The process of buying hearing aids was in the past much easier. There were only a few styles to select from and they all fundamentally functioned 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 solutions for the restoration of hearing. And with digital technology, several features became readily available to manage a multitude of listening circumstances.
But that’s the tradeoff—simple choices that resulted in inadequate results are now complicated choices with lots of options.
But complicated does not mean impossible, and the time invested is well worth the improvement in hearing you can achieve. It’s also why it’s essential to partner with an experienced hearing specialist that can walk you through all of the relevant considerations.
Below are six factors to look for when selecting hearing aids, in conjunction 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.
While you may not need the highest end hearing aid model in 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 amplify sounds based on your distinct hearing loss. Otherwise, all sound will be amplified evenly and that’s not going to make it easier to hear speech any better than before.
Ask your hearing professional about programming potential, including pre-programed settings you can use in different scenarios, like at a restaurant as opposed to at home.
Hearing aids come in many sizes and styles, ranging from behind-the-ear to completely in the ear canal.
You’ll want to balance cost, performance, ease-of-use, and appearance when making your choice on hearing aid styles. You’ll also want to seek advise from a hearing professional on this one, as several factors should be considered, including the level of your hearing loss.
3. Directional microphones
People invest in hearing aids for a number of reasons and to hear a mixture of sounds, but the chief 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 checking into.
Hearing aids with directionality contain two or more microphones set 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 responds to the sound.
This enables the hearing aid to focus on 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 inhibition are featured in the majority of digital hearing aid models, but you’ll want to validate 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 boost speech while curbing everything else.
A telecoil is a small copper coil integrated into the hearing aid. While that doesn’t sound all that spectacular, what it can achieve certainly is.
Telecoils allow you to speak 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 same effect. Ask your hearing specialist for more details.
6. Wireless connection
Did you just purchase a new iPhone or smartphone?
If so, you may want to consider investing in compatible hearing aids that link up wirelessly to these products. That way, you can stream 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, whereby you can inconspicuously change the volume and settings.
There’s a lot to think about when selecting a hearing aid, which is why it’s critical to work with a trustworthy and experienced hearing care expert.
Are you ready to find your optimal hearing aid?