Now that you’ve been diagnosed with hearing loss, it’s time to choose a hearing aid. But doing so can be confusing and frustrating. Hearing aids today are smaller and more comfortable than ever – but also contain so many options and features, choosing the right one can be overwhelming. It’s important to take into consideration a few key points that can help narrow your choices down and result in a positive overall experience.
What Kind of Hearing Loss Do You Have?
The first step in choosing a hearing aid is determining the type and severity of your hearing loss. No two patients are the same, so choosing the correct device is largely dependent on your own personal hearing loss. An audiologist can give you a thorough hearing evaluation with a number of different tests to determine the level and extent of your loss. Severity is measured in degrees, based upon the decibel (dB) range of your hearing loss. This can land anywhere between normal (-10 to 15 dB) to profound (91+ dB).
Frequency loss is also important in determining the type of instrument right for you. Loss of low frequency sounds is associated with conductive hearing loss, the result of damage to the middle or outer ear. High frequency losses occur in conjunction with sensorinueral hearing loss, which is the result of damage to the inner ear. The best hearing aid for you will have enough power to overcome the degree of your hearing loss, and boost the missing frequency.
Now that you know the type and extent of your hearing loss and the affected frequency, you can take a look at more subjective factors when making your choice. These are based on your own personal preferences regarding size, style, features and options – not to mention your budget.
One important consideration is the level of functionality you are seeking. There are more options than ever available nowadays, features such as directional microphones, feedback suppression, amplifiers, digital noise reduction, automatic volume control, wireless connectivity, and wax guards. As helpful as many of these features are, keep in mind they can easily drive up the cost of your hearing aids.
Your lifestyle needs play a role, as well. Some devices are designed primarily for those who enjoy quiet and intimate moments, while others are designed to handle high levels of activity and background noise.
Cosmetic appeal cannot be underestimated. You’ll be wearing your hearing aids every day, and will need to feel confident and comfortable in them. Choose a style that appeals to both your comfort and your ego.
And of course, cost is a factor. While bargain-level hearing aids can be found, keep in mind the old axiom that states you get what you pay for. You don’t need a top of the line instrument with all the bells and whistles, but shouldn’t leave out those features that are most important to you.