How do you know if you need a guide to buying new hearings aids? Do you have the sense that your hearing may have deteriorated? Or are you not longer happy with your current hearing aids? If so, then a guide to buying new hearing aids may be helpful! It also sounds like it may be time for you to schedule an appointment with a certified hearing specialist.
When scheduling your first appointment, you should expect several different assessments. The hearing specialist will talk with you about your symptoms, medical history, and sound exposure over time. Then, a visual exam will allow your doctor to see the contours of the outer ear and features of the inner ear that may be obstructing your hearing ability, particularly if you have conductive hearing loss (which may be due to features of the ear canal or waxy buildup). Finally, a hearing test will identify which frequencies you are able to hear at which volumes.
With this information in hand, your hearing specialist will be able to put together a recommendation to you regarding the right type of hearing aid for you, but you may still have several options to choose from.
Hearing Aid Styles
Most hearing aids today are digital devices with three major parts: microphone, amplifier, and receiver. These three elements may be differently arranged depending on which of the four major types is best for you.
Behind the Ear (BTE)
BTE hearing aids place the receiver inside the ear and the other components outside the ear canal. Mini BTEs have a small unit that wraps around the ear itself, housing the microphone and amplifier. They are custom-fit to the shape of the ear. Traditional BTEs have a larger plastic cartridge that sits behind the ear enclosing these components. The sound information goes to the ear canal through a small tube. These units are both appropriate for sufferers of sensorineural hearing loss. This happens when the tiny hairs in the ear have damage or become less sensitive to sound.
Completely in Canal (CIC)
These hearing aids are placed completely inside the ear canal, making them nearly invisible to the naked eye. One of the benefits of this type of hearing aid is the ability to place the entire unit within the ear for activities, and some people find them more comfortable. Others feel like their ears are full or find them cumbersome to handle because they are so tiny. Yet, the technology of a CIC is basically the same as a BTE, including a digital device to filter out the noise and to amplify sounds in the necessary range.
Invisible in Canal (IIC)
IIC hearing aids sit far into the ear canal, offering the wearer an invisible hearing aid. Some find that these aids are more comfortable. They get rid of the plugged up feeling some notice with CIC hearing aids. Although these aids are prone to moisture and waxy buildup, they may feel comfortable depending on the ear shape of the wearer.
In the Ear (ITE)
These units place all three parts of the hearing aid in a plastic cartridge that sits in the opening of the ear. These larger units are easier to insert and remove when they are properly fitted into the ear. They are more visible and less appropriate for exercise and active lifestyles. Some say that the telecoils in the microphone component are less sensitive than BTEs, but this depends greatly on the particular hearing aid being used and the technology it has.
Hearing Aid Features
Several features are important to look for in your hearing aid. First, the telecoil is a technology available in some units that can correspond with telephones and public address systems and may make talking on the phone much easier. Similarly, digital noise reduction technology will make hearing clearer. Some people of hearing loss find it hard to distinguish voices from noise, and digital noise reduction is one way to filter out those unnecessary sounds.
Another useful feature is a directional microphone that can pick up the sound directly in front of a listener. Units with this feature help those who find that other hearing aids seem to amplify all the surrounding sound rather than the person directly speaking to you. Finally, an essential feature you will want to confirm is a part of your hearing aid is the feedback suppression. Some hearing aids begin to feedback, a loud high pitch when they are exposed to certain sounds or when speaking on the telephone. Feedback protection has become a standard feature to prevent this problem.
If you’re in the market for a new pair of hearing aids, contact our team at Hearing Group today. We have experience in fitting hearing aids and can help you find the best pair to meet your hearing needs.