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50+: Live Better, Longer

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All About Hearing Aids

Types and Styles of Hearing Aids continued...

Be sure to ask if the device you choose has any special features you want. Not all hearing aids have the same ones.

  • Directional microphones help you better respond to sound coming from a specific direction and tune out background noise.
  • A telephone switch quiets background noise and is better at picking up sounds from the phone. If you can find this system, it can help you hear in theaters, auditoriums, and churches.
  • Direct audio input allows you to plug in a remote microphone or FM assistive listening system or to connect directly to a TV or other device.

There are other types of hearing aids for specific types of hearing loss. For example, one type uses a bone vibrator for people without an ear canal or outer ear. Others may attach to eyeglasses. Also, ask about other devices that may make your hearing aids work better in certain settings.

Adjusting to and Caring for Hearing Aids

It's important to understand that your hearing aid can’t make your hearing what it used to be. But as you use it regularly, you will become more aware of sounds and where they are coming from.

When you first get your hearing aids, be patient. It may take some time to get used to them. In most states, you are allowed a trial period after you buy a device. Then, if yours don't work out for you, you may get a partial refund and try a different type that works better for you. Also ask about warranty coverage.

Take time to learn how your hearing aids work and insist on a good fit. Work closely with your audiologist to avoid problems such as:

  • Slight discomfort
  • Echo-like sounds from your voice
  • Feedback or a whistling sound
  • Background noise
  • Buzzing with cell phone use

It may help to start wearing your hearing aids in quiet areas and to keep a diary about how you feel.

Your hearing aids will last much longer if you take good care of them. Some tips to keep in mind:

  • Keep your hearing aids away from heat, moisture, hair care products, children, and pets.
  • Clean the hearing aid as directed.
  • Turn off your devices when you are not using them and replace dead batteries right away. Hearing aid batteries may last from several days to a couple of weeks. Battery life depends on the battery type, hearing aid power requirements, and how often you use it with assistive listening devices.
  • In general, hearing aids can last for 3 to 6 years. You may need a new one sooner if your hearing loss gets worse. Behind-the-ear hearing aids give you more flexibility since they can be programmed for a wider range of hearing loss.

Digital hearing aids get stronger and better every few years as computer technology improves. This often prompts people to upgrade their devices.

WebMD Medical Reference

Reviewed by Shelley A. Borgia, CCCA on October 06, 2015
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