Compare hearing aids

Compare hearing aids

Hearing loss affects around one in six Australians and while hearing aids won’t restore hearing, they can provide an effective hearing loss treatment. Despite this, many Australians who own hearing aids don’t wear them. This could be down to the perception that wearing a hearing aid can make you appear older. But for many people, it’s because their hearing aids are not fitted correctly or don’t have the right features for their specific needs.

Comparing hearing aids before you buy them will help to ensure that your new hearing aids suit your hearing needs while also containing the features you want.

Types of hearing aids

There are many brands and styles of hearing aids available to choose from. It’s a good idea to start by comparing the four main types of hearing aids and select the type of hearing aid that will both treat your hearing loss and meet your cosmetic needs. The four main types of hearing aid are:

Behind the ear (BTE)

Behind-the-ear (BTE) hearing aids are perhaps the most recognisable type of hearing aid. Worn behind the ear, they are the largest type of hearing aid, relatively easy to maintain and suitable for all types of hearing loss. They contain a case which houses the processor, microphone, amplifier and battery. This case sits behind the ear and is connected to an earmold which sits in the ear canal. BTE hearing aids offer several features such as rechargeable batteries and directional microphones.

Receiver-in-canal (RIC) hearing aids

Receiver-in-canal (RIC) hearing aids are a type of BTE hearing aid only smaller and use a wire to connect the main part of the hearing aid to a soft tip that sits inside your ear canal. The RIC hearing aid’s receiver, which acts as the hearing aid’s loudspeaker, is at the end of the wire positioned near the eardrum. This enables the hearing aid to produce a high-quality sound without minimal transmission loss.

In-the-ear (ITE) hearing aids

In-the-ear (ITE) hearing aids are worn in the ear. The battery, microphone, processor and receiver are housed together in one unit. Its hard plastic case is custom-made to fit your ear.

In-the-canal (ITC) hearing aids

In-the-canal (ITC) hearing aids are custom made to fit inside the ear canal. Only the outer case and control buttons are visible. While ITC hearing aids are extremely discreet, their small size restricts the number of functions available.

Invisible-in-the-canal (IIC) hearing aids are also available and these are the smallest type of hearing aid. They fit entirely inside the ear canal and are almost invisible.

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Comfort and performance

The most crucial aspect of choosing your hearing aids is how well the hearing aids improve your hearing. Once that has been determined, comfort is your next major consideration. You will ideally be wearing your hearing aids all day, every day. They, therefore, need to be comfortable and fit correctly. Otherwise, you will be less likely to use them.

Hearing aid features

If you are happy with the feel and performance of a hearing aid, the next step is to explore the additional features the hearing aid can offer. While a hearing aid can improve your hearing, certain features can make life with hearing aids even better. However, you should focus on choosing a hearing aid with features that you will use. After all, there’s simply no point paying extra for features you won’t use.

How to compare hearing aids

The only way to really compare hearing aids is to try them on. Most hearing care professionals will have demonstration models you can try, even at home. A good way to compare hearing aids is to:

  • Listen to the voice of a friend or family member
  • Play with the hearing aid controls
  • Try opening the battery compartment
  • Use the hearing aid with your phone
  • Find out about accessories

Listen to the voice of friends or family members

A useful way to compare hearing aids is by using them to listen to the voices of your friends or family members. While you may be very familiar with their voices, once you begin wearing hearing aids you may find that their voice sounds quite different and louder than before. This is because the hearing aid microphone is picking up their voice and transmitting it through the hearing aid’s speakers. Ask them to repeat the same phrase or sentence several times to enable you to pick up on the level of consistency. This will let you compare how each hearing aid changes the sounds around you and which you are most comfortable with listening to.

Play with the hearing controls

Hearing aids have evolved from having multiple buttons to now just having one single button. You don’t even have to worry about changing the volume levels as the hearing aid technology will do this all for you. With most hearing aids today, you can control their settings and features by using apps on your phone. Spend some time exploring these apps to see how easy they are to use and how effective they are at controlling your hearing aids. Try adjusting the settings to see what a difference it makes to the sounds you hear. If you can, try taking spending some time outside while wearing the hearing aids to see how outside noises such as wind and traffic now affects the performance of the hearing aid.

Try opening the battery compartment

How often you need to change hearing aid batteries will largely depend on how often you use the device. However, it’s common for hearing aid batteries to require changing every 5 to 7 days. Find out how long the batteries will last before they need replacing and how much the batteries cost. It’s worth knowing whether the hearing aid you have chosen will require you to replace the batteries more often than others or whether their batteries are particularly expensive.

If you have opted for a smaller hearing aid, then you may find it more difficult to replace the batteries. If you have any problems with dexterity or your vision, then you may wish to choose a larger hearing id style or one that has built-in rechargeable batteries.

Use the hearing aid with your phone

You will likely find that using a hearing aid will change the way you use your phone. You may have to hold the phone at a different angle, particularly if you have chosen a behind-the-ear style hearing aid. See how you get on with this by making a phone call which will let you see just how well the hearing aid can pick up the sounds from the phone and whether it gives you any feedback.

Find out about accessories

Hearing aid accessories are much more than just nice extras to have. They are very important to maintaining your hearing aid and keeping it in the best possible condition. These accessories may not influence your final decision when it comes to which hearing aid you choose, but it’s important to know what is available. Any hearing aid you buy should have certain accessories that come with it as standard. These include accessories that protect microphones from earwax, cleaning the hearing aids and helping to dry out your hearing aids overnight.

Take your hearing aids on a trial run

The key to comparing hearing aids is to wear them and try them for a few days. If you are offered a trial period by your hearing care professional then make sure you take advantage of this offer. It can take a little time to adjust to hearing with a hearing aid. That’s why taking them home for a short while can be so beneficial. It will help you to determine whether you have chosen the right model and style of hearing aid and whether there are any additional features that you will use.

When you first hear with a hearing aid, sounds may appear louder than you expect. This may feel strange initially, but you should soon adapt to the new heightened sounds. You may have been experiencing hearing loss for longer than you realised and hadn’t noticed the sounds you were missing out on. Using hearing aids will bring all those sounds back to you which could feel a little overwhelming at first. But you will soon get used to it and before long will be enjoying the world of sounds around you.

Hearing aid comparison checklist

Hearing aids are an important investment both financially and for your hearing health. Before you decide on which hearings aids will be the ones you choose, there are 10 questions to ask to help you compare hearing aids:

  1. Are the hearing aids water-resistant?
  2. What warranty comes with the hearing aid?
  3. What’s the lifespan of the hearing aids?
  4. How should I clean the hearing aids?
  5. What extra features are available with this hearing aid?
  6. What type of batteries are required and how long will they last?
  7. How much do replacement batteries cost?
  8. How hard-wearing is this hearing aid?
  9. Is there any finance available with this hearing aid?
  10. Will the hearing aid needs professional cleaning or returning in the future and what’s the cost for this?

Whatever your degree of hearing loss and lifestyle needs, by taking the time to compare hearing aids you will be able to find the best hearing aids for you.

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