Choosing the right hearing aid

choosing-hearing-aidChoosing the right hearing aid for your lifestyle…

Congratulations – you’ve just decided to get hearing aids!  This is the most important step on your road to healthy hearing. Now that you have made your decision, where do you go to be fitted and where do you find the best hearing aids for you?  Here are some helpful tips to guide you on your journey.

Before choosing a hearing aid…..

Before choosing your hearing aids, choose the right hearing care professional.  Only an audiologist is specifically trained to properly evaluate and diagnose a hearing loss.  Not all hearing loss is treatable with hearing aids.  Some forms of hearing loss are treated with surgery or medications. With an audiological hearing evaluation, an audiologist can help diagnose the cause of your hearing loss and recommend the right treatment plan for you.  Also, the Food and Drug Administration advises that anyone considering hearing aids should first be seen by a doctor who specializes in diseases of the ear (otolaryngologist) for medical clearance.

What are your needs…..

The style of hearing aid that works for you will depend on several factors:

  • Ear Anatomy: Your hearing care professional will be able to assess your ear anatomy and help you decide on the style that is best for you.  In-the-Ear aids do not work well with people who have small ear canals.  Behind-the-ear styles can be worn by most anybody.
  • Features: Hearing aids come in a wide range of technologies and capabilities.  It’s important to consider which features may be best for you and your needs, now and in the future.  Yes, technology does matter and can vary widely from one manufacturer to another.  Also, many of today’s hearing aids are wireless and Bluetooth compatible and can be self-programmed with an iPhone.
  • Appearance: If you are self-conscious about hearing aids, you may be surprised by the colors and styles that make today’s hearing aids more discreet.
  • Activity Level: Your activity level is one of the most important factors to consider when choosing the right technology, features and style.
  • Degree and Shape of Hearing Loss: Depending on your hearing loss, some styles are better than others.  Smaller styles that use tiny batteries have limited power.  The shape of your hearing loss, as indicated by your audiogram, will help identify the technology and style that are right for you.
  • Physical Limitations: If you have physical limitations that may hinder you from the basic handling of your hearing aids such as arthritis or limited dexterity, talk with your hearing care professional for a recommendation on a style that will work best for you.

Your lifestyle and your hearing aids…..

Other than your hearing loss, the next most important factor when choosing the right hearing aid for you… your lifestyle.  Your lifestyle will dictate the technology, features and style that are most appropriate for you and your needs.  Don’t make the wrong choice.  Paying for technological features you will never use is the same as not getting the technological features you need.  Do not approach this decision lightly or blindly.  Hearing aids cost money. The more demanding your lifestyle, the more technology you will need, and the more the hearing aids will cost.  But you will benefit from every penny you spend.

Here’s a guide to help you make the right decision:

Active Lifestyle/Demanding Listening Environments

Examples of an Active Lifestyle include: hearing-aids-musician
  • Frequent social gatherings
  • Dining in busy restaurants
  • Going to concerts or live shows
  • Giving presentations at meetings
  • Attending meetings
  • Outdoor activities such as golf, hiking, tennis, biking, hunting and stadium crowds
  • You are a musician
  • Travel frequently
  • Use multi-media connectivity

This type of lifestyle needs more advanced technology that will provide optimum performance in a broad range of demanding sound and listening environments.  The advanced technology will clarify speech and other important sounds to the fullest extent while suppressing higher levels of background noise including wind noise.  The ability to finely tune sound makes this technology a great choice for musicians and live music lovers.

Casual Lifestyle/Moderate Listening Environments

Examples of a Casual Lifestyle include:

  • Shopping
  • Small group meetings
  • Attending religious services
  • Social time with family and friends
  • Dining out occasionally in quieter restaurants
  • Outdoor activities such as walking, hiking, golf
  • Attending meetings

People in this level spend the majority of their time in moderate listening environments and would benefit from certain advanced features such as speech enhancement, background noise suppression and wind noise reduction, but don’t often find use for many of the cutting-edge technologies.  This individual is no longer in demanding listening situations on a day-to-day basis, but still enjoys dining out and social activities.

Quiet Lifestyle/Quiet Listening Environments

Examples of a Quiet Lifestyle include:

  • Family gatherings
  • Religious services
  • Adult conversations
  • Quiet restaurants
  • Fewer outings
  • Minimal distractions

This individual has a quiet lifestyle and spends the majority of social time with family and small groups of friends.  One-on-one conversations, walks in the park and quiet restaurants are preferred.  This technology does very well with speech in less noisy environments, and can handle more demanding sound situations when necessary.

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