The process of purchasing hearing aids used to be a lot easier. There were only a small number of styles to select from and they all essentially 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 practical solutions for the restoration of hearing. And with digital technology, a variety of features became available to regulate a wide variety of listening circumstances.
But that’s the tradeoff—simple choices that led to poor results are now difficult choices with several 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 vital to work with an experienced hearing specialist that can walk you through all of the important considerations.
Here are six things to look for when buying hearing aids, in combination with the questions to ask your hearing professional.
Hearing amplification products are not all created equal. In fact, the difference between the lowest end personal sound amplifier and the highest end digital hearing aid is the difference between a Ford Pinto and a Porsche.
While you may not require the highest end hearing aid model in the market, 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 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 capability, including pre-programed settings you can use in different circumstances, like at a restaurant as opposed to at home.
2. Hearing aid style
Hearing aids come in several sizes and styles, ranging from behind-the-ear to entirely in the ear canal.
You’ll need to balance price, functionality, ease-of-use, and appearance when making your decision on hearing aid styles. You’ll also want to seek advise from a hearing professional on this one, as many factors should be taken into consideration, including the degree of your hearing loss.
3. Directional microphones
People invest in hearing aids for various reasons and to hear a mixture of sounds, but the primary reason is to hear and understand speech.
If that’s true for you, you’ll want to inquire about directional microphones in any hearing aid you’re interested in.
Hearing aids with directionality contain two or more microphones positioned at a specified 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 permits the hearing aid to target the specific sound source 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 verify this with any model 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 enhance speech while suppressing everything else.
A telecoil is a small copper coil integrated into the hearing aid. While that doesn’t sound all that impressive, what it can accomplish undoubtedly is.
Telecoils allow 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 cinema, 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 specialist for additional details.
6. Wireless connectivity
Did you just purchase a new iPhone or smartphone?
If so, you may want to think about purchasing compatible hearing aids that connect wirelessly to these products. That way, you can stream telephone calls and music directly to your hearing aids for optimum sound quality.
Your smartphone can even be used as your hearing aid remote control, whereby you can subtly adjust the volume and settings.
There’s a lot to think about when choosing a hearing aid, which is why it’s crucial to work with a reputable and knowledgeable hearing care professional.
Are you ready to discover your optimal hearing aid?