Modern-day advances in technology assure that your hearing loss can be successfully treated with the right hearing aid model.
The problem is finding the right one.
With all of the hearing aid models to choose from, it can feel just a little overwhelming. But by looking at four factors—along with assistance from a highly trained hearing care professional—you can readily find the ideal hearing aid model for you.
How All Hearing Aids Work
Before we examine the differences, it helps to remember how all hearing aids have basically the equivalent parts.
Modern-day digital hearing aids are compact electronic devices that are made up of four standard parts:
- The microphone picks up environmental sound and transfers it to the digital processor.
- The digital processor modifies the sound signal based on the settings programmed by the hearing specialist. The revised sound signal is then delivered to the amplifier.
- The amplifier heightens the volume of the sound based on the programmed settings, amplifying only the frequencies the patient has trouble hearing. This signal is then delivered to the speaker.
- The speaker delivers the enhanced sound to the ear, bringing about 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
While all hearing aids have the same vital parts, there are four variables that make each model different. When deciding on a hearing aid model, your hearing specialist will help you to narrow down your options according to the four variables, which are:
- Style – There are several different styles of hearing aids. The style most appropriate for you is dependent on several things such as the extent of your hearing loss, your manual dexterity, and your listening objectives.
- Ease of use – Will a compact hearing aid be too difficult 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 focus on conversation?
- Price – Most hearing care professionals are exceptionally good at finding a hearing aid that will satisfy your preferences and your finances. The hearing aid your hearing specialist suggests is always based upon where they think you will get the largest return for what you are spending. Financing options are also available.
Let’s discuss the four variables in more detail.
Hearing Aid Style
Hearing aids come in a range of styles, and your choice may rely plainly 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 covered in a small 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 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 enclosed in a shell that fills in the exterior 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 more compact in-the-canal aids and less conspicuous 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 totally in the ear canal, making them practically imperceptible.
In regards to selecting a style, keep in mind the tradeoffs among size, ease-of-use, battery life, and functionality, and make sure 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 advantage of being small, they may also be tough to handle, in which case you may prefer the behind-the-ear styles.
You might also wish to look into digital hearing aids that can be operated 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
Functionality is regularly a concern, and you need to talk with your hearing specialist about any special circumstances or activities you commonly perform. For example, if you regularly use the phone, you’ll most likely want hearing aids outfitted with telecoils or Bluetooth compatibility.
Also ask about directional microphones and background noise suppression that can heighten your capacity to hear speech and participate in conversation.
Hearing Aid Cost and Financing
Finally, after evaluating the above factors, you need to establish the price you’re ready to invest for the benefits you’ll enjoy from improved hearing.
Although 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 constantly straining is well worth the price.
The fact is, the per month cost of a hearing aid is normally less than the per month expense of cable television—and hearing aids will have a bigger impact on your all-around quality of life than watching reruns of CSI.
After you have a notion of what you’re looking for, your hearing specialist can make it easier to pin down the options. Then, you can select the model that fulfills all of your requirements for style, ease-of-use, functionality, and cost.
Once you’ve picked your perfect 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 test (audiogram). And remember, regardless of what model you choose, 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 become 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!