How to Choose a Hearing Aid

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Hearing aids and hearing devices may not make your hearing perfect. But, they can make a big difference in your life by helping you to hear better.

First thing to know is that there is a law that requires all caregivers to do a hearing exam on you within 6 months before you buy hearing aids. You have the right to refuse this testing. But, you will have to sign a paper in the hearing aid store asserting that you know the hearing test is recommended. In the long run, it is better to have the test. Generally, the test will be free if you look around your area.

After you have been tested by a qualified hearing professional, and ruled out other possible causes for your hearing loss, you now will have to go through the process of finding the hearing aid that is right for you, and your type of loss.

The hearing professional should talk to you about how hearing loss has effected your life. Also, you will talk about any physical problems you have. This will better help you decide what type of hearing aid best meets your needs and life style. Once all things have been carefully talked about, your hearing professional can suggest a type of hearing aid. Ask questions if you do not understand. If the questions are not being answered to your satisfaction, ask another hearing professional.

Some areas that you should discuss are:

Your ability to do things with your hands. Can you pick up and put the hearing aid in your ear? Can you change the battery?

The shape of your ear, outside and inside. Different aids are better for different shapes.

Amount of wax build-up. If you produce a lot of wax, you will want to discuss the opening size of the hearing aid. You can also discuss the use of a product to clean the hearing aid regularly, or block earwax from getting into the hearing aid.

Your living, work, and play environments. A person living in a moist environment like Seattle will have different concerns than someone living in Arizona. Frequent swimming, or if you work in a dirty environment, you will want to consider this while in the process of picking the correct hearing aid for you.

Regular ear drainage or wetness inside your ears.

Style of hearing aid. There are many different brands, but there are some common, basic styles. Choose the hearing aid that is best suited for your type of hearing loss, listening needs, and personal tastes.

Some of the basic types of hearing aids are:

Body aids – A small sound box fits in your shirt pocket. It has a chord that runs up your neck and is attached to a mold or an earpiece.

Behind the Ear (BTE) – A small plastic case sits behind your ear with tube that goes to a mold in your ear.

Eyeglass aids – This is like a BTE but parts of the hearing aid are built into your eye glass frames. A chord or tube is connected to the mold that goes into your ear.

In the Ear (ITE) – A small plastic case fits into your outer ear.

In the Canal (ITC) – A very small plastic case fits half way into the ear canal and can barely be seen in the outside ear.

Completely in the canal (CIC) – This is a tiny plastic case that fits entirely into the canal and is not seen at all.

Cochlear Implants – A group of tiny wires are surgically placed behind your eardrum. They electrically stimulate the cochleae or primary hearing organ. The wires are connected to a plastic earpiece. A chord attaches this to a sound box worn on your belt or in a pocket.

You will also want to discuss the need for one or two hearing aids. Most people hear best with two hearing aids, which is called binaural. There is less ringing in your ears and less distortion or blurring of sounds. Hearing is also easier in noisy, crowded rooms. You hear in a full circle around you with two hearing aids. With one, you only hear the side your aid is on. Unless your hearing professional tells you otherwise, you should use two hearing aids.

What level of technology you will need in your hearing aid will depend on various factors. This decision is made based on your type of hearing loss, listening needs, personal likes and price.

There is a second part to this article that is available on the Discount Valley Website. Choosing a Hearing Aid – Part 2.

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Author: Piyawut Sutthiruk

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