(558x280)A39

Jh-117 BTE hearing aids

JH-117 ITE hearing aid

JH-d36 bte hearing aids 4 channels 4 modes

JH-D36 RIC hearing aid

351-O hearing aid

(558x280)D19

JH-907 ITE hearing aid

JH-D30 ITE hearing aid

Bluetooth Hearing Aid

HEARING AIDS

Hearing aids are small, battery-operated amplifiers worn in the ear. Small microphones are used to pick up sounds in the environment. These sounds are then made louder so the user can hear these sounds better. Hearing aids do not restore your hearing to normal. They do not prevent the natural deterioration of hearing, nor cause further deterioration in hearing ability. However, hearing aids often improve one’s ability to communicate in everyday situations.

Adult Audiology offers two service approaches to hearing aids: advanced technology in a bundled approach and an entry-level model in an unbundled approach.  The advanced technology has more processing channels, multichannel steady-state and impulse noise reduction, and adaptive directionality, as well as rechargeable and Bluetooth options.  These aids are delivered with a warranty of 2 to 3 years and all office visits and services are included in the cost.  The entry-level model has fewer processing channels, basic noise reduction, and directionality.  These hearing aids are delivered with a 1 year warranty and post-fitting office visits and services are not included in the cost.  The cost is significantly lower and more affordable.  Best practice for fitting hearing aids is applied with both service approaches.

Your Options for Hearing Devices

Comparison Table of Hearing Aid Options

Hearing aids are available in many different styles and technology levels. For more information on hearing aids and hearing aid services at Washington University, click on the following links.

Hearing Aid Styles

Features of Hearing Aid Technology

What to Expect at My Hearing Aid Fitting

What to Expect from My Hearing Aids

Pricing and Financial Support

Hearing Aid Care and Maintenance


Reference

HEARING AID STYLES

Hearing aids are available in a variety of styles and sizes.  When choosing style, it is important to remember that not every style is appropriate for everyone.  Your audiologist will discuss the different styles and help you decide which style is best for you.  There are several factors that should be considered before choosing a style.  These factors include:

  • Degree and configuration of hearing loss
  • Size and shape of the ear
  • Cosmetic preference
  • Dexterity and ability to manipulate the hearing aid and batteries
  • Available features (i.e. directional microphones, telecoil)

Also, there are some hearing losses that would not perform well with traditional hearing aids.  Some patients may have normal hearing or an aidable hearing loss in one ear, but the other ear has no measurable hearing or speech understanding is very poor.  Other patients may have a history of chronic ear problems and may benefit more from other devices instead of traditional hearing aids.  Specialty devices are available and may be more appropriate for these patients.

Styles include:

Behind-the-Ear (BTE)

In-The-Ear (ITE)

Specialty Devices

Behind-the-Ear (BTE) Hearing Aids

Traditional BTE Hearing Aids:

  • Fit behind the ear and are attached by tubes to custom fitted earmolds that hold the hearing aids in place and deliver the sound to your ears
  • Appropriate for all degrees of hearing loss, from mild to profound
  • Ideal for individuals with a draining ear or excessive earwax
  • This type is available in several different sizes such as a larger size for power, a traditional size, and a miniature size.

Open-Ear BTE Hearing Aids

  • Fit behind the ear and are attached to thin tubes that extend into the ear canals
  • This type is often fit with domes, but can also accommodate open custom earmolds
  • Appropriate for mild to moderate sloping hearing losses with the majority of the hearing loss concentrated in the higher frequencies
  • This style of hearing aids is available in traditional and miniature BTE sizes

Receiver-in-the-Ear BTE Hearing Aids:

  • Fit behind the ear and are attached to thin wires with receivers or loudspeakers that are placed in the ear canals
  • Appropriate for all degrees of hearing loss, from mild to profound
  • This style of hearing aids is often fit with domes, but can also accommodate custom earmolds

ITE Hearing Aids:

  • Fit entirely inside the ear, filling the entire outer ear
  • Appropriate for mild to severe hearing losses
  • Accommodate all features available in BTE

ITC Hearing Aids:

  • Fit mostly in the ear canal and the bottom half of the outer ear
  • Appropriate for mild to moderately-severe hearing losses
  • Accommodate most of the features available in an ITE or BTE, but in a smaller size

CIC Hearing Aids:

  • Fit deep and completely in the ear canal
  • Appropriate for mild to moderate hearing losses
  • Very small and use the smallest battery, which may be difficult to manipulate for patients with poor dexterity
  • The small size can limit the available features (i.e. directional microphones, volume control, telecoil)

Specialty Devices Hearing Aids

Specialty hearing devices are available for those patients who cannot utilize traditional hearing aids. Some of these devices include the Bone Anchored Hearing Aid (Baha), TransEar, Contralateral Routing of the Signal (CROS), or Bilateral Contralateral Routing of the Signal (BiCROS), and cochlear implants.

Baha:

  • A small screw and abutment is surgically implanted into the bone behind the ear and a processor is attached to the abutment approximately three months after surgery.
  • This device is intended for patients who have a history of middle ear disease or for patients with no measurable hearing in one ear (single-sided deafness), who cannot benefit from traditional hearing aids.
  • Sound vibrations are transferred to the functioning cochlea via bone conduction.

TransEar:

  • Bone conduction BTE hearing aid
  • Fits behind the ear and is attached to a wire with a small bone conduction oscillator encased in an earmold deep in the ear canal
  • Intended for patients having single sided deafness

 

 

 

CROS or BiCROS:

  • Patients having no measurable hearing in one ear, but have normal hearing in the better ear might benefit from CROS; a microphone transmitter is worn on the poorer ear and a receiver is worn in the better ear; sound from the transmitter on the poorer ear is routed to the receiver and coupled to the better ear.
  • Patients with no measurable hearing in the poorer ear and an aidable hearing loss in the better ear may benefit from BiCROS; a microphone transmitter is worn on the poorer ear and a receiving hearing aid is worn on the better ear.
  • These instruments can be BTE or ITE hearing aids.
  • These devices can wirelessly transmit sound or can route sound using a wire connecting the transmitter and receiver.

 

 

 

Cochlear Implants:

  • Cochlear implants are for patients with moderately-severe to profound hearing loss and poor speech understanding who do not receive benefit from traditional hearing aids.
  • An electrode array is implanted into the inner ear and a processor is worn over the outer ear.
  • Sound is picked up by the processor microphone, analyzed, and transmitted to the internal implant via a magnet.
  • The internal implant converts the input into electrical signals, which are transferred to the electrodes.
  • The electrodes then stimulate the cochlear nerve.

Hearing Aids and Personal Sound Amplifiers: Know the Difference

You’ve likely seen them advertised on television—small electronic sound amplifiers that allow users to enjoy nighttime TV without disturbing sleepers, or to hear their toddlers from many yards away.

While these personal sound amplifiers may help people hear things that are at low volume or at a distance, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) wants to ensure that consumers don’t mistake them—or use them as substitutes—for approved hearing aids.

“Hearing aids and personal sound amplification products (PSAPS) can both improve our ability to hear the sound,” says Eric Mann, M.D., Ph.D., deputy director of FDA’s Division of Ophthalmic, Neurological, And Ear, Nose, and Throat Devices. “They are both wearable, and some of their technology and function are similar.”

Mann notes, however, that the products are different in that only hearing aids are intended to make up for impaired hearing.

He says consumers should buy a personal sound amplifier only after ruling out hearing loss as a reason for getting one. “If you suspect hearing loss, get your hearing evaluated by a health care professional,” he adds.

Choosing a PSAP as a substitute for a hearing aid can lead to more damage to your hearing, says Mann. “It can cause a delay in the diagnosis of a potentially treatable condition. And that delay can allow the condition to get worse and lead to other complications,” he says.

Treatments for an impaired hearing can be as simple as removal of a wax plug in the doctor’s office or, in rare cases, as serious as major surgery to remove a tumor or growth in the middle or inner ear, says Mann.

Signs of Loss of Hearing

Mann says that consumers who suspect they suffer from hearing loss should obtain a thorough medical evaluation, preferably by an ear specialist, to identify any medically or surgically treatable causes of hearing loss. Persons exhibiting symptoms of hearing loss should see a doctor or hearing health care professional to have their hearing tested.

You may have hearing loss if

  • people say you are shouting when you talk to them
  • you need the TV or radio turned up louder than other people do
  • you often ask people to repeat themselves because you can’t hear or understand them, especially in groups or when there is background noise
  • you can hear better out of one ear than the other
  • you have to strain to hear
  • you can’t hear a dripping faucet or a high note of a violin

How They Differ

In March 2009, the FDA issued guidance describing how hearing aids and personal sound-amplifying devices differ.

The recently issued guidance defines a hearing aid as a sound-amplifying device intended to compensate for impaired hearing.

PSAPs are not intended to make up for impaired hearing. Instead, they are intended for non-hearing-impaired consumers to amplify sounds in the environment for a number of reasons, such as for recreational activities.

The difference between PSAPS and hearing aids are among the topics covered in a new Web page devoted to hearing aids that FDA launched today.

Hearing amplifiers vs. hearing aids

Despite serving similar purposes, hearing amplifiers and hearing aids are two very different things. Let’s go through what sets these devices apart from one another.

While television ads have made personal sound amplifiers a tempting purchase, many people have failed to recognize the key differences between hearing amplifiers and hearing aids. Frequency-specific hearing loss is not something that can be mitigated through the amplification of all sound and using an amplifier where a hearing aid should be used can be dangerous.

Many audiologists and organizations have tried to stress the difference between amplifiers and hearing aids. Even the FDA put out a notice warning people that hearing amplifiers are not a replacement for hearing aids. Here are a few of the key differences between the two devices, and why hearing aids are probably a safer bet.

Personal sound amplifying products, or PSAPs, are designed to boost environmental hearing for people without hearing loss. They aren’t selective in what sounds they amplify and are commonly used to “keep an ear” on children or babies in another room. They’ve also been advertised to improve sound quality during recreational activities like birdwatching and theatre.

While the concept is intriguing, some people began misusing PSAPs as over-the-counter hearing aids. It might seem like an easy way to cut costs and avoid spending money on a certified hearing aid, but audiologists and doctors everywhere have warned against the practice. Hearing aids perform a complex purpose that depends on the wearer, whereas amplifiers boost all sound.

Hearing aids are usually professionally fitted and fine-tuned to the wearer and help mitigate hearing loss by boosting certain frequencies. Amplifiers simply make things louder, regardless of the frequency or volume. While hearing aids are tailored to hard of hearing people, PSAPs are meant to be used by people with a full range of hearing.

The dangers of hearing amplifiers

Hearing amplifiers aren’t entirely dangerous on their own. However, people misusing PSAPs is what makes them so harmful. Many consumers might try to use them as hearing aids, which can further damage hearing. While the technology used in hearing amplifiers and hearing aids is similar in some respects, they are two separate devices for different purposes.

Where hearing amplifiers are supposed to be used by people with normal hearing, hearing aids are designed for those with hearing loss. When people use PSAPs to mitigate hearing loss, the problem is not being solved. In fact, the problem isn’t even being recognized. A full audiogram and check-up are necessary to diagnose hearing loss.

Failing to get proper help for hearing loss can lead to further deterioration of a person’s hearing. This can mean the difference between mild and serious hearing loss.

Knowing which one to choose

If you or a loved one is interested in buying a PSAP, have a quick discussion about it. Why are they getting it? If they’re interested solely in birdwatching, theatre, or childcare, they might benefit from using a hearing amplifier sparingly. However, if they are getting a PSAP because they’ve been having trouble hearing, there might be an issue.

Before buying a PSAP, it’s recommended that potential buyers invest in a hearing test. If there is a problem with their hearing, an audiogram can help identify it. From there, they can begin considering actual hearing aids, which will solve their problems safely and efficiently.

While PSAPs and hearing aids might seem similar at first glance, they couldn’t be more different. One is meant for recreational use, whereas the other is a recommended treatment for hearing loss. Buying an amplifier instead of a hearing aid might seem like the easy way out, but it might do more harm than good.

Features of Hearing Aid Technology

Analog versus Digital Hearing Aids

Analog hearing aids have been available for many years.  They have a microphone to collect sound and convert the sound into electrical energy, an amplifier to increase the strength of the electrical energy, and a receiver or speaker to convert the electrical energy to an acoustic sound.  Analog hearing aids may help amplify soft sounds without over-amplifying loud sounds through a process called automatic gain control (AGC).  However, analog hearing aids do not typically have other advanced features.

Digital hearing aids are more complex. With digital hearing aids, a microphone picks up sound, which is then converted into digital signals. The digital signals are then processed by the small computer chip in the hearing aid. Once the digital signal is analyzed and processed using Digital Signal Processing (DSP), it is converted into acoustic sound. DSP allows for changes in volume, but can also provide noise reduction and other features to help improve communication in difficult listening environments.

Currently, very few analog hearing aids are available, and most hearing aids contain DSP. Within digital hearing aids, however, many different features are available and are discussed further in this section.

Gain (volume) Processing

For many years, hearing aids have been able to automatically increase or decrease volume depending on the input sounds. This feature minimizes the need to physically adjust the volume control. However, for most patients with hearing loss, simply increasing or decreasing the volume does not improve the clarity of speech. You may be decreasing sounds that are too loud, but at the same time decreasing sounds that need to be increased to improve speech understanding. You may often notice this with the volume control settings of your television or radio.

More recently, hearing aids are able to separate sound into different frequency (tonal) regions, called channels. The volume of each channel can be adjusted independently, allowing for certain sounds to be amplified more than others, similar to an equalizer on a stereo. The amount of amplification in each channel can generally be adjusted by your audiologist using the hearing aid programming software.

Manual volume controls to change the overall volume are available on many hearing aids. Volume controls may be accessed by a button or volume control wheel on the hearing aid or, in some cases, with remote control.

 

Number of Frequency Channels

The number of channels available for programming differs among hearing aids. With more channels, hearing aids can be programmed to more accurately fit your hearing loss. Also, with more channels, the analysis of the sound environment is more accurate, which can enhance the function of other hearing aid features. However, more is not always better. More than 15 to 20 channels can cause sounds to become ‘muddy’. With some hearing losses, hearing aids with many channels may not be a significant improvement over hearing aids with fewer channels.

Directional Microphones

One of the most difficult listening situations for individuals with hearing loss is understanding conversations in noisy environments. The most effective way of minimizing the negative effects of surrounding noise is to have two microphones on each hearing aid – one for the area in front and one for the area behind. Each microphone provides information to the hearing aid processor, which analyzes the sound in the environment. When the analysis shows a high level of noise, the sensitivity of the back microphone is reduced, to decrease the noise from the back.

In less expensive hearing aids this is done by pushing a button on the hearing aid or remote control to reduce the noise. In moderate or more premium hearing aids, the processor may be powerful enough to automatically reduce the sensitivity of the rear microphone when the environment gets noisy. It will then also increase the sensitivity of the rear microphone to normal when the environment quiets down, so you do not miss the soft sounds behind you.

One thing to remember is that directional microphones help reduce noise, but do not eliminate noise.

Digital Noise Reduction

In addition to directional microphones as a tool to help in situations with competing for noise, hearing aids can reduce amplification in certain channels. Typically, amplification is reduced in the channels that provide little benefit to overall speech understanding. This can be helpful in reducing the noise that is arriving from the front and the overall noise in the room.

More premium hearing aids may also work to enhance the speech arriving from the front by increasing the amplification in the channels that carry important speech information so that the speech is more pronounced than the noise. In some very noisy environments, however, understanding speech can still be very difficult even with the most sophisticated processing.

Digital Feedback Reduction

Acoustic feedback in hearing aids is the high-pitched whistling sound that you may have heard from some older hearing aids. It is a result of the amplified sound leaking out the ear canal and being picked up by the microphone of the hearing aid. Fortunately, feedback is now much less common because most digital hearing aids have a feedback manager that reduces feedback. Manufacturers differ in the way that feedback is controlled, but generally, the premium instruments are more effective. The probability of feedback also depends on the configuration and severity of the hearing loss. Therefore, not every patient needs the most sophisticated feedback management system. Feedback also depends on the fit of the instrument. Feedback can be reduced if hearing aids are fit properly.

Multiple Programs or Memories

Multiple programs or memories can be stored in hearing aids and accessed using a push button or through a remote control. These programs optimize hearing aids for different listening environments. Multiple programs can also be available for special uses, such as for listening on the telephone or to television. More advanced hearing aids analyze the sound environment and adjust automatically for specific environments. For example, premium hearing aids can correctly identify that you are in a noisy restaurant and activate the directional microphones and noise reduction. In less expensive hearing aids, the program may have to be manually changed by pressing the buttons on the hearing aids or using the remote control in order for the directional microphones and noise reduction to be activated.

 

 

Self Learning

Hearing aids with this feature can remember your volume and program preferences in specific listening environments. You can train the hearing aids with a push button or remote control. For example, if the volume of the hearing aids is reduced every morning by using the volume control or remote control, eventually, the hearing aids will automatically turn on at a lower volume setting.

Data Logging

Many hearing aids internally record the number of hours the hearing aids are worn, which programs are being used, how often and how much the volume is increased or decreased, and, in some cases, the nature of the sound environments. This tool can often be very helpful in fine-tuning the hearing aids and helps the audiologist identify and resolve certain types of difficulties you might experience.

Telephone Adaptation

Understanding speech on the telephone can be difficult for some individuals with hearing impairment and hearing aids can help in various ways. Signals from both cell phones and landline telephones can be heard through the hearing aid, either by simply placing the receiver near the microphones of the hearing aid or by utilizing the electromagnetic induction coil (telecoil) contained in many hearing aids. Specific hearing aid compatible telephones work best with the telecoil.

An automatic telephone sensor is available in some instruments, and it automatically perceives the presence of the electromagnetic signal from a hearing aid compatible phone and switches the hearing aid to either an acoustic telephone or telecoil program. Premium hearing aids are also able to present the telephone signal to both ears when the telephone is placed over one ear.

Wireless and Bluetooth Connectivity

This technology uses a Bluetooth or wireless streaming device (either worn around the neck or kept in the pocket) to receive sound from Bluetooth transmitters and send the sound to the hearing aids. For example, the streaming device will pick up the Bluetooth signal from a cell phone and directly transmit the signal to your hearing aids. Wireless devices are also available to stream other audio signals directly to the hearing aids, like the audio signal from a television or MP3 player. Recently, wireless devices can also stream the signal from a lapel microphone that a speaker might wear.

The transmission from these streaming devices is then heard in stereo with little interference from competing noises in the environment. The signal can be received from up to 30 ft away.

 

 

Remote Controls

Many hearing aids can be operated using a remote control. For some individuals and certain hearing aids, remote control can be very helpful, allowing the changing of programs and/or volume without touching the hearing aids. The increased automatic functioning of modern hearing aids has somewhat reduced the need for remote controls, however, many hearing aid users still find them beneficial. Some remote controls can also act as a Bluetooth streaming device.

Frequency Shifting

Some hearing aids have a feature described as frequency shifting or frequency lowering. When the hearing loss in the high pitch region is severe to profound, it can be difficult to provide adequate amplification to those pitches. With frequency shifting or frequency lowering, high pitch sounds are shifted down to lower frequencies where hearing is typically better. Consonant information in speech is typically present in the high pitches and by shifting these sounds down to an area of better hearing, speech understanding may be improved. This feature may require a period of adjustment to learn to use these different speech cues.

Sound Generators or Tinnitus Maskers

Several hearing aids have the capability of internally generating sounds that are not present in the environment. The sound generators are used to produce various sounds that can help reduce the perceived loudness of tinnitus (ear or head noise). This feature is relatively new and more detailed information is discussed in the Tinnitus Section of this website.

With all of the features now available in hearing aids it can be somewhat confusing to decide which feature(s) are needed. The audiologist you are working with will help analyze your listening needs and help you evaluate which features are appropriate for your listening environments and needs.

What to Expect at Your Hearing Aid Fitting

A successful hearing aid fitting is more than just selecting the correct device for your hearing needs. The hearing aids need to be properly fitted to your ears so that they provide the correct amount of amplification to maximize hearing aid benefit.

Prior to fitting the hearing aids, your audiologist will conduct a thorough hearing test to measure the softest sound you can hear at different pitches and record the volume of sound that is uncomfortably loud for you. Based on these tests, your audiologist will know how much gain the hearing aid needs to provide in order to amplify soft sounds so they are audible and how much to compress loud sounds so that they are not uncomfortable.

Dfferent styles of hearing aids, levels of technology, and cost will all be discussed at your Hearing Aid Evaluation appointment. Your various listening environments and expectations of hearing aids will also be discussed. Your audiologist will discuss different features available in hearing aids and make recommendations based on your hearing evaluation and communication needs. You will select the hearing aids you want to order. Earmold impressions will be taken of your ears (if necessary) to order the hearing aids. About two weeks after you order the hearing aids, you will return for the hearing aid fitting.

At the hearing aid fitting appointment, your audiologist will verify that the hearing aids are providing the correct amount of amplification by doing Real Ear Measures. Real Ear Measures allow the audiologist to know how loud sounds are in your ear canal. First, a thin tube will be inserted into your ear canal. This tube is connected to a microphone that will measure the volume of sound near your eardrum without any hearing aid device in your ear.

Next, your hearing aid will be inserted in your ear taking care not to move the probe tube microphone already in your ear canal. Once the hearing aid is turned on, your audiologist will measure how loud the sound is at the output of your hearing aid in your ear. It is important for your audiologist to play different volumes of sound from soft to very loud in order to verify that soft sounds are amplified so you can hear them, that moderate intensity sounds are amplified to a comfortable listening level, and that loud sounds are considered loud, but do not exceed your discomfort level.

Proper verification of your hearing aid settings is integral to a successful hearing aid fitting. If these measures are not completed, then the audiologist will not know whether your hearing aids are programmed properly. Real Ear Measures ensure that you are getting the appropriate amount of amplification in accordance with the severity of your hearing loss. Once the hearing aids are programmed, your audiologist will then review the care and maintenance of the hearing aids. Tasks, like inserting the hearing aids and changing the batteries, will be practiced in the office.

What to Expect from Your Hearing Aid

Motivation along with reasonable and realistic expectations are the primary keys to the successful use of amplification. Motivation to hear well will provoke you to see an audiologist and discuss amplification options. Hearing aids are highly sophisticated instruments that are intended to help assist with communication for the person with hearing loss. Having a good understanding of hearing aid benefits, as well as hearing aid limitations, will help with a successful fitting of amplification. The following facts are a guide to help you understand what to expect with amplification. Further details regarding your specific hearing loss and hearing aids can be discussed with your audiologist.

Expectations Before Hearing Aids are Considered

Expectations During the Hearing Aid Evaluation

Expectations at the Initial Fitting

Mechanical Limitations and Maintenance

Communication with Hearing Aids

Pricing & Financial Support

Hearing loss can be a severely debilitating impairment that can significantly impact work, social, and family life. Unfortunately, most health insurance providers, including Medicare, do not cover the cost of hearing aids. If you think your insurance may help cover the cost of hearing aids, it is recommended you first call and check with your health insurance provider to determine if your provider will pay for part or all of the expenses related to hearing aids. If your insurance provider does not provide coverage, there are other resources that may provide financial assistance for the purchase of hearing aids and/or hearing assistive technology. The following list contains financial support resources in the Saint Louis area. Qualifications and costs vary from program to program so please check before applying.

Center for Hearing and Speech

9835 Manchester Road
St. Louis, MO 63119
Phone: 314-968-4710
Web: http://www.chsstl.org
E-mail: See website

Services: Financial scholarships for hearing evaluations, hearing aids, and hearing aid repairs are available to qualifying individuals. Scholarship application is available through the website or by calling (314) 968-4710.

 

Illinois Telecommunications Access Corporation

3001 Montvale Drive
Suite D
Springfield, IL 62704
Phone: 1-800-841-6167 (Voice/TTY)
Web: http://www.itactty.org/
E-mail: Not available

Services: Amplified and captioned telephones, TTY, and telephone signaling devices at no cost.

Lions Affordable Hearing Aid Project

Phone: 630-468-3837
Web: http://www.lionsclubs.org/

Services: Low-cost hearing aids and variable cost of hearing evaluations and hearing aid related services. Contact local Lions club for more information. Use the Lions Club locator to find a club near you:
http://lionsclubs.org/EN/find-a-club.php
Note that not all clubs provide hearing assistance.

Missouri Assistive Technology

1501 NW Jefferson Street
Blue Springs, MO 64015
Phone: 1-800-647-8557 or 1-800-647-8558 (TTY)
Web: http://www.at.mo.gov/tap_telephone.html
E-mail: moat1501@att.net

Services: Amplified and captioned telephones, telecommunications device for the deaf (TDD/TTY), and telephone signaling devices at no cost (there is a gross income restriction for eligibility).

Scholarship Trust for the Hearing Impaired

The Travelers Protective Association of America
3755 Lindell Boulevard
St. Louis, Missouri 63108
Phone: 314-371-0533
Web: http://www.tpahq.org, then go to “Community” in the blue bar and click on “Scholarship Trust”; an application for aide is available for download at the bottom of the page.
E-mail: support@tpahq.org

Services: Scholarship towards purchase of hearing aids, specialized treatment, and education. Application is March 1st every year.

Sertoma Hearing Aid Recycling Program

1912 E. Meyer Blvd.
Kansas City, MO 64132
Phone: 785-235-5678
Web: http://www.sertoma.org/NETCOMMUNITY/Page.aspx?pid=335&srcid=238
E-mail: Not available

Services: Offer refurbished hearing aids

Show Me Loans

Missouri Assistive Technology
Attn: Show Me Loans
1501 NW Jefferson St.
Blue Springs, MO 64015
Phone: 1-816-655-6702 or 1-800-647-8557
Web: http://www.at.mo.gov/loans/smloans.html
E-mail: eileen.belton@att.net

Services: Low-interest loans borrowed towards purchasing hearing aids and hearing assistive technology.

Veteran’s Affairs Medical Center

John Cochran Division
915 N. Grand Blvd.
Saint Louis, MO 63106

Or

Jefferson Barracks Division
1 Jefferson Barracks Dr.
St. Louis, MO 63125

Phone: 314-652-4100 or 1-800-228-5459
Web: http://www.stlouis.va.gov/
E-mail: Not provided

Services: If service-connected, hearing aids may be provided.

Hearing Aid Care and Maintenance

Proper cleaning and maintenance of your hearing aids will help prevent the need for repair and prolong the life of your hearing aids. Proper maintenance depends on the type of hearing aids you have. Please select your hearing aid type for detailed information.

Behind-the-Ear (BTE) Hearing Aids
In-the-Ear (ITE) Hearing Aids
Open-Ear BTE Hearing Aids
Receiver-in-the-Ear BTE Hearing Aids

Behind-the-Ear (BTE) Hearing Aids

Daily Care:

Throughout the day, hearing aids are exposed to moisture through perspiration and the environment. Although your hearing aids have been treated for moisture protection, accumulation of moisture is harmful to the electronics of the hearing aids. It is important to reverse the daily effects of moisture by storing the hearing aids in a dry environment overnight.

Your audiologist may provide an electronic dryer, called a Dry and Store. This is a special unit that combats the harmful effects of moisture. The Dry and Store is a unit that contains two compartments inside.  One compartment holds a disposable desiccant block called a “Dri-Brik”. This Dri-Brick will absorb moisture from the air and the hearing aids inside the unit. It will absorb moisture effectively for 2 months, and then you will have to replace the brick. To activate a brick simply remove the protective covering of the new brick and write the date on the top so you will know when to replace it.  The second compartment holds your hearing aids. Underneath this tray is a fan that will circulate warm air through the devices. At night take out your hearing aids, open the battery doors to turn the aids off, and place the aids in the tray. You may keep the batteries in the hearing aids while they are in the Dry and Store. Next, turn on the fan by pressing the power button. A green light will indicate that the unit is on. The fan will run for 8 hours then automatically shut off.

Every morning, you should gently brush the sound opening of the earmolds with a toothbrush or small hearing aid brush to remove any wax. Also, brush over the microphones on the hearing aids to remove any dust or debris.

You may also use a hearing aid sanitizing solution to remove excess wax and bacteria from your earmolds. Simply spray this solution onto a tissue or soft paper towel and wipe down the exterior of the earmolds and hearing aids.  It is important to only use hearing aid sanitizer provided by your audiologist. Do not use alcohol or other cleaning agents, as they will damage the hearing aids.

Troubleshooting:

Sometimes, your hearing aids may stop working unexpectedly. Usually, you will be able to restore hearing aid function by following these basic troubleshooting techniques.

  1. Replace the batteries
    1. When your hearing aids stop working, replace the batteries.
    2. After replacing the batteries, check to see if the hearing aids are working by either checking for feedback by cupping the aids in your hand or by listening through the hearing aids.
  2. Check tubing for moisture blockage
    1. If changing the battery doesn’t restore hearing aid performance, check the earmold tubing for blockage. If there is moisture in the tubing, then sound cannot leave the sound opening of the earmold.
    2. If you see moisture in the tubing, gently flick the earmolds to force the moisture out of the tubing.
  3. Check sound openings for blockage
    1. If the hearing aids continue to malfunction, examine the sound openings of the aids.
    2. If wax blockage is present, brush these openings with a toothbrush until debris has been removed.
    3. If you cannot clear the sound opening or tubing of debris, you will have to deep clean the earmold in a cup of warm water with mild dish soap.
      1. First, separate the earmold from the hearing aids by pinching the soft tubing with one hand and the hard earhook with the other hand. Make sure you are close to the seam between the earhook and the tubing.  Twist and pull the tubing from the earhook.
      2. Soak the earmolds in a glass of soapy warm water for 10 minutes.  Do not soak the hearing aids and earmolds, only the earmolds.
      3. Remove and dry the earmolds completely with a towel.  Using the forced air blower provided by your audiologist, force the excess water from the tubing and the vent of the earmolds.
      4. Once the earmolds are completely dry, attach the tubing to the hearing aid. Twist the tubing to orient the earmolds so that the wing of the earmolds, opposite the sound opening, is toward the hearing aids.

Using these three troubleshooting steps will likely restore your hearing aids. If the hearing aids continue to malfunction or if the tubing is hard and cannot be easily removed for cleaning, call your audiologist for a hearing aid check.

In-the-Ear (ITE) Hearing Aids

Daily Care:

Throughout the day, hearing aids are exposed to moisture through your perspiration and the environment. Although your hearing aids have been treated for moisture protection, accumulation of moisture is harmful to the electronics of the hearing aids. It is important to reverse the daily effects of moisture by storing the hearing aids in a dry environment overnight.

Your audiologist may provide an electronic dryer, called a Dry and Store. This is a special unit that combats the harmful effects of moisture. The Dry and Store is a unit that contains two compartments inside.  One compartment holds a disposable desiccant block called a “Dri-Brik”. This Dri-Brick will absorb moisture from the air and the hearing aids inside the unit. It will absorb moisture effectively for 2 months, and then you will have to replace the brick. To activate a brick simply remove the protective covering of the new brick and write the date on the top so you will know when to replace it.  The second compartment holds your hearing aids. Underneath this tray is a fan that will circulate warm air through the devices. At night take out your hearing aids, open the battery doors to turn the aids off, and place the aids in the tray. You may keep the batteries in the hearing aids while they are in the Dry and Store. Next, turn on the fan by pressing the power button. A green light will indicate that the unit is on. The fan will run for 8 hours then automatically shut off.

Every morning, you should gently brush the sound openings of the hearing aids with a toothbrush or small hearing aid brush to remove any wax. Also, brush over the microphones on the hearing aids to remove any dust or debris.

You may also use a hearing aid sanitizing solution to remove excess wax and bacteria from your hearing aids. Simply spray this solution onto a tissue or soft paper towel and wipe down the exterior of the hearing aids.  It is important to only use hearing aid sanitizer provided by your audiologist. Do not use alcohol or other cleaning agents, as they will damage the hearing aids.

 

Your hearing aids are equipped with wax guards that will protect the receivers from wax. The wax guards should be replaced every two to four weeks, depending on how much wax your ears produce. Your audiologist will provide you with additional wax guards. To change the wax guards, insert the empty end of the tool straight into the wax guard on the hearing aid. Twist and pull out the black tool.  The wax guard should come out with the tool. Next, insert the end of the tool with the new wax guard attached to it straight into the opening of the receiver.  Apply pressure, twist, and pull the black tool out.  The wax guard should remain in the receiver. To ensure the wax guard is securely in the receiver, press down on it with your finger. Your hearing aids also may have vents, which allow air to pass through the aids into your ear canal. Keep these vents clear of debris by using the black tool with the long wire attached to the end. Simply locate the opening of the vents on the side of the hearing aids where the battery is held and run the black line through this vent to the other side.

Troubleshooting:

Sometimes, your hearing aids may stop working unexpectedly. Usually, you will be able to restore hearing aid function by following these basic troubleshooting techniques.

  1. Replace the batteries
    1. When your hearing aids stop working, replace the batteries.
    2. After replacing the batteries, check to see if the hearing aids are working by either checking for feedback by cupping the aids in your hand or by listening through the hearing aids.
  2. Check wax guards for blockage
    1. If changing the battery doesn’t restore hearing aid performance, then check the wax guards for blockage.  If debris is present, then sound cannot leave the receiver.
    2. Remove the debris by replacing the wax guards.

Using these two troubleshooting steps will likely restore your hearing aids. If the hearing aids continue to malfunction, call your audiologist for a hearing aid check.

Open-Ear BTE Hearing Aids

Daily Care:

Throughout the day, hearing aids are exposed to moisture through your perspiration and the environment. Although your hearing aids have been treated for moisture protection, accumulation of moisture is harmful to the electronics of the hearing aids. It is important to reverse the daily effects of moisture by storing the hearing aids in a dry environment overnight.

Your audiologist may provide an electronic dryer, called a Dry and Store. This is a special unit that combats the harmful effects of moisture. The Dry and Store is a unit that contains two compartments inside.  One compartment holds a disposable desiccant block called a “Dri-Brik”. This Dri-Brick will absorb moisture from the air and the hearing aids inside the unit. It will absorb moisture effectively for 2 months, and then you will have to replace the brick. To activate a brick simply remove the protective covering of the new brick and write the date on the top so you will know when to replace it.  The second compartment holds your hearing aids. Underneath this tray is a fan that will circulate warm air through the devices. At night take out your hearing aids, open the battery doors to turn the aids off, and place the aids in the tray. You may keep the batteries in the hearing aids while they are in the Dry and Store. Next, turn on the fan by pressing the power button. A green light will indicate that the unit is on. The fan will run for 8 hours then automatically shut off.

Every morning, you should gently brush the domes or custom earmolds and tube openings with a toothbrush or small hearing aid brush to remove any wax.  Also, brush over the microphones on the hearing aids to remove any dust or debris.

You may also use a hearing aid sanitizing solution to remove excess wax and bacteria from your earpiece. Simply spray this solution onto a tissue or soft paper towel and wipe down the exterior of the earpieces and hearing aids.  It is important to only use hearing aid sanitizer provided by your audiologist. Do not use alcohol or other cleaning agents as they will damage the hearing aids.

Troubleshooting:

Sometimes, your hearing aids may stop working unexpectedly. Usually, you will be able to restore hearing aid function by following these basic troubleshooting techniques.

  1. Replace the batteries
    1. When your hearing aids stop working, replace the batteries.
    2.  After replacing the batteries, check to see if the hearing aids are working by either checking for feedback by cupping the aids in your hand or by listening through the hearing aids.
  2. Check the domes or custom earmolds and tubing for blockage
    1. If changing the battery doesn’t restore hearing aid performance, then check the domes and tubing for blockage.  If there is debris in the tubing, then sound cannot leave the sound opening.
    2. If debris is stuck in the tubing, you can use a thin wire to clean the tubing.
      1. If your hearing aids are fit with domes, start by removing the domes from the tubing.  Photo 41 If you have custom earmolds, it is not necessary to remove the earmolds.
      2. Then, remove the tubing from the hearing aids.  Some tubing can be snapped off, while others need to be screwed off.
      3. Take the thin piece of plastic wire provided by your audiologist and slowly push it through the entire tube.  This should remove any debris inside.  If you prefer, you can also use a forced air blower to remove debris or moisture from the tubing.  Insert the tip into the tubing and squeeze several times until the debris has been removed.  Ask your audiologist for a forced air blower if one has not been provided.
      4. Snap or screw the tubing back onto the hearing aids and push the domes back onto the tubing.

Using these two troubleshooting steps will likely restore your hearing aids. If the hearing aids continue to malfunction or if the tubing is hard and cannot be easily removed for cleaning, call your audiologist for a hearing aid check.

Receiver-in-the-Ear BTE Hearing Aids

Daily Care:

Throughout the day, hearing aids are exposed to moisture through your perspiration and the environment. Although your hearing aids have been treated for moisture protection, accumulation of moisture is harmful to the electronics of the hearing aids. It is important to reverse the daily effects of moisture by storing the hearing aids in a dry environment overnight.

Your audiologist may provide an electronic dryer, called a Dry and Store. This is a special unit that combats the harmful effects of moisture. The Dry and Store is a unit that contains two compartments inside.  One compartment holds a disposable desiccant block called a “Dri-Brik”. This Dri-Brick will absorb moisture from the air and the hearing aids inside the unit. It will absorb moisture effectively for 2 months, and then you will have to replace the brick. To activate a brick simply remove the protective covering of the new brick and write the date on the top so you will know when to replace it.  The second compartment holds your hearing aids. Underneath this tray is a fan that will circulate warm air through the devices. At night take out your hearing aids, open the battery doors to turn the aids off, and place the aids in the tray. You may keep the batteries in the hearing aids while they are in the Dry and Store. Next, turn on the fan by pressing the power button. A green light will indicate that the unit is on. The fan will run for 8 hours then automatically shut off.

Every morning, you should gently brush the domes or custom earmolds and tube openings with a toothbrush or small hearing aid brush to remove any wax.  Also, brush over the microphones on the hearing aids to remove any dust or debris.

You may also use a hearing aid sanitizing solution to remove excess wax and bacteria from your earpieces. Simply spray this solution onto a tissue or soft paper towel and wipe down the exterior of the earmolds and hearing aids.  It is important to only use hearing aid sanitizer provided by your audiologist. Do not use alcohol or other cleaning agents as they will damage the hearing aids.

 

Your hearing aids are equipped with wax guards that will protect the receivers from wax. The wax guards should be replaced every two to four weeks, depending on how much wax your ears produce. Your audiologist will provide you with additional wax guards.  If there are domes over the speaker of your hearing aids, first remove the domes by pinching the tip with one hand and gripping the receiver with the other hand.  If there is wax on the domes, you can wipe it off with a tissue and reuse it.

 

 

 

If the domes are old and torn, you should throw it away and use new domes. Your audiologist can supply you with new domes.  Once the domes are removed, you will see the wax guards.  It is the tiny white circular object at the end of the receiver.   If you have custom earmolds, the white wax guards will be visible on the earmolds, where the earmolds insert into the ear.

 

 

 

Once the wax guards are visible, insert the empty end of the tool straight into the wax guard on the hearing aids.  Twist and pull out the black tool.  Photo 50 The wax guard should come out with the tool. Next, insert the end of the tool with the new wax guard attached to it straight into the opening of the receiver.  Apply pressure, twist, and pull the black tool out.  The wax guard should remain in the receiver. To ensure the wax guard is securely in the receiver, press down with your finger.

 

 

 

Now you may need to place the domes back onto the receivers.  Hold the domes by the tip and grip the receivers of the hearing aids with the other hand.  Push the domes completely onto the receivers.

 

 

 

 

Troubleshooting:

Sometimes, your hearing aids may stop working unexpectedly. Usually, you will be able to restore hearing aid function by following these basic troubleshooting techniques.

  1. Replace the batteries
    1. When your hearing aids stop working, replace the batteries.
    2. After replacing the batteries, check to see if the hearing aids are working by either checking for feedback by cupping the aids in your hand or by listening through the hearing aids.
  2. Check the domes and wax guards for blockage
    1. If changing the battery doesn’t restore hearing aid performance, then check the domes and wax guards for blockage.  If debris is present, then sound cannot leave the receiver.  b.
    2. Remove this debris by brushing the domes with a brush and replacing the wax guard.

Using these two troubleshooting steps will likely restore your hearing aids.  If the hearing aid continues to malfunction, call your audiologist for a hearing aid check.

Communication with Hearing Aids

  • Hearing aid microphones are most effective when picking up sound originating from a source within several feet. The further you are from your sound source the less effective the hearing aids will work. Listening to a person from another room or a television at a great distance may still be difficult. In situations where distance is an issue, Hearing Assistive Devices may be beneficial.
  • Hearing aids will always be most effective in quiet surroundings, but is still useful in noisy situations. Hearing aids will NOT eliminate background noise. There have been many advances in hearing aid features that help with speech understanding and comfort in noise, but background noise will always be difficult for the person with hearing loss.
  • Telephone use may be difficult for many patients with hearing aids, but there are options to help, such as Amplified Telephones, special telephone programs, and assistive devices.
  • Room acoustics also play a significant role in communication. High ceilings, hard walls and floors make hearing and understanding more difficult. In your own home, manipulate the environment as much as possible (drapes, carpeting, low ceilings) to improve acoustics.
  • Communication Strategies are very important to reinforce when a hearing loss exists. Good communication strategies, such as looking at the speaker, will still need to be utilized when using hearing aids.

Mechanical Limitations and Maintenance

  • Hearing aids require daily maintenance. Routine cleaning is required in order for hearing aids to work at maximum performance. See the Hearing Aids Care and Maintenance section for more detailed information.
  • Hearing aids will break down! Considering their size, intricacy and typical conditions of use, hearing aids are durable. However, they are not indestructible. They can be damaged by moisture, impact (dropping or crushing), wax build up in the loudspeaker, etc. Like any electronic device, parts eventually wear out and need to be replaced.
  • Hearing aids have a repair warranty when they are purchased. These warranties are often one or two years. If the hearing aids need to be serviced by the manufacturer after the warranty has expired then repairs have a charge.

Expectations at the Initial Fitting

  • The initial reaction to your own voice with hearing aids can be negative. Patients often say their own voice is louder and sounds strange or like “they are talking in a barrel”. This is frequently caused by hearing yourself amplified through a microphone. If you are not able to adjust to your voice after regular use of the hearing aids for a few days, then you may be experiencing something called the “occlusion effect” and you need to discuss this with your audiologist.
  • Expect a period of adjustment. It takes the typical new hearing aid user 4 to 6 weeks to get comfortable with listening to new sounds and using the new hearing aids.
  • Your audiologist should measure the benefit provided by the hearing aids. This is called verification. The audiologist must verify that your hearing aids are providing optimal performance by doing Real Ear Measures. A small microphone in the ear canal is used to take measurements with the hearing aid in your ear. See the What to Expect at My Hearing Aid Fitting section for more information.
  • You should expect to have multiple follow-up visits.
  • Well fit hearing aids should be comfortable in your ears; but, hearing aids and/or earmolds are made from impressions and adjustments may be needed to achieve a good fit. Any discomfort should be reported to your audiologist immediately in order for the issue to be resolved.
  • Your audiologist will recommend daily use of your hearing aids. Regular use of your hearing aids will increase your chances for successful adjustment.
  • Environmental sounds like running water, footsteps, paper crinkling, etc. will be amplified. These are sounds you may not have heard since developing a hearing loss. In time, you can learn to ignore these sounds again.
  • Hearing aids can whistle! The whistling is called acoustic feedback. It occurs when there is not a tight seal between the sound going into the ear and the ear. It is normal for the hearing aids to whistle when the hearing aids are covered. For example, cupping your ears when your hearing aids are in, will likely produce whistling. However, this should not happen spontaneously when you are using your instrument. If you do experience spontaneous or excessive feedback, then you need to see your audiologist.

Expectations During the Hearing Aid Evaluation

  • If it is appropriate, your audiologist will recommend two hearing aids. Many patients have the opinion that only one hearing aid is needed. However, there are significant acoustic advantages to using hearing aids in both ears for most patients with hearing loss. These advantages include improved speech understanding in noise, assistance with localization (determining direction of sound), and a feeling of balance in hearing between ears.
  • A 30 day trial period should be discussed during this visit. Most audiologists offer a 30 day trial period to allow time for you to adjust to your new hearing aids and use them in most of your normal communication situations. Payment for the hearing aids occurs when you take them home, but can be returned during the 30 day trial period. If you decide to return your hearing aids during this trial period there is often a predetermined non-refundable fee.
  • As mentioned above, there is not one perfect style or manufacturer of hearing aid. The audiologist should review all styles available and different levels of technology. The most appropriate style and technology for your hearing loss, lifestyle, and communication needs will be discussed. Although cosmetics of the hearing aids may be important, it should not be the primary reason for deciding which hearing aids to purchase.
  • Your audiologist will take time during this appointment to assess your communication needs in order to better understand how you perceive your hearing loss and how amplification can help improve your quality of life.

Expectations Before Hearing Aids are Considered

  • Hearing aids cannot restore your hearing or your communication to “normal” as glasses can restore your vision to 20/20.
  • It is important that you understand that you will not experience the same benefits from hearing aids that your neighbor does. Hearing loss is individual and how a patient performs with hearing aids depends on the hearing loss, the instruments used, as well as the expectations and motivation of the patient.
  • There is not one perfect style or manufacturer of hearing aids; not all hearing aids perform the same for all hearing losses.
  • Expect the adjustment to hearing aids to take time. It takes patience and time to adjust and become comfortable with amplified sound.
  • Hearing aids operate with batteries. The batteries are zinc-air and will need to be replaced anywhere from 3 to 14 days depending on various factors such as battery size, hearing aid circuit and power, the environment, and accessories.
  • Patients are often concerned that using hearing aids will cause additional hearing loss. Properly adjusted hearing aids should never make sound loud enough to hurt your ears.