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How Effective are Hearing Aids?

an audiologist is fitting a patient with brand new hearing aids

You probably know someone who has trouble hearing the TV clearly if it isn’t blaring at a loud volume. Maybe that person is you. If you are thinking about getting hearing aids or want to learn more about them to help someone else, a pressing question is whether they are effective or not.

Putting a common misconception to rest

Before discussing the effectiveness of hearing aid devices, it is important first to define their purpose. That involves clearing up a popular misconception.

Many people think that hearing aids are a cure for hearing loss. However, they are not meant to restore hearing.

Thus, any judgements of their effectiveness are not based on whether they are a cure or not, as that is not their purpose. Instead, hearing aids from an audiologist are designed to help restore normal hearing levels to enhance the user’s enjoyment of many activities. That then begs the question, do hearing aids help you hear better? If so, then they can be said to be effective.

Sound amplification of hearing aids

At its most basic level, hearing aids amplify sounds. For many people, the fragile hair cells in the ear that transfer sounds to the brain in the form of electric signals do not function correctly anymore.

An audiologist can suggest wearing a hearing aid to help overcome this issue; the device pulls in sounds through a microphone and increases their volume. This process helps the healthy hair cells that remain to convey the sounds to the brain as they would normally.

The sensitivity levels of the devices have improved over time, thanks to technological advancements. As well, there are many adjustable features now to provide great support for users, depending on their needs and wants.

This means that if a user does not deem a basic hearing aid to provide them with the hearing enhancement they need effectively, then they could benefit from a more advanced model of hearing aid.

An audiologist can determine the type of hearing aid to benefit the individual’s lifestyle. Features available in high-end models can meet challenging soundscapes like concerts and busy restaurants.

Choosing an effective hearing aid

By now, it is clear that hearing aids do not only have one design to meet each person’s needs. Whether the user deems them effective or not will likely require trial and error as they try different models at an audiologist’s recommendation to find which one works best in the environments the user frequents.

Additional features of advanced and premium hearing aids can be useful. The directional microphone feature, allows the person wearing the hearing aid to focus on one voice in a crowd or to keep a wider hearing range instead.

For a person with tinnitus, an embedded white noise generator is another feature. It is specifically designed to suppress the sounds associated with tinnitus, such as a ringing or buzzing, to make it less bothersome. Creating a calming listening experience for this individual can be life-changing.

As a result, those with tinnitus no longer have the unsettling experience of being unsure where sounds are coming from; they can now locate the origins of noises easier than before. Providing hearing aids with this specific feature to someone who has tinnitus will likely improve the chances of considering them to be effective.

Learning to use hearing aids

Getting the full usefulness out of a hearing aid takes time. It is a learning journey.

Why is that? One reason is that your brain must create a few new neural patterns. As with learning a second language, getting utility out of the device requires patience. The brain needs time to adjust fully.

Also, the brain might not recognize certain sounds if it has not heard them in a while. While the brain will remember, it does not always happen quickly. The understanding will come with time, and making the most use of the hearing aids requires learning through use, as with most things.

A note on maintenance

Lastly, hearing aid maintenance is necessary to keep them functioning properly. If an accident occurs, an audiologist can fix the devices, as well as reprogram them if needed. The audiologist will also show you how to clean the devices at home for them to operate at their best, as well as suggesting a professional cleaning regularly.

Conclusions on hearing aid effectiveness

Given the discussion above, we conclude that hearing aids are effective at improving the daily quality of life of users by helping them hear better than they did before. Their effectiveness heightens when wearers consult an audiologist to get the best type of hearing aid for their lifestyle and when they learn how to use the technology properly.

Proper maintenance is also necessary for maximum effectiveness. To find out more about hearing assessments and hearing aid devices, contact Atlantic Audiology today at 401-942-8080.