If you are thinking about hearing aids, you have likely had your hearing tested. These are major steps in transforming your hearing health. Hearing aids are an incredibly important investment that impacts your daily life. Designed to absorb and process sound, hearing aid devices provide significant support. This helps people living with hearing loss navigate daily life, work, social settings, and relationships with greater ease. Hearing aids enhance communication, increase spatial awareness, improve relationships, and overall health outcomes.
Similar to most electronic devices today, hearing aids have experienced much innovation. Using the latest technology, hearing aids are savvier than ever before. With the wide range of options, styles, and features that are available; it can be challenging to identify the device that would be best for you. Considering the following information can help you work with your hearing healthcare provider to make the most informed decision!
Hearing Aid Styles
It is important to know that there are various styles, or types, of hearing aids. Certain styles work best for specific types (or degrees) of hearing loss. Your hearing healthcare provider will discuss which hearing aid types are better suited to meet your hearing needs. Common hearing aid styles include:
- In the Ear (ITE): This type of hearing aid is custom molded to your ear. All of the components (speaker, microphone, amplifier) are in a casing that is worn in the outer portion of the ear.
- Behind the Ear (BTE): this type is worn behind the ear. A small, clear tube connects this casing behind the ear to an earbud that is worn in the ear canal.
- Receiver in the Ear Canal (RIC): this type of hearing aid involves the speaker (or receiver) sitting in the ear canal. An electric wire connects the speaker to the rest of the device which is worn behind the ear.
- In the Canal (ITC): like ITE hearing aids, ITC hearing aids are also custom-fitted to the ear. They are smaller and worn in the ear canal, with a small portion worn on the outer ear.
- Completely in the Ear Canal (CIC): these types of hearing aids are the most discreet on the market. They are designed to be entirely worn in the ear canal. Only the handle, used to insert and remove the device, can be seen.
There are also several features that hearing aids provide that enhance the overall experience and allow the device to be better integrated in daily life. Common features include rechargeable batteries, tinnitus masking capabilities, automatic noise-level adjustment, and voice recognition features. Additional features include:
- Wireless Connectivity: using Bluetooth technology, this feature allows hearing aids to wirelessly connect to other electronic devices (TV, smartphone, speaker, laptop etc.). This allows the hearing aid device to stream audio directly which enhances sound quality.
- Feedback Suppression: also referred to as digital feedback reduction, helps minimize feedback. This is particularly useful for reducing high-pitched whistling sounds.
- Digital Noise Reduction: this feature helps reduce background noise. This is especially useful in environments that are noisy. Digital noise reduction can be particularly helpful for people who work in louder settings.
Several factors help inform the type of hearing aid that could be best for you including your lifestyle needs – work, social life, hobbies etc. If you are a social person and navigate social activities often, more advanced digital hearing aids could be more useful. These benefit from features that reduce background noise which is helpful when in social contexts. If you are someone who finds themselves on the phone often, you would benefit from a hearing aid that works effectively with your phone. If you work in noisy environments, you might be interested in hearing aids that offer background noise reduction. Your hearing healthcare provider will discuss your lifestyle needs and preferences with you to determine the hearing aids that would be best suited.
Establishing a budget for your hearing aids is really helpful. The cost of hearing aids can widely range and is determined by the features, technology, and model you are interested in. Knowing your budget can help you filter the things you don’t need