Hearing loss affects millions of people in the US. Besides being a nuisance to deal with, hearing loss can affect your self-esteem, mood, and confidence during social activities. Fortunately, if your hearing acuity has declined, you may be able to get a hearing aid.
There are several hearing aid options available, and our professional staff is here to help. Our team at Florida Ear, Nose, Throat & Facial Plastic Surgery Center in Orlando, Florida is headed by Wade Han, MD, FACS, and Elvira Livigni-De Armas, Au.D. Dr. Livigni-De Armas is an audiologist and hearing loss specialist.
Living with hearing loss isn’t an easy experience, but there are solutions. In this post, we’ll explore the nature of hearing loss and the difference between analog and digital hearing aids.
What causes hearing loss?
You may be surprised to know that, according to The National Institute of Deafness and Other Communication Disorders, an estimated 90% of children born with hearing loss are born to parents with normal hearing abilities. The most vulnerable to hearing loss are people over age 60, and men are more likely than are women to experience hearing loss.
While age is the largest factor in whether or not a person will experience hearing loss, other factors and events can temporarily or permanently damage your hearing. Ear infections, abnormal bone growths, and tumors can hurt your hearing. Your eardrum can rupture, your sensitive inner ear can be damaged, or even surplus earwax can affect your hearing.
Risk factors for hearing loss include:
- Occupational or recreational noises
Lengthy exposure to loud noises can negatively affect your hearing. Imagine leaving a loud bar, arena, or concert, and how you might notice that the world outside sounds a little muffled. You likely recover in a short period of time, but frequent and long-term exposure to loud environments can have long-term consequences.
Analog vs. digital hearing aids
Selecting a hearing aid is a personal decision for the betterment of your health. While some may view the use of a hearing aid as something relegated to the old and the disabled, the truth is that a hearing aid can and does make a difference in the daily life of a person living with hearing loss.
It’s also important to know that when selecting a hearing aid, you have options. Gone are the days where the sole option of enhancing limited hearing is a bulky device that most people notice. Today, we have several options to fit your needs and your lifestyle. Dr. Livigni-De Armas determines the options that are best for your unique medical needs, but what you want will also play a role.
Analog hearing aids
The bulky hearing aid that comes to mind when most people talk about hearing aids is an analog hearing aid. These devices amplify all sounds equally but can be programmed for different environments. For example, you may not need as much sound amplification at a family reunion as you might in a library.
Analog hearing aids capture sound, convert them into electrical signals, and then make them louder. This may sound counterintuitive, given that loud noises are a risk for hearing loss, but it is a time-tested and effective method of improving the ability to hear.
Digital hearing aids
While Dr. Livigni-De Armas may prescribe an analog hearing aid for you, the use of analog hearing aids, overall, is declining. As technology has progressed for cars and cell phones, so has the technology for hearing aids. More compact and powerful than analog hearing aids, digital hearing aids give you even more options to bolster your hearing than analog hearing aids.
Both analog and digital hearing aids can accept different programs for different environments, but digital hearing aids can block unwanted noise, offer a greater variety of programming abilities, and are generally preferred over analog hearing aids. Digital hearing aids are the most commonly prescribed today, with many of them controlled by an app on your phone.
Can I get my hearing back?
Protecting your hearing is the best course of action as a lifelong practice of protecting your overall health. This means limiting your time exposed to extremely noisy environments, using earplugs, and having your hearing periodically tested by Dr. Livigni-De Armas. Understand that hearing aids cannot restore the hearing that you’ve lost, but they can make your life easier.
Using a hearing aid may take some time to get used to, but being able to hear clearly and thoroughly should always be the goal. If you’re experiencing symptoms of a hearing loss, call us today at either of our Florida offices for a consultation with Dr. Livigni-De Armas, or book an appointment with us online.