Hearing aids come in a variety of styles, brands and technology levels.
Factors such as ear canal shape and size, degree of hearing loss, aesthetic preference, communication needs and payment options, are important factors to consider before recommending a hearing aid.
HEARING AID STYLES:
There are many styles of hearing aids.
Custom hearing aids are custom made to fit a person’s ear and only their ears. An impression of the ear must be taken to make these styles of hearing aids. Custom ear moulds can also be made for behind the ear and receiver in the canal style hearing aids.
Invisible in the canal/completely in the canal: These are inserted farther into the ear canal compared to any other styles, so they are very discrete. These may be recommended if there are concerns about the appearance of the hearing aid. These hearing aids may have some limitations in terms of their suitability for severe hearing loss and Bluetooth options given their small size.
In the canal/In the ear: These fit in the ear canal with a small portion of the hearing aid showing in the outer ear.
Behind the ear: The electronics of the hearing aids rest behind the ear with a clear plastic acoustical tube running down the front of the ear. There is either a custom tip or dome on the end of the tubing which sits in the ear canal.
Receiver in the canal: Most of the electronics are housed behind the ear with a discrete electrical wire running down the front of the ear. At the end of the wire is a speaker which sits in the canal with either a custom tip or dome.
Each brand of hearing aid comes with different technology levels, ranging from basic technology to premium technology. Basic hearing aids are able to enhance speech understanding and work best when in quite environments and one to one conversations. In higher technology levels, the features of the hearing aid are more advanced, and audiologists have a greater ability to fine-tune the devices to allow for a more natural sound for the user. The level of noise reduction increases in premium hearing aids compared to more basic level hearing aids. Premium hearing aids are best suited for the most challenging listening environments, for example, in a busy restaurant with a large group of people.
As we are all aware, technology these days is rapidly advancing. This is the same for hearing aid technology. There are hearing aids that don’t require changing batteries, you can charge it overnight just like a mobile phone! Some hearing aids can also connect wirelessly to smart phones via Bluetooth in order to stream music and phone calls directly into the ear, as well as adjust the volume of the hearing aid. You can now even GPS track hearing aids in case you misplace them.
The style and level of technology which is best suited is determined by a person’s communication needs and the degree of hearing loss identified on a thorough hearing test. Audiologists discuss communication and listening needs in depth to determine which hearing aid would best meet your needs, lifestyle and budget.