Microphone. Amplifier. Speaker. These are the three basic parts that makeup hearing aids.

Hearing aids primarily help improve the hearing and speech comprehension of individuals that have hearing loss. This is commonly caused by damage to the sensory cells within the inner ear, otherwise known as hair cells. Individuals at risk to this type of damage include those with certain diseases, aging, injury from noise or even certain medicines.

“People of all ages can suffer from hearing loss,” shared JRMC Ear, Nose and Throat, Dr. W. Thomas Coombe. “At JRMC, we offer a comprehensive communications team that includes audiology, speech therapy and myself.”

Hearing aids provide individuals with help in both quiet and loud situations. These devices magnify sound vibrations that enter the ear. This allows remaining hair cells to change the vibrations into neural signals that travel to the brain.

Three different types of hearing aids exist and work differently depending on if the device is analog or digital.

  1. Behind-the-ear. This is a device that is commonly used by people of all ages. It includes an ear mold that fits within the outer ear and the electronic portion is held behind the ear. The behind-the-ear aid has been adapted for a more modern approach where the electronic portion is hidden behind the ear completely. It has a narrow tube that inserts into the ear canal and enables the canal to stay open. This allows a person to not feel like their voice sounds ‘plugged up’.
  1. In-the-ear. These hearing aids include all of its components within the ear mold. In-the-ear aids are commonly worn by adults because the ear grows less in adulthood and the casing wouldn’t need to be replaced as often.
  1. Canal aids can be purchased in two different styles. The in-the-ear-canal fits in a person’s ear canal, yet still can be visible outside of the outer ear. A completely-in-canal aid is nearly impossible to be seen as it rests completely inside the ear canal.

To know which hearing aid works best for a person, it is important to note what features would be most useful, if there is a trial period, how long the warranty is and what it covers. In addition to these questions, affordability may also be one addressed. The costs of hearing aids can range from hundreds of dollars to more than $3,500. The following are some ways that may assist in affording hearing aids.

  1. 21 and under. Hearing aids are often times not covered by insurance. However, for eligible children and young adults, Medicaid pays for the diagnosis and treatment of hearing loss. This also includes coverage of hearing aids. Children may also be covered by their state’s Children’s Health Insurance program.
  1. Adults are not covered for hearing aids, but their diagnostic evaluations are if ordered by a physician.
  1. Nonprofit organizations. There are some nonprofit organizations that help assist in the financing of hearing aids. Some organizations may even provide used or refurbished hearing devices.
  1. North Dakota Department of Veterans Affairs offers funding for hearing aids. Certain qualifications may be required to receive funding. To learn more, visit www.nd.gov/veterans/benefits/hearing.
  1. Local clubs, chapters and charitable organizations. Certain clubs and local organizations, like the Lions Club, offer assistance requests. Some even have programs that offer help with hearing aids. 

“In addition to hearing screenings, a variety of assisted listening devices such as phone amplifiers, television listening devices, vibrating alarms, amplified smoke detectors and more are available to loan to patients,” shared Marissa M. Leese, JRMC audiologist. “We also offer hearing aid fittings and supplies.”

Is someone you love showing signs of hearing loss? Schedule direct: (701) 952-4878.

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