How to Choose a Hearing Aid
Hearing loss can affect anyone at any age and can have a significant impact on your quality of life. Fortunately, there are many options available to help you hear better and enjoy the sounds of life. One of the most common and effective solutions is a hearing aid, a small electronic device that amplifies sound and delivers it to your ear.
However, choosing a hearing aid can be a daunting task, as there are many factors to consider and many types and styles to choose from. How do you know which one is right for you? In this blog post, we will guide you through the process of choosing a hearing aid that suits your needs, preferences and budget.
1. Get a hearing test.
Before you buy a hearing aid, you should have a comprehensive hearing evaluation by an audiologist or a hearing instrument specialist. They will measure your degree and type of hearing loss, and recommend the most suitable hearing aid for you. They will also check your ear canal for any wax buildup or infection that might affect your hearing or the fit of the hearing aid.
2: Choose a type of hearing aid.
There are two main types of hearing aids: behind-the-ear (BTE) and in-the-ear (ITE). BTE hearing aids have a small case that sits behind your ear and a thin tube that connects to an earpiece that fits in your ear canal. ITE hearing aids are custom-made to fit entirely in your ear or ear canal. Each type has its own advantages and disadvantages, depending on your hearing loss, ear anatomy, lifestyle and personal preference.
BTE hearing aids are generally more powerful, durable and easy to handle than ITE hearing aids. They can accommodate larger batteries and more features, such as directional microphones, telecoils and wireless connectivity. They are also easier to clean and maintain. However, some people may find them more visible and less comfortable than ITE hearing aids.
ITE hearing aids are generally more discreet, comfortable and natural sounding than BTE hearing aids. They can also reduce wind noise and feedback (whistling) better than BTE hearing aids. However, some people may find them more difficult to insert and remove than BTE hearing aids. They also have smaller batteries and fewer features than BTE hearing aids. They are also more prone to moisture and wax buildup, which can affect their performance and lifespan.
3: Choose a style of hearing aid.
Within each type of hearing aid, there are different styles that vary in size, shape and placement in your ear. The most common styles are:
– Standard BTE: The case sits behind your ear and the earpiece fits in your ear canal with a small opening or vent. This style is suitable for mild to severe hearing loss and can accommodate various features and accessories.
– Mini BTE: The case is smaller and thinner than standard BTE and the earpiece is either an open-fit dome or a custom-made tip that fits in your ear canal. This style is suitable for mild to moderate hearing loss and offers more cosmetic appeal and comfort than standard BTE.
– Receiver-in-canal (RIC): The case sits behind your ear and the speaker or receiver is located in the earpiece that fits in your ear canal. This style is suitable for mild to severe hearing loss and offers better sound quality and feedback reduction than standard BTE.
– In-the-ear (ITE): The device fits entirely in your outer ear and covers most of it. This style is suitable for mild to severe hearing loss and offers more power and features than smaller ITE styles.
– In-the-canal (ITC): The device fits partially in your ear canal and is visible from the outside. This style is suitable for mild to moderate hearing loss and offers more discretion and comfort than ITE.
– Completely-in-canal (CIC): The device fits completely in your ear canal and is barely visible from the outside. This style is suitable for mild to moderate hearing loss and offers the most cosmetic appeal of all ITE styles.
– Invisible-in-canal (IIC): The device fits deep in your ear canal and is invisible from the outside. This style is suitable for mild to moderate hearing loss and offers the most natural sound quality of all ITE styles.
4: Choose the features you want.
Hearing aids come with various features that can enhance your listening experience and comfort. Some of the common features are:
– Directional microphones: These help you focus on the sounds in front of you and reduce background noise from other directions.
– Noise reduction: This reduces unwanted sounds such as wind, traffic or machinery.
– Feedback cancellation: This prevents whistling or squealing sounds that may occur when the hearing aid picks up its own amplified sound.
– Telecoil: This allows you to connect your hearing aid to compatible phones or public sound systems that have a magnetic loop.
– Bluetooth or wireless connectivity: This allows you to stream audio from your phone, TV, computer or other devices directly to your hearing aid.
– Rechargeable batteries: These eliminate the need to replace batteries frequently and save money and hassle.
5. Try before you buy.
Before you commit to buying a hearing aid, it is important to try it out in different situations and environments. Most hearing aid providers offer a trial period where you can test the hearing aid at home, work or social settings. This will help you evaluate how well the hearing aid meets your needs and expectations, as well as how comfortable and easy it is to use.
6. Get professional fitting and follow-up care.
Once you have chosen a hearing aid, you will need to get it fitted and programmed by your audiologist or hearing specialist. They will adjust the settings and features of the hearing aid according to your hearing test results and preferences. They will also teach you how to use, clean and maintain your hearing aid properly. After the fitting, you will need to visit your audiologist or hearing specialist regularly for check-ups, adjustments and repairs if needed.
Choosing a hearing aid can be a challenging process, but it can also be rewarding when you find the one that works best for you. By following these tips, you can make an informed decision that will improve your hearing and quality of life.