Modern innovations in technology assure that your hearing loss can be efficiently treated with the appropriate hearing aid model.
The difficulty is choosing the right one.
With all of the hearing aid models available in the market, it can feel a little overwhelming. But by considering four factors—along with assistance from a seasoned hearing care professional—you can easily find the perfect hearing aid model for you.
How All Hearing Aids Work
Before we discuss the differences, it helps to keep in mind how all hearing aids have fundamentally the same parts.
Modern digital hearing aids are small electronic gadgets that consist of four basic parts:
- The microphone picks up environmental sound and transfers it to the digital processor.
- The digital processor adjusts the sound signal based on the settings programmed by the hearing specialist. The modified sound signal is then sent to the amplifier.
- The amplifier raises the volume of the sound based on the programmed settings, amplifying only the frequencies the patient has issues hearing. This signal is then transmitted to the speaker.
- The speaker delivers the magnified sound to the ear, generating louder, clearer sound.
Each hearing aid also has a battery, control and volume buttons, and additional features and functionality that we’ll talk about next.
How Hearing Aids Are Different
Even though all hearing aids have the same vital parts, there are four variables that render each model different. When choosing a hearing aid model, your hearing specialist will assist you to 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 several things such as the intensity of your hearing loss, your manual dexterity, and your listening objectives.
- Ease of use – Will a smaller hearing aid be too difficult for you to physically manipulate? Would you like to use your cell phone as your hearing aid remote control?
- Functionality – Do you need telecoils so you can utilize your hearing aids with your mobile phone? How about directional microphones so you can focus on conversation?
- Price – Most hearing care professionals are especially good at uncovering a hearing aid that will satisfy your needs and your finances. The hearing aid your hearing specialist suggests is always based upon where they think you will get the biggest return for what you are paying. Financing options are also available.
Let’s look at the four variables in more depth.
Hearing Aid Style
Hearing aids come in a range of styles, and your final choice may depend plainly on aesthetic taste.
Here are some 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 linked to an earmold or an earpiece by a piece of clear tubing. Mini-BTE aids are also available that are smaller. These hearing aids are easy to manipulate and easy to clean.
In-the-ear (ITE) hearing aids – these have all of the hearing aid parts secured in a shell that fills in the exterior part 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 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 entirely in the ear canal, making them practically invisible.
When it comes to choosing a style, keep in mind the tradeoffs among size, ease-of-use, battery life, and performance, and ensure that you talk about 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 desire the behind-the-ear styles.
You may also wish to look into digital hearing aids that can be manipulated with mobile technology, like a cell phone or digital watch. This makes it easy to monitor battery life, adjust the volume, and switch among environmental presets programmed by your hearing specialist.
Hearing Aid Functionality
Performance is invariably a concern, and you need to talk to your hearing specialist about any unique circumstances or activities you frequently perform. For example, if you regularly use the phone, you’ll likely want hearing aids outfitted with telecoils or Bluetooth compatibility.
Also ask about directional microphones and background noise suppression that can improve your ability to hear speech and participate in conversation.
Hearing Aid Price and Financing
Last, after thinking about the above factors, you need to set the price you’re prepared to invest for the benefits you’ll achieve from improved hearing.
While it’s a fact that no one can make this determination for you, the majority of our patients have felt that the ability to clearly hear sound and speech without continually straining is truly worth the price.
In fact, the monthly expense of a hearing aid is usually less than the per month expense of cable television—and hearing aids will have a more substantial impact on your all-around quality of life than watching reruns of CSI.
Once you have a picture of what you’re looking for, your hearing specialist can assist you to reduce the options. Then, you can choose the model that meets all of your needs for style, ease-of-use, functionality, and cost.
Once you’ve chosen your ideal model, your hearing specialist will then custom-program the hearing aids to best amplify sound according to your individual hearing loss, which was calculated during the hearing exam (audiogram). And keep in mind that, regardless of the model you decide on, it won’t function correctly unless programmed by a hearing specialist.
Finally, you’ll have the opportunity to try out your new hearing aids during the trial period. It will take a little 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 discover your ideal pair of hearing aids, talk to us today!