Today’s advances in technology ensure that your hearing loss can be successfully remedied with the right hearing aid model.
The difficulty is choosing the right one.
With all of the hearing aid models available in the market, it can be just a little overwhelming. But by considering four factors—together with assistance from a seasoned hearing care professional—you can readily find the ideal hearing aid model for you.
How All Hearing Aids Work
Before we discuss the differences, it helps to remember how all hearing aids have in essence the same components.
Modern digital hearing aids are small electronic devices that are composed of four standard parts:
- The microphone picks up environmental sound and sends it to the digital processor.
- The digital processor adjusts the sound signal based on the settings programmed by the hearing specialist. The revised sound signal is then directed to the amplifier.
- The amplifier heightens the volume of the sound based on the programmed settings, amplifying only the frequencies the patient has problems hearing. This signal is then sent to the speaker.
- The speaker delivers the magnified sound to the ear, leading to louder, clearer sound.
Every hearing aid also has a battery, control and volume buttons, and additional features and functionality that we’ll talk about next.
How Hearing Aids Are Different
While all hearing aids have the same vital parts, there are four variables that render each model different. When picking out a hearing aid model, your hearing specialist will help you narrow down your choices according to the four variables, which are:
- Style – There are numerous different styles of hearing aids. The style best suited for you depends on several things such as the intensity of your hearing loss, your manual dexterity, and your listening goals.
- Ease of use – Will a smaller hearing aid be too difficult for you to physically handle? Would you like to use your cell phone as your hearing aid remote control?
- Functionality – Do you need telecoils so you can utilize your hearing aids with your phone? How about directional microphones so you can focus on speech?
- Price – Most hearing care professionals are very good at uncovering a hearing aid that will meet your preferences and your finances. The hearing aid your hearing specialist recommends is always based upon where they think you will get the largest return for what you are spending. Financing options are also available.
Let’s go over the four variables in more depth.
Hearing Aid Style
Hearing aids come in a variety of styles, and your final choice might hinge plainly on aesthetic taste.
Here are a few of the most popular styles:
Behind-the-ear (BTE) hearing aids – these have the majority of the hearing aid parts covered in a small plastic case that rests behind the ear; the case is then attached to an earmold or an earpiece by a piece of clear tubing. Mini-BTE aids can also be found that are smaller. These hearing aids are easy to manipulate and simple to maintain.
In-the-ear (ITE) hearing aids – these have all of the hearing aid parts enclosed in a shell that fills in the exterior portion of the ear. The ITE aids are more compact than the behind-the-ear aids but larger than the in-the-canal aids. These hearing aids are easier to manipulate than the smaller in-the-canal aids and less conspicuous than the behind-the-ear aids.
In-the-canal (ITC) hearing aids and completely-in-the-canal (CIC) hearing aids – these hearing aids are contained in tiny cases that fit partially or completely in the ear canal, making them virtually imperceptible.
When it comes to picking out a style, consider the tradeoffs among size, ease-of-use, battery life, and functionality, and ensure that you go over these items with your hearing specialist.
Hearing Aid Ease-of-Use
A consideration that is frequently overlooked is ease-of-use. While completely-in-the-canal hearing aids have the virtue of being small, they may also be tricky to handle, in which case you may favor the behind-the-ear styles.
You may also want to look into digital hearing aids that can be manipulated with mobile technology, such as a cell phone or digital watch. This makes it easy to monitor battery life, adjust the volume, and switch among environmental presets programmed by your hearing specialist.
Hearing Aid Functionality
Functionality is commonly a concern, and you need to work with your hearing specialist about any special situations or activities you regularly perform. As an example, if you frequently use the phone, you’ll likely want hearing aids outfitted with telecoils or Bluetooth compatibility.
Also inquire about directional microphones and background noise suppression that can maximize your capacity to hear speech and participate in conversation.
Hearing Aid Cost and Financing
Finally, after thinking about the above factors, you should establish the price you’re ready to invest for the benefits you’ll achieve from better hearing.
Although it’s true that no one can make this judgment for you, most of our patients have felt that the ability to clearly hear sound and speech without constantly straining is well worth the price.
In fact, the per month expense of a hearing aid is commonly less than the monthly expense of cable television—and hearing aids will have a bigger influence on your overall quality of life than watching reruns of Law and Order.
After you have an idea of what you’re interested in, your hearing specialist can help you to narrow down the options. Then, you can choose the model that matches all of your requirements for style, ease-of-use, functionality, and cost.
After you’ve decided on your ideal model, your hearing specialist will then custom-program the hearing aids to best amplify sound according to your individual hearing loss, which was calculated during the hearing exam (audiogram). And keep in mind, irrespective of the model you pick out, it won’t function correctly unless programmed by a hearing care professional.
Lastly, you’ll have the opportunity to try out your new hearing aids during the trial period. It will take some time to get used to them, but after a short while you’ll be astounded at how clearly you can hear sound and speech.
If you’re ready to find your ideal pair of hearing aids, talk to us today!