The procedure for purchasing hearing aids used to be a lot easier. There were only a small number of styles to select from and they all ultimately worked the same way, which was to say not very well.
It wasn’t until digital technology was incorporated into the design that hearing aids became viable options for the restoration of hearing. And with digital technology, a variety of features became available to manage a wide variety of listening circumstances.
But that’s the tradeoff—easy choices that brought about inadequate results are now complicated choices with lots of options.
But complicated does not mean impossible, and the time invested is well worth the improvement in hearing you can attain. It’s also why it’s essential to partner with an experienced hearing specialist that can walk you through all of the important considerations.
Below are six factors to look for when buying hearing aids, together with the questions to ask your hearing professional.
Hearing amplification products are not all created equal. The truth 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.
Although you may not require the highest end hearing aid model in the market, the primary difference you should be worried about between a personal amplifier and a hearing aid is programmability.
Hearing aids must be programmed to enhance sounds based on your distinct hearing loss. Otherwise, all sound is amplified uniformly and that’s not going to help you hear speech any better than before.
Ask your hearing expert about programming capability, including pre-programed settings you can use in different circumstances, like at a restaurant versus at home.
Hearing aids come in many sizes and styles, ranging from behind-the-ear to entirely in the ear canal.
You’ll need to balance price, performance, ease-of-use, and appearance when making your choice on hearing aid styles. You’ll also want to work with a hearing specialist on this one, as many factors should be considered, including the level of your hearing loss.
3. Directional microphones
People buy hearing aids for a number of reasons and to hear an assortment of sounds, but the foremost reason is to hear and understand speech.
If that’s the case for you, you’ll want to ask about directional microphones in any hearing aid you’re checking into.
Hearing aids with directionality contain two or more microphones situated at a specified distance from each other within the hearing aid. The difference in arrival time of sound to each microphone then determines how the hearing aid responds to the sound.
This helps 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 reduction
Background noise and feedback inhibition are featured in most digital hearing aid models, but you’ll want to validate 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 curbing everything else.
A telecoil is a small copper coil built into the hearing aid. While that doesn’t sound all that spectacular, what it can achieve definitely is.
Telecoils make it possible for 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 cinema, 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 specialist for additional details.
6. Wireless connection
Did you just buy a new iPhone or smartphone?
If that’s the case, you may want to give some thought to investing in compatible hearing aids that connect wirelessly to these devices. That way, you can stream telephone calls and music directly to your hearing aids for optimal sound quality.
Your smartphone can even be used as your hearing aid remote control, where you can discreetly regulate the volume and settings.
There’s a lot to think about when picking out a hearing aid, which is why it’s crucial to work with a trustworthy and experienced hearing care professional.
Are you ready to discover your ideal hearing aid?