How many people do you know that might be experiencing some hearing problems? According to statistics, over 30 million Americans suffer from hearing loss. You have to agree, this number is very surprising, but hearing is a very important function of our body.
Its loss leads to serious life difficulties (loss of communication with people, difficulty in orientation, etc.), and sometimes to the development of psychological disorders.
The ability to hear external sounds is very important for every person. Fortunately, special devices exist today that restore lost capabilities. Hearing aids have helped many Americans who have lost their hearing to lead fulfilling and happy lives. So how do you choose the right model among the wide variety of hearing aids?
What should you look for when choosing a hearing aid?
The first step in recovering from hearing loss is consulting with a hearing care professional. Remember that only an experienced audiologist should be able to fit your hearing aid. Don’t do it yourself! The audiologist will give you several options for hearing aids that work specificly for your needs. And you, in turn, will be able to choose between the price category of the model, its design and specifications.
The device selection process consists of several stages:
Consultation with an audiologist
Carrying out diagnostics for assessment of hearing aid needs
Setting individually selected settings for the device
Adaptation to the use of a hearing aid
Getting to know the operation of the device and corresponding corrections
After going through these stages, you’ll regain your lost capabilities and return to a fulfilling and happy life. What could be better than hearing the voices of your family and friends again? In addition, the right device can help relieve stress and increase comfort while using it. There are several key points to hearing aid fitting. An experienced audiologist will make sure to take them into account when choosing the right device for you.
Degree of hearing loss
It’s the main criterion when choosing the right style of hearing aids. It depends on the model and power of the device whether you will be able to hear properly. The audiologist uses special audiometric equipment to determine the degree of the problem. Hearing test results show a complete picture of the development of the problem and help you choose the most suitable model for you.
It is important to understand that the degree of hearing loss is different for each person and the right diagnosis is very important. In addition, it’s important to have the right audiogram (examination result) in hand, so that the specialist will be able to adjust the digital hearing aids accordingly.
Our leading audiologist, Dr. Zhanneta Shapiro notes that the lifestyle that you lead when choosing one or another style of model is important. An experienced specialist will definitely ask you about this. Where and with whom you work, how often you communicate on the phone, your hobbies – you should inform your specialist about everything.
Although the stigma of hearing loss has come a long way, most Americans are still reluctant to flaunt their hearing devices and tend to opt for smaller hearing devices that blend in with their hair or skin color. This is especially true for young people.
Hearing aids will always be with you and this important point should be considered for more comfortable use of the device. For example, if you are into active sports, then the in the canal (ITC) or completely in the canal (CIC) model is better for you. If your job involves group phone calls, an audiologist will recommend the appropriate hearing aid and assistive listening devices to make it easier for you.
As I wrote earlier, hearing aids are selected individually, so the audiologist will select the device for you as accurately as possible. You will not experience any discomfort while using it.
What about additional features?
A hearing care professional will select several devices for you, taking into account the degree of the problem and lifestyle. It’s time to choose the color, additional features, and other customizable device characteristics.
Volume control. The function helps to adjust the gain for more comfortable use of the device
Noise suppression. The technology provides suppression of background noise, which allows you to better perceive external sounds and speech of the speaker
Switching programs. The function allows you to switch settings for each of the acoustic situations – noisy company, talking on the phone, watching TV. It can be performed using buttons on the hearing aid, remote control or through the smartphone.
Directional microphones. They amplify sounds coming from in front of you in relation to sounds coming from behind you, which improves your orientation in space
Bluetooth connection. You can easily pair your hearing aid with a smartphone, TV, etc. Thus, it will be very convenient for you to receive a call automatically in the hearing aid, without the need to use your device for this
Rechargeable batteries. Hearing aids with a rechargeable battery do not require battery replacement. Just put them in the charger before bed and that’s it
Remote control. The feature allows you to adjust settings such as volume without removing your hearing aids
The technology allows the use of hearing aids in conjunction with applications and accessories
I have listed the most popular additional functions that patients prefer. But technology does not stand still and manufacturers create more and more advanced models with new useful functions.
It is important to understand that not all advanced features are compatible with every hearing aid. You should keep this in mind when finalizing hearing aid fitting.
Have you used hearing aids before?
If you’ve used hearing aids before, choosing a new model will be easier. You already have experience in wearing devices and know exactly what you want to get from new models. Just let the doctor know about your wishes for a successful hearing aid fitting. Together with a specialist, you’ll select the model that best suits your requirements.
A lot depends on your decision when choosing a hearing aid: the comfort of use, habituation time, speech intelligibility, etc. Therefore, you should carefully look into each of the factors and examine all points in detail when comparing different devices.
Testing and initial hearing aid programming
Have you chosen the model you like? Then be sure to try this hearing aid on. If you liked several models, try them all. Assess speech intelligibility and listening comfort during fitting. Tell the specialist about all the sensations.
Particular attention should be paid to configuring the device. Hearing aids can be non-programmable and programmable. The former have manual settings. The work of the latter is built using a special program. They have one very important advantage – high accuracy of tuning in accordance with your individual characteristics. With proper programming, you’ll get the best out of your device. Therefore, initial hearing aid programming is a very important stage before the full use of the device.
In addition, the audiologist can quickly make changes to the already preset parameters. Using the modern TeleAudiology system, a specialist can do this remotely. It’s especially true for people who are sedentary or traveling. Are further adjustments required? Yes, almost no hearing aid fitting is complete without it.
First experience of using hearing aids
The hearing aid restores the ability to hear sounds that a person has lost even over the years. Many of them will be new and unusual. Therefore, putting on the device for the first time, you should be prepared for a variety of sounds, some of which have even been erased from your memory. At the same time, it is important to understand that each person gets used to new abilities individually.
One of the key points after choosing a hearing aid is adapting to it. It takes some time to get used to the device. This usually occurs between 2 and 6 months. What should you pay special attention to during this period?
Perception of external sounds (own voice, speech, sounds of the environment, music, etc.)
There should be no extraneous noise in the operation of the device
Speech intelligibility in various situations (noisy environment, concert, silence, etc.)
Perception of danger signals
Comfortable fit of the device and its daily work
Thus, the main goal of the adaptation period is to get used to the device. After all, it should become part of your usual way of life. You should inform the audiologist about any inconveniences or problems. Based on this, the doctor will make appropriate adjustments to the settings of the device.
A hearing aid is an indispensable device for many Americans. Its role in the lives of such people is undeniable. Therefore, it is very important to choose the right hearing aid, taking into account all the individual characteristics of the patient. Audiology Island has been helping people choose hearing aids for many years.
Modern technologies and extensive experience allow us to do our work quickly and efficiently. Your happy smiles and the opportunity to hear the voice of your loved ones again, are our best reward!
About Dr Zhanneta Shapiro
Dr Zhanneta Shapiro received her Masters of Science from Brooklyn College in 2005 and completed her Doctorate of Audiology from Florida University in May 2008. Her graduate training was in various hospitals in the tri-state area and a residency period completed at Ear Nose and Throat Associates of New York. [ Learn More ]