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How Are Hearing Loss and Dementia Related?

Connection between hearing loss and dementia

At some point in our lives, most of us have interacted with an elderly family member who, heartbreakingly, seems unable to understand that we’re speaking to them. You may worry that this phenomenon, which is sometimes a sign of dementia, is inevitable as you or someone you love ages.

Dementia is not itself a disease or disorder but instead a prominent symptom of several conditions. It is perhaps most widely associated with Alzheimer’s disease, and the fatal genetic disorder Huntington’s disease can cause it too. Poor or entirely blocked blood flow to the brain can also result in dementia.

Hearing loss, though incapable of causing dementia, can accelerate or exacerbate dementia caused by the aforementioned conditions. While it’s true that there’s no cure for dementia, you can potentially reduce the severity of dementia by protecting you or your loved one’s hearing now. Here’s what you need to know.

How can hearing loss accelerate dementia?

In people aged 60 and above, the severity of hearing loss is strongly correlated with an increased risk for dementia. This connection may stem from the brain sharing several physiological pathways with the ear – for example, high blood pressure affects both organs. That said, neurologists and audiologists have not definitively determined the anatomical cause of this correlation.

Even without an exact cause determined, the correlation remains clear. A 12-year, 639-participant study from Johns Hopkins University revealed that the more serious one’s hearing loss, the higher their risk of dementia. According to this study, those with mild hearing loss are at twice as high a risk for dementia. Those with moderate or severe hearing loss are at, respectively, three and five times as high a risk.

Otolaryngologist Dr. Frank Lin, who led the study, has said that brain scans show a correlation between hearing loss and faster rates of brain atrophy. This factor could at least partially account for how hearing loss might accelerate dementia. Lin has also theorized that the social isolation common with hearing loss, perhaps due to struggling to hear in conversations, can prove inadequately stimulating for the brain. This lack of stimulation could exaggerate dementia.

How to control hearing loss now

Given all the above about how hearing loss could accelerate dementia, you might feel compelled to schedule a hearing test for yourself or a loved one. After all, people of all ages can experience hearing loss, whether gradual (which is common) or sudden.

No matter you or your loved one’s age, a hearing test is a great first step for mitigating dementia, especially if you have a family history of Alzheimer’s disease. Getting your hearing tested is easy – just contact an audiologist’s office for a checkup.

When you or your loved one sees an audiologist, don’t be shy about discussing dementia, especially if there’s a family history of any condition listed above. The audiologist can then recommend how often you or your loved one should schedule hearing tests. Your doctor should also explain the common signs of hearing loss and what to do if they’re observed. In most cases, you’ll be advised to schedule another hearing test and consider getting hearing aids.

Most modern hearing aids are nearly invisible, so you or your loved one can enjoy a thriving social life worry-free while hearing the world in full clarity.

All these hearing-related steps can help to slow the development of dementia. That said, they aren’t a cure for dementia, nor do they guarantee prevention.

How to help those with hearing loss and dementia

Not everyone will be lucky enough to catch their hearing loss in time to forestall the onset of dementia. To make matters worse, hearing loss and dementia can have similar impacts on a person’s everyday interactions. If you’re caring for a loved one with dementia and they don’t respond to your speech, you can’t quite know if hearing loss or dementia is the culprit.

In this case, you can help your loved one by conducting regular hearing checks. If their hearing is intact, you can assume they’re experiencing dementia. You should also remove any sounds or sights that could make it harder for your loved one to hear what you’re saying or read your lips. Make sure your loved one can actually see your face – a familiar sight can sometimes temporarily break through the challenging haze of dementia.

There’s another especially strong solution for you or your loved one for either dementia or hearing loss (or both). Hearing aids amplify sounds entering the ear to make up for hearing loss, and this extra brain stimulation can occasionally break through the neurological barriers of dementia. Many audiologist’s offices, such as I Love Hearing, also employ hearing aid specialists who make choosing and fitting hearing aids hassle-free.

Contact I Love Hearing about hearing loss and dementia

Whether you’re preventing dementia decades in advance or have concerns about a loved one living with dementia now, we at I Love Hearing would be happy to help. Visit any of our Long Island offices to speak with audiologists and hearing aid specialists who have decades of experience with all types of hearing loss. We’re happy to test anyone of any age for hearing loss, including as it relates to dementia, and help you create a treatment plan. Contact I Love Hearing today to book an appointment – living with or preventing dementia can be challenging, but it doesn’t have to be impossible.

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Five Reasons Why People Don’t Use Their Hearing Aids – And How To Address Them

Getting used to a new technology or routine is always a challenge. Today’s hearing aids are remarkable pieces of technology and so are not exempt from this issue. However, almost all hearing aid-related issues have very simple solutions. If you’re using hearing aids and experiencing any of the following challenges, we at I Love Hearing are here to help. That’s why, below, we’ve listed five common hearing aid problems and the common solutions for them.

1. You don’t like the way your hearing aids sound.

The problem: It’s not uncommon for people to feel a bit “off” when they first start wearing hearing aids. Some people may initially find that their voice sounds different through hearing aids, and this discovery can be unsettling. Others may feel that their hearing aids as effective as they thought they would be – or worse – the sounds they hear may be TOO loud!

The solution: Hearing aid specialists such as those at I Love Hearing can adjust your hearing aids to make your voice sound more natural and amplify sounds to a volume level that meets your needs. Auditory therapy, auditory processing evaluations, auditory rehabilitation, and other techniques for improving speech comprehension can help too.

2. You don’t like the way your hearing aids feel.

The problem: The physical sensation of hearing aids in and on your ears may not feel familiar or comfortable at first. You might initially find that your ears are itchy or sweating under the hearing aids. You may also experience some discomfort or pain. These feelings typically subside within two months of consistent hearing aid use.

The solution: Hearing aids typically include several standard and custom ear tips with which a hearing aid specialist can adjust your to your needs. Licensed audiologists can further adjust your hearing aids to address any pain or discomfort. Additionally, since hearing aids come in a variety of styles, you can try a different hearing aid style if your current devices are uncomfortable.

3. You worry about losing your hearing aids.

The problem: Hearing aids are small, so it’s natural to feel like you might lose them. You might also worry that your hearing aids are so small that they may fall right out of your ears, perhaps never to be seen again. After all, it’s one thing to lose an inexpensive device, but it’s another when a pricey, important investment disappears.

The solution: Your hearing aid expert or audiologist will take ample time to securely fit your hearing aids to your ears. This way, your hearing aids aren’t likely to go missing. Here at I Love Hearing, we take both this measure and another important anti-loss step: If your hearing aids have Bluetooth® and GPS, we pair your devices with your smartphone. This way, if your hearing aids go missing, you can locate them with your phone.

4. You worry about how your hearing aids look.

The problem: It is true that even today, stigma around hearing aid use remains prevalent. In fact, some experts believe that worries about embarrassment, shame, or other negative emotions are more of an obstacle to hearing aid use than the cost of the devices themselves.

The solution: Gone are the days of clunky, obvious hearing aids. If anything, hearing aids are now so discreet that they veer on invisible. Some studies have even found that people are more likely to notice that you’re struggling to hear than that you’re wearing a hearing aid. And, of course, the latter solves the former.

5. You worry that hearing aids will make obvious noises.

The problem: Hearing aids may emit feedback if the amplified sound waves that your hearing aids generate escape your ear canal and strike your devices’ microphones. You might worry that others can hear these noises, and even if it’s only you hearing this feedback, it can still be unpleasant.

The solution: Often, a simple hearing aid cleaning can solve feedback issues. More often, you’ll need to see your audiologist or hearing aid specialist for minor adjustments. If you’re still experiencing feedback after cleaning your devices, I Love Hearing can help.

I Love Hearing can solve your hearing aid problems

No matter why you’re hesitating to use your hearing aids, we here at I Love Hearing are eager to reassure you. Our team’s experience troubleshooting all kinds of hearing aid woes spans decades, and we have four offices in Long Island and Manhattan for your convenience. If you decide to switch hearing aid styles or try new devices, we’ll provide you options from nearly every reputable hearing aid brand. With our “try it before you buy it” policy, you’ll get to use your hearing aids in real life first before committing to them, so you can dodge these problems altogether if it’s a question of fit, style, or features. Contact I Love Hearing today to start loving your hearing aids and move further along your journey toward restoring your hearing.

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Here Are The Hearing Aid Questions You’re Afraid To Ask

Hearing aids may be an option for you if you’re experiencing hearing loss, but understandably, you may be hesitant to take the plunge. You’re far from alone — at I Love Hearing, we speak with patients every day who have concerns or need guidance. There are a lot of questions about adjusting to life with hearing aids, some of which may seem a little silly or downright ridiculous to ask.

Rest assured, that there are no bad questions when it comes to hearing aids! Here, we’re answering some of the most commonly asked questions about hearing aids that you might be afraid to ask.

Why do I need two hearing aids if I only have hearing loss in one ear?

There’s a simple biological explanation for this: The reason that two hearing aids are always better than one is due to a process called binaural hearing. This process entails the brain processing audio input from both ears simultaneously, because the signals that both ears send to the brain are roughly equal in strength.

If you have hearing loss in your right ear, your binaural hearing balance is thrown off, but if you use a hearing aid in only your right ear to address this imbalance, you can actually make it more difficult for your left ear to hear. That’s because, due to binaural hearing and the amplified volume entering your right ear, the brain will process the sound going into your left ear as quieter than the room’s background noise. Additionally, this imbalance can make it difficult for your brain to pinpoint the exact location from which a sound that enters your left ear originates.

Does my insurance company cover hearing aids?

Although at I Love Hearing, we participate in and accept most insurance plans, it’s possible that your insurance – even Medicare – won’t cover your hearing aids. Some insurance companies view hearing aids as elective technologies rather than medically necessary devices, and others won’t cover hearing aids since too many Americans are at risk for hearing loss for insurance companies to have the incentive to pay for hearing aids.

I bought hearing aids OTC (over the counter). Will they work?

Although it’s possible that OTC hearing aids will work with mild hearing loss, they’re more risky to buy. Due to the Food and Drug Administration Reauthorization Act of 2017, the FDA is due to roll out proposed guidelines for OTC hearing aids, but even these guidelines will be proposed rather than final. For the time being, OTC hearing aids may not be a trustworthy option.

I bought a Personal Sound Amplification Product (PSAP). Do I really need a hearing aid?

PSAPs (personal sound amplification products) are similar to OTC hearing aids in that the FDA does not permit them to be labeled as devices that can improve hearing.

When you’re looking to decide which device is right for you, the best way to make a fully informed decision is to make an appointment with your licensed hearing aid specialist, who can thoroughly review the differences between PSAPs and hearing aids.

Does it hurt to be fitted for hearing aids?

No, it does not hurt to be fitted for hearing aids. Professionally trained hearing aid specialists such as those you’ll work with at I Love Hearing ensure that your hearing aids fit properly and will not cause itching, discomfort, or sweating around you ears. If you experience any of these issues after your initial fitting, you can always contact us to book a follow-up appointment.

Will my hearing get worse over time?

Since aging is a leading cause of hearing loss, many people assume that their hearing will get worse over time. This is sometimes, but not always, the case. With most cases of the sensorineural hearing loss that underlies most hearing loss, your hearing will degrade over long periods but eventually hit a threshold below which it cannot decrease. Even if your hearing loss stops progressing, chances are that it will have nevertheless gone far enough that hearing aids will prove helpful to you. Either way, consult an audiologist to determine your options.

Will my hearing improve over time?

In most cases, hearing loss is progressive degenerative disease. All sensorineural hearing loss, for example, is irreversible, so your hearing will not improve over time if you have this form of hearing loss. If you have congenital hearing loss or mixed hearing loss, you may sometimes be able to reverse your hearing loss. No matter your type of hearing loss, an audiologist can determine how to address your hearing loss, whether via ear wax removal or hearing aids.

How often do I need to visit a hearing aid specialist?

You should visit your hearing aid specialist regularly just as you would with your physician, dentist, or eye doctor. Often, when you book appointments with these other doctors, you’re not seeking to treat any active symptoms but to prevent future health problems, and you should be just as proactive in caring for your hearing. Since most hearing loss occurs gradually rather than suddenly or acutely, if you don’t regularly visit a hearing aid specialist, you might begin treating your hearing loss – a condition that one in every eight Americans above the age of 12 has – long after you should have started.

I’m scared I’ll feel “old” wearing my hearing aids.

Although it’s fair to feel worried that hearing aids will make you feel “old,” hearing loss can happen to anyone at any age. Chances are that other people might be more likely to call you “old” if you keep asking someone to repeat themselves or turn the volume way, way up on your television. Hearing aids don’t just lessen the frequency of these occurrences – many models are so discreet that other people won’t even notice you’re wearing them. No matter your age, if you’re experiencing hearing loss, then hearing aids may well be the best solution for you – and a hearing aid specialist can help you decide.

Book an appointment with I Love Hearing for all your other hearing aid questions

At I Love Hearing, our audiologists and hearing aid specialists can help you decide whether you’ll benefit from hearing aids. We work closely with you to determine the best hearing aid model for your needs, fit them properly, and educate you on proper care and maintenance.

Our team has decades of hands-on experience with many hearing aid manufacturers, and we make our knowledge base accessible to all our patients. We make reaching us easy with five offices located throughout the New York Metro areas, including four in Nassau County and one in Manhattan’s Upper East Side. At your appointment, we’ll discuss the levels of noise to which you’re regularly exposed, test your hearing, and go over your hearing aid options with you. Contact us to book an appointment, and bring your questions large and small — we’re here to answer them.

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The Widex Moment Offers Unparalleled Audio Quality, Many Styles

Widex Moment

At I Love Hearing, we’re excited to announce that the newest Widex hearing aid model, the Widex Moment, is now available for our patients! The Widex Moment utilizes state of the art technology to deliver audio without lag, so those with mild to severe hearing loss can keep up with conversations, TV shows, and any other sound around them. Read on to learn more about the Widex Moment and determine if this exciting new model is right for you.

What’s new about the Widex Moment?

The brand new Widex Moment delivers a clear, natural, and pure sound that cannot be reproduced on many other hearing aid devices. Since they have dual processors, these hearing aids process sound twice as fast, eliminating the lag that some hearing aid wearers experience. This technology, called PureSound, has been tested and proven to deliver sound at realistic signal to noise ratios (SNRs).

“Some older hearing aids have a delay in speech because they can’t quickly process and deliver sound to the auditory cortex, and this delay greatly impacts those with severe hearing loss,” said Jessica Gibson, clinical specialist at I Love Hearing. “Typically, a hearing aid creates an artificial sound, but because of the dual processing in the new hearing aid, you can now hear every moment like you used to.”

Along with dual processing, the Widex Moment uses artificial intelligence (AI) to personalize your hearing experience, thus making your hearing perfect for each and every moment. With this AI-powered personalization, your hearing aids can also automatically adjust your hearing levels in real-time so you don’t have to worry about fixing them. Widex Moment hearing aids seamlessly match themselves to all aspects of your daily life.

You might think that AI in hearing aids sounds futuristic, but it’s not even the only one-of-a-kind thing about these hearing aids! Thanks to remote hearing aid adjustments, these hearing aids can get whatever alterations needed without ever needing to go into a repair center or store. Whether you’re staying inside more due to COVID-19, can’t make it out due to bad weather, or simply have a hectic schedule that makes keeping appointments difficult, you can skip out on the in-person adjustments without missing a beat — or note.

Other features of the new Widex Moment include:

  • Various models: Regardless of the design that best fits your needs and lifestyle, there’s a Widex Moment model for you – in fact, you can choose from six different models to best satisfy your needs. Use whichever hearing aid type supports your preferences, whether that’s a completely-in-canal (CIC) aid, a receiver-in-canal (RIC) model, or an in-the-ear (ITE) style. “The Widex Moment is fully adaptable to the hearing aid wearer’s lifestyle,” said Gibson. “You may want a specific color, style, or fit, and the Widex Moment has lots of options to choose from.”

  • Water-resistant: The Widex Moment’s smart engineering and durable microphones make it long-lasting. Its advanced, water-resistant nano-coating protects it from moisture and gives you peace of mind whether you’re wearing your hearing aids rain or shine.

  • Rechargeable: The convenience of the Widex Moment’s slim wireless charger is a great feature as well. You won’t have to struggle with changing batteries or plugging in any cables – just place them on the portable charger when it’s time to recharge.

Widex Moment specifications

Below is some additional information about the Widex Moment to help you decide which model is best for you:

  • Available models: Multiple, including CIC, RIC, and ITE
  • Processor types: Dual core
  • Bluetooth connectivity: Yes
  • Rechargeable: Yes, with non-rechargeable options available
  • Battery length: 35-165 hours depending on model
  • Water-resistant: Yes
  • Remote adjustments: Yes
  • Hearing loss type: Mild to severe, except the mRIC 312 D and the REC 213 D, which are suitable for mild to profound hearing loss

Is the Widex Moment right for you?

No two individuals are the same when it comes to hearing loss. The best way to find out if the Widex Moment (or any other hearing aid) is right for you is to try them out. That’s why I Love Hearing offers free trials: spend two weeks with the Widex Moment and determine for sure if its functionality, look, and fit are right for your lifestyle. If you love the Widex Moment — great! We’ll send you home with them in hand. If they aren’t the best option for you, your hearing aid specialist will help you find a different model. Contact I Love Hearing now to speak with a specialist, make an appointment, and start your journey to better hearing!

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How to connect Your iPhone To Your Hearing Aids

Talking on the phone or video chatting is a core part of everyday life, from conference calls to Zoom reunions. However, for those with hearing loss a phone call can bring undue stress and anxiety.

To help make the seamless transition from hearing devices to mobile device, Apple products, including the popular iPhone, have built in features that make this an easy process. If you are hoping to face fewer challenges while talking on the phone with your hearing aid in place, you can easily connect your hearing devices to iPhone devices using Bluetooth connectivity. By doing so, calls and video chats will transform from struggles into hassle-free experiences – and that is not all.  Direct connectivity can also help you better hear music, videos, podcasts, and audiobooks by streaming them directly into your hearing devices.

At I Love Hearing, we are happy to assist you with this process – simply give us a call or click on over to make an appointment and we will take it from there.

If you prefer to try it yourself, here are some tips to help you navigate the process.

1.    Confirm that your hearing aids are compatible with iPhone

Before you pair your hearing aids with your iPhone, first check to make sure if the two devices are compatible. For successful pairing, you must have an iPhone 5 or later and check to see if Apple supports your hearing aids. If you’re still unsure after checking this list, contact I Love Hearing and ask about your specific hearing aid and iPhone models.

2.    Make sure Bluetooth is turned on

To connect your hearing aids to your iPhone Bluetooth needs to be on. You can check whether your Bluetooth is on in your iPhone settings, where you can toggle the Bluetooth switch to the “on” position if it is not already set.

3.    Put your hearing aids into Pairing Mode

Your hearing aids can only connect to your iPhone via Bluetooth when you put them into pairing mode.

For battery operated hearing devices, simply open the battery doors and place your hearing devices next to your iphone.

For rechargeable hearing devices- put them in the off position or place them in their charging dock until you are ready to start the pairing process.

4.    Begin the pairing process

Now that you’ve prepared your hearing aid and your iPhone to connect to each other, it’s time to start the pairing process. Complete the below steps to begin using your hearing aids as an extension of your iPhone:

  • On your iPhone, open the Settings app.
  • Next, click on Accessibility.
  • Scroll down until you see Hearing Devices and click on that option.
  • On the next screen you will see MFI Hearing Devices on the top and a searching wheel will be spinning while your phone looks for your hearing devices.
  • Now it is time to turn your hearing devices on by either closing the battery doors (which turns them on) or removing the devices from the charging dock.
  • Wait for you devices to appear with both R & L symbols-although at this point it will say not connected.
  • Click on your named devices and another screen will appear which will have two windows pop up on the screen, tap “Pair.” Note that two hearing devices will require you to tap the word “Pair” twice.
  • Allow up to 1 minute for the pairing process to finish. When done, a checkmark will appear next to the device name.

5.    Adjust the settings as needed

Congratulations – you have successfully paired your hearing devices to your iPhone! Now you can personalize some settings based on your preferences in your Accessibility window.  Below is a list of settings you can adjust:

  • Volume adjustments independent or simultaneous.
  • Ringtones played through your hearing device.
  • Audio routing (your choice of default audio playback device).
  • Audio handoff between Apple devices (seamless switching from iPhone to iPad).
  • Customize preset volume levels (also possible via lock screen or Control Center).

If you need more help with your hearing device settings or just prefer to come in for assistance with pairing your hearing devices, I Love Hearing is just a call or a click away.

You’ll always feel connected to others with I Love Hearing   

Whether you are unsure about the compatibility of your hearing devices and your iPhone or need more help successfully pairing your devices, I Love Hearing is here to assist you. Our leadership team has in-depth experience working hands-on with almost all hearing devices, so we can address all your questions and concerns. We want you to feel comfortable and confident when using your hearing devices – and we have the knowledge to make it happen.

At I Love Hearing, we will also practice a phone call with you before you walk out the door with your hearing devices.  We can teach you some of the best at-home maintenance and cleaning practices.

Properly caring for, using, and Bluetooth-connecting your hearing devices can be challenging, you can visit our Hearing Aids FAQ page if you still have questions. Better yet, contact I Love Hearing to speak with a specialist, book an appointment, and start your jour journey to better hearing!

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How to clean popular hearing aid brands

Chart of popular hearing aid brands

Each hearing aid model and brand differs. Instructions for cleaning may change from brand to brand. Always consult the owner’s manual of your particular style, brand, and model before cleaning. Below are the recommended hearing aid cleaning instructions from several popular hearing aid brands.

Oticon

Oticon advises that you clean its hearing aids daily using a soft, dry cloth. Be sure your hands are dry before cleaning. Oticon advises against using water or other substances to clean its hearing aids. Additionally, Oticon suggests clearing its hearing aids above a soft surface such as a towel so damage is avoided if you accidentally drop your hearing aids while cleaning. Oticon recommends that its customers clean their hearing aids using a multi-tool.

Starkey

Whereas many hearing loss professionals recommend nighttime cleaning and overnight airing, Starkey suggests cleaning your hearing aids every morning. Starkey advises morning cleanings using a cleaning cloth because earwax dries overnight and can thus be easier to remove in the morning. Starkey also stresses that hearing aid users should take care not to wipe microphone port debris into other openings and vice versa.

Many Starkey hearing aids include a thin tube or earmold. In this case, Starkey says that users should use the cleaning tool provided for these parts regularly so that wax buildup is minimized.

Widex

Widex hearing aids come with a tool that assists with cleaning the sound outlet, vent, and microphone opening. This tool should be used in combination with a soft, dry cloth to clean your hearing aids. Like Starkey, Widex suggests leaving earwax to dry overnight so that you can remove it more easily with your brush.

For ITE hearing aids (Widex uses the abbreviation CIC or “Completely In Canal”) that have a vent tube, Widex offers detailed cleaning instructions. Widex hearing aid users should remove the battery and insert a specialized ball-tip tool into the vent to remove wax buildup from the opening.

Phonak

Phonak emphasizes washing and drying your hands before you clean your hearing aids so that you don’t introduce any moisture or debris. If your hearing aids do come into contact with moisture, Phonak recommends drying them immediately with a soft, dry cloth.

Phonak recommends checking your hearing aids daily for earwax deposits and clear them using the appropriate brush. If you notice a consistent decrease in volume, your earwax filter may be blocked, and though you can replace this filter yourself, it is recommended that you visit a hearing aid specialist such as I Love Hearing for professional assistance and repair.

For its BTE hearing aids, Phonak recommends that users separate the earpiece from the hearing aid prior to cleaning. Only the earpiece can come in contact with water, and this tube should be dried using only an air puffer that your hearing loss professional gives you.

In the last post in this series, we’ll talk about what you should NEVER do when cleaning your hearing aids.

Learn more about hearing aid care with I Love Hearing

Cleaning your hearing aids is only a small part of ensuring that your devices are working properly and will last for years. At I Love Hearing, our leadership team has in-depth experience working hands-on with all major hearing aid brands, so we can advise you on cleaning and maintenance best practices.

Unlike many hearing aid providers that only sell and repair one brand, we carry and repair nearly every hearing aid brand available in the U.S., and particularly in New York City and Long Island. We offer hearing aid fitting, hearing aid repair, ear wax management, and other services that can help you to keep your hearing aids working like they’re brand new year after year. Our team of licensed audiologists and hearing aid specialists operates from offices located throughout the greater New York metro area: in Manhattan’s Upper West Side and throughout Long Island, including Port Washington, New Hyde Park, East Meadow, and Great Neck.

If you have more questions about hearing aid fitting or hearing aid repair, visit the I Love Hearing FAQ page about hearing aids. And if you still have questions, we’d love to help you:  Contact us to book an appointment and start your hearing aid journey.

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Hearing Aid Styles, Explained

Hearing aids can help to address hearing loss for almost all people who have it, but they are not all the same. Several hearing aid styles are available to address diverse types of hearing challenges. The hearing aid style best for one person may not be right for another, so how can you know which is best for you? Read on to find out.

What are hearing aids?

Hearing aids are battery-powered or rechargeable devices that combat hearing loss. They amplify sound for the wearer, making it easier to hear and process sounds in a wide range of scenarios. Hearing aids either fit inside the ear canal or lie just outside the ear.

How do hearing aids work?

Hearing aids use a microphone to capture incoming sounds. The microphone then transmits these sounds to the amplifier, which makes them louder before they reach the speaker. Finally, the speaker directs these louder sounds toward your ear for auditory processing.

Common hearing aid features

In addition to amplifying sound, hearing aids may include several state-of-the-art features such as:

Conversion of incoming sounds to digital signals to reduce feedback and background noise

Directional microphones that focus on amplifying sound originating from where you’re facing, which helps with understanding conversations

Multi-channel equalizers that allow you to switch your hearing aid settings depending on your location and the decibel levels around you

Wireless connectivity via Bluetooth™ and telecoil connectivity for use with smartphones, laptops, televisions, and hearing loops in large venues and religious locations

Binaural processing so your two hearing aids can communicate with each other and balance their incoming signals for a more realistic hearing experience

Automatic programming and artificial intelligence that respond to and adjust incoming audio to fit your listening habits

Who uses hearing aids?

Some may assume that hearing aids are exclusively for the elderly, but they can be valuable tools for anyone at any age who experiences hearing loss for a wide range of reasons. Across all ages, one in every eight people experiences at least some amount of hearing loss, and all these people may be candidates for hearing aids. Hearing loss can result from regular exposure to everyday noise such as high-volume headphone usage or sudden exposure to loud noises such as fireworks or jet flyovers. It can also accompany traumatic brain injuries or diseases and illnesses, including diabetes, heart disease, influenza, mumps, and rubella. Additionally, people who experience tinnitus may use hearing aids to hear better over the intrusive sounds that tinnitus presents.

Are hearing aids rechargeable?

Although traditional hearing aids are not rechargeable, many newer models contain lithium-ion rechargeable batteries that recharge just like a smartphone or a pair of wireless headphones. Many come with a dedicated case for charging them. Each charge, on average lasts for about one day of use. These batteries cannot be removed without the help of a hearing aid specialist.

Traditional hearing aids may be outfitted with button batteries that are rechargeable. Consult the battery brand’s specifics for more information.

How long do hearing aid batteries last?

Disposable zinc-air button batteries last between three and 20 days. Rechargeable, removable batteries can last six months to one year, and the non-removable batteries inside rechargeable hearing aids can last as long as five years.

How many different hearing aid styles are there?

The two major categories of hearing aid styles are in-the-ear (ITE) hearing aids and behind-the-ear (BTE) hearing aids. There are four additional subtypes of ITE hearing aids: Invisible in the canal (IIC), completely in the canal (CIC), in-the-canal (ITC), and low-profile. BTE hearing aids have two subtypes too: Receiver in the ear (RITE) and behind the ear with earmold.

In-the-ear (ITE) hearing aid styles

In-the-ear (ITE) hearing aid styles sit entirely inside the ear canal. These types of hearing aids are less detectable to others. The subcategories of ITE hearing aids are divided based on how deeply in the ear canal they are placed.

Invisible in the canal (IIC) and completely in the canal (CIC)

IIC and CIC hearing aids are very similar. The only difference separating these styles of devices is that an IIC hearing aid is inserted so deep into the ear canal that it’s all but impossible to see from the outside, whereas CIC hearing aids are inserted a bit closer to the ear canal’s opening and can often be seen — but only slightly.

Both IIC and CIC hearing aids are supremely discreet and have high sound quality due to their proximity to the inner ear. However, their small size can prove challenging for people with dexterity issues, as these tiny devices are removed by gently tugging on a small string that is left outside the ear canal. The small size and in-ear location of these devices can also pose challenges for Bluetooth connectivity and avoiding ear wax and moisture exposure.

In-the-canal (ITC) hearing aids

Whereas IIC and CIC hearing aids are placed deep in the ear canal, ITC hearing aids are placed closer to the outer ear but are still in the canal. ITC hearing aids are thus larger than their IIC and CIC counterparts and somewhat less discreet, though they’re still discreet compared to many other hearing aid styles.

Since ITC hearing aids are larger than IIC and CIC hearing aids, they tend to have longer battery life and additional features including manual controls and directional microphones. ITC, IIC, and CIC hearing aids may all struggle with Bluetooth connectivity and ear wax and moisture exposure, but only ITC hearing aids may cause their wearers to feel plugged up.

Behind-the-ear (BTE) hearing aid styles

Whereas ITE hearing aid styles sit inside the ear canal, behind-the-ear (BTE) hearing aids extend from the ear canal to a portion of the device that’s placed behind the ear. There are two major subcategories of BTE hearing aids.

Receiver in the ear (RITE)

Receiver in the ear (RITE) hearing aids, also known as receiver in canal (RIC) hearing aids, are open-fit models with the speaker located in the ear and the microphone and processor behind the ear. The speaker sits in the ear canal via an insertable ear dome that can be as discreet as IIC and CIC hearing aids. A thin wire connects the speaker to the behind-ear microphone and processor.

A major advantage of RITE hearing aids is that they comprise the vast majority of rechargeable hearing aid styles. RITE hearing aids also tend to excel at Bluetooth and phone connectivity, with telecoil options common in these models. Additionally, your hearing aid specialist can often replace or repair the speaker portion of an RITE hearing aid at their office instead of shipping it to the manufacturer. However, RITE hearing aids may experience similar moisture, ear wax, and dexterity issues to IIC and CIC hearing aids, and the behind-the-ear portion of RITE hearing aids are more conspicuous.

Behind the ear with earmold

Behind the ear with earmold hearing aid styles include the most adaptable, versatile models on the market. The custom-fitted earmold occupies a large portion of the outer ear, and as with RITE hearing aids, a large, visible portion of the hearing aid sits behind the ear.

Behind the ear with earmold hearing aids can be used to address all degrees of hearing loss and are less prone to earwax and moisture damage. Their large size allows for easy wireless connectivity to external devices. Perhaps most importantly, the earmold can easily be replaced and modified to accommodate changes in hearing loss.

As with RITE hearing aids, behind the ear with earmold hearing aids aren’t as discreet as ITE styles since part of the hearing aid lies outside the ear. Like ITC hearing aids, they can make users feel plugged up. And unlike RITE hearing aids, the behind-the-ear portion of behind the ear with earmold hearing aids can limit the space behind the ear available for glasses arms.

Low profile hearing aid styles

Low profile hearing aids both sit in the ear canal and are large enough for uncomplicated insertion and removal. There are two subcategories of low profile hearing aid styles: half-shell models occupy half the bowl (the non-cartilage, non-earlobe part) of the outer ear, whereas full-shell models occupy nearly the entire bowl. 

Whether half-shell or full-shell, low-profile hearing aids are uncomplicated to insert and remove compared to other ITE styles. Their larger size also allows for more features such as Bluetooth connectivity and enhanced user controls. As with larger hearing aids, low profile styles aren’t discreet and can make users feel plugged up.

Open-fit hearing aid styles

Open-fit hearing aid styles include any hearing aids that do not completely block the ear canal. RITE hearing aids are the largest subcategory of open-fit hearing aid styles.

Some hearing aid users may prefer open-fit styles to other options since open fits don’t entirely block the ear canal, so the sensation of being plugged up or perceiving one’s own voice as though from underwater may be minimized. Open-fit hearing aid styles can also perform better when it comes to producing localized sound near the ear and eliminating feedback. They also tend to be discreet. However, open-fit hearing aid styles may struggle to accommodate directional microphones and noise-reducing and audio compression technologies.

How do you know which model is right for you?

You can’t know which model is right for you until speaking with a hearing aid specialist and trying the hearing aid in question. 

Whereas many hearing aid specialists sell a limited number of hearing aid brands, at I Love Hearing, we sell almost any brand you can name. At our practice, you can always try your hearing aids before you buy them. Once you’ve decided which hearing aid is right for you, we’ll fit your hearing aid and send you on your way. And if you ever have hearing aid concerns or need repairs, we’re happy to see you again and fix your hearing aids on-site. Contact us today to book an appointment – with five offices in Manhattan and the Long Island area, we’re easy to reach.