Modern-day breakthroughs in technology ensure that your hearing loss can be efficiently remedied with the appropriate hearing aid model.
The trouble is choosing the right one.
With all of the hearing aid models currently available, it can feel quite overwhelming. But by considering four factors—together with assistance from a highly trained hearing care professional—you can readily discover the best hearing aid model for you.
How All Hearing Aids Work
Before we examine the differences, it will help to remember how all hearing aids have generally the same parts.
Contemporary digital hearing aids are compact electronic gadgets that are made up 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 altered sound signal is then conveyed to the amplifier.
- The amplifier boosts the volume of the sound based on the programmed settings, amplifying only the frequencies the patient has trouble hearing. This signal is then directed to the speaker.
- The speaker delivers the magnified sound to the ear, producing louder, clearer sound.
Each hearing aid also has a battery, control and volume switches, and additional features and functionality that we’ll talk about next.
How Hearing Aids Are Different
Although all hearing aids have the same standard parts, there are four variables that render each model different. When choosing a hearing aid model, your hearing specialist will help you to narrow down your options based on the four variables, which are:
- Style – There are several different styles of hearing aids. The style best suited for you depends on many things such as the severity of your hearing loss, your manual dexterity, and your listening goals.
- Ease of use – Will a smaller hearing aid be too difficult for you to physically handle? Would you prefer 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 cell phone? How about directional microphones so you can concentrate on speech?
- Price – Most hearing care professionals are exceptionally good at finding a hearing aid that will satisfy your desires and your budget. The hearing aid your hearing specialist suggests is always based on where they think you will achieve the most significant return for what you are spending. Financing options are also available.
Let’s analyze the four variables in more depth.
Hearing Aid Style
Hearing aids come in a range of styles, and your selection may hinge plainly on cosmetic taste.
The following are some of the most common styles:
Behind-the-ear (BTE) hearing aids – these have the majority of the hearing aid parts included in a small plastic case that rests behind the ear; the case is then linked to an earmold or an earpiece by a piece of clear tubing. Mini-BTE aids can also be found that are scaled-down. These hearing aids are easy to manipulate 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 more compact in-the-canal aids and less conspicuous 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 totally in the ear canal, making them nearly imperceptible.
When it comes to picking out a style, consider the tradeoffs among size, ease-of-use, battery life, and functionality, and ensure that you go over these items with your hearing specialist.
Hearing Aid Ease-of-Use
A consideration that is frequently neglected is ease-of-use. While completely-in-the-canal hearing aids have the appeal of being small, they may also be tough to handle, in which case you may desire the behind-the-ear styles.
You may also want to consider digital hearing aids that can be operated with mobile technology, such as a cell phone or digital watch. This makes it convenient to monitor battery life, adjust the volume, and switch among environmental presets programmed by your hearing specialist.
Hearing Aid Functionality
Performance is normally a concern, and you need to consult with your hearing specialist regarding any special situations or activities you frequently perform. For instance, if you regularly use the phone, you’ll probably want hearing aids equipped 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 Cost and Financing
Lastly, after considering the above factors, you should figure out the price you’re willing to invest for the benefits you’ll achieve from improved hearing.
While it’s a fact that no one can make this determination for you, virtually all of our patients have felt that the ability to clearly hear sound and speech without continuously straining is truly worth the price.
In fact, the monthly cost of a hearing aid is usually less than the monthly cost of cable television—and hearing aids will have a bigger influence on your general quality of life than watching reruns of Law and Order.
Once you have a notion of what you’re interested in, your hearing specialist can help you to narrow down the options. Then, you can choose the model that meets all of your requirements for style, ease-of-use, functionality, and price.
Once you’ve selected your ideal model, your hearing specialist will then custom-program the hearing aids to best amplify sound according to your distinct hearing loss, which was measured during the hearing test (audiogram). And remember, irrespective of the model you go with, it won’t work correctly unless programmed by a hearing care professional.
Last, you’ll get to try your new hearing aids during the trial period. It will take a bit of time to get accustomed to them, but after a short while you’ll be amazed 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!