About 48 million Americans experience some level of hearing loss. Unfortunately, only about one in every five of those who would benefit from a hearing aid actually use one.
This is due to many different reasons. These include cost as well as perceptions that hearing aids are difficult to use, will do little to improve hearing problems, or are too bulky.
The good news is that, with the right hearing aids, all those concerns can be addressed. The key is knowing what to look for.
The information below gives you some qualities to consider when buying hearing aids. Keep reading to find out how they can improve your or your loved one's hearing and quality of life.
How Hearing Aids Work
Most hearing aids work using the same basic technology. They utilize tiny microphones to capture sounds and convert them to electrical signals. An amplifier increases the power of the signal to a specified level and plays them through a speaker.
All this happens almost instantaneously. Also, all hearing aids rely on some type of battery as a power source.
These functions and designs are where the commonalities among hearing aids end. Beyond this, they can vary in build quality, size, price, battery type (built-in vs. rechargeable), and clarity.
Factors to Consider When Buying Hearing Aids
Given the diversity of products available, it is important to consider what factors are important to you when choosing a hearing aid. This will allow you to find one that has the design and functions you need without going overboard. Here are the main ones to think about.
One of the main things to look at when buying hearing aids is their overall quality. You want a product that will be reliable and last a long time.
Read reviews about the manufacturer to get a sense of customers’ experience with the product. You also might look for any warranties or guarantees. Besides the assurance that any defects will be made right, it gives you some confidence that the company stands by its products.
There are several types of hearing aid designs. These include behind-the-ear (BTE) ones that have a plastic housing for the battery and electrical components that sit behind the ear. This is connected to an earmold that fits in the out ear.
A modified “open-fit” BTE has only a small tube that runs into the ear canal. One big advantage to these is that, since the ear canal is not completely blocked, the wearer’s own voice does not sound muted.
BTE hearing aids are good for people of all ages, including children. They also can be used for all severities of hearing loss.
In-the-ear (ITE) hearing aids sit completely inside the outer ear. They may be a good option for someone who dislikes the feel of a BTE, although ITE aids are less discrete, as they fill the entire space of the outer ear. They also can be less ideal for children whose ears are still growing, as the fit of the aids needs to be exact to keep them from falling out.
Some ITE aids have a telecoil, which allows the hearing aid to connect to sources of electromagnetic energy. This technology is found in some telephones as well as assisted listening device systems in airports, places of worship, auditoriums, and museums.
A final type of hearing aid is the canal aid. These fit entirely in the ear canal, making them the most discrete. One downside is that, since they are so small, it can be more of a hassle to adjust or remove them.
Also, due to their size, they have less space for (larger) batteries or components like telecoils. They also can have reduced power and output volume than some other models. This could limit their effectiveness in people with significant hearing loss.
Different hearing aids come equipped with distinct functions, such as telecoils (mentioned above). Directional microphones allow the aid to pick up more sounds in front of you (as opposed to the sides--the directions your ears are facing). While almost all hearing aids have some level of noise reduction, you might consider ones that specialize in dampening wind or background noises.
The ability to adjust hearing aids plays a big part in the ability to hone their precision. Some hearing aids must be adjusted on the aids themselves, while others come with a remote control. This has the obvious advantage of being able to modify the devices without removing or otherwise touching them.
Increasingly, high-quality hearing aids come with the ability to control them through a smartphone app. This has the added benefit of being able to see battery levels, or other information, or even connect to other Bluetooth-enabled devices. These include computers, televisions, and music players.
Many hearing aids come with built-in batteries that last for a very long time. This means you can forget about it for months without having to worry about changing it.
There are many advantages to rechargeable hearing aids as well. One is that you do have to keep batteries on hand or deal with the hassle of changing them out. Also, you know at any given time how much power they have and can better anticipate recharging needs (versus having the batteries go out abruptly).
Like every other product, high-quality hearing aids will come at a premium. However, it is not as simple as “the more expensive the better.” And there are often options for purchasing them.
First, some health insurance policies, including some Medicare Advantage plans, cover hearing aids. Also, many reputable hearing aid companies will offer financing. This is a reflection of confidence in the quality of their product and that they care about helping customers access hearing aids that best meet their needs.
Buy Hearing Aids Aids Near You
Now that you know the main factors to consider when buying hearing aids, you can make the best decision based on your lifestyle and budget. With so many options available, you can be sure to find one that works for you.
Beltone has been helping people with hearing issues for over 80 years. We offer the best hearing aids, assistive listening devices, and other audiological solutions available, all with financing options. Read more about our products online or reach out to us today with any questions.