Using a Hearing Aid
People of all ages use hearing aids. Hearing aids are appropriate for the very young and the very old, for those with minimal hearing loss and those with profound hearing loss.
Hearing aids are often the first step families take when introducing sound to a child with hearing loss. Babies with hearing loss can and should be fit with hearing aid(s) within the first months of life.
Research studies on adults have shown that people who have a hearing loss in both ears, but wear only one aid experience “auditory deprivation.” The loss of their ability to recognize speech in an unaided ear. For children with hearing loss in both ears, using two hearing aids can prevent auditory deprivation and help the child localize sound and hear better even in noisy environments. Use of amplification 100 percent of a child’s waking hours within two to three weeks of the initial fitting should be a goal for a child who is receiving his or her first set of hearing aids.
Remember, hearing is something we do all the time. If parents or hearing aid users have questions about how well a hearing aid is working, contact an audiologist.
What Hearing Aid Users Hear
Hearing aids do not restore hearing to typical levels. However, depending on the degree of hearing loss, hearing aids will enable a person to hear many sounds. This includes both environmental sounds such as the sound of a rattle or a dog barking and the sounds of speech. Regardless, hearing aids do not correct hearing as perfectly as glasses correct vision.
Although hearing aids have improved dramatically in recent years – some have built-in FM systems and directional microphones that can reduce background noise – individual sounds may be somewhat distorted. Because hearing aids amplify all sounds, including background noise, it still may be difficult to hear and understand speech in noisy situations unless an individual with hearing loss is standing close to the person who is speaking. Hearing aids must be utilized along with active listening and good communication strategies. Hearing benefit often improves over time as the individual adjusts to the sound and feel of hearing aids; consistent hearing aid use enables and enhances this process.
An important component of the hearing aid fitting process is the counseling the audiologist provides regarding active listening and realistic expectations of amplification.