What do you think of when someone mentions hearing aids? Is it the large beige monstrosity your grandparents wore or do you think of a slim, barely visible smartphone compatible device?
What comes to mind if someone mentions a computer? Do you picture a clunky desktop or a sleek paper-thin touch screen tablet? What about a dashboard in a car? Do you picture a radio with a built-in cassette player or a video display with GPS and satellite radio?
We live in a world where computers no longer need keyboards, our cars can basically drive themselves and our phones are used less for calling and more for email, apps, photos and music. Yet with all of these well-known and accepted advances in technology, when it comes to hearing instruments clients still imagine the chunky hearing instrument that squealed every time they hugged their grandparent.
I am convinced it is this image that keeps those with hearing loss from considering hearing instruments. But I can assure you that is not what hearing instruments are today—and I’m here to change your perception. Let’s start by not referring to them as hearing aids (chunky, beige monstrosities) but are rather hearing instruments (small, sleek and smartphone compatible). These instruments pair with your phone through an app via Bluetooth technology. The app allows you to change your volume, adjust the background noise in your environment or even stream your phone calls through your instrument.
Today’s hearing instruments are nothing like the aids your grandparent wore in the 1970s. Because of this, people are wearing hearing instruments at the first sign of hearing loss rather than dreading the day they have to start using one.
The look and function of hearing instruments is only the beginning of the myths floating around about them. The American Speech and Hearing Association recently printed a myths and facts article about hearing instruments*.
*Even though they are still referring to hearing instruments as hearing aids the information is good so we will forgive this little misprint.
Myth: Hearing aids restore hearing to normal just as an eyeglass prescription can restore vision to 20/20.
Fact: Hearing aids do not restore hearing to “normal.” Hearing aids do not “cure” your hearing loss, but they provide benefit and improvement in communication. They can improve your hearing and listening abilities, and they can substantially improve your quality of life.
Myth: You can save time and money by buying hearing aids online or by mail order.
Fact: By working with an audiologist, you are purchasing professional care and services to ensure that the correct hearing aid is selected and that proper programming of the hearing aid is completed. Other professional care includes:
- Hearing evaluation
- Referral for medical treatment (if needed)
- Hearing aid evaluation
- Verification of fit of hearing aid
- Instruction in how to properly use and maintain the hearing aid
- Follow-up care and support
- Repair services
- Rehabilitation services
Myth: A hearing aid will damage your hearing.
Fact: A properly fitted and maintained hearing aid will not damage your hearing.
Myth: A milder hearing loss is not bad enough for a hearing aid.
Fact: Everyone’s hearing loss and listening needs are different. By working with your audiologist, you can determine if a hearing aid is needed and how much it will improve your hearing.
Myth: Wearing two hearing aids is not necessary.
Fact: We normally hear with two ears. Binaural (two-eared) hearing helps us localize sounds, assists us in noisy settings, and provides natural sound quality. Most people with hearing loss in both ears can understand better with two aids than with one.
Myth: The invisible hearing aids worn in the ear are the best hearing aids to purchase.
Fact: There are several styles of hearing aids, and all are “state of the art.” What is most important is that you purchase a hearing aid that accommodates your hearing loss and your listening needs. Just because your friend uses a particular hearing aid style does not mean you have to (or should) use that style. Your friend’s style of hearing aid may be a totally inappropriate prescription for your needs.