The process of purchasing hearing aids was in the past a lot easier. There were only a small number of styles to choose from and they all ultimately 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 restoration of hearing. And with digital technology, a number of features became available to manage a wide variety of listening circumstances.
But that’s the tradeoff—simple choices that resulted in poor results are now complicated choices with lots of options.
But complicated does not mean impossible, and the time invested is well worth the improvement in hearing you can attain. It’s also why it’s crucial to partner with an established hearing instrument specialist that can guide you through all of the important factors to consider.
The following are six things to look for when buying hearing aids, along with the questions to ask your hearing instrument specialist.
Hearing amplification products are not all created equal. In fact, the difference between the cheapest personal sound amplifier and the highest end digital hearing aid is the distinction between a Ford Pinto and a Porsche.
While you may not require the highest end hearing aid model available, the main difference you should be worried about between a personal amplifier and a hearing aid is programmability.
Hearing aids must be programmed to amplify sounds according to your distinctive hearing loss. Otherwise, all sound is amplified evenly and that’s not going to make it easier to hear speech any better than before.
Ask your hearing expert about programming capability, including pre-programed settings you can use in different situations, like at a restaurant as opposed to at home.
2. Hearing aid style
Hearing aids come in many sizes and styles, ranging from behind-the-ear to entirely in the ear canal.
You’ll need to balance cost, functionality, ease-of-use, and appearance when making your choice on hearing aid styles. You’ll also want to work with a hearing instrument specialist on this one, as many elements should be considered, including the degree 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 chief 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 variation in arrival time of sound to each microphone then determines how the hearing aid reacts to the sound.
This helps 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 minimization
Background noise and feedback inhibition 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 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 undeniably is.
Telecoils make it possible for you to speak on the phone without feedback and connect 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 installed in home theater systems for the equivalent effect. Ask your hearing professional for more information.
6. Wireless connection
Did you just purchase a new iPhone or smartphone?
If that’s the case, you may want to think about purchasing compatible hearing aids that connect 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 become your hearing aid remote control, where you can discreetly adjust the volume and settings.
There’s much to think about when picking out a hearing aid, which is why it’s vital to work with a reputable and experienced hearing care expert.
Are you ready to discover your optimal hearing aid?