Hearing aids are custom fitted to sit in an individual’s ear and are custom programmed specifically to the listener’s hearing loss and listening needs. They come in a variety of shapes, sizes, and colours and recommendations are made based on the individual’s hearing profile. Hearing aids are available for infants, children, and adults and provide the most benefit when fitted appropriately. Cochlear implants are devices surgically placed in the inner ear along with a magnet placed under the skin on the head to attach an external processor. Patients who are candidates for cochlear implants do not experience benefit from hearing aids.
Bone conduction hearing devices are a technology that combines a sound processor with a titanium fixture implanted in the skull behind the ear. This hearing technology allows sound to be transferred to the cochlea by skull vibrations, bypassing the outer and middle ear. This technology is typically used by those individuals who have conductive or mixed hearing loss and do not obtain benefit from a traditional air conduction hearing aid.
Bone conduction hearing devices can also be used without surgery, with the sound processor attached to a metal or soft headband or attached with adhesive tape. Other assistive listening devices such as remote microphone technology, alerting devices, and Bluetooth connectivity are available to be connected to hearing aids, cochlear implants, and bone conduction hearing devices should the listener desire.
Audiologists are trained in the provision of hearing aids and cochlear implants to people who have hearing loss. Using a hearing aid or cochlear implant is an ongoing process that involves a collaboration between the Audiologist, patient, and family.