Will I understand better with hearing aids?

March 25, 2012 by Christophe Grenier

Vais-je mieux comprendre avec des appareils auditifs ?

One of the first questions people ask themselves when considering getting fitted for hearing aids is the following: “Will hearing aids help me understand better?” To make sure that’s the case, it is very important to discuss your specific hearing and communication needs, as well as your expectations of the hearing aids themselves, with your audioprosthetist when making your choice.

The hearing evaluation

During your hearing test, the audiologist will conduct a speech recognition test for each ear independently and then for both ears together. As a general rule, the binaural result will be equal to or better than the result for the ear with the better hearing, because our brain receives more information to interpret speech when it receives stimulation from both ears. That’s one of the many reasons why fitting for binaural hearing aids is strongly recommended, provided there is no medical contraindication. Moreover, binaural aids usually provide excellent results.

The speech recognition test results will be used by the audioprosthetist as an indicator to determine the performance levels your hearing aids should deliver. For instance, for a patient with an 80% result at an intensity of 75 dB HL (normal speech being 50 dB HL), the audioprosthetist will plan for the hearing aids to provide a similar result at normal conversation levels. In a quiet setting, the patient should therefore understand about 80% of the words he or she hears. It is important to understand that hearing aids do not restore lost hearing, but assist in maintaining an individual’s remaining hearing capacity.

Vais-je mieux comprendre avec des appareils auditifs ?

Frequently, people admit to having suspected for many years that they had a hearing loss. In such cases, their brain may find it harder to recognize the sounds that reach it because they went unperceived for so long (sensory deprivation). Unfortunately, what is lost is difficult to regain. As a result, it’s important to be fitted for a hearing aid as soon as signs of hearing loss emerge.

If we compare the cochlea (the hearing organ) to a piano, a hearing-impaired person’s cochlea would be missing a few keys. The greater the hearing loss, the more keys are missing. Consequently, even if an excellent pianist sits down at the keyboard, he will be unable to play a harmonious melody. Instead, he will be forced to make do with the remaining keys, just as an audioprosthetist does with a person’s ears using hearing aids.

In short, an ear that is weakened by hearing loss can no longer function like the ear of a person with normal hearing. Background noise, for example, can pose a challenge for anyone who has a hearing loss. The audioprosthetist will assess your needs and expectations and recommend a range of hearing aids to meet them, and thus help make your hearing the best it can be.

To learn more, consult an audioprosthetist at a Lobe Santé auditive et communication multidisciplinary clinic.

Photos: www.uhear.co.uk

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