Today’s breakthroughs in technology ensure that your hearing loss can be efficiently treated with the right hearing aid model.
The trouble is finding the right one.
With all of the hearing aid models currently available, it can feel a little overwhelming. But by evaluating four factors—together with assistance from a highly trained hearing care professional—you can readily find the perfect hearing aid model for you.
How All Hearing Aids Work
Before we consider the differences, it helps to keep in mind how all hearing aids have essentially the same components.
Modern-day digital hearing aids are compact electronic gadgets that are composed of four standard parts:
- The microphone picks up environmental sound and transfers it to the digital processor.
- The digital processor modifies the sound signal according to the settings programmed by the hearing specialist. The altered sound signal is then transferred to the amplifier.
- The amplifier enhances the volume of the sound based on the programmed settings, amplifying only the frequencies the patient has trouble hearing. This signal is then transmitted to the speaker.
- The speaker delivers the magnified sound to the ear, bringing about louder, clearer sound.
Every hearing aid also has a battery, control and volume buttons, and additional features and functionality that we’ll discuss next.
How Hearing Aids Are Different
While all hearing aids have the same basic parts, there are four variables that render each model different. When picking out 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 many different styles of hearing aids. The style most suitable for you is dependent on many things such as the severity of your hearing loss, your dexterity, and your listening goals.
- Ease of use – Will a compact hearing aid be too hard for you to physically manipulate? Would you prefer to use your mobile phone as your hearing aid remote control?
- Functionality – Do you need telecoils so you can utilize your hearing aids with your cell phone? How about directional microphones so you can focus on speech?
- Price – Most hearing care professionals are exceptionally good at finding a hearing aid that will meet your desires and your budget. The hearing aid your hearing specialist suggests is always based upon where they think you will achieve the largest return for what you are spending. Financing options are also available to you.
Let’s examine the four variables in more detail.
Hearing Aid Style
Hearing aids are available in a variety of styles, and your final choice may hinge plainly on cosmetic taste.
The following are some of the most common styles:
Behind-the-ear (BTE) hearing aids – these have the majority of the hearing aid parts included in a compact plastic case that rests 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 scaled-down. These hearing aids are easy to manipulate and simple to clean.
In-the-ear (ITE) hearing aids – these have all of the hearing aid parts included in a shell that fills in the outer part of the ear. The ITE aids are smaller than the behind-the-ear aids but larger 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 contained in very small cases that fit partially or totally in the ear canal, making them practically unnoticeable.
In terms of selecting a style, consider the tradeoffs among size, ease-of-use, battery life, and functionality, and ensure that you discuss these items with your hearing specialist.
Hearing Aid Ease-of-Use
An element that is often overlooked is ease-of-use. While completely-in-the-canal hearing aids have the benefit of being small, they may also be tough to handle, in which case you may prefer the behind-the-ear styles.
You may also wish to look into 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 transition among environmental presets programmed by your hearing specialist.
Hearing Aid Functionality
Performance is normally a concern, and you need to speak with your hearing specialist about any special situations or activities you frequently perform. As an example, if you frequently use the phone, you’ll probably want hearing aids equipped with telecoils or Bluetooth compatibility.
Also inquire about directional microphones and background noise suppression that can heighten your ability to hear speech and participate in conversation.
Hearing Aid Cost and Financing
Lastly, after evaluating the above factors, you need to determine the price you’re ready to invest for the benefits you’ll achieve from healthier hearing.
Although it’s true 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 definitely worth the price.
The fact is, the per month cost of a hearing aid is usually less than the monthly expense of cable television—and hearing aids will have a more substantial influence on your all-around quality of life than watching reruns of CSI.
Once you have a notion of what you’re looking for, your hearing specialist can make it easier to reduce the options. Then, you can select the model that meets all of your needs for style, ease-of-use, functionality, and cost.
Once you’ve picked out your perfect model, your hearing specialist will then custom-program the hearing aids to best amplify sound in accordance to your unique hearing loss, which was measured during the hearing exam (audiogram). And remember, irrespective of what model you go with, it won’t work correctly unless programmed by a hearing specialist.
Last, you’ll have the opportunity to try out your new hearing aids during the trial period. It will take a bit of 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 ideal pair of hearing aids, talk to us today!