More than 38 million Americans have some degree of hearing loss—approximately one in 10 individuals. Management of hearing loss may
include one or more of the following:
Use of hearing aids—electronic or
battery-operated devices that can amplify and change sound. A microphone
receives the sound and converts it into sound waves. The sound waves
are then converted into electrical signals. Hearing aids can help the
majority of people with mid to moderate hearing loss but they can't help
everyone. With people who have severe-to-profound hearing loss the
most powerful hearing aids are not enough.
The three basic styles of hearing aids differ by size,
placement on or inside the ear, and amplification standards. They each
work differently, depending on the electronics used.
With hearing loss, you lose hearing in various
frequencies, or ranges of sound. A digital hearing aid can be programmed
to boost specific frequencies. This dramatically improves your ability
to understand of speech over an analog hearing aid, which amplifies all
frequencies. Amplifying all frequencies might improve hearing, but not
improve the clarity of speech. A programmable analog hearing aid tries
to overcome this deficiency. By adjusting the amplifier, you can adjust
certain ranges of pitch just as you would on your home stereo. A
programmable analog hearing aid is not as adjustable as a digital
hearing aid. Digital hearing aids can be programmed to boost a single,
With today's technology, behind-the-ear aids are small,
powerful, and easy to handle for cleaning, changing the battery, and
adjusting the volume. They are user-friendly even though they are more
The in-the-ear models come in a variety of shapes and
sizes. Some are plainly visible and fill the entire, bowl-shaped part of
the outer ear. Others can hardly be seen and fit almost completely in
the ear canal.
When hearing ads are no longer enough Cochlear implants are a solution:
Cochlear implants—a surgically placed appliance
that helps to transmit electrical stimulation to the inner ear. Unlike
hearing aids, cochlear implants do not amplify sound but are designed to
mimic natural hearing by converting sound waves to electrical impulses
and transmitting them to the inner ear.
Using a cochlear implant sound processor should be very similar to using a hearing aid. As long as there are no contraindications the FDA has approved cochlear implants with no upper age limits.