The process of 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 integrated into the design that hearing aids became practical options for the restoration of hearing. And with digital technology, several features became readily available to manage a multitude of listening situations.
But that’s the tradeoff—easy choices that brought about inadequate results are now complicated choices with lots of options.
But difficult does not mean impossible, and the time spent is well worth the improvement in hearing you can enjoy. It’s also why it’s critical to work with a reputable hearing specialist that can walk you through all of the important considerations.
Below 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. The truth is, the distinction between the cheapest personal sound amplifier and the highest end digital hearing aid is the difference between a Ford Pinto and a Porsche.
Although you may not need the highest end hearing aid model in the market, the principal difference you should be concerned about between a personal amplifier and a hearing aid is programmability.
Hearing aids must be programmed to enhance sounds according to your distinctive hearing loss. Otherwise, all sound is amplified evenly 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 versus at home.
Hearing aids come in several sizes and styles, ranging from behind-the-ear to completely 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 work with a hearing professional on this one, as numerous elements should be taken into consideration, including the severity of your hearing loss.
3. Directional microphones
People buy hearing aids for a number of reasons and to hear an assortment of sounds, but the most common reason is to hear and understand speech.
If that’s the case 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 positioned 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 makes it possible for 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 reduction
Background noise and feedback suppression are featured in the majority of digital hearing aid models, but you’ll want to confirm this with any model you’re considering.
Hearing aids contain a microprocessor that can distinguish between high-frequency sounds (like speech) and low-frequency sounds (like background noise). The microprocessor can then intensify speech while curbing everything else.
A telecoil is a small copper coil built into the hearing aid. While that doesn’t sound all that remarkable, what it can accomplish certainly 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 optimum clarity.
Hearing loops can also be set up in home theater systems for the same effect. Ask your hearing specialist for additional details.
6. Wireless connectivity
Did you just buy a brand new iPhone or smartphone?
If so, you may want to think about purchasing compatible hearing aids that connect 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 be used as your hearing aid remote control, where you can inconspicuously adjust the volume and settings.
There’s much to think about when selecting a hearing aid, which is why it’s critical to work with a trustworthy and knowledgeable hearing care professional.
Are you ready to discover your ideal hearing aid?