If you are among one of the 35.7 million American adults suffering from some degree of hearing loss, you may have considered looking into hearing aids at some point. For many, the thought of hearing aids conjures up images of big, bulky plastic contraptions that fill the ears and cause more issues than they help. Lucky for you, there is now a wide variety of hearing aid types to fit virtually every need, from hearing loss type and severity to style and comfort. Don’t know where to start? Read on for some tips on how to buy the right hearing aid.
Get Your Hearing Tested
The basic hearing test consists of a few assessments conducted by an audiologist or a hearing instrument specialist. This initial hearing test is quick and painless–around 30 minutes. You will undergo a physical examination of the inner and outer ear and will likely go through several tests in order to determine the type and severity of your hearing loss. There are three basic types of hearing loss:
- Sensorineural: The most common type of hearing loss, sensorineural hearing loss, occurs after damage to the inner ear. This damage may have happened before birth or after an accident or exposure to loud noises. This type of hearing loss may also be hereditary.
- Conductive: Conductive hearing loss means that sounds cannot be conducted properly through the outer or middle ear, leading to sounds seeming muffled or softer than they should. This type of hearing loss is commonly caused by infections or fluid in the middle ear and ear canals, benign tumors in the ear, or malformations of the middle ear.
- Mixed: Mixed hearing loss is a form of hearing loss where both sensorineural and conductive losses are present to some degree.
Pick a Licensed Hearing Instrument Specialist You Can Trust
Navigating the world of hearing instruments can seem stressful at first. There are many choices when it comes to style, fit, comfort, and add-ons. You will want an experienced professional to come alongside you and guide you through these choices so that you make the best physical and financial decision possible. A few things to consider when choosing a hearing instrument professional:
- Licensing: Finding a licensed hearing aid specialist gives you the assurance that you are in experienced, capable hands.
- Convenience: Is your provider open during hours that are convenient to you? Will they do house calls if you are immobile?
- Customer care: Your hearing instrument specialist should make you a priority. He or she should ask you questions to assess what is important to you and your family and help you make decisions with these things in mind.
- Service and repair: Should anything go awry with your new hearing instruments, or should you decide they are not the right fit or style for you, your provider must be well equipped to deal with repairs, service, and replacements in a timely manner. Offering warranties on instruments is a good sign that you are getting a great product. Offering a free trial with no obligation to buy is even better.
Consider What You Want and Need in a Hearing Aid
As we’ve established, choosing a hearing aid involves much more than just knowing you want to hear better. A few factors you should consider before choosing the right aid for you are:
- Severity of loss
- Ease of use
There are a few basic types of hearing aids, each varying in terms of appearance, functionality, and the ability to house special features.
- Behind the ear (BTE): Stylish and fairly discrete, this type of aid consists of a plastic pack behind the ear which houses the hardware. Thin plastic tubing attaches the hardware to the receiver, which sits snugly inside the ear canal. BTEs are comfortable, easy to manipulate, and provide a high-quality amplification mild for even the most severe hearing loss.
- In the ear (ITE): This aid’s electronics are all contained in a casing that fits inside the outer ear. This style is the largest of the in the ear types, but it comes with a few benefits: it easy to insert and comes with the option of many additional features, such as wireless streaming. This style is adequate for severe hearing loss.
- In the canal (ITC): This aid will be custom fit to your ear, and all components, from hardware to battery to receiver, are housed in the case which sits in your ear canal. This style is about midway between ITE and CIC in terms of size. ITC aids are for mild to moderately severe hearing loss.
- Completely in canal (CIC): CICs are small and discreet. They fit deep inside the ear canal and are great for mild to moderate hearing loss.
Technologies and Features
In addition to the hearing aid itself, which will amplify the sounds around you so that you can hear your loved ones clearly, there are additional features housed in select hearing aid styles. Be sure to ask your hearing instrument specialist if you have questions about any of these special features. Listed are only a few of the technologies available:
- Directional microphone: This feature is automatic in many hearing aids. The directional microphone hones in on and amplifies the sounds right in front of you, allowing you to focus on the sounds you need to while ignoring background noise.
- Telecoil: This amazing add-on, available to add to many hearing aid styles, can automatically pick up magnetic signals from places you may visit such as classrooms, concert halls, and other public places. The telecoil transmits the signal to sound information so that you can hear important announcements, information, and music loud and clear in the midst of loud background noise.
- Bluetooth wireless technology: An exciting add-on for the computer savvy, Bluetooth wireless technology allows the aid to connect wirelessly to smart devices (phone, computer, television) to stream voice, music, and other sound data directly to the hearing aid.
Shopping for hearing aids today is nothing like the days of old when there was one style, one setting, and one size. With all the exciting options available, you need a knowledgeable hearing instrument specialist you can trust. At Chambers Hearing Centers, our customers’ comfort and happiness is our number one priority. If you live in Oregon’s Lane, Linn, Benton, or Marion counties and would like help finding a hearing aid that matches your lifestyle, call Chambers Hearing Centers. We want you to help you hear the world in a brand new way.