Hearing Aids

If you are experiencing hearing loss, odds are good that you’ll benefit from a hearing aid.

Choosing a Hearing Aid

Choosing the right one is no simple task. Today’s hearing aids are smaller and more feature-packed than their predecessors, offering an array of options.

Narrowing the choices down can be tough, but there are a few important things you should take into consideration before choosing a hearing aid.

What Are Your Hearing Needs?

First, you’ll need to have an audiologist assess your hearing loss. Severity is measured in degrees, based upon your hearing loss range in decibels. It ranges from normal (-10 to 15 dB) to profound (91+ dB), with a total of seven different degrees.

Equally important is the frequency of your hearing loss. Conductive hearing loss resulting from damage to the outer or middle ear affects low frequency sounds, while sensorineural hearing loss, in which damage occurs to the inner ear, results in a loss of high frequency sounds.

You’ll need to choose a hearing aid that targets the frequencies you have trouble comprehending.

What Are Your Lifestyle Needs?

Functionality is an important consideration. With so many available features, you’ll need to decide which ones matter most to you. Popular features include:

  • Directional microphones.
  • Feedback suppression.
  • Digital noise reduction.
  • Wax guards.
  • Automatic volume control.
  • Bluetooth® connectivity.
  • Extra features cost money, so speak with your audiologist to get an idea about the pros and cons of these features.

You’ll also have to take into account your lifestyle needs. Whether you enjoy quiet, intimate gatherings with a few close friends or an active outdoors lifestyle that includes a lot of background noise, there is a hearing aid designed specifically for your activity level.

What Is Your Cosmetic Preference?

Cosmetic preference is a key factor in choosing a hearing aid. Since you’ll be wearing it every day, it’s got to not only feel good but appeal to your confidence.

Hearing aids are available in a variety of sizes and styles, some visible while others are implanted deep within the ear canal, rendering them virtually undetectable. Many are custom-molded to fit each individual’s ears.

What Is Your Hearing Aid Budget?

Finally, there is cost. Hearing aids can range in price from a few hundred dollars up to several thousand dollars apiece. Price will be a factor, but be sure to consider your specific hearing needs when making this decision.

Investing in a cheap hearing aid that is ineffective is a waste of money; conversely, you don’t want to overspend on features that won’t benefit you. Your audiologist can offer suggestions that will point you in the right direction.

Hearing Aid Types

With the advent of digital technology more than 20 years ago, hearing aids have remarkably improved.

If you’re picturing big and bulky devices with questionable sound quality, you’ll be pleased to learn today’s instruments are smaller, more comfortable and provide sound that is more natural.

They are available in a variety of sizes and styles, so finding one that appeals to your lifestyle needs and cosmetic preferences should be easy. Here are the styles available:

Receiver-in-the-Canal (RIC)

A RIC hearing aid consists of a tiny housing containing all electronics except the receiver, which is positioned behind the ear. A thin tube connects the housing to the receiver, which is worn in the concha (bowl-shaped portion) of the ear. It’s a small and discreet unit but powerful enough for treating mild to moderately severe hearing loss.

Behind-the-Ear (BTE)

A RIC hearing aid consists of a tiny housing containing all electronics except the receiver, which is positioned behind the ear. A thin tube connects the housing to the receiver, which is worn in the concha (bowl-shaped portion) of the ear. It’s a small and discreet unit but powerful enough for treating mild to moderately severe hearing loss.

Completely-in-the-Canal (CIC)

This hearing aid is placed in the ear canal and is the smallest available. It takes advantage of the ear’s natural ability to collect sound, and its discreet size makes the device virtually invisible to others. The trade-off is a shorter battery life, and it may prove difficult to adjust for those with poor manual dexterity. This is a good choice for mild to moderate hearing loss.

In-the-Ear (ITE)

This hearing aid is designed to fill the outer portion of the ear, and is larger than those worn in the ear canals. It is less discreet, but the size allows for more features and makes the unit easier to adjust. A bigger battery translates to longer life and means those with severe or profound hearing loss can benefit from this style.

In-the-Canal (ITC)

This style is also designed to fit in the ear canal, but not as deeply as a CIC device, resting securely in the lower portion instead. It’s a little larger, making it easier to insert and remove and extending the battery life. For patients with mild to moderate hearing loss.

Hearing Aid Technologies

Hearing aid technology has improved drastically over the past couple of decades.

Early devices relied on vacuum tubes and bulky batteries, but today’s instruments take advantage of digital signal processing, microchips and computerization.

Keeping track of the latest technological features can be challenging, but we’ll cover a few of the more popular options here.

Hearing Aid Technology

Does Analog Hearing Aid Technology Still Exist?

Analog technology still exists, but fewer and fewer manufacturers offer these devices, and many have phased them out entirely. Analog units employ a particular frequency based on your audiogram and all sounds are amplified in the same manner, whether speech or background noise. Some analog hearing aids can be programmed for different listening environments.

How Does Digital Hearing Aid Technology Work?

Digital programmable hearing aids use digitized sound processing to convert sound waves into digital signals. A computer chip determines whether the signals are speech or noise and converts them into clear, amplified signals.

Advantages in digital processing are significant: it offers improved programming ability, a more precise fit and a number of features designed to improve or enhance functionality, including:

  • Gain processing reduces background sounds and microphone noise to offer a clearer sound for the listener, with less clinical adjustment needed.
  • Digital feedback reduction (DFR) relies on cancellation systems to eliminate or reduce feedback.
  • Digital noise reduction (DNR) reduces background noises for improved speech recognition.
  • Directional microphones utilize dual microphones, focusing one on the sound source while the other decreases background noise, to enable the user to better determine directionality.
  • Wireless connectivity with Bluetooth® devices provides great flexibility.

While the choices may seem overwhelming, working closely with your audiologist at Advanced Hearing & Balanced Specialist can help you figure out which technology and features are perfect for your needs.

Try Before You Buy

Don't wait to hear the laughter. Don't miss another moment - try a hearing device RISK FREE before you buy.

Make a sound decision. Try out your hearing aids before you buy them. We understand that hearing aids are a big investment. That is why we want you to be completely satisfied before you make your final purchase.

Our "Try Before You Buy" initiative allows you to take your hearing devices home for a two-week free trial. You will get to see how well they work in real-world situations, not just in our fitting room.

An Audiologist Will Review

Your audiologist will review and discuss the trial experience with you and make any necessary adjustments or changes.

If you are not satisfied or ready to move forward they can be returned for no fee. For more information on our Try Before You Buy program, contact us.

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