How do I know which hearing aid will be best for me?

You may be considering getting a hearing aid but are not sure which one is the best for you. There are various types of hearing aids and this can sometimes be daunting. Knowing about hearing aids and the process can help. We will cover how to determine whether you need a hearing aid, what is involved in a hearing aid discussion, how hearing aids work, the different types/styles, technology levels, and features.

 

Do I need a hearing aid?

The first step is getting a comprehensive hearing testby a qualified audiologist. Based on the results your audiologist will determine whether hearing aids would be appropriate. The test involves a case history to determine your hearing health and history. Your audiologist will then look in your ears with an otoscope to check the health of the ear canals and eardrums. They will then test your middle ear function by inserting a rubber tip in your ear canal to make some measurements. Next comes the hearing test where you will be presented with a series of beeps and be required to press a button each time you hear one. Lastly, you will be played some words through headphones and need to repeat whatever you hear back. After the test, your audiologist will explain the results to you. They will then recommend what should be done next. If hearing aids are appropriate, then they will recommend them. You can then have a hearing aid discussion appointment with your audiologist to determine which hearing aids are most appropriate for you.

 

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Hearing aid discussion

If a hearing loss which can be treated with hearing aids is diagnosedyou may have a hearing aid discussion appointment with your audiologist. During the discussion, your audiologist will cover many areas including difficulties you have communicating with others, history of hearing device use, physical factors which could affect your management of the devices, and individual hearing goals (to determine hearing aid benefit). They will then discuss the benefits/limitations of hearing aids, the different types of aids appropriate to your hearing loss/lifestyle/needs, the different features available, and the different levels of technology available.

 

After you have this information your audiologist will work together with you to determine which hearing aid is most appropriate based on your results, needs, wants, and lifestyle.

 

If you are on the pension or are a veteran, you may be eligible for free hearing services and devices under the Australian Government Hearing Services Program (HSP). This will also play a role in determining which hearing aid will be best for you.

 

How do hearing aids work?

Hearing aids are electronic devices which amplify speech and other sounds to help those with hearing loss hear better. Hearing aids can be worn in the ear or on the ear depending on the style.

 

Although there are various types of hearing aids, all hearing aids have these 3 parts:

  1. Microphone
  2. Amplifier
  3. Speaker

 

Hearing aids work as the microphone is sensitive to sound and picks up sound in the environment. The amplifier in the hearing aid then increases the level of sound depending on the amount of amplification needed for your hearing loss (this is set by your audiologist). The speaker then sends the boosted signal back into your ear canal and the sound is heard.

 

While hearing aids cannot completely restore hearing, they do help people with hearing loss to hear better.

 

What are the different types/styles of hearing aids?

There are many different types/styles of hearing aids. The ‘best’ one depends on the individual and is based not only the results of your hearing test but your needs/wants and lifestyle.

 

Behind the ear (BTE)

These hearing aids are made up of two pieces. One piece, which sits behind the ear, and another piece which sits in the ear canal. The two pieces are joined by a tube.

 

They are less prone to breakdowns (less affected by wax and moisture) and can be fitted to various degrees of hearing loss.

 

Receiver in the ear canal (RIC)

These hearing aids are also made up of two pieces. However, instead of being joined by a tube, the two pieces are joined by a wire receiver.

 

They are more discreet as the wire is quite thin, making them a good option for people who are concerned about cosmetics.

 

In the ear or in the canal (ITE or ITC)

These hearing aids are made up of one piece which sits in the ear (ITE) or canal (ITC).

 

They are good for people with dexterity issues (e.g. arthritis in the fingers) as they only have one part, making it easier to insert/remove them.

 

Completely in the canal (CIC)

These hearing aids are also made up of one piece which sits deeper in the canal.

They are ideal for those who are concerned about aesthetics as they are very discreet.

 

Features available in hearing aids

There are also additional features that can be included in hearing aids including:

Bluetooth

Newer hearing aids now have Bluetooth technology included which allows you to connect to a smartphone or other Bluetooth enabled device. From here you can stream media and phone calls, adjust your hearing aids, and even connect to your TV.

 

Rechargeable batteries

Some hearing aids now come with rechargeable batteries. The aids need to be charged daily in a charger and are a good idea for those with dexterity issues who cannot handle small batteries.

 

Telecoil

Some hearing aids come with a telecoil. These are useful for venues with induction loop systems, e.g. train stations, cinemas, churches, and landline phones which are telecoil compatible. This system allows the sound to be collected from the source and sent directly to the hearing aids.

 

Feedback management

Hearing aids now have technology which can detect and eliminate feedback or whistling from occurring.

 

Noise reduction

Hearing aids are now better at evaluating the environment and reducing noise and boosting speech.

 

Selecting a hearing aid can be daunting but you do not have to do it alone. The hearing aid selection process is comprehensive and involves the expert knowledge and guidance of a qualified audiologist. Your audiologist will determine whether you need a hearing aid. If you do, you will then have a hearing aid discussion. It is important to know how hearing aids work, the different types/styles available, different features, and different technology levels so that you can work with your audiologist to make an informed decision about the most appropriate hearing aid for you. Call your local audiologist at Attune Hearing for a hearing test today.

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