Hearing Aids

While hearing aids cannot restore your hearing to normal, properly selected and well-fitting hearing aids can help you hear much better. Altru's Hearing Center has audiologists on staff who can provide services for the following hearing aids for children and adults.

How a Hearing Aid Works

  1. The microphone picks up sound from the environment, converts it into an electrical signal, and it is sent to the amplifier.
  2. An amplifier increases the volume of the sound (based on the amount of hearing loss) and sends it to the receiver.
  3. The receiver changes the electrical signal back into sound and sends it to the ear.
  4. The ear converts the sound wave to nerve impulses.
  5. The auditory nerve sends those impulses to the brain.
  6. The brain interprets these nerve impulses. 

Selecting a Hearing Aid

Many options, brands and styles of hearing aids are available. Your audiologist will guide you through the process to find the most appropriate, well-fitting hearing aid for you. Factors that go into choosing a particular hearing aide include: 

  • Physical Factors

    • Degree of hearing loss
    • Physiology: shape and size of the outer ear and ear canal
    • One or two: human hearing is designed for two ears, known as binaural listening. In almost all cases, patients benefit most from wearing two hearing aids.
    • Connectivity: modern hearing aids are smart and can stream speech, videos and music directly to the ears.
    • Tinnitus feature: many hearing aids now have built-in tinnitus solutions and integrated apps to assist in tinnitus therapy treatments.
  • Personal Factors

    • Cosmetics: how hearing aids look on the ears is a common concern; hearing aids are available in many sizes, shapes and color options that can match skin tone or hair color.
    • Lifestyle: hearing aids are durable and coated to protect again water, ear wax and sweat.
    • Price: hearing aids are available in a variety of price ranges; improved technology and features can add to cost but, in return, may improve the sound quality.
    • Program options: hearing aids use programs to ensure the hearing settings are always appropriate for your listening environment
    • Technology: modern hearing aids have advanced technology to give you a natural sense of where sounds are coming from and help you form a detailed sound picture of your surroundings.

A comfortable fit includes the physical fit of the hearing aid as well as how the hearing aids sound. The hearing aids will be programmed based on the results of the hearing test and make changes based on individual preferences and unique listening environments. 

Hearing Aid Styles

  • Invisible in the canal (IIC)
  • Completely in the canal (CIC)
  • Microphone in helix (MIH)
  • In the canal (ITC)
  • In the ear (ITE)
  • Behind the ear (BTE)
  • CROS hearing aid solution
    • Used when a person is unable to hear in one ear and has normal hearing in the other ear
    • Has a microphone that picks up sounds and voices from the weaker-hearing ear and transmits them to a hearing aid receiver that’s fitted on your good ear
  • BiCROS hearing aid solution
    • Can benefit those with little to no hearing in one ear, and a hearing loss in the better ear
    • Sends sound from the microphone placed in the ear with little to no hearing, to a hearing aid receiver placed in the better hearing ear
  • Accessories for hearing aids
    • Smartphone Bluetooth connection – many hearing aids can connect wirelessly to mobile devices and stream sound directly to the hearing aid. They can be controlled and personalized with apps.
    • Remote control
    • Remote microphone
    • TV streamer

A wide variety of size and technology levels of hearing aids are available at Altru's Hearing Center. Some of the brands we work with include: 

Taking Care of Your Hearing Aids

Hearing aids need to be treated with care as would fine jewelry. The better care that can be taken with hearing aids, generally the less they will need repair.

The most common cause of hearing aid repair is earwax, which can plug up the hearing aid and interfere with sound transmission. Therefore, it is very important to keep the hearing aid clean and wax-free. Some hearing aid manufacturers have their own special wax system to help prevent the build-up of wax. It may also be important to have ears cleaned by a physician once or twice a year.

  • Daily cleaning: Wipe the aid with a soft, dry cloth and carefully remove wax from around the receiver.
  • Battery care: Batteries should be kept away from children and pets. Never force a battery into a hearing aid. If a battery door does not close easily, check to make sure that the battery is not inserted upside down.
  • Avoid moisture: Hearing aids should not be worn in or near saunas, steam baths, regular baths, vaporizers, or showers, and never immerse the hearing aid in water. If the hearing aid does become wet let it dry naturally with the battery door left open. Never use a hairdryer or place the hearing aid in the microwave or oven to dry.
  • Handle with care: Be careful not to drop the hearing aid and do not leave the hearing aid where children or pets can mishandle, destroy or even swallow the hearing aid.
  • At night: Simply remove the hearing aid at night and turn the aid off by opening the battery door or switching the hearing aid off. Always insert and remove your hearing aids over a soft surface.

By treating hearing aids with care, they will require fewer repairs and should last for several years.

Steps to Better Hearing

Obtaining hearing aids is not a difficult process. However, careful steps must be taken to ensure that the hearing aids you receive fit your needs.

Step 1

An audiologic evaluation is a comprehensive hearing test conducted by an audiologist to determine if you are a candidate for amplification. These sophisticated tests determine the type and degree of your hearing loss.

Step 2

Obtaining a medical evaluation or medical clearance from a primary care physician should be obtained prior to pursuing amplification. The physician determines if your hearing loss could be improved by medical or surgical treatment.

Step 3

An audiologist will discuss the hearing aid styles and technologies most appropriate for you. This will depend on your lifestyle, activity level, dexterity, cosmetic concerns, and financial limitations. You and your audiologist will also decide whether you need hearing aids in one or both ears. Finally, an earmold impression is made of your ear to provide the exact shape for your hearing aid.

Additional Resources and Videos

Hearing Aid Care