Not all hearing losses are the same. Someone with a mild hearing loss can struggle significantly with communication while someone with a severe hearing loss can be less affected in their communication abilities. However, when talking about treating a severe hearing loss, there are important considerations to take into account when selecting the most appropriate hearing aid. These are the top five:
1. Power of the Device
Severe hearing losses require a lot of power in order to create enough volume for you to perceive benefit. The amount of amplification required is much greater for a severe hearing loss than it is for a mild hearing loss. If the device cannot generate enough volume, you will not be able to meet the prescription for your hearing loss. Receiver (ie. Speaker) power levels are generally broken up into Standard, Medium, Power, Super Power and Ultra Power. The more severe the loss, the more powerful receiver you need.
2. Style of the Device
While many styles of hearing aids are capable of generating enough volume for severe hearing losses, some are not. Small in-the-canal (ITC) hearing aids generally are not large enough to provide the size of receiver needed for severe hearing losses. Behind-the-ear (BTE) hearing aids and full shell in-the-ear (ITE) hearing aids are the best styles for this type of loss.
3. Ear molds
A severe hearing loss should always have a custom ear-mold impression taken for whatever style of device that you get. The only way to prevent the leakage of sound and prevent feedback is to have a perfectly fit custom ear mold. Generic rubber domes are not effective for truly severe cases of hearing loss.
4. Assistive Listening Devices
Another important consideration for the hearing aid you receive is its compatibility with assistive listening devices. Individuals with severe hearing losses generally have increased difficulty in noisy situations and on the telephone. Some manufacturers have better assistive listening devices than others, and these devices can mean the difference between being able to socialize in a loud environment or sitting in the corner of the room alone.
One major problem with traditional hearing aids for some severe hearing losses is that they cannot amplify some high-frequency sounds loud enough to provide clarity of speech. This is where Earlens comes into play. Earlens is a new type of hearing aid that that stimulates hearing better than a traditional hearing aid by converting sound into invisible light waves. Sound futuristic? Well, welcome to the future.
That said, even with all of these options, a hearing aid may not be the answer.
One major problem with hearing aids is that not all individuals with a severe hearing loss are good candidates. If you still can’t understand speech with hearing aids that were selected and programmed properly, you may receive better benefit from a cochlear implant. A cochlear implant bypasses the hearing organ, the cochlea, and stimulates the hearing nerve directly. For certain individuals, this can result in a clearer signal than with a hearing aid alone.
Selecting the appropriate hearing aid for your severe hearing loss can be complicated. Unless you are trained to appropriately diagnose levels of hearing loss and select the most appropriate device, you could end up with a sub-optimal hearing aid. Consulting a highly trained hearing-care professional is critical.
To consult a highly trained hearing-care professional at Arizona Hearing Center, contact us by phone at (602) 313-1367 or by email at [email protected].
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