Modern-day breakthroughs 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 readily available, it can feel a little overwhelming. But by taking into consideration four factors—together with assistance from a qualified hearing care professional—you can easily find the best hearing aid model for you.
How All Hearing Aids Work
Before we examine the differences, it will help to keep in mind how all hearing aids have fundamentally the same components.
Modern digital hearing aids are compact electronic devices that consist of four basic parts:
- The microphone picks up environmental sound and transmits it to the digital processor.
- The digital processor adjusts the sound signal based on the settings programmed by the hearing specialist. The customized sound signal is then transferred to the amplifier.
- The amplifier raises the volume of the sound based on the programmed settings, amplifying only the frequencies the patient has issues hearing. This signal is then sent to the speaker.
- The speaker delivers the enhanced sound to the ear, leading to louder, clearer sound.
Each 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
Although all hearing aids have the same standard parts, there are four variables that make each model different. When picking out a hearing aid model, your hearing specialist will assist you to narrow down your choices according to the four variables, which are:
- Style – There are many different styles of hearing aids. The style best suited for you depends on several things such as the extent of your hearing loss, your dexterity, and your listening goals.
- Ease of use – Will a smaller hearing aid be too difficult 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 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 desires and your budget. The hearing aid your hearing specialist recommends is always based on where they think you will get the largest return for what you are spending. Financing options are also available to you.
Let’s look into the four variables in more depth.
Hearing Aid Style
Hearing aids are available in a variety of styles, and your choice may depend plainly on cosmetic preference.
Here are a few of the most popular styles:
Behind-the-ear (BTE) hearing aids – these have the majority of the hearing aid elements contained in a compact plastic case that rests behind the ear; the case is then hooked up 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 handle and easy to clean.
In-the-ear (ITE) hearing aids – these have all of the hearing aid parts enclosed in a shell that fills in the external part of the ear. The ITE aids are more compact than the behind-the-ear aids but larger than the in-the-canal aids. These hearing aids are easier to manipulate than the smaller in-the-canal aids and less conspicuous than the behind-the-ear aids.
In-the-canal (ITC) hearing aids and completely-in-the-canal (CIC) hearing aids – these hearing aids are enclosed in very small cases that fit partially or totally in the ear canal, making them nearly undetectable.
In terms of deciding on a style, keep in mind the tradeoffs among size, ease-of-use, battery life, and functionality, and ensure that you go over these items with your hearing specialist.
Hearing Aid Ease-of-Use
A component that is frequently ignored is ease-of-use. While completely-in-the-canal hearing aids have the benefits of being small, they may also be challenging to handle, in which case you may favor the behind-the-ear styles.
You may also wish to look into digital hearing aids that can be manipulated with mobile technology, such as a cell phone or digital watch. This makes it easy to monitor battery life, adjust the volume, and switch among environmental presets programmed by your hearing specialist.
Hearing Aid Functionality
Performance is commonly a concern, and you need to consult your hearing specialist regarding any special circumstances or activities you frequently perform. As an example, if you regularly use the phone, you’ll likely want hearing aids outfitted with telecoils or Bluetooth compatibility.
Also inquire about directional microphones and background noise suppression that can improve your ability to hear speech and participate in conversation.
Hearing Aid Cost and Financing
Last, after thinking about the above factors, you need to decide the price you’re ready to invest for the benefits you’ll attain from healthier hearing.
While it’s true that no one can make this determination for you, most of our patients have felt that the ability to distinctly hear sound and speech without constantly straining is well worth the price.
The fact is, the per month cost of a hearing aid is often less than the monthly cost of cable television—and hearing aids will have a bigger influence on your general quality of life than viewing reruns of CSI.
Once you have a notion of what you’re interested in, your hearing specialist can help you to limit the options. Then, you can select the model that suits all of your needs for style, ease-of-use, functionality, and cost.
After you’ve picked your optimal model, your hearing specialist will then custom-program the hearing aids to best amplify sound according to your individual hearing loss, which was calculated during the hearing test (audiogram). And remember, irrespective of the model you pick out, it won’t work correctly unless programmed by a hearing care professional.
Finally, you’ll get to test 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 astounded at how clearly you can hear sound and speech.
If you’re ready to discover your ideal pair of hearing aids, talk to us today!