The World Health Organization estimates that 48 million Americans suffer from some type of hearing loss. The most affected being the older people who are aged 65 and above. To manage this fast-growing hearing issue, many people are open to using a hearing aid. Choosing a hearing aid isn’t easy, especially if it’s your first time doing it. You have to know the technology used in each one of them, since different hearing aids are made for unique hearing loss, from mild to severe. To make it easier for you, here’s a guide on how to choose the best hearing aid.
Understand Your Hearing Problem
Before you embark on shopping for a hearing aid, you need to know what form of hearing loss you’re suffering from. Sensorineural is the most common type of hearing loss that develops from damages caused to the tiny cells that line the inner ear. The incoming sound waves are converted into electrical signals by these cells, then sent to the brain. The brain automatically interprets it as meaningful sounds. This problem is passed on from one generation to another. Old age and chronic exposure to loud noises can also trigger the condition. Certain medications and illnesses are also known to lead to this form of hearing difficulty. Sensorineural hearing loss is unlikely to be reversible, but wearing a hearing aid can help manage it. For severe hearing loss or hearing loss in only one ear, it can be controlled through cochlear implants, which stimulate the auditory nerve by bypassing the damaged areas in the hearing system.
Know the Different Hearing Aids
When the hair cells in your inner ear die, it means that it’s time to turn to other options to help with your hearing problem. Hearing aids are meant to improve your hearing ability by making sounds louder and easier to understand. All hearing aids come with a microphone that picks up the sounds, an amplifier for making the sound louder and a receiver that conveys the sound onto the ear canal. With the improved technology, your hearing aid can now be programmed to filter background noises, then adjust the sound depending on your hearing loss, needs, and level of sound around you. Some models sync with your smartphone wirelessly, thus you can stream audio, take calls, and adjust the device’s settings using an app.
Hearings Aids Styles
Hearing aids are developed in various types. Here are the most common ones:
In the Canal (ITC)
ITC is designed to fit partly in the ear canal and it’s suitable for mild to moderate hearing loss. The device is barely visible as it sits deep in the canal, thus you don’t experience a plugged-up feeling. However, the device can be damaged by moisture, can clog due to earwax, and it can cause some discomfort. In addition to that, the battery is very tiny, hence the device has a shorter life.
Completely in the Canal (CIC)
This device goes inside your canal and is useful for people with mild to moderate hearing loss. CIC hearing aid can give minimal feedback when used with a phone, very likely to pick up noise, and can’t accommodate extra features like volume control due to size. It’s very tiny to contain a directional microphone, which minimizes background noise, but often it has directional sensitivity. It's also susceptible to moisture and earwax buildup.
In the Ear (ITE)
ITE hearing aid comes in two styles – one that fits the whole of the bowl-shaped area of the outer ear (full shape) and one that fits only the lower part (half shell). The devices are recommended for persons with mild to severe hearing loss. It has a volume control feature, longer battery life, and isn’t exposed to clogging. But this model tends to pick up more wind noise than smaller models and is very visible in the ear.
Behind the Ear (BTE)
A BTE hearing aid goes from the top of the ear all the way down while resting at the back of the ear. The device has a tube that connects the hearing aid to an earpiece (earmold) that fits in your ear canal. BTE is suitable for all hearing issues and appropriate for people of all ages. This device can be amplified to convey louder sounds than other styles, although it tends to pick up much wind noise.
To Consider Before Your Purchase
- Rechargeable batteries. Consider hearing aids with rechargeable batteries that make maintenance much easier since it eliminates the need to regularly charge them.
- Wirelessly connectivity. There are hearing aids that can be connected to devices like cell phones, music players and TVs through a wireless interface.
- Remote control. With some devices, you don’t need to keep touching the hearing aid since it comes with a remote control. Variable programming. You can buy a hearing aid that can store several pre-programmed settings that you can listen to later.
- Synchronization. If you have two hearing aids, it’s better if the devices can be programmed to function together so that any adjustments made on one hearing aid can also be made to the other, for ease of control.
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