A hearing aid is a device designed to help utilize the auditory system to its fullest. Essentially the function of a hearing aid is to make everything louder. When one loses their hearing, they lose their ability to detect soft sounds. The hearing aid just makes these soft sounds loud enough to be audible.
There is not a hearing aid that exists today that will “cut out” background sounds completely. However, utilizing the latest technology available we are able to maximize your hearing in difficult listening situations.
When you decide to purchase hearing aids, the audiologist will take impressions (or molds) of your ears, as the hearing aids are custom built to fit only your ears. The impression is then sent to the hearing aid manufacturer who will build the hearing aid.
Types of Hearing Aids
At this time there are two different types of hearing aids available: Conventional and Programmable.
When a conventional hearing aid is ordered, the audiologist sends the impressions of your ears along with a circuit “matrix” so the manufacturer can build the hearing aid to match your specific hearing loss.
If you choose to order programmable hearing aids, the audiologist sends the impressions to the manufacturer, but rather than putting in a “conventional” circuit, they put in a programmable computer chip. The audiologist then programs the hearing aids in the office. This type of hearing aid is flexible enough to change as your hearing loss changes. These changes can be made in the office in a matter of minutes as opposed to several days for the conventional type of hearing aid.
Both types of hearing aids are excellent. With the technological advances that are available today, we are better able to restore a more normal sensation of hearing. There is no comparison between the hearing aids of five years ago and the hearing aids of today.
Adjusting to Your Hearing Aid
It will probably take you a while to get used to your new hearing aid. During this time, it is important to keep in mind that your aid will not make your hearing “normal” again, but it will make sounds louder, enabling you to participate in conversations and hear sounds that you may have missed before.
The first week is often the most trying period. You may here strange “new” sounds, like the hissing of a radiator, and you may be distracted by an array of background noises, such as the hum of a refrigerator or the sound of a knife on a dinner plate. Some everyday sounds, like rustling the newspaper or running water, will sound different. Your own voice may seem loud or strange to you. Your hearing aid should fit comfortably. Report any discomfort, pain, or irritation to your audiologist as soon as possible.
By the second week, you should be more comfortable wearing your aid, and better at identifying sounds. After the third week, you may get the feeling that your hearing is worse when you remove the aid, but this is a sign that you are getting accustomed to hearing again!
Care of Your Hearing Aid
1) Avoid situations where your hearing aid could fall any distance on to a hard surface. Be seated or hold the aid over a table rather than over the floor when changing the batteries, performing maintenance, or inserting it into the ear.
2) Keep the hearing aid dry. Remove the aid before swimming or taking a shower. Always store the aid in a dry place and keep it away from sources of dampness. Never attempt to dry it in any type of oven or with a blow dryer. Do not leave your aid in a pocket of clothing to be laundered.
3) Keep the hearing aid away from excessive heat or direct sunlight. Never leave it on a radiator, near a stove, in a sunny window, in a car glove box, or any other hot place. Do not wear the aid when using a hair dryer or near a sunlamp or heat lamp.
4) Remove the hearing aid before applying hair spray. It may damage the microphone. If you are often in dusty environments (wood shop, outdoors, etc.), your hearing aid may require more frequent cleaning and maintenance.
5) Store your hearing aid out of reach of youngsters or pets. It should be stored in its case when not in use. Open the battery door when not wearing the aid to prevent excessive battery drain.
6) Do not attempt to repair your own hearing aid. Never attempt to open its case. Do not wash or lubricate any part of the aid.
7) Cleaning: Keep the ear mold and tubing free of obstruction. Clean with a damp cloth and remove any accumulated wax with the provided wax removal tool. Clean the case of the aid by wiping carefully with a dry cloth or tissue. See your audiologist or hearing aid specialist twice a year for cleaning and maintenance.
Consumers with questions or complaints about the dealer should contact :
West Virginia Board of Hearing Aid Dealers
Department of Health
1800 Washington Street, East
Charleston, West Virginia 25305
For additional information or to make an appointment, please contact River Cities Ear, Nose & Throat Specialists, P.L.L.C. at (304) 522-8800 or (800) 955-3277.
Joseph B. Touma, M.D., F.A.C.S.
Touma Ear and Balance Center
1616 13th Avenue, Suite 100
Huntington, WV 25701
304.522.8800 or 800.955.3277