Modern innovations in technology ensure that your hearing loss can be successfully remedied with the right hearing aid model.
The trouble is finding the right one.
With all of the hearing aid models currently available, it can be a little overwhelming. But by looking into four factors—along with help from a qualified hearing care professional—you can easily find the best hearing aid model for you.
How All Hearing Aids Work
Before we examine the differences, it helps to keep in mind how all hearing aids have generally the equivalent components.
Modern-day digital hearing aids are small electronic gadgets that are composed of four standard parts:
- The microphone picks up environmental sound and delivers it to the digital processor.
- The digital processor adjusts the sound signal according to the settings programmed by the hearing specialist. The revised 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 difficulty hearing. This signal is then delivered to the speaker.
- The speaker delivers the magnified sound to the ear, causing louder, clearer sound.
Every hearing aid also has a battery, control and volume switches, and other features and functions that we’ll talk about next.
How Hearing Aids Are Different
Even though all hearing aids have the same standard parts, there are four variables that render each model different. When selecting a hearing aid model, your hearing specialist will assist you to narrow down your choices according to the four variables, which are:
- Style – There are numerous different styles of hearing aids. The style best suited for you is dependent on many things such as the degree of your hearing loss, your manual dexterity, and your listening goals.
- 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 use your hearing aids with your cell phone? How about directional microphones so you can focus on speech?
- Price – Most hearing care professionals are especially good at uncovering a hearing aid that will meet your preferences and your budget. The hearing aid your hearing specialist recommends is always based upon where they think you will attain the largest return for what you are spending. Financing options are also available to you.
Let’s look into the four variables in more detail.
Hearing Aid Style
Hearing aids come in a range of styles, and your choice might hinge simply on aesthetic preference.
Here are some of the most popular styles:
Behind-the-ear (BTE) hearing aids – these have most of the hearing aid elements covered in a small plastic case that rests 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 manipulate 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 portion of the ear. The ITE aids are smaller than the behind-the-ear aids but larger than the in-the-canal aids. These hearing aids are easier to manipulate than the smaller in-the-canal aids and less noticeable 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 totally in the ear canal, making them practically unnoticeable.
When it comes to deciding on a style, consider the tradeoffs among size, ease-of-use, battery life, and performance, and make sure you go over these items with your hearing specialist.
Hearing Aid Ease-of-Use
A component that is frequently ignored is ease-of-use. While completely-in-the-canal hearing aids have the appeal of being small, they may also be tough to handle, in which case you may prefer the behind-the-ear styles.
You might also wish to consider digital hearing aids that can be operated with mobile technology, such as a cell phone or digital watch. This makes it convenient to monitor battery life, modify the volume, and switch among environmental presets programmed by your hearing specialist.
Hearing Aid Functionality
Functionality is invariably a concern, and you need to consult your hearing specialist regarding any special situations or activities you commonly perform. As an example, if you regularly use the phone, you’ll most likely want hearing aids equipped with telecoils or Bluetooth compatibility.
Also ask about directional microphones and background noise suppression that can maximize your capacity to hear speech and participate in conversation.
Hearing Aid Cost and Financing
Lastly, after thinking about the above factors, you need to decide on the price you’re willing to spend for the benefits you’ll achieve from improved hearing.
While it’s true that no one can make this decision for you, nearly all of our patients have felt that the ability to clearly hear sound and speech without continuously straining is definitely worth the price.
The fact is, the per month cost of a hearing aid is usually less than the per month expense of cable television—and hearing aids will have a bigger impact on your all-around quality of life than viewing reruns of Law and Order.
After you have a notion of what you’re interested in, your hearing specialist can make it easier to narrow the options. Then, you can select the model that meets all of your requirements for style, ease-of-use, functionality, and cost.
Once you’ve chosen your perfect model, your hearing specialist will then custom-program the hearing aids to best amplify sound according to your unique hearing loss, which was measured during the hearing exam (audiogram). And keep in mind that, regardless of what model you pick out, it won’t function correctly unless programmed by a hearing care professional.
Finally, you’ll get 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 find your optimal pair of hearing aids, talk to us today!