Do I need hearing aids?

As humans, our senses are some of the most important things to us. When they all work together they not only help us to navigate the world but also help to keep us safe.

When one of these senses does not work properly, the others have to work harder to make up for the shortfall.

We rely on our hearing for so many things, whether it is conversing with our friends and family, listening out for danger or helping us listen out for traffic when we’re crossing the road.

If you believe that you may be suffering from any degree of hearing loss then a visit to your General Practitioner is always advised. They will then be able to refer you to an Audiologist who will be able to perform tests to diagnose and measure your amount of hearing loss.

When our hearing begins to fail us, it can be a worrying time. How do you know when the time is right for hearing aids

What is a hearing aid? 

As the name suggests a hearing aid can help us when our own hearing begins to fail us. Whether this is through ageing, a disease or through an injury. It is a small electronic device that can sit behind or in the ear, depending on which one you choose.

There are three main parts to a device – 

  • Microphone
  • Amplifier
  • Speaker

Sound is received through the microphone. These sound waves are then converted to electrical signals which are sent to the amplifier. The amplifier increases the power of the signal and then sends them to the ear through the speaker. 

Hearing aids are most beneficial to those with sensorineural hearing loss where there is damage to the sensory cells in the inner ear. This can be the result or age, disease, injury or even the side effects from certain types of medication.

The greater the damage to the sensory cells, the worse the hearing loss. In cases where the damage is too great that even large vibrations will not be covered to neural signals, hearing aids would not be beneficial. 

Types of hearing aids. 

With the constant advances within the world of Science and Medicine hearing aids have changed.

There are three types that can be used. 

  • Behind-The-Ear (BTE) – A hard plastic case sits behind the ear and is connected to a plastic earmold that sits inside the outer ear. Sounds will then travel through this earmold. This type of aid is used for mild to profound hearing loss. 
  • In-The-Ear (ITE) – This type of hearing aids fits entirely in the outer ear and is used for mild to severe hearing loss. Many ITE’s now have an added feature of a telecoil. This is a small magnetic coil that allows the user to receive audio through the circuitry of the hearing aid rather than through the microphone. This can be especially useful for telephone conversations. In many public facilities they have special sound systems installed known as induction loop systems. 

NOTE: An ITE is not normally recommended for children as the casing needs to be replaced as the ear grows. 

  • Canal Aids – There are two types of canal aids. An In The Canal (ITC) and a Completely In Canal (CIC) Both of these are worn inside the ear canal although the CIC is almost completely hidden. Their reduced size does mean that they are not as powerful so are not recommended for those with severe to profound hearing loss. 

Symptoms of hearing loss. 

There are several signs that you may be suffering from hearing loss. You may only have a few of these symptoms or you may have all of them. 

  • Do you find it difficult to hear people when conversing. Does it sound like everyone is mumbling?
  • Do you find you constantly have to ask people to repeat themselves?
  • Do you have to have the television or radio louder than everyone else?
  • When you are on a telephone call, do you find it difficult to hear the other person?
  • Do you find it difficult to understand the dialogue in a play or theatre production?
  • Are you finding that you are getting frustrated and withdrawn?
  • When conversing with others do you have to see their faces to help you understand what they are saying?
  • Do you find it hard to hear in large group settings where there is lots of background noise?

If you believe that you may be suffering from any degree of hearing loss then a visit to your General Practitioner is always advised. They will then be able to refer you to an Audiologist who will be able to perform tests to diagnose and measure your amount of hearing loss.

Although the idea of losing your hearing can be daunting, the longer that you sit on the symptoms the more chance that there is of a greater degree of hearing loss. 

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