Hearing Aid Buying Guide

A vast majority of individuals worldwide tend to suffer from a certain degree of hearing loss, especially in their late adulthood. If left untreated, it can lead to other serious health concerns such as loss of memory and concentration, depression, and possibly even dementia. Hearing loss is most commonly brought about by damage to the small hair cells that convert sound waves into electric signals. These cells usually line the inner ear and are mostly destroyed as a result of prolonged exposure to loud noises or aging. However, the risk of hearing loss is elevated as a result of illness, family history of hearing loss or using certain medications. On the other hand, hearing loss can also occur as a result of malformation or physical blockage in the outer or middle ear, which blocks sound waves from passing through the ear canal. Both forms of hearing loss can be treated using a hearing aid where other conventional methods have failed.

Hearing aids enhance your ability to hear by triggering the remaining hair cells. They work by transmitting sound from the environment into the ear and amplify it. They usually make use of a microphone, an amplifier, and a receiver.  The microphone collects sound from the environment, which is then amplified before being sent to the ear canal by the receiver. Some modern hearing aids come with microphones that transmit sound to a computer chip, which regulates the volume and strengthens the needed sound frequencies to enhance hearing. You can educate yourself more on how the microphones work by researching online on sites such as microphonegeeks.com among others.

With the advent of some high-end models, you can wirelessly sync the hearing aid with your smartphone, allowing you to stream audio files, take calls, as well as modify the settings of your hearing aid through a mobile app. Nevertheless, several factors come into play to determine the best hearing aid for your needs. Such factors include your manual dexterousness, the severity of your hearing loss, and your lifestyle. Therefore, the hearing aid that best suits your needs may not be the perfect choice for another individual. This article is a guide to the fundamentals that you need to ponder before choosing a hearing aid.

Features

Different people look for different features when looking for a hearing aid. However, most people prefer those that come with multiple program settings option, which allows users to adjust their hearing aids for different environments including noisy lobbies and quiet rooms whereas others look for automatic noise level modification. Nevertheless, there is a whole lot of features to choose from depending on your personal or specific needs.  Other key features that are present in modern aids include directional microphones, telecoil, low-battery indicator signals, volume controls, digital noise reduction, wax guards and feedback suppression. Based on what you need, look for a hearing aid whose features will improve your hearing experience based on the environment in which you live.

Types

Hearing aids come in different types to meet distinct user preferences. Nonetheless, they are differentiated by where they are worn in or on the ear. Some of the most common types include receiver-in-the-canal hearing aid, completely-in-the-canal hearing aid, in-the-ear hearing aid, behind-the-ear hearing aid, and in-the-canal hearing aid. Each one of these aids has its distinct advantages and disadvantages. Hence, it is paramount you take them into consideration so as to choose the one that best suits your needs and also one that you are comfortable wearing.

See a Professional

Before you buy a hearing aid, it is recommendable that you consult an audiologist, so that he or she may establish whether you have any underlying medical problem that is bringing about your hearing loss. As a trained professional, an audiologist is better placed to assess whether you need a hearing aid or not, or whether to refer you to a physician if the hearing loss is as a result of other medical issues such as impacted earwax or bacterial infection. After carrying out tests and evaluating your hearing needs, he or she is also best placed to fit in the hearing aids. Unlike some hearing-aid specialists, it is mandatory for an audiologist to have a doctoral degree and over one thousand in hours of clinical training.

Test before buying

Before you make any purchase, make sure you undertake a real-ear test, also referred to as a real-ear measure and involves placing a thin probe in your outer year with your hearing aid in place, to measure the response of the hearing aid to the extent of your hearing loss. You should also test your hearing ability and understanding of speech in diverse environments including noisy or quiet environments. It is also paramount that you see to it the hearing aid is comfortable. Your hearing aid provider should explain to you how you should properly care and store the hearing aid, how to reduce feedback and squealing, and also where to buy and how to change batteries or recharge them. If you experience any discomfort, notify your provider or hearing aid specialist so as he or she may make the necessary adjustments.

Contract

Following the withdrawal by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) from enforcing a mandatory medical exam for adults seeking to buy a hearing aid, there is a broad range of dealers specializing in hearing aids. Whereas you can buy and have them fitted in an audiologist’s office, you can also find them from hearing aid stores and even online stores. Therefore, before you make any purchase, make sure you have a written agreement that covers you if you are not satisfied with the outcome. Make sure the contract clearly stipulates the trial period, what it covers, the length of the warranty and also if it allows you to return the hearing aid and get all or part of your money if you aren’t satisfied.

Go for what you need

Technology in the modern day has enhanced creative innovations with wireless connectivity at the forefront of almost everything. Some hearing aids in the present day come with extras that render them more convenient. Such features include Bluetooth connectivity and the ability to sync the aid with your smart device. It is important to note that such convenient additions will come at an additional cost which may significantly increase the price of the hearing aid. As such, it is important to look for the features that you need and skip what you don’t need. You can educate yourself more on the different features available in today’s aids by conducting research and pre-determine what you need.

Overall

Once you have selected the features you want, tested the hearing aid, made the necessary adjustments and finally paid for it, do not forget that it may take some time for you to adjust to wearing one. Practice your day to day activities while wearing it so that you may allow yourself ample time to get used to it.

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