Choosing Hearing Aids

How to Choose the Right Hearing Aid

Hearing aids are available in either a behind-the-ear (BTE) style, a receiver-in-the-canal (RIC: a mini BTE with part of the circuitry, the receiver, placed in the ear canal) or are fully contained in the ear.  They either use disposable batteries or an integrated rechargeable battery.

The choice of hearing aid style will be determined by:

  • the technology required for your level of hearing loss and communication needs 
  • your preferences with regard to the appearance and visibility of the hearing aids
  • your manual dexterity ability
  • the size and shape of your ears

Inappropriate hearing aid choice can increase your level of hearing disability if you cannot manage the complexity, handling or size of your hearing aids.

Hearing Aid Technology

Digital signal processing hearing aids are able to:

  • automatically and rapidly adjust and set the required volume for each sound in your environment – so that you don’t need a volume control (unless you want one!)
  • help to highlight speech through competing noise
  • provide multiple listening programs to suit different environments.  This can include speech in quiet, speech in noise, music, telephone, streaming via Bluetooth, telecoil, FM amplification.
  • provide wireless access via Bluetooth to devices such as Smartphones, iPads etc.
  • automatically switch between different listening programs, depending on your environment
  • provide multiple microphones and adaptive directional listening.  This is where the hearing aid restricts amplification from the noisier parts of your environment.

Hearing Aid Technology Levels

Hearing aid technology levels are set by the manufacturers to separate hearing aids into different performance and price categories.
These differences are largely based on noise processing features – the ability to detect and highlight a dominant speech sound in a noisy environment.  Despite some of the marketing claims, no hearing aids can fully separate a voice from background noise or other voices.

The level of technological sophistication should be matched to your communication needs and budget.  People who rarely communicate in groups or significant levels of background noise may not need a sophisticated and expensive level of hearing aid technology.

We encourage our patients to take their time to make their choice – we will provide the information and guidance that you need.

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