Hearing Aid Myths: How Times Have Changed
Indeed, how times have changed. But the myths associated with hearing loss and hearing aids tend to stick around even though research, science and technology have all come together to dispel these old chestnuts. Still, we tend to believe them even though we know, from experience, that many of these misconceptions perpetuate the mythology of hearing loss and hearing aids even though we’re walking, talking proof that these myths went out with the rotary dial telephone.
Today, hearing aid technology is cutting edge in a very competitive market. Only 2% of Americans wear hearing aids and with dozens of manufacturers all competing for those limited dollars, you get more machine for less cash.
My, how times have changed.
Hearing Aid Myths
1. Only old people wear hearing aids. This myth has been around as long as there have been old people. Thing is, what was old back then is middle age today. In 1900, the average life span for a U.S. male was 39-years-old so, if you were born in 1900 you probably aren’t reading this.
Today, the baby boomers are hitting their prime and hearing loss seems to be occurring slightly sooner than in the past (could it be all that loud music?). Hearing aids are no longer a sign of old age – persons are seeking to treat their hearing loss sooner to ensure they stay in the game. Think about it. With the average retirement age increasing, persons are leading much more demanding lifestyles through work and play. Hearing aids allow them to stay at the top of their game and remain in the game longer.
It ain’t an old thing anymore because the definition of old has changed a lot in the past century. So listen up and get a hearing evaluation when you notice hearing loss.
2. It’s not MY problem. Other people should talk louder. Why? Does the universe revolve around you? Are loved ones, co-workers, neighbors and friends supposed to shout at you so you can get caught up on the gossip du jour?
Hearing loss IS your problem so why not get it tended to so those around you can enjoy a normal conversation the way you used to have. No more repeating, asking “what” or shouting from the mountain tops – just good old conversation.
3. I’ve tried hearing aids and they’re a pain in the ear. That was probably a few years back, right? When hearing aids weighed a pound or two dangling off the back of your ear and falling into the soup.
Well, things have changed big time in the hearing aid world with the advent of digital technology – the same technology used in cell phones and digital PDAs. With digital ear computers, today’s hearing aids are lightweight, discrete and powerful.
Advancements in digital hearing aids have allowed clearer speech, less bothersome background noise and an overall more enjoyable and natural listening experience.
What you tried a few years back would now make a good doorstop so stop by your hearing care professional’s office for an evaluation. At any age!
4. I only have trouble hearing certain sounds. Cool, so you hear, what, half the sounds coming down the ear canal? Nothing but static in a loud, open space. Oh yeah, hearing half of what you could is a great idea – if you want to miss half of what’s going on around you.
“I only have trouble hearing women’s and kid’s voices.” Hmm, that accounts for more than half the total population. So, you’re saying you can’t hear half of the people talking to you?
If you are missing certain sounds you have hearing loss and with today’s digital hearing aids hearing care professionals are able to precisely program the hearing aids to only provide amplification at the pitches you need – allowing you to use the hearing you have left but get a boost where you need it the most.
Don’t you think you should see a hearing care professional and, not only dispel this myth, but also hear EVERYONE. There’s a lot of good stuff going on and you’re missing it. Not the way things should be, is it?
5. Hearing aids are big, clumsy and uncomfortable. Actually quite the opposite. Today’s hearing aids are stylish, discreet pieces of art. In fact many are winning consumer electronic design awards left and right for their innovative and stylish design.
There are sizes and styles to fit every hearing loss and style preference. You want discrete? Some hearing aids, called completely-in-the-canal or CIC hearing aids, are completely invisible because they fit into the ear canal.
Even behind-the ear (BTE) hearing aids have gone through a transformation. Today they are sleek, discrete and smaller in size. The latest trend, open-fit BTE's, utilize a thin plastic tube to amplify sound into the ear canal – allowing the hearing aid to be nearly invisible behind the ear and leaving your ear canal to remain open and unoccluded.
Even the power BTEs that pump out extremem dBs for more severe to profound loss are more compact and stylish. So let’s blow this myth to smithereens. Today’s hearing aids are lightweight, comfortable and stylish to address the needs of those with a variety of degrees of hearing loss and style demands.
6. Hearing aids whistle so you can’t talk on the phone. Used to be that way but not anymore thanks to digital technology. Even entry-level hearing aids come with automated feedback suppression and a bunch of filters, noise-cancellation gizmos and other doo-dads that let you enjoy life while the ear gear does its job seamlessly and effortlessly without the whistle.
And isn’t that what you want?
7. People fumble to adjust their hearing aids. Again, horse and buggy thinking in the hybrid era. Today’s digital hearing aids have automated convenience that not only detects sound levels but adjusts automatically to the wearer’s particular needs – no fumbling required. Heck, they even remind you when your battery is low or when it is time to make an appointment with your hearing care professional.
If you haven’t visited your hearing care professional for an evaluation, you’re living in the past. Today’s hearing aids are designed to fit you, not the other way around.
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8. Hearing aids can’t help people with severe hearing loss. Let me tell you, there are now digital hearing aids with the power of a Mustang GT500 Cobra if that’s what you need. Even if you experience severe hearing loss, there are plenty of powerful units on the market – one to fit your level of hearing loss no matter how severe.
Powerful digital hearing aids used to run short on features and options; however now persons with severe hearing loss can also take full advantage of digital features such as directional microphones and noise reduction.
9. I have friends who tried hearing aids and didn’t like them. Nothing replaces natural hearing. That’s a fact. Expect a 30-60 day period of transition as you and your ears (and brain) get used to wearing a hearing aid.
The friends who tried a hearing aid and returned it (1) either didn’t have the right hearing aid or communicate issues to their hearing care professional or (2) didn’t allow themselves the opportunity to transition into a new way of hearing. They simply gave up to quickly.
Expect to transition and don’t give up. Following the fitting of hearing aids, it is not unusual to have multiple follow-up appointments with your hearing care professional for adjustments to the hearing aid settings.
Don’t give up like those friends did, they still can’t hear.
10. Hearing aids are expensive. Expensive is a relative term. The cost of hearing aids has actually decreased over time, when compared to the rate of inflation.
Today, hearing aids range from approximately $1,000 to $4,000 each, depending on the technology selected. Several factors contribute to the cost of hearing aids, including: research and development costs; customization of each device to fit the needs of the wearer; manufacturing costs; and time spent with the professional who fits and services the instruments.
Averaged over the lifetime of the instruments (3 – 5 years or more), the cost per day of a pair of highly featured, advanced instruments is about $3 – less than a large latte at your favorite java joint. And hearing aids are proven to not only help you hear better, but to actually improve the quality of life for people with hearing loss and their families.
Now think about it. Let’s say you spend $4,000 on a pair of hearing aids. (BTW, many retailers offer low-cost financing). That’s a lot of money. But then you go out and spend $35,000 on a family van. That’s more then 10 times what you paid for those hearing aids.
Consider the bang for buck equation. You spend $4K for a decent pair of hearing aids but you get back the ability to hear sounds you haven’t heard in years. New hearing aid wearers report hearing birds for the first time in a decade. Can you put a price on hearing a grandchild’s laugh or a romantic whisper?
The ability to hear clearly is to fully immerse yourself in life and to enjoy all the sounds that surround you. That’s not a dollar-and-cents consideration any more than a pair of eyeglasses comes down to dollars and sense.
Hearing is beautiful. It adds a long-lost dimension to everyday life. You hear sounds that you’ve forgotten but didn’t know you missed – until you hear them again. And when you do, you’ll understand why hearing aid myth busting is catching on.
See a hearing care professional today to discover what you’ve been missing and forget the myths. Things have changed. Really changed.