Modern breakthroughs in technology assure that your hearing loss can be effectively treated with the appropriate hearing aid model.
The problem is finding the right one.
With all of the hearing aid models to choose from, it can be quite overwhelming. But by considering four factors—along with help from a highly skilled hearing care professional—you can easily discover the optimal hearing aid model for you.
How All Hearing Aids Work
Before we discuss the differences, it helps to remember how all hearing aids have fundamentally the equivalent parts.
Contemporary digital hearing aids are compact electronic devices that are made up of four basic parts:
- The microphone picks up environmental sound and sends it to the digital processor.
- The digital processor modifies the sound signal according to the settings programmed by the hearing specialist. The customized sound signal is then delivered to the amplifier.
- The amplifier increases 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 enhanced sound to the ear, generating louder, clearer sound.
Each hearing aid also has a battery, control and volume buttons, and other features and functions that we’ll talk about next.
How Hearing Aids Are Different
While all hearing aids have the same standard parts, there are four variables that make each model different. When choosing a hearing aid model, your hearing specialist will help you narrow down your options 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 several things such as the degree of your hearing loss, your dexterity, and your listening objectives.
- Ease of use – Will a smaller hearing aid be too hard 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 use your hearing aids with your phone? How about directional microphones so you can focus on speech?
- Price – Most hearing care professionals are very good at uncovering a hearing aid that will satisfy your desires and your budget. The hearing aid your hearing specialist suggests is always based on where they think you will attain the largest return for what you are paying. Financing options are also available to you.
Let’s look at the four variables in more depth.
Hearing Aid Style
Hearing aids come in a variety of styles, and your choice may depend plainly on aesthetic taste.
The following are a few of the most common styles:
Behind-the-ear (BTE) hearing aids – these have most of the hearing aid parts contained in a compact plastic case that rests behind the ear; the case is then connected 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 simple to maintain.
In-the-ear (ITE) hearing aids – these have all of the hearing aid parts included in a shell that fills in the outer portion of the ear. The ITE aids are more compact than the behind-the-ear aids but larger than the in-the-canal aids. These hearing aids are easier to handle than the smaller 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 contained in very small cases that fit partially or entirely in the ear canal, making them nearly invisible.
When it comes to choosing a style, keep in mind the tradeoffs among size, ease-of-use, battery life, and functionality, and make sure you discuss these items with your hearing specialist.
Hearing Aid Ease-of-Use
A consideration that is often ignored is ease-of-use. While completely-in-the-canal hearing aids have the appeal of being small, they may also be difficult to handle, in which case you may prefer the behind-the-ear styles.
You might also want to consider digital hearing aids that can be operated with mobile technology, like a cell phone or digital watch. This makes it effortless to monitor battery life, adjust the volume, and transition between environmental presets programmed by your hearing specialist.
Hearing Aid Functionality
Performance is commonly a concern, and you should communicate with your hearing specialist about any unique circumstances or activities you commonly perform. For example, if you regularly use the phone, you’ll likely want hearing aids equipped with telecoils or Bluetooth compatibility.
Also inquire about directional microphones and background noise suppression that can enhance your capacity to hear speech and partake in conversation.
Hearing Aid Price and Financing
Last, after considering the above factors, you should determine the price you’re ready to invest for the benefits you’ll attain from healthier hearing.
Although it’s true that no one can make this determination for you, most of our patients have felt that the ability to clearly hear sound and speech without continually straining is definitely worth the price.
The fact is, the per month cost of a hearing aid is quite often less than the per month expense of cable television—and hearing aids will have a bigger impact on your total quality of life than watching reruns of Law and Order.
After you have a notion of what you’re looking for, your hearing specialist can help you narrow 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 decided on your ideal model, your hearing specialist will then custom-program the hearing aids to best amplify sound in accordance to your individual hearing loss, which was calculated during the hearing test (audiogram). And keep in mind, irrespective of what model you decide on, it won’t work correctly unless programmed by a hearing care professional.
Last, you’ll have the opportunity to test your new hearing aids during the trial period. It will take a little time to get used to them, but after a short while you’ll be amazed at how clearly you can hear sound and speech.
If you’re ready to discover your perfect pair of hearing aids, talk to us today!