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A hearing aid, also called an acoustic hearing aid, is a small device that must be placed directly in the ear to help amplify the volume of sounds, making it easier for people who have lost this function, of any age, to hear., being very common in elderly people who lose hearing due to aging.
There are several types of device, for internal or external use, consisting of a microphone, sound amplifier and speaker, which increases the sound to reach the ear. For its use, it is necessary to go to the otolaryngologist and have hearing tests, such as an audiogram, to know the degree of deafness, which can be mild or profound, and choose the most appropriate device.
In addition, there are several models and brands, such as Widex, Siemens, Phonak and Oticon, for example, in addition to various shapes and sizes, and the possibility to use in one ear or both.
When it is necessary to use
Hearing aids are indicated by the otorhinolaryngologist for cases of deafness due to wear and tear of the hearing system, or when there is a situation or disease that causes difficulty for sound to reach the inner ear, such as:
- Sequelae of chronic otitis;
- Alteration of ear structures, due to trauma or disease, such as otosclerosis;
- Ear cell damage from excessive noise, work or listening to very loud music;
- Presbycusis, in which ear cells degeneration due to aging;
- Tumor in the ear.
When there is any type of hearing loss, an otorhinolaryngologist must be evaluated, who will evaluate the type of deafness and confirm if there is a need to use a hearing aid or if any medication or performance of any surgery for treatment. Then, the speech therapist will be the professional responsible for indicating the type of device, in addition to adapting and monitoring the hearing device for the user.
In addition, in the case of more severe deafness, sensorineural type, or when there is no improvement in hearing with the hearing aid, a cochlear implant may be necessary, an electronic device that directly stimulates the auditory nerve through small electrodes that carry electrical signals to the brain that interprets them as sounds, completely replacing the ear of people who are severely deaf. Learn more about pricing and how cochlear implants work.
There are different types and models of hearing aids, which should be guided by the doctor and speech therapist. The main ones are:
- Behind-the-Ear, or BTE: it is the most common, worn in the upper outer part of the ear, and connected to the ear by a thin tube that conducts the sound. It has internal programming controls, such as volume regulation, and battery compartment;
- Intracanal, or ITE: is for internal use, being fixed inside the ear canal, manufactured specifically for the person who will use it, after an ear mold has been made. Can have internal or external control with volume button and programming to control the function, and battery compartment;
- Deep Intracanal, or RITE: it is the smallest model, with digital technology, for internal use, as it fits completely inside the ear canal, being practically invisible when placed. Fits very well for people with mild to moderate hearing loss.
Internal appliances have a higher cost, however, the choice between these models is made according to the needs of each person. For its use, it is recommended to undergo auditory rehabilitation training with a speech therapist, to allow a better adaptation and, in addition, the doctor may indicate a period of home testing to know whether or not there is adaptation.
Hearing aid care
The hearing aid must be handled with care, as it is a fragile device, which can easily break down and, therefore, it is important to remove the hearing aid whenever you shower, exercise or sleep.
Also, it is important to take the device to the hearing aid store at least twice a year for maintenance and whenever it is not working properly.
How to clean
To clean the BTE, you must:
- Turn off the device with the on-off or on-off button and separate the electronics from the plastic part, holding only the plastic mold;
- Clean the plastic mold, with a small amount of audioclear spray or wipe with the cleaning wipe;
- Wait 2 to 3 minutes to let the product act;
- Remove excess moisture from the plastic tube of the device with a specific pump that sucks up the liquid;
- Wipe the device with a cotton cloth, such as an eyeglass cleaning cloth, to dry it well.
This procedure should be done at least once a month and whenever the patient feels that he is not hearing so well, as the device tube may be dirty with wax.
The cleaning of the intracanal device is done with the passage of a soft cloth on its surface, while to clean the sound output, the microphone opening and the ventilation channel, you must use the utensils cleaning tools provided, such as small brushes and wax filters.
How to change the battery
Batteries usually last 3 to 15 days, however replacement depends on the brand of device and battery, and the amount of daily use, and in most cases the hearing aid gives an indication of when the battery is low, making a beep.
To change the battery, normally, it is only necessary to approach a magnetic magnet to remove the battery. After removing the used battery, you need to insert a new and charged battery for the device to work properly.