What is a Hearing Device?
A hearing device is any device that helps digitally decode sound for people with hearing loss. Typically just referred to as hearing aids, these devices come in a range of styles to suit different stages of hearing loss, as well as different preferences and needs. People with most degrees of hearing loss can benefit from hearing devices. People of all ages benefit from hearing devices!
How Do Hearing Devices Work?
A hearing device is designed to digitally decode speech and surrounding sounds to amplify the area of depressed hearing. These devices range quite a bit to offer different functionality for various types of hearing loss. Many modern hearing devices contain tiny computer processors that scan the environment to help you understand speech details in difficult listening environments.
Typically, hearing aids are designed to be as inconspicuous as possible while still providing excellent results. There is a huge range of hearing aids available on the market with plenty of different styles, sizes, and capabilities to choose from. SightMD offers hearing devices from the following manufacturers:
Hearing Device Styles
Hearing aids come in a variety of sizes and styles. Each kind of hearing aid is meant to offer unique benefits to the wearer. When finding the right style of hearing aid for a patient, an Audiologist will consider:
- The degree and stage of their hearing loss
- Manual dexterity and visual abilities
- Skin sensitivities
- Anatomical/medical considerations
Styles range from in-the-ear to behind-the-ear. In-the-ear styles include:
- Invisible In The Canal (IIC): IIC hearing aids are the smallest custom style that’s available. IIC hearing aids sit invisibly in or past the second bend of the ear canal. These types of hearing aids are typically best for people who have mild to moderate hearing loss.
- Completely In The Canal (CIC): These hearing aids fit deeply and entirely within the ear canal. Like IIC hearing aids, CIC are extremely extremely discrete, and most people will never even know when someone is wearing them. Because they are so small, Completely in the Canal hearing aids are not recommended for people with moderate to severe hearing loss.
- In The Canal (ITC): These instruments sit in the lower portion of the outer ear bowl. These typically have a longer battery life and can host different features like directional microphones and volume controls. In the Canal hearing aids are better for people who have more moderate hearing loss, as they pick up voices that are next to you, rather than behind you.
Behind-the-ear (BTE) styles include:
- Mini BTE With Slim Tube and Tip: These are designed to hide behind the outer ear and have an ultra-thin tube to help conceal the device. These hearing aids are discrete, and a good option for those that have suffered mild to moderate high-frequency losses.
- Receiver In Ear (RIC): These are Mini BTEs that have the speaker instrument incorporated into the ear tip. Like the mini BTE with slim tube and tip, RIC hearing aids are virtually invisible when they are worn. Having the receiver in the ear allows sound to be directed into the ear canal. This tends to be the most functional device for patients with hearing loss.
- BTE With Earmold: BTEs with earmolds can be used for people with mild to profound hearing loss. Earmolds connect the ear canal to the hearing aid and then put the sound into the ear.
Bluetooth Hearing Devices
Bluetooth-enabled hearing aids are extremely helpful for people who still want to stay connected to their technology. Bluetooth hearing aids allow you to connect to and hear your phone, TV, radio, GPS and more. Bluetooth–enabled hearing aids make the sound quality better by connecting to the direct source of the sound.
Bluetooth technology works similarly to wireless internet. Sounds are sent through an invisible electronic signal and picked up through your Bluetooth device. Thanks to Bluetooth hearing devices, individuals with hearing loss can easily stay connected to technology!
Pediatric Hearing Devices
After examination and diagnosis, one of our pediatric audiologists will work to fit your child with the right hearing device to suit their needs, if necessary. Infants as young as 4 weeks old can be fit with hearing aids. It is recommended that children get hearing aids as soon as possible so that they do not fall behind in early development. The sooner hearing problems are diagnosed, the faster we’ll be able to treat them!
Children cannot adjust their own hearing aids, so it is especially important to choose a hearing aid style that can be easily monitored by a parent or doctor. BTE hearing aids are typically recommended for children because they conform to the ear better and can accommodate wide ranges of hearing loss.
Earmolds and Earplugs
Earmolds and earplugs are important preventative tools for hearing loss. Sudden or prolonged exposure to loud noise, such as when shooting a gun or standing too close to a speaker at a concert, can damage hearing. Hearing loss from prolonged exposure to loud noise is often detected too late, meaning the hearing damage is permanent and irreversible.
Here at SightMD, we know that hearing loss prevention is extremely important. We encourage our patients to take all precautions to prevent hearing loss acquired from exposure to noise. People who can benefit from using earplugs include:
- Target shooters
- Airline pilots
- Construction workers
- Factory workers
- Anyone exposed to prolonged noise frequently as a result of their hobbies or jobs
Store-bought earplugs may offer some protection, but to get the best preventative power, custom fit molds are necessary.