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The procedure for purchasing hearing aids used to be a lot easier. There were only a small number of styles to choose from and they all fundamentally functioned 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 viable solutions for the recovery of hearing. And with digital technology, a multitude of features became readily available to deal with a multitude of listening scenarios.

But that’s the tradeoff—easy choices that produced inadequate results are now complicated choices with a number of options.

But complicated does not mean impossible, and the time invested is well worth the gains in hearing you can enjoy. It’s also why it’s important to partner with an established hearing specialist that can guide you through all of the important factors to consider.

The following are six factors to look for when selecting hearing aids, together with the questions to ask your hearing specialist.

1. Programmability

Hearing amplification products are not all created equal. In fact, the difference between the cheapest personal sound amplifier and the highest end digital hearing aid is the distinction between a Ford Pinto and a Porsche.

Even though you may not require the highest end hearing aid model available, the main difference you should be concerned about between a personal amplifier and a hearing aid is programmability.

Hearing aids must be programmed to enhance sounds based on your unique hearing loss. Otherwise, all sound will be amplified evenly and that’s not going to help you hear speech any better than before.

Ask your hearing specialist about programming potential, including pre-programed settings you can use in different circumstances, like at a restaurant as opposed to at home.

2. Style

Hearing aids are available 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 aesthetics when making your decision on hearing aid styles. You’ll also want to seek advise from a hearing professional on this one, as numerous factors should be taken into consideration, including the severity of your hearing loss.

3. Directional microphones

People buy hearing aids for a number of reasons and to hear a mixture of sounds, but the foremost reason is to hear and understand speech.

If that’s the case for you, you’ll want to inquire about directional microphones in any hearing aid you’re considering.

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 determines how the hearing aid reacts to the sound.

This makes it possible for the hearing aid to target the specific sound source in front of you, which if it’s a person, will be the sounds of speech.

4. Background noise minimization

Background noise and feedback inhibition are featured in most digital hearing aid models, but you’ll want to confirm this with any model you’re considering.

Hearing aids contain a microprocessor that can differentiate between high-frequency sounds (like speech) and low-frequency sounds (like background noise). The microprocessor can then boost speech while curbing everything else.

5. Telecoils

A telecoil is a small copper coil built into the hearing aid. While that doesn’t sound all that remarkable, what it can accomplish undoubtedly is.

Telecoils allow you to talk on the phone without feedback and connect 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 maximum clarity.

Hearing loops can also be set up in home theater systems for the same effect. Ask your hearing specialist for additional details.

6. Wireless connection

Did you just purchase a new iPhone or smartphone?

If that’s the case, you may want to give some thought to investing in compatible hearing aids that link up wirelessly to these products. That way, you can stream cell phone 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 inconspicuously regulate the volume and settings.


There’s a lot to take into account when selecting a hearing aid, which is why it’s crucial to work with a reputable and experienced hearing care professional.

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