Hearing aid technology has improved significantly over the past few years, helping millions of people with hearing loss live better lives. According to the National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders (NIDCD) approximately 28.8 million U.S. adults could benefit from using hearing aids.
Hearing loss is more common among older Americans, but among those 70 and older who could benefit from hearing aids, the NIDCD says, fewer than 30 percent have actually ever used them. So why the discrepancy?
One size doesn’t fit all
There are several different types of hearing aids, from behind-the-ear (BTE) aids where most parts are enclosed in a small container that rests behind the ear, to mini BTEs that fits nearly on the ear, to in-the-canal (ITC) aids that are the smallest and most discreet.
Aside from sizes and styles, there are also analog hearing aids that amplify all types of sounds in the same way, to digital aids that have plenty of flexibility in programming, perfect for fitting a variety of lifestyles.
To find the best type of hearing aid for your specific needs, the U.S. Food & Drug Administration recommends getting a medical examination and consulting a qualified, licensed audiologist for a complete consultation and fitting.
Proper check-ins and follow-ups are key for happy hearing
There’s a big reason why nearly 99 percent of patients at Pawley Island’s Coastal Hearing Center still wear their hearing aids, even four years after they’ve gotten them. According to audiologist Rick Steighner, patients at Coastal receive regular check-ins, typically once immediately after receiving the hearing aid, and then again at 3 weeks, 3 months, and so on. During the exams, which are free-of-charge, Steighner learns more about the patient and how the hearing aid is performing, making adjustments as needed.
Hearing loss isn’t static
While some may think hearing loss is always the same, Steighner stresses that it’s not a static condition. As factors such as environment change, so do noise levels, and for many changes, hearing aid adjustments should follow.
One “extremely rare” service Coastal Hearing offers, the audiologist says, is home visits. During these visits, Steighner is able to observe patients and make sure their hearing aids are doing everything they should be. For instance, some people use TV speakers that aren’t correctly programmed with their hearing aids. Audiologists can make tweaks so the patient’s favorite TV shows can be heard loud and clear.
Hearing aid education sometimes gets lost in the noise
After getting a hearing aid, most doctors advise that patients call or schedule follow-ups if they have encounter any problems. For many patients, though, it can be hard to tell whether or not there’s an actual problem with their hearing aid. Steighner compares this to the oil change light in your car – “If we didn’t have that light come on telling us to change our oil, well, we’d drive our car until it blew up!”
Proper communication and education is essential when it comes to hearing aids. There are likely many features patients may not know about – like the ability to add a mic onto someone that amplifies directly to the hearing aid, perfect for couples who are having trouble hearing each other (men are about twice as likely as women to develop hearing loss with age).
If you’re suffering in silence from hearing loss, consult a reputable local hearing specialist like Coastal Hearing Center on Pawley’s Island and receive a full evaluation of the health of your auditory system.
For over 30 years, audiologist Rick Steighner has been improving patients’ quality of life by restoring their hearing. His team at Coastal Hearing Center is committed to providing high quality, friendly service and the best range of hearing aids on the market.
For more information about hearing loss, visit CoastalHearingCenter.com or call (843)-314-4240.