The Ultimate Hearing Aid Buying Guide
Buying hearing aids for the first time can be daunting, or maybe even confusing for some. With support and advice available from a variety of professionals, there is no longer a need to feel unsure or isolated when it comes to buying hearing aids for the first time.
We have therefore put together this hearing aid buying guide for you to help you understand any future purchases. There are a number of different hearing aid features to look for, for example? How do you know which are the most important? How do you know which are the best hearing aid brands available? We’re here to help with all of these questions and more.
What Do Hearing Aids Do?
While your audiologist may have advised you that purchasing hearing aids is a must, do many of us know how they work? Before you buy hearing aids online, it is a good idea to gain an appreciation for some of the functionality.
- Hearing aids work by amplifying sound. Therefore, they make sounds louder and clear.
- They work through a tiny microphone, amplifier, and receiver.
- The microphone collects the sound, the amplifier increases the volume, and the receiver transmits the results through your ear.
- Digital hearing aids are mostly the norm today. Unlike older, analog models, these aids can be fine-tuned to help filter out certain background noises and annoyances.
- Digital aids are fantastic at helping to modify amplification to your specific needs. Hearing loss can occur in varying severity.
Therefore, now we know a little bit more about how aids work, it’s time to consider exactly what you need.
What Do You Need from a Hearing Aid?
Hearing loss affects millions of people of all ages. However, one person’s hearing loss may vary drastically compared to another’s. Therefore, it’s a good idea to consider precisely what you need before you start online or window shopping.
- How severe is your hearing loss?
- Do you need to remove background noise?
- How much amplification do you require?
- Which models are most comfortable for your ear shape?
- How much can you afford to spend?
- Do you need any additional extras or features?
Hearing aids are available in a variety of complexities and styles. That means that understanding which is most applicable for your needs can be a little tricky at first. Your audiologist and hearing expert can help you find the most appropriate choices on the market – and our guide can help to fill in some of the gaps as far as the types and styles of hearing aids are concerned.
What Styles of Hearing Aid are There?
There are many different brands and technologies to pick from, though you will largely find five different types of hearing aid available on the market. These are as follows:
- In The Ear Hearing Aids (ITEs)
- Behind The Ear Hearing Aids (BTEs)
- Mini Behind The Ear Hearing Aids (mBTEs)
- In The Canal Hearing Aids (IICs)
- Completely in Canal Hearing Aids (CICs)
Let’s take a closer look at each of these types of aid to see which appeals to your needs for support and comfort the most.
In The Ear Hearing Aids (ITEs)
These hearing aids are entirely self-contained and are considered a traditional model. Everything that’s needed to make the aid work is included within its simple casing. These models, however, are perhaps a little more visible than other modern units. However, they are simple to use and switch in and out and offer plenty of feature flexibility.
Behind The Ear Hearing Aids (BTEs)
As the name suggests, these hearing aid types sit comfortably behind your ears. Everything is self-contained in the casing, and you wear a mold that is nestled in your ear which acts as a receiver, to which the casing is connected. These hearing aids are ideally suited to those with severe hearing loss as they allow for plenty of amplification. They are easy to clean, too, and are impressively powerful.
Mini Behind The Ear Hearing Aids (mBTEs)
A smaller model of the above type, with a receiver directly placed inside the ear canal, which is fitted snugly with a custom mold. These options are straightforward to use and are incredibly comfortable, but they may not be as robust or as comprehensive as their larger counterparts.
In The Canal Hearing Aids (IICs)
As suggested, again, these hearing aids fit directly into your ear canal and are hardly visible. This can be a big selling point for many prospective wearers. However, in-ear models can be at risk of moisture and wax build-up, meaning that they may not necessarily be the most comfortable of devices.
Completely in The Canal Hearing Aids (CICs)
CICs are fitted tighter into the canal than IICs and are therefore less sensitive to a variety of outside noise. However, these are smaller models which can provide discomfort and less ease of use for some wearers than other models.
Finding the Right Hearing Aid Brand
Choosing the right hearing aid brand to buy with shouldn’t ever be a hassle. An audiologist will help you hugely in looking for the right model and make, particularly as they will be able to line up appropriate models and makes for your needs and hearing profile.
The right provider and brand for you will be one which offers all of the features you need, as well as necessary comfort in fitting and everyday use. They will also be able to provide you with any hearing aid accessories you may need. It is merely a case of looking for the right hearing aid first. From there on, you will be able to find the best brand fit for your budget and everyday wear and use.
Hearing Aid Features to Look For
There are a number of different features and facilities supported by hearing aids. They don’t just amplify sound or make things louder! As such, it’s worth looking at the various features offered by each brand and product you may come across. Here are a few of the more important features you may wish to look for.
Digital Noise Reduction
DNR can be commonly be found from hearing aid to hearing aid nowadays. That essentially means that background noise is filtered out as much as physically possible. Not all hearing aids support DNR, and the technology’s effectiveness will vary from unit to unit. However, this feature can help hugely in social situations.
Modern digital hearing aids even support direct streaming. That means that if you want to listen to music or watch TV or movies, you can use certain hearing aids to connect to phones and tablets via Bluetooth. Apple’s line of products, for example, offers simple connectivity to certain hearing aid lines.
A telecoil is an optional feature, though it is hugely useful for many users. This tiny internal sensor can pick up magnetic signals, meaning that you can easily tune into public induction loops. These loops are built into spaces and zones such as museums, arenas, waiting rooms, public transport and more. For many people, the telecoil is a daily asset.
Whistling noises used to be a considerable problem wearers of analog or traditional hearing aids faced. With digital standards, however, you can now completely minimize high pitched squealing. For many people, this feature can help to improve sound quality no end.
Yes – modern hearing aids can even allow you to log data, meaning that you can store listening preferences on a separate device. Consider whether or not you need to, however, before purchasing for this feature alone!
Directional microphones are commonly found in most modern hearing aids. These effectively allow you to amplify noise directed towards you, i.e., in conversation. Therefore, they can be a real asset in helping to decrease intrusive background noise.
Other Things to Consider
Buying hearing aids for the first time can be tricky, but we’ve hoped our hearing aid buying guide has helped to explain some of the main issues you may come across. From smart hearing aids to all manner of affordable hearing aids and accessories, there’s a world of choice.
However, there are a few things you must always consider when buying hearing aids outside of these helpful tips. Make sure you are careful with your budget – don’t feel pressurized into buying an all-singing, all-dancing smart hearing aid unless you want or need one.
Furthermore, ask your audiologist for a full contract. Make sure your consumer rights are protected, and that you are obliged to return your equipment if you need to. What’s more, your health insurance plan may cover the purchase of hearing aids. Consult with your carrier and always ask your audiologist!
Need help finding the perfect fit for your everyday needs? Unsure which features are best for you? Our team is always here to help, every step of the way. Call Best Hearing Aid today on (480) 546-5018 to book in with us as soon as is convenient for you!