According to National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders, people older than 45, is about a one in five chance to suffer from some amount of hearing loss. That rate climbs steadily with the age: Almost one-third of people ages 65 to 74 report difficulty hearing, and the number continue to rise, reaching close to half of the people at 75. This problem can cause damage in your social life, and also increase your risk of falls, by making you less aware of your surroundings and impairing balance. Drive, for example, with this condition carries risks to you and also, third parties. The use of hearing devices or sound amplifiers can be a life changer for people regain control over their lives.

Causes of Hearing Loss

Great amount of hearing loss cases in adults are caused by the damage to the inner ear, where cells turn sound vibrations into impulses that nerve cells carry to the brain. Chronic exposure to loud noises and aging are the most common causes of that damage. Males are more susceptible to develop hearing problems as well as people with family history of severe hearing loss.

There is a second type of hearing loss that originates in the middle or outer ear and stems from reversible problems such as impacted earwax, fluid buildup from an infection, or the use of certain medications. Despite this type is easier to treat, older adults often have a mix of both types of loss.

If you're experiencing signs of hearing loss, consult a otolaryngologist, who will check for impacted earwax and other reversible causes. If none of these problems are found, the doctor will probably refer you to an audiologist to further investigation.

Once the cells in the inner ear are dead, we can't recover them. But today we have alternatives that can dramatically improve our ability to hear and carry on a normal life. One of them is hearing aids, that are small digital communication devices worn near or around a person’s ear. They are one of the most common ways that people use to battle hearing loss and enables people to live longer and with quality.

There are in the market many types of hearing aids, for many causes of hearing loss. But the purpose of a hearing aid is always the same: to amplify sound and improve the wearer’s quality of life.

Unfortunately, modern life make us increase the use of loud electronic devices more often, that can explain why the need for hearing aids is growing.

Those devices can vary in placement, features, pricing and hearing aid brands.

Types of hearing aids:

Every case has one individual need, so the right hearing aid for you depends on the severity of your hearing loss, your lifestyle, and your dexterity using those devices. We can categorize them by where on the ear they're worn, and possibly by the number of pieces:

  • Behind-the-ear hearing aids are two pieces;
  • An in-the-ear aid is one piece.

People with more severe hearing loss may prefer a behind-the-ear model with ear molds or an in-the-ear model. Smaller aids offer fewer features and might be more difficult to use, but of course, it varies from user to user. The tip here is try as many as you can, until you find the one that fits better to your needs.

Do not feel pressured to buy the smallest device. Today, we have in the market hearing aids small and relatively unnoticeable made with significant advancements in technology. However, is always good to remember that the smallest hearing aids do not provide as much power as other models. Always look for professional support to determine the best hearing aid size to fit your needs.

Digital Hearing aids

Digital hearing aids samples the sound in your environment at one million times per second. Then it levels the environment to your degree of hearing loss, which can be adjusted into the device. This all happens instantaneously and is completely automatic: The user don't have to control the volume or make any other adjustments. The Sound goes in the microphone, where it's processed by a chip, amplified, and delivered into the ear. Some digital hearing aids have features to modify the sound, making it more close to real and correcting other environment problems.

Those devices are what technology has best to offer and there is no reason anyone should be selling you a non-digital hearing aid in those days.

Personal Sound Amplifiers (PSAPs)

Personal Sound Amplifiers are designed for people who want to amplify certain sounds. These devices generally have fewer features and less functionality than hearing aids, but they can be a lower-cost solution for people with a less severe hearing loss.

Compared to other hearing aids, they aren't subject to the same safety and effectiveness standards, so you have to pay attention before buying one of these.

Assistive Listening Devices

If your hearing aids needs isn't that big, you can find a lot of low-cost listening devices to aid you. Today, we have apps that let you amplify sound with your smart phone and ear buds, portable wireless devices that helps you to listen your TV and innumerable other audio devices with earphones. Basic household items like telephones, alarm clocks, and doorbells can be found in amplified, flashing, or vibrating versions as well.

Getting professional advice

Get professional advice is the first thing you have to do if you think you need a hearing aid. Only medical doctors can evaluate your condition, and investigate accurately what might be affecting your ability to listen. You might start with your primary care doctor or go directly to an otolaryngologist, that is the specialist doctor in ear, nose, and throat problems.

Some otolaryngology offices also have hearing professionals known as audiologists. Both specialists are able to evaluate your condition and fit the best hearing aids for your needs.

After medical support, pay attention when making the purchase of your hearing devices or sound amplifiers: Make sure your contract allows you to return your aids and get all or most of your money back if you're not satisfied.

Always consider your future needs: Look for aids has enough residual amplification to handle a worsening in hearing loss.

In the beginning, will be strange to use the device, but be strong: Practice everyday activities using your new hearing aids. Note if you have problem with any environments in particular.

Remember: Putting on new hearing aids or sound amplifiers can't be compared to putting on new eyeglasses and immediately be able to see again. It takes time for your brain adjust to process the sounds that you haven't heard for a long time.

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