Choosing the Right Hearing Aid
The Prescription of Hearing Aids
Hearing loss affects 48 million Americans, making it the third most common medical condition in the United States. Many people begin to experience changes in their hearing, but because it is a gradual and invisible condition, it may not be addressed right away. Hearing specialists estimate that people wait an average of seven years from the time they first experience changes in their hearing until they decide to seek a hearing consultation.
If you’ve just completed your hearing exam and your audiologist has recommended hearing aids as a treatment, there are many factors to consider. Hearing aids are an excellent investment, connecting you to the world around you and bringing benefits to your overall health. Here are some factors to consider as you choose your first set of hearing aids.
Hearing Aid Style
Hearing aids are available in a number of styles, depending on how they are worn. The style of hearing aid also accommodates different degrees and configurations of hearing loss.
In-the-ear (ITE) hearing aids are worn in the ear, with the hearing aid sitting at the surface of your ear. These hearing aids are available in a full shell or a half shell. ITE hearing aids are also available in in-the-canal options, such as completely-in-canal (CIC) or invisible-in-canal (IIC). These are inserted inside your ear canal and provide a higher level of discretion. ITE hearing aids are great for those with moderate to severe hearing loss, and people who wear glasses. At the same time, their construction may pose a difficulty for those with dexterity issues, as the controls for volume and program will be quite small.
Behind-the-ear (BTE) hearing aids comprise of two parts – the electrical components housed in a plastic casing worn over the ear and a plastic tubing that connects to a mold that sits in your ear canal. BTE hearing aids treat a wider range of hearing loss, from mild to profound, and they are easy to use for those with dexterity issues. BTE hearing aids are also often recommended for children, as they offer more room to grow.
Receiver-in-canal (RIC) hearing aids are similar to BTE in the style they are worn. They differ in that the receiver sits inside the ear canal, made of a customized ear mold.
In the past decade, hearing aids have undergone something of a renaissance. There are many advanced technological options available. Hearing aids now offer extremely fast processing platforms with microchips, likening them to sophisticated mini-computers that you wear in your ears.
Features for hearing aids address the varying aspects of hearing loss: speech recognition in noise, echo reduction, feedback elimination, wireless connectivity to stream phone calls, music, and media directly from your electronic devices to your ears, GPS geo-tagging to archive your preferences in different locations, and Internet connection.
Depending on the configuration and degree of your hearing loss, your audiologist will recommend some options for hearing aids that will meet your needs.
Battery Life & Hearing Aid Construction
Due to the advanced features offered on hearing aids, the issue of battery life is an important one. Some hearing aids offer the option of rechargeable batteries, which often times makes sense for your pocket book and as a positive for the environment.
Consider your lifestyle when considering hearing aid battery life and construction. If you plan to be out of your house for long periods of time, in a variety of noisy environments, your hearing aid may work harder to activate its features. If you lead an active life outdoors, you may want a hearing aid with a higher IP rating to prevent moisture and debris. If you are at home often, in mostly quiet situations, your battery may be working less and you may not need as much protection from the elements.
Most hearing aids are equipped with powerful battery life and construction from moisture and debris resistant synthetic materials. At Hearing Center of Hawaii, we’ll work with you to determine the best options for your lifestyle.
We are excited to work with you as you select your first hearing aids. Contact us at Hearing Center of Hawaii to try out hearing aids today!