Hints for First-Time Hearing Aid Purchasers

The selection and purchase of a first hearing aid can be an overwhelming task for anyone. Consumer Reports published a comparative report on hearing aids after following over a dozen people for six months while purchasing their first hearing aids. After six months the disappointing results were in: these first-time hearing aid owners were left with ill-fitting hearing aids with volumes either too loud or too soft. Prices varied widely, and the people selling them did not always provide the kinds of information the shoppers needed. That said, there are tips that can help you when shopping for your first hearing aid, and in this article we’ll cover a few of them. However, we can’t cover all the information you need to make this important decision in this article so please have a read through Your Guide to Buying Hearing Aids – a useful in-depth decision making tool provided by The Better Hearing Institute (BHI). It is an article provided by a non-profit corporation called the Better Hearing Institute (BHI), which provides educational materials about hearing loss and how to correct it. In addition to their suggestions, here are ours:

Consult a professional hearing specialist

Make an appointment to see one of our audiology specialists or any other certified hearing specialist in your area. You can be best prepared for your appointment by reviewing the BHI guidelines beforehand. Those guidelines will help you to know what to expect, and what types of questions to ask.

Determine which type of hearing aid you need

Your certified hearing specialist will help you determine which hearing aid is best for you. During your examination in Step 1 they will conduct an examination and hearing tests to diagnose the type and severity of any hearing loss. Settling on the perfect hearing aid for you will take into account the type of hearing loss you are experiencing as well as your budget.

Do your homework

Once you know which type of aid is bested suited for you, go to the Internet. You should be looking for user reviews of the units’ reliability and comfort, price comparisons, and reports on the frequency of problems encountered with them.

Find a reliable vendor

This vendor may be your hearing specialist from Step 1 or someone they referred you to. Your hearing aid vendor should be trained and equipped to make molds of your ears to fit your hearing aid properly. While it is possible to buy hearing aids on the Internet, this is not recommended because most models have to be custom-fitted.

Make sure the aids fit and work properly

This should be done before walking out the door after your first fitting, and the vendor you select should support this. The vendor should also provide free follow-up sessions to fine-tune either the fit or the performance of the hearing aids, and should be willing to offer you a “satisfaction guaranteed” warranty when purchasing them.

We are here to help you as you make the purchase of your first hearing aid and we wish you good luck on this exciting journey to better hearing!

A Look at the Digital Noise Reduction Feature Available in Some Hearing Aids

Noise is a fact of modern life. From busy stadiums to restaurants to the subway, noise is everywhere and can become overpowering at times. The problem becomes worse for people with hearing aids, which can make it nearly impossible to pick out wanted sounds from the surrounding noise. Fortunately, many newer hearing devices are incorporating a digital noise reduction feature, a type of technology that helps block out unwanted sounds so you can focus on the things you want to hear.

Conversational speech and meaningless noise follow different sound patterns, which digital noise reduction technology is able to pick up on. In quiet environments, picking up the sounds of speech is easy because they are the primary sounds in the room. Likewise, if you are listening to someone in a crowded room, your device understands that there noise present. If the device picks up on noise that may impact your ability to hear someone speaking, it automatically turns down the volume in the noisier channels.

Don’t expect that all background noise will be eliminated. No hearing aid can do that. However, the digital noise reduction feature does help improve communications quite a lot in noisy areas. The general consensus among hearing aid wearers with this technology is that speech sounds better and background noise is less overpowering.

Digital noise reduction devices are most effective at eliminating background noise that stays at a constant level. While digital noise reduction may not be completely effective in reducing the impact of loud music or nearby conversation, it can greatly reduce steady sounds such as an air conditioner or a motor.

To make the most out of the digital noise reduction feature in your hearing aid, you might want to consider taking some common sense steps to reduce the noise around you. For example, if you find yourself in a noisy part of a restaurant, ask to be seated somewhere that isn’t quite as hectic.

Digital noise reduction technology is not perfect, but it can go a long way in helping to counteract the unwanted noise you encounter in your day to day life.

Directional Microphones are Available in Certain Digital Hearing Aids – Key Points to Know

Hearing aids are marvels of advanced technology, and they keep getting better. As hearing aid technology develops, new features provide better hearing. The directional microphone is one of these new features. This device allows its users to have a more natural listening experience, making it a popular addition to many modern hearing aids.

Older hearing aids relied on omnidirectional microphones to amplify sound. This type of microphone picks up on sounds from all directions equally. When used in a quiet setting (such as in the home), an omnidirectional microphone works quite well, but it is not as effective in noisy environments. Directional microphones make up for this by focusing on sounds that come from in front of the wearer. Users can focus more clearly on what the people in front of them are saying, rather than being distracted by background noise.

Because both types of microphones have their own advantages, many hearing aid designers will incorporate both into their devices. Directional microphone usage varies from hearing aid to hearing aid. Some devices utilize a small switch that allows the user to manually flip between microphones. Other hearing aids can automatically determine which method is most effective and switch itself to the optimum microphone.

A third type of hearing aid microphone is the adaptive directional microphone. Instead of focusing in the front or all around, this type of microphone can pick up on the direction that speech signals are coming from and focus its amplification accordingly. If the wearer is in an environment where many people are speaking, adaptive microphones can be troublesome, but they are usually accompanied by a switch that allows the user to access a “forward only” listening mode.

Directional microphones are included in hearing aids for all ages, but caution must be applied when this feature is used by children. Because kids develop much of their language skills from listening to the people around them, a directional microphone may cause them to miss out on an important developmental experience. It may also reduce a child’s ability to hear traffic while playing. Parents should be sure that their child’s directional microphone is only turned on in appropriate situations.

The advantages of the directional microphone outweigh its flaws, allowing it to dramatically increase its wearer’s ability to hear.

Things to Know If You’re Considering Completely-in-Canal (CIC) Hearing Aids

Completely-in-canal (CIC) hearing aids are the smallest of all the hearing aid options. They are designed for people with mild to moderately-severe cases of hearing loss and are different than other options because they are custom fitted to the inside of your ear canal. CIC hearing aids offer several pros for the wearer, as well as a couple of cons that you should be aware of before getting one.

Advantages – This type of hearing aid is small and comfortable, which provides both cosmetic and listening benefits to the wearer.Due to the lack of bulk, these devices work automatically without the need for controllers and other people may not ever notice that you’re wearing a CIC unless they peer directly into your ear canal.They may be more comfortable to wear due to their custom fitting. You can wear some CIC brands around the clock for up to several months at a time, so there is no need to insert and remove it every morning and night. Hearing aid models that must be removed daily have a convenient pull-out string that lies inconspicuously outside the ear. It generally doesn’t get in the way of the telephone receiver and, because it is housed inside your ear canal, your outer ear is able to keep out wind noise. Additionally, the natural anatomy of the ear helps guide sound to the instrument, which improves the directionality of the sound.

Disadvantages – Because the completely-in-canal hearing aids are small, they are generally less powerful and go through batteries faster than larger ones. They are generally the more expensive option because they are custom fitted to the wearer’s ear. You will also be limited to omnidirectional sound, meaning you will experience all sound as if it’s right in front of you. Moreover, CICs are not powerful enough for people with major hearing loss.

Are Open Fit Hearing Aids Right for You? Read About the Benefits and Drawbacks

Finding the hearing aid that is best for you or your loved one can seem intimidating, especially considering the variety of hearing aid options available.This article explains more about open fit hearing aids, a style that has been rapidly growing in popularity among those with hearing loss.

Open fit hearing aids have many similarities with behind-the-ear devices. The visible similarities include the plastic case that rests behind the ear and the small tube that connects to the ear canal. However, the case and the tube on the open fit hearing aids are substantially smaller than on behind-the-ear hearing aids.The factor that differentiates open fit hearing aids from the rest is that their design allows the ear to stay ventilated. This allows low frequency sounds to enter the ear without additional amplification. This offers a more comfortable and natural experience to those with mild to moderate hearing loss that are able to hear low frequency sounds without amplification. For the wearer, this means that distracting sounds such as your own chewing or coughing are not amplified resulting in greater comfort and satisfaction.

The smaller size of the open fit hearing aid is another advantage. Many users are able to disguise these devices, making them a favorite among listeners who are self-conscious about having to use a hearing aid.

Individuals with severe hearing loss are not good candidates for the open fit hearing aids. At high levels of amplification (required for individuals with severe hearing losses) the open fit devices often suffer from feedback noise. The hearing aid’s small size can also work against it, as people who do not have fine motor skills often find it difficult to operate such a small device. Because of its small size, this device uses very small batteries, potentially making regular changes or recharges necessary.

Open fit hearing aids may have their flaws, but they are still a great choice for many users. Consider your own preferences and talk to your hearing professional to determine if this type of device may be right for you.

Deciding upon the Ideal Hearing Aid Design for a Child

It’s an unfortunate reality that many young children experience loss of hearing, but with the most suitable type of hearing aid this does not have to slow them down. On the other hand, the sheer quantity of hearing aid designs and options to choose from can certainly make deciding on the right one challenging for most parents. There are some styles that are more appropriate for youngsters than others, so continue reading to explore what type may work best for your child.

There are two main styles of hearing aids that work well for children: In-the-ear (ITE) and behind-the-ear (BTE). Unlike adults, children are continuously growing and developing, making regular hearing aid adjustment critical. ITE and behind-the-ear type hearing aids are often selected for children since they are most easy to fine-tune. Fitted to the child’s outer ear, ITE hearing aids are small devices in plastic cases. Additional solutions including telecoil can be built into this type of product. BTE hearing aids tend to be more identifiable because of their plastic case that sits behind the ear. A little piece of tubing joins the case to an earmold that rests in the outer ear. Both styles of devices can address an array of hearing issues.

Hearing aid selection is often more difficult if your child suffers other medical conditions. As an example, behind-the-ear hearing aids might not fit appropriately on children whose ears are misshapen. For some children, a very shallow ear canal might not present enough space to allow for in-the-ear hearing aids. Children with an extreme build-up of ear wax may not be good candidates for ITE devices given that it can interfere with the device performance.

Meeting with your child’s hearing specialist is a vital step in selecting a hearing aid for your child. He or she will lead you through your selections and make recommendations determined by your child’s unique situation. Learning about your role in optimizing your child’s hearing can also be given by your specialist. Removing, inserting, or fine-tuning the volume of your child’s hearing aids to ensure they are comfortable may be your responsibility if your child is young.

While finding the right hearing aid can be confusing and discouraging, with time and research you will find the perfect product for your child.

What Are Behind the Ear Model Hearing Aids and How Do BTEs Perform Versus Other Types?

When the time comes to select a new hearing aid, you will discover that there are many types and styles to choose from. One of the most common types is the behind-the-ear (BTE) hearing aid, which as with any other product has specific pros and cons. If you are serious about investing in hearing aids for yourself or for a loved one, the information in this brief article may help you determine if this type of hearing aid might be a good choice.

The appearance of BTE hearing aids makes them easier to spot than most other types. Their most visible characteristic is a rounded plastic case that sits behind the ear and attaches to a component placed within the ear via a thin plastic tube. The case portion of the instrument is the hearing aid itself. This section (typically called the case) holds all the batteries and electronics that allow the hearing aid to work, and also the buttons that allow the user to select features and programs. The part that is found inside the ear is called the ear mold. Ear molds are meticulously tailored for each individual user, making them a comfortable way to transmit sounds from the case to the ear canal.

There are a number of advantages associated with using a BTE hearing aid. Because this type of device is bigger than other styles, it fits larger batteries, enabling stronger amplification and more time between charges. More space also allows for extra features, including telecoil, directional microphones and Bluetooth. BTE hearing aids tend to be easier to handle compared to their smaller cousins, making battery replacement and cleaning less difficult.

Aesthetics are one of the most reported downsides to BTE hearing aids. It is extremely tough to disguise the fact that you’re wearing a hearing aid if you decide on a BTE. Users who are sensitive about the appearance can pick cases which complement their skin coloration to help them blend in. This type of hearing aid is also more vulnerable to noise from wind, however many units have features that help counteract this problem.

If it sounds like the advantages of a behind-the-ear hearing aid outnumber its disadvantages, you may have found the ideal to suit your needs. Think about talking to your hearing care specialist to find out more.

Buyer’s Guide to Bluetooth Technology in Modern Hearing Aids

If you’ve bought a new hearing aid in the last few years, there is a chance that it has Bluetooth capability. Although Bluetooth might be most familiar to you as the technology that enables hands-free calling on your cell phone, it has become a capability on many consumer products over the past few years, including televisions, home phones, computers and mp3 players. When your hearing aid is equipped with Bluetooth, you can interact with these devices in novel and practical ways, allowing you to enjoy better hearing.

If your hearing aid comes with Bluetooth technology, its likely that it arrived with a small external device that allows you to access its functions. Generally these devices–often called controllers–are designed to be placed in a pocket or worn around the user’s neck. The controller is used to wirelessly receive sounds from Bluetooth enabled devices and transmit them to your hearing aid. This means no more having to turn up the volume on your television, cellphone or other Bluetooth-compatible devices, because you can have the sound signals sent directly to your hearing aids. You’ll be able to hear your phone conversations in both ears rather than just one, further improving your ability to hear.

Controllers for Bluetooth-enabled hearing aids are made to be simple to use. Most controllers detect Bluetooth signals at the push of a button. For example, if you want to listen to your telephone through your hearing aid, simply push the phone button to access it. Many manufacturers incorporate other functions in these controllers, letting you access many other benefits through this one device.

Hearing aids with a Bluetooth feature can help keep older people with mobility challenges comfortable and safe. Some of the newer models allow the wearer to place telephone calls up to 30 feet away from the phone, providing easy communication without needing to move to the phone. This ease of access may be lifesaving in case of an emergency.

Deciding to purchase a hearing aid with Bluetooth capabilities allows you to enjoy a crisp, clear listening experience which is difficult to achieve through any other means. This straightforward technology can drastically improve your hearing, allowing you to appreciate encounters that may have once been out of reach.

Essential List of Hearing Aid Types and Acronyms

Shopping for hearing aids can be difficult if you are not familiar with the many abbreviations used to describe common styles. This collection includes the majority of the acronyms you’ll come across when looking for hearing aids and presents a short explanation of each. The ideal approach to truly understand the differences is to see them in real life, therefore if some of these descriptions are not clear, you should contact us to visit and check out the various types.

What follows is a list from smallest to largest of standard hearing aid styles

  • Invisible in Canal (IIC) – The IIC type of hearing aid fits fully inside the ear canal and is fully invisible from the outside. Invisible-in-Canal types are generally not suggested for the elderly, yet are an excellent choice in middle age.
  • Completely in Canal (CIC) – Appropriate for mild to moderate hearing losses, the CIC design fits inside the ear canal making it nearly invisible. Because of its small size, the CIC design may have fewer features. For example, the Completely in Canal style doesn’t have space for directional microphones.
  • In the Canal (ITC) – Appropriate for mild to moderately-severe hearing losses, the ITC design is a compact hearing aid which fits inside the ear canal and is visible from the outside. Because it is slightly larger than the models which fit deeper in the ear canal, directional microphones are possible with the In-the-Canal style.
  • In the Ear (ITE) – Suitable for mild to severe hearing losses, the ITE design of hearing aid is a good choice for numerous hearing losses and is very easy to handle. The ITE is visible inside the ear, but its greater size offers more features, additional power and a superior battery life.
  • Half Shell (HS) – Appropriate for mild to severe hearing losses, the Half Shell is a custom molded hearing aid that fits inside the ear canal and is partially visiblefrom the outside. Being somewhat larger than the styles which fit further into in the ear canal, added benefits such as directional microphones are feasible with the Half Shell style.
  • Receiver In the Ear (RITE) or (RIE) – Appropriate for mild to moderately-severe hearing losses, the Receiver In the Ear design is the smallest among the hearing aids work externally. The Receiver In the Ear type combines a tiny case that fits behind the ear and a receiver placed inside the ear connected by a flexible tube. The ear canal stays open for natural sound quality.
  • Open Ear / Open Fit – Appropriate for mild to moderately-severe hearing losses, the Open Ear (also called Open Fit) model combines an exterior hearing aid case that rests behind the ear and a clear tube inserted into the ear. The Open Ear/Open Fit design leaves the ear canal open for natural sound quality and is available in various colors.
  • Behind the Ear (BTE) – Appropriate for mild to severe hearing losses, the BTE hearing aid’s larger case allows for many advanced features and is a superior choice for anybody with poor finger dexeterity. All of the component parts are inside the external case which is worn behind the ear. BTE hearing aids come in many colors. This design is often chosen for young children for growth and safety reasons.

Can Lower Cost Personal Sound Amplifiers Substitute for Hearing Aids?

Have you noticed advertisements for inexpensive personal sound amplifiers (PSAs) on television or in magazines lately? These advertisements are contributing to confusion about the difference between hearing aids and personal sound amplifiers. The reason you don’t see very many ads for hearing aids is because they are medical devices, supervised by the Food & Drug Administration, and therefore not available for purchase without a prescription from a properly licensed doctor, hearing instrument specialist or audiologist. Hearing aids are for individuals with hearing loss ranging from modest to extensive. They are adjusted for each individual to precisely address their distinctive hearing loss as determined by the audiologist or hearing aid dispenser.

Personal sound amplifiers also increase the volume of the sounds you hear, but they are intended to do this for individuals with normal hearing. Some personal sound amplifiers look very much like hearing aids, but they aren’t; the only thing that they do is take in sound and increase its volume. PSAs are not capable of correcting the subtle types of problems that hearing-impaired individuals have.

The low price of personal sound amplifiers (under $100, in contrast to thousands of dollars for hearing aids) may make them sound appealing to people on a tight budget. The vast variation in price is one good reason the Food & Drug Administration has gotten involved developing information campaigns and websites to make sure that buyers understand the distinction. Their guidance is straightforward: if you’re having trouble hearing sounds at what other people consider normal volumes, have your hearing tested by a professional audiologist or hearing instrument specialist before you think about buying a personal sound amplifier. Using a PSA when you actually need a hearing aid has many disadvantages. First it might delay proper evaluation and management of your hearing condition. Second, it may further hurt your hearing if the PSA is used at very high volumes.

So, before you make any final decision about buying a device to help your hearing, see your audiologist. Some hearing problems (say for example a blockage of the ear canals caused by a ear wax accumulation) can be corrected in one office visit. Other varieties of hearing impairment may be more serious or even permanent, but they too can be effectively treated using good quality hearing aids that have been correctly prescribed and adjusted. A hearing instrument specialist or audiologist can pinpoint the root cause of your problem. In certain scenarios you won’t need a hearing aid or a PSA.

After a hearing exam, if your hearing is determined to be normal, you may choose a PSA if you still have trouble with particular sounds. When looking for one, read the device’s specifications, and only consider those that satisfactorily amplify sounds in the range of human speech (between 1000 to 2000 Hz). Additionally, don’t purchase any PSAs that don’t include volume controls and electronically-enforced volume limits that don’t allow their volume levels to surpass 135 decibels. There is a place for PSAs in the marketplace when used by the right individuals. They can be helpful for individuals with normal hearing to hear faraway or faint sounds better. They simply should not be confused with genuine hearing aids, or be used as an alternative to them by people with true hearing loss.

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