How to Choose a Hearing Aid
Decisions regarding which type of device is most appropriate for you may need to be based on a variety of clinical and personal factors.
Some people want their instruments to be as stylish and discreet as possible, some want to have the maximum speech clarity. Others would like theirs to be easy to use and simple to maintain.
Either way, your audiologist, after looking at your clinical needs and personal preferences, will be able to recommend the best hearing aids Australia has to offer and help you make the right choice.
The nature and severity of your hearing loss will play a large role in determining what is ultimately recommended. If, for example, you have severe hearing loss, a Behind-the-Ear (BTE) instrument might be the most appropriate choice, as it can provide more powerful amplification. This style may also minimize the likelihood of feedback (whistling).
Individuals who have hearing loss at certain frequencies (those who hear the low frequencies reasonably better, but have a high-frequency hearing loss) may be better served by devices that cause less occlusion problems.
Your audiologist will examine you to determine the exact degree and type of your hearing issue. They can help you understand your unique loss characteristics, and explain the models that would best suit your hearing needs.
Today’s technology has reduced the size and improved performance. Sound quality and performance, in different listening situations, depends on the level of technology used. Some of the most sophisticated instruments today are digital, running on powerful computer microchips to provide the best possible sound quality. They may come with several bands, multiple programs, directional or multiple microphones, and/or other features that control the feedback or cut the background noise.
Although all these advances can improve sound quality, hearing comfort and provide greater flexibility, not every technological advancement benefits every individual. Your audiologist will be able to help you assess the level of sophistication you need based on your unique requirements.
What are the things you do that are most affected by hearing loss? What are the things, if any, that you’re not able to do because of a hearing loss? You need to define the situations where you would like to improve your hearing and set priorities. Your audiologist requires this in order to help you find a hearing device that fulfils most of your needs. It also helps them to choose and suggest the level of technology and the necessary device features.
Size and shape of your external ears
The size and shape of the ear canals and earlobes vary from person to person and can affect the selection of your instrument. The shape and size of the outer ear and ear canal can make it difficult for some people to wear particular styles. For example, if your canal is extremely narrow or if you have deformities such as exostosis in your ear canals you may not be a good candidate for Completely In The Canal (CIC) or even for In The Canal (ITC) options. On the other hand, deformed earlobes may not allow for wearing of BTE styles. Your audiologist will help determine which options are appropriate for you.
Personal factors & Cosmetic Appearance
Many people may be concerned about appearance, and it’s wise to remember that others will be far less aware of your device than you. Most models are quite discreet. They come in a variety of sizes, from almost invisible, completely-in-the-canal models to those that fit behind the ear. Either way, your audiologist can help you find the style that suits you the best.
Your hairstyle and the size and shape of your ears will also affect the impact of your device/s on your appearance.
The smaller the instrument, the smaller the controls and batteries. So if your eyes are not what they used to be, if you have shaky hands, or if your fingers cannot cope with adjusting small controls, you will find a larger instrument easier to handle. Alternatively, some new instruments adjust automatically or via remote control. Your audiologist will advise you on the most suitable option for you.
Binaural or Monaural
Two ears are always better than one. If you have hearing loss in both ears, you need to consider wearing two devices. Not because they make things twice as loud, but because, by mimicking the natural hearing process they help you determine where the sounds are coming from, and to distinguish between competing sounds more easily. This makes it easier to understand what people are saying in noisy situations.
Binaural models give you improved overall sound quality, balanced hearing and listening ease. On the other hand, if you wear just one device, the un-amplified ear may lose its ability to hear, analyze and understand speech as a result of auditory deprivation.
Other audiological factors, which influence device selection, are: risk of acoustic feedback (whistling), past history of wax build up in the ear, and the clinical need for ventilation (in patients who are prone or have an ear infection).
The finance issue
Better hearing means a better quality of life, therefore, purchasing should be considered an investment in yourself and your quality of life.
Devices come in different price ranges, from several hundred to a few thousand dollars. Typically, costs reflect the amount of research and development that has gone into the product as well as the quality of the components, with the smallest, most technologically advanced aids at the higher end of the pricing spectrum. No matter what your budget is, you should be able to find a model that meets your hearing requirements.
As a government-accredited provider, Ear & Hearing Australia provides FREE standard hearing solutions to eligible pensioners and veterans. If you decide to “top-up” and be fitted with a more advanced model, you will only pay the gap.
If you have an established WorkCover claim for your hearing loss, you could be entitled to be fitted with an advanced device required for your hearing loss at NO COST. Ear & Hearing Australia is a WorkCover-accredited provider and therefore can provide the best solution to meet your needs.
There are additional benefits if you have private health cover, talk to one of our audiologists or your private health insurance to find out more information. In addition, Ear & Hearing Australia offer interest-free payment plans to approved customers.
Remember to explore all your entitlements together with your audiologist before making your final decision.
Talk to an Audiologist
Speak to one of our Audiologists to find out if you benefit from hearing aids. Book a free 15-minute Audiological phone consultation.