Thanks to the internet making information more readily available, our patients are more educated than ever before about current technologies and hearing aid options. Many of them have done their own research and come to us with requests or questions, and we're happy to provide answers and guidance. We continue to educate ourselves on changes in the hearing industry, and our patients inspire us to stay on top of the latest technology.
However, even with the wealth of information out there, we find that misunderstandings are common. We've gathered these facts to make sure our patients are on the right page when it comes to hearing health and what to expect from hearing aids.
At Hometown Hearing, we believe that our patients deserve the best possible care and hearing solutions available. That is why we attend continuing education seminars and always stay up-to-date on the latest hearing technology. Sheryl and Carl Arends recently took a trip to Starkey Hearing Expo in Las Vegas, NV for extensive training on the new technology and features of products.
When we test your hearing, we're not just determining whether or not you have hearing loss, we're also evaluating what kind of hearing loss you have. If it turns out you have conductive hearing loss, which refers to some sort of obstruction (such as earwax or fluid buildup), you will need a referral to a doctor for treatment. But if you have sensorineural hearing loss, hearing aids may be the right answer for you. Some hearing loss is a combination of conductive and sensorineural, in which case we'll refer you to a doctor for medical treatment and then help fit you with hearing aids once you've been medically cleared for them.
Many people, when they think of hearing aids, imagine the hearing aids they or their family members wore decades ago. But hearing aids have come a long way since then. They no longer make those high-pitched squealing noises (especially when fitted by someone as skilled as we are), and they are much easier to handle when inserting or removing them from your ears. Some hearing aids are even rechargeable for patients who would rather avoid needing to change batteries. On top of all these other improvements, modern hearing aids are far more comfortable, and the sound quality is much, much better than ever before.
Getting used to hearing aids can take time, since you will need to adjust to the feeling of having something in your ear and hearing sounds you haven't heard in years, such as creaking floors or humming refrigerators. Another important part of the adjustment period is your hearing prescription. When you first start wearing hearing aids, we won't fit you with your full prescription immediately — we use an acclimatization system that generally starts new wearers at about 70% of their full prescription. That gives you time to get used to what you can now hear, and it's a much more comfortable process. We are usually able to get patients to their full prescription within six months, which is one reason we bring new patients in for follow-up appointments often, so we can make adjustments as needed.
A pair of hearing aids from a major brand should last anywhere between three and seven years, so when you look at the cost of hearing aids, consider that you'll be seeing the benefit of a single pair of hearing aids for much longer than you would a pair of glasses, for example. To make sure your hearing aids continue working as well as they should, you do have to keep up with ongoing maintenance. You will need to clean your hearing aids every day, change their wax guards regularly, avoid getting them wet, and store them in a dry place overnight. Whenever you come for a check-up, we'll give your hearing aids a thorough cleaning and examine them for any possible problems.
These are some misconceptions that a lot of people have about hearing aids - click each one to reveal the truth!
You might be surprised by how discreet hearing aids are today. Our patients often don't even notice that one of our hearing instrument specialists is wearing hearing aids until he tells them he wishes his hearing was as good as theirs is! It's entirely possible to have a close conversation with someone who never realizes you're wearing hearing aids.
Hearing aids provide amplification, but that's just the beginning. Modern hearing aid technology is able to reduce background noise so it's easier for you to focus on what you most want to hear. Even the simplest hearing aids made today are more powerful and better able to focus on voices than hearing aids used to be. And if you choose more advanced hearing aids, they can filter out your own voice and background sounds and allow you to control the direction of their microphones to amplify the specific voices you most want to hear.
We want to stress the importance of having realistic expectations when you get hearing aids for the first time. We understand that some patients are hoping for a perfect solution for their hearing loss, but unfortunately hearing loss cannot be cured. Hearing aids do not return your hearing to "normal," but they can amplify the sounds you used to be able to hear, with a comfortable fit and more natural acoustics than you might expect.
Over the past twenty years, hearing aids have completely transformed from analog devices that were adjusted using a screwdriver to digital devices that can be completely personalized to you. The last ten years have seen even more rapid change, and that pace is continuing. Hearing aid manufacturers are constantly trying to outdo one another with improved comfort, audio quality, and convenience. We can't wait to see what hearing aids will be like in years to come.