Modern-day innovations in technology ensure that your hearing loss can be effectively treated with the right hearing aid model.
The problem is finding the right one.
With all of the hearing aid models available today, it can feel just a little overwhelming. But by considering four factors—along with help from a competent hearing care professional—you can easily find the perfect hearing aid model for you.
How All Hearing Aids Work
Before we discuss the differences, it will help to keep in mind how all hearing aids have in essence the equivalent components.
Modern digital hearing aids are small electronic gadgets that consist of four standard parts:
- The microphone picks up environmental sound and transfers it to the digital processor.
- The digital processor modifies the sound signal according to the settings programmed by the hearing instrument specialist. The altered sound signal is then directed to the amplifier.
- The amplifier raises the volume of the sound based on the programmed settings, amplifying only the frequencies the client has problems hearing. This signal is then directed to the speaker.
- The speaker delivers the enhanced sound to the ear, producing louder, clearer sound.
Every hearing aid also has a battery, control and volume switches, and other features and functions that we’ll discuss next.
How Hearing Aids Are Different
Even though all hearing aids have the same basic parts, there are four variables that make each model different. When picking out a hearing aid model, your hearing instrument specialist will help you to narrow down your options based on the four variables, which are:
- Style – There are several different styles of hearing aids. The style most suitable for you depends on several things such as the degree of your hearing loss, your dexterity, and your listening goals.
- Ease of use – Will a compact hearing aid be too difficult for you to physically manipulate? Would you prefer 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 cell phone? How about directional microphones so you can concentrate on speech?
- Price – Most hearing care professionals are especially good at finding a hearing aid that will meet your needs and your budget. The hearing aid your hearing instrument specialist recommends 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 depth.
Hearing Aid Style
Hearing aids are available in a range of styles, and your choice may depend plainly on cosmetic taste.
The following are a few of the most common styles:
Behind-the-ear (BTE) hearing aids – these have the majority of the hearing aid parts included in a compact 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 are also available that are scaled-down. These hearing aids are easy to handle 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 part of the ear. The ITE aids are more compact than the behind-the-ear aids but bigger than the in-the-canal aids. These hearing aids are easier to manipulate than the smaller in-the-canal aids and less visible 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 tiny cases that fit partially or entirely in the ear canal, making them practically imperceptible.
When it comes to picking out a style, consider the tradeoffs among size, ease-of-use, battery life, and performance, and make sure you go over these items with your hearing instrument specialist.
Hearing Aid Ease-of-Use
A component that is frequently ignored is ease-of-use. While completely-in-the-canal hearing aids have the virtue of being small, they may also be difficult 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 operated with mobile technology, like a cell phone or digital watch. This makes it effortless to monitor battery life, change the volume, and transition among environmental presets programmed by your hearing instrument specialist.
Hearing Aid Functionality
Functionality is always a concern, and you should communicate with your hearing instrument specialist about any special circumstances or activities you commonly perform. For instance, if you frequently use the phone, you’ll probably want hearing aids equipped with telecoils or Bluetooth compatibility.
Also inquire about directional microphones and background noise reduction that can maximize your ability to hear speech and engage in conversation.
Hearing Aid Cost and Financing
Finally, after thinking about the above factors, you should set the price you’re willing to spend for the benefits you’ll enjoy from healthier hearing.
While it’s true that no one can make this determination for you, nearly all of our clients have felt that the ability to distinctly hear sound and speech without continuously straining is well worth the price.
In fact, the per month expense of a hearing aid is commonly less than the monthly cost of cable television—and hearing aids will have a bigger influence on your general quality of life than viewing reruns of CSI.
Once you have an idea of what you’re interested in, your hearing instrument specialist can help you reduce the options. Then, you can select the model that fulfills all of your requirements for style, ease-of-use, functionality, and price.
Once you’ve picked your optimal model, your hearing instrument specialist will then custom-program the hearing aids to best amplify sound in accordance to your distinct hearing loss, which was calculated during the hearing exam (audiogram). And keep in mind that, irrespective of the model you decide on, it won’t function properly unless programmed by a hearing care professional.
Lastly, you’ll have the opportunity to try out your new hearing aids during the trial period. It will take a little time to get 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 find your optimal pair of hearing aids, talk to us today!