How to Choose Hearing Aids: A Helpful Guide

With all the different options out there, it can be difficult to figure out how to choose hearing aids that are right for you. There is not one specific hearing aid that works best for everyone. Instead, you need to learn about the options out there and find what works for you and your hearing. Let us start with the basics:

  • How hearing aids work
  • Levels of technology
  • Hearing aid manufacturers
  • Styles of hearing aids
  • Why they help and how they keep getting better

Hearing loss has been around since the beginning of time. While it is difficult to pinpoint exactly when people began trying ways to improve their hearing – like using cupped hand over the ear – we do know there is a published article in Magia Naturalis in 1588 describing early hearing aids. Hearing aids have come a long way since cupping your hand over the back of your ear. Hearing aids are the best treatment for most types of hearing loss.

There are four basic components that make up a hearing aid:

  1. Microphone
  2. Amplifier
  3. Speaker (receiver)
  4. Power supply (batteries)

No matter what style you get, no matter what size it is, all hearing aids consist of these four components.

how hearing aids work (the basics)

A digital hearing aid makes a difference. Digital signal processing enables us to use smart software and develop not only the best fit, but we can tailor your prescription to you. After all, sound is a perception and everyone perceives it differently. Digital also delivers:

  • Improved speech understanding in noisy environments
  • Increased gain without feedback
  • Enhanced listening comfort and speech perception
  • Ability to shape instrument settings to match the specific wearer’s hearing needs
  • More precise directional capabilities

Now that we’ve learned a little about how the hearing aid works. We can learn a little about levels of technology. When choosing the right hearing aid, it is important to consider a lot of different information to make the right choice for you.

Technology Levels

Premium: very active.

Premium hearing aids are going to give you the best that that manufacture has to offer. It has the best background noise reduction and it allows us to customize the hearing aid to you. We have more frequencies we can adjust, giving you the sound quality you need and want.

Advanced: more active.

Advanced has fewer frequencies we can adjust. It also not going to cut down loud background noise such as crowds and talking in cars.

Select: active.

Select has even fewer frequencies we can adjust and less background noise reduction. Select will not reduce mall noise, party noise, theater noise, car noise, and crowd noise. However, if you spend most of your time at home then you really do not have a lot of noise to cut down.

Lower than Select

Typically, we don’t recommend these as they don’t reduce much background noise and make conversation difficult.

Amplifiers

These do exactly as their name implies: amplify sound. Amplifiers turn everything up and everything down. Most people do not have a flat hearing loss. Turning up the volume makes everything louder, even the noises that you could hear just fine beforehand. That is why hearing aids have frequencies that we can individually change just for you. With hearing aids, we only turn up what frequencies you need and how far you need each one. You must be careful with these as well. The package will say hearing aid, but it is not. If you do not have to go in and have it adjusted by someone, chances are it is just an amplifier.

Hearing aid manufacturers

Hearing aid manufacturers are all different and quite the same, such as car manufacturers. We have our favorites. It is a tough call on what one is the best. Usually, I would say whatever manufacture your hearing care provider fits the most of is the best. Because, all manufacturing software is different, the hearing aids fit a little different. If your hearing care provider knows a specific manufacturer’s hearing aids really well, they’ll be able to fit those kinds of hearing aids better than others. However, I have had people like a hearing aid better than one I fit regularly. It’s up to you and what you prefer.

The good news is, you can demo a hearing aid like you test drive a car! When in doubt ask for a demo, then you can hear for yourself if you like the sound quality. Also, I give a 60-day full money-back guarantee without fees. Most everyone gives a 40 to 60-day guarantee and some charge a return fee. Make sure you know if there are any fees if you return during the return period.

Styles of hearing aids

Custom

Custom hearing aids are just that. We make an impression of your ear canal and custom make the hearing aid to you. There are several custom hearing aids, IIC (invisible in the canal), CIC (completely in the canal), ITC (in the canal), ITE (in the ear). Each one gets bigger and generally a bigger hearing aid battery.

Behind the Ear

We also have a few different shapes and styles for behind the ear hearing aid. I am just going to stick with the basic two, BTE (behind the ear) and RIC (receiver in the canal). We really do not fit many BTE’s anymore unless you have a profound hearing loss.

The best hearing aids for you? The premium hearing aid you are going to get the most benefit out of. However, if your lifestyle does not have a lot of background noise then the lower level hearing aid would work for you. If there is no price difference, or price does not matter that much, then I would still go with the premium hearing aids.

If your hearing loss is only in the upper frequencies I would stick with the RIC. If you have good hearing in the lows and we plug your ear up with a custom hearing aid and put the sound back in your voice will sound all tonally and echoey. If you have hearing loss in the lows below 40db, then you can wear a custom hearing aid just fine. The IIC hearing aids go past your second bend and you generally will not get that tonally and echoey sound to your voice even if you have good hearing in the lows. However, IIC do not have all the feathers the other hearing aids have due to their size. They also tend to be in for repair more often than other hearing aids.

Everyone is different. Hearing loss, perception of sound, and hearing environment vary from person to person. My goal is to find the best fit for everyone. If you would like to come in for a consultation, I would be more then happy to go over what hearing aid will work best for you.

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