The process of purchasing hearing aids used to be 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 realistic solutions for the recovery of hearing. And with digital technology, a multitude of features became available to regulate a wide variety of listening circumstances.
But that’s the tradeoff—simple choices that produced inadequate results are now complicated choices with lots of options.
But complicated does not mean impossible, and the time spent is well worth the improvement in hearing you can enjoy. It’s also why it’s critical to partner with an established hearing specialist that can walk you through all of the important considerations.
Here are six factors to look for when purchasing hearing aids, along with the questions to ask your hearing professional.
Hearing amplification products are not all created equal. The fact is, the difference between the lowest end personal sound amplifier and the highest end digital hearing aid is the distinction between a Ford Pinto and a Porsche.
Although you may not require the highest end hearing aid model available, the primary difference you should be worried about between a personal amplifier and a hearing aid is programmability.
Hearing aids must be programmed to enhance sounds based on your particular 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 professional about programming functionality, including pre-programed settings you can use in different circumstances, like at a restaurant versus at home.
Hearing aids come in several sizes and styles, ranging from behind-the-ear to completely in the ear canal.
You’ll need to balance price, performance, ease-of-use, and aesthetics when making your choice on hearing aid styles. You’ll also want to work together with a hearing professional on this one, as numerous factors should be taken into consideration, including the level of your hearing loss.
3. Directional microphones
People buy hearing aids for a number of reasons and to hear a mixture of sounds, but the principal reason is to hear and understand speech.
If that’s the case for you, you’ll want to inquire about directional microphones in any hearing aid you’re checking into.
Hearing aids with directionality contain two or more microphones positioned at a specified distance from each other within the hearing aid. The difference in arrival time of sound to each microphone then determines how the hearing aid reacts to the sound.
This enables the hearing aid to focus on the specific sound origin 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 most digital hearing aid models, but you’ll want to verify this with any device you’re considering.
Hearing aids contain a microprocessor that can discern between high-frequency sounds (like speech) and low-frequency sounds (like background noise). The microprocessor can then boost speech while curbing everything else.
A telecoil is a small copper coil built into the hearing aid. While that doesn’t sound all that impressive, what it can accomplish certainly is.
Telecoils make it possible for you to talk on the phone without feedback and connect 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 equivalent effect. Ask your hearing professional for more details.
6. Wireless connectivity
Did you just purchase a new iPhone or smartphone?
If that’s the case, you may want to give some thought to investing in compatible hearing aids that link up wirelessly to these products. That way, you can stream phone calls and music directly to your hearing aids for optimum sound quality.
Your smartphone can even be used as your hearing aid remote control, where you can discreetly 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 knowledgeable hearing care professional.
Are you ready to find your optimal hearing aid?