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With space-age technology, the ears have it

April, 2010

The art of decision-making is becoming more and more difficult as space-age technology advances at a rapid pace.

With the vast amount of high digital technology developed, the purchase or renewal of a hearing aid can be a difficult decision to make. However, we can analyze the options so the chore won’t be as dramatic as it may seem. Firstly, one has to consider the type and amount of hearing loss. Once this is established, we must consider the discrimination factor: The intelligibility or understanding of words, the amount or percentage that the individual understands in any given sentence. A person may hear but not necessarily comprehend everything that is being said. Another very important consideration is whether it will be one hearing aid or two.

Provided that all the conditions are met and you are a candidate to wear hearing aids, a binaural fitting (using two aids) is always the best decision, because we should hear with both ears. This will give you more balanced hearing and a stereo effect, but also a more natural way of hearing, as Mother Nature had intended it to be.

A well-fitting hearing aid can help you communicate more freely with your loved ones. Photo: Mohammed Osman, Wikimedia Commons

Anyone who meets the government’s criteria, regardless of age, is eligible for a subsidized hearing aid, which is replaced once every six years, or earlier if its use has expired.

The price range for digital hearing aids range from $1,000 to very sophisticated instruments that can cost $3,600.

It is highly recommended that you first see an ear, nose and throat doctor to make sure there is no obstruction in the ear, such as earwax or an accumulation of debris or infection.

The physician will also verify whether a surgical intervention might remedy the problem. If the diagnosis is positive, your doctor will make a recommendation to have an audiometric examination performed by an audiologist, who will then make the appropriate recommendation as to the hearing instrument that would be best suited to you. An audioprosthetist will do the fitting.

There are many models available, such as C.i.C. (inside the canal), ITE (in the ear), open fit (tiny instrument that sits discretely behind the ear with a filament-type tubing that goes directly into the canal), full shell (fits completely inside the cavity of the ear) and, for the more severe losses, there is the BTE (behind the ear).

No matter which hearing aid is purchased, you and your audioprosthetist will have to make certain during the course of more than one appointment that the fitting of the acquired instrument is as comfortable as possible. The follow-up is an important step, assuring that everything is working properly.

The maintenance of your hearing aid is the best way to ensure that you get the maximum results.

Visiting your audioprosthetist every six months will ensure your well-being and the functionality of your hearing aid, which in turn will give you a better quality of life in communicating with your loved ones.

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