Hearing aids are not your average glasses. Many people have the misconception that getting hearing aids is comparable to getting glasses, meaning that they correct your hearing and make it “normal” again. Hearing aids are prescribed according to the hearing test results and individual patient needs.
They are then programmed using the results found from the audiometric testing that was performed in a sound-proof booth. Hearing aids should be programmed with real-ear verification, meaning the audiologist fitting the hearing aids should be performing a microphone measurement of the ear with the hearing aid on and inserted. This is the only way to guarantee an accurate fit. It is required by law that children under the age of 18 need to have their hearing aids programmed using real ear verification. Why is it that after 18 years of age, professionals are not required to fit accurately with this type of measurement? Hearing aids are also programmed using the individual’s input while they are in the office (this is crucial for successful programming of the hearing aids). Hearing aids do amplify sound and they amplify it at specific frequencies where a person’s hearing has decreased. They do not, however, restore the perfect “normal” hearing the person once had.
The Hearing Aid Adjustment Period
There is always an adjustment period in which someone wearing hearing aids will have to get used to hearing their voice through a speaker instead of hearing it resonate through their head. At times, this causes the perception of a slight echo or difference in voice quality until the patient gets used to hearing their voice through a speaker. A good comparison to this is when a person records a message on their answering machine, then re-plays the message, and thinks that their voice sounds strange. Their voice sounds strange because they are hearing it from a speaker. The voice effect typically goes away soon after they have worn the hearing aids on a consistent basis.
Not Your Grandfather’s Hearing Aids
Hearing aid technology has come a long way since the old analog style hearing aid. They are not what your father or grandfather used to wear.
A large amount of research has been done to give us the best digital hearing aids we have on the market today. Hearing aids are more comparable to wearing ‘mini computers’ on your ears. They are able to filter sound so quickly; the frequencies or pitches which need more volume are amplified, without hearing a delay in the speaker’s voice. This digital technology helps to give the individual wearing the hearing aid a clear sound quality without distortion. Digital hearing aids are not the same as the amplifier aids found in magazines for $250.00 a pair. Amplifiers look like hearing aids but turn the volume up for every frequency, even those that do not need it, which can result in further damage to the hearing organ.
Digital Surround Sound vs. Analog AM Radio
Quality hearing aids are expensive, but they are prescribed specifically for an individual’s hearing loss. No two hearing losses are ever the same. Investing in a good pair of hearing aids will ensure the person with the hearing loss will get the most out of the hearing. Cheaper amplifier aids are comparable to listening to music on a 6 volt AM/FM radio in a 1965 Volkswagen Bug, while newer digital hearing aids are more comparable to hearing music with a nice BOSE sound system. Sound quality is everything.
So while hearing aids do not restore that “normal” hearing, having a good pair of hearing aids fit by a professional with a doctorate degree in audiology drastically improves the hearing you do have.