Modern-day advances in technology ensure that your hearing loss can be successfully treated with the right hearing aid model.
The challenge is finding the right one.
With all of the hearing aid models readily available, it can feel quite overwhelming. But by looking at four factors—together with assistance from a competent hearing care professional—you can readily find the best hearing aid model for you.
How All Hearing Aids Work
Before we examine the differences, it will help to keep in mind how all hearing aids have fundamentally the equivalent parts.
Modern-day digital hearing aids are small electronic gadgets that are composed of four basic parts:
- The microphone picks up environmental sound and delivers 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 transferred to the amplifier.
- The amplifier enhances the volume of the sound based on the programmed settings, amplifying only the frequencies the patient has issues hearing. This signal is then directed to the speaker.
- The speaker delivers the enhanced sound to the ear, generating louder, clearer sound.
Each hearing aid also has a battery, control and volume buttons, and other features and functionality that we’ll talk about next.
How Hearing Aids Are Different
While all hearing aids have the same fundamental parts, there are four variables that render each model different. When deciding on a hearing aid model, your hearing specialist will help 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 suitable for you is dependent on many things such as the intensity of your hearing loss, your manual dexterity, and your listening objectives.
- Ease of use – Will a compact hearing aid be too difficult 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 utilize your hearing aids with your cell phone? How about directional microphones so you can concentrate on speech?
- Price – Most hearing care professionals are especially good at finding a hearing aid that will meet your demands and your finances. The hearing aid your hearing specialist suggests is always based upon where they think you will get the largest return for what you are spending. Financing options are also available to you.
Let’s consider the four variables in more depth.
Hearing Aid Style
Hearing aids come in a range of styles, and your selection might hinge plainly 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 parts 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 smaller. These hearing aids are easy to handle and easy to clean.
In-the-ear (ITE) hearing aids – these have all of the hearing aid parts enclosed 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 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 very small cases that fit partially or totally in the ear canal, making them virtually undetectable.
When it comes to selecting a style, keep in mind the tradeoffs among size, ease-of-use, battery life, and functionality, and ensure that you talk about these items with your hearing specialist.
Hearing Aid Ease-of-Use
A factor that is frequently neglected is ease-of-use. While completely-in-the-canal hearing aids have the advantage of being small, they may also be challenging 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 controlled with mobile technology, like a cell phone or digital watch. This makes it simple to monitor battery life, adjust the volume, and switch among environmental presets programmed by your hearing specialist.
Hearing Aid Functionality
Functionality is frequently a concern, and you need to talk with your hearing specialist regarding any unique circumstances or activities you frequently perform. For instance, if you frequently 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 engage in conversation.
Hearing Aid Price and Financing
Finally, after evaluating the above factors, you need to decide on the price you’re willing to invest for the benefits you’ll attain from better hearing.
While it’s true that no one can make this judgment for you, the majority 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 per month expense of a hearing aid is normally less than the monthly expense of cable television—and hearing aids will have a more substantial influence on your all-around 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 the options. Then, you can select the model that satisfies all of your needs 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 unique hearing loss, which was measured during the hearing test (audiogram). And remember, regardless of what model you pick out, it won’t function properly unless programmed by a hearing specialist.
Lastly, you’ll have the opportunity to try out your new hearing aids during the trial period. It will take a little 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!