In many cases, the most effective method of dealing with hearing problems is the use of a hearing aid. If you have heard people react negatively to hearing aids in the past, keep in mind that today's devices are highly sophisticated, and that many of the problems that plagued hearing aid users in the past have been corrected or eased. Most people with hearing loss can benefit greatly from the use of a properly selected and fitted hearing aid.

 

Today’s hearing aids are advanced amplification systems that incorporate a microphone, loudspeaker and tiny computer chip that is able to differentiate speech from background noise. Although it will not replace the natural hearing mechanism, those who approach its use with positive motivation find it enhances the quality of their lives greatly. Once an audiologist has assessed a hearing problem and arranged for the correct hearing aid or assistive device, it is important that the device be fitted correctly and explained fully.

This is where our certified dispensers take over to complete your Upper Canada Hearing and Speech Centre service.

  • Dispensing and fitting of all hearing aid styles and manufacturers
  • Repair and modifications to all hearing aids
  • Fitting of all custom earmold products, such as hearing aid molds, musician ear plugs and noise/sound plugs, and swim plugs
  • FM and Assistive listening devices
  • Batteries and accessories

 

Your audiologist or hearing aid dispenser can also help with advice for family and friends in how to help make communication easier among a person with hearing loss and his/her loved ones. For example:

  • Before you speak to someone with hearing loss, get their attention. This helps the person hear and lip-read.
  • Look directly at a person with hearing loss when you speak. Eye contact helps a lot.
  • Keep your hands away from your face, so you do not interfere with the person with hearing loss seeing your mouth.
  • Speak in normal loudness and at a regular speed.
  • Keep background noise in the room at a minimum when conversing.
  • If the person does not understand your statement, try rewording it. There are some words that are much easier to lip-read than others.
  • Use body language, as well as words, to convey your message.

 


Do I need a hearing aid?

If you are experiencing difficulty in functioning in your day-to-day life because your hearing is impaired in some way, you may. Amplification by a hearing aid can work in different ways - by relieving the strain of hearing by making sounds louder. A hearing aid can also help you understand speech. Most people who wear hearing aids think of them as symbols of courtesy to others, in addition to helping in their own lives.

 


What do the terms "analog" and "digital" mean in sound processing?

A hearing aid has two functions: select sounds to enhance, then amplify the result to help overcome a hearing deficiency. An amplifier is an analog device based on the transistor, and all hearing aids have some level of analog circuitry. The main difference between an analog and a digital hearing aid is how the sound is processed. An analog hearing aid is like the controls on your stereo - you can increase or decrease the bass (low) and trebal (high) sounds. The analog hearing aid has only a few basic abilities to change sound. A digital hearing aid has a small computer in it. The sound is received by the microphone and converted into computer information. The computer then processes the data to enhanse the sound. This enhancement can range from simple to very complex. Once processed, the data is sent to the amplifier and played in the ear. The key advantage of digital is the ability to handle more complex adjustments to the sound.

 


Interesting information on hearing aids

Binaural listening, or listening with two ears, is superior to monarual listening, because it produces a more accurate signal regardless of where you are positioned in a room. Because people "hear" in their brains, not in the ears, it is also important to keep both ears stimulated in order to help the hearing aid stimulate the central auditory system in the brain. People who wear two hearing aids report improved clarity of speech, fewer feedback occurrences and a more natural sounding environment.
the shape of your outer ear, your tendency to build up wax in the ear, the depth of your concha (the depression near the ear canal), your ability to manipulate an appliance, the size and shape of your ear canal and whether you have any medical problems that involve draining ears, etc.
the degree of your hearing loss, the results of your audiogram (hearing test), the possible need for special features and the amount of acoustic feedback or whistling you are willing to experience. BTE type aids are best for people with severe hearing loss.
Many describe it as sounding as though they're hearing an echo. Most people adapt well to this change, and adjustments can be made in volume to lessen the effect.
A properly fitted, functioning unit should not produce an intolerable amount of background sound. People may experience whistling when their hearing aids are in need of repair (internal feedback), or when amplified sound leaks out of the ear and back into the microphone as they're inserting or removing the aid (external feedback). The latter does not necessarily mean there's a problem, but if you experience whistling at times other than inserting or removing the aid, contact your audiologist.
An audiologist can take several steps to correct external feedback, from remaking the earmold, to adding filters or a canal lock to hold the hearing aid in place.
These devices are more flexible in use, as they accommodate fluctuations in hearing loss and allow you to alter your hearing aid characteristics as your environment changes. They also allow for better perception of soft sounds and more comfortable hearing of loud sounds.
Several digital hearing devices are now available. These aids produce a clearer, more accurate sound for the listener by analyzing incoming sound and converting it to numbers, which are then run through algorithms programmed into the controlling chip.
Many modern hearing aids now contain directional or multiple microphones that pick up sounds from all directions, not just those coming from in front of the listener.
These help people function in noisy environments, and to counter the common problem of background noise being amplified so much that certain sounds are too loud to bear. Current technology accommodates increasing soft sounds while keeping loud signals barely amplified.
The relearning that goes on during adaptation takes place in the central auditory nervous system in the brain, not in the ear. It may take months for a person to completely acclimatize to comprehending speech with a new amplification system. Upper Canada offers a trial period with new hearing aids.
A number of assistive listening devices (ALDs) are available for telephones, televisions and theatres - situations where the distance between the hearing aid and the source of the sound is great.
  • Transmitters and microphones that use infrared transmission, FM transmission or inductance loop transmission.
  • Vibrating alarm clocks
  • Telephone amplifiers
  • Visual alarm systems
  • TV closed caption decoders
  • Telephone devices for the deaf (TDDs)
  • Hand-held amplifiers
This is misleading, since most hearing losses are due to a problem of the cochlea (inner ear) and have no involvement of the "nerve" at all. Most hearing aids are prescribed for people with this type of hearing loss and work quite well.

If you wear a hearing aid a lot, you won't lose your ability to hear without it. The device helps you to hear better. Most people who allow themselves the time to get used to the hearing aid no longer want to go without it, because they enjoy hearing the sounds of life so much.

 


Are you exposed to high sound levels on a regular basis?

If you are, and you are in a profession that involves the necessity for hearing accuracy, consider special earplugs designed for musicians.

Not sure if you've experienced hearing loss? Contact us today and schedule a test.

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