Modern-day innovations in technology assure that your hearing loss can be effectively remedied with the right hearing aid model.
The difficulty is finding the right one.
With all of the hearing aid models to choose from, it can feel just a little overwhelming. But by looking at four factors—together with assistance from a qualified hearing care professional—you can easily discover the optimal hearing aid model for you.
How All Hearing Aids Work
Before we examine the differences, it will help to remember how all hearing aids have in essence the same parts.
Contemporary digital hearing aids are small electronic gadgets that are made up of four basic parts:
- The microphone picks up environmental sound and sends it to the digital processor.
- The digital processor adjusts the sound signal based on the settings programmed by the hearing specialist. The revised sound signal is then transferred to the amplifier.
- The amplifier increases 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 enhanced sound to the ear, causing 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
Although all hearing aids have the same vital parts, there are four variables that render each model different. When selecting a hearing aid model, your hearing specialist will help you to narrow down your options according to the four variables, which are:
- Style – There are several different styles of hearing aids. The style most appropriate for you is dependent on several things such as the intensity of your hearing loss, your manual dexterity, and your listening objectives.
- Ease of use – Will a smaller hearing aid be too difficult for you to physically handle? Would you prefer to use your cell phone as your hearing aid remote control?
- Functionality – Do you need telecoils so you can utilize your hearing aids with your mobile phone? How about directional microphones so you can focus on speech?
- Price – Most hearing care professionals are exceptionally good at uncovering a hearing aid that will meet your preferences and your finances. The hearing aid your hearing specialist recommends is always based on where they think you will achieve the largest return for what you are paying. Financing options are also available to you.
Let’s look into the four variables in more detail.
Hearing Aid Style
Hearing aids are available in a range of styles, and your selection might depend simply on cosmetic preference.
Here are some of the most popular styles:
Behind-the-ear (BTE) hearing aids – these have most of the hearing aid parts contained in a compact plastic case that rests behind the ear; the case is then linked 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 included in a shell that fills in the external part 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 handle 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 contained in very small cases that fit partially or completely in the ear canal, making them virtually invisible.
In regards to deciding on a style, consider the tradeoffs among size, ease-of-use, battery life, and functionality, and make sure you talk about these items with your hearing specialist.
Hearing Aid Ease-of-Use
An element that is frequently overlooked is ease-of-use. While completely-in-the-canal hearing aids have the benefits of being small, they may also be tricky to handle, in which case you may favor the behind-the-ear styles.
You might also wish to look into digital hearing aids that can be managed with mobile technology, like a cell phone or digital watch. This makes it simple to monitor battery life, change the volume, and switch among environmental presets programmed by your hearing specialist.
Hearing Aid Functionality
Functionality is consistently a concern, and you should communicate with your hearing specialist about any unique circumstances or activities you regularly perform. For example, if you regularly use the phone, you’ll most likely want hearing aids outfitted with telecoils or Bluetooth compatibility.
Also inquire about directional microphones and background noise reduction that can enhance your capacity to hear speech and partake in conversation.
Hearing Aid Cost and Financing
Last, after considering the above factors, you need to decide the price you’re ready to invest for the benefits you’ll achieve from better hearing.
While it’s a fact that no one can make this determination for you, most of our patients have felt that the ability to clearly hear sound and speech without continually straining is truly worth the price.
In fact, the per month expense of a hearing aid is usually less than the per month expense of cable television—and hearing aids will have a more substantial influence on your overall quality of life than watching reruns of Law and Order.
Once you have a picture of what you’re interested in, your hearing specialist can make it easier to reduce the options. Then, you can select the model that suits all of your requirements for style, ease-of-use, functionality, and cost.
Once you’ve decided on your optimal model, your hearing specialist will then custom-program the hearing aids to best amplify sound in accordance to your distinct hearing loss, which was measured during the hearing test (audiogram). And keep in mind that, irrespective of what model you decide on, it won’t work properly unless programmed by a hearing care professional.
Finally, you’ll get to try your new hearing aids during the trial period. It will take some time to become accustomed 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 find your perfect pair of hearing aids, talk to us today!