ITD Hearing Aids
In audiology, we use acronyms to describe different types or styles of hearing aids. There are ITE (custom in-the-ear), BTE (behind-the-ear), CIC (custom completely-in-canal) and RIC (receiver-in-canal) hearing aids. My least favorite are ITDs, in-the-drawer hearing aids. These are hearing aids that will likely never see the light of day again. Why would someone pay all that money for something to help them hear better, but then never use it?!
Well, there are many good reasons (and some 'less good' ones too, of course). Some users complain that their hearing aids aren't comfortable in how they feel and/or sound. Who can blame a person for not wanting to wear something that's uncomfortable or unpleasant? Then there are those folks that state that their aids aren't effective, that they don't help enough or are plagued with feedback issues. Again, why use hearing aids that aren't helping and/or are annoying? There certainly can be legitimate reasons for someone not using their hearing aids. Thankfully, just about anything that is wrong with the hearing aids can be addressed.
Now, this doesn't mean that hearing aids can or will make someone hear the way they did when they had truly normal hearing. The vast majority of people with hearing loss have sensorineural or nerve hearing loss. And, unfortunately, once we have this type of hearing loss, our ears no longer send the brain as clear a signal as they did when they were healthy. So unlike “corrective lenses” for people with vision issues, hearing aids are not able to “cure” or “correct” the problems associated with nerve hearing loss.
But don't despair, properly fit hearing aids really do help, should be comfortable and are (contrary to common misperception) really pretty easy to use and take care of. Plus there are a number of really cool & easy to use assistive devices (including our smart phones/watches!) that wirelessly connect to the hearing aids to significantly improve specific situations (television, noisy situations, cell phone, etc.). And again, just about anything that is wrong with a hearing aid can be addressed. But hear's the catch, only if the provider is aware of the issue(s).
In part II, I'll talk about ways new & existing users can help work with their audiologist to get the best results from their hearing aids...