If you are looking to buy a hearing aid, the best advice anybody can give you is to shop around. Try out different models and brands, talk to you audiologist for their recommendation, and look for deals. There are lots of styles out there, and you want to find the one that is best for you. It’s a big and important investment!
Here are a few things to consider when hearing aid shopping:
Analog or Digital
If you’re already shopping for hearing aids, you might have noticed that analog hearing aids are cheaper than digital. Why is that? And what’s the difference?
The difference between analog and digital is that analog takes that sound and simply makes it louder. Digital hearing aids have a computer chip that analyzes and adjusts the sound for you.
What this means is that digital hearing aids have more features and can be customized. You can do some customizing with programmable analog hearing aids, but digital aids are much more flexible.
This also means that digital hearing aids are more expensive. Regular analog hearing aids are being phased out and replaced by programmable analog and digital. In fact, many dealers only sell digital aids, which are far more popular among hearing aid users.
Types Of Hearing Aids
There are a few broad categories of hearing aids, based on the placement of the aid itself.
* Completely In The Canal (CIC) – With CIC hearing aids, the mechanism is in a tiny plastic case that goes all the way into the ear canal. These hearing aids are the smallest available, so the available features are limited. Because they are small, the batteries have a short lifespan. CIC hearing aids are also the most expensive. They are best for those who suffer mild to moderate hearing loss.
* In The Canal (ITC) – These are similar to the Completely In The Canal hearing aids, except that they don’t go all the way into the ear canal. Like the CIC aids, they are small and quite expensive, but you can put more add-on features on them.
* In The Ear (ITE) – These hearing aids sit in the concha and helix of the ear. This is the part of the ear that is shaped like a bowl. In The Ear aids are larger than CICs or ITCs, and they mostly fill up the bowl. They are recommended for mild to severe hearing loss.
One drawback to In The Ear hearing aids is that they are known to sometimes pick up feedback and wind noise. This depends on the quality of the model and also the correct placement in the ear. If you are hearing wind or feedback, try adjusting the hearing aid, or talk to your audiologist.
In The Ear hearing aids are quite large, so they are great for using add-on features. They are much more flexible than the CICs or ITCs.
* Behind The Ear (BTE) – This type of hearing aid is a little plastic case that sits just behind the ear. It is connected to the earmold by a piece of plastic tubing.
These are the most flexible hearing aids, and are effective for any range of hearing loss. They are the most flexible and can be used by any age. The downside is that they are also the biggest and most visible, although companies are making models smaller and more inconspicuous.
Behind The Ears are the most powerful, and the easiest to customize. If you prefer to get add-on features, BTE’s might be the best for you.
There are many kinds of extra features you can get for your hearing aids, to suit your particular needs. These include:
Adjustable Settings: You can have different settings which you can change. A switch allows you to instantly switch from one setting to another. For example, you might have a setting that is good for noisy places.
Directional Microphones: Some hearing aid users choose this feature, which focuses on what is directly in front of you. This allows you to tune out background noise. It can be switch operated.
Telephone Adapters: This technology uses a telecoil which attaches to your telephone. It blocks out background noise so that you can hear the other end of the telephone better. The phone must be adaptable, and cordless phones and cell phones are usually not.
If you are thinking of using special add-on features, make sure that you buy a hearing aid that is compatible.