Technology is changing at a very fast pace, and it’s hard to keep up. With computers, with mobile phones, and with hearing aids. If you’ve had experience with hearing aids in the past, or even if you’ve just heard about previous generations of hearing technology, it’s very likely that you have some misconceptions.
Let’s say you want to buy a phone, but your concept of a telephone includes a rotary dial: you’d be operating under some outdated ideas, wouldn’t you? The same holds true with hearing aids. Technology has changed a lot—even in just the last five years. If you are considering hearing aids, the best thing you can do is to dismiss any pre-existing ideas you have about hearing technology and then do your research with a clean slate. Here’s a bit of myth-busting to get you started.
Hearing Aid Myth 1. Hearing aids are only for old people - or they’ll make me feel old.
People think having hearing aids means that you’re old,” “That’s just not the case anymore. In fact, about two-thirds of those with hearing loss are younger than age 64. Hearing loss has many causes and affects people of all ages. Wearable assistive technology is becoming more and more prevalent across age groups, as well. From wrist-bands that track your movement to in-ear Bluetooth devices to Google Glasses, people are wearing technology for all kinds of reasons, making hearing aids a bit more status quo.
Hearing Aid Myth 2. Hearing aids are big, bulky and unsightly.
Today’s hearing aids are considerably smaller and more discreet than ever before and they come in a wide range of colors, just like watches, purses, and mobile phones. There are even hearing aids that can be placed completely within the ear canal so as to be totally invisible. People have this misconception: they think of that brown banana, the huge BTE [behind-the- ear] hearing aid. Things have changed so much: hearing aids are stylish; they’re discreet; they’re easy to use.
Hearing Aid Myth 3. Hearing aids are only for people with severe hearing loss.
Anyone who’s seen fuzzy newsprint spring into focus when they don a pair of reading glasses can tell you that vision correction isn’t just for people with severe myopia. In the same way, hearing aids can greatly assist people with mild to moderate hearing loss, and many models are intended for just that. Even with mild hearing loss, you may be missing out on conversations with grandchildren, the sounds of birds singing, elements of your favorite music, and more.
It’s also important to correct hearing loss when it first begins, for a variety of reasons. There’s a link between hearing loss and loss of cognition. Treating hearing loss isn’t just cosmetic. The ears just turn the sound into a signal that the brain can interpret. Controlling our hearing pathways also seems to help with memory, helps people
connect socially, and all of those factors contribute to aging in a more graceful way. It lets you live your life on your own terms, rather than kind of shrinking away gradually into the night. The longer a person has gone with hearing loss, the more rehabilitation and re-forging of neural pathways they need in order to accurately translate sound into meaning again.
Hearing Aid Myth 4. Hearing aids make everything sound too loud.
Thirty years ago, people were always messing with their hearing aids, turning them up, turning them down. A lot of times it was an all-or-nothing thing. But nowadays, hearing aids can be adjusted in extremely minute increments. Many have a variety of programs you can use for various situations: some will adjust automatically, and some have remote controls for discrete adjustment. It’s important to continue working with your audiologist until you’ve got the right fit.
Hearing Aid Myth 5. Hearing aids can’t help with my Tinnitus.
Nowadays, some hearing aids come with a special Tinnitus program that provides background noise or other features to help minimize the effects of Tinnitus. By reducing the effect of the tinnitus while simultaneously increasing hearing, especially through digital streaming to both ears, this technology can make an enormous
Hearing Aid Myth 6. I only need one hearing aid because I only have hearing loss in one ear.
Sound comes from every direction. Certainly, wearing one hearing aid in the ear in which you have hearing loss will help, but two digital hearing aids will help much more than just one. The hearing aid in your “good” ear will pick up sound and stream it wirelessly to the other aid, allowing you to hear significantly better.
Hearing Aid Myth 7. Hearing aid salespeople are charlatans.
As with any professional you choose, from solicitors to dentist, you should always make sure you feel completely comfortable with your hearing care professional.
Some things to ask about include:
- Level of education.
- Professional experience
- Philosophy and approach to treating hearing loss
- Particular experience with the kind of hearing loss you have
Hearing Aid Myth 8. Hearing aids will work perfectly right away, like putting on a pair of glasses.
Treating loss of hearing is quite a bit different than treating loss of vision, and it almost always takes a couple of sessions to get things just right. This is partly a matter of making sure the hearing aids are adjusted correctly, but also of re-training the brain to interpret and prioritize sounds.