Modern advances in technology ensure that your hearing loss can be successfully treated with the right hearing aid model.
The difficulty is choosing the right one.
With all of the hearing aid models on the market, it can feel a bit overwhelming. But by looking at four factors—along with help from a highly trained hearing care professional—you can readily find the ideal hearing aid model for you.
How All Hearing Aids Work
Before we discuss the differences, it helps to keep in mind how all hearing aids have ultimately the equivalent parts.
Today’s digital hearing aids are small electronic gadgets that consist of four basic parts:
- The microphone picks up environmental sound and sends it to the digital processor.
- The digital processor adjusts the sound signal according to the settings programmed by the hearing specialist. The modified sound signal is then sent to the amplifier.
- The amplifier boosts the volume of the sound based on the programmed settings, amplifying only the frequencies the patient has trouble hearing. This signal is then transferred to the speaker.
- The speaker delivers the magnified sound to the ear, leading to 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
While all hearing aids have the same fundamental parts, there are four variables that make each model different. When deciding on a hearing aid model, your hearing specialist will help you to narrow down your options based on the four variables, which are:
- Style – There are several different styles of hearing aids. The style best suited for you is dependent on several things such as the extent of your hearing loss, your manual dexterity, and your listening objectives.
- Ease of use – Will a compact hearing aid be too hard for you to physically manipulate? Would you like 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 concentrate on speech?
- Price – Most hearing care professionals are especially good at finding a hearing aid that will satisfy your requirements and your budget. The hearing aid your hearing specialist suggests is always based upon where they think you will attain the most significant return for what you are paying. Financing options are also available.
Let’s evaluate the four variables in more detail.
Hearing Aid Style
Hearing aids are available in a variety of styles, and your selection might depend plainly on cosmetic preference.
Here are some of the most common styles:
Behind-the-ear (BTE) hearing aids – these have the majority of the hearing aid elements covered in a compact plastic case that sits behind the ear; the case is then hooked up 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 maintain.
In-the-ear (ITE) hearing aids – these have all of the hearing aid parts enclosed 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 manipulate than the smaller 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 tiny cases that fit partially or entirely in the ear canal, making them practically invisible.
In terms of selecting a style, keep in mind 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
An aspect 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 tough to handle, in which case you may favor the behind-the-ear styles.
You may also want to look into digital hearing aids that can be manipulated with mobile technology, like a cell phone or digital watch. This makes it convenient to monitor battery life, change the volume, and transition among environmental presets programmed by your hearing specialist.
Hearing Aid Functionality
Performance is typically a concern, and you should consult with your hearing specialist regarding any unique circumstances or activities you commonly perform. As an example, if you regularly use the phone, you’ll likely want hearing aids outfitted with telecoils or Bluetooth compatibility.
Also inquire about directional microphones and background noise suppression that can enhance your capacity to hear speech and partake in conversation.
Hearing Aid Price and Financing
Lastly, after thinking about the above factors, you should figure out the price you’re willing to invest for the benefits you’ll enjoy from healthier hearing.
Although it’s true 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 continuously straining is well worth the price.
In fact, the per month cost of a hearing aid is quite often less than the per month cost of cable television—and hearing aids will have a bigger influence on your overall quality of life than watching reruns of Law and Order.
After you have a notion of what you’re interested in, your hearing specialist can make it easier to limit the options. Then, you can select the model that matches all of your needs for style, ease-of-use, functionality, and price.
After you’ve chosen your optimal model, your hearing specialist will then custom-program the hearing aids to best amplify sound in accordance to your individual hearing loss, which was measured during the hearing test (audiogram). And remember, irrespective of the model you go with, it won’t work correctly unless programmed by a hearing care professional.
Lastly, you’ll have the opportunity to test your new hearing aids during the trial period. It will take a little time to get used to them, but after a short while you’ll be amazed at how clearly you can hear sound and speech.
If you’re ready to discover your ideal pair of hearing aids, talk to us today!