According to recent studies, hearing aids can prevent dementia, anxiety, depression, and even falls in older adults with hearing loss. Researchers at Johns Hopkins found that the isolation caused by hearing loss leads directly to these problems.
As we age, well-fitted prescription hearing aids are a vital part of healthcare. To work properly, hearing aids must be fit to the individual patient with a prescription, just like eyeglasses. This prescription is created by a physician and an audiologist during a thorough physical exam and hearing test, aka an “audiogram.” A well-fitted hearing aid is far more than a small microphone in your ear. These advanced devices process the sound in many ways, depending on the individual’s need, to make the sound more understandable (more on this below). The cost of the device is directly related to the sophisticated technology and fitting process necessary to make the hearing aid work properly.
The FDA recently approved selling hearing aids “over the counter” (OTC) without a prior medical exam or prescription; this huge compromise was brought about by politicians who voted “no” to Medicare paying for a prescription and proper fitting while dropping the requirement for a prior medical exam (although Medicare will still pay for a prior medical exam). The main concern with not having a prior medical exam, is that approximately 1/3 of individuals with hearing loss have some underlying issue other than age causing hearing loss. These underlying issues will go undiagnosed and may get worse without a medical exam and treatment. In addition, OTC non-prescription hearing aids are less sophisticated to make them less expensive and come without the proper fitting that prescription hearing aids require. Think of OTC non-prescription hearing aids like OTC “reader” eyeglasses you can buy in the drug store; they may help very basic, mild hearing problems, but not the more extensive ones.
If you have noticed that you are not hearing well, be sure to schedule an appointment with us to get a proper medical exam and hearing test. If appropriate, we can customize a prescription hearing aid just for you.
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Hearing loss can be due to numerous causes, including medical conditions, medications, ear wax, injuries, and other factors. If you have pain, drainage, dizziness, hearing loss in only one ear, or sudden, rapidly progressive hearing loss, you must see your ENT specialist as you may have a serious and dangerous medical condition.
If your doctor suggests that a hearing aid may be right for you, the next step will be to schedule an appointment with any of our licensed audiologists to discuss your options.
Your audiologist will conduct hearing tests to evaluate your hearing problems. At the same time, your dexterity will be evaluated to determine how easily you can handle various hearing aid styles and sizes. Costs will be reviewed as well. All these factors will be considered so that the hearing aid that is recommended fits your needs, abilities, and budget as closely as possible.
Generally, a hearing aid works by receiving sound through one or more microphones, which converts the sound to an electrical signal. This signal is processed by a tiny computer inside the device and then sent to an amplifier, which makes the sound louder and sends it through to a speaker, helping you to hear. The more sophisticated the device, the more microphones, amplification, and computing power it has. Some of the most common styles of hearing aids include:
Prescription Hearing Aid Features
In addition to different hearing aid styles, many technologies and features can be incorporated into prescription hearing aids to better customize them to your needs and preferences. Features such as customized frequency amplification, feedback suppression, noise reduction, automatic volume control, low-battery indicators, and other features may help you better manage sound. Most hearing aids have Bluetooth capabilities, enabling hands-free use of cell phones, regular phones, and streaming TV. Hearing aids are often rechargeable and do not require battery changes. Many prescription hearing aids are incorporating new technologies, such as neuromodulation, to reduce or eliminate tinnitus. Lastly, all prescription-hearing aids come with the ability to switch programs in order to hear better in different situations, such as a crowded restaurant or a quiet symphony hall. And all of this is customized for you during your prescription hearing aid fitting with our audiologist.
Hearing Aid Costs
Hearing aid prices will vary depending on the level of technology built into the hearing aid. Our Audiologists will review all your options and help you choose the hearing aids that best meet your needs and financial circumstances.
Hearing Aid Brands
There are many hearing aid brands. Our practice is constantly evaluating the value of the brands we recommend to our patients based on features they offer and cost. For example, new technologies are constantly emerging that allow better hearing, reduced tinnitus and convenience.
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