The 10 Best Hearing Amplifiers
What Causes Hearing Loss?
We typically associate hearing loss with aging. And sure, the elderly are more susceptible to it, but with just over 14 percent of the U.S. population suffering from some sort of ear damage, it's clear that the problem affects more than just grandma and grandpa.
The most common cause of hearing damage, of course, is exposing yourself to loud noises. For many Americans, this occurs at the workplace, with 20 percent of Americans suffering hearing loss while at work. Those at the most risk include miners, construction workers, and healthcare specialists, but any job site with frequent, clamorous noises can put workers' eardrums in danger.
Of course, this being the 21st century, just about everyone has headphones practically welded to their ears at all times. Most users listen to their music louder than recommended in order to drown out ambient noise, even if they have high-quality noise-cancelling headsets. Many cell phones and other devices now have built-in warnings against prolonged exposure to deafening sound, but since when has any red-blooded American heeded a warning label?
One sneaky cause of hearing loss is smoking. There are any number of theories as to why lighting up can affect your hearing, including the fact that nicotine limits blood flow to the inner ear and the possibility that social smokers tend to frequent rowdy areas like bars and concerts. Of course, at this point, anyone who is still smoking has proven they don't listen anyway, so it may be no big loss.
Whatever the cause, it's important to get your hearing checked regularly. Most conditions that affect the ear can be mitigated if detected early enough, so prepare to get friendly with your doctor.
How To Tell If You're Losing Your Hearing
For most people, diagnosing hearing loss can be a tricky thing. Is your hearing really going, or do all young people just mumble these days? And yes, the TV doesn't seem to be as loud as it used to, but the commercials sure rattle the windows, don't they?
The fact is, only a doctor can determine for certain whether you suffer from hearing loss. But there are a few signs and symptoms that you should look for if you're worried that you may be going deaf, and if you notice any of them (especially if they're getting worse), get yourself to an ear, nose, and throat specialist right away.
The first thing you should consider is other people's behavior. Does everyone complain that you listen to the TV or radio too loudly? If so, ask yourself what's more likely–that your hearing is slipping, or that everyone else is wrong? If you're always the odd man out, you should at least consider going to a specialist.
Also, do people complain that you shout when you speak? Talking too loudly can mean that you're not hearing yourself properly, and therefore you're unable to regulate your speaking volume. This behavior can quickly make you unpopular, as no one wants to go to dinner with a person who'll broadcast the conversation to the entire restaurant, which is important to remember if your vanity keeps you from wearing a hearing amplifier.
Other signs to consider include ringing in the ears, being unable to hear someone when their back is turned, and difficulty hearing in groups or crowded situations. Again, an important thing to think about is whether you're the only one who's having trouble hearing. If everyone else seems to be getting along just fine, it may be a sign that there's something wrong with your ears.
Hearing Amplifier Or Hearing Aid: What's The Difference?
If you've come to grips with the fact that your ears might be slipping, then it's time to decide what to do about it. For most people, the question is whether to purchase a device to help them continue to function in everyday conversations. This choice usually comes down to one of two options: a hearing aid, or a hearing amplifier.
On the surface, they both appear to be very similar. Both come in different designs, including in-ear or over-the-ear models, and both pick up directed noises and amplify the sound to increase your ability to hear. Beyond that, however, there are a few important distinctions to consider.
First off, a hearing aid is legally considered a medical device. That means that, in order to purchase one, you have to undergo a hearing test from a qualified specialist. An amplifier, on the other hand, can be purchased over-the-counter.
Similarly, hearing aids can be designed to suit the user's unique challenges, whereas an amplifier is more of a one-size-fits-all solution. Think of it like the difference between buying reading glasses at a pharmacy versus getting fitted by an optometrist. The glasses from the optometrist will be better tailored to your needs, but they'll also be much more expensive–and it may not be worth it to you.
For many people, the preferred solution is to start with an amplifier and take it from there. If it solves the problem and your hearing never gets worse, then great! You've solved the problem at the lowest cost possible. However, if you're still struggling, you can always go get a hearing aid a few months down the road.
That being said, hearing loss is not something to ignore, and you should see a doctor regardless if you suspect you're afflicted. He or she may be fine with you using an amplifier, but it's important to rule out degenerative conditions first.
And remember, regardless of which solution you choose - you can always turn it off when someone annoying tries to talk to you.