Facts to Know Before Making Your Decision
Hearing aid choice is personal and you should be talking closely to a professional hearing aid specialist before you make any choices. While trying to choose the right hearing aid for you, learn how each one works and which one will offer you the best assistance.
Your Type of Hearing Loss (How Severe Is My Hearing Loss?)
You will soon realize that the amount of hearing loss you have and the type of hearing loss you have, will affect your decision as to which hearing aid is best for you. Interestingly, hearing loss is not at all the same across the range of pitches or frequencies we can hear. For example, most people with hearing loss have poorer hearing for treble sounds than for bass sounds. This means they will have trouble hearing the consonants of speech such as /k/, /t/, /s/, /f/, /th/, /ch/, /sh/, etc. This will result in difficulty distinguishing between words that rhyme such as “cat, hat, fat, sat.” Treble hearing loss basically results in a lack of clarity of hearing more than loudness of hearing.
Your hobbies, activities and even work environment can or example, a librarian will want more amplification for soft sounds, whereas a construction worker will worry more about loud sounds not being made even louder. Assistive listening devices today are all digital and are like miniature computers. Therefore, they are also very flexible in what they can be made to do in various different kinds of listening environments. The way they amplify in different environments can be saved as different listening programs.
One Versus Two Hearing Aids
If you have good hearing in one ear and hearing loss for the other ear, then of course one hearing aid is the best option. On the other hand, hearing loss usually occurs in both ears. Binaural (two-ear) hearing devices really help to restore a more “stereo” type of sound. They also help listeners hear better in background noise. It used to be that people with hearing loss in both ears were provided with one hearing aid. This would be similar to wearing one lens with vision problems in both eyes. We have two eyes in order to see depth. With one eye we actually see as flat as a post card. If you cover one eye you might still think you see depth, but that’s only your brain fooling you for the moment. In all truth if you were tested for depth perception, you would not have much with one eye. We have two ears to tell the direction of sounds. It’s not as simple as saying that the right ear hears from the right and the left hears from the left. The truth of it all is much more beautiful and fascinating than that. Consider that sound travels over 1000 km/hr. Now think about the width of one’s head separating the ears one from another. Now if you are facing some direction someone speaks to you from your right hand side, sound will reach your right ear a split second before it gets to your left ear. The sound will also be very slightly louder for your right ear compared to your left ear. It’s these tiny time and loudness differences between your ears that tell you what direction a sound is coming from. It’s a truly amazing fact about the wonderful sense of hearing! Needless to say, two ears are better than one.
Instrument Appearance (How Different Can Hearing Aids Be?)
Hearing aid choice is personal and you should be talking closely to a professional before you make any choices. While trying to choose the right hearing aid for you, learn the different styles of hearing aids, such as all in the ear, behind the ear, etc. There are many styles and sizes to choose from so the choice is up to you, you can go with a device that is tucked behind the ear or the device that fits right inside the canal, either way, and you will soon be able to hear a lot better. The physical size and shape of your own ear canal will also make a difference as to what style of hearing aid will work best for you. If you have trouble using your fingers or grasping small objects then a smaller hearing aid will be harder to operate and remove from your ear. You may then be better off with a larger model. Find out which style suits you best.
How the Prices Affect Your Choice (How Big Is The Price Range?)
You are buying more than just a speaker to put in your ear when buying a hearing aid. You are making an investment to improve your lifestyle and quality of your life. It is important to be able to understand friends, co-workers and family members.
Hearing aid prices vary from several hundred dollars up to a few thousand, and it all depends on the advancement of the technology used in each device. Affordable hearing aidsas well as more expensive options come with different features. You can think of hearing aids as coming in levels of “gold, silver, or bronze.” If your listening needs are simple, it just might be that even the most basic hearing aid is enough for you. If your life is more active and you find yourself wanting to hear better in more active and noisy listening environments, then a more sophisticated level of hearing aids features will give you more benefit. Most hearing aids today can self-adjust volume to each situation; that is, soft sounds will be amplified by a lot, while loud sounds will be amplified by very little. Of course, you also have the option to adjust the volume yourself. On some models, a touch of a button on the right hearing aid may increase the volume for both sides, and a touch to the left hearing aid will reduce the volume for both hearing aids. Then again, many bluetooth hearing aids come with handy remote controls, where the listener can discreetly adjust things by the push of a button. Most hearing aids today come with directional microphones. This means that in noisy situations, the hearing aid automatically tries to focus on sounds coming from in front of you the listener. The idea is that the person you want to hear is facing you. Hearing aids today also come with digital noise reduction which tries to filter out the background noise, making it easier to hear in crowded situations.
Professional Expertise and Handling (What Kind Of Professional Handles Hearing Aids?)
Make sure you are working with a professional before you dive into getting your tests and impressions done. You will find that your hearing aids will only be as good as the person that conducted your tests for you. There are two professionals who are involved in testing hearing and a fitting hearing aids: A Provincially registered 1) Audiologist or 2) Hearing Aid Practitioner. Both of these hearing health care professionals are registered by the College of Speech and Hearing Health Professionals of BC, to test hearing and prescribe hearing aids. An Audiologist has a Masters or Doctoral degree from a university. A Hearing Instrument Practitioner has a 2-3 year college diploma from a college. Think of an Audiologist as an Optometrist and an HIP as an Optician. Audiologists have a relatively wider scope of practice in that they can test and fit infants and can also do more specialized types of hearing tests. In the field of adult hearing health however, both of these professionals receive extensive training in the testing, fitting, counselling, and post fitting follow up of hearing aids.
Service and Warranty Information
Almost every hearing aid comes with some sort of warranty but before finalizing your purchase you should consider asking a few of the following questions before laying your money down:
- How long is the warranty
- Can you buy a warranty extension
- Know what's covered under the warranty
- Ask if you will get a replacement if you need to send your device in for hearing aid repair
- Is there a guarantee on returns
- Is there protection against hearing changes
- Is follow-up included in the warranty
- Is there a hotline used for patients
- Is there some sort of program for batteries
Training For You and Your New Device
It can take some adjustment time for you to get used to your new hearing aid and there are sometimes training programs available to help you out. These programs teach you how to listen once again and make the transition as smooth as possible.
Most companies will give you a return guarantee of at least 30 days when you buy a new device but that just depends on the company you went to for your hearing aid. Make sure you talk to the professionals before making your decision because sometimes the loss of the return is important and you may choose to select another hearing device or another manufacturer that can assure you of the guarantee.
Some hearing devices are not fully covered by all insurances so it is important to find a professional that can offer you a finance program to allow you to be able to hear now and pay for the device on a weekly or monthly basis.
Check with your insurance company and health professional to make sure you are choosing a device that is fully covered by insurance.
It can take some adjustment time for you to get used to your new hearing aids. You will be shown how to use them, taught about their limitations, so that you can walk and listen with realistic expectations. Almost every hearing aid comes with some sort of warranty but before finalizing your purchase you should consider asking a few of the following questions before laying your money down:
How long is the warranty, can you buy a warranty extension, know what’s covered?
Will get a replacement if you need to send your hearing aids to be repaired?
Is there some sort of program for batteries?
Can I get help, training, guidance and questions answered when I need this?