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Explore Types of Hearing Technology in more detail :

Hearing Aids

Hearing aids amplify sound (the acoustic signal) and transmit it to the middle ear and then to the inner ear (cochlea). The microphone picks up sound which is processed electronically in the hearing aid and then passed into your ear. Hearing aids are becoming smaller, and much less obtrusive, and usually fit behind the ear (BTE) or in the ear (ITE). A cross-aid is useful for those who have a hearing loss in one ear (single-sided deafness); please visit this Phonak website page for more information on cross-aids for single-sided deafness.

Hearing aids can be digital or analogue. Modern hearing aids have been compared to small high-tech computers: are usually digital and can be programmed for individual hearing losses and for specific situations in the environment. More sophisticated features are being developed, improving sound reproduction and better reproduction of natural hearing. Please visit the Hear-it website for more information. Aids may have particular programmes for loop systems, for telephones and for music: they may have directional microphones to identify where sound is coming from. One of the best ways to keep up to date is to visit the websites of the various manufacturers showing the many examples of up-to-date technology – please also see the Resources page of this section on "Types of Hearing Technology" for suggestions. 

Although adults are often reluctant to seek hearing aids, more and more are doing so, and wearing two. The Eurotrak study which is carried out regularly demonstrates this, and is available from the EHIMA website. This is important: unmanaged hearing loss in adults has been shown to be related to isolation, depression and cognitive decline, and in children to poorer language and educational outcomes. Please visit The Ear Foundation website page - The Real Cost of Adult Hearing Loss to find a summary and downloadable report on hearing loss in adults. The use of hearing aids (and other hearing technology) has been shown to improve communication, and hence language outcomes in children born deaf, and to lessen isolation and cognitive decline in adults.

Adjusting to using hearing aids in adults can take some time: but it is important to persevere to obtain the benefits, and important that hearing aids, whether for children or adults, are fitted by a qualified and experienced professional, following full testing of hearing. The sooner hearing aids are fitted and used, the greater the benefit.