There are several different hearing aid companies in South Africa with their own unique products. Most companies offer their own algorithm and sound with different features to improve speech discrimination especially in noisy situations. Depending on the make and model of the hearing aid, the warranty period can be anything from 12 to 36 months. The average lifespan of a hearing aid is about three to four year, depending on how it has been taken care of and how often is serviced. Like a car, hearing aids should be serviced at least once a year to ensure its optimal functioning. Most hearing aids are services for free within the warranty period.
Hearing aids are fitted for each patient and custom ordered based on the type and style they need. Fitting the hearing aids are done by an audiologist who will set the hearing aids based on the results of the hearing evaluation. The fitting is quick and harmless and when set correctly, wearing hearing aids cannot cause any damage or harm to the patient. Regular follow-up sessions might be needed, depending on the patient’s preferences, to ensure optimal sound and usability of the hearing aids. During fitting, the audiologist will explain how to take care of the hearing aids and what to do or not do while wearing them.
Regardless of the type of hearing aid you choose (how it physically looks), the important part of the process is to choose the technology inside the hearing aids. This is essentially what you pay for and what will enable the user to have a comfortable and optimal listening experience. The size and type of hearing aid will be chosen by the patient and the audiologist, based on the patient’s requirements, such as hand dexterity and ear canal size, as well as on the severity of hearing loss. Hearing aids only have a certain fitting range which must be matched with the patient’s hearing loss, so for example, a person with a severe hearing loss of 90dB cannot wear a small hearing aid with a maximum fitting range of 60dB, as this will not be strong enough to give the patient the required volume.
The most commonly used types of hearing aids are:
- Behind the ear (BTE) hearing aids
- Custom hearing aids
- Receiver in the Ear (RITE) hearing aids