How to Select the Right Hearing Aid Model
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:
- The microphone picks up environmental sound and delivers it to the digital processor.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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:
- 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.
- 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?
- 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?
- 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.
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!