Myths About Hearing Aids
By Rebecca Krukemyer, Au.D.
Myth: Hearing aids are a single transaction purchase so it really doesn’t matter where you purchase them.
Truth: The audiologist or technician is responsible for setting the prescription of the hearing instruments. If that person is inexperienced or poorly trained, their lack of expertise can negatively impact the sound quality of the high tech hearing aid and thereby reduce their effectiveness.
The hearing test, hearing aid fitting, and instructions on use is just the beginning of the process to better hearing. Follow up visits are required to ensure proper use and address any questions or concerns. Professional device cleanings at least twice a year and routine hearing checks every 2-3 years are recommended. Remember that the prescription can be rewritten as needed due to changes in hearing or changes in listening requirements. Family counseling on realistic expectations and strategies to improve communication is also covered as needed, as is counseling to ensure that optimal listening strategies are used in a variety of listening environments.
Myth: Hearing aids are more noticeable than hearing loss.
Truth: Today’s hearing instruments are small and discreet, making them almost unnoticeable. Your hearing loss, on the other hand, may cause you to ask others to repeat themselves often, answer questions inappropriately, and isolate you from conversation. The frustration, embarrassment, and anxiety that you experience because of untreated hearing loss does not go unnoticed.
Myth: Hearing aids will restore hearing back to normal.
Truth: While hearing aids don’t improve hearing to normal, they can certainly improve communication by making it easier and more relaxing to listen.
Myth: Hearing aids eliminate background noise.
Truth: Hearing aids have built-in algorithms designed to detect speech and make speech more audible. Sometimes what people consider to be “background noise” is really speech that we don’t want to hear. In the world of acoustics, speech is speech and noise is noise. Speech is not noise, despite our personal opinion to the contrary. When two people are talking at the same time, the hearing aid has no way to know which person we want to hear and therefore both voices get amplification. Most of the time we want to hear both people so this is desirable. When we decide that we only want to hear one of them, our brain takes over to process what it needs to hear and ignores, as best as it can, what it doesn’t want.
Hearing aids do offer a feature for users that those without hearing aids don’t enjoy. That feature is directionality. With multiple microphone arrays, hearing aids can pick and choose from which direction they amplify. Often, as is the case with noise, this happens automatically. In the case of being surrounded by speech, the transition can happen by pressing a button to tell the hearing aid which direction you want to hear.