WHICH HEARING AID IS THE BEST FOR YOU?
Choosing a hearing aid is an incredibly important decision. The right hearing aid will dramatically improve your quality of life. The wrong hearing aid means you may still struggle with sounds. This means you must give careful consideration to a range of factors when making your choice.
Factors to consider:
DEGREE OF HEARING LOSS
As you learned in Step 2, hearing loss can be mild, moderate, severe or profound. Different hearing aids may be designed for a particular degree of hearing loss.
Your day-to-day life is going to have a big impact on the type of hearing aid you use. Some people will not see a great deal of variation between one environment and another in terms of noise level. Others will need a hearing aid that can adjust to particularly loud surroundings, such as those regularly attending live musical performances, sporting events, etc.
Hearing aid technology is getting smaller all the time, but sometimes having a smaller hearing aid can mean sacrificing power, or performance. Form-factors for hearing aids such as how the hearing is worn (i.e sits within the ear canal, wraps behind the ear or hides in plain site as an ear bud) have an effect on the appearance of the hearing aid. There are also sometimes color choices in hearing aids to cater to the wearer’s preference.
EASE OF USE
Smaller hearing aids may be less obtrusive, but they can sometimes be awkward to use. The further into the ear canal the hearing aid goes, the less it can be adjusted by the device. Rechargeable batteries, or modern digital features like apps help to alleviate these concerns, however.
As with most things, price is often going to be a significant factor in your choice of hearing aid. The direct-to-consumer, and soon to be over-the-counter, markets are drastically reducing the cost of medical-grade hearing aids. Features like remote fitting and self-adjusting hearing aids are also leading to those price decreases. Unsurprisingly, differences in cost between hearing aids will come down to the quality of the technology and available features.
TYPES OF HEARING AIDS
With these factors in mind, you need to consider the different kinds of hearing aids available, and which will be most suitable for your hearing loss and circumstances.
BTE hearing aids are the most traditional and remain one of the most common choices. They are powerful and easy to use, in addition to being suitable for most kinds of hearing loss. The body and receiver sits behind the ear, then the sound travels from the receiver, through a tube and into ear canal.
RICs have a similar design as a BTE, but the receiver is in the canal and delivers the sound it receives from a thin wire as opposed to the tube. This delivers a clearer, higher-fidelity sound than its BTE brother.
ITC hearing aids sit just inside your ear. ITCs are slightly smaller and often less powerful than BTE’s or RIC’s, and may be best suited for those with mild to moderate hearing loss.
These are the smallest type of hearing aid, and are almost impossible to see when worn. They are generally only suitable for mild to moderate hearing loss due to their physical size limitations.
Every ear, lifestyle and experience of hearing loss can change. It is important to ensure you assess all your options before making a decision, but the best hearing aid is the one that you are going to wear consistently.