Today’s innovations in technology ensure that your hearing loss can be effectively treated with the right hearing aid model.
The problem is finding the right one.
With all of the hearing aid models available in the market, it can feel a little overwhelming. But by evaluating four factors—along with assistance from a highly skilled hearing care professional—you can readily discover the optimal hearing aid model for you.
How All Hearing Aids Work
Before we consider the differences, it will help to keep in mind how all hearing aids have basically the same parts.
Today’s digital hearing aids are compact electronic devices that are made up of four basic parts:
- The microphone picks up environmental sound and delivers it to the digital processor.
- The digital processor modifies the sound signal based on the settings programmed by the hearing specialist. The modified sound signal is then transferred to the amplifier.
- The amplifier heightens 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, generating louder, clearer sound.
Every hearing aid also has a battery, control and volume switches, and other features and functionality that we’ll discuss next.
How Hearing Aids Are Different
Even though all hearing aids have the same standard 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 based on the four variables, which are:
- Style – There are numerous different styles of hearing aids. The style most suitable for you depends on many things such as the intensity of your hearing loss, your dexterity, and your listening goals.
- Ease of use – Will a smaller hearing aid be too hard for you to physically manipulate? Would you like to use your mobile phone as your hearing aid remote control?
- Functionality – Do you need telecoils so you can use your hearing aids with your mobile phone? How about directional microphones so you can focus on conversation?
- Price – Most hearing care professionals are exceptionally good at finding a hearing aid that will meet your needs and your budget. The hearing aid your hearing specialist recommends is always based on where they think you will get the biggest return for what you are paying. Financing options are also available.
Let’s look into the four variables in more depth.
Hearing Aid Style
Hearing aids are available in a range of styles, and your selection may hinge plainly on cosmetic preference.
Here are some of the most common styles:
Behind-the-ear (BTE) hearing aids – these have most of the hearing aid components contained in a small 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 can also be found that are smaller. These hearing aids are easy to manipulate 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 outer portion 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 handle 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 imperceptible.
In regards to selecting a style, consider the tradeoffs among size, ease-of-use, battery life, and performance, and ensure that you talk about these items with your hearing specialist.
Hearing Aid Ease-of-Use
A consideration that is frequently neglected is ease-of-use. While completely-in-the-canal hearing aids have the virtue of being small, they may also be tough to handle, in which case you may desire the behind-the-ear styles.
You may also wish to look into digital hearing aids that can be operated with mobile technology, such as a cell phone or digital watch. This makes it simple to monitor battery life, adjust the volume, and switch between environmental presets programmed by your hearing specialist.
Hearing Aid Functionality
Performance is perpetually a concern, and you need to speak with your hearing specialist about any unique situations or activities you regularly perform. For 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 enhance your capacity to hear speech and partake in conversation.
Hearing Aid Cost and Financing
Finally, after thinking about the above factors, you should decide on the price you’re willing to spend for the benefits you’ll attain from healthier hearing.
While it’s a fact that no one can make this judgment for you, nearly all of our patients have felt that the ability to clearly hear sound and speech without continually straining is truly worth the price.
The fact is, the monthly expense of a hearing aid is quite often less than the monthly expense of cable television—and hearing aids will have a more substantial influence on your overall quality of life than viewing reruns of Law and Order.
After you have a picture of what you’re interested in, your hearing specialist can help you to narrow down the options. Then, you can choose the model that fulfills all of your needs for style, ease-of-use, functionality, and cost.
After you’ve picked out your perfect model, your hearing specialist will then custom-program the hearing aids to best amplify sound according to your individual hearing loss, which was measured during the hearing test (audiogram). And keep in mind that, irrespective of the model you pick out, it won’t work properly unless programmed by a hearing specialist.
Last, you’ll have the opportunity to test your new hearing aids during the trial period. It will take a bit of time to become 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 optimal pair of hearing aids, talk to us today!