The process of buying hearing aids was in the past much easier. There were only a few styles to choose from and they all in essence worked the same way, which was to say not very well.
It wasn’t until digital technology was integrated into the design that hearing aids became viable options for the recovery of hearing. And with digital technology, numerous features became available to regulate a multitude of listening scenarios.
But that’s the tradeoff—easy choices that led to inadequate results are now complicated choices with a number of options.
But complicated does not mean impossible, and the time spent is well worth the gains in hearing you can achieve. It’s also why it’s crucial to partner with a reputable hearing specialist that can guide you through all of the important factors to consider.
Below are six things to look for when selecting hearing aids, in combination with the questions to ask your hearing professional.
Hearing amplification products are not all created equal. The fact is, the difference between the lowest end personal sound amplifier and the highest end digital hearing aid is the difference between a Ford Pinto and a Porsche.
Even though you may not need the highest end hearing aid model available, the primary difference you should be concerned about between a personal amplifier and a hearing aid is programmability.
Hearing aids should be programmed to amplify sounds based on your unique hearing loss. Otherwise, all sound will be amplified equally and that’s not going to help you hear speech any better than before.
Ask your hearing expert about programming functionality, including pre-programed settings you can use in different scenarios, like at a restaurant as opposed to at home.
Hearing aids come in several sizes and styles, ranging from behind-the-ear to entirely in the ear canal.
You’ll want to balance price, performance, ease-of-use, and aesthetics when making your choice on hearing aid styles. You’ll also want to work with a hearing specialist on this one, as several elements should be taken into consideration, including the severity of your hearing loss.
3. Directional microphones
People invest in hearing aids for a variety of reasons and to hear an assortment of sounds, but the main reason is to hear and understand speech.
If that’s the case for you, you’ll want to ask about directional microphones in any hearing aid you’re interested in.
Hearing aids with directionality contain two or more microphones installed at a specified distance from each other within the hearing aid. The contrast in arrival time of sound to each microphone then dictates how the hearing aid responds to the sound.
This enables the hearing aid to focus on the specific sound origin in front of you, which if it’s a person, will be the sounds of speech.
4. Background noise minimization
Background noise and feedback inhibition are built into the majority of digital hearing aid models, but you’ll want to confirm this with any model you’re considering.
Hearing aids contain a microprocessor that can differentiate between high-frequency sounds (like speech) and low-frequency sounds (like background noise). The microprocessor can then magnify speech while curbing everything else.
A telecoil is a small copper coil built into the hearing aid. While that doesn’t sound all that impressive, what it can accomplish undoubtedly is.
Telecoils allow you to talk on the phone without feedback and hook up to hearing loop systems. For instance, if a hearing loop system is installed in a church or cinema, sound will be transmitted directly to your hearing aid for maximum clarity.
Hearing loops can also be set up in home theater systems for the same effect. Ask your hearing specialist for additional information.
6. Wireless connectivity
Did you just buy a new iPhone or smartphone?
If that’s the case, you may want to give some thought to investing in compatible hearing aids that link up wirelessly to these products. That way, you can stream phone calls and music directly to your hearing aids for optimal sound quality.
Your smartphone can even become your hearing aid remote control, where you can inconspicuously change the volume and settings.
There’s much to take into account when selecting a hearing aid, which is why it’s crucial to work with a reputable and knowledgeable hearing care professional.
Are you ready to find your ideal hearing aid?