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The process of purchasing hearing aids was in the past a lot easier. There were only a small number of styles to select from and they all fundamentally functioned the same way, which was to say not very well.

It wasn’t until digital technology was integrated into the design that hearing aids became practical options for the restoration of hearing. And with digital technology, a multitude of features became available to control a multitude of listening scenarios.

But that’s the tradeoff—simple choices that brought about inadequate results are now difficult choices with a number of options.

But complicated does not mean impossible, and the time invested is well worth the improvement in hearing you can enjoy. It’s also why it’s crucial to partner with a reputable hearing specialist that can walk you through all of the important considerations.

Below are six factors to look for when purchasing hearing aids, in conjunction with the questions to ask your hearing professional.

1. Programmability

Hearing amplification products are not all created equal. In fact, the difference between the cheapest personal sound amplifier and the highest end digital hearing aid is the difference between a Ford Pinto and a Porsche.

Although you may not require the highest end hearing aid model on the market, the principal difference you should be concerned about between a personal amplifier and a hearing aid is programmability.

Hearing aids should be programmed to amplify sounds according to your distinct hearing loss. Otherwise, all sound is amplified evenly and that’s not going to help you hear speech any better than before.

Ask your hearing specialist about programming capability, including pre-programed settings you can use in a variety of circumstances, like at a restaurant as opposed to at home.

2. Style

Hearing aids are available in many sizes and styles, ranging from behind-the-ear to entirely in the ear canal.

You’ll need to balance price, functionality, ease-of-use, and aesthetics when making your decision on hearing aid styles. You’ll also want to work with a hearing professional on this one, as numerous factors should be taken into consideration, including the degree of your hearing loss.

3. Directional microphones

People buy hearing aids for a variety of reasons and to hear a mixture of sounds, but the central reason is to hear and understand speech.

If that’s true for you, you’ll want to inquire about directional microphones in any hearing aid you’re interested in.

Hearing aids with directionality contain two or more microphones set at a specific distance from each other within the hearing aid. The variation in arrival time of sound to each microphone then determines how the hearing aid reacts to the sound.

This helps the hearing aid to target the specific sound origin in front of you, which if it’s a person, will be the sounds of speech.

4. Background noise reduction

Background noise and feedback inhibition are built into most digital hearing aid models, but you’ll want to validate this with any model you’re considering.

Hearing aids contain a microprocessor that can distinguish between high-frequency sounds (like speech) and low-frequency sounds (like background noise). The microprocessor can then magnify speech while curbing everything else.

5. Telecoils

A telecoil is a small copper coil integrated into the hearing aid. While that doesn’t sound all that impressive, what it can achieve undeniably is.

Telecoils allow you to talk on the phone without feedback and hook up to hearing loop systems. For example, if a hearing loop system is installed in a church or movie theater, sound will be transmitted directly to your hearing aid for optimum clarity.

Hearing loops can also be installed in home theater systems for the equivalent effect. Ask your hearing specialist for additional information.

6. Wireless connectivity

Did you just buy a brand new iPhone or smartphone?

If so, you may want to consider investing in compatible hearing aids that connect wirelessly to these products. That way, you can stream phone calls and music directly to your hearing aids for optimal sound quality.

Your smartphone can even be used as your hearing aid remote control, where you can inconspicuously adjust the volume and settings.

There’s much to consider when picking out a hearing aid, which is why it’s crucial to work with a trustworthy and knowledgeable hearing care expert.

Are you ready to discover your optimal hearing aid?