U.S. AIR FORCE ACADEMY, Colo. --
Today’s technological revolution has improved how we communicate, transformed how we hear, and is a boon to the hearing impaired at the Air Force Academy.
Modern upgrades in hearing aid technology have advanced and streamlined these devices and there are numerous cosmetically-appealing hearing aids available to patients at the 10th Medical Group.
We won’t advocate for any particular model or brand, but we do hope you work with your audiologist to find the hearing aid that best fits “you.” Consider some of the hearing aids available at the base:
Invisible and completely in the canal
These are the smallest of hearing aids. They’re great for patients with mild-to-moderate hearing loss and fit deeply into the ear canal. These models don’t have volume control or other program options.
In the canal
This hearing aid fits in the lower part of the outer-ear bowl and covers a wider range of hearing loss than invisible or completely-in-the-canal hearing aids. It’s larger than invisible or completely-in-the-canal hearing aids, so the batteries tend to last longer. The device includes directional microphones and volume control.
This model is easy to handle and fills the lower part of the outer-ear bowl or entire outer-ear bowl. It’s less cosmetically appealing, but includes and allows for directional microphones, program buttons, volume control and other options.
Behind the ear
This device is terrific for patients suffering mild-to-moderate high-frequency hearing loss. It’s cosmetically appealing and can be hidden behind the outer ear and comes in several sizes: mini-behind-the-ear, receiver-in-the-ear and mini-behind-the-ear with earmold. Custom earmolds can be replaced separately, they’re great for any level of hearing loss and feature more controls and power than other hearing aids. Behind-the-ear models are less prone to damage caused by moisture as none of the electronic components sit in the ear. The model might be a tough fit for patients who wear glasses.
Receiver in the ear
This hearing aid is similar to the mini-behind-the-ear model with speakers built into the ear tips instead of the main body. It’s cosmetically appealing, cuts down on occlusion -- that “plugged up” sensation -- and the speakers can easily be replaced if moisture damages the speakers.
Wearing hearing aids takes getting used to, so visit your audiologist as many times as it takes to get a good fit and adjust your settings to a comfortable level. It can be unnerving to learn you need to wear hearing aids but regardless of the model that best fits your hearing loss, your hearing will improve.
Your audiologist can recommend and order additional devices to enhance phone conversations, TV and movie viewing, and listening to music.
You might be surprised to discover how modern technology can improve your life.
[Editor’s note: Commentary co-author Lt. Col. William Uhl has worn hearing aids since 2015.
“I know where I had my first hearing test, it was like a cloud descended over me so I understand the difficulty some patients may have with their diagnosis,” he said. “Once the fog rolled away and I was given my hearing aids, my life improved in too many ways to imagine. Do yourself a favor and schedule a yearly hearing test.”]
Visit www.hearingloss.org or www.healthyhearing.com for more information.