Choosing the Right Hearing Aid
Hearing aids are miniature technological marvels. They are not inexpensive and are not covered by most insurance. That’s why it’s important to make sure you choose the right model for you. Here are a few things to consider.
Start with an audiologist
To get the best experience from your hearing aids, start with an expert. Start with an audiologist. A hearing aid dispenser at a big box or warehouse store doesn’t have the same training and expertise as a licensed audiologist. An audiologist is a medical professional trained in hearing. So, make sure your hearing exam is conducted by an audiologist.
Choose the right style
Once the audiologist has determined your level of hearing loss, it’s time to look at the different styles. Some styles are better suited for more severe hearing loss, other styles are best depending on the anatomy of your ear. Other factors to consider are the desire to minimize visibility, budget, and your degree of manual dexterity. Here’s a quick rundown on the different styles.
- Behind the ear (BTE): This style provides the most power. It has one component that fits behind the ear and an earmold that fits in the ear. A small piece of tubing conducts the sound from the hearing aid to behind the earmold. It is the most visible.
- Receiver in the ear (RITE): This behind the ear model uses a small wire to connect the piece behind the ear to the receiver that sits in the ear. It is less visible than a behind the ear model.
- In the ear (ITE): This hearing aid fills the ear (full shell) or a portion of the ear. It may be easier to handle if you have dexterity issues. It is for mild to severe hearing loss.
- In the canal (ITC): Not for everyone’s anatomy. It is custom made to fit partly in the ear canal and partly in the bowl of the ear. It works well for people with mild to moderate hearing loss.
- Completely in canal (CIC): The smallest hearing aid made. Fits completely in the ear canal. Because of its small size, it has limited power. Not for all levels of hearing loss.
Choose the right features
Once you have decided on a style, you’ll need to take a look at features. The more features you have, the greater the cost of the hearing aid. So, make sure you get the ones you need, but pass on the ones you don’t need.
- Multichannel processing: This assigns different frequencies to different “channels” to allow sounds to be broken down and processed separately. This can bring high frequencies down to a level you can hear and tamper down background noise while increasing speech. The audiologist can adjust the sounds at the different channels to personalize your hearing experience.
- Tinnitus masking: If you suffer from tinnitus as well as hearing loss, this feature can bring you peace. It generates just enough background noise to mask or hide the tinnitus sounds.
- Telecoil setting: A telecoil setting sends a signal from a telecoil enabled telephone directly to your hearing aid. Telecoils are also used in public settings such as museums and live performances. If you attend these frequently, you will benefit from a telecoil.
- Bluetooth streaming: As more devices are Bluetooth enabled, this feature is becoming more popular. Stream audio from any Bluetooth enabled device directly to your hearing aid. Compatible with TVs, cell phones, DVD players, MP3 players and many other electronic devices.
- Feedback cancellation: For styles that utilize an earmold, feedback cancellation can reduce or eliminate feedback caused when sound escapes the earmold.
When it comes time to choose the right hearing aid style and features for your needs, don’t hesitate to discuss any questions or concerns with your audiologist.