Over time, the muffled noises you hear become normal. You are unaware that your hearing is slowly slipping. You may miss a knock at the door or your TV volume may be slightly higher, but are these signs of hearing loss?
Those who are losing their hearing often tell of difficulty in social situations. Many find themselves nodding and smiling, pretending to understand the content of the conversation. The background noise makes it difficult to hear. For people with hearing loss, this can be embarrassing.
But what about you? Are you really losing your hearing? Or even more, are you a candidate for hearing aids?
Reluctance to Hearing Aids
“This is a big step for the patient,” says Dr. Thomas Brammeier. “Some patients who are getting hearing aids for the first time is in way admitting that they have a hearing loss.”
Dr. Brammeier specializes in ear, nose and throat conditions also known as Otolaryngology. As the Director of the Scott & White Hearing and Balance Center, he works with a number of patients considering hearing aids.
“Some patients are concerned about the stigma that is attached to wearing hearing aids,” he says. “They think that hearing aids are for older people and not them. This is because we still live in a youth-centered culture.”
You may feel too young to lose your hearing, or you may not like the idea of wearing something in your hear. The truth is, you don’t have to live with a hearing impairment and the technological advancements of hearing aids are quickly developing.
New Approach to Hearing Aids
“There is a reluctance to wear hearing aids,” says Dr. Brammeier. “The older hearing aids that grandma or grandpa wore 20 years ago were analog hearings aid which amplified all sounds.”
There is a lingering unwillingness to wear hearing aids because many people don’t realize the drastic improvements that have been made. Hearing aids now use digital computer technology. The new technology is providing better clarity to the amplified sounds.
Features of New Hearing Aids Include:
- Comfortable design
- Digital technology
- Electronically linked to TVs, computers, or smart phones
“Wearing something in your ears is quite common in our technology of iPhone, iPads, Androids, or Bluetooth devices” says Dr. Brammeier. “Therefore the stigma of wearing hearing aids is much less than 20 years ago. It may even be fashionable.”
Satisfaction wearing Hearing Aids
Dr. Brammeier says in recent studies, patients reported a 90% satisfaction with hearing aids in improving their hearing and the quality of life. It is important to remember that those who chose higher-end technology usually have better patient satisfaction than those using loser-end technologies.
No matter which technology you choose, hearing aids are making major leaps and advancements every couple of years.
The electronics are improving, and here are a couple examples:
- In a noisy environment, is difficult for some hearing aids to provide clarity of sound
- A newer technology with multi-microphone, directional hearing can now help in a noisy environment
- The telephone can also be difficult for patient to use their hearing aids
- Now there are hearing aids with Bluetooth technology that can connect with a variety of smart phones
These advancements are helpful because you can hear the necessary signal through your hearing aids without the interference of the noisy background environment.
Final Hurdles: Cost and Adjusting
“Hearing aids are expensive,” says Dr. Brammeier. “But I often tell patients that when the first get their hearing aids that they will hear things that they have not heard in years.”
For those interested in hearing aids, here is the estimated pricing:
- Low end hearing aids range around $500 to 1,000 per hearing aid
- Mid range hearing aids are about $1,000 to $2,000 per hearing aid
- High end hearing aids range from $2,000 to $4,000 per hearing aid
Before getting too discouraged by the price, consider that Texas law allows patients a trial period before purchasing the hearing aid. This may be a solution if you are curious and would like to try it out before making a large investment.
After purchasing your hearing aids, they will still need to be tuned to fit your ears. This can be done in two or three appointments where you will be able to evaluate them and eliminate abnormal sound quality: too tinny, muffled, too loud, or too soft.
“Once the hearing aids have been adjusted to being a crisp clear, rich quality of sound, the hearing aids are then set for the patient,” says Dr. Brammeier.
Living with Hearing Loss
Hearing loss occurs at all age levels. You may be old or young, but most patients can be helped with hearing aids. According to Dr. Brammeier, 95 percent of the time sensorineural hearing loss can be helped with hearing aids.
If you are ready to invest in your hearing and quality of life, remember that it ultimately depends on you.
“Patients need to understand that the hearing aid is amplifying the sound that still goes through their hearing impaired ears,” he says. “Patient performance depends on motivation, positive attitude, and confidence in the hearing aid specialist.”