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McDonald Hearing Services - Grand Rapids, MI

Hearing Aids

Modern-day breakthroughs in technology assure that your hearing loss can be effectively treated with the appropriate hearing aid model.

The difficulty is finding the right one.

With all of the hearing aid models that are available, it can be a bit overwhelming. But by taking into consideration four factors—together with assistance from an experienced hearing care professional—you can easily find the optimal hearing aid model for you.

How All Hearing Aids Work

Before we consider the differences, it will help to keep in mind how all hearing aids have in essence the same components.

Modern-day digital hearing aids are compact electronic gadgets that are made up of four basic parts:

  1. The microphone picks up environmental sound and delivers it to the digital processor.
  2. The digital processor modifies the sound signal based on the settings programmed by the hearing specialist. The altered sound signal is then transferred to the amplifier.
  3. The amplifier raises the volume of the sound based on the programmed settings, amplifying only the frequencies the patient has difficulty hearing. This signal is then transferred to the speaker.
  4. The speaker delivers the magnified sound to the ear, causing louder, clearer sound.

Every hearing aid also has a battery, control and volume buttons, and other features and functions that we’ll discuss next.

How Hearing Aids Are Different

While all hearing aids have the same basic parts, there are four variables that make each model different. When choosing a hearing aid model, your hearing specialist will assist you to narrow down your options according to the four variables, which are:

  1. Style – There are numerous different styles of hearing aids. The style most appropriate for you depends on several things such as the degree of your hearing loss, your manual dexterity, and your listening objectives.
  2. Ease of use – Will a compact hearing aid be too difficult for you to physically handle? Would you like to use your cell phone as your hearing aid remote control?
  3. Functionality – Do you need telecoils so you can utilize your hearing aids with your cell phone? How about directional microphones so you can focus on speech?
  4. Price – Most hearing care professionals are very good at uncovering a hearing aid that will meet your needs and your finances. The hearing aid your hearing specialist recommends is always based on where they think you will attain the biggest return for what you are paying. Financing options are also available.

Let’s examine the four variables in more depth.

Hearing Aid Style

Hearing aids are available in a variety of styles, and your choice may depend plainly on aesthetic preference.

The following are some of the most popular styles:

Behind-the-ear (BTE) hearing aids – these have most of the hearing aid parts included in a compact plastic case that rests behind the ear; the case is then connected to an earmold or an earpiece by a piece of clear tubing. Mini-BTE aids can also be found that are scaled-down. These hearing aids are easy to manipulate and simple to maintain.

In-the-ear (ITE) hearing aids – these have all of the hearing aid parts enclosed in a shell that fills in the external part of the ear. The ITE aids are smaller than the behind-the-ear aids but larger than the in-the-canal aids. These hearing aids are easier to manipulate than the more compact in-the-canal aids and less conspicuous than the behind-the-ear aids.

In-the-canal (ITC) hearing aids and completely-in-the-canal (CIC) hearing aids – these hearing aids are enclosed in very small cases that fit partially or completely in the ear canal, making them virtually undetectable.

When it comes to selecting a style, keep in mind the tradeoffs among size, ease-of-use, battery life, and functionality, and ensure that you go over these items with your hearing specialist.

Hearing Aid Ease-of-Use

A factor that is frequently ignored is ease-of-use. While completely-in-the-canal hearing aids have the benefits of being small, they may also be tough to handle, in which case you may desire the behind-the-ear styles.

You might also wish to consider digital hearing aids that can be controlled with mobile technology, such as a cell phone or digital watch. This makes it effortless to monitor battery life, change the volume, and switch among environmental presets programmed by your hearing specialist.

Hearing Aid Functionality

Performance is perpetually a concern, and you need to talk to your hearing specialist regarding any unique circumstances or activities you commonly perform. As an example, if you frequently use the phone, you’ll probably want hearing aids outfitted with telecoils or Bluetooth compatibility.

Also ask about directional microphones and background noise suppression that can enhance your capacity to hear speech and participate in conversation.

Hearing Aid Price and Financing

Finally, after evaluating the above factors, you need to decide on the price you’re ready to invest for the benefits you’ll attain from better hearing.

While it’s a fact that no one can make this judgment for you, nearly all of our patients have felt that the ability to clearly hear sound and speech without continuously straining is well worth the price.

The fact is, the monthly expense of a hearing aid is often less than the monthly cost of cable television—and hearing aids will have a larger influence on your overall quality of life than viewing reruns of CSI.

Final Considerations

Once you have a picture of what you’re looking for, your hearing specialist can make it easier to narrow down the options. Then, you can select the model that matches all of your requirements for style, ease-of-use, functionality, and price.

Once you’ve picked out your optimal model, your hearing specialist will then custom-program the hearing aids to best amplify sound according to your distinct hearing loss, which was measured during the hearing test (audiogram). And keep in mind, irrespective of what model you choose, it won’t function correctly unless programmed by a hearing specialist.

Finally, you’ll have the opportunity to try your new hearing aids during the trial period. It will take some time to become accustomed to them, but after a short while you’ll be amazed at how clearly you can hear sound and speech.

If you’re ready to find your perfect pair of hearing aids, talk to us today!