Hearing Aids: Making The Right Choice

Hearing aids can improve hearing in both noisy and quiet situations, but a whopping 80% of people who would benefit from a hearing aid aren't using one. Hearing aids amplify sound vibrations and play them through a speaker directly into the ear of the hearing impared person.

Hearing aids are most useful to people with damage to the small hair cells inside the inner ear. Damage can happen from injury, certain medicines, disease or aging. The greater the damage to the hair cells, the more severe the hearing loss. If hearing loss is too great, a hearing aid will not be effective.

According to the National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders (NIDCD), if you have hearing loss, talk to your doctor about a referral to an audiologist or an otolaryngologist. The audiologist will be able to measure your hearing loss, and the otolaryngologist will check out the cause for the hearing loss.

There are three basic types of hearing aids: behind-the-ear (BTE), in-the-ear (ITE), and in-the-canal (ITC). If it turns out a hearing aid is right for you, the type of hearing aid you get will be determined by the severity of your hearing loss, cost of the device, and your age.

If you have mild hearing loss, an ITC hearing aid might be right for you. This type of aid fits into the ear canal entirely, and is nearly hidden. ITCs are not ideal for children or those with severe hearing loss because they are difficult to adjust and remove, and their power and volume controls are more limited.

ITEs are ideal for people with mild to severe hearing loss, and fit completely inside the outer ear. They are not usually recommended for children, though, because the casings would need to be replaced often as young ears grow.Behind-the-ear aids are just that -- hearing aids that fit behind the ear with a plastic earmold inside the ear that directs sounds into the ear. These hearing aids are great for people of all ages, and those with mild to severe hearing loss.Innovations in hearing aids are making them smaller and the sound quality sharper. Scientists are working on implantable hearing aids that direct or bypass the middle ear. So far, the risks associated with implantable hearing aids do not seem to outway the benefits.
1 2 Next
Print Article