Hearing loss can be the result of many causes. Sometimes physical damage to the ear as the result of an injury or long exposure to loud noises can cause hearing loss.
Other forms of hearing loss are caused by tumors or diseases. Meningitis is an example of a disease that is thought to cause hearing loss problems.
Hearing loss that occurs after a person is born is called acquired hearing loss. Occasionally, some people suffer from congenital hearing loss, meaning that they are born with hearing problems.
Some types of hearing loss can be congenital or acquired, such as sensory hearing loss. This type of hearing loss occurs when the cochlea in the ear is damaged.
If the auditory nerve is damaged as well, this type of hearing loss can be called sensorineural hearing loss.
Some genetic diseases can cause this type of hearing loss, but it can also be caused by repeated exposure to noise. If this type of hearing loss is very advanced, hearing aids often do not help.
Fortunately, there are things that you can do if you suffer from hearing loss. First, you can tell people that you are hard of hearing and tell them to speak loudly and clearly when they talk to you.
It is also helpful if you face the person speaking to you so that you can see their lips moving. You can also use hearing aids to help you hear what is being said around you.
When you choose a hearing aid, you should know that there are two main types: analog and digital hearing aids. They work in different ways, but they both produce the same result, which is to help you hear.
If you think you have problems with hearing loss, you should see your doctor as soon as possible so that he or she can help you determine what you need to do.
Hearing Aid Basics: Different Types
When it comes to buying hearing aids, there are two main types that you can purchase.
They are analog hearing aids and digital hearing aids. Both types will improve your ability to hear the sounds around you, but they work in different ways.
Both types also come in a number of different styles, including in the ear models and around the ear models.
Analog hearing aids amplify the sounds that enter your ear. They consist of a microphone, which captures the sounds, and an amplifier, which makes the sounds louder.
The receiver is like a speaker, playing the sounds close to your ear drum. These hearing aids use something called automatic gain control or AGC to ensure that noises that are already loud are not over amplified.
This means that if someone screams, your hearing aids will not blast the sound into your ears.
These hearing aids can also be adjusted for different environments like your home or a football game, for example. On average, analog hearing aids cost around a few hundred dollars.
Digital hearing aids are another option, and they are often more expensive than analog hearing aids.
They use a computer chip that converts sounds into digital signals, which are converted back to sound closer to your ear drum. This process is called Digital Signal Processing or DSP.
These hearing aids can differentiate between noises and voices and can filter out background noise. They will also protect your ears again very loud sounds, and some digital hearing aids will shut off if things get too loud.
These hearing aids are often more expensive than analog hearing aids, and they average around one thousand dollars.
Some people prefer digital hearing aids because they use more advanced technology, but they are the more expensive of the two. Speaking with your doctor can help you decide which type is right for you.
Hearing Aid Styles: In the Ear and Behind the Ear
Whatever type of hearing aid you decide to buy, you can choose from a number of different styles. The two main styles are in the ear models and behind the ear models.
The first style, in the ear, is generally the smaller of the two, and they fit inside of your outer ear, which is also called the concha.
These hearing aids generally have to be custom fitted so that they will fit properly inside of your ear and not fall out. Many in the ear hearing aids are so small that other people cannot easily see them.
Some of the in the ear styles include completely in the canal hearing aids, in the canal hearing aids, and half shell hearing aids. These different styles are different sizes going from smallest to largest.
The larger hearing aids can correct more severe hearing loss. The smallest hearing aids are the least visible, and they do not pick up much wind noise.
However, they use the smallest batteries, which do not last as long as larger batteries, and they do not have things like volume control on them because of their small size.
The behind the ear model is the largest type of hearing aid. This type goes over the top of the ear, and the hearing aid rests behind the ear.
The hearing aid captures sound and transfers it into your ear through a molded piece that goes into the ear canal. This type of hearing aid can be used to help with all types of hearing loss.
Even though these hearing aids are large, they provide the most amplification when compared to other types of hearing aids. These models can often be adjusted manually.
Some behind the ear hearing aids are actually quite small. For example, one type of small behind the ear hearing aid is called open fit.
These hearing aids do not block the ear canal because sounds it transferred into the ear through a small wire instead of a larger molded piece.
Finding the right style for you depends on your type and severity of hearing loss, as well as your budget.
How Hearing Aid Technology Works
If you or a loved one wears hearing aids, then you know just how helpful they can be. When a person can hear and understand what is going on, he or she feels more included and generally feels happier.
So you know what a hearing aid does—it makes it easier to hear things, but do you know how it works?
All hearing aids, whether they are analog or digital, have the same basic parts.
First, they all have a microphone that gathers sounds. Second, they all have a device that amplifies that sound, and third, they all have a receiver that sends the amplified sound to the inner ear where it can be heard.
So, in the simplest terms, hearing aids make sounds louder. All hearing aids are powered by batteries.
Analog hearing aids convert sound into electronic signals, and they will often need to be manually programmed or adjusted for specific environments.
Digital hearing aids convert sound into digital signals, and they can generally adjust themselves automatically to changes in noise level. Because these hearing aids use digital signals, they can also tell the difference between speech and noise.
This helps people hear someone who is speaking even if there is a lot of background noise.
If you need a hearing aid, you will often have a mold of your ear made. The doctor will put a silicon material in the ear, which is removed once it has hardened, and this mold is used to make a custom hearing aid.
Because hearing aids amplify sound and reproduce it right next to the ear drum, a hearing aid will not work if your auditory nerve has been severely damaged.
Also, if the hair cells in your ear, which convert sound into nerve signals, have been damaged, hearing aids will not be able to help you.
Often the largest hearing aids are the best amplifiers because all of the parts, the microphone, the amplifier, and the receiver, are larger.
However, you will need to see an audiologist in order to determine the severity of your hearing loss and to determine what type of hearing aid you need.
The Cost of Hearing Aids
So you and your doctor have decided that you need hearing aids, and now you have to buy them, but does your insurance even cover hearing aids?
Unfortunately, some insurance providers do not cover hearing aids, which can be a major problem for some people because hearing aids can be very expensive.
On average, the least expensive hearing aids can cost a few hundred dollars each, but the most expensive one can easily cost over a thousand dollars.
Most insurance providers will not cover the cost of hearing aids, but some will pay for the medical exams that are necessary to determine if you need hearing aids.
Medicare, for example, will pay for those exams, but it does not cover the cost of hearing aids.
Some private insurance providers in certain states are required to provide a benefit of a certain amount of money to help a person buy and maintain their hearing aids.
States such as New Mexico, Connecticut, and Delaware require that private insurance companies help pay for hearing aids for children. Only a few states require that both children and adults are covered, and they include Rhode Island, Arkansas, and New Hampshire.
If you need a cochlear implant, you will have better luck finding insurance coverage because many companies consider these implants to be a prosthetic device.
If you do need hearing aids, but your insurance provider does not cover them, there are a few things you can do. First, many sellers will sell used or refurbished hearing aids, and these tend to be less expensive than brand new ones.
Some non-profit organizations will help people buy hearing aids, but they tend to focus on children or the elderly.
Financing your hearing aids or using flexible spending accounts that are set up by your insurance provider, can also help you afford to buy hearing aids.
Common Hearing Aid Questions
How does a hearing aid work?
All hearing aids are made of three basic parts: the microphone, the amplifier, and the receiver. The microphone gathers sounds and sends them to the amplifier. T
he amplifier converts the sounds into either electronic or digital signals, which are then sent to the receiver.
The receiver is generally located right next to the ear drum, and it takes the signals and converts them back into sounds so that you can hear them.
Larger hearing aids often have larger amplifiers, and they are generally used for more severe hearing loss.
Wearing a hearing aid embarrasses me, are there any discreet options?
Some hearing aids are actually very small. The completely in the canal versions fit inside the ear canal and can only barely be seen.
However, most forms of severe hearing loss will need a slightly larger hearing aid. You should talk to your doctor to find out which style is right for you.
How much does the average hearing aid cost?
Hearing aids do tend to be expensive. On average, they can cost anywhere from $500 to over $2000. The prices depend on the brand and the model of hearing aid that you choose. Refurbished or used hearing aids are often less expensive than new ones. Some companies offer disposable hearing aids, and these can be less than $100.
Will private insurance cover my hearing aids?
Most insurance providers do not cover the cost of hearing aids. However, a few states require that insurers must cover the cost, like Rhode Island and Arkansas.
These states require that both adults and children are covered. A few more states require that insurance companies cover the cost of hearing aids for children but not for adults.
How often do the batteries in my hearing aid need to be replaced?
Hearing aid batteries are very small, and, as a result, they do not last for a very long time. The smaller your hearing aid is, the shorter the battery life will be (because the battery is smaller).
Also, digital hearing aids will consume batteries more quickly than analog hearing aids. In general, hearing aid batteries last about a week.
Some will only last four or five days, and some will go as long as two weeks. So it is a good idea to have a lot of hearing aid batteries on hand, and you should store them in a cool, dry place.
The Top Hearing Aid Brands Available
If you are looking for the right hearing aids for you, you probably want to know which brands are the most popular.
When you buy brand name hearing aids, you know that you will be getting a quality product. Some popular hearing aid brands can be expensive, but you are paying for good quality.
How are you to know what hearing aid device to buy? This was my first question when I started looking at getting a hearing device.
There are so many brands of out there is a bit overwhelming and each company has numerous models. The process can be very daunting but if you are armed with the right information that the decision can be that much easier.
Your best resource is going to be your hearing specialist, however the more you know about the different brands and models the better off you are going to be.
As you can see all these companies mentioned above have great long standing reputations with a wide range of digital hearing aids to meet almost any budget.
There are many other brands out there as well and I will do my best to review these when I get more time.
If you could not find the information on the company you were looking for then check back soon as I update this site fairly often. Check out our other Hearing Aid Reviews below.
We have many reviews on other hearing aids brands, see our easy guide to see which is best for your needs.
Audibel Hearing Aids
- Feedback Cancellation
- Noise Control
- Speech Locator
- Telephone Response
- Multimedia Processing
- Remote Adjustments
- Water Resistance
NuEar Hearing Aids
Oticon Hearing Aids
- TV Adapter
- Phone Adapter
ReSound Hearing Aids
Songbird Hearing Aids
Starkey Hearing Aids
- Noise Reduction
- Feedback Eliminator
- Telephone Solutions
- Multimedia Processing
- Remote Adjustments
- Water Resistance
Unitron Hearing Aids
- Automatic Focus
- Speech Directionality
- Binaural Phone
- Sound Balance
- Directional Microphones
- Shock Absorption
- Wind Manager
- Music Enhancement
Vivatone Hearing Aids
- An enhanced fitting range and long battery life.
- Fewer channels than the higher models.
- Automatic directional microphone with six programming bands for remembering your settings.
- Baseline option with fewer channels but still great battery life (160 hours).
- Enhanced anti-feedback technology clears up the sound.
Widex Hearing Aids
- Sound Diary
- Speech Intensifier
- Range Compression
Zounds Hearing Aids
- Accurate Programming
- Remote Controllable
- Amazing Clarity
- Noise Cancellation
- Feedback Cancellation
- Sound Suppression
- Phone Feedback Cancellation