Understanding Types of Hearing Devices
There are many different types of hearing devices that may suit your needs. The product that is best for you will depend upon your personal hearing needs and your budget. Here is a description of the most common hearing devices that you should consider.
A hearing aid is a device designed to improve hearing by making sound audible to a person with a mild to severe hearing loss. Hearing aids are classified as medical devices in many countries including Canada and are regulated by the respective authorities and regulations. In Canada each province determines who can prescribe, dispense and fit hearing aids.
Hearing aids include several standard components. The microphone captures sound. The processing chip manipulates and amplifies sounds to make those sounds and voices easier to understand. The receiver, which is basically the speaker that transmits the amplified sound to the user’s ear canal.
Hearing aids are available in many formats with the most common falling into either Behind-the-ear or In-the-ear style devices. Each style of device offers its own advantages and disadvantages.
Hearing aids can be quite expensive with premium hearing aids costing over $7,000 for a pair of devices and the average selling price for hearing aids falling between $4,000 and $4,500 per set.
If you suspect that you have a hearing loss you should speak to your family physician about your concerns. You physician will refer you either to an Otolaryngologist (Ear, Nose and Throat doctor) or to a hearing health professional (Hearing Instrument Specialist or Audiologist) who will test your hearing to determine if you are a candidate for a hearing aid.
Personal Hearing Amplifier / Personal Sound Amplifying Product
These amplifying devices offer many of the same technologies and features as a hearing aid and a result, many people utilize these amplifying devices as an inexpensive option to hearing aids. The intended use however for a Personal Amplifier, is to help people with normal hearing listen to and understand soft and difficult to hear sounds and voices. For some people, this may provide them with the ability to watch television without turning the volume so high that it disturbs other people in the household. For others, a hearing amplifier may help them hear and understand speech in a restaurant or the speaker at a religious service or seminar.
Many years ago, hearing amplifiers were simple devices that amplified every sound, sometimes without controls or limits. In recent years however, these devices have become increasingly sophisticated, incorporating the same type and quality of component found in basic and even advanced level hearing aids. These new devices allow the user to customize the device to set volumes and amplify the specific types of sounds that the user would like to hear while limiting the level of sound produced by loud noises.
Personal sound amplifiers are sometimes sold in an audiology or hearing clinic for clients who do not need or can not afford a hearing aid, but more often are sold direct to the consumer via the Internet or in a traditional bricks and mortar pharmacy.
To learn more about the personal hearing amplifiers offered by Online Hearing Canada, please click here.
Over-the-Counter Hearing Aids
In 2017 the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) announced the creation of a new type of hearing aid called the Over-the-Counter (OTC) Hearing Aid that is intended for people with mild and moderate hearing loss. The motivation behind this announcement was to allow more people to obtain help for their hearing loss and in direct response to the high price of traditional hearing aids. Since that time the FDA has been in discussions with manufacturers, hearing health practitioners and hearing advocates, to establish a set or regulations for what an OTC should do, how it should be constructed and how consumers should be able to purchase the devices.
Predictably, many people within the traditional hearing aid industry field wish for these new devices to be sold through the existing distribution channels of traditional hearing clinics. At the same time, many hearing health advocates are calling for these devices to be more easily accessible and available for sale through a direct-to-consumer sales model.
To date, Health Canada has not taken any formal action to introduce this same type of legislation in Canada, so it will be some time before anything called an OTC Hearing aid becomes available in Canada.
If hearing conversations on the telephone is your biggest hearing trouble, an amplified telephone can help you have clearer telephone conversations. Most amplified phones come with built-in amplification and tone control so you can turn up the volume higher than a traditional phone and adjust the frequency of the other caller’s voice to better fit your hearing. The most important factor in choosing an amplified phone is determining how much amplification you need. Since hearing loss can be degenerative, it may be good to get a phone with higher amplification as you can always turn the volume down. Amplified telephones are available in both traditional and cordless styles and often include convenient features like oversized buttons.