Today’s advances in technology assure that your hearing loss can be efficiently treated with the right hearing aid model.
The challenge is choosing the right one.
With all of the hearing aid models on the market today, it can be a little overwhelming. But by taking into account four factors—along with help from a seasoned hearing care professional—you can easily find the ideal hearing aid model for you.
How All Hearing Aids Work
Before we examine the differences, it will help to remember how all hearing aids have fundamentally the same parts.
Modern-day digital hearing aids are compact electronic gadgets 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 according to the settings programmed by the hearing specialist. The altered sound signal is then conveyed to the amplifier.
- The amplifier increases 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 delivers the magnified sound to the ear, producing louder, clearer sound.
Every hearing aid also has a battery, control and volume buttons, and additional 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 choosing a hearing aid model, your hearing specialist will help you narrow down your options according to the four variables, which are:
- Style – There are numerous different styles of hearing aids. The style best suited for you depends on many things such as the severity of your hearing loss, your manual dexterity, and your listening goals.
- Ease of use – Will a compact hearing aid be too difficult for you to physically handle? Would you prefer 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 cell phone? How about directional microphones so you can focus on conversation?
- Price – Most hearing care professionals are exceptionally good at finding a hearing aid that will satisfy your demands and your budget. The hearing aid your hearing specialist suggests is always based on where they think you will achieve the biggest return for what you are spending. Financing options are also available to you.
Let’s check out the four variables in more depth.
Hearing Aid Style
Hearing aids are available in a range of styles, and your selection may hinge simply on cosmetic taste.
Here are a few of the most popular styles:
Behind-the-ear (BTE) hearing aids – these have most of the hearing aid components included 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 clean.
In-the-ear (ITE) hearing aids – these have all of the hearing aid parts secured in a shell that fills in the external portion of the ear. The ITE aids are more compact than the behind-the-ear aids but bigger than the in-the-canal aids. These hearing aids are easier to handle than the smaller in-the-canal aids and less visible than the behind-the-ear aids.
In-the-canal (ITC) hearing aids and completely-in-the-canal (CIC) hearing aids – these hearing aids are contained in very small cases that fit partially or completely in the ear canal, making them virtually invisible.
In regards to picking out a style, consider the tradeoffs among size, ease-of-use, battery life, and performance, and make sure you talk about these items with your hearing specialist.
Hearing Aid Ease-of-Use
An aspect 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 prefer the behind-the-ear styles.
You may also want to consider digital hearing aids that can be operated with mobile technology, like a cell phone or digital watch. This makes it easy to monitor battery life, change the volume, and switch among environmental presets programmed by your hearing specialist.
Hearing Aid Functionality
Performance is normally a concern, and you need to 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 probably want hearing aids outfitted with telecoils or Bluetooth compatibility.
Also ask about directional microphones and background noise suppression that can maximize your ability to hear speech and engage in conversation.
Hearing Aid Price and Financing
Lastly, after considering the above factors, you should figure out the price you’re ready to spend for the benefits you’ll enjoy from improved hearing.
While it’s a fact that no one can make this determination for you, virtually all of our patients have felt that the ability to distinctly hear sound and speech without continually straining is well worth the price.
The fact is, the per month cost of a hearing aid is usually less than the per month expense of cable television—and hearing aids will have a larger impact on your general 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 make it easier to reduce the options. Then, you can choose the model that fulfills all of your needs for style, ease-of-use, functionality, and cost.
After you’ve selected your perfect model, your hearing specialist will then custom-program the hearing aids to best amplify sound according to your unique hearing loss, which was measured during the hearing test (audiogram). And keep in mind that, irrespective of the model you decide on, it won’t work correctly unless programmed by a hearing care professional.
Lastly, you’ll get to test 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!