Today’s innovations in technology ensure that your hearing loss can be successfully treated with the right hearing aid model.
The problem is choosing the right one.
With all of the hearing aid models currently available, it can feel a little overwhelming. But by taking into consideration four factors—together with help from an experienced hearing care professional—you can readily discover the perfect 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 generally the equivalent components.
Modern digital hearing aids are small electronic devices that consist of four standard parts:
- The microphone picks up environmental sound and delivers it to the digital processor.
- The digital processor modifies the sound signal according to the settings programmed by the hearing specialist. The customized sound signal is then directed to the amplifier.
- The amplifier raises the volume of the sound based on the programmed settings, amplifying only the frequencies the patient has problems hearing. This signal is then delivered to the speaker.
- The speaker delivers the magnified sound to the ear, generating louder, clearer sound.
Each 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
Although all hearing aids have the same standard parts, there are four variables that make each model different. When deciding on a hearing aid model, your hearing specialist will help you narrow down your choices according to the four variables, which are:
- Style – There are numerous different styles of hearing aids. The style most appropriate for you is dependent on several things such as the severity of your hearing loss, your manual dexterity, and your listening goals.
- Ease of use – Will a compact hearing aid be too difficult for you to physically handle? 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 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 requirements and your finances. The hearing aid your hearing specialist suggests is always based upon where they think you will attain the largest return for what you are spending. Financing options are also available.
Let’s check out the four variables in more detail.
Hearing Aid Style
Hearing aids come in a variety of styles, and your final choice might depend simply on cosmetic taste.
Here are some of the most popular styles:
Behind-the-ear (BTE) hearing aids – these have most of the hearing aid elements included 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 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 included in a shell that fills in the exterior 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 handle than the smaller 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 contained in tiny cases that fit partially or totally in the ear canal, making them practically imperceptible.
In regards to picking out a style, consider 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 consideration that is often overlooked is ease-of-use. While completely-in-the-canal hearing aids have the benefits of being small, they may also be difficult to handle, in which case you may prefer the behind-the-ear styles.
You may also wish to look into digital hearing aids that can be controlled with mobile technology, like a cell phone or digital watch. This makes it effortless to monitor battery life, change the volume, and switch among environmental presets programmed by your hearing specialist.
Hearing Aid Functionality
Performance is perpetually a concern, and you should consult with your hearing specialist regarding any special circumstances or activities you regularly perform. For example, if you frequently use the phone, you’ll most likely want hearing aids outfitted with telecoils or Bluetooth compatibility.
Also inquire about directional microphones and background noise suppression that can heighten your capacity to hear speech and participate in conversation.
Hearing Aid Price and Financing
Finally, after evaluating the above factors, you need to decide the price you’re willing to spend for the benefits you’ll achieve from better hearing.
Although it’s a fact that no one can make this judgment for you, most of our patients have felt that the ability to clearly hear sound and speech without constantly straining is definitely worth the price.
The fact is, the monthly expense of a hearing aid is commonly less than the per month cost of cable television—and hearing aids will have a bigger impact on your overall quality of life than viewing 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 choose the model that fulfills all of your requirements for style, ease-of-use, functionality, and cost.
Once you’ve decided on your perfect model, your hearing specialist will then custom-program the hearing aids to best amplify sound in accordance to your unique hearing loss, which was calculated during the hearing test (audiogram). And keep in mind that, irrespective of the model you choose, it won’t function properly unless programmed by a hearing care professional.
Last, you’ll get to test your new hearing aids during the trial period. It will take some time to get used to them, but after a short while you’ll be astounded at how clearly you can hear sound and speech.
If you’re ready to discover your perfect pair of hearing aids, talk to us today!