The rise of technology has brought with it, several helpful aids for humans. Most of these aids come in the form of medical devices that assist us with our senses, should they not work perfectly. And one such medical device that can be considered a boon for humans is the hearing aid.
What Exactly is a Hearing Aid?
A small electro acoustic device which is used to amplify, modulate sound waves, a hearing aid is an instrument that is worn either behind the ear or fitted inside the same for those individuals who experience partial deafness or hearing problems. A hearing aid typically works in the same way as an olden day ear horn wherein, sound waves are gathered by the device, amplified, modulated and then directed into the ear canal.
Types of Hearing Aids
The olden day hearing aids consisted of ear trumpets or ear horns which looked like small funnel like cones that were placed in the ear for sound amplification purposes. Nowadays, there are more standardized versions to the original ear horn; and they come in different sizes, styles and plenty of attractive features for additional support (like microphone, volume control etc). Accordingly, a hearing aid can be worn around the ear, can be partially placed inside the ear; or can be small enough to fit into the ear completely (would not be visible from outside).
The hearing aids that are worn behind the ear are comparatively large in size and is clearly visible, but provides the best amplification possible. They consist of a behind the ear hearing aid hook which carries the amplified sound to an ear mold fitted inside the ear canal. These types of hearing aids also come with a custom made ‘Open Fit’ feature that would be smaller in size and less visible to outsiders.
In the canal hearing aids are generally custom fitted into the ear canal (partially). Smaller in size and less visible to outsiders, these hearing aids come in the form of half shell versions (fits into the lower portion of the outer ear) and full shell versions (fits the entire outer ear).
A more popular choice of hearing aids among individuals today happens to be called ‘completely in the canal’, and is custom fitted deep into the ear canal, making it nearly invisible for outsiders. This type is more preferred by individuals owing to the fact that it filters out most of the noise and other interruptions before sending in the amplified sound.
Getting Adjusted to Hearing Aids and Their Side Effects
Wearing hearing aids for the first time can be quite troublesome, and can cause more than a few uncomfortable side effects. However, that does not give you an excuse to remove your hearing aids at regular intervals. For these effects wear off only with time and can be avoided only if you wear your aids consistently.
Here are some of the more common side effects of hearing aids you may want to know about.
This is the most common side effect faced by individuals who wear hearing aids. In this case, the individual in question hears his/her own voice echoing back; or feels that his/her voice is too loud or hollow.
Photo Credit: Hearingaids123.com
This occurs because of the ear plug placed in the ear canal. The device actually obstructs the sound vibrations that reverberate off the bone inside the ear. This causes the strange sensation of being plugged up or hearing loud voices inside the head.
Not a concern though, for the effect can be neutralized easily with the help of an audiologist who would make the necessary corrections to your hearing aid. However, the occlusion effect is a temporary phase and wears off on its own (you get used to it actually) with time.
Uncomfortable in the Ear
If this is the first time you are wearing a hearing aid, then it would most definitely take some time for you to get used to that very uncomfortable plug sitting snuggly inside your ear. Sometimes, a loosely fitted ear plug can constantly move around in the ear canal, causing soreness and swelling. Then again, in certain cases, a tightly fitted ear plug can cause wounds.
In addition to this, the initial fitting of a hearing aid in the ear canal would not be sufficient and would warrant additional visits to the audiologist for fine tuning purposes. An audiologist would be able to tell you how frequently you need to wear your hearing aid in order to get used to the same. Alternatively, audiograms (as suggested by the audiologist) would also enable you to get used to the device.
Improper sound quality in the hearing aid would most probably lead to consistent headaches; and this problem would most likely occur if the amplified sound reaching the ear drum is too loud for the latter to comprehend. Some individuals feel that the louder the sound, the better it would be for them to receive signals. However, too much of a good volume can damage your sensitive ears, and cause frequent, intolerable headaches.
Adjusting sound quality and Tinnitus
Improper adjustment of the hearing aid can be quite troublesome and can cause an incessant ringing sensation in the ears. The devices fail to work if the sound reaching the ear drum is too low or too loud. Visiting an audiologist in order to tune the hearing aid to your specifications and constraints would enable you to get the maximum benefit out of it.
Whistling Sound, Noises and Feedbacks
Again, if your hearing aid is not fitted properly, it can cause a whistling sound. The same can also happen if the hearing aid does not function properly, or is bunged by fluid or ear wax.
Sometimes, hearing aids create a lot of unnecessary background noises that can make it hard for you to decipher what you need to hear. This may be caused be external devices like telephones (creates a buzzing sound when the receiver is placed near the ear), or by the device itself when it is being placed in the ear.
It is a known fact that a hearing aid would not be able to completely filter out all the unnecessary sounds and send you only those sounds you want to hear. However, if the background noises are too loud and disturbing, you can schedule a visit to the audiologist who would be able to rectify the issue.
Cell Phones and Hearing Aids
Hearing aids and digital cell phones are improving a lot these days. And so, minimum interference can be expected from a digital cell phone that is placed near a ear plug. Nevertheless, in some cases, the radio frequency waves emitted by the cell phone tend to interfere with the sound waves produced by the hearing aid, creating a sharp buzzing sound that can be quite a pain in the head. The best way to combat this issue is to take along your cell phone with you when you go for your fitting session, and see if the hearing aid works well with the cell phone.
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