What are hearing aids?
Hearing aids are small electronic devices that are worn behind or in the ear to allow people with hearing loss to have better access to sounds. They are battery-operated and come in both rechargeable and non-rechargeable models.
Modern hearing aids can be connected to mobile phones for streaming purposes* and there are also mobile applications that complement hearing aid usage.
*subjected to phone compatibilty
Different types of hearing aids
Hearing aids come in a variety of shapes and sizes. Compared to the traditional ones in the past, modern hearing aids are generally smaller.
There are three main types of hearing aid styles:
1) Behind-the-ear (BTE)
As the name suggests, a BTE hearing aid is worn behind the ear. Sound from the BTE is delivered through a tube connected to a custom-made earmould which is inserted into the ear canal. This hearing aid style covers a wide range of hearing levels ranging from mild to profound hearing loss.
2) Receiver-in-canal (RIC) or Receiver-in-the-ear (RITE)
A RIC or RITE hearing aid looks similar to a BTE hearing aid, but is smaller in size. It consists of a wire that is connected to the hearing aid body, that allows transmission of sound into the ear. The wire is connected to a silicon dome, or in some cases, a custom-made earmould, which is inserted into the ear canal. A RIC or RITE can cover a range of hearing losses as well.
These hearing aids are placed in the ear canal with nothing hanging behind the ear. They are made according to the shape of an individual's ear canal.
They come in a variety of sizes:
- In-the-ear (ITE)
- In-the-canal (ITC)
- Completely-in-canal (CIC)
It is important to note that people with more severe hearing losses are not recommended to go for custom hearing aids as they may not provide sufficient amplification.
Where to purchase hearing aids?
You may schedule an appointment with the audiologist for a hearing aid trial. In the session, you will be able to understand more about your hearing levels and try on different brands of hearing aids. The audiologist can place an order for your hearing aids if you are keen to purchase them.
You may find out more about available subsidies and the eligibility criteria from your audiologist during the session.
How to get the most from my hearing aids?
We recommend users to wear their hearing aids for at least 8 hours a day. It is important to keep your brain active through the listening of sounds. Listening to environmental sounds can provide brain stimulation as well, so you should put on your hearing aids even when not engaging in conversations with people.
Frequently Asked Questions
What is the difference between normal earbuds and hearing aids?
A person's hearing loss varies at different frequencies. Hearing aids help to provide different levels of amplification based on the user's hearing loss configuration. There are also various features which can assist your listening in different environments.
Earbuds, on the other hand, are only able to increase the loudness of sounds streamed as a whole regardless of frequency.
Can I purchase hearing aids online?
It is not advisable to purchase hearing aids online. Hearing aids have to be programmed by hearing care professionals based on your level of hearing loss. It is also important to have an audiologist monitor your progress so that necessary fine tuning of the hearing aids can be made.
Can I share hearing aids with my family member/friend?
No, you may not. Hearing aids are tuned specifically to an individual's hearing levels and comfort. People with similar hearing levels may not experience the same benefits even when wearing the same device.
Can I get just one side of hearing aid (rather than a pair)?
Yes, you may. However, people with hearing loss in both ears are strongly recommended to get them as a pair. Wearing hearing aids on both ears can provide additional benefits compared to wearing on one side, such as the ability to hear better in noisy environment.
- Article contributed by Audiology, Allied Health Services -