniature speaker (a receiver) and delivered to the ear. The newest devices are smart enough to amplify certain sounds or frequencies that are tailored to each hearing loss.
Q: How much do hearing devices cost and are they covered by insurance?
A: The cost of hearing devices varies depending on the type, the number of special features and the professional services provided. The range of prices varies. Insurance also varies, with some policies paying for more of the device than others. Each insurance case is considered unique and we are unfortunately able to give a general “yes” or “no” answer to this question.
Q: Can consumers try a hearing device before deciding to purchase one?
A: Most hearing device dispensers offer and promote a trial rental or purchase option program, and prospective hearing device purchasers should look for this assurance. Most trial periods are 30 days in length.