Today’s advances in technology assure that your hearing loss can be effectively remedied with the right hearing aid model.
The difficulty is choosing the right one.
With all of the hearing aid models on the market, it can be quite overwhelming. But by considering four factors—along with help from a seasoned hearing care professional—you can readily discover the ideal hearing aid model for you.
How All Hearing Aids Work
Before we examine the differences, it helps to remember how all hearing aids have fundamentally the same components.
Today’s digital hearing aids are compact electronic gadgets that consist of four standard parts:
- The microphone picks up environmental sound and transmits it to the digital processor.
- The digital processor modifies the sound signal based on the settings programmed by the hearing specialist. The modified sound signal is then delivered to the amplifier.
- The amplifier increases the volume of the sound based on the programmed settings, amplifying only the frequencies the patient has trouble hearing. This signal is then transmitted to the speaker.
- The speaker supplies the enhanced sound to the ear, causing louder, clearer sound.
Each hearing aid also has a battery, control and volume buttons, and additional features and functions that we’ll talk about next.
How Hearing Aids Are Different
Although all hearing aids have the same vital parts, there are four variables that make each model different. When picking out a hearing aid model, your hearing specialist will help you narrow down your choices based on the four variables, which are:
- Style – There are several different styles of hearing aids. The style most suitable for you is dependent on several things such as the intensity of your hearing loss, your dexterity, and your listening goals.
- Ease of use – Will a compact hearing aid be too hard for you to physically manipulate? Would you like to use your mobile phone as your hearing aid remote control?
- Functionality – Do you need telecoils so you can use your hearing aids with your mobile phone? How about directional microphones so you can concentrate on conversation?
- Price – Most hearing care professionals are very good at finding a hearing aid that will satisfy your requirements and your budget. The hearing aid your hearing specialist recommends is always based upon where they think you will get the biggest return for what you are paying. Financing options are also available to you.
Let’s consider the four variables in more detail.
Hearing Aid Style
Hearing aids are available in a range of styles, and your choice might depend simply on cosmetic preference.
Here are a few of the most popular styles:
Behind-the-ear (BTE) hearing aids – these have most of the hearing aid parts contained in a compact plastic case that sits 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 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 outer part 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 manipulate 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 entirely in the ear canal, making them practically 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 discuss these items with your hearing specialist.
Hearing Aid Ease-of-Use
A consideration that is often overlooked 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 prefer the behind-the-ear styles.
You might also want to consider digital hearing aids that can be manipulated with mobile technology, like a cell phone or digital watch. This makes it effortless to monitor battery life, adjust the volume, and transition among environmental presets programmed by your hearing specialist.
Hearing Aid Functionality
Functionality is always a concern, and you should consult 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 equipped with telecoils or Bluetooth compatibility.
Also ask about directional microphones and background noise suppression that can enhance your capacity to hear speech and participate in conversation.
Hearing Aid Price and Financing
Finally, after thinking about the above factors, you should figure out the price you’re ready to invest for the benefits you’ll enjoy from healthier hearing.
While it’s a fact that no one can make this determination for you, nearly all of our patients have felt that the ability to distinctly hear sound and speech without endlessly straining is worthy of the price.
The fact is, the monthly expense of a hearing aid is usually less than the monthly cost of cable television—and hearing aids will have a more substantial impact on your overall quality of life than viewing reruns of Law and Order.
Once you have a picture of what you’re interested in, your hearing specialist can help you narrow down the options. Then, you can select the model that satisfies all of your needs for style, ease-of-use, functionality, and cost.
After you’ve decided on your ideal model, your hearing specialist will then custom-program the hearing aids to best amplify sound in accordance to your distinct hearing loss, which was calculated during the hearing exam (audiogram). And keep in mind that, regardless of the model you pick out, it won’t work properly unless programmed by a hearing specialist.
Finally, 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 ideal pair of hearing aids, talk to us today!