The process of purchasing hearing aids was in the past a lot easier. There were only a few styles to select from and they all fundamentally functioned 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 practical solutions for the restoration of hearing. And with digital technology, a variety of features became readily available to regulate a wide variety of listening situations.
But that’s the tradeoff—easy choices that produced poor results are now difficult choices with lots of options.
But complicated does not mean impossible, and the time invested is well worth the gains in hearing you can enjoy. It’s also why it’s crucial to work with a reputable hearing specialist that can walk you through all of the relevant considerations.
The following are six factors to look for when purchasing hearing aids, together with the questions to ask your hearing specialist.
Hearing amplification products are not all created equal. In fact, the distinction between the cheapest personal sound amplifier and the highest end digital hearing aid is the difference between a Ford Pinto and a Porsche.
Even though you may not require 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 according to your distinctive hearing loss. Otherwise, all sound will be amplified uniformly and that’s not going to help you hear speech any better than before.
Ask your hearing specialist about programming functionality, including pre-programed settings you can use in different circumstances, like at a restaurant versus at home.
2. Hearing aid style
Hearing aids come in several 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 together with a hearing specialist on this one, as numerous elements should be taken into consideration, including the degree of your hearing loss.
3. Directional microphones
People buy hearing aids for various reasons and to hear an assortment of sounds, but the leading reason is to hear and understand speech.
If that’s true for you, you’ll want to ask about directional microphones in any hearing aid you’re considering.
Hearing aids with directionality contain two or more microphones located at a specified distance from each other within the hearing aid. The contrast in arrival time of sound to each microphone then determines how the hearing aid reacts to the sound.
This makes it possible for the hearing aid to focus on the specific sound source in front of you, which if it’s a person, will be the sounds of speech.
4. Background noise reduction
Background noise and feedback suppression are built into the majority of digital hearing aid models, but you’ll want to verify this with any device you’re considering.
Hearing aids contain a microprocessor that can distinguish between high-frequency sounds (like speech) and low-frequency sounds (like background noise). The microprocessor can then boost speech while suppressing everything else.
A telecoil is a small copper coil built into the hearing aid. While that doesn’t sound all that remarkable, what it can achieve definitely is.
Telecoils make it possible for you to talk on the phone without feedback and hook up to hearing loop systems. For instance, if a hearing loop system is installed in a church or cinema, sound will be transmitted directly to your hearing aid for maximum clarity.
Hearing loops can also be set up in home theater systems for the same effect. Ask your hearing specialist for additional information.
6. Wireless connectivity
Did you just buy a new iPhone or smartphone?
If that’s the case, you may want to think about investing in compatible hearing aids that link up wirelessly to these devices. That way, you can stream phone calls and music directly to your hearing aids for optimal sound quality.
Your smartphone can even be used as your hearing aid remote control, whereby you can subtly regulate the volume and settings.
There’s a lot to take into account when picking out a hearing aid, which is why it’s critical to work with a reputable and experienced hearing care expert.
Are you ready to find your optimal hearing aid?