Information on Hearing Aids for Patients in Mesa, Phoenix, Scottsdale, and Tempe
Hearing aids can provide you with a way to re-establish the connection with the world that you once had. They are designed to selectively amplify the sounds that you want and need to hear, while ignoring or even dampening those that you do not. When properly fitted and tuned, hearing aids can ease the tension of hearing difficulty, and help you reclaim the comfort you used to take for granted. Schedule a consultation with audiologist Cassandra M Fynes or Roger Knighton today to learn more about the hearing aids available at our Mesa office serving Phoenix, Tempe, and Scottsdale.
- Fynes Audiology Full-Service Care
- Types of Hearing Aids
- Hearing Aid Technology
- Analog vs. Digital
- Advantages of Digital
- Choosing a Hearing Aid
- One Hearing Aid or Two?
- Adjusting to your Hearing Aid
Fynes Audiology Offers Full-Service Care for Your Hearing Aids
If, after your comprehensive hearing evaluation and thorough discussions with you and your family, it is determined that you need hearing aids, we’ll make sure that you get a top quality brand that fits your ear, your budget, and your lifestyle.
Patients needing hearing aids in the Mesa, Phoenix, Scottsdale, and Tempe areas can look to Fynes Audiology for:
- Trial periods on all hearing aids
- On-site maintenance and repairs
- Quarterly cleanings and adjustments
- Yearly audiometric screenings
- Yearly hearing instrument evaluation
- Nursing home visits
- Financing options
Types of Hearing Aids
Hearing aids simply don’t come any smaller than CIC models. A wonder of modern technology, CIC hearing aids fit deeply inside the ear canal, making it almost invisible to all but the most dedicated investigator. The aesthetic benefits of a CIC model are obvious; no one will ever suspect that you are wearing hearing aids. There is also less feedback with a CIC model, improved telephone utility, decreased wind noise, as well as less occlusion (the “talking in a barrel” effect). They are not designed for maximum amplification, however, and are best suited for mild to moderate hearing loss.
In the Canal (ITC)
ITC hearing aids are the next step “out” from CICs, and fit on the very end of the ear canal. They are custom-made to fit perfectly in your ear, and are very discreet and difficult to notice. With their larger size and greater amplification powers, ITCs are suitable for moderately severe hearing loss.
ITEs are custom-fit to your outer ear and made from skin-toned material, making them not only exceptionally comfortable and suitable for severe hearing loss, but visually subtle as well.
BTE hearing aids are worn comfortably behind the ear, while a very thin, transparent tube runs down to a customized earmold that fits tightly in the ear canal or outer ear. BTEs are offered in many stylish colors and designs, and many are so discreet as to avoid notice. BTEs offer greater battery life and often more features thanks to their larger size, and most BTEs are compatible with assistive listening devices. Thanks to their amplification capabilities, BTEs are suitable for mild to profound hearing loss.
Hearing Aid Technology
Analog vs. Digital
All hearing aids, regardless of technology, are designed to increase the volume of sounds reaching the ear by electronic amplification. In order to achieve this, a hearing aid needs three basic components:
- One or more microphones to gather sound waves and convert them to electrical impulses
- An amplifier to increase the strength of the signal
- A miniature speaker, which converts that electric signal back into acoustic energy, producing amplified sound waves that travel directly to your eardrum.
The difference between analog and digital hearing aids is how the energy is amplified. Analog hearing aids use a continuously varying electrical signal to produce sound. Digital hearing aids change the electrical impulses into binary code (zeroes and ones), and these numbers are analyzed by a microprocessor within the hearing aid. Using a set of algorithms, the microprocessors process the impulses, and transmit the energy to the speaker.
Analog hearing aids offer fewer options than digital, and must be adjusted by an audiologist or another audiological professional in-office, though there are manual volume controls on some models. Analog hearing aids are the least flexible, but often also the least expensive hearing aids available.
Advantages of Digital Hearing Aids
The processing power of digital hearing aids allows much greater flexibility than analog devices. Each individual hearing aid can be programmed accurately for each patient’s unique hearing loss. Digital sound processing also produces a crisper, clearer sound than analog does, in much the same way that a compact disc sounds better than an audio cassette.
Digital hearing aids are “smarter” than analog, in that the microprocessors are able to interpret the incoming sound waves with greater accuracy. Instead of applying the same amplification process to all incoming sound, digital hearing aids are able to selectively amplify some noises, while ignore or even quiet others. By interpreting the consistency of the intensity of each individual sound, a digital processor can select those sounds that need to be amplified.
For example, the hum of an air conditioner is a sound with a very consistent intensity, as is the background clatter of an office. Digital hearing aids will interpret these sounds as background noise, and depending on the setting of the device, will either ignore it, or quiet it. Speech noises from someone speaking to the listener, however, will vary greatly in intensity. A digital hearing aid will interpret this as an important sound, and amplify it, again according to the settings of the device.
Digital hearing aids are also capable of managing feedback—the whistling noise caused by the microphones picking up the output from the speakers. As digital aids are capable of distinguishing different sounds, the frequency range in which the feedback is occurring can be slightly muted, reducing the whistling while still amplifying necessary speech sounds.
Directional microphones are employed in some analog and digital hearing aids. Unlike omnidirectional microphones which pick up sound in all directions, directional microphones only pick up the sound coming from the front, and reduce the sound coming from the rear (usually background noise). As digital hearing aids have exponentially more processing power, they are able to adapt to the input from the directional microphones more efficiently, making the directional microphone that much more effective.
Choosing a Hearing Aid
There are many different factors to consider when selecting a hearing aid. It is imperative to consult with a hearing professional such as Dr. Fynes or Mr. Knighton when making the decision, as she will be able to diagnose specific information about your hearing loss, and inform you of what the best options are. Consider these factors when making your decision:
- Degree and frequencies of hearing loss- One of our audiologists will be able to determine your hearing loss, and can show you which models are appropriate.
- Functionality- Which hearing aids are available for you may be restricted by your need for certain functions.
- Ear Anatomy- Some ear canals are very tiny, making it impossible to fit a CIC or, in some cases, an ITC.
- Lifestyle Needs- If your life keeps you indoors most of the time, your needs will be different than someone who spends their days in nature.
- Manual Dexterity- For those with dexterity issues, some sizes and designs may not be ideal.
- Cosmetic Preferences- Hearing aids are available in such a wide range of sizes, styles, and colors, so your personal taste will come into play greatly.
- Cost- Hearing aids come in a very wide range of prices, so there’s something for every budget.
One Hearing Aid or Two?
Wearing two hearing aids, called binaural amplification, has been shown in clinical tests and field trials to provide many solid benefits. Even when hearing loss is noticeably more pronounced in one ear than the other, wearing two hearing aids can balance the sound-gathering capability of both ears and create a more even, natural-sounding environment. Wearing two hearing aids can also allow you to set the volume lower on each of the aids, enabling you to hear sound at a softer, more natural level. Detecting the direction in which sound is originating is also much easier wearing two hearing aids. If you live in the Mesa, Phoenix, Scottsdale, or Tempe areas, contact Fynes Audiology today to discuss the differences between one and two hearing aids.
Adjusting to your Hearing Aid
As most people with hearing loss severe enough to warrant a hearing aid lost their hearing slowly over a long period of time, wearing hearing aids can be overwhelming at first. If you slowly lost your hearing over many years, there will be many soft sounds that you haven’t heard in a while and simply forgot about. Simply placing hearing aids in your ears will not by itself solve hearing loss; it takes commitment and patience to full adjust to your new capabilities.
Don’t get discouraged- People with long-term hearing loss often find sounds heard through a hearing aid unusual, even unsettling, because they haven’t been able to hear them for some time. There is a period of adjustment during which you will become accustomed to hearing fainter sounds again, and they will become natural pieces of your audio environment again.
Talk to your audiologist- If listening with your hearing aid is uncomfortable in certain situations, if certain noises are painful, or even if something simply doesn’t sound right, talk to Dr. Fynes or Mr. Knighton. They’ll either adjust your hearing aid for you, or show you how to do it yourself to give you the most comfortable and natural hearing experience possible.
Be persistent- It will take some time to adapt to the new sounds you are hearing, as well as to the feeling of having something in your ear. Don’t give up! Take breaks when you need to, but make a point of wearing your hearing aids as often as possible. The more time you spend with your hearing aids, the sooner they will become a part of your regular routine, and a part of your life.
Be realistic- Don’t expect to hear everything perfectly from the first moment you get your hearing aids. It takes time to learn to hear again.
For more information on digital and analog hearing aids, or to set up an appointment for a comprehensive hearing evaluation, contact us at Fynes Audiology today. We offer a number of hearing loss treatments and a variety of hearing aids to meet the needs of our Phoenix, Mesa, Scottsdale, and Tempe area patients.