The process of purchasing hearing aids was in the past a lot easier. There were only a small number of styles to select from and they all ultimately 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 recovery of hearing. And with digital technology, a variety of features became readily available to regulate a multitude of listening scenarios.
But that’s the tradeoff—easy choices that brought about poor results are now complicated choices with several options.
But complicated does not mean impossible, and the time spent is well worth the gains in hearing you can obtain. It’s also why it’s essential to partner with an established hearing specialist that can guide you through all of the relevant factors to consider.
Below are six things 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 truth is, the difference between the lowest end personal sound amplifier and the highest end digital hearing aid is the distinction between a Ford Pinto and a Porsche.
While you may not need the highest end hearing aid model on the market, the main 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 distinct hearing loss. Otherwise, all sound will be amplified evenly and that’s not going to make it easier to hear speech any better than before.
Ask your hearing professional about programming capabilities, including pre-programed settings you can use in different circumstances, like at a restaurant as opposed to at home.
2. Hearing aid style
Hearing aids come 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 choice on hearing aid styles. You’ll also want to seek advise from a hearing specialist on this one, as many factors should be considered, including the level of your hearing loss.
3. Directional microphones
People buy hearing aids for a range of reasons and to hear a mixture of sounds, but the leading 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 checking into.
Hearing aids with directionality contain two or more microphones located at a specific distance from each other within the hearing aid. The difference in arrival time of sound to each microphone then dictates how the hearing aid reacts to the sound.
This enables the hearing aid to focus on the specific sound source 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 featured in most digital hearing aid models, but you’ll want to verify this with any product 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 boost speech while suppressing everything else.
A telecoil is a small copper coil integrated into the hearing aid. While that doesn’t sound all that impressive, what it can accomplish undoubtedly is.
Telecoils make it possible for 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 movie theater, sound will be transmitted directly to your hearing aid for optimum clarity.
Hearing loops can also be installed in home theater systems for the equivalent effect. Ask your hearing specialist for additional information.
6. Wireless connectivity
Did you just buy a new iPhone or smartphone?
If so, you may want to think about investing in compatible hearing aids that link up wirelessly to these products. That way, you can stream telephone calls and music directly to your hearing aids for optimum sound quality.
Your smartphone can even be used as your hearing aid remote control, whereby you can subtly regulate the volume and settings.
There’s much to consider when picking out a hearing aid, which is why it’s vital to work with a trustworthy and knowledgeable hearing care expert.
Are you ready to find your ideal hearing aid?