Latest posts by Duane L. Smelser (see all)
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People are frequently nervous or avoidant about seeing health professionals. Doing to the doctor’s office or to the dentist can inspire a lot of feelings such as anxiety, dread, and even outright fear. Sometimes we avoid seeing healthcare providers because we want to avoid bad news. Other times we avoid these trips because we know we haven’t been keeping healthy habits, and do not want to be chided by professionals. Usually we can bring ourselves to see those who help maintain our physical and mental wellbeing at some point, but we still frequently avoid one of the most important healthcare providers: hearing health professionals such as audiologists.
Staying on top of our hearing capabilities and taking steps to address any and all issues we may be having with the quality and clarity of our hearing is incredibly important, however. Hearing health affects far more than our abilities to simply hear—untreated hearing loss has been linked to physical problems resulting from accidents and falls as well as cognitive issues ranging from depression to dementia. It’s not only important that people get regular hearing tests, but that they follow through with care plans that their hearing health professional lays out—especially when it comes to using hearing aids.
Reasons People Avoid Hearing Aids
There are many reasons why people are reluctant to use hearing aids. Perhaps the most pervasive is related to the related myths that hearing loss only affects older people and that hearing aids are, in turn, unstylish. This could not be further from the truth. Hearing loss does indeed affect older people at high rates, but it also affects people of all ages and there are increasing numbers of Millennials and teenagers who are experiencing hearing loss. Both of those myths are actually just related to the fact that there are many people who simply do not understand the mechanics of hearing aids or the process of acquiring, let alone wearing them. This short overview will hopefully help those who are considering (but avoiding!) seeing a hearing health professional to understand what getting a hearing aid looks like.
The Journey to Better Hearing
The first step is to of course get a safe and non-invasive hearing test. People do not pass or fail hearing tests. The goal is to simply assess the broad range of your hearing capabilities in order to best assess care plans. The test begins with you putting on soft headphones that are connected to a device called an audiometer. This transmits recorded sounds with different frequencies and intensities that can range from quick and loud beeps to low and bass-driven waves that extend for several seconds. With each sound you hear (no matter how faintly or crisply you may hear it), you push a button or raise your hand to signal to your hearing care professional that you have indeed heard something.
Things to Consider When Selecting Hearing Aids
Should you require hearing aids, there are several things to consider. Cost is of course to be taken into consideration, but so are your hearing needs. Do you have moderate hearing loss? Severe? They require different styles of hearing aids: Invisible-in-Canal (IIC) are typically quite small and custom-made hearing aid devices that sit relatively deep inside of your ear canal. Completely-in-Canal (CIC) hearing aids are also placed inside the canal, but they are slightly larger than the invisible-in-canal version. Both the IIC and CIC versions are great for people with light hearing loss, and for people who are familiar with hearing aids (they can be quite small and tricky to maneuver). For people with moderate to severe hearing loss, the following genres of devices are great because they have more battery power and often come with a wide range of Bluetooth connectivity options, directional microphones, memory settings, and more.
Behind-the-Ear (BTE) hearing aids sit behind your ear and have a small, often clear, and very thin tube that connects to a small earbud with a soft tip that sits in your ear canal. Receiver in the ear (RITE) or receiver in the canal (RIC) is a style of hearing aid that is very similar to the BTE. The main difference is that the technology of RIC hearing aids is split into two parts of the device. The case behind the ear contains the aid’s microphone and sound amplifier. The small bud that is inserted into your ear canal, connected to the case by a thin tube, contains the receiver.
Visit Us at Hearing Health
Knowing a bit more about the process of getting your hearing tested and your options for hearing aids will hopefully help assuage any anxieties about maintaining your hearing health. The more information you have, the more likely you are to stop avoiding addressing critical hearing health issues.