Hearing aids are not a one-size-fits-all proposition. To choose the appropriate hearing aid, you should take into consideration your particular hearing loss diagnosis, your preferred hearing aid style as well as what features are the most important to your lifestyle.
How to Choose the Right Hearing Aid
How Hearing Aids Work
The purpose of hearing aids is to deliver sounds from the environment to your ear and make them louder. They utilize small microphones to gather the sound, which is then converted into digital code by a computer chip with an amplifier. That collected sound is then adjusted based on your specific hearing loss, listening needs and the level of sounds around you. Finally, the amplified signals are converted back into sound waves, which are delivered to your ears through speakers.
Understanding Your Hearing Loss
The first step in selecting a hearing aid is to understand your type and level of hearing loss. If you have not already had a comprehensive hearing evaluation, schedule one with a certified audiologist, such as Dr. Land. Based on the results of this evaluation, your audiologist will be able to recommend what hearing aid style and functionality will best help you hearing problem.
Hearing Aid Style
There are six different styles of hearing aid, each with its own benefits:
- Completely in the canal. These aids, which are the least visible type, are molded to fit inside your ear canal and improve mild to moderate hearing loss. While their low profile appearance is a perk along with a lower likelihood of picking up wind noise, they use small batteries that have a shorter life and can be difficult to handle. Additionally, they lack extra features like volume control and a directional microphone and are susceptible to ear wax clogging the speakers.
- In the canal. This style, which can also improve mild to moderate hearing loss, is custom molded and fits partly in the ear canal. While still less visible than larger styles, it does include features not available on the completely in the canal aids. There is the same difficulty in adjusting due to its size and ear wax can become a problem.
- In the ear. The in the ear models are custom made to either fill most of the bowl-shaped area of your outer ear or to fill only the lower part and can be used to treat mild to severe hearing loss. Additional features are available, such as volume control, and its increased size makes it easier to handle. It is more visible, however, and picks up more wind noise than smaller devices.
- Behind the ear. This type of aid hooks over the top of your ear and rests behind it. A tube then connects the hearing aid to an earmold that fits in your ear canal. It can treat almost any type of hearing loss and is capable of greater amplification than other style. While the size has historically been larger, recent innovations have streamlined its appearance. Wind noise can be a problem.
- Receiver in canal/ receiver in ear. Similar in many respects to the behind the ear model, this style uses a tiny wire rather than tubing to connect he pieces. The portion behind the ear is less visible, but it is still susceptible to earwax clogging the speaker.
- Open fit. This variation of the behind the ear hearing aid uses a thin tube and can help people with mild to moderate hearing loss. The ear canal is kept very open, so low-frequency sounds can enter the ear naturally and high-frequency sounds can be amplified through the hearing aid. Since the ear is not plugged, it also makes your own voice sound better to you.
Hearing Aid Features
Modern day hearing aids come with a long list of available features. A few of these include:
- Telecoil is a small copper wire that picks up sound directly from phones and public address systems to improve clarity.
- Directional microphones help immensely in noisy environments by making the audio signal in front of you louder than the noise behind you or coming from the sides. The switch from directional and omnidirectional is typically automatic in hearing aids with the feature based on the environment.
- Digital noise reduction can make it easier to listen and improves sound quality in noisy environments.
- Wireless connectivity allows hearing aids to wirelessly interface with certain Bluetooth-compatible devices, like smart phones and TVs.
- Remote controls allow you to make adjustments without touching the hearing aid.
In order to purchase the hearing aid that best fits your needs and is most likely to improve your quality of life, time and thought should be given to all of the available options. Consult with your certified audiologist to understand your hearing loss situation and all the options available to you.
Palm Beach Sleep and Sinus, under the direction of Mark T. Agrama, MD, is dedicated to the medical and surgical treatment of adult sleep, sinus and nose disorders. State of the art diagnostic protocols such as Home Sleep Studies, Laboratory Sleep Studies, Nasal Endoscopy, Video Flexible Laryngoscopy, Video Stroboscopy, Sleep Endoscopy, and CT Scan Imaging help us analyze our patient’s condition. Our mission is the optimization of Sleep and Sinus health for our patients using a comprehensive and individualized plan designed for long-term success. To discuss hearing aids, please contact us online or call 561-624-5311.