Hearing aids are cool!
We live in an age where we take for granted how they work or we give up even thinking how they might work because of the mystical wizardry that goes into the devices we have today. Let’s talk about hearing aids and how unbelievably cool they are today!
So, we’ve learned that air molecules are bumping against each other and making sound.
Hearing aids have a tiny microphone. The microphone feels the molecules bumping against it. Some louder sounds barely brush against the mic, and louder sound air molecules hammer the mic. The molecules have a frequency, how fast do the waves repeat on the mic. The hearing aid takes all of this information and magically amplifies it. Older analog hearing aids would tack a certain amount of amplification onto the sound wave and which you could control with a dial. They may have a cut and it would bend up or down one side of the batch of frequencies coming in all at once. The control could cut the low frequencies up or down and on the other end, we could cut or add back in the high frequencies.
Now, with the advent of digital, we have the microphone capture the sound wave, and with an analog to digital converter takes that sound wave or waves and digitalitizes it. The wave is converted into a system of binary made up of a series of zero and ones. It becomes encoded. Now that code goes to the brain of the hearing aid which understands what it’s hearing and what you need to hear. Like many other things that confuse people today, it’s how smart the brain is that does a good job or better job for your hearing experience. The code is reassembled from the zeros and ones back into a sound wave. Wow! I still can’t believe it myself!
Back to the brains! And your brain!
How does your brain understand a word? How does it pick out where sounds are coming from and find them? How can you understand the same word from a child with a high squeaky voice and a man with a low voice? How can it do it? Hearing aids these days use more and more artificial intelligence. Like a driverless car does. A driverless car can tell where it is in relation to its surroundings and react accordingly. The function of hearing aids today is similar. They have antennas that take the sound and information one hearing aid picks up and send that information to the other hearing aid and back and forth. Now the hearing aids have a challenge to reassemble the sound waves with this knowledge to actually help you hear more clearly in difficult to hear situations. How cool is that! Help you focus and understand more naturally. It’s actually how your brain does it.
Hearing aids can now connect to wireless bluetooth devices.
Many can now connect to telephones, televisions, and iPads. You have your own headsets with extremely high fidelity sound, small, nearly invisible on your head. Furthermore, hearing aids will be able to monitor other body functions, such as your blood pressure. They’ll also be able to move along with your eyes using directional microphones, as you focus your eyes on something, so will your hearing be focused as well. Hearing aids have features that can tell if you are driving in a car and talking with someone on your right or connecting via mobile phone to your sister in Walla Walla, Washington! How cool is that!
The stigma surrounding hearing aids has just about gone away! Before, having a hearing aid in your ear meant that you had a problem, a dehumanizing problem, and nobody wanted that! Now, since your hearing aids can do so many cool things, times have changed! Now everybody wants to know how they work, what they can do for you, and if they need some!
So if hearing aids help you reconnect to your life and people and help your brain and overall well being, by reducing depression, confusion, anger, and loneliness, then yeah, I’d say these things are pretty cool!
Styles of Hearing Aids
Today we have many styles, but mainly there are two categories: the standard or behind the ear, popular now in the U.S. and Europe, and the custom or molded into your ear styles. Remember it’s the acoustic fit in terms of plugging off your ear and how much, optimizing natural sound, the extent of hearing loss, and where, that may also determine what style of hearing aid you will benefit from and how it is coupled to your ear.
We carry products from the six major hearing aid manufacturers of hearing aids. Many have subsidiaries or retail partners for their hearing aids, such as Signia (Siemens) has Rexton and Miracle Ear, or Starkey has Audibel. So we have choices. A few years back hearing aid companies made mostly the same products, but engineers have been building the “brains” of modern hearing aids that can perform functions from a wide breadth of rationales and capabilities. Hearing aid brains have gone from basic to genius! This determines cost, outcomes and performances. I like the Scandavian companies who’ve had scientists studying sound for a long time. In fact, a lot of wonderful testing equipment has come from Scandavian countries and is now available worldwide. Hearing aids from Scandinavia are excellent quality and are currently still being made there and not outsourced to other countries as others do today. Companies like Widex or Oticon offer phenomenal hearing aids. American companies like Starkey are also working hard to develop ingenious hearing aids too. Visit the links below and have a look for yourself.
What kind of hearing aid is best for me?
It depends. Often times, you come in for a hearing evaluation and you’re tested. Then we evaluate what your specific needs are based on your life, where you are, and where you want to go. Then we can demo a hearing aid for a few weeks to help you make a decision. The important thing is that we work together as a team. My job is to fit the hearing aid to the patient very well and to help your brain transition back from a non-hearing brain, eliminating its bad habits working around hearing loss, to a healthy hearing brain. Lots of times it’s that journey which is the greatest reason hearing aids are cool.
Wearing hearing aids
While it’s easy to list the reasons why you should be wearing your hearing aids, it’s another thing to actually wear them. Many people feel frustrated when they’re told to wear their hearing aids more, and for good reason. Sounds that you have not heard for some time can be overwhelming, and pushing yourself past your limits can lead to headaches and exhaustion.
For this reason, knowing your limits and testing them gently is important. You can set your own pace and adjust to sounds at your own rate. While you shouldn’t neglect your hearing aids, your progress doesn’t have to happen extraordinarily quickly. Set reasonable goals for yourself and stick to a routine. You can also set yourself simple listening tasks like “I want to listen to birds today” or “today I will try out what reading the newspaper with my hearing aids on is like”. If you dedicate some time to wearing your hearing aids every day, increasing that time will become easier and easier.
Following up with your audiologist is also important. They can give you tips on how to use your hearing aids more effectively, and they will make sure that they’re working properly for you. If you need adjustments, they will help you find settings that work for you.
As you adjust to your hearing aids, you should pay attention to three things:
How much do hearing aids cost?
Hearing aids and hearing aid fitting fees vary widely. Some offices bundle the hearing aids, the fitting and the return visits together. Other offices don’t bundle. They show you how much the hearing aids are, the additional fee for fitting, and how much the return visit will be. I still use the bundled approach, but because I’m a one man operation in Maine’s poorest county, my prices are still typically lower than most places for the same or even better hearing aids.
We accept most insurance carriers including: Individual Blue Cross Blue Shield, Maine State Employees (working and retired), Teachers (working and retired), Aetna Individual, and some others. Call to find out if we accept your insurance, (207) 564-3337.
Please contact us directly to find out if we take yours.
I do love special events when I have them. They’re really great deals with no mark ups so I can mark them down. You’ll save money and get some great hearing aids for less. I intend to sell you what I’m featuring. There are unnamed dealers who may put really great deals in the paper, cheap prices or invisible in ear, but have no intention of actually selling those to you. They are getting you through the doors to tell you that “These hearing aids we offered wouldn’t work for you. You actually need these $8000 ones.” Great way to lose trust right at the start isn’t it!?!
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