Today’s breakthroughs in technology ensure that your hearing loss can be efficiently remedied with the right hearing aid model.
The problem is choosing the right one.
With all of the hearing aid models available in the market, it can feel a bit overwhelming. But by evaluating four factors—together with assistance from a highly trained hearing care professional—you can easily discover the ideal hearing aid model for you.
How All Hearing Aids Work
Before we discuss the differences, it helps to keep in mind how all hearing aids have essentially the equivalent parts.
Contemporary digital hearing aids are compact electronic devices that are composed of four standard parts:
- The microphone picks up environmental sound and sends 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 problems hearing. This signal is then directed to the speaker.
- The speaker delivers the magnified sound to the ear, resulting in louder, clearer sound.
Each hearing aid also has a battery, control and volume switches, and additional features and functions that we’ll discuss next.
How Hearing Aids Are Different
While all hearing aids have the same fundamental parts, there are four variables that make each model different. When deciding on a hearing aid model, your hearing specialist will help you to narrow down your choices based on the four variables, which are:
- Style – There are several different styles of hearing aids. The style most suited for you depends on many things such as the severity of your hearing loss, your dexterity, and your listening goals.
- Ease of use – Will a smaller hearing aid be too challenging for you to physically handle? Would you prefer to use your cell phone as your hearing aid remote control?
- Functionality – Do you need telecoils so you can use your hearing aids with your cell phone? How about directional microphones so you can concentrate on speech?
- Price – Most hearing care professionals are very good at finding a hearing aid that will meet your needs and your budget. The hearing aid your hearing specialist suggests is always based upon where they think you will achieve the biggest return for what you are paying. Financing options are also available to you.
Let’s look at the four variables in more depth.
Hearing Aid Style
Hearing aids are available in a variety of styles, and your choice may depend simply on cosmetic preference.
The following are some of the most popular styles:
Behind-the-ear (BTE) hearing aids – these have most of the hearing aid elements contained in a small plastic case that rests behind the ear; the case is then attached to an earmold or an earpiece by a piece of clear tubing. Mini-BTE aids can also be found that are scaled-down. These hearing aids are easy to handle and simple 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 more compact 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 tiny cases that fit partially or completely in the ear canal, making them practically imperceptible.
In regards to picking out a style, keep in mind the tradeoffs among size, ease-of-use, battery life, and functionality, and make sure you discuss these items with your hearing specialist.
Hearing Aid Ease-of-Use
A factor 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 difficult to handle, in which case you may prefer the behind-the-ear styles.
You might also want to consider digital hearing aids that can be managed with mobile technology, such as a cell phone or digital watch. This makes it convenient to monitor battery life, change the volume, and switch among environmental presets programmed by your hearing specialist.
Hearing Aid Functionality
Functionality is always a concern, and you should work with your hearing specialist about any special situations or activities you commonly perform. As an example, if you frequently use the phone, you’ll most likely want hearing aids equipped with telecoils or Bluetooth compatibility.
Also ask about directional microphones and background noise suppression that can maximize your capacity to hear speech and participate in conversation.
Hearing Aid Cost and Financing
Finally, after evaluating the above factors, you need to determine the price you’re prepared to invest for the benefits you’ll achieve from better 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 truly worth the price.
The fact is, the per month expense of a hearing aid is quite often less than the monthly cost of cable television—and hearing aids will have a more substantial influence on your general quality of life than viewing reruns of CSI.
Once you have a notion of what you’re looking for, your hearing specialist can make it easier to pin down the options. Then, you can choose the model that matches all of your requirements for style, ease-of-use, functionality, and price.
Once you’ve selected your perfect model, your hearing specialist will then custom-program the hearing aids to best amplify sound according to your distinct hearing loss, which was measured during the hearing exam (audiogram). And keep in mind, regardless of the model you pick out, it won’t work properly unless programmed by a hearing specialist.
Lastly, you’ll get to try your new hearing aids during the trial period. It will take a bit of 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 find your ideal pair of hearing aids, talk to us today!