How does a hearing aid work?
A hearing aid is like a miniature PA (public address) system designed for personal use. It is designed to take in an acoustic signal of low intensity (soft sound) and retransmit it at higher intensity (loud sound) so that it may be better heard. The hearing aid microphone picks up ambient sound and sends it to an amplifier, which makes the sound louder. The amplified sound is sent into the ear canal towards the ear drum and inner ear. Most hearing aids have a volume control, typically outside the aid, which adjusts the loudness of the amplifer. The hearing aid battery supplies the power to make the device work.
What are three basic types of hearing aids?
- Behind the Ear (BTE): All components are encased in a small, slim case worn behind the ear. Sound is conducted to an earmold through a plastic tube. These aids tend to have larger controls which are easier for some to adjust. BTE aids may be fit to all degrees of hearing loss, from mild to profound.
- In the Ear (ITE): All components are contained in a housing that fits in the outer ear and extends into the ear canal. The sound is conducted into the ear by the receiver in the ear canal. The volume control typically requires greater dexterity than BTE styles to make adjustments. For mild to severe hearing loss.
- In the Canal (ITC): All components are contained in a housing that fits in the ear opening and the ear canal. The sound is conducted into the ear by the receiver in the canal. The volume controls are typically very small. These aids are less visible in the ear than the ITE types. For mild to moderately-severe hearing loss.
Is a single hearing aid adequate, or are two preferable?
For most people, binaural (two) hearing aids are recommended in the presence of bilateral hearing loss, except in special circumstances. Two aids provide better stereo balance of sound, a betterability to localize where sound is coming from, and a betterability to hear well in the presence of background noise. A new user may wish to purchase one hearing aid initially and then a second aid later. The audiologist will help each individual determine what is best forthem.
What can I expect after being fitted with a hearing aid?
Modern hearing aids have the ability to bring hearing back to normal, in many instances.
How do I get a hearing aid for myself or someone else?
If you suspect that you or a family member or friend has a hearing impairment, a physician should first be consulted to rule out any medically correctable cause. Your family physician can refer you to an otolaryngologist (Ear Nose and Throat Specialist), or you can identify an Ear Nose and Throat specialist on this web site. The otolaryngologist will examine your ears and refer you for a formal hearing test, performed by an audiologist. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration requires that a licensed physician examine and provide medical clearance for hearing aid use within six months of the purchase of a hearing aid (unless a waiver is signed). Once a hearing loss is identified, and any treateable disease ruled out, the audiologist will counsel you on the type of hearing loss that you have and the degree. Based upon the type of hearing loss and degree, the adiologist will counsel you on what type of hearing aid will work best to help you hear better. Working together, you and your audiologist will be able to maximized you ability to hear and communicate.
The Hearing Aid Dispensary is located in the Hearing and Balance Center located at The New York Eye and Ear Infirmary, 230 Second Avenue, New York City.