The procedure for buying hearing aids used to be much easier. There were only a small number of styles to select from and they all fundamentally worked the same way, which was to say not very well.
It wasn’t until digital technology was integrated into the design that hearing aids became realistic solutions for the restoration of hearing. And with digital technology, a variety of features became available to deal with a multitude of listening situations.
But that’s the tradeoff—simple choices that led to poor results are now complicated choices with a number of options.
But complicated does not mean impossible, and the time invested is well worth the gains in hearing you can attain. It’s also why it’s vital to work with an experienced hearing specialist that can walk you through all of the important factors to consider.
The following are six factors to look for when selecting hearing aids, together with the questions to ask your hearing specialist.
Hearing amplification products are not all created equal. The fact is, the distinction between the lowest end 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 need the highest end hearing aid model available, the principal difference you should be concerned 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 specialist about programming functionality, including pre-programed settings you can use in different scenarios, like at a restaurant as opposed to at home.
Hearing aids come in several sizes and styles, ranging from behind-the-ear to entirely in the ear canal.
You’ll need to balance cost, performance, ease-of-use, and appearance when making your choice on hearing aid styles. You’ll also want to work together with a hearing specialist on this one, as numerous elements should be taken into consideration, including the extent of your hearing loss.
3. Directional microphones
People invest in hearing aids for a range of reasons and to hear a mixture of sounds, but the principal reason is to hear and understand speech.
If that’s the case for you, you’ll want to inquire about directional microphones in any hearing aid you’re checking into.
Hearing aids with directionality contain two or more microphones placed at a specified distance from each other within the hearing aid. The variation in arrival time of sound to each microphone then determines how the hearing aid reacts to the sound.
This permits the hearing aid to focus on the specific sound source 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 featured in most digital hearing aid models, but you’ll want to confirm this with any model 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 enhance speech while suppressing everything else.
A telecoil is a small copper coil integrated into the hearing aid. While that doesn’t sound all that remarkable, what it can accomplish definitely is.
Telecoils allow you to speak on the phone without feedback and connect to hearing loop systems. For instance, if a hearing loop system is installed in a church or movie theater, 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 equivalent effect. Ask your hearing professional for more information.
6. Wireless connection
Did you just purchase a brand new iPhone or smartphone?
If that’s the case, you may want to consider investing in compatible hearing aids that link up 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 inconspicuously change the volume and settings.
There’s a lot to consider when picking out a hearing aid, which is why it’s vital to work with a trustworthy and knowledgeable hearing care professional.
Are you ready to find your ideal hearing aid?