6 Things to Look for When Buying Hearing Aids
The procedure for purchasing hearing aids was in the past much 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 realistic solutions for the recovery of hearing. And with digital technology, a variety of features became readily available to handle a wide variety of listening circumstances.
But that's the tradeoff—easy choices that resulted in poor results are now difficult choices with several options.
But complicated does not mean impossible, and the time invested is well worth the gains in hearing you can attain. It’s also why it’s crucial to partner with an established hearing specialist that can guide you through all of the important considerations.
Here are six factors to look for when purchasing hearing aids, along with the questions to ask your hearing specialist.
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 require the highest end hearing aid model on the market, the main difference you should be worried about between a personal amplifier and a hearing aid is programmability.
Hearing aids should be programmed to enhance sounds according to your distinct hearing loss. Otherwise, all sound is amplified uniformly and that’s not going to make it easier to hear speech any better than before.
Ask your hearing specialist about programming capabilities, including pre-programed settings you can use in different circumstances, like at a restaurant versus 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, functionality, ease-of-use, and appearance when making your decision on hearing aid styles. You’ll also want to work together with a hearing professional on this one, as many elements should be taken into consideration, including the extent 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 the case 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 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 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 built into the majority of digital hearing aid models, but you’ll want to validate this with any product 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 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 achieve definitely is.
Telecoils make it possible for you to talk on the phone without feedback and connect 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 equivalent effect. Ask your hearing specialist for additional details.
6. Wireless connectivity
Did you just purchase a brand new iPhone or smartphone?
If that's the case, you may want to think about investing in compatible hearing aids that connect wirelessly to these devices. 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, where you can inconspicuously regulate the volume and settings.
There’s much to think about when choosing a hearing aid, which is why it’s vital to work with a trustworthy and experienced hearing care expert.
Are you ready to discover your ideal hearing aid?