FACTS TO KNOW BEFORE YOUR HEARING AID PURCHASE
Here is information about hearing aids you can use to help you begin the evaluation process in deciding which hearing aid is perfect for you. Although the processing of modern hearing aids is complex, the basic components have not changed. Sound waves enter through the microphone, which converts them into electrical signals. Next, it runs through an amplifier which boosts the signals strength. The receiver, a small speaker, then alters the electrical signal back into an acoustic signal. From the receiver, the signal is sent into the ear canal using either through a small tube or through an ear mold, depending on the hearing aid that best suits your needs. The amplification process and hearing aid itself are all powered by a small battery.
Many hearing aids are equipped with easy to use controls, enabling the wearer to adjust a variety of hearing aid parameters. These parameters may include hearing aid power, volume, switching to the telecoil, switching the microphone directionality settings, and switching to a pre-programmed setting.
Factors to Consider
What should you consider about hearing aids or their purchase? The following is a list of five factors. All other things aside, your hearing aid must be a good match for your loss characteristics, fit comfortably and be adjustable, either manually, by you, or automatically. Read through and consider these factors about hearing aids so may discuss any concerns you may have with your hearing professional.
- Loss of Hearing Characteristics – The nature and severity of your hearing loss will play a large role in determining which hearing aids are the best fit for you. Your hearing professional can help you understand your unique loss characteristics, and recommend the models that will best provide for your needs.
- Lifestyle – Consider your day to day activities when gathering information about your hearing aids. What activities have been affected the most by your hearing loss? Are there things you are no longer able to do because due to hearing loss? Express your needs, concerns, and set priorities. If you work outdoors or travel frequently for work, you may be concerned about your hearing aid’s durability. Discuss this at your appointment and inquire if a back-up is necessary.
- Hearing Aid Technology –Hearing aid types differ in their technology or circuitry. In the early days, hearing aid technology involved vacuum tubes and large, heavy batteries. Today, microchips, computerization, and digitized sound processing are used in hearing aid design.
Digital programmable hearing aids have all the features of analog programmable aids but use digitized sound processing (DSP) to convert sound waves into digital signals. A computer chip in the aid analyzes the signals to determine whether the sound is noise or speech. It then makes modifications to provide a clear, amplified, distortion-free signal.
Digital hearing aids are usually self-adjusting. The digital processing allows for more flexibility in programming the aid. In this way, the sound it transmits matches your specific pattern of hearing loss.
This digital technology is the most expensive, but it offers many advantages. Key benefits include:
- improvement in programmability
- greater precision in fitting
- management of loudness discomfort
- control of acoustic feedback (whistling sounds)
- noise reduction
Some aids can store several programs. As your listening environment changes, you can change the hearing aid settings. This is usually done by pushing a button on the hearing aid or by using a remote control to switch channels. The aid can be reprogrammed by the audiologist if your hearing or hearing needs change.
These aids are more expensive than conventional analog hearing aids. However, they generally have a longer life span and may provide better hearing for you in different listening situations.
- Hand Dexterity – The smallest hearing aids are the most discreet, but as they are small, your eyesight and dexterity are an important part of choosing the right hearing aid for you. Some technological advancements have allowed new products to adjust automatically or via remote control. This may be something to consider if your eyesight or dexterity is limited.
- Hearing Aid Appearance – Hearing aids come in a variety of sizes. Devices range from tiny, completely-in-the-canal models, to those that sit behind the ear (BTE’s). Many people are worried and feel self-conscious about the appearance of hearing aids. Between the different style and size options, hearing aids have become quite discreet. If you still feel as though your hearing aid is noticeable, hairstyles and accessories can also play a role in disguising them.