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Hearing Loss + Hearing Aids = A Simpler Life

Hearing Loss + Hearing Aids = A Simpler Life

Hearing loss is one of the fastest growing chronic conditions Canadians face. Hearing loss means more than just hearing less – it means difficulties in understanding our world.  Simply increasing the volume is not the right way to help people hear better because noises have different tones.  Sometimes louder noises are unpleasant or even painful.  Recent research suggests that the longer hearing loss goes unmanaged, the more challenging it will be to learn to cope with the changes. That’s where hearing aids come in.   

Hearing Aids and Your Grey Matter…

Hearing aids work with your brain.  When certain frequencies no longer make it to the brain, it gradually forgets how to interpret the sounds.  The best hearing aids go further than just amplification to make forgettable sounds audible again. Hearing aids recognize and adapt to people’s situations. They emphasize sounds from specific directions, differentiate types of sound, reduce background noise and compress frequencies automatically.  The hearing aid microphone picks up sounds, the processor amplifies the sounds, converts to electrical signals with the receiver and then transmits to the auditory nerve.

What if I Only Have Hearing in One Ear?

Single-sided hearing loss is treated differently than hearing loss in both ears. Special hearing solutions exist to help wirelessly transmit sound to the ear with better hearing. CROS or BICROS hearing aids use the fact that one ear still hears better. A microphone picks up sounds and voices from the non-hearing ear and wirelessly transmits to a hearing aid in the hearing ear. These come in behind-the-ear and in-the-canal models.  Many models have a telecoil (T-loop) or induction loop option. This significantly improves sound quality and speech comprehension because it shuts out background noise.

From BTE to Lyric – Choose What Suits You

Hearing aids have come a long way over the years. Now you can choose a variety of styles:

  • Behind-the-ear (BTE) - everything is contained in a durable case that fits behind the outer ear. Sounds are transmitted to the ear directly via a small tube attached to a dome or earmold. These are traditionally the best type for people needing the most power.
  • Receiver-in-the-canal (RIC) - fit behind the outer ear but the speaker sits inside the ear in an earmold or dome. It is separate from the rest of the device and the case is then connected by a wire to the speaker. These are traditionally smaller and lighter than BTE’s but are not powerful enough for profound hearing loss.
  • In-the-ear (ITE) - sit entirely in the ear. There are various styles from the full shell (most powerful) to the smaller completely-in-canal and almost invisible-in-canal.
  • Lyric is a unique hearing aid. It is 100% invisible and worn 24/7 deep within the ear. It can offer all day amplification for months without maintenance or battery changes. It can only be fitted and changed by an audiologist/hearing professional but may not be appropriate for some types of hearing loss.

Simplify Your Life

It may take some time to get used to the new sensation of wearing hearing aids but the improvement in hearing can be vast.  Research shows that people who use hearing aids are more likely to be optimistic and feel engaged in their lives.  The complexities of struggling to understand can be eased by a hearing test and hearing aids.  Hearing aids are not a “cure all” but they are a valuable tool to make hearing a possibility.

DHA volunteer mentors can help with information about hearing tests, what to ask at an appointment and more information on buying, wearing and maintaining hearing aids.  Contact Sharron Nixon, Hearing Services Manager at sharron@deafandhearalberta.ca or visit our website: https://deafandhearalberta.ca/peer-to-hear/

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