Hearing aids are medical devices designed to improve patients’ ability to hear. While traditional hearing aids used to be simple passive tools, modern hearing aids are quite technologically complex and can be configured to the patient’s physical features, his or her lifestyle, and the specific form of hearing loss the patient is suffering from.
Who Can Use Them?
In order to determine whether or not a patient will be a good candidate for a hearing aid, an audiologist will perform a few different types of tests. Audiometry provides a measure of the patient’s level of hearing, including his or her threshold of audibility, while self-reported assessments help to measure how well the device works in a real-world setting. Outcomes can be measured on three different scales: patient benefit, aided speech recognition and hearing aid usage.
What are the Benefits?
While hearing aids are not generally able to restore completely normal hearing, they can improve it significantly. They can make it easier to understand human speech, even in crowded places, and can make sounds like birdsong, ringing bells, and running water more audible. This improves patients’ well-being and allows them to remain more independent and feel more capable in social situations.
What Options are Available?
There are a number of different kinds of hearing aids available on today’s market designed to fit different ear shapes and different lifestyles. The two most popular of these are behind-the-ear (BTE) and in-the-ear (ITE) hearing aids, with BTE devices featuring a case that hangs behind the patient’s ear and coming in a wide range of sizes depending on the severity of the patient’s hearing difficulties and ITE devices fitting into the outer ear bowl and often holding extra features.
How Can Patients Get a Hearing Aid?
The first step for any patient who is interested in obtaining a hearing aid to take is to schedule an appointment with an audiologist. This will give the patient the opportunity to have his or her hearing evaluated and to discuss which options will be most comfortable and most practical with a specialist. Those who are concerned about the impact hearing aids may have on their social or work lives should also note that there are plenty of discreet options available.