Audiology: Hearing AidsHearing aids are miniature electronic devices that sit in or on the ear. A microphone collects environmental sounds and speech, amplifies the sound based on the individual’s hearing loss, and delivers it back to the ear. Hearing aids are available in a variety of styles to fit people’s cosmetic needs and power requirements.
Over the past two decades, studies have determined that hearing loss is linked to a host of health issues, including increased risk of falls, hospitalizations and dementia, as well as impaired memory, mental fatigue and even shorter lifespans. Parallel studies, though, have shown that treating hearing loss can help by reducing the risk of cognitive decline, improving balance, and helping people stay physically and mentally active.
Hearing aids are only a tool to provide better access to speech and should not be viewed as a cure for hearing loss. Communication strategies, aural rehabilitation and hearing loss prevention should all be considered equally important as the hearing aids to provide the best outcomes.
HEARING AID FITTING:Prior to your hearing aid fitting, every hearing aid undergoes quality assurance measures to confirm proper function prior to your hearing aid fitting. These checks ensure appropriate microphone function and quality, estimate your hearing aid battery life and assess your hearing aid’s ability to reduce background noise.
On the day of your hearing aid fitting, we will ensure the hearing aid fits your ear correctly and is comfortable. Your hearing aid will be programmed using your hearing test and a prescription aimed to make speech intelligible and overall loudness comfortable. Your hearing aid will be tuned using on-ear verification measures and your input. Keep in mind, listening through a hearing aid will, and should, sound very different than what you are used to. We provide a thorough hearing aid orientation and make sure you feel confident in your ability to use your hearing aid and any assistive devices you purchased. You will be provided hearing rehabilitation materials and we will discuss expectations with hearing aid use. A care kit and batteries will be provided with your hearing aid.
Following your hearing aid fitting, you will begin a 60 day evaluation and adjustment period. You will return to the clinic during this adjustment period for fine tuning of the hearing aids, further on-ear evaluation of your hearing aid settings and completion of post-fitting measures of your benefit and satisfaction with your hearing aids. If you do not feel you are receiving benefit with your hearing aid, you are able to try different technology or return the hearing aid during this timeframe. There is a $200 non-refundable fee for the services provided to you through the 60 days if you decide to return the hearing aid altogether.
Our skilled Audiology Assistants will check in with you following your hearing aid fitting and prior to your first recheck appointment. The assistants are an integral part of our team and are here to help you while the Audiologists may be with other patients. They are available at 701-857-3835 to answer questions throughout the business hours of 7:30am to 5:00pm Monday through Friday.
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Hearing Aid StylesToday hearing aids are smaller, more comfortable and more effective than ever before. Advances in hearing aid technology continually provide new ways of connecting with the world. Satisfaction rates among hearing aid users continue to improve because of these factors. Even basic models today provide more features than the most advanced models available a few years ago. The following is a description of the most commonly fit hearing aid styles:
In-the-Ear StylesHearing aids worn in the ear are custom-fit, meaning a mold of the ear is made and the hearing aid is built to fit the patient. These are available in different skin tones to camouflage with the outer ear. There are several sizes of in-the-ear hearing aids. Each styel is listed below, ranging from smallest to largest. The size of hearing aid recommended to an individual is based on power needs, cosmetic considerations, dexterity, access to wireless technology and different processing features.
Completely-in-the-Canal (CIC)The smallest custom style, CIC instruments fit deeply and entirely within the ear canal. CIC instruments are designed to fit mild to moderate hearing losses. They offer high cosmetic appeal as CICs nearly invisible when worn. Even some of the smallest CIC instruments can now wirelessly connect to remote controls for volume and program changes if needed.
In-the-Canal (ITC)ITC instruments sit in the lower portion of the outer ear bowl, making them comfortable and easy to use. ITC instruments are slightly larger than CIC instruments. ITCs have a longer battery life than CICs and can host additional features such as directional microphones for better understanding in noisy environments, as well as volume and/or program controls. ITC instruments are designed to fit mild to moderate hearing losses.
Half Shell (HS)Half shell models fill half the bowl of the outer ear. Like ITC models, their size enables the addition of features such as directional microphones, volume controls and push buttons to activate special settings for different listening environments. Because of their size, they may be easier than smaller models to handle for some people and yet are still often disguised by hairstyles.
Full Shell or In-the-Ear (ITE)Full shell models fill the outer ear bowl. Their size allows the maximum number of additional controls and features such as directional microphones. They use a larger battery size and are more easily manipulated for individual’s with dexterity concerns. ITE instruments size allow for a larger receiver with enough power designed to fit up to severe hearing losses.
Behind-the-Ear StylesBehind-the-Ear (BTE) models sit behind or on top of the outer ear, with tubing that routes sounds down into the ear. A custom earmold or non-custom ear tip is used to secure the tube in the ear canal. BTEs come in a variety of colors to blend with hair or skin tones or stand out with stylish patterns. Different BTE sizes accommodate different features, controls, battery types and degrees of power.
Mini BTE with slim tube and tipMini BTE models house the microphones, internal circuits and speaker of the hearing aid behind the ear in a very small case. Often times these hearing aids are very water and dust resistant. A slim tube connects the case to the ear tip and sound is delivered from the speaker of the hearing aid through the tube to the ear. Mini BTE instruments are designed to fit mild to severe hearing losses.
Receiver in canal (RIC)RIC models are mini BTEs that have the speaker of the instrument incorporated in the ear tip, instead of in the main body of the instrument. RIC instruments fit mild to severe hearing losses. This hearing aid style looks similar to the Mini BTE when worn on the ear.
Hearing Aid Accessories & Wireless TechnologyWhile hearing aids offer an improvement in speech understanding for those with hearing loss, there are some environments where individuals continue to struggle to understand conversations. Therefore, many hearing aid companies have developed accessories to assist the individual with hearing loss and maximize their benefit from the hearing aids. The following are some commonly used accessories:
Hearing Aid ServicesThe Audiologists are able to evaluate and repair any make or model of hearing aid. Hearing aids can be tested with state of the art equipment to provide objective information about how the hearing aid is working, regardless of where the hearing aid was purchased. If you are experiencing difficulties with your hearing aid, stop in or call for an appointment today.
All sizes and styles of digital hearing aids are available at Trinity Health. We offer hearing aids from each of the major hearing aid companies: GN Resound, Phonak, Oticon, Signia, Starkey and Widex. We understand every patient experiences unique environments and listening needs. Therefore, we offer a wide variety of options to fit every lifestyle and budget. The Audiologists work together with the patient to select the best quality hearing aid for their level of hearing loss and their particular lifestyle requirements during the communication needs assessment.
Hearing aids can be expensive and may be difficult to afford. Prior to the communication needs assessment, our audiology assistants will verify hearing aid benefits offered through your health insurance policy. If you do have insurance coverage for hearing aids, you will be aware of any out-of-pocket expenses prior to the hearing aid fitting. We work with CareCredit for financing options, in addition to community organizations for financial support as needed.
If a hearing evaluation together with the Ears, Nose and Throat determine there are no further medical options to treat hearing loss, a communication needs assessment will be recommended. Please see the communication needs assessment page for more information.
The FDA recommends hearing evaluation be completed within the past six months before obtaining hearing aids. If you are interested in pursuing hearing aids or learning more about hearing aids, we recommend you schedule a hearing evaluation and communication needs assessment with our audiologists by calling (701) 857 -5986. If you already had a hearing evaluation, feel free to schedule a communication needs assessment and be sure to bring your results with you so the audiologists can provide the most accurate recommendations. Please bring a spouse, family member or friend to the communication needs assessment and the first hearing aid fitting appointment.