How to Select the Right Hearing Aid Model

Hearing Aids

Modern advances in technology ensure that your hearing loss can be efficiently remedied with the appropriate hearing aid model.

The difficulty is choosing the right one.

With all of the hearing aid models currently available, it can be a little overwhelming. But by evaluating four factors—together with assistance from a competent hearing care professional—you can readily discover the perfect hearing aid model for you.

How All Hearing Aids Work

Before we examine the differences, it helps to remember how all hearing aids have ultimately the equivalent components.

Modern-day digital hearing aids are compact electronic devices that are composed of four basic parts:

  1. The microphone picks up environmental sound and delivers it to the digital processor.
  2. The digital processor modifies the sound signal based on the settings programmed by the hearing specialist. The customized sound signal is then directed to the amplifier.
  3. 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.
  4. The speaker supplies the enhanced sound to the ear, bringing about louder, clearer sound.

Every hearing aid also has a battery, control and volume switches, and other features and functions 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 picking out a hearing aid model, your hearing specialist will help you narrow down your options based on the four variables, which are:

  1. Style – There are many different styles of hearing aids. The style best suited for you is dependent on many things such as the extent of your hearing loss, your manual dexterity, and your listening goals.
  2. Ease of use – Will a compact hearing aid be too hard for you to physically manipulate? Would you like to use your mobile phone as your hearing aid remote control?
  3. Functionality – Do you need telecoils so you can use your hearing aids with your mobile phone? How about directional microphones so you can concentrate on speech?
  4. Price – Most hearing care professionals are exceptionally good at uncovering a hearing aid that will meet your preferences and your budget. The hearing aid your hearing specialist recommends is always based on where they think you will achieve the biggest return for what you are spending. Financing options are also available.

Let’s analyze the four variables in more depth.

Hearing Aid Style

Hearing aids are available in a variety of styles, and your final choice might rely plainly on cosmetic taste.

Here are a few of the most common styles:

Behind-the-ear (BTE) hearing aids – these have the majority of the hearing aid components included in a compact plastic case that sits 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 manipulate and easy to maintain.

In-the-ear (ITE) hearing aids – these have all of the hearing aid parts secured in a shell that fills in the exterior 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 manipulate 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 enclosed in very small cases that fit partially or completely in the ear canal, making them practically unnoticeable.

In regards to choosing a style, consider the tradeoffs among size, ease-of-use, battery life, and performance, and make sure you go over these items with your hearing specialist.

Hearing Aid Ease-of-Use

A consideration that is often overlooked 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 desire 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, modify the volume, and transition between environmental presets programmed by your hearing specialist.

Hearing Aid Functionality

Functionality is frequently a concern, and you should speak with your hearing specialist regarding any special situations or activities you frequently perform. For example, if you regularly use the phone, you’ll most 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 engage in conversation.

Hearing Aid Price and Financing

Finally, after considering the above factors, you need to set the price you’re willing to spend for the benefits you’ll attain from better 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 distinctly hear sound and speech without constantly straining is well worth the price.

The fact is, the per month expense of a hearing aid is usually less than the monthly cost of cable television—and hearing aids will have a bigger influence on your total quality of life than viewing reruns of Law and Order.

Final Considerations

Once you have a picture of what you’re interested in, your hearing specialist can assist you to pin down the options. Then, you can choose the model that suits all of your needs for style, ease-of-use, functionality, and cost.

Once you’ve picked your ideal model, your hearing specialist will then custom-program the hearing aids to best amplify sound according to your distinct hearing loss, which was calculated during the hearing exam (audiogram). And keep in mind that, regardless of the model you pick out, it won’t function correctly unless programmed by a hearing specialist.

Lastly, you’ll have the opportunity to try your new hearing aids during the trial period. It will take a little time to get used 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 perfect pair of hearing aids, talk to us today!

Become an effective Communicator Despite Hearing Loss

Hearing Aids

Communication is reliably cited as one of the most—if not the most—significant factors to building and preserving healthy relationships. As stated by the PBS program The Emotional Life:

“How couples behave when solving problems together or arguing can predict the character and success of their relationship. A raised eyebrow, a hand on the arm, or a greeting all may seem like small things, but research shows that the quality of everyday interactions can make or break a relationship.”

Similarly, communication skills are equally important at work: one 2014 survey of nearly 600 employers discovered that communication skills are the most in-demand skill set among employers. In fact, of five major skill sets employers consider most valuable when making a hiring decision, communications skills top the list.

From preserving healthy relationships to getting hired to getting promoted, communication impacts nearly every part of our lives. Attempting to enhance our communication skills, then, is not a bad place to begin if we wish to make some positive improvements.

How to become a highly effective communicator

Coming to be an effective communicator is not complicated, but it will require some elementary skills and the motivation to practice.

The first step is to understand that the objective of any communication situation is a genuine, open-ended exchange of information where all individuals can be heard and appreciated. This requires assertive and articulate speaking abilities, but, just as significantly, requires powerful listening skills.

In fact, listening skills may be the most important component of communication. The explanation is very simple: if you cannot understand what is being said, you won’t have the ability to formulate a relevant and meaningful reply. This failure to understand is the root cause of countless misunderstandings, quarrels, and bad feelings.

Developing listening skills, then, is the single most significant thing you can do to become a more effective communicator. And while active listening can be challenging on its own, hearing loss will make things even harder.

Hearing loss and the obstacles to active listening

Active listening necessitates devoting all attention to the speaker. Only by totally understanding the communication can you produce a relevant and substantive response, and that’s why inadequate speakers are nearly always preoccupied listeners.

But what brings about the distraction?

Here are four typical sources of distraction and how hearing loss has a tendency to make things even worse:

Distraction # 1: Stress

If you’ve ever been highly stressed or anxious, you understand how difficult it can be to focus your attention. You’re more liable to be focusing on on your personal thoughts and feelings rather than on the speaker’s, and you’re very likely to miss out on essential non-verbal signs and to misread what others are saying.

Regarding stress, hearing loss by itself is a considerable source. You may feel anxious about missing important ideas or coming up with awkward responses. And, the battle to hear speech in the existence of hearing loss is a source of anxiety and strain itself.

Distraction # 2: Lack of focus

Active listening is difficult because our minds have the normal tendency to wander. You can’t both listen to the speaker and daydream, check your email, text, and prepare what you’re going to say next. Remaining within the present moment and concentrating on the speaker is the only way to pick up on the subtle points of the speaker’s message.

Hearing loss creates a lack of focus because it removes you from the present moment. If you’re trying to figure out what the speaker just said, you’re also losing out on what they’re saying at the moment. The continual catching-up almost guarantees that you’ll never completely understand the message.

Distraction # 3: Misunderstanding

Stress and lack of focus can both force you to misunderstand the message. This presents the chance of you becoming upset or irritated with a message that the other person never actually intended to send.

This at minimum wastes time and in the worst case manufactures bad feelings. Not to mention the aggravation of the individual who is persistently misunderstood.

Distraction # 4: Lack of confidence

If you lack self-confidence, you’ll find it difficult to assert yourself while socializing. You’ll probably also be preoccupied with what the other person thinks rather than on the content of what they’re stating.

Hearing loss makes things worse, of course, because your misinterpretations could be perceived as a sign that you just don’t comprehend the message. If you’re constantly requesting clarification on simplistic points, it makes it hard to feel sufficiently confident to be assertive.

How hearing aids can help you

Becoming a better communicator requires becoming a better listener, but how can you come to be a better listener if you have hearing loss? You have a few options, but because hearing aids have advanced so far with respect to identifying and amplifying speech, they actually are the perfect solution.

Contemporary digital hearing aids have a host of outstanding features made primarily for speech recognition. Many hearing aid models have background noise suppression, directional microphones, and sophisticated digital processing so that speech comes through loud and clear.

Without having to struggle to hear speech, you can focus all of your efforts on comprehending the message. Then, as you become a better active-listener, your self-confidence, assertiveness, and speaking skills will all take care of themselves.

If you have hearing loss and you’re prepared to start building distraction-free listening skills, arrange your hearing test today.

How Modern Hearing Aids Can Save Your Holiday Season

Holiday Hearing

Living with hearing loss throughout the holiday season can be especially challenging.

While you may actually prefer to NOT hear some of your relatives, the discussions you do wish to engage in can be stressful. And because nearly all large holiday events tend to be loud, it can be close to impossible to focus on any one person or conversation.

In order to engage in conversation, you have to cope with background music, people talking simultaneously around the table, and the Thanksgiving football game blaring in the background. This creates an impossible situation that can make you feel detached and excluded.

Short of forcing everyone to repeat themselves or remaining silent, what are your options?

It’s true, 10 years ago you didn’t have many. The older analog hearing aids could amplify speech—the issue was that they also amplified everything else, most notably background noise. Given that all sound was just made to be louder, it didn’t help a great deal with understanding the person you were speaking to.

But hearing aids have changed, and for the better. Specifically, modern hearing aids have two functions that can save your holiday season: background noise reduction and speech focus.

Background noise reduction

Older analog hearing aid models were in fact very simple gadgets. They consisted of a microphone, an amplifier, and a speaker. Sound was detected by the microphone, amplified, and sent through the speaker to the ear.

The problem was, however, that the hearing aid couldn’t differentiate between vocalization and background sound. The amplifier made all sounds louder, so unless you were in a tranquil setting, you experienced a tough time hearing voices.

Since holiday parties are anything but quiet, what you actually require is a hearing aid that can distinguish between sounds—which is exactly what modern digital hearing aids can do.

Digital hearing aids, in addition to containing a microphone, amplifier, and speaker, also include a digital processor. That means sound can be translated into digital information that the hearing aid can make use of to distinguish between various types of sounds.

By differentiating and labeling different types of sounds, today’s hearing aids can be programmed to amplify only sounds with certain traits, such as all of the frequencies you have difficulty hearing. Background sounds, on the other hand, can be conveniently recognized and silenced.

Speech focus

In combination with restraining background sound, modern hearing aids can also recognize and concentrate on speech.

Speech has a special aspect in that it is composed mainly of high-frequency sounds. This makes it easy for the digital processor to differentiate between speech and background noise, which is mostly low frequency.

On top of it, digital hearing aids have what are called directional microphones, which can locate the direction of sound. Some hearing aid models can even focus the microphones in specific directions, such as the direction of the person you’re conversing with.

Schedule Your Hearing Test and Appreciate the Holidays Again

Are you ready to reclaim your holiday season?

Call us today and we’ll show you how to select among the amazing digital hearing aid technology available to you. Then, with your new hearing aids—outfitted with background noise suppression and speech focus—you’ll have the ability to hear all of the conversations with comfort and clarity.

As for the relatives you don’t want to hear? Not to worry, the hearing aids also come equipped with an off button.