We Offer Free Hearing Tests
Beltone hearing aids bring you the latest digital technology, and fit just about any lifestyle and hearing loss. Beltone hearing aids are known for their cosmetic appeal and innovation. The design of the hearing aid's outer shell contributes to its overall look. Our most popular shell styles include:
- Completely-in-the-canal (CIC)
- In-the-canal (ITC)
- In-the-ear (ITE)
- Behind-the-ear (BTE)
The hearing aid's inner circuitry provides the advanced features that make Beltone hearing aids so easy
to customize to your lifestyle and hearing care needs. Our wide range of inner circuits includes our brand new Beltone True, as well as, Reach, Beltone Touch 17, One, Identity, Beltone Touch 9, Change, Access, EDGE, Turn and Mira.
Beltone Patient Satisfaction
The "Beltone Experience" revolves around your satisfaction with both our service and our hearing aids. With 70 years as a leader in the industry, 1500 locations, highly trained hearing care professionals and friendly service, it's easy to see why Beltone has a 95% patient satisfaction rating, and is the most trusted brand for hearing aids among adults 50+.
Hearing Testing--Are Hearing Aids Right For You?
Your hearing health is critical to your overall health. Just as you make time for regular eye exams,
dental check-ups, blood pressure and cholesterol screenings, it is important to schedule an annual hearing test--whether or not you're considering hearing aids.
Beltone offers comprehensive audiometric evaluations to determine your ideal hearing aid:
- Personalized Hearing Health Assessment lifestyle consultations
- Visual ear examinations using a video otoscope
- Testing to determine your ability to respond to sounds and repeat spoken words
Should you have a hearing loss that can be corrected with hearing aids - as occurs 90% of the time -
we offer advanced digital hearing instruments that offer clear, comfortable hearing, a virtually invisible appearance and prices to fit your budget.
Follow-up Care for You and Your Hearing Aids
All Beltone hearing aids come with the exclusive BelCare commitment - one of the most comprehensive aftercare programs available. From your first hearing screening through all the years you own your Beltone hearing aids, BelCare assures you a lifetime of attention at any one of Beltone's participating hearing care centers nationwide. No other company offers the same level of commitment.
Today's Hearing Aids
We've all heard the phrase good things come in small packages, and today's hearing aids are no exception. Twenty-first century hearing aids are so small, they're virtually undetectable when worn. In fact, a pair of hearing aids can sit on a fingertip.
The tiny size of modern hearing instruments is deceiving-their ability to simulate natural hearing in numerous environments makes them true technological giants.
As with many electronic devices on the market today-from smart phones to lap-top computers-hearing aids utilize sophisticated microprocessor technology. Miniature computer chips use advanced algorithms to automatically adjust sound as wearers move through the day. By acting more like human ears, hearing aids allow people to enjoy a comfortable listening experience wherever they go.
In fact, progress has been so impressive in recent years, first-time hearing aid wearers report a satisfaction rating exceeding 90%. That's significant because in the vast majority of hearing loss cases, hearing aids are the only available remedy.
Hearing Aids-A Brief Anatomy
Hearing aids are small, lightweight electronic devices that sit in the outer ear, within the ear canal, or behind the ear. Their main function is to amplify sound in a natural and comfortable way.
The physical components that make up most hearing aids include one or more microphones to gather sound, an amplifier designed to process a wide range of sounds, a receiver or speaker that transmits the sound signal from the amplifier to the ear, and a battery to fuel the process.
The most advanced hearing aids are protected from the effects of daily wear by a microscopic coating that's molecularly bonded to the inner circuitry and outer casing. This increases the life and performance of hearing aids, and also reduces maintenance.
The delicate inner workings of custom hearing aids are contained in coverings known as shells. Shells come in a variety of shapes, styles and colors to better fit the user's hearing loss, daily routine and cosmetic needs.
Hearing Aid Shell Styles:
As a result of technological advances, easy-to-wear BTE style hearing aids account for roughly 60% of hearing aids sold in the United States today, and the category is growing. A BTE instrument is curved to rest directly behind the ear. By matching flesh tone or hair color, BTE shells are easy to hide. A BTE instrument connects to the ear canal via a thin transparent tube or a custom-designed ear mold.
Entirely hidden within the ear canal, tiny CIC models leverage the ear's natural ability to collect sound. By taking impressions, CIC hearing aids are tailored to the dimensions of a patient's ear canal. CIC models use very small batteries, so good manual dexterity is required.
ITC style hearing aids are worn in the lower portion of the outer ear, by the ear canal. Their medium size makes them relatively discreet while offering a secure fit, easy insertion and removal, and longer battery life.
ITE style hearing devices fully fill the outer ear. Their larger size accommodates special controls often located on the outside of the hearing aid, such as directional microphones. The larger battery can power a bigger receiver, making this style ideal for more profound hearing losses.
Beltone offers over 80 varieties of hearing aids, with sizes, shapes and styles for just about any hearing loss. Click here to find your nearest Beltone Hearing Care Center, for your free hearing assessment.
Parts of a Hearing Aid
Today's hearing aids are so tiny, It's hard to believe they contain five distinct parts: a microphone, digital processor/amplifier, receiver, volume control and battery. Let's see how these components work together to bring more natural hearing to hearing aid wearers.
Hearing Aid Microphone
Hearing aids process sound so people with hearing loss can more easily understand it. Sound may be amplified for example, or separated into different parts, like background noise and speech. It all begins with the hearing aid microphone. The microphone's function is to convert the sound waves we hear into electricity, so they can be digitized, and then enhanced for the needs of people with hearing loss.
Hearing Aid Digital Processor/Amplifier
The processor takes the electrical signals sent from the microphone, and changes them into digital signals (using 0s and 1s). This is called analog-to-digital conversion (A-to-D). Once in digital format, sound is more easily perfected in ways patients require. Enhancements to the original sound, such as frequency amplification, noise and wind reduction, and feedback cancellation, happen at this stage. The modifications applied depend on each hearing aid wearer's degree of hearing loss and their lifestyle requirements.
Once the processing has occurred in a digital format, the signal is converted back to an analog signal, (D-to-A) which readies it for its next stop: the hearing aid receiver. These are complex procedures happening incredibly fast.
Hearing Aid Receiver
Now, the hearing aid must change enhanced signals back into sound waves so the brain can properly perceive them. Enter the hearing aid receiver. Its job is to convert electrical signals into acoustical output signals, or sound waves, and direct them into the wearer's ear canal for the brain to hear.
Receivers look similar to microphones. Some hearing aid designs place the receiver right in the ear canal. Some styles use a tiny tube to connect the receiver to an ear mold worn in the ear canal. Other hearing aid models house the receiver in a shell that hides behind the ear.
Hearing Aid Volume Control
As its name implies, the volume control adjusts the loudness setting in a hearing aid. Most modern models adjust the volume automatically as the wearer moves from one listening environment to another. Some hearing aid users prefer to have a manual volume control such as a dial or a switch in order to manage volume themselves.
Hearing Aid Battery
The battery supplies the power to turn the electronic components on and off. The batteries most commonly used for hearing aids use zinc and oxygen components, and are known as "zinc-air" batteries. The sticky tabs on zinc-air batteries prevent air from coming into contact with the zinc electrodes. The battery will not operate until the tab is removed. Depending on the complexity of the hearing aid functions, battery life runs approximately 3 days to 2 weeks.
What Happens During a Hearing Test?
A hearing "test" actually includes several tests that measure how well you hear a variety of sounds such as tones and speech. Hearing tests are conducted by state-licensed practitioners in special sound booths or extremely quiet rooms. Generally, hearing tests result in one of two outcomes: normal hearing or some degree of hearing loss.
A baseline hearing screening is recommended at around age 50, unless you're experiencing symptoms of hearing loss sooner. Recent studies indicate that the earlier hearing loss is detected and treated, the slower it progresses. And conversely, if hearing loss goes undiagnosed, it can worsen more quickly than necessary. Because hearing loss often appears gradually, you may be unaware of its onset-so don't put off your initial hearing screening!
A hearing test usually begins with questions pertaining to your overall health and your hearing history. Typical questions about your hearing may include:
- Have you noticed difficulty hearing?
- Did the problem come on suddenly or gradually?
- Is there hearing loss in your family?
- Are one or two ears affected?
- Were you subjected to chronic loud noise during your life?
- Do your ears ring?
- Do you have dizziness or vertigo?
- Did you have ear infections as a child?
- Do you have ear pain?
- Is it harder to hear the voices of men, women, or children?
- Do you notice environments where it's challenging to follow the conversation?
At this time, you should also be asked about medications you take. This is important because many prescription and over-the-counter drugs are ototoxic, or harmful to your hearing. This is also the stage to mention anything else you feel relates to your hearing.
Visual Examination of the Ears
Next, your ear canal and ear drum are inspected by a lighted device called an otoscope that magnifies the structures in the ear. Most hearing care specialists use video otoscopes which show you the inside of your ear on a video screen. Among other conditions, otoscopes spot ear wax blockages, ear drum perforations and signs of infection in the ear canal or middle ear. These problems can contribute to hearing loss, and are generally corrected by medical doctors. If none of these conditions is found however, the hearing screening continues with the pure-tone air-conduction test.
Air Conduction Testing
The pure-tone air-conduction test notes the very softest tones you can hear at least 50% of the time they are played for you. During this test, you will sit in a completely quiet room or sound booth, wearing earphones. Starting with one ear, the practitioner plays tones of different frequencies, (high-to-low pitches), one at a time. When you hear the sound, you raise a finger or press a button. Each tone is played at softer and softer levels until you no longer respond consistently. The softest level you can hear is your threshold for that particular frequency. The various frequencies played represent the range of sounds you commonly hear in the world. Your responses are charted on an audiogram, and the resulting graph indicates how well your outer and middle ear structures are processing sound.
Bone Conduction Testing
Bone conduction testing uses the same process as air conduction testing, but tones are sent to a device placed behind your ear instead of into earphones. This allows sounds to bypass your outer and middle ear and pass through your skull to your inner ear. In this manner, bone conduction testing accurately assesses your inner ear's hearing ability, without influence from your outer or middle ear.
Once the results of both air conduction and bone conduction testing are plotted on your audiogram, a fuller picture of your hearing health emerges. The picture may show normal hearing or may indicate hearing loss. If the latter, the audiogram identifies the degree (mild, moderate, severe, profound), and the type (conductive, sensori-neural, mixed) of your hearing loss.
The next step in the process is testing that utilizes speech. The first test requires you to repeat a series of two-syllable words that are played at successively lower levels. This test helps to determine the level at which you can detect speech. You will then be asked to repeat one syllable words set at a comfortable listening level, to see how well you understand speech. Identifying these levels helps to further determine your hearing aid candidacy. Other valuable speech tests may include:
- Speech-in-Noise testdetermines how well you hear sentences in noisy environments
- Most Comfortable Listening Level (MCL)systematically increases volume until it feels "just right"
- Threshold of Discomfort (TD)/Recruitment testsystematically increases volume until it's uncomfortable /li>
If your hearing tests show you require hearing aids for hearing loss, these speech tests help customize your hearing devices so it's easy to comprehend conversation in multiple listening environmentseven noisy ones.
Take Charge of Your Hearing Care
While a hearing screening can range from a short procedure to a battery of tests, a good hearing care professional will always take the time to explain every step, and help you understand your results. Remember, good hearing is in your control, so never hesitate to ask questions or seek answers!