Hearing Aids

Hearing is one of the most important senses, that we use each day. Hearing impacts our life’s in communication, personal relationships, and over — all quality of life. Loss of hearing can be attributed to age, exposure to loud noise, medication, infections, head or ear trauma, congenital or hereditary factors, and diseases. Ninety to ninety — five percent of hearing loss can be corrected, by a hearing aid. A small percentage of people will need surgery to correct this problem. In 2005, 31.5 Million people in the United States have hearing loss. One-third of all seniors, over 75 years old have a hearing loss, and fourteen percent of people aged between 45 to 64 years old. Third most chronic condition, that exists in older Americans. Most common signs of hearing loss include: Strain to understand when someone is speaking, frequently ask to repeat what someone said, play the radio or television louder than other’s need to hear, can’t hear the doorbell or telephone ring, and hearing only “mumble” of words spoken. Audiologist evaluates patients for hearing loss, by audiometric evaluation (AE). This test determines the exact type, and degree of hearing loss. Also, tells the audiologist how well or poorly understand speech. Audiologist examines the ear canal and eardrum. If any medical or surgery is required, the audiologist will refer the patient to an ear, nose and throat doctor. Hearing aids are useful for patients that have permanent hearing loss. According to a study in the November 2004 issue of ‘Archives of Otolaryngology,’ there is no link between smoking and hearing loss.

Types of hearing loss: Most common hearing loss is Sensorineural, which 90 percent of all hearing aid wearers attribute their hearing loss. Common causes for Sensorineural: age, noise exposure, poor blood circulation in the inner ear, inner ear fluid disturbance, and problems associated to hearing nerve. Conductive hearing loss occurs when sound is not conducted efficiently through the ear canal, eardrum or tiny bones of the middle ear, resulting in the reduction of loudness of sound. Causes of Conductive hearing loss: Earwax blocking the ear canal, middle ear infection, fluid in the middle ear, obstruction of the ear canal, perforations in the eardrum, and any disease effecting the three middle ear bones. Those experiencing this problem will often stop chewing on food, to hear what is being said or when eating crunchy foods, sound will be very loud. Mixed hearing loss is a combination of Sensorineural and Conductive hearing loss. Temporary Hearing loss: Exposure to loud sounds, wax in the ear or ear infection.

Transistors made by American Telephone and Telegraph created the foundation, which helped to produce the first variety of hearing aids. In 1952, companies sold a variety of hearing aids, which operated by a transistor, and vacuum tubes. These companies included: Germanium Products Corporation and Maico Company. The price of a hearing Aid started around $229.50, and then competition price fell to $74.50. These hearing aids powered by batteries, worn around the waist. The price of these batteries eventually fell from $100 to ten dollars.

Two types of hearing aid technology: Analog and Digital. Analog Hearing Aids — Offers limited capability too hear sound. Digital Hearing Aids — Provides the audiologist maximum control over sound quality / sound processing, and in 2005, Seventy – seven percent satisfaction by users.

Hearing Aids have Four Components: Microphone – Receives sound and converts it into electrical impulses. Amplifier – Intensifies the electrical impulses. Receiver – translates those electrical impulses into louder sounds. Battery – Power source for the hearing aid.

Four Basic types of hearing aids: Conventional – Adjusting the incoming sound volume, and cost between: $395 — $900. Programmable Analog – Programmed by a computer, to match the person’s hearing loss. Has flexibility, and automatic volume control. This type of hearing aid cost between: $1,300 to $1,700. Digital – Automatically adjust to multiple listening, and sound environments. The signal is clearer than other types of hearing aids, no distortion noticeable, and price range from $1,700 to $4,750. Furthermore soft sounds are distinguished from loud sounds, clarity is enhanced. Disposable hearing aid: Patients having mild to moderate hearing loss, “one size fits all” for 80 percent of men and 60 percent of women, expected to last between 30 to 40 days, purchased by prescription, no batteries to change, and cost usually less than $40 a piece. Manufactures of disposable hearing aid include the Songbird 400 Hour Digital Hearing Aid / 90-day battery life.

Different styles of hearing aids available based upon preference. Completely – in — the Canal (CIC) – For mild to moderate hearing loss, smallest type of device, almost invisible when placed in the ear, and unfortunately difficult to insert and adjust. In-the – Canal (ITC) – Mild to moderate hearing impairment, larger then CIC, fits down in the canal of the ear, and some degree unnoticeable. In – the Ear (ITE) – Available for a variety of hearing impairments, fill the ‘bowl’ of the ear, larger sound amplifiers, manufactured in large custom made styles, and easier to use than CIC and ITC devices. Mini – Canals (MC) – Size between ITC and CIC, smallest hearing aid, and tiny volume wheel. Behind – the – Ear (BTE) – Useful for sever hearing impairments, and dexterity problems, circuitry and microphone fit behind the ear, largest hearing device, maximum power, flexibility in fitting, least expensive, custom made from an ear impression, and very good for children. Post-auricular — canal — instrument (PAC) – Newest hearing aid that physically separates the processor from the receiver / speaker. The processor is placed behind the ear, and the receiver / speaker is placed deep in the ear canal. Binaural Hearing Aid (both ears) – In 2005, 86 percent of new hearing aid wearers fitted for binaural. Two hearing aids are necessary to compare and contrast loudness, pitch, and phase (timing) of the sounds, and make sense of the surroundings. The audiologist will advise on the type of devise, fitting, provide information on the use, and adjustments for appropriate level of loudness. Also, will teach how to insert, and care. Follow – up visits will be necessary to perform any maintenance repair, and any adjustments to enhance the performance.

Cochlear hearing implants are for patients that have severe, to profound hearing loss. In the United States approximately 500,000 people suffer from this hearing loss. These patients have previously tried other hearing aids, with no success. As of 1999, an estimated 32,000 patients worldwide have received cochlear implants. The devise is surgically and permanently implanted into the inner ear, by otolaryngology surgeon. Most insurance companies pay for this procedure. The Cochlear implants bypass the nonfunctional inner ear, and converts sound into electrical impulses, that directly stimulate, the cochlear nerve. Some patients will have a cochlear implant in one ear, and have a hearing aid worn, in the other ear. The degree of success using this device will be dependent, upon the recipient. Majority of these patients, were previously deaf prior to implantation. The cost for this devise ranges from $40,000 to $50,000. Sometimes Cochlear implants have to be removed. Following reasons: Body can reject the implant, skin flap can become infected, the implant receiver can extrude, electrode array can get damaged or were not implanted correctly, electrode array can move out of alignment or simply does not work. According to Cochlear lmplant Organization, two percent of these implants experience failure, and have to be removed. The Food and Drug Administration has a list of Cochlear implants that failed.
Batteries for hearing aid last between seven to fourteen days, based on a sixteen hour per day use. Cost of hearing aid batteries, are less than one dollar each. Smaller batteries will have a shorter battery life. Batteries are package in ‘zinc — air,” which become active, when removed from the sticker. When oxygen in the air, contacts the zinc within a battery, which will activate the battery to function. Shelf life for hearing aid batteries is up to three years, if stored in a cool and dry environment (Not in a refrigerator).

Further information on hearing aids: The cost for a hearing aid maybe covered, by some insurance companies. Medicaid does cover the cost of hearing aids. If a hearing aid is well maintained by keeping clean, dry, and changing batteries, should last between five to seven years. A Dry – Aid Kit will provide the necessary cleaning, for a hearing aid. The kit contains germicidal light that kills most bacteria, and other germs that accumulate on a hearing aid. Also keeping the hearing aid in the Dry – Aid Kit over — night. Telephone Ear pads are foamed pad that adheres to the telephone receiver, which helps hearing aid users, from hearing any feedback (whistling). Hearing Aid Battery Testers are pocket size tests, for hearing aid batteries strength. AdHear Cerumen Guards firmly sticks over the hearing aid. This prevents wax, and debris from entering thus preventing damaging, to the electronics, of the hearing aid.

American Hearing and Associates specialize in the diagnosis of hearing loss and treatment. Composed of professional audiologists, hearing aid dispensers, otolaryngology’s associated to hospitals and universities across the country. Provide education and technical expertise to associates.

Financial Assistance for Hearing Aids:

Assistive Technology Loan Fund
Tele: 804 – 662 – 7606
E-mail: loanfund@aerols.com – Mike Scione

Blue Ridge Speech and Hearing Center
602 South King Street
Leesburg, VA 20175
Tele: 703 – 777 – 5050
702 – 777- 4123 (Fax)

Alexander Graham Bell Association for the Deaf
3417 Volta Place, NW
Washington, DC 20007 – 2778
Tele: 800 – 432 – 7543
E-mail: AGBELL2@aol.com
or www.agbell.org

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