Serving Patients in Charleston, SC
Hearing aids are used to treat over 90% of hearing loss cases. Learn how recent technology has evolved and explore new options.
What is a hearing aid?
A hearing aid is a small electronic device that you wear in or behind your ear. It makes some sounds louder so that a person with hearing loss can listen, communicate, and participate more fully in daily activities. A hearing aid can help people hear more in both quiet and noisy situations. However, only about one out of five people who would benefit from a hearing aid actually uses one.
A hearing aid has three basic parts: a microphone, amplifier, and speaker. The hearing aid receives sound through a microphone, which converts the sound waves to electrical signals and sends them to an amplifier. The amplifier increases the power of the signals and then sends them to the ear through a speaker.
How can hearing aids help?
Hearing aids are primarily useful in improving the hearing and speech comprehension of people who have hearing loss that results from damage to the small sensory cells in the inner ear, called hair cells. This type of hearing loss is called sensorineural hearing loss. The damage can occur as a result of disease, aging, or injury from noise or certain medicines.
A hearing aid magnifies sound vibrations entering the ear. Surviving hair cells detect the larger vibrations and convert them into neural signals that are passed along to the brain. The greater the damage to a person’s hair cells, the more severe the hearing loss, and the greater the hearing aid amplification needed to make up the difference. However, there are practical limits to the amount of amplification a hearing aid can provide. In addition, if the inner ear is too damaged, even large vibrations will not be converted into neural signals. In this situation, a hearing aid would be ineffective.
How can I find out if I need a hearing aid?
If you think you might have hearing loss and could benefit from a hearing aid, visit your physician, who may refer you to an otolaryngologist or audiologist. An otolaryngologist is a physician who specializes in ear, nose, and throat disorders and will investigate the cause of the hearing loss. An audiologist is a hearing health professional who identifies and measures hearing loss and will perform a hearing test to assess the type and degree of loss.
Discover the Perfect Hearing Aid to Suit Your Needs
We offer a wide range of top-of-the-line hearing aids such as Widex®, Oticon®, Phonak®, Sound Cure®, and Starkey© devices, and we continually update our products with new technologies to meet our patients’ hearing health needs. Our audiology staff will be happy to help you choose from the many different models of hearing devices, including:
- Behind-the-Ear (BTE) devices. These devices are the most popular type of hearing aid. BTE models have a plastic casing that sits behind the ear, which is connected via plastic tubing or thin wire to a small receiver placed inside the ear. These devices typically offer more power than smaller models, as well as external volume and setting controls.
- In-the-Ear (ITE) devices. These hearing aids are contained in a single plastic unit that sits inside the ear bowl. They are the largest of the one-piece hearing device options, but come in a variety of colors to reduce visibility.
- In-the-Canal (ITC) devices. ITC hearing aids are smaller than ITE devices, and fit inside the ear canal rather than the ear bowl. These devices are custom-molded for each wearer’s ear, and only the outer portion is visible to others.
- Completely-in-the-Canal (CIC) devices. These are the smallest kinds of hearing devices on the market. They are molded to fit completely inside the wearer’s ear canal, and are adjusted via remote control so they do not need to be removed for adjustment throughout the day.
- Ear protection. Loud work environments, concerts, sporting events, power tools, firearms, motorcycles, snowmobiles—any one of these can permanently damage your hearing. We make custom molds for hearing protection that are fitted to individual ear canals, making them comfortable for long wear. Our ear protection comes in a variety of designs, sizes, and colors, and we have plugs designed specifically for swimmers and performing musicians.