Modern-day advances in technology ensure that your hearing loss can be successfully remedied with the right hearing aid model.
The difficulty is finding the right one.
With all of the hearing aid models on the market, it can be just a little overwhelming. But by considering four factors—together with assistance from a competent hearing care professional—you can easily discover the perfect hearing aid model for you.
How All Hearing Aids Work
Before we examine the differences, it helps to remember how all hearing aids have in essence the same parts.
Contemporary digital hearing aids are compact electronic devices that consist of four basic parts:
- The microphone picks up environmental sound and transmits it to the digital processor.
- The digital processor adjusts the sound signal according to the settings programmed by the hearing specialist. The customized 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 difficulty hearing. This signal is then delivered to the speaker.
- The speaker supplies the magnified sound to the ear, bringing about louder, clearer sound.
Every hearing aid also has a battery, control and volume buttons, and additional features and functionality that we’ll discuss next.
How Hearing Aids Are Different
Even though all hearing aids have the same standard parts, there are four variables that make each model different. When selecting a hearing aid model, your hearing specialist will help you to narrow down your choices according to the four variables, which are:
- Style – There are many different styles of hearing aids. The style most appropriate 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 compact hearing aid be too challenging for you to physically manipulate? Would you prefer to use your mobile phone as your hearing aid remote control?
- Functionality – Do you need telecoils so you can use your hearing aids with your cell phone? How about directional microphones so you can focus on conversation?
- Price – Most hearing care professionals are very good at uncovering a hearing aid that will satisfy your preferences and your budget. The hearing aid your hearing specialist recommends is always based upon where they think you will get the most significant return for what you are spending. Financing options are also available.
Let’s evaluate the four variables in more depth.
Hearing Aid Style
Hearing aids are available in a variety of styles, and your selection might hinge plainly on cosmetic taste.
Here are a few of the most common styles:
Behind-the-ear (BTE) hearing aids – these have the majority of the hearing aid parts contained 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 scaled-down. These hearing aids are easy to handle and simple to maintain.
In-the-ear (ITE) hearing aids – these have all of the hearing aid parts included in a shell that fills in the external portion of the ear. The ITE aids are more compact than the behind-the-ear aids but bigger than the in-the-canal aids. These hearing aids are easier to handle than the smaller in-the-canal aids and less visible 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 very small cases that fit partially or totally in the ear canal, making them virtually invisible.
In regards to deciding on a style, consider the tradeoffs among size, ease-of-use, battery life, and performance, and ensure that you go over these items with your hearing specialist.
Hearing Aid Ease-of-Use
A factor that is often overlooked is ease-of-use. While completely-in-the-canal hearing aids have the benefits of being small, they may also be challenging to handle, in which case you may prefer the behind-the-ear styles.
You may also wish to look into digital hearing aids that can be operated with mobile technology, like a cell phone or digital watch. This makes it simple to monitor battery life, adjust the volume, and transition among environmental presets programmed by your hearing specialist.
Hearing Aid Functionality
Performance is consistently a concern, and you should talk with your hearing specialist about any special circumstances or activities you commonly perform. As an example, if you regularly use the phone, you’ll probably want hearing aids outfitted with telecoils or Bluetooth compatibility.
Also inquire about directional microphones and background noise suppression that can heighten your ability to hear speech and partake in conversation.
Hearing Aid Price and Financing
Last, after thinking about the above factors, you should decide the price you’re ready to spend for the benefits you’ll enjoy from better hearing.
While it’s a fact that no one can make this judgment for you, the majority of our patients have felt that the ability to clearly hear sound and speech without constantly straining is worthy of the price.
In fact, the monthly expense of a hearing aid is commonly less than the per month cost of cable television—and hearing aids will have a more substantial influence on your total quality of life than watching reruns of CSI.
Once you have a notion of what you’re interested in, your hearing specialist can assist you to limit the options. Then, you can select the model that suits all of your needs for style, ease-of-use, functionality, and cost.
Once you’ve picked your optimal model, your hearing specialist will then custom-program the hearing aids to best amplify sound in accordance to your unique hearing loss, which was measured during the hearing exam (audiogram). And keep in mind that, irrespective of the model you go with, it won’t work properly unless programmed by a hearing care professional.
Finally, you’ll get 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 discover your ideal pair of hearing aids, talk to us today!