The procedure for buying hearing aids was in the past a lot easier. There were only a few styles to choose from and they all in essence worked 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 viable options for the restoration of hearing. And with digital technology, a variety of features became readily available to regulate a multitude of listening situations.
But that’s the tradeoff—easy choices that resulted in poor results are now complicated choices with lots of options.
But difficult does not mean impossible, and the time invested is well worth the improvement in hearing you can enjoy. It’s also why it’s important to work with a reputable hearing specialist that can guide you through all of the important considerations.
The following are six factors to look for when selecting hearing aids, together with the questions to ask your hearing professional.
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.
Even though you may not require the highest end hearing aid model on the market, the primary difference you should be worried about between a personal amplifier and a hearing aid is programmability.
Hearing aids must be programmed to enhance sounds based on your distinctive hearing loss. Otherwise, all sound is amplified uniformly and that’s not going to help you hear speech any better than before.
Ask your hearing specialist about programming functionality, including pre-programed settings you can use in a variety of circumstances, 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 professional on this one, as several factors should be taken into consideration, including the severity of your hearing loss.
3. Directional microphones
People invest in hearing aids for a range of reasons and to hear an assortment of sounds, but the leading 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 considering.
Hearing aids with directionality contain two or more microphones located at a specific distance from each other within the hearing aid. The contrast in arrival time of sound to each microphone then determines how the hearing aid reacts to the sound.
This enables 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 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 differentiate between high-frequency sounds (like speech) and low-frequency sounds (like background noise). The microprocessor can then intensify 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 achieve certainly is.
Telecoils make it possible for you to talk on the phone without feedback and hook up 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 optimum clarity.
Hearing loops can also be installed in home theater systems for the same effect. Ask your hearing professional for more details.
6. Wireless connection
Did you just buy a brand new iPhone or smartphone?
If so, you may want to consider investing in compatible hearing aids that link up wirelessly to these devices. That way, you can stream cell 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 inconspicuously adjust the volume and settings.
There’s a lot to take into account when selecting a hearing aid, which is why it’s crucial to work with a reputable and knowledgeable hearing care expert.
Are you ready to discover your ideal hearing aid?