Once the hearing test and explanation are completed, we will discuss the various hearing aids that can help you hear better. Considerations to take into account when selecting a hearing aid are:
- the patient’s manual dexterity,
- any loss of feeling in the fingers,
- overall vision,
- concerns with size and visual appeal
- need for manual (vs. remote controlled) volume and program controls.
Cost is certainly a factor as well. However cost does not significantly alter the physical size or maneuverability of a hearing aid. Cost will most affect the technical quality and sophistication of the hearing aid.
Style – There are just two main styles of hearing aids; behind-the-ear and in-the-ear. Behind-the-ear hearing aids (BTEs) sit right behind the top of the ear and have either a thin wire and speaker that goes in to the canal, or a hollow tube and ear piece that fits in the canal. The main component of the BTEs can vary in size from just under 1-inch long to almost 2 inches long. In-the-ear hearing aids (ITEs) are usually custom shaped to fit snugly into a patient’s ear. ITEs can vary in size from completely filling the ear (full shell), down to fitting so deeply into the ear canal they cannot be seen (invisible in the canal).
Controls – Today’s hearing aids can be adjusted and personalized by patients to a great degree. I do not simply mean color, either. Hearing aids can be set to have 4 to 5 different programs that a patient can select from depending on the type of listening environment they are in. In addition, many hearing aids have volume controls to allow patients to raise or lower the volume of their hearing aids.
BlueTooth Capability – In the past few years some of the most exciting advances in hearing aid technology has been made with Bluetooth, or wireless, capabilities. Today’s most advanced hearing aids use Bluetooth connections to talk to each other for better reception in noisy places, to receive phone calls, hear TV audio signals, and listen to music streaming from a tablet, laptop, or smart phone. In the coming years, smart phones and hearing aids will become more intertwined as each device becomes more sophisticated and as users enjoy more personalized features.