Modern-day breakthroughs in technology assure that your hearing loss can be successfully remedied with the appropriate hearing aid model.
The difficulty is choosing the right one.
With all of the hearing aid models to select from, it can be just a little overwhelming. But by taking into consideration four factors—together with help from a qualified hearing care professional—you can readily find the optimal 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 fundamentally the same components.
Today’s digital hearing aids are small electronic gadgets that consist of four standard parts:
- The microphone picks up environmental sound and transmits it to the digital processor.
- The digital processor adjusts the sound signal based on the settings programmed by the hearing specialist. The customized sound signal is then sent to the amplifier.
- The amplifier increases the volume of the sound based on the programmed settings, amplifying only the frequencies the patient has problems hearing. This signal is then transferred to the speaker.
- The speaker delivers the magnified sound to the ear, leading to louder, clearer sound.
Every hearing aid also has a battery, control and volume buttons, and additional features and functions that we’ll discuss next.
How Hearing Aids Are Different
Although all hearing aids have the same fundamental parts, there are four variables that render each model different. When choosing a hearing aid model, your hearing specialist will assist you to narrow down your choices according to the four variables, which are:
- Style – There are several different styles of hearing aids. The style most appropriate for you is dependent on many things such as the extent of your hearing loss, your manual dexterity, and your listening objectives.
- Ease of use – Will a smaller 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 utilize your hearing aids with your mobile phone? How about directional microphones so you can focus on conversation?
- Price – Most hearing care professionals are exceptionally good at finding a hearing aid that will meet your needs and your finances. The hearing aid your hearing specialist recommends is always based on where they think you will achieve the largest return for what you are spending. Financing options are also available.
Let’s consider the four variables in more depth.
Hearing Aid Style
Hearing aids come in a range of styles, and your selection might rely plainly on aesthetic preference.
The following are some of the most popular styles:
Behind-the-ear (BTE) hearing aids – these have most of the hearing aid components contained in a small plastic case that sits behind the ear; the case is then attached 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 contained in a shell that fills in the external portion of the ear. The ITE aids are smaller than the behind-the-ear aids but bigger than the in-the-canal aids. These hearing aids are easier to manipulate than the smaller in-the-canal aids and less noticeable than the behind-the-ear aids.
In-the-canal (ITC) hearing aids and completely-in-the-canal (CIC) hearing aids – these hearing aids are contained in tiny cases that fit partially or totally in the ear canal, making them virtually imperceptible.
In terms of deciding on a style, keep in mind the tradeoffs among size, ease-of-use, battery life, and functionality, and make sure you go over these items with your hearing specialist.
Hearing Aid Ease-of-Use
An aspect that is often neglected is ease-of-use. While completely-in-the-canal hearing aids have the benefit of being small, they may also be tricky to handle, in which case you may favor the behind-the-ear styles.
You might also want to look into 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 transition among environmental presets programmed by your hearing specialist.
Hearing Aid Functionality
Performance is normally a concern, and you should communicate with your hearing specialist regarding any special situations or activities you frequently perform. As an example, if you regularly use the phone, you’ll most likely want hearing aids equipped with telecoils or Bluetooth compatibility.
Also inquire about directional microphones and background noise suppression that can enhance your capacity to hear speech and engage in conversation.
Hearing Aid Price and Financing
Last, after evaluating the above factors, you need to decide the price you’re willing to invest for the benefits you’ll enjoy from improved hearing.
Although it’s true that no one can make this decision for you, nearly all 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 per month expense of a hearing aid is quite often less than the per month cost of cable television—and hearing aids will have a larger influence on your overall 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 make it easier to narrow down the options. Then, you can choose the model that accommodates all of your needs for style, ease-of-use, functionality, and cost.
After you’ve picked 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 exam (audiogram). And keep in mind that, irrespective of what model you go with, it won’t function properly unless programmed by a hearing specialist.
Lastly, you’ll get to try your new hearing aids during the trial period. It will take a bit of time to become 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 perfect pair of hearing aids, talk to us today!