The process of buying hearing aids used to be a lot easier. There were only a few styles to choose from and they all essentially 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 solutions for the recovery of hearing. And with digital technology, numerous features became readily available to manage a multitude of listening circumstances.
But that’s the tradeoff—easy choices that led to poor results are now complicated choices with lots of options.
But complicated does not mean impossible, and the time invested is well worth the gains in hearing you can attain. It’s also why it’s essential to partner with an experienced hearing specialist that can guide you through all of the important factors to consider.
Below are six things to look for when selecting hearing aids, in combination with the questions to ask your hearing professional.
Hearing amplification products are not all created equal. The fact 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.
While 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 must be programmed to amplify sounds based on your distinctive hearing loss. Otherwise, all sound is amplified evenly and that’s not going to help you hear speech any better than before.
Ask your hearing specialist about programming capabilities, including pre-programed settings you can use in a variety of situations, like at a restaurant versus at home.
Hearing aids are available in many sizes and styles, ranging from behind-the-ear to entirely in the ear canal.
You’ll need to balance price, functionality, ease-of-use, and aesthetics when making your choice on hearing aid styles. You’ll also want to work with a hearing professional on this one, as numerous elements should be taken into consideration, including the extent of your hearing loss.
3. Directional microphones
People invest in hearing aids for a range of reasons and to hear a mixture of sounds, but the main reason is to hear and understand speech.
If that’s the case for you, you’ll want to inquire about directional microphones in any hearing aid you’re checking into.
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 dictates how the hearing aid reacts 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 minimization
Background noise and feedback inhibition are built into most digital hearing aid models, but you’ll want to verify this with any product you’re considering.
Hearing aids contain a microprocessor that can differentiate between high-frequency sounds (like speech) and low-frequency sounds (like background noise). The microprocessor can then magnify speech while suppressing 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 certainly is.
Telecoils allow 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 movie theater, sound will be transmitted directly to your hearing aid for maximum clarity.
Hearing loops can also be installed in home theater systems for the same effect. Ask your hearing specialist for additional details.
6. Wireless connectivity
Did you just purchase a brand new iPhone or smartphone?
If so, you may want to give some thought to investing in compatible hearing aids that connect wirelessly to these products. That way, you can stream telephone 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 think about when choosing a hearing aid, which is why it’s critical to work with a reputable and experienced hearing care professional.
Are you ready to find your optimal hearing aid?