By Emily Steffel, AuD, CCC-A
Here are some common misconceptions about hearing aids and the actual truths:
Hearing aids will make my hearing “normal” again like glasses make vision 20/20.
issues of near- or far-sightedness are caused by an incorrectly formed
lens within the eye. This can be corrected by placing an additional lens
in front of the eye (i.e., glasses) so that between the two lenses the
eye sees clearly. Vision can usually be corrected to 20/20 or better.
Glasses are a mechanical solution to a mechanical problem.
unlike vision, is not an issue of a mechanical problem and solution.
Hearing aids are a mechanical solution to a neurological problem. The
most common hearing difficulties arise from neurological or biological
issues such as the death or damage of the delicate structures of the
inner ear or of the nerves that send the signal to the brain. Hearing
problems cannot be “corrected” to normal, only significantly reduced in
severity. Although not perfect, hearing aids are generally considered
the best solution available.
With hearing aids I won’t have to speech-read (lip-read) and noisy situations won’t be a problem for me anymore.
brain processes speech best when it can use both auditory and visual
cues. This is true for all people, whether they have hearing loss or
not. Hearing cannot be “corrected” to normal like vision can (see
above). The effects of hearing loss can only be significantly reduced.
The use of both auditory and visual stimuli allows your brain the
highest chance of fully understanding the conversation. Everyone, even
those with normal hearing, uses some form of visual cues and speech
reading when conversing, especially in noisy situations. Body language
and facial expression are two highly important visual cues that allow us
to accurately converse with the world around us. Without them the
meaning of the words we say is lost.
Additionally, locations with a
lot of background noise are highly difficult listening situations even
for people with superb hearing. Hearing aids today have wonderful
features to help reduce the effects of background noise, but noisy
places will still be more difficult listening situations than quiet
places. If a person with normal hearing has difficulty in noisy
situations, so will a person with hearing aids.
Hearing aids are very visible and obvious to others.
is true that hearing aids used to be quite obvious and very visible.
They used to be the size of your finger and require a separate battery
pack that had to be worn in a large pocket attached to a harness or belt
with wires running in between. They used to come only in one color that
never matched anyone’s skin or hair color. They used to be easily
visible from across the room. Hearing aids have come a very long way
Today computer technology has allowed hearing aids to
shrink in size. Most hearing aids are now smaller than a quarter and
many are even smaller than a dime. They come in a large variety of
colors to match hair color or skin color. They use batteries the size of
a pencil eraser or smaller. They can even be fully automatic so that
from morning to night they never have to be touched. Some hearing aids
are so small they completely disappear in the ear canal. Nowadays most
hearing aids really aren’t visible even to people who are standing right
next to you.
Hearing aids are not socially acceptable and my
social life will suffer for wearing them; hearing aids are only for
Hearing aid users are mature adults. They are also
young adults, children, and even babies. Along with a law that says all
babies will have their hearing tested at birth came a law that babies
and children with hearing loss will be fitted with hearing aids to help
them hear. These babies and children then grow up into young adults
with hearing aids. Young people are exposed to loud noises or may have
an accident that hurts their hearing, so they get hearing aids, too.
aids now come not only in colors that match hair and skin color, but
also in bright pink and sky blue and sunshine yellow, just to name a
few. There are even hearing aids that are zebra stripped! Just as there
is a wide variety of hearing aid users, there is a wide variety of
hearing aid colors and sizes. Hearing aids are so small now and so many
people are using hearing aids to help them communicate and learn better
that you may meet several hearing aid users every day and never know it.
impacts a social life most isn’t how a person looks but how the person
acts. If “Timmy” cannot hear or understand the conversation, he may get
frustrated or he may zone out. The people he is talking with may think
he is ignoring them or that he is being rude or unpleasant. So they
don’t want to hang out with him anymore. Or Timmy may decide that trying
to talk with the other people is too difficult or too much work, so he
stops hanging out with them. Either way, Timmy’s social life suffers. If
Timmy can use hearing aids to hear the other people speak, he can
easily join in and everyone can enjoy themselves. Because everyone
enjoys themselves, they may get together often and Timmy’s social life
will be rich and full.
Hearing aids are all the same; if I didn’t like one, I won’t like any others.
like there are many different shoe companies or many different cereal
companies, there are many hearing aid companies. Each hearing aid
company sounds a little different because each uses a little bit
different process to make sound and speech easier to hear. The small
differences in each company’s process may make a big change in how well a
hearing aid works for you.
You would not think “I did not like
Raisin Bran therefore I do not like Lucky Charms.” Instead you would
say, “Raisin Bran and Lucky Charms are different cereals, I may like
one, but not the other.” If you were fitted with a hearing aid, or you
have tried a hearing aid before and it wasn’t quite right for you, don’t
give up. Try a hearing aid from a different company. It may be just
right for you.
For more information about hearing aids and to
learn more about options for hearing loss, call Audiology Consultants,
P.C., at 563-355-7712 or visit www.audiologyconsultants.com.
A fun way to strengthen your speech understanding ability (whether you have hearing aids or not.)
Books on Tape: Alternate listening only with reading along as you
listen. When you listen only, your brain must rely solely on auditory
stimuli for all of its understanding. When you read along, your brain
combines both auditory and visual stimuli. Either way your brain is
being kept active, and you are strengthening your ability to understand
An active brain is a healthy brain!