The process of buying hearing aids was in the past a lot easier. There were only a few styles to select from and they all ultimately functioned 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 viable solutions for the restoration of hearing. And with digital technology, a variety of features became available to handle a wide variety of listening scenarios.
But that’s the tradeoff—easy choices that brought about poor results are now difficult choices with lots of options.
But complicated does not mean impossible, and the time invested is well worth the gains in hearing you can obtain. It’s also why it’s crucial to work with an experienced hearing specialist that can guide you through all of the important considerations.
Below are six factors 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 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 on the market, the main difference you should be concerned about between a personal amplifier and a hearing aid is programmability.
Hearing aids should be programmed to amplify sounds according to your particular hearing loss. Otherwise, all sound will be amplified evenly and that’s not going to make it easier to hear speech any better than before.
Ask your hearing expert about programming potential, including pre-programed settings you can use in different situations, like at a restaurant as opposed to at home.
Hearing aids come in many sizes and styles, ranging from behind-the-ear to entirely in the ear canal.
You’ll want to balance cost, performance, ease-of-use, and aesthetics when making your decision on hearing aid styles. You’ll also want to work together with a hearing specialist on this one, as several factors should be considered, including the severity 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 central reason is to hear and understand speech.
If that’s true for you, you’ll want to ask about directional microphones in any hearing aid you’re looking at.
Hearing aids with directionality contain two or more microphones situated at a specific distance from each other within the hearing aid. The contrast in arrival time of sound to each microphone then determines how the hearing aid responds to the sound.
This allows 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 minimization
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 discern between high-frequency sounds (like speech) and low-frequency sounds (like background noise). The microprocessor can then amplify speech while suppressing everything else.
A telecoil is a small copper coil integrated into the hearing aid. While that doesn’t sound all that spectacular, what it can achieve undeniably 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 movie theater, sound will be transmitted directly to your hearing aid for optimum clarity.
Hearing loops can also be installed in home theater systems for the same effect. Ask your hearing specialist for additional details.
6. Wireless connection
Did you just buy a new iPhone or smartphone?
If so, you may want to think about investing in compatible hearing aids that link up wirelessly to these products. That way, you can stream cell phone calls and music directly to your hearing aids for optimum sound quality.
Your smartphone can even become your hearing aid remote control, whereby you can discreetly adjust the volume and settings.
There’s a lot to take into account when choosing a hearing aid, which is why it’s vital to work with a reputable and experienced hearing care professional.
Are you ready to discover your ideal hearing aid?