Have you seen the ads about the extended wear hearing aids? One of my patients asked me to discuss them in my next month’s column, so here we go! The name of the extended wear hearing aid is Lyric3. The company that initially invented the product was recently purchased by the company Phonak. Now, Phonak is investing in the development of this hearing aid that can be worn full-time without the need to take it out even when you sleep!
What Does Extended Wear Mean?
An extended wear hearing aid is a hearing aid that is placed deep into the ear canal and is not removed until the battery dies. Other people are not able to see the hearing aids. It is able to be worn while showering and even top of the water swimming (head stays dry). When the battery dies, you return to your audiologist and have them remove the aid and replace it with a new aid. The length of the battery life depends on the settings that are programmed for your particular hearing loss. Batteries last two to three months!
Who Can Wear The Lyric3 Aid?
Currently, the hearing loss requirements are not as restrictive as one might think. You can have a mild loss all the way to a moderately severe hearing loss. It can be a sensorineural (nerve damage) hearing impairment or a conductive (mechanical issue) hearing loss. What I saw that presented the most challenge was the size of the ear canal. In response to that, the developers are now offering a variety of sizes to fit a larger population of people.
Ear Wax and Extended Wear Hearing Aids
A common question is how do I wear a hearing aid if I have chronic issues with wax build-up? The extended wear hearing aid sits deep into the canal past the wax producing glands. The glands that make wax are near the outer portion of your canal. The audiologist will clean all wax out of your canal prior to fitting the device and again when the replacement device is placed in the ear canal. For the majority of Lyric3 users, the schedule of replacing the device every two to three months will keep wax from building up to a point of causing any blockage of the microphone or your canal.
Can the Hearing Aid Sound be Adjusted?
When these hearing aids were first introduced it was evident that people like to adjust the sound and even turn their hearing aids off while they nap or sleep at night. One of the problems with traditionally worn hearing aids is that after napping you need to remember to put your hearing aids back on or you family members will quickly remind you that they love it when you wear your aids! That issue is eliminated with this style of aid. A “wand” is provided to adjust the sound and turn the aids on and off.
Other Reported Benefits of Deep-Seated Canal Hearing Aids
Wind noise can be an issue with traditional hearing aids. The external ear (pinna) has a natural ability to reduce wind noise. A hearing aid sitting this deep in the ear canal takes advantage of the ability of the pinna and canal to funnel sound to the eardrum producing what some people report as a more natural sound quality. Using the phone is a more natural experience. No special attention to the phone is required. Earphones can be worn during exercise or to listen to music, etc. You can wear most earphones; however, some earphones have a stronger magnetic field than others so it may be necessary to try a few pairs to find the perfect match for you. The hearing aid is closer to the eardrum, which means less power is needed when compared to traditional hearing aids. Less power means less distortion for many people.
Is There a Reason Not to Try the Extended Wear Hearing Aid?
If you are looking for a means to hear better with the least amount of inconvenience this is the way to go. Similar to contacts for your eyes, you now have the ability to amplify sound in a discreet manner. There are some restrictions for the ear canal if you have had ear canal surgery. Your audiologist will offer a free trial so that you can decide if that style of hearing aid is the direction you want to go.
By Dr. Karon Lynn, Au.D.
Trinity Hearing Center is located at 1330 N. Rim Dr., Suite B in Flagstaff. For more information, call 928-522-0500, or visit the website at www.TrinityHearing.net. Karon Lynn is a doctor of audiology and practices at Trinity Hearing Center. She has 30 years of experience working with hearing impaired individuals. Dr. Lynn may be reached at 928-522-0500, or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.