• Hearing Loss – People need a hearing aid if they find it difficult to hear sounds. In case such a thing happens, it is always prudent to consult a doctor who would check the ear and the ear canal for any hearing loss. An audiologist would then determine if the patient requires a hearing aid and what type of hearing aid would be most suitable. The amount of hearing loss would also determine which kind of hearing aid is required by the patient. There are many types of hearing aids available in the market. The hearing aid cost varies according to the kind, and hearing aid batteries have to be bought with the hearing aid.
• Types of Hearing Aids – A hearing aid can be worn around the ear, in the outer ear, in the ear canal or can be implanted inside the ear. The audiologist’s advice should be taken regarding the choice of hearing aid. A hearing aid’s quality does not depend on its size, and different hearing aids vary in look, size, sound amplification, and placement.Following types of hearing aids are available in the market –
1. BTE or Behind the Ear Hearing Aids – Almost all the parts of a BTE hearing aid come inside a case that is meant to fit behind the ear. This case connects to an ear mold made from plastic, which wraps itself around the top of the patient’s outer ear. BTE hearing aids are perfect for almost all degrees of hearing loss, even the extreme kind. They are also pretty safe and preferable in case the patient is a child because there are no chances of the kid growing out of the hearing aid. BTE hearing aids are equipped with various other features like ability to hear during a phone call with the help of a telecoil and ease to hear in noisy surroundings with a directional microphone facility.
2. Mini BTE or On The Ear Hearing Aids – These hearing aids are a mini version of the BTE hearing aids discussed in the previous point. The case attached behind the ear is the same except that the size is much more compact. The thin tube that connects the case and the earpiece is barely visible. There are certain varieties of mini BTE hearing aids called “open fit” aids, which are comfortable to wear because they don’t fill the ear canal completely. They are also less obvious than other hearing aids.
3. ITE or In The Ear Hearing Aids – ITE hearing aids can be worn by people suffering from a mild hearing loss and even by people whose loss of hearing is severe. The hearing aid parts come in a case fitted in the outer ear. ITE hearing aids come with various features like directional microphone and telecoil, which help in hearing in a noisy room and for taking phone calls, respectively. As compared to ITC (In The Canal) and CIC (Completely In The Canal) hearing aids, ITE hearing aids are much more comfortable to wear and handle. Because of growing issues in kids, these hearing aids are not recommended for children.
4. ITC (In The Canal) and CIC (Completely In The Canal) Hearing Aids – The case holding the parts can either be partly or completely inside the ear canal in case of ITC and CIC hearing aids. Usually, people who have a moderate form of hearing loss use these hearing aids. They come with special features as well. Children cannot use these hearing aids because they are small in size. ITC and CIC hearing aids can get damaged if they come too much in contact with ear wax and ear fluids.
5. Implantable Hearing Aids – People who are unable to wear external hearing aids go for implantable hearing aid. The loss of hearing could be moderate to severe for patients to wear these hearing aids. These hearing aids come in different types which are implanted surgically or non-surgically. The hearing is much better with these hearing aids, as per patients who have worn them. This could be because there is nothing external that is blocking the sound. These hearing aids last longer than other hearing aids and do not cause feedback noises.
6. Disposable Hearing Aids – These hearing aids have a very short life of about 1 to 2 months. Patients who have mild or moderate loss of hearing and need a hearing aid for temporary purposes go for disposable hearing aids.
• Hearing Aid Cost – On an average, hearing aid cost can vary with the various features that come with it but usually, digital hearing aids can cost around $1500 and top of the line models are somewhere around $2000 to $3000. The more and better the features, the greater is the cost of the hearing aid. However, hearing aids can be pretty expensive, and it is always important to make the selection of hearing aid properly and after much research. Proper care should be taken to ensure that the hearing aid stays working and does not get damaged. Also, the patient should check with their insurance companies to confirm if the price of the hearing aid would be up for reimbursement.
• Hearing Aid Batteries – Hearing aids of the older times used mercury hearing aid batteries but most countries banned those. In present times, most digital hearing aids use button Zinc-air batteries which come in five kinds. The batteries are differentiated using their color and type – 675/Blue, 13/orange, 312/brown, 10/yellow and 5/red. Hearing aid batteries are loaded inside the hearing aid using a battery door, which is typically rotating. The flat side of the battery is the cathode or the positive terminal and the round side is the anode or the negative terminal.
Batteries for hearing aids rarely use disposable ones with a long life or rechargeable batteries. On an average, a battery lasts for 2 weeks. The cost of a battery can be around $2 – $8, but it is usually prudent to buy them in bulk since that would be much more cost effective, given the battery life.
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