The process of buying hearing aids was in the past much easier. There were only a few styles to select from and they all fundamentally worked 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 viable solutions for the recovery of hearing. And with digital technology, numerous features became readily available to manage a multitude of listening situations.
But that’s the tradeoff—simple choices that produced poor results are now difficult choices with lots of options.
But complicated does not mean impossible, and the time invested is well worth the gains in hearing you can enjoy. It’s also why it’s important to work with an experienced hearing specialist that can walk you through all of the important considerations.
Below are six factors to look for when buying hearing aids, together with the questions to ask your hearing specialist.
Hearing amplification products are not all created equal. The truth is, the distinction between the lowest end personal sound amplifier and the highest end digital hearing aid is the distinction between a Ford Pinto and a Porsche.
Even though you may not require the highest end hearing aid model in the market, the primary difference you should be concerned about between a personal amplifier and a hearing aid is programmability.
Hearing aids should be programmed to enhance sounds according to your particular hearing loss. Otherwise, all sound is amplified evenly and that’s not going to help you hear speech any better than before.
Ask your hearing professional about programming potential, including pre-programed settings you can use in different scenarios, like at a restaurant as opposed to at home.
2. Hearing aid style
Hearing aids are available in many sizes and styles, ranging from behind-the-ear to entirely 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 seek advice from a hearing professional on this one, as many factors should be taken into consideration, including the extent of your hearing loss.
3. Directional microphones
People invest in hearing aids for a variety of reasons and to hear an assortment of sounds, but the primary reason is to hear and understand speech.
If that’s true for you, you’ll want to ask about directional microphones in any hearing aid you’re checking into.
Hearing aids with directionality contain two or more microphones situated at a specific distance from each other within the hearing aid. The difference in arrival time of sound to each microphone then determines how the hearing aid responds to the sound.
This makes it possible for the hearing aid to target 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 inhibition are featured in most digital hearing aid models, but you’ll want to validate this with any model 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 suppressing everything else.
A telecoil is a small copper coil integrated into the hearing aid. While that doesn’t sound all that spectacular, what it can accomplish undoubtedly is.
Telecoils make it possible for you to talk on the phone without feedback and hook up to hearing loop systems. For instance, if a hearing loop system is installed in a church or movie theater, 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 specialist for more details.
6. Wireless connectivity
Did you just buy a new iPhone or smartphone?
If so, you may want to think about purchasing compatible hearing aids that connect wirelessly to these devices. That way, you can stream telephone calls and music directly to your hearing aids for optimal sound quality.
Your smartphone can even become your hearing aid remote control, whereby you can inconspicuously regulate the volume and settings.
There’s a lot to consider when picking out a hearing aid, which is why it’s vital to work with a reputable and knowledgeable hearing care professional.
Are you ready to discover your ideal hearing aid?