For the average first-time hearing aid user, choosing a hearing aid can be a daunting task. There are different styles, technology levels, and manufacturers to pick from, and there are several things you should ask yourself and your hearing healthcare professional to help you make an informed decision.
First and foremost in informing the decision-making process is your hearing loss. It is essential to have a comprehensive hearing test complete by a hearing professional before even thinking about hearing aids. The severity and configuration of your hearing loss is as individual as you are, and it will often dictate the style of the hearing aid (such as behind-the-ear, in-the-ear, etc.) that will be best for you.
Another factor to consider when choosing the style of hearing aid is your level of dexterity. The smaller the hearing aid, the smaller the battery, and this can make changing batteries a challenge for people who have problems with their hands or fingers. Vision issues can also affect your choice. Ask your provider why a certain hearing aid style is being recommended to you.
Hearing aids come in a wide variety of technology levels, and the technology inside a hearing aid will often correlate with price. Not surprisingly, the most advanced hearing aid technology will be the most expensive, so consider your day-to-day listening environments. Do you go to restaurants or parties frequently? Are you a professional musician? Do you primarily stay at home and watch television?
If you are vary active and exposed to varied listening environments, you will have much greater success using a high-end technology hearing aid with features like advanced noise reduction. A person who is primarily in quiet places will do well with basic hearing technology.
Be honest with yourself about daily hearing challenges. You may end up disappointed if you opt for very basic hearing aid technology and find it does not perform well in your everyday routine. And for many people, cost will be a major determinant; weigh what you can afford with the level of technology you need.
One question I am most often asked is, “Which manufacturer or brand of hearing aids is best?” Most hearing providers work with several hearing aid manufacturers, but some practices specialize in a certain brand.
In my opinion, style and technology tend to be more important than the name brand of the hearing aid, but there are certainly some exceptions to this. Some hearing aid brands are more moisture- and dust-resistant than others, so if you plan wearing the hearing aids in diverse environments this may be a very important feature.
Other main differences among the manufacturers are aesthetics and manual functions. Some brands have manual controls (e.g., volume) directly on the hearing aids, and others will require you to add on accessory (e.g., a remote control) to access those features.
Your hearing provider may have a personal preference due to past experience with previous patients or the manufacturer’s customer service. If your hearing professional recommends a certain brand of hearing aid, ask why, and make sure your understand the reasoning.
Lastly, there is color: Hearing aids come in n array of choices. This is certainly the least important factor when deciding among hearing aids, but picking a color you like is a nice way to make the hearing aids “yours.” Most people choose a color to match their hair, but I always try to convince patients to get their favorite color – my haring aids are pink!
By: Cortney M. Campbell, Au.D. in Hearing Health