Hearing loss or deafness is one of the most debilitating and progressively worsening affliction to happen to a person. Especially with old age, progressive hearing loss can be found to hamper usual activities and flow of everyday life. And of course, you find several ways and devices to combat the onslaught of hearing loss.
Turns out, as per the concurrent status on the usage, hearing aids and amplifiers are now readily available to you, over-the-counter, without the need for a prescription from a hearing health care executive, an audiologist; or the say-so from an ENT doctor (ear, nose and throat doctor).
Consultation with a professional however, gives you the relevant information about the cause of the hearing loss and its potential way of action to combat the loss.
What can one do to combat loss of hearing?
While there are plenty of steps to follow to reduce the strain on your hearing, a succinct healthy diet and regular exercise go a long way to ensure that your general well-being and ears remain in top shape.
Further, you can follow the ways as listed here:
- Clean up in and around the ear: Often times, mild hearing loss can arise from a steady build-up of earwax, especially more so, if you tend to be engaged in physical activities such as jogging or swimming.It is also stimulated with continued exposure to sound such as music streaming to earphones and headphones. Cleaning the earwax can thus mitigate the mild loss of hearing.However, there are ways to clean your ears which do not damage it- using a cotton swab does more damage than it cleans. Using a warm water/oil solution to soften the earwax and remove it without using any objects deep inside the ear canal.
- Nutrients and minerals to add to your diet: Certain foods and supplements help in your overall health betterment and in-turn stimulate ear function. Nuts and seeds, whole grains and leafy vegetables and fruits, and certain fish such as salmon and trout, for instance, are good for hearing health.Antioxidant rich dietary additives, such as blueberries, figs and dates are inherently beneficial. Similarly, vitamin B12 complex helps the ear health by assisting the blood vessels in the ears to be healthier, and embellishing nerve function and fighting off the diminishing hearing due to old age.
- Get exercising: Daily engagement in some form of physical activities, even as simple as jogging or walking can enhance the blood circulation in your body- exceedingly improving the auditory health. What’s more- continued adequate physical exercise is beneficial for your heart, as well.
However, the things listed here are precautionary, at best, and are of limited help if you already suffer from loss of hearing.
Who should choose to wear hearing aids?
The sensation of hearing is something which is inherently one of the most acute senses. And, in terms of the general populace, more than a third of adults over the age of 65 suffer from some form of age-dependent loss of hearing. And this kind of loss of hearing creeps up on the person gradually- and often goes by undetected.
Signs to be cautious about are- whether you find yourself telling people around you to repeat when engaging in a conversation; finding that you are becoming more prone to falling over; feeling a lack of spatial awareness and a general foreboding of aloofness even when surrounded by company.
In such instances, hearing aids and amplifiers are helpful to an exceptionally huge degree. Although, a thing to note is that hearing amplifiers would help with improved sense of hearing, but not restore or slow the progression of nerve damage or old-age dependent deafness.
Why must you consider using hearing aids?
Once you start using hearing aids, you can feel yourself regaining composure and your awareness to your surroundings improve drastically. You find yourself better suited to your living environment- such as holding conversations with ease, and even following the television at normal volumes.
And while you might be over-stimulated with little sounds such as the ticking of clocks or even random footsteps and computer noises shall seem quite loud- but your brain shall tune out those sounds from being louder- and you shall adjust yourself around the functioning of the hearing amplifier.
Further, you shall also get respite from the interference of the background noise. Loud and constant noises in the backdrop might still put a strain on your hearing performance- but with directional microphones, you shall be at an advantage to filtering out the unnecessary jarring sounds and focus on the relevant conversation or tasks.
While using ear molds or other similar audio enhancing devices, you might find that your own voice comes across as significantly louder- which is normal because your voice travels to the ear through bone conduction, and is also amplified by the hearing aid. This needs some getting used-to, and once you are adjusted, it begins to sound normal.
The general recommendation is to keep patience when it is your initial time with the hearing aid, and the adjustment time is cared for by increased concentration on the user’s part.
Keep a realistic expectation from the device, and the hearing aid shall become a great source of linking tool for your interactions with the world.
How do hearing aids work? What kind of hearing amplifiers to choose?
Hearing aids and amplifiers are of various kinds, generally classified as per their placement in and on the ear- while also offering a different kind of amplification with each type.
- CIC or Completely In Canal machines: The hearing aid which is molded to fit discreetly in your ear canal, and is often not visible directly- and is useful for mild to moderate loss of hearing cases. Due to its compact design and handling requirements, it is generally prescribed to adults. Owing to its snug design, it is relatively more resistant to the ambient noise such as wind chatter.However, the small size of this type of hearing aid results in smaller battery life and is a bit challenging to operate with smaller buttons and controls. Earwax build-up also hampers its utility.
- ITC or In The Canal hearing aid: A more pronounced version of the previous one, this kind fits within the ear canal and is often less visible than the other bigger hearing amplifiers. Earwax build-up and maintenance are often the only problematic instances when using the machine.
- ITE or In the Ear hearing amplifier: Generally made out to fit the contours of the ear lobe, these kind of hearing aids are suitable for people who suffer from moderate to severe hearing loss.These devices have directional microphone sensors which ensure that you get the best of the ongoing conversation without the sound being muddled by the background noises. It also usually has a volume control and has larger, better battery life. Although, due to its size, it is more visible and is susceptible to picking up more wind noise.
- BTE or Behind the Ear hearing aid: This type of hearing device sits atop your ear, preferably even behind the ear, with a tube connecting the device to an earpiece which fits within your ear canal.
Widely used and better suited for people of all ages, especially veterans this type of device combats almost all kinds of hearing loss.This device offers more amplification than all other types, and may also pick up more wind noise than other styles- and often has a good battery life.
- RIC or Receiver in Canal hearing amplifier: Similar to the BTE kind, these have the receiver which sits in the ear canal, with a thin wire connecting the piece to the device sitting behind the ear.It is a tad bit more discrete than the BTE type, and has directional microphones with manual control options.
- Open Fit hearing aid: A further variation of the BTE hearing amplifier, this kind of device has a receiver with a dome open over the ear canal. It ensures that the ear canal is not covered, and hence allows for low-frequency sounds to enter the ear naturally.The high frequency sounds are caught and amplified by the receiver and the device and fed in the ear. A good fit for those who would like natural sound to be audible as well. It also makes your own voice sound much better due to the unobstructed ear canal.
Is it necessary to wear hearing aids in both ears?
While it is often dependent of the kind of hearing loss which afflicts the person, people with loss of hearing in only one ear would tend to wear the device only on the affected ear.
Nevertheless, getting a pair of hearing devices is naturally recommended due to the following benefits:
- Spatial awareness: Due to the use of two microphones, you are more likely to find yourself at ease in noisy situations- and shall be able to cancel out much of the interfering sound without a hassle. Using a single device would render your hearing lopsided with the unaided ear giving you a different sound sensation from the aided ear.
- Ranging and localization: The ability to determine the source of sounds around you is also affected when using only one device. Due to the nature of amplification provided by the hearing devices, only one machine would inherently confuse the brain in determining the correct modulation from the source.
Further, lesser amplification for one ear could result in deterioration of ear hair cells on that side, and then cause a greater loss of hearing on the non-affected side.
Is there a difference between hearing aids and hearing amplifiers?
While for all intents and purposes the devices work in a similar fashion, there are some arbitrary differences when it comes to distinguishing between hearing aids and hearing amplifiers.
Hearing aids can be defined as devices which are used to give you a customized and specialized treatment for the ailment of deafness or loss of hearing, and is often unique to you, just as prescription eyewear such as glasses or contact lenses.
Hearing aids can be obtained and used after a systematic evaluation and prescription. These are required to be evaluated by a doctor or an audiologist and can be worn after an audio-logical evaluation. Furthermore, hearing aids are classified and categorized by the medical authorities and are thus regulated by their operating procedures.
And while hearing aids are generally prescribed to help you counter the loss of hearing, they do NOT cure your deafness- just as prescription eye glasses would not cure your sight, but rather make it easier for you to utilize your sight.
On the other hand, hearing amplifiers are classified as personal devices which provide sound amplification to the user. Using a hearing amplifier does not require a visit to a doctor or an audiologist and are hence available to your use without getting a prescription.
These devices are significantly cheaper than the categorized hearing aids, and are used specifically to amplify the sounds which your ear receives. The microphone layout and correction works by amplifying every sound around the user. Also, these devices may lack the ability to isolate specific sound frequencies. People with mild loss of hearing are greatly benefited by using hearing amplifiers.
Over the counter hearing aids and amplifiers and their impact
In recent times, the availability of over the counter (OTC) hearing devices has offered a new ray of hope for people suffering from varying kinds of hearing loss.
Unlike hearing aids, the OTC devices shall not need a prescription to obtain- and are thus more readily available to the user. These are designed to correct hearing loss and are significantly better than the orthodox machines used previously.
These modern, smart devices have a wide array of features which are unavailable through traditional hearing aids.
Connectivity options such as Bluetooth and even app connectivity to connect to a smartphone are the features which most people are looking for, when choosing a hearing aid. With OTC, this becomes a device available to you within your reach.
Further, these devices are also adept in digital noise reduction, thereby giving the user with a better hearing experience. The background noise is suppressed in a way which allows for the user to engage in a normal conversation- even in a noisy environment. Wind noise is greatly reduced, as well.
Hionec aims at offering you a world-class range of over-the-counter (OTC) hearing aids and amplifiers, which not only keep you connected to the world through sound- but also through the smartphone pairing capabilities.
We value your requirement in hearing amplification, and are inclined to offer you better solutions for your needs.