Hearing Aid Considerations Before Buying
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.
- Digital feedback reduction with built-in cancellation, which reduces or eliminates squelching and feedback.
- Digital noise reduction, which reduces background noises for better, more reliable speech recognition.
- Directional microphones, which provide better directionality by having one microphone focus on the sound source while the other decreases background noise.
- Automatic programming, which utilizes preset programs that automatically adapt to a range of different sound environments.
Hearing Aid Styles
Hearing aids have improved greatly with the advent of digital technology.
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.
Our experienced hearing professionals will guide you through the process to ultimately determine the style and functionality that will bring you the most benefit.
The invisible-in-the-canal (IIC) model is the smallest device currently available. The entire hearing aid sits inside the ear canal, making it practically invisible. This device is prone to earwax blockage. This model can treat mild to moderate hearing loss.
The completely-in-the-canal (CIC) model fits entirely inside the ear canal, making it almost invisible. The small size means there are very few additional features and the device requires a small battery with a short battery life. This model can treat mild to moderate hearing loss.
The in-the-ear (ITE) model comes in two versions; one that fills only the lower part of the outer ear (half shell) and one that fills most of the outer ear (full shell). Since this model is larger, it can contain a larger battery. This device is more visible than the others and picks up more background noise, like wind. This model is appropriate for mild to severe hearing loss.
The receiver-in-canal (RIC) and open fit models have two parts connected with a thin wire. The portion that sits in the ear canal is small, meaning the ear canal is not fully blocked. This enables low-frequency sounds to enter the ear naturally; high-frequency sounds are still amplified through the hearing aid. These models are appropriate for high-frequency mild to moderate hearing loss.
The behind-the-ear (BTE) model consists of two parts, one that fits inside the ear canal and one that hooks behind the ear. This is the largest and most powerful of all the devices. The BTE can fit the most additional features and uses the largest battery. This device is appropriate for almost all types of hearing loss.
For decades, hearing aids were strictly analog.
But the digital revolution has taken over many areas formerly devoted to analog technology, and hearing aids are no exception.
Digital programming works by converting sound waves into digital signals using digitized sound processing.
A built-in computer chip determines whether the signal is speech or noise and converts it into a clear, amplified signal.
Digital programming offers many benefits including improved speech quality, advanced programming options, a better fit, and a multitude of features that work to improve and enhance functionality of the hearing aids.
This wireless communication platform is used in a wide range of electronic devices, including computers, smartphones, and music players, to exchange data.
Bluetooth allows devices to communicate with one another.
Bluetooth-enabled hearing aids let users stream signals from other electronic devices directly to their aids.
You can make phone calls, listen to music and watch television through your hearing aids, without disturbing other people around you.
One of the latest, and most welcome, breakthroughs in hearing aid technology is rechargeable batteries.
Most of the major hearing aid manufacturers now offer rechargeable options, freeing users from the hassle of disposable batteries.
By utilizing rechargeable batteries, you can get up to 24 hours of performance with a single charge.
This allows you to wear your hearing aids all day long and not have to worry about having them run out of power during an especially inopportune moment.
Many include disposable battery backups for an added measure of security.
Which Is Right for Me?
With all these advances in hearing aid technology, devices are better at providing clear sound than ever before.
While the choices may seem overwhelming, working closely with your audiologist at Houston Hearing Center can help you figure out which technology and features are perfect for your needs.
Choosing a Hearing Aid
If you are experiencing hearing loss, odds are good that you’ll benefit from a hearing aid.
Choosing the right one is no simple task.
Today’s hearing aids are smaller and include a multitude of features that were not available with 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 mild to profound, with a total of seven different degrees.
Equally important is the frequency of your hearing loss.
Conductive hearing loss results from damage to the outer or middle ear and sensorineural hearing loss results from damage to the inner ear.
You’ll need to choose a hearing aid that targets the frequencies you have trouble hearing.
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
- Automatic volume control
- Bluetooth connectivity
Extra features are also available.
Speak with your audiologist about the advantages 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 important you feel comfortable with its appearance.
Hearing aids are available in a variety of sizes and styles, some visible while others are implanted deep within the ear canal.
Your Houston Hearing Center audiologist can work with any style to make them as discreet as possible.
Many are custom-molded to fit each individual’s ears.
What Is Your Budget?
Hearing aids are an important investment.
This financial decision will affect your quality of life, working career, relationships and overall health.
Your Houston Hearing Center understands your hearing loss as well as your financial situation.
They are experienced working with all types of budgets by recommending devices in your price range that will provide maximum effectiveness and satisfaction for your specific hearing needs.Call Houston Hearing Center at 281-649-7215 for more information or to schedule an appointment.