Modern advances in technology ensure that your hearing loss can be successfully remedied with the right hearing aid model.
The problem is finding the right one.
With all of the hearing aid models to select from, it can feel a bit overwhelming. But by evaluating four factors—along with help from a knowledgeable hearing care professional—you can readily discover the ideal hearing aid model for you.
How All Hearing Aids Work
Before we consider the differences, it helps to remember how all hearing aids have in essence the equivalent components.
Modern digital hearing aids are small electronic gadgets 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 altered sound signal is then delivered to the amplifier.
- The amplifier enhances 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 magnified sound to the ear, resulting in 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 standard parts, there are four variables that make each model different. When selecting a hearing aid model, your hearing specialist will help you narrow down your choices based on the four variables, which are:
- Style – There are many different styles of hearing aids. The style most appropriate for you depends on many things such as the extent of your hearing loss, your manual dexterity, and your listening goals.
- Ease of use – Will a smaller hearing aid be too hard 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 phone? How about directional microphones so you can focus on conversation?
- Price – Most hearing care professionals are exceptionally good at uncovering a hearing aid that will meet your needs and your budget. The hearing aid your hearing specialist suggests is always based on where they think you will achieve the biggest return for what you are spending. Financing options are also available.
Let’s look at the four variables in more detail.
Hearing Aid Style
Hearing aids are available in a range of styles, and your choice might hinge simply on aesthetic taste.
The following are some of the most popular styles:
Behind-the-ear (BTE) hearing aids – these have most of the hearing aid components included 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 can also be found that are smaller. 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 exterior portion 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 more compact 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 completely in the ear canal, making them practically imperceptible.
When it comes to picking out a style, keep in mind 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 component that is often ignored 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 favor the behind-the-ear styles.
You may also wish to look into digital hearing aids that can be controlled with mobile technology, such as a cell phone or digital watch. This makes it convenient to monitor battery life, adjust the volume, and transition between environmental presets programmed by your hearing specialist.
Hearing Aid Functionality
Performance is regularly a concern, and you should work with your hearing specialist about any special circumstances or activities you frequently perform. For instance, 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 improve your ability to hear speech and partake in conversation.
Hearing Aid Price and Financing
Finally, after evaluating the above factors, you need to determine the price you’re prepared to invest for the benefits you’ll achieve from healthier hearing.
While it’s a fact that no one can make this decision for you, virtually all of our patients have felt that the ability to distinctly hear sound and speech without constantly straining is worthy of the price.
The fact is, the per month expense of a hearing aid is quite often less than the monthly expense of cable television—and hearing aids will have a bigger impact on your overall quality of life than viewing reruns of Law and Order.
After you have a notion of what you’re looking for, your hearing specialist can help you to narrow down the options. Then, you can select the model that matches 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 according to your individual hearing loss, which was measured during the hearing test (audiogram). And keep in mind, irrespective of the model you pick out, it won’t work correctly unless programmed by a hearing care professional.
Lastly, you’ll have the opportunity to try out your new hearing aids during the trial period. It will take a little 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 ideal pair of hearing aids, talk to us today!