How can I decide what kind of hearing aid to get? What style and technology level?
By, Emily Steffel, Au.D.
When deciding to purchase hearing aids it can seem overwhelming with so many choices. There is no definitive “right” answer or perfect choice. However, there are a few key things to think about.
First, think about your daily lifestyle. Do you work/hobby doing tasks where the tube or wire of a behind-the-ear hearing aid could get caught or snagged? Do you have a job where you must wear headphones or a headset where a behind-the-ear hearing aid might get in the way? Do you have trouble wearing earbuds or earplugs comfortably because your ears hurt no matter what size you use, such that an in-the-ear hearing aid may not fit comfortably? Do you hate the feeling/idea of “something’ in your ears, such that wearing an in-the-ear hearing aid may bother you?
Second, think about what situations you have trouble hearing in, places in which you really wish you could understand better, and activities you have been avoiding due to communication difficulties. It isn’t the degree of hearing loss that determines what level hearing aid you need but rather it is how much “help” you are seeking with your communication abilities; the more help you are looking for the higher the technology you should choose.
Thirdly, does the potential visibility or the size of the device concern you? Some patients are very bothered by the idea that other people may be able to see that they wear hearing aids. Other patients want to choose hearing aids that they feel are large enough for them to handle and maintain. The smaller the hearing aid the less visible it will be. However, it will also use a smaller battery and therefore have shorter battery life and (potentially) the more difficult it may be to handle the batteries when inserting or removing them. A larger hearing aid may be more visible, but it also uses a battery that lasts longer and is easier to manipulate when it does need to be changed.
Lastly, you must think about the future. Typically, a set of hearing aids is replaced every 4-6 years, so you want to think about what you may need in that time. For example, do you have minimal numbness in your fingers that is likely to progress significantly in that time? If so, purchasing tiny completely-in-the-canal hearing aids are not likely to be your best choice as it is likely that you will soon struggle to comfortably feel and manipulate the tiny batteries and hearing aids, making wearing the hearing aids frustrating. Or perhaps your doctor has stated that you may need to begin oxygen therapy in the next few years, then you are likely to want to purchase in-the -ear hearing aids as the oxygen tubing can cause behind-the-ear hearing aids to be more easily dislodged from behind the ear.
Overall, although there are many options when purchasing hearing aids there are many ways to help narrow down the options. Have more questions? Just talk to an audiologist today, we are always happy to help.