Reviewed by Dr. Porter on May 11, 2020
There are so many different hearing aid models and feature sets, that there is sure to be one that’s perfect for you. The downside of all the incredible options is that deciding which type is best for you can be difficult. As experienced Pierce County audiologists, we are here to help.
Hearing aids consist of a microphone, speaker and amplifier. As technology advances, digital auditory aids are becoming smaller and smaller, but smaller is not necessarily the best choice for everyone. Here we’ll discuss the different options and how to make the right choice for your needs.
What Brand of Hearing Aid is the Best?
These are some of the latest and best innovations, according to The Senior List:
Oticon: These models have been a longstanding example of outstanding success in the market, boasting improvements in speech understanding, memory recall, and overall reduced listening effort. They boast four full models in three different levels of technology, and are simultaneously developing a partnered application that will utilize machine learning to provide a personalized auditory assistant.
Widex: This line is praised for wonderful sound quality that automatically adapts itself to noise levels in the room or area. This model is available in BTE (behind the ear) and in-ear styles. Another Widex model is iPhone compatible. Widex models offer multiple sound settings so you can adjust the details of the sound, such as bass or treble when listening to music, to suit your taste and needs. The Widex aid “remembers” your preferences.
These are the preferred models favored by Hearing Aid Know:
Phonak: The Phonak devices have been popular for a long time, and have captured the eye of the public through not only their varied designs, from behind the ear to receiver in the ear models, to their full Bluetooth connection to many audio devices. A great deal of these sold out quicker than Phonak even expected, and the Bluetooth connection has been reported to be fantastic in quality.
Starkey: Starkey remains at the forefront of driving change in the audiology industry, and their current devices are no different. Their new Livio AI offers not only a well-developed auditory device, but also active translation into 27 languages, Amazon Alexa connectivity, Fall Detection, Heart Rate Measurement, Voice-to-Text Transcription, and several other personal ease developments.
Of course, when it comes to choosing the ideal device, your personal choice is what truly matters!
How Do I Choose The Right Hearing Aid Design for Me?
To make sure you select the best device for your unique needs, style is a big factor:
CIC – Completely In Canal: Not detectable from outside when worn.
ITC – In The Canal: Barely visible externally, if you look closely.
HS – Half Shell: Curved design, otherwise similar to ITC.
RITE – Receiver In The Ear: A transparent tube hooks over the ear and disappears into the ear canal. Mini-RITEs are also available.
Open – Open ear: Very similar to RITE.
BTE – Behind The Ear: The BTE module is slightly visible and connected to the earpiece by a thin, transparent tube.
Power: High powered device, like BTE with a larger power module, which may be more visible, depending upon the size of your ears.
You may feel at first that the CIC is best due to its small size and hidden position within the ear canal. However, don’t assume you need a hidden model to avoid feeling embarrassed or socially uncomfortable. Other aids, more visible than the CIC, can look similar to earbuds, for music or audiobook listening, or in-ear mobile phone receivers that people use everywhere these days.
Also, note that the controls on the BTE models are somewhat easier to reach and use, compared with the smaller varieties or in-ear models. This is helpful if you need to make adjustments while wearing. BTE may also feel more secure, more likely to stay in place, when wearing.
9 Factors to Consider
The following features are equally important as you decide which option to select:
Size: You may at first feel that the smallest option must be the best for you. However, for practical reasons, you’ll need to choose an aid that is easy for you to handle, insert and adjust controls.
Comfort: It may take a while to get used to a new device or a different shape than you have used before. Make sure the aid you select feels comfortable for long-term use. After all, they do you no good if they remain in your pocket, rather than in your ear.
Lifestyle: Base part of your selection on your lifestyle. Consider how you spend your time, which activities you like to do, such as more active sports, and what type of environments you find yourself in, such as crowds or one-on-one conversations. Your audiologist is familiar with all the latest models and has valuable experience with patients using each type. You’ll get excellent guidance from your audiologist or auditory aid professional.
Power source: Avoid future frustration and look for a device that is simple and quick to charge and/or uses batteries that are easy to replace.
Warranty. Auditory devices are an investment in improving your lifestyle and communication quality with others, so be sure to protect this investment. Be sure to choose a reputable brand with a good warranty.
Service centers: If you travel often, consider choosing a major brand that you can get repaired or replaced more easily from anywhere you might be.
Type of hearing loss: The type and severity of auditory loss you have can affect the type/style of device that’s best for your needs. Your audiologist can best advise you.
Budget: There are auditory devices at a variety of price points, but before setting a strict limit, remember that your health insurance or supplemental insurance may contribute to defraying the cost. Also, keep in mind the importance of good capacity to hear, and how it enhances your quality of life. Good auditory health is crucial to maintain relationships and communicate easily with work colleagues, family, and friends. Look into financing options if necessary to ensure you get the best device for your needs.
Feedback reduction: Some models make an annoying whistling noise. This usually means the device doesn’t fit correctly or is not ideal for use in certain places, or at certain times, like when using the phone. Let your audiologist advise you.
Where to Find the Best Selection of Hearing Aids and Expert Advice in Pierce, Clallam, and Kitsap Counties
As you can see, your choice of variety depends on your detailed personal preferences, as well as advice from a professional.
Learn more about the latest technology and which types might suit you best, reach out to Harbor Audiology & Hearing Services, Inc. We are your trusted local audiologists serving Pierce, Clallam, and Kitsap counties. Contact us today!