The procedure for buying hearing aids was in the past much 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 options for the restoration of hearing. And with digital technology, a multitude of features became available to manage a multitude of listening circumstances.
But that’s the tradeoff—simple choices that resulted in poor results are now difficult choices with lots of options.
But complicated does not mean impossible, and the time spent is well worth the improvement in hearing you can achieve. It’s also why it’s important to partner with an established hearing specialist that can guide you through all of the relevant considerations.
Below are six factors to look for when selecting hearing aids, along with the questions to ask your hearing specialist.
Hearing amplification products are not all created equal. In fact, the distinction between the lowest end personal sound amplifier and the highest end digital hearing aid is the distinction between a Ford Pinto and a Porsche.
Although you may not need the highest end hearing aid model in the market, the main difference you should be concerned about between a personal amplifier and a hearing aid is programmability.
Hearing aids should be programmed to enhance sounds based on your distinct hearing loss. Otherwise, all sound will be amplified evenly and that’s not going to help you hear speech any better than before.
Ask your hearing expert about programming functionality, including pre-programed settings you can use in different situations, like at a restaurant versus at home.
2. Hearing aid style
Hearing aids are available in many sizes and styles, ranging from behind-the-ear to completely in the ear canal.
You’ll want to balance price, functionality, ease-of-use, and aesthetics when making your choice on hearing aid styles. You’ll also want to seek advise from a hearing specialist on this one, as many factors should be considered, including the severity of your hearing loss.
3. Directional microphones
People buy hearing aids for a number of reasons and to hear a mixture of sounds, but the main 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 interested in.
Hearing aids with directionality contain two or more microphones installed at a specific distance from each other within the hearing aid. The contrast in arrival time of sound to each microphone then dictates how the hearing aid reacts to the sound.
This allows the hearing aid to focus on 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 suppression are featured in the majority of digital hearing aid models, but you’ll want to confirm 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 magnify speech while suppressing everything else.
A telecoil is a small copper coil integrated into the hearing aid. While that doesn’t sound all that remarkable, what it can accomplish undoubtedly is.
Telecoils make it possible for you to talk on the phone without feedback and connect to hearing loop systems. For example, if a hearing loop system is installed in a church or cinema, sound will be transmitted directly to your hearing aid for optimum clarity.
Hearing loops can also be set up 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 consider investing in compatible hearing aids that link up wirelessly to these devices. That way, you can stream telephone calls and music directly to your hearing aids for optimal sound quality.
Your smartphone can even be used as your hearing aid remote control, whereby you can discreetly adjust the volume and settings.
There’s a lot to consider when picking out a hearing aid, which is why it’s critical to work with a reputable and experienced hearing care expert.
Are you ready to discover your optimal hearing aid?