Modern advances in technology ensure that your hearing loss can be successfully treated with the appropriate hearing aid model.
The problem is choosing the right one.
With all of the hearing aid models available in the market, it can be a little overwhelming. But by taking into account four factors—together with help from an experienced hearing care professional—you can easily find the optimal hearing aid model for you.
How All Hearing Aids Work
Before we examine the differences, it helps to remember how all hearing aids have essentially the same components.
Contemporary digital hearing aids are small electronic gadgets that consist of four basic parts:
- The microphone picks up environmental sound and delivers it to the digital processor.
- The digital processor modifies the sound signal based on the settings programmed by the hearing specialist. The altered sound signal is then delivered to the amplifier.
- The amplifier boosts the volume of the sound based on the programmed settings, amplifying only the frequencies the patient has difficulty hearing. This signal is then delivered to the speaker.
- The speaker supplies the magnified sound to the ear, producing louder, clearer sound.
Every hearing aid also has a battery, control and volume buttons, and additional features and functionality that we’ll discuss next.
How Hearing Aids Are Different
While all hearing aids have the same standard parts, there are four variables that make each model different. When picking out 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 suited for you is dependent on several things such as the degree of your hearing loss, your dexterity, and your listening goals.
- Ease of use – Will a compact hearing aid be too difficult for you to physically handle? Would you prefer 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 cell phone? How about directional microphones so you can focus on speech?
- Price – Most hearing care professionals are especially good at uncovering a hearing aid that will meet your desires and your finances. The hearing aid your hearing specialist suggests is always based on where they think you will get the largest return for what you are paying. Financing options are also available to you.
Let’s analyze the four variables in more detail.
Hearing Aid Style
Hearing aids come in a variety of styles, and your choice 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 included in a small plastic case that sits behind the ear; the case is then hooked up 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 easy to maintain.
In-the-ear (ITE) hearing aids – these have all of the hearing aid parts secured in a shell that fills in the external part 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 more compact in-the-canal aids and less visible 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 imperceptible.
In regards to selecting a style, keep in mind the tradeoffs among size, ease-of-use, battery life, and performance, and make sure you go over these items with your hearing specialist.
Hearing Aid Ease-of-Use
A component that is frequently ignored is ease-of-use. While completely-in-the-canal hearing aids have the benefit of being small, they may also be difficult to handle, in which case you may favor the behind-the-ear styles.
You might also want to consider digital hearing aids that can be operated with mobile technology, such as a cell phone or digital watch. This makes it easy to monitor battery life, modify the volume, and transition among environmental presets programmed by your hearing specialist.
Hearing Aid Functionality
Performance is perpetually a concern, and you should communicate with your hearing specialist regarding any unique situations or activities you commonly 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 reduction that can improve your ability to hear speech and partake in conversation.
Hearing Aid Price and Financing
Finally, after thinking about the above factors, you should determine the price you’re willing to spend for the benefits you’ll enjoy from improved hearing.
Although 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 continuously straining is worthy of the price.
The fact is, the monthly expense of a hearing aid is usually less than the per month expense of cable television—and hearing aids will have a more substantial impact on your general quality of life than watching reruns of CSI.
After you have a picture of what you’re looking for, your hearing specialist can make it easier to limit the options. Then, you can select the model that accommodates all of your needs for style, ease-of-use, functionality, and price.
After you’ve picked your perfect model, your hearing specialist will then custom-program the hearing aids to best amplify sound in accordance to your individual hearing loss, which was measured during the hearing test (audiogram). And remember, irrespective of what model you decide on, it won’t function correctly unless programmed by a hearing care professional.
Lastly, you’ll have the opportunity to try out your new hearing aids during the trial period. It will take a little 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 optimal pair of hearing aids, talk to us today!