The modern way of life seriously affects our health. Stress, subway trips, constant noise, loud transport, and bad habits harm the entire body, especially the hearing organs. Not surprisingly, the number of people with hearing problems is growing every year. According to the WHO, around 500 million people today suffer from hearing loss and other disorders. Huge number, right?
However, people don’t think about it until they face the problem. After all, we all take healthy hearing for granted. Meanwhile, the auditory system has a complex and fragile structure. Even a slight action (for example, prolonged noise) is detrimental to her. Nowadays, when all teenagers listen to loud music on headphones for many hours, this threatens to increase the number of people with hearing loss in the future.
Fortunately, today there are effective and safe means and methods of treatment. We’re talking about hearing aids. These small electronic devices restore lost abilities and return a person to a happy life. But here another difficulty arises, namely the choice of a suitable model.
Choosing a hearing aid is a rather difficult task, especially for someone completely unaware of the issue, and doing it for the first time. It is much easier for an experienced user to solve this problem because he already knows the pros and cons of a model that he has been using for a long time. Such a user will navigate the hearing aid store and select either a similar device or one that is superior in technical parameters.
What if you are faced with such a problem for the first time? Most likely, the variety of models, types of devices, and their functionality will scare you. What should you pay attention to first of all?
What are hearing aids?
Different models of the hearing aid process sound differently. This’ll depend on several factors:
- Dependence on configuration
- Available features
- The number of channels, etc.
The number of channels determines the number of operations that your device can simultaneously perform. For example, amplify speech and muffle wind noise while keeping ambient sound at normal volume.
A digital device can muffle loud sounds and amplify quiet ones. It depends on the presence of directional microphones whether the device can pick up sounds from both the front and the back, or only from one side.
It is important to understand that modern digital hearing aids are smart devices, they can remember the acoustic situations in which the user is and automatically switch between them. For example, they can turn on wind noise reduction in the street and turn it off at home, sync with a smartphone, etc.
Most hearing aids fall into three main groups:
- Behind the ear (BTE). The devices are attached behind the ear and are equipped with a sound duct in the form of a tube that is inserted into the ear canal. The behind-the-ear hearing aid is highly durable, easy to use, and suitable for people with even the most profound hearing loss
- Intra-ear (ITE). The devices are placed inside the auricle, which makes them particularly comfortable to wear. Such devices are less visible to others. But they also have disadvantages. ITE devices have limited power and functionality because the body of the devices is too small to accommodate many items
- Intrachannel (ITC). Hearing aids are placed in the ear canal. These are the most inconspicuous devices that are not visible to others. However, their case is even smaller than that of the intra-ear, therefore, it can perform fewer functions
Intra-ear and Intrachannel hearing aid cases are made according to an individual impression of your ear. Therefore, these models are the most comfortable to use.
What to look for when choosing a device?
Today you’ll find a large selection of good hearing aids at very different prices. However, they may look the same. How not to get lost in such conditions? Pay attention to the following factors.
Hearing aid power
The more severe your hearing loss, the more powerful your hearing aid needs to be. To determine the appropriate power, it is necessary to conduct an auditory diagnosis. To do it, contact the audiology clinic. The audiologist can conduct the necessary tests and make recommendations. An improperly performed hearing test can lead to the wrong choice of hearing aid. Minor hearing loss requires compensation with a low-power hearing aid, moderate hearing loss requires medium power, and so on.
Number of device channels
The greater the number of channels, the more accurately you can adjust the hearing aid for hearing impairment and, as a result, get better speech intelligibility. However, one should not think that the number of channels is the only characteristic that determines the sound quality and speech intelligibility in a hearing aid.
Microphones may not have any directionality or may be fixedly directional. The most perfect directionality system is adaptive. In such a case, the directionality changes automatically depending on the acoustic environment. Some hearing aids allow the user to independently control the directivity of the microphones.
Availability of additional functions
In addition to basic features, devices can have additional features. For example, a Bluetooth connection or switching between programs. Think carefully about what additional features you really need. For example, if you love to swim, then waterproof hearing aids are perfect for you. Why is it necessary? The number of additional functions affects the cost of the device. The more of them, the higher the price. Why pay more for something you won’t use?
Contact a hearing care professional
Choosing a hearing aid is a tricky business. If you are doing it for the first time, then it is best to contact a hearing care professional. This would be the right decision for many reasons. The doctor will determine the degree of hearing loss and take into account the characteristics of your body. Moreover, tell the specialist about your hobbies and lifestyle. The audiologist will take into account these factors, and you’ll receive the most suitable hearing aids. After fitting them, the audiologist will set them up and make recommendations during adaptation. You won’t have problems in the future. Enjoy the flawless work of irreplaceable assistants that’ll bring back the wonderful world of sound to you!