There are several options out there when it comes to treating a hearing loss, but, what are the differences between them all? Let’s take a quick look at what options are available to treat a hearing loss and what the differences between them are.
What Are Hearing Aids?
A hearing aid(s) are a sophisticated electronic device which is worn in or behind your ear and are programmed with a prescription tailored to the users specific degree of hearing loss. Hearing aids are suitable for individuals with sensorineural, mixed, or conductive hearing losses. They amplify sounds to help with communication, awareness of sound and to help individuals participate in everyday activities. Hearing aids work in both quiet and noisy situations. Most have Bluetooth capabilities so one can hear cell phone calls, music, and TV all through their hearing aids for easier listening.
A hearing aid has three components: the microphone, amplifier, and speaker. The sound is picked up via the microphone which converts the sound to an electronic signal. The electronic signal is sent to the amplifier. The amplifier increases the volume of the sound and that sound is sent to the ear via the speaker.
What Are Amplifiers?
An amplifier is a device that does simply as it sounds, increases the volume of all sounds around you. Hearing amplifiers look very similar to hearing aids and can be confused with a hearing aid. The difference between a hearing aid and an amplifier is that an amplifier takes all sounds around you and increases the sound equally. So not only are these devices amplifying speech, but they also amplify sounds such as clocks ticking, silverware clanging, and people talking around you. This makes it difficult to understand conversation. Unlike an amplifier, a hearing aid amplifies speech and decreases surrounding sounds such as clocks ticking, silverware clanging and people talking around you to make it easier to follow conversation.
What is a CROS vs. BiCROS?
A CROS (left picture) is a system designed for individuals with single-sided deafness. Individuals with normal hearing in one ear and no hearing in the other ear are considered a candidate for a CROS. The individual wears a device on the “dead ear” to pick up sound, which then sends the sound to the device worn on the “good ear”.
A BiCROS (right picture) is designed for individuals who have hearing loss in one ear and no hearing in the other ear. The individual wears a device on the “dead ear” to pick up sound and send it over to the ear with hearing loss. The ear with hearing loss has a hearing aid which amplifies sound from the “good side” and the “bad side”.
What is a Cochlear Implant?
A cochlear implant is an implantable electronic device that partially restores hearing. To be a candidate for a cochlear implant, you must have severe to profound sensorineural (nerve damage) hearing loss in one or both ears and no longer benefit from using a hearing aid(s). With this type of hearing loss, the hair cells in the ear are damaged and cannot detect sounds properly. A cochlear implant bypasses these damaged hair cells and sends electric signals to the brain.
A cochlear implant system has two main components. The externally worn audio processor picks up sounds and sends them to the internal implant, which is placed under the skin behind the ear.
Once you are considered a candidate for a cochlear implant, you will undergo surgery to have it placed. After about 4 weeks, once the site is healed, the cochlear implant will be activated by your Audiologist. After activation, you may go through rehabilitation to learn how to adapt to hearing with your new implant.
What is a Bone Anchored Hearing Aid?
A Bone Anchored Hearing Aid (BAHA) is a surgically implanted device. It sends sound to the inner ear via bone conduction. These hearing aids work best for individuals who have at least one ear that has normal inner ear function. To be determined a candidate for a BAHA, you must have a conductive hearing loss (when sounds cannot get through the outer or middle ear) or a complete hearing loss in one ear.
A BAHA bypasses the outer and middle ear and sends the sound vibrations directly to the inner ear. This is very helpful when there is something blocking sound in the outer or middle ear, which causes a conductive hearing loss.
A BAHA system has two main components: a titanium bone implant and an external sound processor.
Once you are considered a candidate, you will undergo surgery to have the BAHA placed. After it heals, the BAHA will be programmed by your Audiologist.
With all the options available to treat a hearing loss, you may feel a little overwhelmed. But, don’t worry! Our Audiologists; Dr. Lemme, Dr. McCloskey, and Dr. Greer are available to you for your hearing healthcare. They can help you determine what options are available and which ones would be best for you, your family, and your lifestyle. But, you and our Audiologists won’t be able to determine what options are right for you without starting with a hearing evaluation.
Call Lemme Audiology Associates at (814) 941-7770 to schedule your hearing evaluation and to discover what options you have available to you for treating your hearing loss.