Congratulations on taking action to take care of your hearing health! Treating hearing loss by wearing hearing aids can help you navigate your life on a daily basis with greater ease. Similar to other electronics, hearing aids have experienced so much innovation over recent years. Advanced technology has contributed to the production of a wide range of hearing aids that can be customized. With a variety of options, selecting the one that is best for you can feel daunting. You will use a variety of information to best inform your decision including: the results from your hearing assessment and the recommendations provided by a hearing healthcare provider. To help you through this process, there are additional factors you can consider and tips to keep in mind that can inform making the best choice for you!
Hearing aids are small electronic devices that help absorb, amplify, and process speech and sound. They consist of three main parts:
- Microphone: takes in sound from the environment and converts the soundwaves into electrical signals. These signals then go to the amplifier.
- Amplifier: amplifies, or increases, the intensity of the electrical signals.
- Speaker: sends the electrical signals to the ear.
These components work collectively to take in more sound and strengthen the soundwaves. This allows the hair cells in the cochlea to better detect sound and subsequently translate that sound into neural signals that are sent to the brain through the auditory nerve. The brain then is enabled to make sense of the sound.
Types of Hearing Aids
Hearing aids are worn in or behind the ear. There are three basic types:
- Behind the ear: rest behind the ear and are connected to a customized ear mold fitted to your outer ear. There are different colors and designs available, some try to match the color to their skin tone so it blends in more. These are the most visible type of hearing aids.
- In the ear: are custom made (by an ear mold taken typically during hearing aid consultations) to sit in your ear canal. In the ear hearing aids are often used to address mild to severe hearing loss.
- Canal: there are two styles of ear canal hearing aids – completely in the canal (CIC) and invisible in the canal (IIC). The CIC sits in the ear canal and is barely visible. The IIC sits more deeply in the ear canal. These are the smallest type of hearing aids available.
The type of hearing aid that will be best for your specific hearing needs will largely depend on the degree (and type) of hearing loss you have, your lifestyle (career, activities you participate in), and your budget.
Hearing aids are an investment. These devices become part of your everyday experience and life. It is so important to take the time to think about what your needs are, discuss your options with hearing healthcare providers, and consider the following:
- Identify Your Budget: there is a wide price range for hearing aids. The varying prices depend on the kinds of features, accessories, additional technologies the hearing aid comes with. You should definitely check-in with your insurance to see if there is any coverage available. Identifying your budget in advance can really help filter options for you.
- Think about your Lifestyle: With many options available, there are hearing aids that could better suit your lifestyle. There are various features that are designed to best meet specific needs. This includes water resistant (or fully waterproof) and Bluetooth technology. It is important to share information regarding the types of activities and work you engage in on a regular basis.
- Discuss all the Features: there are numerous features available to enhance your overall hearing experience. In addition to the features already mentioned, others include: noise cancellation capabilities, rechargeable batteries, remote controls etc. Make sure you are informed about all of the features so that you select what you need!
In addition to these tips, other information to ask about it the warranty the hearing aids you select comes with. The warranty could include a trial period, repair, and maintenance services that would be important to know about!