What to Look for When Buying New Hearing Aids

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The world of hearing aids can be a little confusing, from assorted manufacturers and product names to numerous styles and dozens of features.

So what are some key things you should look for and consider when buying hearing aids? Here are five things you’ll definitely want to ask about, along with the questions you’ll want to ask your hearing professional.

(1) Directionality

Your hearing aids should have some system of directional microphones. Directionality is the ability for your hearing aids to digitally focus in on a specific sound source around you (usually a conversation partner) and it is the only proven way hearing aids improve speech understanding in noise. Simply put, a good directional microphone system will help you hear more crisply and clearly.

There are many types of directionality systems: adaptive, fixed and dynamic. Adaptive directionality systems identify people talking all around you and focus wherever the speech is coming from. Fixed directional systems focus on a specific area (usually right in front of you) and stay focused there. Dynamic directional systems automatically change between listening all around you to a fixed direction. During your trial, be sure to listen to how your hearing aids detect voices and ask your provider how they are set up to maximize benefits.

Some questions to ask:

  • Do I need to manually change my hearing aid settings or will they automatically change for me?
  • Do I need to face the person that is talking or will my hearing aids listen to talkers in other directions as well?

 

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(2) Noise reduction

Most modern hearing aids have some type of noise reduction algorithm built in. The best algorithms are able to distinguish speech from noise, which enable the hearing aids to reduce incoming noise volume and bump up incoming speech — in real time. The degree to which they help and how they help differs from hearing aid to hearing aid.

Some questions to ask:

  • How do my hearing aids handle noise?
  • Does my hearing aid just turn down the overall volume in noise or is it smart enough to only cut noise and amplify when someone is talking?
  • How fast do my hearing aids adapt to noisy environments?
  • Do my hearing aids handle different kinds of noise, e.g., wind, car, background noise?

 

(3) Styles

Hearing aids come in many shapes and styles. Some go behind the ear and have a speaker in the ear canal (RIC), some go behind the ear and transmit the sound to the ear with a little tube (BTE), and some are custom built to fit in your ear (IIC/CIC/ITE). The type of hearing aid that’s right for you depends on many factors, including comfort, degree of hearing loss, dexterity, or simply personal taste.

Some questions to ask:

  • What difference does the style you’re recommending have on my ability to hear?
  • Can I get something smaller?
  • What is the battery life on this hearing aid vs. another style?
  • Is hearing aid maintenance different depending on style?

 

(4) Connectivity

We live in a connected world! Televisions, computers and mobile phones are becoming more and more advanced and intertwined. Some hearing aids today have the ability to connect directly to these everyday devices using Bluetooth™ or other streaming technology. You can even adjust some hearing aids using your smartphone (change volume and settings, etc.) – so you don’t need to touch your hearing aids.

Some questions to ask:

  • I have an iPhone/Android phone and use it often, what is the best hearing aid for me?
  • Do you have hearing aids that directly connect to my phone?
  • Do I have to wear anything around my neck to connect or do they connect to my phone directly?
  • Can I use my hearing aids to listen to the TV? How do these hearing aids sound when listening to music?

 

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(5) Feedback

Historically, even people with mild hearing losses have had difficulty with a phenomenon called feedback. What is feedback? Think about what happens when you hold a microphone too close to a speaker and you get a loud squeal. That’s feedback! All modern hearing aids have feedback control — but some are much better than others. Look for hearing aids that have great feedback control, as it will make your hearing aids more comfortable to wear and less noticeable to those around you.

Some questions to ask:

  • What manufacturer has the best feedback control?
  • Are you confident I won’t experience feedback?
  • If my hearing gets any worse, will these hearing aids still work well and not produce feedback?
  • Is feedback controlled by these hearing aids by just turning down the volume (bad) or does it have a feedback cancellation circuit (good)?

These types of features and questions are why it’s always recommended that you visit a licensed hearing professional when buying hearing aids. They have the knowledge and expertise you need to answer all your questions and ensure you get fit with hearing aids that are just right for you.

South Suburban Hearing Health Center can help answer any other question that you may have! Please contact us today.

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