Monday, October 11, 2010

What You Should Expect From Hearing Aids

If your hearing loss has progressed to the degree that you need hearing aids, a critical factor in their success is your understanding and acceptance of realistic expectations of their capabilities. Hearing instruments, regardless of brand or type of technology, can never replace normal hearing in all listening situations.
Expecting results that cannot be achieved will only lead to frustration and dissatisfaction. If you know what to expect, you'll be free to enjoy the improvements that hearing aids can make in your life. Here are some guidelines which should help you and your provider agree on a set of realistic expectations for you.
  • The extent to which the lost hearing function can be restored through amplification is based on the severity and duration of your hearing loss. The degree and extent of hearing loss is determined by using calibrated equipment called an audiometer.
  • The more sever your hearing loss, the larger the hearing aid must be to provide room for a larger amplification and components.
  • Crowded social gatherings and restaurants are examples of noisy conditions where even a person with normal hearing has trouble hearing conversation. As a person's hearing deteriorates, so also does the ability of a hearing aid to correct for hearing loss in these situations. Your provider's goal is to select an appropriate circuit for your hearing aid that will deliver a natural loudness throughout your entire listening range without getting too loud or too quiet.
  • In difficult listening situations normal hearing listeners rely on using speech reading cues and focusing their attention on the speaker. These listening skills are even more important for the hearing aid user when faced with these circumstances.
  • In quiet, many hearing aid users can achieve a performance level equal to normal hearing. But as the difficulty of the listening task increases, the gap between a person with normal hearing and a person with hearing loss widens. The more severe the hearing loss, the wider the gap.
  • With properly fitted hearing aids you should be able to hear many normal sounds that you may not otherwise be able to hear clearly, such as the voice of your client or the words of a loved one. You may also begin to hear sounds you have forgotten were a part of your world, such as the hum of the motor on your refrigerator or the buzz of your fluorescent lights.
  • Hearing aids in the advance, programmable and digital categories should prevent normally loud sounds from becoming uncomfortable.
  • Depending on the degree and severity of your loss, hearing aids may allow you to hear speech more clearly in some noisy situations.
  • You'll need time to get used to your new hearing aids to learn how to achieve maximum performance from them.
  • Hearing aids will not restore your hearing to normal. Science has not been able to match the human hearing mechanism.
  • Hearing aids will not "filter out" background noise, despite some advertising claims. Some hearing aids have circuitry that will avoid boosting the volume of some types of background noise, but this can also remove some of the speech you want to hear. This is usually a benefit, however, providing a more comfortable listening experience and better sound quality in some types of noisy situations.
  • Hearing aids should allow you to understand speech more clearly, with less effort, in a variety of listening situations.
  • Hearing aids should keep others from noticing your hearing loss.
  • Your hearing health care provider should have the same goal as you: to find a way to help you reach the best possible hearing improvement. Using the best testing and assessment equipment science has to offer, and the availability of hearing aids from more than 30 national manufactures.

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