Modern-day innovations in technology assure that your hearing loss can be efficiently remedied with the appropriate hearing aid model.
The challenge is finding the right one.
With all of the hearing aid models available, it can feel just a little overwhelming. But by looking into four factors—along with assistance from a qualified hearing care professional—you can readily find the perfect hearing aid model for you.
How All Hearing Aids Work
Before we examine the differences, it helps to remember how all hearing aids have in essence the same components.
Modern digital hearing aids are compact electronic gadgets that are composed of four basic parts:
- The microphone picks up environmental sound and sends 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 boosts the volume of the sound based on the programmed settings, amplifying only the frequencies the patient has trouble hearing. This signal is then delivered to the speaker.
- The speaker supplies the magnified sound to the ear, causing louder, clearer sound.
Each hearing aid also has a battery, control and volume switches, and additional features and functionality that we’ll discuss next.
How Hearing Aids Are Different
While all hearing aids have the same fundamental parts, there are four variables that make each model different. When deciding on a hearing aid model, your hearing specialist will assist you to narrow down your choices according to the four variables, which are:
- Style – There are several different styles of hearing aids. The style most appropriate for you depends on several things such as the extent of your hearing loss, your dexterity, and your listening objectives.
- Ease of use – Will a smaller hearing aid be too difficult for you to physically manipulate? Would you prefer to use your mobile phone as your hearing aid remote control?
- Functionality – Do you need telecoils so you can use your hearing aids with your mobile phone? How about directional microphones so you can focus on speech?
- Price – Most hearing care professionals are very good at finding a hearing aid that will meet your requirements and your finances. The hearing aid your hearing specialist recommends is always based on where they think you will attain the largest return for what you are spending. Financing options are also available.
Let’s check out the four variables in more depth.
Hearing Aid Style
Hearing aids come in a variety of styles, and your final choice might rely plainly on aesthetic preference.
Here are some of the most common styles:
Behind-the-ear (BTE) hearing aids – these have most of the hearing aid components contained in a small plastic case that sits behind the ear; the case is then hooked up 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 easy to maintain.
In-the-ear (ITE) hearing aids – these have all of the hearing aid parts included in a shell that fills in the external part 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 manipulate than the more compact 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 enclosed in very small cases that fit partially or entirely in the ear canal, making them practically unnoticeable.
In terms of 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 component that is frequently ignored is ease-of-use. While completely-in-the-canal hearing aids have the benefit of being small, they may also be difficult to handle, in which case you may prefer the behind-the-ear styles.
You might also wish to look into digital hearing aids that can be operated with mobile technology, such as a cell phone or digital watch. This makes it easy to monitor battery life, adjust the volume, and switch among environmental presets programmed by your hearing specialist.
Hearing Aid Functionality
Performance is always a concern, and you should speak to your hearing specialist about any special situations or activities you commonly perform. For example, if you frequently use the phone, you’ll probably want hearing aids outfitted with telecoils or Bluetooth compatibility.
Also inquire about directional microphones and background noise reduction that can improve your ability to hear speech and partake in conversation.
Hearing Aid Price and Financing
Last, after thinking about the above factors, you need to determine the price you’re willing to spend for the benefits you’ll attain from improved hearing.
Although it’s a fact that no one can make this judgment for you, virtually all of our patients have felt that the ability to clearly hear sound and speech without endlessly straining is truly worth the price.
In fact, the monthly cost of a hearing aid is normally less than the per month expense of cable television—and hearing aids will have a more substantial impact on your general quality of life than watching reruns of CSI.
Once you have a notion of what you’re looking for, your hearing specialist can assist you to limit the options. Then, you can select the model that meets all of your needs for style, ease-of-use, functionality, and price.
Once you’ve picked 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 that, irrespective of what model you pick out, it won’t function properly unless programmed by a hearing specialist.
Lastly, you’ll get 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 perfect pair of hearing aids, talk to us today!