The procedure for 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 realistic options for the restoration of hearing. And with digital technology, a variety of features became readily available to accommodate a wide variety of listening situations.
But that’s the tradeoff—simple choices that brought about poor results are now difficult choices with several options.
But difficult does not mean impossible, and the time invested is well worth the gains in hearing you can enjoy. It’s also why it’s vital to partner with a reputable hearing specialist that can guide you through all of the important factors to consider.
Below are six factors to look for when purchasing hearing aids, in conjunction with the questions to ask your hearing specialist.
Hearing amplification products are not all created equal. The fact is, the distinction between the cheapest 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 on the market, the primary difference you should be worried about between a personal amplifier and a hearing aid is programmability.
Hearing aids must be programmed to enhance sounds based on your particular hearing loss. Otherwise, all sound will be amplified uniformly and that’s not going to help you hear speech any better than before.
Ask your hearing specialist about programming capability, including pre-programed settings you can use in different situations, like at a restaurant versus at home.
2. Hearing aid style
Hearing aids are available in many sizes and styles, ranging from behind-the-ear to entirely in the ear canal.
You’ll want to balance cost, performance, ease-of-use, and appearance when making your decision on hearing aid styles. You’ll also want to work with a hearing specialist on this one, as numerous elements should be considered, including the severity of your hearing loss.
3. Directional microphones
People invest in hearing aids for a number of reasons and to hear a mixture of sounds, but the chief reason is to hear and understand speech.
If that’s true for you, you’ll want to ask about directional microphones in any hearing aid you’re checking into.
Hearing aids with directionality contain two or more microphones placed at a specified distance from each other within the hearing aid. The variation in arrival time of sound to each microphone then dictates how the hearing aid reacts to the sound.
This enables the hearing aid to target the specific sound origin in front of you, which if it’s a person, will be the sounds of speech.
4. Background noise reduction
Background noise and feedback suppression are built into most digital hearing aid models, but you’ll want to verify this with any model you’re considering.
Hearing aids contain a microprocessor that can distinguish 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 achieve certainly is.
Telecoils make it possible for you to speak on the phone without feedback and hook up to hearing loop systems. For example, 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 installed in home theater systems for the same effect. Ask your hearing professional for more 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 connect wirelessly to these devices. That way, you can stream telephone calls and music directly to your hearing aids for optimal sound quality.
Your smartphone can even be used as your hearing aid remote control, whereby you can discreetly change the volume and settings.
There’s much to take into account when choosing a hearing aid, which is why it’s critical to work with a reputable and experienced hearing care professional.
Are you ready to discover your optimal hearing aid?