The procedure for purchasing hearing aids was in the past a lot easier. There were only a small number of styles to select from and they all fundamentally worked the same way, which was to say not very well.
It wasn’t until digital technology was incorporated into the design that hearing aids became practical solutions for the restoration of hearing. And with digital technology, a multitude of features became available to deal with a wide variety of listening circumstances.
But that’s the tradeoff—easy choices that resulted in inadequate results are now difficult choices with several 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 walk you through all of the important considerations.
The following are six things to look for when selecting hearing aids, in combination with the questions to ask your hearing professional.
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.
Although you may not need the highest end hearing aid model in the market, the main difference you should be concerned about between a personal amplifier and a hearing aid is programmability.
Hearing aids should be programmed to enhance sounds according to your distinctive hearing loss. Otherwise, all sound is amplified uniformly and that’s not going to help you hear speech any better than before.
Ask your hearing professional about programming capabilities, including pre-programed settings you can use in different circumstances, like at a restaurant versus at home.
Hearing aids are available in many sizes and styles, ranging from behind-the-ear to completely in the ear canal.
You’ll want to balance cost, functionality, ease-of-use, and appearance when making your choice on hearing aid styles. You’ll also want to seek advise from a hearing specialist on this one, as several elements should be considered, including the degree of your hearing loss.
3. Directional microphones
People invest in hearing aids for various reasons and to hear an assortment of sounds, but the principal reason is to hear and understand speech.
If that’s true for you, you’ll want to inquire about directional microphones in any hearing aid you’re checking into.
Hearing aids with directionality contain two or more microphones set at a specific distance from each other within the hearing aid. The variation in arrival time of sound to each microphone then dictates how the hearing aid reacts to the sound.
This helps the hearing aid to target the specific sound origin in front of you, which if it’s a person, will be the sounds of speech.
4. Background noise reduction
Background noise and feedback inhibition are featured in most digital hearing aid models, but you’ll want to validate 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 enhance speech while curbing everything else.
A telecoil is a small copper coil integrated into the hearing aid. While that doesn’t sound all that impressive, what it can accomplish undoubtedly is.
Telecoils make it possible for 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 professional for additional details.
6. Wireless connectivity
Did you just purchase a brand new iPhone or smartphone?
If so, you may want to give some thought to purchasing compatible hearing aids that link up wirelessly to these devices. That way, you can stream telephone calls and music directly to your hearing aids for optimal sound quality.
Your smartphone can even be used as your hearing aid remote control, whereby you can discreetly change the volume and settings.
There’s a lot to consider when selecting a hearing aid, which is why it’s crucial to work with a reputable and experienced hearing care professional.
Are you ready to discover your ideal hearing aid?