Modern breakthroughs in technology assure that your hearing loss can be successfully treated with the appropriate hearing aid model.
The challenge is finding the right one.
With all of the hearing aid models on the market today, it can be a bit overwhelming. But by considering four factors—together with assistance from a highly trained hearing care professional—you can readily discover the optimal hearing aid model for you.
How All Hearing Aids Work
Before we discuss the differences, it will help to remember how all hearing aids have fundamentally the equivalent parts.
Today’s digital hearing aids are compact electronic devices that consist of four basic parts:
- The microphone picks up environmental sound and delivers it to the digital processor.
- The digital processor modifies the sound signal based on 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 difficulty hearing. This signal is then delivered to the speaker.
- The speaker supplies the enhanced sound to the ear, bringing about louder, clearer sound.
Every hearing aid also has a battery, control and volume switches, and other features and functions 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 make each model different. When selecting a hearing aid model, your hearing specialist will help you to narrow down your choices based on the four variables, which are:
- Style – There are numerous different styles of hearing aids. The style most suitable 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 compact hearing aid be too hard for you to physically handle? 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 cell phone? How about directional microphones so you can focus on conversation?
- Price – Most hearing care professionals are especially good at finding a hearing aid that will meet your demands and your finances. The hearing aid your hearing specialist recommends is always based upon where they think you will attain the largest return for what you are spending. Financing options are also available to you.
Let’s look at the four variables in more detail.
Hearing Aid Style
Hearing aids come in a variety of styles, and your final choice might depend plainly on aesthetic taste.
The following are some of the most popular styles:
Behind-the-ear (BTE) hearing aids – these have most of the hearing aid elements included in a compact plastic case that sits behind the ear; the case is then connected 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 handle and easy to maintain.
In-the-ear (ITE) hearing aids – these have all of the hearing aid parts enclosed in a shell that fills in the outer 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 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 enclosed in very small cases that fit partially or totally in the ear canal, making them virtually undetectable.
When it comes to deciding on a style, consider the tradeoffs among size, ease-of-use, battery life, and performance, and make sure you discuss these items with your hearing specialist.
Hearing Aid Ease-of-Use
A component that is frequently overlooked is ease-of-use. While completely-in-the-canal hearing aids have the appeal of being small, they may also be challenging to handle, in which case you may desire the behind-the-ear styles.
You might also want to look into digital hearing aids that can be controlled with mobile technology, such as a cell phone or digital watch. This makes it easy to monitor battery life, change the volume, and transition among environmental presets programmed by your hearing specialist.
Hearing Aid Functionality
Performance is consistently a concern, and you need to consult your hearing specialist regarding any unique situations or activities you commonly perform. For instance, if you regularly use the phone, you’ll most likely want hearing aids equipped with telecoils or Bluetooth compatibility.
Also ask about directional microphones and background noise suppression that can enhance your capacity to hear speech and participate in conversation.
Hearing Aid Cost and Financing
Last, after considering the above factors, you should figure out the price you’re ready to invest for the benefits you’ll achieve from better hearing.
While it’s a fact that no one can make this judgment for you, the majority of our patients have felt that the ability to distinctly hear sound and speech without constantly straining is worthy of the price.
The fact is, the per month cost of a hearing aid is quite often less than the monthly expense of cable television—and hearing aids will have a larger impact on your general quality of life than viewing reruns of Law and Order.
After you have a picture of what you’re looking for, your hearing specialist can help you to reduce the options. Then, you can choose the model that satisfies all of your requirements for style, ease-of-use, functionality, and price.
Once you’ve chosen your optimal 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 remember, regardless of what model you choose, it won’t function properly unless programmed by a hearing specialist.
Lastly, you’ll have the opportunity to test your new hearing aids during the trial period. It will take some time to get accustomed 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 find your optimal pair of hearing aids, talk to us today!