Today’s advances in technology assure that your hearing loss can be successfully remedied with the appropriate hearing aid model.
The difficulty is finding the right one.
With all of the hearing aid models on the market, it can feel a bit overwhelming. But by looking at four factors—along with help from a knowledgeable hearing care professional—you can easily find the best hearing aid model for you.
How All Hearing Aids Work
Before we consider the differences, it will help to keep in mind how all hearing aids have in essence the same parts.
Modern digital hearing aids are small electronic devices that are composed of four basic parts:
- The microphone picks up environmental sound and sends it to the digital processor.
- The digital processor adjusts the sound signal according to the settings programmed by the hearing specialist. The revised sound signal is then sent to the amplifier.
- The amplifier raises the volume of the sound based on the programmed settings, amplifying only the frequencies the patient has problems hearing. This signal is then delivered to the speaker.
- The speaker supplies the enhanced sound to the ear, leading to louder, clearer sound.
Every hearing aid also has a battery, control and volume buttons, and other features and functions that we’ll discuss next.
How Hearing Aids Are Different
While all hearing aids have the same basic parts, there are four variables that render each model different. When deciding on a hearing aid model, your hearing specialist will help you narrow down your choices according to the four variables, which are:
- Style – There are several different styles of hearing aids. The style most suited for you is dependent on several things such as the degree of your hearing loss, your dexterity, and your listening goals.
- Ease of use – Will a compact hearing aid be too difficult for you to physically manipulate? 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 especially good at uncovering a hearing aid that will meet your desires and your budget. The hearing aid your hearing specialist suggests is always based on where they think you will attain the biggest return for what you are paying. Financing options are also available.
Let’s look at the four variables in more detail.
Hearing Aid Style
Hearing aids are available in a variety of styles, and your selection may hinge plainly on aesthetic preference.
Here are a few of the most common styles:
Behind-the-ear (BTE) hearing aids – these have the majority of the hearing aid parts covered in a compact plastic case that sits behind the ear; the case is then connected to an earmold or an earpiece by a piece of clear tubing. Mini-BTE aids are also available that are smaller. These hearing aids are easy to manipulate and easy to clean.
In-the-ear (ITE) hearing aids – these have all of the hearing aid parts contained in a shell that fills in the outer part 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 noticeable than the behind-the-ear aids.
In-the-canal (ITC) hearing aids and completely-in-the-canal (CIC) hearing aids – these hearing aids are enclosed in tiny cases that fit partially or completely in the ear canal, making them practically unnoticeable.
In regards to selecting a style, consider the tradeoffs among size, ease-of-use, battery life, and functionality, and make sure you discuss 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 advantage of being small, they may also be tricky to handle, in which case you may prefer the behind-the-ear styles.
You might also want to look into digital hearing aids that can be controlled with mobile technology, such as a cell phone or digital watch. This makes it simple to monitor battery life, adjust the volume, and transition between environmental presets programmed by your hearing specialist.
Hearing Aid Functionality
Performance is perpetually a concern, and you should speak to your hearing specialist regarding any special circumstances or activities you commonly perform. For example, if you regularly use the phone, you’ll probably want hearing aids equipped with telecoils or Bluetooth compatibility.
Also ask about directional microphones and background noise reduction that can enhance your ability to hear speech and engage in conversation.
Hearing Aid Price and Financing
Last, after thinking about the above factors, you should decide on the price you’re willing to spend for the benefits you’ll enjoy from better hearing.
Although it’s true that no one can make this determination for you, nearly all 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 per month cost of cable television—and hearing aids will have a more substantial impact on your general quality of life than viewing reruns of CSI.
After you have a picture of what you’re looking for, your hearing specialist can assist you to narrow the options. Then, you can choose the model that suits all of your needs for style, ease-of-use, functionality, and price.
Once you’ve picked out your optimal model, your hearing specialist will then custom-program the hearing aids to best amplify sound in accordance to your distinct hearing loss, which was calculated during the hearing exam (audiogram). And remember, irrespective of the model you go with, it won’t work properly unless programmed by a hearing care professional.
Finally, you’ll have the opportunity to try your new hearing aids during the trial period. It will take some time to become accustomed 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 optimal pair of hearing aids, talk to us today!