The procedure for purchasing hearing aids used to be much easier. There were only a few styles to choose from and they all in essence functioned 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 options for the recovery of hearing. And with digital technology, several features became readily available to regulate a wide variety of listening circumstances.
But that’s the tradeoff—simple choices that led to poor results are now difficult choices with lots of options.
But complicated does not mean impossible, and the time invested is well worth the improvement in hearing you can achieve. It’s also why it’s vital to partner with an established hearing specialist that can guide you through all of the relevant factors to consider.
Below are six things to look for when selecting hearing aids, along with the questions to ask your hearing specialist.
Hearing amplification products are not all created equal. The truth is, 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.
Even though you may not require the highest end hearing aid model available, the primary difference you should be worried about between a personal amplifier and a hearing aid is programmability.
Hearing aids should be programmed to enhance sounds based on your distinct hearing loss. Otherwise, all sound will be amplified uniformly and that’s not going to help you hear speech any better than before.
Ask your hearing expert about programming capabilities, including pre-programed settings you can use in different circumstances, like at a restaurant versus at home.
2. Hearing aid style
Hearing aids come in many sizes and styles, ranging from behind-the-ear to entirely in the ear canal.
You’ll want to balance price, performance, ease-of-use, and aesthetics when making your decision on hearing aid styles. You’ll also want to work together with a hearing professional on this one, as numerous elements should be considered, including the level of your hearing loss.
3. Directional microphones
People buy hearing aids for a range of reasons and to hear an assortment of sounds, but the chief reason is to hear and understand speech.
If that’s the case for you, you’ll want to ask about directional microphones in any hearing aid you’re considering.
Hearing aids with directionality contain two or more microphones placed at a specific distance from each other within the hearing aid. The contrast 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 built into most digital hearing aid models, but you’ll want to validate this with any device 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 boost speech while curbing everything else.
A telecoil is a small copper coil built into the hearing aid. While that doesn’t sound all that impressive, what it can accomplish undoubtedly is.
Telecoils allow you to speak on the phone without feedback and connect to hearing loop systems. For example, if a hearing loop system is installed in a church or cinema, 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 buy a brand new iPhone or smartphone?
If so, you may want to give some thought to purchasing compatible hearing aids that connect wirelessly to these devices. That way, you can stream phone calls and music directly to your hearing aids for optimum sound quality.
Your smartphone can even be used as your hearing aid remote control, where you can subtly adjust the volume and settings.
There’s a lot to take into account when picking out a hearing aid, which is why it’s crucial to work with a trustworthy and experienced hearing care professional.
Are you ready to find your ideal hearing aid?