Modern breakthroughs in technology assure that your hearing loss can be effectively treated with the appropriate hearing aid model.
The problem is finding the right one.
With all of the hearing aid models that are available, it can be a little overwhelming. But by looking at four factors—together with help from a competent hearing care professional—you can readily find the best hearing aid model for you.
How All Hearing Aids Work
Before we consider the differences, it helps to keep in mind how all hearing aids have generally the same parts.
Modern digital hearing aids are small electronic devices that consist of four standard parts:
- The microphone picks up environmental sound and transmits it to the digital processor.
- The digital processor modifies the sound signal based on the settings programmed by the hearing specialist. The customized sound signal is then transmitted 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 transmitted to the speaker.
- The speaker supplies the magnified sound to the ear, leading to louder, clearer sound.
Every hearing aid also has a battery, control and volume buttons, and other features and functions 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 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 depends on many things such as the extent of your hearing loss, your dexterity, and your listening objectives.
- Ease of use – Will a compact hearing aid be too hard for you to physically manipulate? Would you prefer to use your mobile 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 exceptionally good at uncovering 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 attain the biggest return for what you are paying. Financing options are also available to you.
Let’s check out the four variables in more depth.
Hearing Aid Style
Hearing aids come in a variety of styles, and your final 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 included in a compact plastic case that rests behind the ear; the case is then linked to an earmold or an earpiece by a piece of clear tubing. Mini-BTE aids are also available that are scaled-down. 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 contained in a shell that fills in the outer part 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 manipulate than the more compact 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 completely in the ear canal, making them virtually undetectable.
In terms of choosing a style, consider 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
A component that is frequently overlooked is ease-of-use. While completely-in-the-canal hearing aids have the advantage of being small, they may also be tough to handle, in which case you may favor the behind-the-ear styles.
You may also wish to consider digital hearing aids that can be manipulated with mobile technology, like a cell phone or digital watch. This makes it effortless to monitor battery life, adjust the volume, and switch among environmental presets programmed by your hearing specialist.
Hearing Aid Functionality
Functionality is normally a concern, and you need to discuss with your hearing specialist about any unique situations or activities you regularly perform. As an example, if you frequently use the phone, you’ll most likely want hearing aids outfitted with telecoils or Bluetooth compatibility.
Also ask about directional microphones and background noise suppression that can heighten your capacity to hear speech and partake in conversation.
Hearing Aid Cost and Financing
Lastly, after considering the above factors, you need to determine the price you’re willing to invest 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 endlessly straining is definitely worth the price.
In fact, the monthly expense of a hearing aid is commonly less than the monthly cost of cable television—and hearing aids will have a more substantial impact on your total quality of life than watching reruns of Law and Order.
Once you have a picture of what you’re looking for, your hearing specialist can assist you to pin down the options. Then, you can choose the model that matches all of your requirements for style, ease-of-use, functionality, and cost.
Once you’ve selected your ideal model, your hearing specialist will then custom-program the hearing aids to best amplify sound according to your distinct hearing loss, which was calculated during the hearing exam (audiogram). And remember, regardless of the model you choose, it won’t function correctly unless programmed by a hearing care professional.
Finally, you’ll have the opportunity to try out your new hearing aids during the trial period. It will take some time to get accustomed 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 perfect pair of hearing aids, talk to us today!