Choosing your hearing aids: 8 things to consider
Here are 8 things to consider before choosing your hearing aids. Many people have the wrong idea about how hearing aids look and how well they work. Advances in technology have made it possible to solve several of these problems. Technology has certainly contributed to reduce the size, improving the ease of use and performance of hearing aids. They are also now customizable and can be adapted to an individual’s level of hearing loss, lifestyle, age, budget, expectations and preferences. Consequently, a certain number of physical and personal elements must be taken into consideration when a hearing aid is chosen.
1. Type and degree of hearing loss
This is the most important factor in deciding which style of hearing aid is best for you. Your hearing professional will exam you to determine the precise degree and type of hearing loss you have.
2. Personal communication and lifestyle needs
Take some time to think about the situations in which you would like to improve your hearing.
- What is difficult for you when you are with your family or friends, when you eat out, are in a meeting or go to the theatre?
- What activities do you like to do?
- Are you physically active?
Be as detailed as possible because what you mention will really help your audioprosthetist guide you toward the best choice. It may be helpful to get your friends and family involved in this process, as their observations can help you notice things that you may not be aware of.
3. Ear anatomy
The size of the space inside our ears varies from person to person. Most ears are large enough for a hearing aid to be placed in the auditory canal, but there are some exceptions. Cerumen (earwax) production is another physical factor to consider. When large amounts of cerumen are produced, the appropriate hearing aid to choose would be one that is easy to clean.
4. One or two devices?
If you have hearing loss in both ears, you must wear two hearing aids. They don’t double a sound’s volume, but they make it easier to identify where sounds are coming from by imitating the natural hearing process. They also help prevent sensory deprivation, which occurs when the ear loses its ability to understand due to a lack of stimulation. Wearing two hearing aids also ensures better understanding of words in noisy situations and provides superior sound quality.
5. Handling the hearing aids
If your eyesight isn’t as good as it was or you have a hard time handling small objects, the best solution for you would be a device that can be adjusted automatically or with a remote control.
6. Cosmetic aspect and discretion
Design is not only about function but also aesthetics. Since your hearing aids will be part of your life, you should feel as comfortable wearing them as wearing your favourite clothes. Just as in fashion, the latest hearing aids let you express your personality. With a vast selection of styles, colours and models to choose from, it’s easy to find hearing aids to match your tastes and personal style.
Hearing aids come in several different price ranges, and insurance plans vary widely in their coverage of aids. Your audioprosthetist can provide more information on programs offered by the Quebec insurance system (RAMQ), the Quebec health and work safety commission (CSST) and Veterans Affairs that cover the cost of hearing aids if you qualify.
8. Sound quality and performance
Today nearly all devices are digital and run on powerful integrated circuits to provide the best possible sound quality.
Don’t hesitate to consult your audioprosthetist, who can provide advice on the best solution for you.
An optimal hearing aids must:
- Allow you to communicate in all situations
- Provide a pleasant perception of sound
- Be easy to use on a daily basis
- Be comfortable to wear
By Mélanie Fillion, audioprosthetist, Groupe Forget