• Open Ear Fit Hearing Aids

    The popularity of mini-behind-the-ear (BTE) open ear hearing aids has increased significantly. Hearing aid wearers often prefer the open ear fit due to the natural sound quality, better physical comfort, and improved ability to hear in noisy listening environments. Additional preference for open ear hearing aids includes the ultra small size, ease of use, and same day testing and fitting of this style of hearing aid. The open ear fit significantly eliminates the sensation of occlusion (ear canal blockage causing an echo, barrel or tunnel like sensation of sound) and poor sound quality of the wearer's own voice.

    The majority of open ear fittings consist of mini or ultra-small (BTE) hearing aids. There are two different types of open ear mini-BTEs: those with the speaker (receiver) in the ear (RITE) and those with the receiver in the aid (RITA). The RITA houses the receiver in the behind-the-ear portion of the hearing aid. A ultra thin acoustic tube is connected to the hearing aid which is then coupled to the ear canal with soft, non-occluding (non blocking) ear domes. The RITE houses the receiver in the ear canal. A ultra-thin wire is connected to the hearing aid which is then coupled to the speaker in the ear canal with soft, non-occluding ear dome. The thin-wire fitting (RITE) and the thin-tube fitting (RITA) are cosmetically similar.

    When initially introduced, the open ear fitting was primarily successful for individuals with mild high frequency hearing loss due to feedback (whistle). To ensure adequate amplification, an open ear fitting must have highly effective digital feedback suppression to prevent "whistle". However, due to dramatic improvements in digital feedback suppression technology, individuals with mild to severe hearing loss may benefit from open ear hearing aids.

    Open ear fittings provide additional benefits. In addition to natural sound quality, open ear fittings virtually eliminates the feedback or whistle when using land line phones and cell phones. Furthermore, wearers frequently report improvement in ability to hear and understand conversations when communicating with others via the phone.

    To receive full benefit of the open ear hearing aid, contact an audiologist who routinely fits this type of hearing aid. Working together with the audiologist, the audiologist will help determine whether you can benefit from open ear hearing aids. If you are able to benefit from an open ear fit, the audiologist will counsel with you to select the appropriate brand, model, style and other available open ear hearing aid options to meet your communication and listening needs. Audiologists who routinely fit and recommend the use of open ear hearing aids have carefully researched and are familiar with the programming software required to fine-tune open ear hearing aids to provide maximum benefit for you.

  • Unsure About Hearing Aids? You Are Not Alone!

    If you are reading this little article, you have probably been advised to consider hearing aids. Your reaction to this advice has likely been negative, but it may help to know that this reaction happens to everyone. It is human nature to reject the idea that one's life is changing - we would much prefer to maintain our status quo. 

    But changes happen anyway, and eventually a time comes when you wonder if in fact hearing aids are for you. Like all complicated decisions, you will find yourself conducting a cost/benefit analysis, much like filling in two columns labeled "pro" and "con." In the "cost" column, you can start with the actual financial cost of the hearing aids. Since it is important to be honest, we need to acknowledge that there is a "social" cost to hearing aid use as well. No matter what age, we consider what others think of us; with hearing aids, will others treat us differently? Will our changed appearance make us feel less self-confident, less attractive, less like our usual self-image? Again, you are not alone. With initial hearing aid use, these concerns do often take precedence. But the good news is, these worries are short-term, an expected part of the adjustment process, and . 

    What goes in the "benefit" column? Only you can say! Is it the ability to hear your family with more ease? Is it a more comfortable sense of inclusion as you socialize with friends? Is it a renewed appreciation of music and other sounds around you? Is it improved work performance as you interact with clients and co-workers? Is it opportunity to participate again in religious services? 

    When you've defined the hearing "benefits" you seek, your audiologist will work with you as you get back into the "swing of things," as you adjust to hearing sounds you've been missing, as you improve the quality of your life. You will find yourself wondering why you didn't get hearing help before this point - but that doesn't matter. The main thing is you will have taken a difficult but valuable step forward - and not alone, but with your audiologist's support.

    This article was originally submitted by Kris English, Ph.D. and subsequently edited by AAC. 

  • Troubleshooting a Hearing Aid

    The following is a list of common problems associated with hearing aids and their solutions. If you cannot solve the problem, contact your local audiologist for more assistance.

    The hearing aid is not working at all

    1. Check that the hearing aid is in the on position and that the volume is turned up.
    2. Check that the battery is working by using a battery tester. Also check that the battery is the correct size and that it is inserted properly into the hearing aid.
    3. Clean the hearing aid and the earmold if there is one. Inspect all the openings to make sure that they are not plugged with earwax.
    4. If the hearing aid is a Body Worn type, check that the cord is connected at both ends.

    The hearing aid is whistling (feedback)

    1. Make sure the hearing aid or the earmold is inserted properly.
    2. Lower the volume if it is set too high.
    3. Remove scarfs or hats that may be covering the hearing aid. Sound can bounce off of these objects and return to the hearing aid and cause feedback.
    4. If the hearing aid is a Body Worn type, try and move the hearing aid further away from the ear. Also check to see that the cord is properly connected to the earmold and that the earmold is inserted properly in the ear.
    5. Feedback can also occur if the hearing aid or earmold no longer fits snugly into the ear. Over time, the size and shape of the ear changes and hearing aids and earmolds might become loose. Consult your local audiologist if you suspect that the hearing aid or earmold no longer fit well.

    Decreased volume

    1. Check the battery to make sure it is still running properly.
    2. If the battery or the hearing aid are cold, allow them to gradually return to room temperature.
    3. Check earmold and the earmold tubing to be sure that they are not blocked with wax or moisture. Also inspect all the openings of the hearing aid to be sure that they are not blocked also. Clean the hearing aid or earmold if necessary.

    Distorted sound

    1. Do the same things as you would for decreased volume above.

    Short battery life

    1. Do not leave the battery in the hearing aid overnight.
    2. Do not leave the batteries in excessive heat or moisture. Store them in a cool, dry place.
    3. Correct any feedback/whistling problems. If the hearing aid is allowed to feedback, the battery will drain much faster.

    The hearing aid doesn't work with the telephone

    1. Check that the hearing aid is in the "T" position if it has a "T" switch.
    2. Center the earpiece of the telephone over the hearing aid.
    3. Turn the volume of the hearing aid up.
    4. Some hearing aids, especially the ones that fit inside the ear, do not have a special switch for the telephone. If that is the case, hold the telephone over the hearing aid, but not touching the hearing aid. A small air space should be left between the hearing aid and the telephone. If the hearing aid continues to feedback (whistle) after all the above steps have been done, consult your audiologist as additional adjustments may need to be made to the hearing aid.

    This article was submitted by: 
    Glen R. Meier, M.S., CCC-A, FAAA


  • How to Perform a Hearing Aid Listening Check

    A listening check is a simple was to determine if a hearing aid is working properly. A hearing aid stethoscope and a battery tester are required to do a listening check and they can be purchased from most audiologists. The person doing the listening check will need to have good hearing. Listening checks should be done on a scheduled basis or whenever the hearing aid wearer has difficulty with the hearing aid.

    How to do a listening check:

    A. Test the battery and replace it if necessary.

    B. Connect the hearing aid to the listening stethoscope and turn the hearing aid on.

    C. Hold the hearing aid about 1 to 1 1/2 feet from your mouth and talk comfortably into the hearing aid. Adjust the volume control and listen for a gradual change in volume. Your voice should sound clear.

    D. Listen for static while the hearing aid is running and while you are adjusting the volume control. Some noise is normal, but if the static is excessive or if your voice is very distorted, the hearing aid will need cleaning or servicing.

    E. Turn the hearing aid to the off position and listen for the it to shut off completely.

    If any problems are discovered, clean the hearing aid and try the listening check again. If the problem persists, contact your local audiologist for a more complete cleaning and evaluation.

    This article was submitted by: 
    Glen R. Meier, M.S., CCC-A, FAAA

  • Hearing Aids from A to Z

    Helen Keller, both deaf and blind from early in life, said that if she were given the chance to recover one of these two senses, she would choose hearing because it would keep her in the intellectual company of those she loved. Hearing is a vital sense so often taken for granted-until we begin to lose it. This article is written for those of you who might be braving new waters, exploring hearing aids for the first time, or others who may be experienced hearing aid wearers seeking additional information to adjust better. In either case, there are a number of things you should expect when using hearing aids, and some things you should not. When you understand what you can and cannot expect form hearing aids, the challenges in your life will be that much easier to face and surmount.

    Anticipation. The average American anticipates getting hearing aids for seven years before taking action by seeking a health care professional. This is not good news! This represents years of procrastination and communication difficulty, not just for you, but also for your spouse, children other loved ones and friends. The good news is that you can look forward to marked improvement once you make the decision to proceed. Hearing aid technology is constantly evolving but it is up to you to take advantage of it so you can begin to overcome the barriers of hearing loss.

    Benefits. Hearing aids offer many benefits. While not perfect, they can bring about significant improvement. Programmable analog instruments provide excellent assistance and digital instruments offer audiologists additional modification capability to improve performance in many different situations. Depending on your loss, multiple microphones may significantly improve discrimination and localization in both noisy and quiet situations. Speak with your audiologist about options that will best offer you help.
    Choices. Today's technology offers a wide range of choices for most people with hearing loss. Hearing aids can be tailored to address many of your needs. There is an array of circuit and microphone choices, as well as styles and sizes of hearing aids to choose among. The smallest aids are barely visible, depending on the ear canal. However, if you want the best possible hearing, it is in your best interest to listen to the advice of your audiologist when it comes to size and benefits. You may need to make some size/benefit tradeoffs to get the best possible results.

    Dissatisfaction. It is important to recognize that dissatisfaction with hearing aids is most often associated with personal issues of motivation. If you are not very motivated to use hearing aids, you are more likely to be dissatisfied. If you are getting hearing aids to appease your loved one, you're basing the right decision on the wrong reason. You need to come to grips with the fact that you need and want the help they offer. The support and understanding of your loved ones is a critical element in satisfaction. They want you engaged in their lives and that is hard to do successfully if you miss much of the verbal interchange typical of human relationships. Both you and your loved ones must realize that hearing aids alone can't get you to where you want to be. However, using the instruments and working together, your communication will be significantly improved. Your audiologist is an important ally in getting the most out of your hearing. 

    Emotions. There are a number of emotions one experiences as a result of untreated hearing loss. If you do not seek help you may experience some of these. They include depression and anxiety, anger and hostility, frustration and embarrassment, lower self-esteem, increased feelings of isolation, resentment, paranoia, and avoidance. You must ask yourself, "Is it worth having these negative feelings because I am putting off what is necessary and in my best interest?" It is well documented that use of hearing aids produces significant improvement in eliminating these destructive emotions.

    Feedback. There are two areas of feedback worth consideration here. First, get feedback from those who love you about what they think you should do regarding your hearing loss and acquiring hearing aids. Maybe someone close to you can make a recommendation regarding a trusted professional you can consult for professional advice. The second area of feedback pertains to what happens when you wear hearing aids. The "squealing" you hear is known as feedback. It is something that can occur with any hearing aid or amplification device. It does not impair the function of a hearing aid, and is actually a way that many wearers use to tell if their battery is good. There are times with more highly powered hearing aids that undesirable feedback may occur; for example, on the telephone. There are ways to eliminate or diminish this. Ask your audiologist.

    Guilt. Some people pursue hearing aids out of sheer guilt. They're tired of hearing their loved ones tell them how miserable it is living with someone who refuses help. To a large extent, this might be true. You must know by now that your hearing loss affects the people around you. If guilt gets you into an audiologist's office for help, which isn't so bad, you can expect that this guilt will be resolved as you go through the necessary steps to improve your hearing function.

    Hearing again. This will eliminate the guilt associated with putting off the inevitable. It may be quite the challenge for you to slip out of your quiet world, make necessary changes and enter the noisier world! For some, old habits die hard. But once you reawaken to how easy communication can be, with the strain to hear gone (or greatly diminished), you will surprise yourself with how nice it is to rejoin your hearing world.

    Ill fitting. Although you will undoubtedly be conscious of the presence of hearing aids in your ears-just as you were conscious of a new sensation associated with wearing glasses for the first time, a new pair of shoes, etc., they should fit comfortably. If you have discomfort, you need to inform your audiologist. It is very easy to remedy this by modifying the shell. Discomfort in the ear should be no issue at all.

    Jokes. Okay, you already know about missing the punch lines! If you had perfect hearing for low frequencies, some high frequency hearing loss in both ears, less than optimal vision, and heard a punch line at five feet told by a woman while standing around moderately loud noise, you would likely misunderstand enough of it to only laugh politely. If you cannot hear, new acquaintances especially will not know this. When your hearing loss is not known to others, they will draw false conclusions. They may think you're not interested in them, or not paying attention, or you've had a stroke, suffer from poor memory, perhaps some dementia, or a host of other problems.

    Knowledge. The more educated you are about what to expect regarding your hearing aid experience, the more accepting you will be about hearing instrument limitations. Hearing aids are very good, but they are not perfect! Read brochures and books about hearing aids. Remember, successful hearing aid use does not mean hearing everything you hope to hear. It means hearing much better than you otherwise would hear. Hearing aids do not restore normal hearing. Even with the best hearing aid technology, hearing aids perform their poorest in the presence of competing noise. Think of your hearing aid experience in terms of a scale. On one side is knowledge. The more knowledge you have about your experience, the more realistic your expectations. 

    Limitations. There are two potential limitations with hearing aids: the physical hearing aids themselves, and their effectiveness during use. Hearing aids have certain limitations that may require you mastering new challenges. Keep in mind they are electrical devices housed in a warm, humid environment-your ear. Moisture, heat and electricity are not a good mix. It can result in occasional breakdown even if you properly care for them. Their effectiveness should pleasantly surprise you but you shouldn't expect the impossible. While it is everyone's wish that wearing hearing aids will resolve all hearing problems, the reality is that hearing aids cannot possibly solve all hearing challenges. Normal hearing doesn't permit this either. There may be some sounds that are occasionally too loud, others too soft. Finding the right balance requires a skilled audiologist to fit the hearing aids. Even then, you may have to endure some frustrations. It will require adapting to an imperfect world. Yet, it's worth repeating that no one who gets used to hearing aids prefers not using them. Take the challenge. Work with them. It gets better over time. 

    Maintenance. Some people don't like brushing their teeth. Yet, it has to be done. Daily hearing aid maintenance should include handling them carefully, keeping them away from pets, and avoiding all airborne chemicals like aerosols (deodorants, perfumes, hairsprays). Hearing aids are not moisture resistant, so keep them away from saunas, pools, and showers. You must conduct your own maintenance program to assure their optimal performance. There are four simple nightly rules before retiring to bed: (1) wipe off the hearing aid with a handkerchief or other soft cloth that will not shred, (2) inspect for wax and remove it if you find it, (3) brush the faceplate (the surface facing out of the ear) where the battery door and microphone are housed (this removes fine particles that can collect), and (4) open the battery door overnight to save power, and store aids in a container designed for moisture reduction. This will reduce the chances for breakdown. You will quickly discover that flossing takes more time.

    Noise. The most challenging acoustic environment for hearing aids is noise. Yet, this is something you can often control. Manipulate your acoustic environment. Control where you sit. Seat yourself preferentially away from noise. Consider facing corners or padded walls, or closer to objects that absorb or block sound-like tall plants or pillars. At social gatherings, rather than mingle through the crown, remain more on the periphery and, if possible, let people come to you and face away from the crown while conversing with them. If you have better hearing in one ear, direct the better ear toward the conversation when around noise. You can expect to hear better when you take charge of your acoustic environment. 

    Patience. Be patient. The average person requires up to four months of hearing aid use before feeling really comfortable with them. Give it time. Be optimistic. You can make it happen.

    Questions. Ask them! Ask your audiologist. It's best if you keep a diary, logging as many positive and negative experiences as you can. Be specific about the problems you experience. Don't just report that you didn't hear the sermon well at church. Report on where you sat, who was speaking, how large the facility was, were others saying they had trouble, was anything blocking your path, did the speaker use the microphone correctly? The more information you give to your audiologist, the more effective he or she will be in addressing your questions and offering you solutions. 

    Rumors. Don't trust them! You'll hear how magnificent your brother-in-law's first wife's father is hearing now with the "Cure-It-All-Master-Sound-Grabber-Aid" before he accidentally ran over it with his truck. Or maybe you'll hear horror stories from your neighbors who were trying to decide which to buy-new digital hearing aids or a Mercedes. Keep it all in perspective. Find an audiologist through a reliable source, perhaps from friends pleased with products and services provided by their audiologist. Find someone who has years of service, a high level of knowledge, and is empathetic to your needs. Believe far more in your own experiences than the rumors.

    Stigma. Some people believe there is a stigma to wearing hearing aids. The truth is, hearing loss is more noticeable than hearing aids.

    Tinnitus. Some people report that their tinnitus (ringing or other sounds in their ears) is reduced or temporarily gone while using hearing aids. Perhaps it's wise not to expect this, but enjoy it if it happens. 

    Underrated. It is this audiologist's opinion that hearing aids are the most underrated medical device used in America today. Millions of Americans are not benefiting from amplification, much of it out of ignorance, rumors, myths, and lack of professional support. The most trusted and reliable source-physicians-unfortunately know little about hearing aids and, therefore, only infrequently make appropriate referrals for them. You don't have to be one of these statistics if you take it upon yourself to seek hearing healthcare help. More than 90 percent of all hearing losses fit with hearing aids are "nerve loss." 

    Victory. You certainly spend a lot of money on other people, especially those you love. Do not begrudge making the investment of hearing aids in yourself. You can succeed in overcoming most obstacles. Make a difference to yourself. Hearing monitors your environment for a full 360 degrees, twenty-four hours per day.

    Worry. Remember that Jamaican song that played throughout America some years back? "Doooon't worryyyyy! Beeeee Happy!" It's rock solid advice. We spend more time worrying about what we want to do (or not do) than the time it takes to achieve it.

    Xenophobia. The fear or aversion to things we don't understand or know is natural. If you know little of hearing aids and how they can improve your life, they may fall into this category for you. However, as you gather information and move forward in obtaining and using hearing instruments, they will become important friends that you can't bear to be without. It has been said that hearing aids are miniature electroacoustic devices one puts off getting until 10-15 years after they really started needing them, but can't part with for 15 minutes when they need to be serviced. 

    You. Expectations are all about you! There is little doubt that hearing loss has taken its toll on relationships. Because of you, relationships can begin to heal once you address your hearing problem. An inner sense of calm will likely enter your world starting with you and emanating to all relationships around you. By getting hearing aids, wearing them, and letting the experience speak for itself-you make meaningful changes in the world around you. The strain to hear will be significantly diminished. The arguments and issues over not hearing well are gone. Silly sounds you once thought were meaningless-like stirring ice in a glass-the click of the automobile turn signal, or the whining of your dog, bring you back into the world you had lost. You'll become more oriented in your new hearing world, listening to some forgotten sounds. Birds. The wind. Rustling leaves. With the effective use of hearing aids, one thin you can expect is more joy in your life. 

    Zigzagging. If you decline helping yourself through amplification, your path will be one of zigzagging through high-level emotions that could be currently tormenting you and your loved ones. Without hearing aids, you can expect to live without trusting what you hear because you may never know for sure if what you hear is truly what is said. Enduring these uncertainties in not necessary. No one can help you until you are willing to help yourself. Seek the advice of an audiologist. 

  • Hearing Aid Warranties

    The warranty that comes with hearing aids can vary greatly. It is important that you understand exactly what is included and what is not. To give you a good start, we have furnished you with a list of questions below. You can print them out or write them down to discuss BEFORE you purchase a hearing aid. Please feel free to submit additional questions that you think would benefit others by sending an e-mail to the webmasters listed at the bottom.

    Here is the list of questions you should ask about the warranty before you purchase a hearing aid:

    1. When does the warranty expire?

    Most hearing aids come with a standard 1 year warranty from the manufacturer, although some companies are now offering a full 2 years or more of coverage.

    2. Can I get additional coverage after the initial warranty period has ended?

    Extended warranties that go beyond the first year may be purchased from the manufacturer, your audiologist, a general insurance company, or other companies that have special warranty plans just for hearing aids.

    3. Which parts of the hearing aid are covered?

    Warranties typically cover all the internal parts of the hearing aid and any manufacturing defects in the hearing aid case or shell.

    4. What if I lose the hearing aid or it becomes damaged?

    Warranties may offer protection against just defects in workmanship, or they may also cover loss and damage of the hearing aid. Often, hearing aids can be covered against loss and damage through additions to a home owners insurance policy.

    5. Are earmolds included?

    Earmolds for use with Behind-The-Ear (BTE) hearing aids often have a more limited warranty covering fit and workmanship. These earmold warranties typically are between 30 days and 90 days only.

    6. Will I be charged for adjustments or modifications?

    Most people require at least 2 or 3 office visits to get the hearing aid set properly. Often, hearing aids will require minor modifications to the shell or earmold to insure a good, tight fit and adjustments will need to be made to insure the best possible sound quality. Most of these modifications can be made by the person dispensing the hearing aid, but occasionally it will need to be sent to the manufacturer to be remade entirely. It is very important to know if you will be charged for these adjustments during the warranty or even after the warranty period has expired.

    7. Will I be charged for shipping costs or general office visits?

    Shipping costs and office visits may or may not be included in the warranty, therefore it it is important to find out exactly what is covered by the warranty and what is not.

    Most hearing aids come with a trial period.  A complete article about trial periods is available.

    This article was submitted by: 
    Glen R. Meier, M.S., CCC-A, FAAA

  • Hearing Aid Trial Period

    Most hearing aids sold within the United States have a 30-day trial period. The person purchasing the hearing aid may elect to return the hearing aid anytime within the 30-day trial for any reason. However, the person that sold the hearing aid may charge a fee for restocking the hearing aid. The terms and the regulations of the trial period and the amount of the restocking fee vary widely and so all aspects of the trial period and potential return options should be discussed and put into writing prior to any hearing aid purchase.

    Some hearing aids may have trial periods extending past the standard 30 days, but the extension is at the discretion of the person selling the hearing aids and should also be discussed and put in writing before the hearing aids are purchased.

    Most hearing aids also come with a warranty.

  • How to Read the Hearing Aid Specification Sheet

    This article will explain how to read a hearing aid specification sheet in general, easy to understand terms. The information was original written for a mother who posted to a newsgroup requesting help. This information has been requested numerous times by other hearing aid users since then, and so we decided to post it as a brochure. Although some of the information is specific to this child's hearing aid, most of the information can be applied to other hearing aids.

    Q: I am trying to understand the specification sheet for my 3yrs old daughter's hearing aids, can you tell me what each item means?

    A: The model is a "Super-Front PP-C-4"

    The PP means push pull. This is a means of amplifiying sounds to higher intensities with less distortion.

    The =compression. This is a limiter for how loud the hearing aid can make sounds. The audiologist can adjust the maximum amount of sound that the hearing aid can produce.

    The is how many adjustment controls are on the hearing aid.

    SSPL 90: 140dB SPL

    This is the most amount of sound that the hearing aid will make. It means that if we put a 90 dB (decibel, or unit of loudness) sound into the hearing aid, 140 dB will come out of the aid. 90dB is a very loud sound and will test the limits of the aid. SPL=Sound Pressure Level. SPL is just a unit of reference for the decibel.

    HF Average SSPL 90: 132dB SPL

    This is the average level of just the high frequencies with the same 90 dB of input as listed above.

    HF Average Full-on Gain/Input 50dB SPL: 70 dB

    This is the High Frequency average of the amount of gain (increase in volume) with a 50 dB input sound and the volume control set to maximum. In other words, if I set the volume to maximum and put in 50 dB of sound, then 70 dB of increased sound will be added in the high frequencies.

    Reference Test Gain: 55dB

    This is the average of the amount of gain (increase in volume) when a 50 dB input sound and the volume control set to approximate the users level. In other words, if I set the volume to the level that your daughter will probably wear it and put in 50 dB of sound, then 55 dB of increased sound will be added (avg).

    Frequency Response Range with setting

    LC-O/HC-O: 300-4900Hz

    LC-8/HC-0: 650-6200Hz

    LC-0/HC-8: 250-4600Hz

    These tell you over what pitches the hearing aid will amplify sound. LC is low cut and HC is high cut. The nembers 0 through 8 are different settings from no reduction of gain to maximum reduction of gain. The audiologist will set the LC and HC adjusters so that the aid matches the shape or configuration of your daughters hearing loss.

    THD at 500Hz: < 6.5%

    THD at 800Hz: < 2.5%

    THD at 1600Hz: < 1.5%

    These are tests of Total Harmonic Distortion. It tells you how well the aid is able to reproduce sound clearly. The higher the level of THD the more distorted the sound will be.

    Battery Current Drain: 3.3 mA

    This is telling you how fast the battery will go dead. We know how much storage a battery has and so if we find out how fast the hearing aid will drain that storage, we know how long a battery should last.

    Induction Coil Sensitivity: 126 dB SPL

    This tells you how well the induction coil (telephone or t-coil) works. The induction coil allows a person to use a telephone or other assistive devices via electro-magnetic fields instead of the regular microphone. This prevents whistling (feedback) and also it will prevent sounds from the surronding room from interfering with the sound from the telephone. Since your daughter is 3 years old, the telephone is not the only thing that she can use the induction coil for however. Many schools, churches and other social places have a special setup that allows a hearing aid wearer to choose the t-coil setting while wearing a small induction loop, thereby eliminating the room noise and focusing on hearing a person wearing a microphone instead.

    This article was submitted by: 
    Glen R. Meier, M.S., CCC-A, FAAA

  • Hearing Aid Sizes

    This article describes the different sizes of hearing aids that are available. Hearing aids are made in many different shapes, sizes and even colors. Each one has advantages and disadvantages that should be evaluated before purchasing.

    Behind The Ear (BTE)

    • This hearing aid fits behind the ear and requires a separate earmold to connect the hearing aid to the ear. BTE hearing aids are generally known for durability and for power. Because the microphone is located further from the ear canal, there is also less chance of feedback (whistling) than with the smaller size hearing aids.  The earmold is custom fit to each user, but the hearing aids themselves do not need to be custom made.  The use of a separate earmold works well for people who develop excessive amounts of cerumen (earwax) and for children who's ear size changes frequently. BTE aids are also available in a very wide variety of power levels,  colors and also in different sizes for adults through very young children. The may be ordered with a direct audio input jack so that FM systems or personal listening devices may be plugged directly into the hearing aid. BTE aids usually use a size 675 or 13 battery.

    In The Ear (ITE)

    An ITE hearing aid fits entirely into the ear and fills the external ear.  It is usually visible when standing face to face with someone. ITE hearing aids are all custom made to fit each individuals ear.  There are no additional components to be added as all the parts are inside the custom made case (shell).  They are able to handle relatively large amounts of power, although there is an increased chance of feedback with more severe hearing losses.  Because an ITE only has one piece, some patients find it easier to insert and remove then the BTE size.

    In The Canal (ITC)

    This size hearing aid is similar to the ITE except it is even smaller, filling only the bottom half of the external ear. You usually cannot see very much of this hearing aid when you are face to face with someone. It is visible, however, from the side.  They are slightly more limited in power then the ITE size and are also more prone to feedback at high power levels.  The hearing aid user needs good dexterity to insert, remove and adjust this size hearing aid.

    Completely In The Canal (CIC)

    The CIC hearing aid fits way down inside the ear canal. It is usually not visible when standing face to face and it is only visible from the side if you are looking directly at the ear canal.  There are many advantages to this size including less wind noise as the microphone is moved down to the canal opening, more natural sound as the external ear can funnel sounds to the microphone and also they are easier to use on the telephone as the amount of feedback is reduced.  This size hearing aid does use smaller batteries with reduced storage capacity so the batteries need to be changed more frequently. CICs are usually not used to fit severe losses as feedback can become a problem.


    • This hearing aid is built into the frames of a persons eyeglasses. It requires a separate earmold to connect the hearing aid to the ear. The earmold is connected to the eyeglass frame via a tube similar to a BTE hearing aid.  The advantages include ease of use and the ability to enhance high pitches with less feedback then some of the other sizes.  The disadvantages include thicker eyeglass frames and always having to wear both glasses and hearing aids together.  This can make changing batteries on the hearing aid difficult as the glasses must be removed to access the hearing aid's battery compartment.

    Body Worn

    • A body worn hearing aid consists of a case containing the hearing aid parts (usually worn inside a pocket or clipped to clothing) and a cord that connects the case to an earmold worn in the ear.  These hearing aids are capable of large amounts of power with less feedback then most other sizes.  They also have the advantage of large, easy to adjust controls and long lasting batteries (size AA).  The disadvantages include: the persons body will block many sounds; large and cumbersome size; makes localizing sounds very difficult, and often clothing noises are amplified to levels that are distracting.

    Summary Table of the Types of Hearing Aids
    and options that may be ordered on each size


































    #675 or

    #13 or


    #312 or

    #10 or


    #675 or

    This article was submitted by: 
    Glen R. Meier, M.S., CCC-A, FAAA

  • Hearing Aid Batteries

    This page should answer most general questions about hearing aid batteries. If you have a specific question about your hearing aid battery that is not addressed here, please ask on the AAC Audiology Question and Answer Board or contact your local audiologist.

    All hearing aids have batteries. They come in different sizes and have a positive side and a negative side and so it is important that the battery is inserted properly into the hearing aid. The average life of a hearing aid battery varies from 1 to 4 weeks depending on the size of the battery, the power of the hearing aid, the setting of the volume control and many other things.

    All batteries currently sold are the Zinc-Air type. Zinc-Air batteries last longer then the older mercury batteries and are also much better for the environment. They come with a paper tab glued to the battery. This tab prevents the battery from draining while it is being stored. These batteries can be stored for over a year as long as the paper tab is never removed. To start a zinc-air battery, just remove the paper tab. Once a battery is activated, it will begin to drain. Putting the paper tab back unto the battery when it is not in use may slow the drainage slightly, but it will not completely stop it from draining.

    Batteries should be stored in a cool, dry place. They should not be refrigerated as this may shorten the life of the battery. Hearing aid batteries are different then normal batteries in that they operate at full power until they are almost fully drained, and then they stop quite abruptly. They do not slowly get weaker and weaker like most other batteries. Because of this, a hearing aid user should own a battery tester and should always carry extra batteries. If a hearing aid is not going to be worn for an extended period, the battery should be removed from the hearing aid to prevent corrosion. The battery should also be removed if the hearing aid accidently becomes wet.

    Batteries may be purchased from your audiologist, drug stores, and even some national organizations. Some brands do last longer then others and it is important that the batteries you purchase are as fresh as possible.

    Batteries sizes:

    • #675 This is the largest size battery. It is usually used in Behind-The-Ear hearing aids. It has the largest storage capacity of hearing aid batteries.
    • #13 This is the most common size of battery used for In-The-Ear hearing aids. It has less storage capacity then the #675, but it is also a smaller battery.
    • #312 This is often used for In-The-Canal size hearing aids. It is thinner then the #13 battery and has a shorter total lifetime.
    • #10 This is one of the smallest sizes available and is used for the Completely-In-the-Canal size of hearing aids. They don't have too much storage capacity, but the small size makes them ideal for the very small hearing aid sizes.
    • #5 This is the smallest size battery currently available. It is not carried by some distributors. This battery is usually used when even a #10 battery is too large to be put into the hearing aid.


    This article was submitted by: 
    Glen R. Meier, M.S., CCC-A, FAAA

  • Care and Maintenance of Hearing Aids and Earmolds

    This page will provide you with some general information and tips on how to care for a hearing aid or an earmold.

    Cleaning A Hearing Aid:

    • Wipe the outside of the hearing aid daily with a soft, dry cloth or tissue to remove earwax and body oils. A soft toothbrush may be used to remove stubborn wax. The battery compartment of the hearing aid should be left open at night to insure that the hearing aid is off and also so fresh air can enter the hearing aid and dry it more completely. Do not attempt to clean the hearing aid by inserting pins or toothpicks into the openings as it is very easy to damage the internal parts. If wax builds up inside an opening, it is best to bring the hearing aid to your audiologist for proper cleaning. Hearing aids should be professionally cleaned every 3 to 6 months. Some people tend to develop more earwax then others and they should have their hearing aid cleaned more frequently. It is also important to have the hearing aid wearers ears checked regularly as wax can build up and stop the hearing aid from functioning properly.

    Cleaning an earmold:

    • Earmolds should be cleaned every night by wiping them with a soft, dry cloth or tissue. This will remove any earwax or body oils that may have collected during the day. If wax has entered into the tube of the earmold and cannot be reached with a tissue, remove the earmold from the hearing aid and run warm (not hot) water over the earmold and through the tubing. IT IS IMPORTANT THAT THE HEARING AID IS NOT PUT INTO THE WATER, JUST THE EARMOLD!!! The earmold can then be set out to dry before it is reconnected to the hearing aid. If a hearing aid dryer (not a hair dryer) is available, it may be used to dry the earmold. If you have any questions about cleaning an earmold, contact your local audiologist.

    *Be very careful not to mix up which earmold connects to which hearing aid. Earmolds should only be cleaned one at a time to prevent mixups.*

    Never use chemical solvents on the earmold as they can cause discoloration and make soft earmold materials turn hard or shrink. Earmold tubing will harden and discolor with age. When this occurs the tubing can be removed and a new tube can be inserted by the audiologist.

    General Tips for Hearing Aid Care and Maintenance:

    Avoid Heat

    • Do not place the hearing aid near stoves, radiators, heat lamps or in direct sunlight. Do not wear the hearing aid when using a hair dryer or hair spray.

    Avoid Cold

    • Hearing aids can function well when outdoors even during the winter. However, after extended periods in the cold, the battery may loose power. If this occurs, just let the aid naturally return to room temperature and power should be restored.

    Avoid Moisture

    • Hearing aids should not be worn in or near saunas, steam baths, regular baths, vaporizers, or showers. Protect the hearing aid from rain or snow. Perspiration can also damage the hearing aid. If the hearing aid gets wet, let it dry naturally with the battery door left open or else in a special hearing aid dryer that can be purchased from your audiologist. Never dry a hearing aid with a hair dryer or put it in an oven of any kind.

    Handle with care

    Be careful not to drop the hearing aid and do not leave the hearing aid where pets or children can reach it. Do not attempt to open the case of the hearing aid to repair or adjust it. 

    This article was submitted by: 
    Glen R. Meier, M.S., CCC-A, FAAA