Modern advances in technology assure that your hearing loss can be successfully remedied with the appropriate hearing aid model.
The trouble is finding the right one.
With all of the hearing aid models to pick from, it can be just a little overwhelming. But by considering four factors—along with help from a highly trained hearing care professional—you can readily find the optimal hearing aid model for you.
How All Hearing Aids Work
Before we discuss the differences, it will help to remember how all hearing aids have in essence the equivalent parts.
Modern-day digital hearing aids are compact electronic gadgets that are made up of four standard parts:
- The microphone picks up environmental sound and transmits it to the digital processor.
- The digital processor modifies the sound signal according to the settings programmed by the hearing specialist. The modified sound signal is then sent to the amplifier.
- The amplifier raises the volume of the sound based on the programmed settings, amplifying only the frequencies the patient has trouble 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 switches, and other 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 picking out a hearing aid model, your hearing specialist will assist you to narrow down your options according to the four variables, which are:
- Style – There are many different styles of hearing aids. The style most suitable for you is dependent on many things such as the extent of your hearing loss, your dexterity, and your listening objectives.
- Ease of use – Will a smaller hearing aid be too challenging for you to physically handle? Would you like to use your cell 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 concentrate on conversation?
- Price – Most hearing care professionals are very 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 get the biggest return for what you are spending. Financing options are also available to you.
Let’s analyze the four variables in more depth.
Hearing Aid Style
Hearing aids come in a range of styles, and your choice may hinge plainly on cosmetic preference.
The following are a few of the most popular styles:
Behind-the-ear (BTE) hearing aids – these have the majority of the hearing aid parts covered in a compact plastic case that rests behind the ear; the case is then connected to an earmold or an earpiece by a piece of clear tubing. Mini-BTE aids can also be found that are scaled-down. These hearing aids are easy to manipulate and simple to clean.
In-the-ear (ITE) hearing aids – these have all of the hearing aid parts enclosed in a shell that fills in the outer portion 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 enclosed in very small cases that fit partially or entirely in the ear canal, making them nearly invisible.
In terms of deciding on a style, consider the tradeoffs among size, ease-of-use, battery life, and performance, and ensure that you discuss these items with your hearing specialist.
Hearing Aid Ease-of-Use
An aspect that is often overlooked is ease-of-use. While completely-in-the-canal hearing aids have the appeal of being small, they may also be challenging to handle, in which case you may prefer the behind-the-ear styles.
You might also want to look into digital hearing aids that can be controlled with mobile technology, like a cell phone or digital watch. This makes it easy to monitor battery life, adjust the volume, and switch between environmental presets programmed by your hearing specialist.
Hearing Aid Functionality
Functionality is typically a concern, and you should talk with your hearing specialist about any special situations or activities you frequently perform. For example, if you frequently use the phone, you’ll probably want hearing aids equipped with telecoils or Bluetooth compatibility.
Also inquire about directional microphones and background noise suppression that can improve your ability to hear speech and participate in conversation.
Hearing Aid Cost and Financing
Lastly, after considering the above factors, you need to decide the price you’re ready to invest for the benefits you’ll attain from healthier hearing.
While it’s a fact that no one can make this decision for you, nearly all of our patients have felt that the ability to distinctly hear sound and speech without continually straining is truly worth the price.
In fact, the monthly expense of a hearing aid is normally less than the monthly expense of cable television—and hearing aids will have a more substantial impact on your overall quality of life than watching reruns of CSI.
After you have an idea of what you’re interested in, your hearing specialist can help you to pin down the options. Then, you can choose the model that satisfies all of your needs for style, ease-of-use, functionality, and price.
After you’ve decided on your ideal 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, irrespective of the model you pick out, it won’t work correctly unless programmed by a hearing specialist.
Last, you’ll get to test your new hearing aids during the trial period. It will take a bit of 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 optimal pair of hearing aids, talk to us today!