If you've discovered that you are suffering from a degree of hearing loss and are in need of a hearing aid, it's worth spending a bit of time looking into the difficult products that are available. Most traditional and digital hearing aids are now made to be effective and discrete, but there are a number of different factors that should influence your choice. Here are seven tips that will help you select a hearing aid.
1) Look at different styles
Broadly speaking, there are five different styles of hearing aids that you will encounter when you are browsing sites in order to make your comparisons.
Behind-the-ear (or BTE) hearing aids have been around for a long time, and are fitted behind your ear. The device behind your ear is then connected to a tube, with an EarBud or custom earmold attached to the end of the tube that fits inside of your ear canal. BTE hearing aids are the largest and often most powerful hearing aids available, making them a good choice for individuals with severe hearing loss or dexterity restraints.
Open ear or Open Fit hearing aids are micro versions of BTE hearing aids, making them more discrete. The also don’t require a custom mold, the small EarBuds that attach to the thin tube leave the ear canal mostly open, which makes them very comfortable to wear and very easy to fit. Which is why many people purchase Open-Fit hearing aids online.
In-the-ear (or ITE) hearing aids are made to suit an individual ear, ensuring that the device will fit into the visible area of the ear. ITE hearing aids are not very popular anymore, mostly due to there larger size, however still provide a quality solution for those customers wanting a larger in the ear hearing aid.
In-the-canal (or ITC) hearing aids are also custom-made so that they fit into an individual's ear canal. ITC hearing aids are much less noticeable than ITE hearing aids and with advancements in miniaturization, they can accommodate the same advanced technologies found in larger ITE hearing aids.
Completely-In-The-Canal (or CIC) hearing aids are available custom-made, as well as, pre-made so that they fit entirely inside of an individual’s ear canal. Depending on the size of an individuals ear canal a CIC hearing goes from hardly noticeable to completely invisible.
2) Stick to digital hearing aids if possible
It is still possible to obtain classic, analog hearing aids, but since these devices merely amplify sound they don’t provide the same comfort or accuracy as digital hearing aids. The micro processor inside of digital hearing aids is what allows them amplify with greater accuracy, as well as, filter noise and prevent feedback. The only real benefit to analog models is that you can sometimes obtain them for lower prices due to their diminishing popularity.
3) Consider a hearing aid with a volume control
Unless you're only going to be using your hearing aid in one particular location that has entirely predictable noise levels, it's worth investing in a hearing aid that allows you to adjust the volume. Having some control over the volume is essential to ensuring your able to keep yourself comfortable as you move from one listening environment to the next. Some hearing aids come with a program button, that when pushed toggles between different pre-set volume levels while other hearing aids use a volume dial.
4) Be aware of the benefits of directional microphones
If your hearing aid has directional microphones as one of its features, you'll find it to be a great benefit when you need to hear in environments with background noise. If your living a busy lifestyle directional microphones are a great tool to help you stay focused on hearing speech when you’re communicating in noisy places.
5) Opt for noise reduction
On a related note, it is smart to invest in a hearing aid that has a noise reduction feature. This feature is extremely useful, as it reduces amplification to sounds that hearing aid users do not want to hear at elevated levels. This helps people hear more of what they want to hear and less of what they don't.
6) Choose a hearing aid that compensates for feedback
As people with poorer quality hearing aids will tell you, there's nothing worse than a wailing or screeching sound in your ear when you're trying to use your hearing aid. A hearing aid with a feedback cancellation feature will prevent this problem. Similarly, you can get hearing aids that generate white noise to compensate for tinnitus (i.e. ringing in the ears) that people with diminished hearing can sometimes experience when in quiet settings.
7) Look at what you will get with the hearing aid
Of course, choosing a hearing aid isn't just about the specific device; it is also about getting good value for money. Make sure the company you work with have qualified staff that will recommend the best hearing aid for your hearing loss and then program your new hearing aids to match your hearing test results. You want to buy your device from a company that is willing to service what they sell, or provide you with a refund if you are not satisfied with the product.