THE BRAIN CANNOT UNDERSTAND WHAT IT CANNOT HEAR
If you have been diagnosed with sensory (sensorineural) hearing loss, you will benefit from wearing hearing aids. However, hearing aids do not restore your hearing. That is why they are called “aids.” Hearing aids can only be effective if used in combination with a comprehensive communication plan. Everyone’s experience with, and amount of benefit from hearing aids, is very individualized and depends on the following factors:
- How well you follow your personalized communication plan
- How dedicated you are to consistently wearing your hearing aids
- How long your hearing loss went untreated before pursuing hearing aids
- How much functional hearing you have left to work with
- How well you maintain your overall health
- How you commit mentally and emotionally to treating your loss
- How open you can be with your frequent communication partners about your hearing needs and how committed those individuals are to helping you hear your best
HEARING BETTER TAKES TIME
For many people, their hearing has been progressively worsening over several months or years. It takes time for your brain to relearn how to hear. Dr. Ivory understands that the hearing rehabilitative process will take some time and he will have patience throughout the journey. Dr. Ivory will utilize all his skills, knowledge, experience and insights to make sure he helps you progress to the point where you can hear your best.
Hearing aids all share the same components – microphone, processor, amplifier, receiver, battery. They come in many shapes and sizes, and the configuration of these components differ depending on the style of the hearing aid. There are four standard styles of hearing aids. What style is best for you is dependent on many factors including the degree of your hearing loss, the size and shape of your ear canals, your dexterity, and your vision. Dr. Ivory works with you to determine which is the best for you. Take a peek at the four standard styles:
Hearing Aid Styles
In-the-canal (ITC) hearing aids are a form of ITE hearing aids, worn deep inside the ear canal. These are usually custom made devices made to fit inside your canal, which gives them the benefit of being visually discreet. ITC hearing aids may be difficult for people with dexterity issues to control, while the lack of a directional microphone means they are better suited for people with moderate levels of hearing loss. They come in completely-in-canal and invisible-in-canal styles.
In-the-ear (ITE) hearing aids are worn inside the ear, with the shell of the hearing aid at the surface of the ear. The options are full shell or half shell. ITE hearing aids house all of their components in a plastic shell. While these hearing aids benefit people who wear glasses or experience arthritis, they may not be convenient for those who have dexterity issues due to their small controls.
Receiver-in-canal (RIC) hearing aids look like BTE hearing aids; the difference is that the receiver is worn in the canal. RIC hearing aids are discreet and treat a wide range of degrees of hearing loss. Like BTE ones, they may pose a challenge for those who wear glasses due to their placement.
Behind-the-ear (BTE) hearing aids are worn on the back of the ear with a plastic tube that delivers sound to a custom ear mold. BTE hearing aids are easier to control and treat a wide range of degrees of hearing loss. They may be inconvenient for people who wear glasses, but the placement of their controls will be easy for people who have dexterity issues.
Hearing Aid Brands
There are many different brands of hearing aids. Everyone’s brain processes sound differently and every brand of hearing aid processes sounds differently too. It is important to work with your audiologist to find a hearing aid manufacturer that works the best with your brain’s processing. Dr. Ivory works with all the major hearing aid manufacturers (listed below) because he knows every patient is unique and not one hearing aid brand or hearing aid is appropriate for everyone.
HOW DOES DR. IVORY SELECT THE BEST HEARING AIDS FOR YOUR NEEDS?
Dr. Ivory completes an evidence-based comprehensive functional communication assessment to determine what brand, style, and level of hearing aids best meet your individual needs. He also keeps up with the literature and research by reading recent journal publications regarding patient outcomes with different hearing aids. Once hearing aids have been selected, it is important that they are fit using best practices to ensure you maximize your benefit from your hearing aids, as well as, ensure the aids do not contribute to you experiencing further hearing loss. Evidence based best practices for hearing aid fittings include the following:
- Electroacoustical analysis testing
- Real ear speech mapping verification testing
- Education and training regarding insertion and removal of devices, how to change batteries, and how to keep hearing aids clean and functional
Starkey is an American hearing aid manufacturer, known for their innovative Halo iQ made for iPhone hearing aid. The Halo iQ connects wirelessly to your iPhone, allowing you to control your hearing aid from the convenience of an app. This also increases accessibility to wearers, as they are able to stream phone calls, music, and other media directly from the smartphone to their hearing aids. Starkey’s latest hearing aid is the Muse Made for Life, with improved speech intelligibility and sound clarity.
Oticon is a Danish manufacturer of hearing aids, with the new Opn made for iPhone hearing aid. Powered with the Velox Processing Platform, OPN reduces listening effort by 20% in noisy environments and improves speech recognition by 30%. Oticon is also known for their BrainHearing Technology, which is found in a number of their hearing aid models such as Alta, Nera, and Ria. BrainHearing supports the brain’s function as it makes sense of sound.
Phonak is a Swiss manufacturer of hearing aids. Phonak uses the Venture Processing Platform to provide wearers with clear sound. Venture analyzes and balances sounds at a fast pace, while using 30% less battery power. The Lyric hearing aid is Phonak’s 24/7 hearing solution, inserted deep in the ear canal where it does not require removal or recharge for up to four months. Phonak hearing aids are available in three models, fully customizable with four technology levels to address different degrees of hearing loss.
Widex is a family owned company founded in Denmark in 1956. Today, it is one of the world’s largest manufacturers of hearing aids. Their approach to innovation has led to such advances as the world’s first fully digital in-the-ear hearing aid, as well as their own revolutionary wireless technology. Widex believes that hearing aids are more than the technology inside them. In addition to focusing on helping people hear better, Widex also ensures their products are comfortable and easy to wear. Widex focuses just as much on design of hearing aids as on technology to create a near-natural hearing experience.
Signia is a sister brand of the German manufacturer Siemens and is the latest brand from the Sivantos Group. Signia Primax hearing aids have been clinically proven to reduce listening effort. Primax hearing aids are equipped with features such as SpeechMaster, powered by noise reduction, directionality, and steering amplification; HD Music, which offers hearing aid wearers excellent high fidelity sound quality; and EchoShield, to provide comfort and balance with reverbed sounds. Primax also offers wireless connection to smartphones through the easyTek app.
Unitron is a Canadian hearing aid manufacturer with several impressive hearing aids: Stride, Moxi, and Max, all of which provide wearers with excellent speech recognition, noise cancellation, feedback elimination, and wireless connectivity. The Max hearing aid is designed to address severe to profound hearing loss. Unitron uses TrueFit Software to ensure the best fit for specific hearing needs, with a Flex program to allow wearers to test drive hearing aids to find their best fit.
ReSound is a Danish hearing aid manufacturer, known for their LiNX 3D made for iPhone hearing aid. ReSound LiNX 3D connects to the iPhone and allows wearers to stream phone calls, music, and other media directly to their aids. ReSound also offers the ENZO 2 hearing aid, designed to address higher degrees of hearing loss. These offer people with severe to profound hearing loss enhanced speech recognition and spatial awareness. At a higher amplification, the ENZO 2 manages to eliminate feedback, providing a comfortable listening experience.