Hearing aids are an important investment in your health! Hearing aids are designed to enhance hearing ability, a critical sense we use to navigate daily life. This improves communication, relationships, social engagement, job performance, and overall quality of life. Similar to most electronics today, hearing aids have evolved with advancing technology. There is a wide range of options, features, and technologies that maximize user experience and hearing. With numerous options to choose from, selecting hearing aids can be overwhelming. In addition to knowing your hearing needs, having recommendations from your audiologist, there are other tips you can use to help you invest in the hearing aids that are best for you!
Understanding How Hearing Aids Work
Knowing the basics: hearing aid components and types can help you better differentiate devices. Hearing aids complex pieces of technology that absorb, amplify, and process speech and sound. Their hardware comprises of three basic components:
- Microphone: collects sound from the environment and translates the soundwaves into electrical signals. These signals are then sent to the amplifier.
- Amplifier: amplifies the volume of the electrical signals.
- Speaker: sends the electrical signals to the inner ear to be further processed.
These components work together to absorb and strengthen sound which allows the inner ear to better receive the soundwaves. This supports the hair cells in the inner ear which convert soundwaves into electrical signals that are sent to the brain to process which is how we are able to understand what we hear.
Hearing Aid Types
There are numerous types, brands, and models of hearing aids so knowing the general types can also help you better navigate your options. There are two major types of hearing aid devices:
- In-the-ear (ITE): worn in the ear canal. Typically, custom molded to comfortably fit in the ear.
- Behind-the-ear (BTE): worn behind or on top of the outer ear. It is connected to an earpiece worn in the ear canal through a tiny tube.
Within these types of hearing aids, there are common styles that include:
- Invisible in the canal (IIC) & Completely in the canal (CIC) – are the smallest type of hearing aids. They are custom made to fit in the ear canal with the CIC type sitting not as deeply in the ear as the IIC.
- In the ear canal (ITC): these types sit in the bowl portion of the lower outer ear and are larger (so more visible).
- Receiver in the ear (RITE): the speaker is in the ear canal which is connected through a wire to the microphone and processor sitting behind the ear.
In addition to these general hearing aid types and characteristics, there are also various features and technologies to consider!
Things to Consider with New Hearing Aids
Hearing aids are an investment. These devices become part of your everyday experience and life. It is so important to take the time to think about what your needs are, discuss your options with hearing healthcare providers, and consider the following:
- Know Your Budget: prices for hearing aids can differ vastly. Prices largely depend on the features, accessories, and technologies the hearing aid offers. Be sure to discuss any coverage possibilities with your insurance and set your budget beforehand.
- Lifestyle Preferences: lifestyle factors also inform the type of hearing aids that would best meet your hearing needs. This includes profession, hobbies, social life, climate etc. There are features that better align with specific lifestyle needs, for example water resistant features.
- Discuss Features: there are several features available to enhance your overall hearing experience: Bluetooth technology, noise cancellation features, rechargeable batteries, etc. Discuss the range of features that are available to you so that you are equipped with all the information you need to make a solid decision.
- Read Contract: it is important to fully read the contract at the time of purchase. You want to be completely aware of the warranty plan which could include: a trial period, repair, and maintenance services.
Hearing aids are designed to improve the quality of your daily life. It is important that you have the resources to select the option that would be best for you. Take the time to explore these resources and tips!
If you’re interested in a new pair of hearing aids or want to discuss updating your current ones, we’re here to help! Contact us today to learn more.