Modern advances in technology ensure that your hearing loss can be efficiently remedied with the appropriate hearing aid model.
The challenge is choosing the right one.
With all of the hearing aid models on the market today, it can be quite overwhelming. But by looking at four factors—together with assistance from a highly trained hearing care professional—you can readily find the ideal hearing aid model for you.
How All Hearing Aids Work
Before we consider the differences, it helps to remember how all hearing aids have fundamentally the equivalent components.
Modern digital hearing aids are small electronic devices that consist of four basic parts:
- The microphone picks up environmental sound and sends it to the digital processor.
- The digital processor adjusts the sound signal according to the settings programmed by the hearing specialist. The modified sound signal is then directed to the amplifier.
- The amplifier boosts the volume of the sound based on the programmed settings, amplifying only the frequencies the patient has issues hearing. This signal is then transferred to the speaker.
- The speaker supplies the enhanced sound to the ear, resulting in louder, clearer sound.
Every hearing aid also has a battery, control and volume switches, and additional features and functionality that we’ll discuss next.
How Hearing Aids Are Different
Even though all hearing aids have the same vital 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 options according to the four variables, which are:
- Style – There are several different styles of hearing aids. The style best suited for you is dependent on several things such as the extent of your hearing loss, your manual dexterity, and your listening objectives.
- 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 utilize your hearing aids with your mobile phone? How about directional microphones so you can focus 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 on where they think you will attain the biggest return for what you are paying. Financing options are also available.
Let’s talk about the four variables in more depth.
Hearing Aid Style
Hearing aids come in a range of styles, and your final choice may hinge simply on aesthetic preference.
Here are a few of the most common styles:
Behind-the-ear (BTE) hearing aids – these have most of the hearing aid elements included in a compact plastic case that sits 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 simple to maintain.
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 more compact 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 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 tiny cases that fit partially or totally in the ear canal, making them nearly invisible.
In regards to picking out a style, keep in mind the tradeoffs among size, ease-of-use, battery life, and performance, and ensure that you go over these items with your hearing specialist.
Hearing Aid Ease-of-Use
A factor that is often overlooked is ease-of-use. While completely-in-the-canal hearing aids have the advantage of being small, they may also be difficult to handle, in which case you may desire the behind-the-ear styles.
You may also want to look into digital hearing aids that can be manipulated with mobile technology, like a cell phone or digital watch. This makes it convenient to monitor battery life, modify the volume, and transition among environmental presets programmed by your hearing specialist.
Hearing Aid Functionality
Functionality is always a concern, and you should communicate with your hearing specialist about any special situations or activities you regularly perform. For example, if you regularly 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 participate in conversation.
Hearing Aid Cost and Financing
Lastly, after thinking about the above factors, you need to determine the price you’re prepared to invest for the benefits you’ll achieve from improved hearing.
Although it’s true that no one can make this decision for you, most of our patients have felt that the ability to clearly hear sound and speech without continually straining is well worth the price.
The fact is, the monthly expense of a hearing aid is usually less than the monthly cost of cable television—and hearing aids will have a bigger impact on your overall quality of life than viewing reruns of CSI.
Once you have a picture of what you’re looking for, your hearing specialist can help you to narrow the options. Then, you can choose the model that satisfies all of your needs for style, ease-of-use, functionality, and price.
After you’ve selected your perfect model, your hearing specialist will then custom-program the hearing aids to best amplify sound in accordance to your distinct hearing loss, which was calculated during the hearing test (audiogram). And keep in mind, regardless of what model you decide on, it won’t work correctly unless programmed by a hearing care professional.
Last, you’ll have the opportunity to test your new hearing aids during the trial period. It will take a bit of 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 perfect pair of hearing aids, talk to us today!