Hearing loss can negatively impact several areas of a person’s life, from work to personal relationships. Thankfully, there are options for many people who suffer from hearing loss, including being fit for a hearing aid. Read on for a brief walkthrough of the hearing aid buying process to learn the steps to find and purchase the ones right for you.
1. Get a hearing test
The first step for those purchasing hearing aids for the first time is to schedule a hearing test with a professional audiologist. Finding an audiologist who can also fit patients for hearing aids is a good idea since it allows people to ask questions about hearing aid costs, benefits, styles, and technology. Not everyone realizes this, but there are many different types of hearing aids and other devices designed to address specific kinds of hearing loss, wearer lifestyles, needs, and budgets.
2. Decide on a type of hearing aid
Hearing aids differ not only in cost but also in design and features. Before investigating advanced technologies, though, buyers should decide on a style of hearing aid that’s right for them. Options include:
Behind-the-ear (BTE) hearing aids
BTE hearing aids feature a tiny plastic case that rests behind the ear and holds most of the parts. The case is connected to a discreet earpiece by tubing. BTE hearing aids are often used by children since they can accommodate different earmold types.
Mini BTE hearing aids
Also called receiver-in-canal (RIC) hearing aids, mini BTEs are similar to regular BTEs in that they feature devices that fit behind the ear. The difference, as the name suggests, is that the mini BTEs are smaller.
People who choose mini-BTE hearing aids usually prioritize a combination of aesthetics and budget. Smaller earpieces can also reduce the occlusion effect.
In-the-ear (ITE) hearing aids
ITE hearing aids keep all the parts necessary to function fully in a shell that fits in the outer ear. They are often easier to handle than smaller hearing aids.
Given their design, ITEs are often a good option for wearers who are older in age and others with limited manual dexterity. There is no piece looped behind the ear.
In-the-canal (ITC) hearing aids
ITC hearing aids feature tiny cases that fit either partially or completely into the ear canal. This design offers both cosmetic and listening advantages, but because these are the smallest hearing aids available, ITC models can be difficult to handle and adjust for some people.
3. Look into features
Until recently, most hearing aids were analog, and there was only so much that could be done to differentiate products. Today, most hearing aids are digital, and many feature exciting, advanced technologies. Buyers may want to investigate:
- Rechargeable hearing aids
- Smartphone connectivity
- Own-voice processing
- Noise reduction
- Feedback suppression
- Directional microphones
- Direct audio input
These are just a few advanced features for today’s hearing aid wearers. Of course, it’s also fine to stick with more basic models. Remember that today’s digital models are much more effective than analog models.
4. Making the final purchase
Those who have trouble navigating the complicated field of hearing aid technology should speak with a doctor. While you don’t have to, seeing an audiologist can determine whether you need a hearing aid and, if you do, which one is best and how to set it up properly.
No one product is right for everyone, but audiologists who specialize in hearing aid fittings have a clear idea of how to help patients meet their needs. They may also be aware of financing programs and other options for improving hearing on a budget, so it’s worth scheduling a consultation before making the final purchase.