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Factors to consider when buying hearing aids

Wed, 09 Jun 2010 09:15:00 +0000

There are a number of factors to consider when buying hearing aids. Below is a list of seven factors to consider:

Severity of hearing loss

This is one of the most important factors to consider is the nature and severity of your hearing loss. Your hearing professional can help you understand your unique loss characteristics, and explain the models that would best suit your needs. This may involve undertaking a number of hearing test to determine the extent of the hearing loss and most suitable product.

Lifestyle

It is important to think about you lifestyle and when the hearing aid is to be worn. What are the things you do that are most affected by hearing loss? Does you hearing prevent you from undertaking certain tasks or activities? Does you loss of hearing effect your job? Discuss your needs with the hearing expert who can recommend products which suit your lifestyle
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Technology

The quality of the sound is perhaps the most important consideration. With advancements of digital hearing aids the quality of the sound can often be fined tuned to suit your needs. Again the hearing expert will be able to help you assess the level of sophistication you need based on a range of issues.

Size

Hearing aids are now often very small and discreet. However, if your eyesight or dexterity is less than what they used to be, size may indeed matter. As a vey small hearing aid may be to fiddly to control. Alternatively, some new instruments adjust automatically or via remote control.

Appearance

Hearing aids now come in a variety of sizes, from tiny, completely-in-the-canal models to those that sit behind the ear. Many people are overly concerned about appearance, and it’s wise to remember that others will be far less aware of your aid than you. Most hearing aids are quite discreet. Consider the functionality and improvement in hearing, rather than just appearance.

The ear

The size and shape of your outer ear and ear canal may also influence your selection of a hearing aid. For example, if your canal is extremely narrow, in-the-canal aids may not work for you. Your hearing professional will help determine which hearing aid options are appropriate for you.

One ear or two ears?

Two ears are better than one, since binaural, or two-ear hearing, is what helps us determine where sounds are coming from, and to distinguish between competing sounds more easily. If you have a hearing loss in only one ear, you may be fine with one hearing aid. Age- and noise-related hearing loss tend to affect both ears, but your hearing profile for each ear is probably different. If there is a loss in both ears, then you will benefit more with a binaural approach. In addition, some of the benefits of digital technology require two hearing aids.

Today, about two-thirds of new purchasers opt for dual hearing aids, and as a group, they report a higher level of satisfaction than purchasers of a single aid. Discuss the pros and cons with your hearing professional.

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BTE HEARING AIDS

Wed, 09 Jun 2010 09:14:00 +0000

Behind the ear, also known as BTE, hearing aids are far and away the most commonly used type of hearing aid. These hearing aids are also what most people picture when hearing aids are mentioned. The electronics which make a BTE hearing aid function are housed in a plastic case which fits behind the ear and has a tube that connects it to an ear mold which fits in the ear canal.

They are designed to accommodate the entire spectrum of hearing losses, from the mild to the severe. Although they are more conspicuous then hearing aids that fit entirely in the ear canal, they have a number of benefits that appeal to a wide variety of hearing impaired individuals. In addition, BTE hearing aids come in a number of sizes, shapes and colors. So some behind the ear models are much less conspicuous then others.

Since behind the ear hearing aids are larger then their completely in the canal, or CIC, counterparts, they can more easily house a bigger amplifier and much stronger battery and therefore may be especially beneficial to individuals with a more severe hearing loss. BTE hearing aids are also rather versatile in that they come in the most traditional analog style as well as in the recently popularized digitally powered style of hearing aids.

When budgetary constraints are an issue, behind the ear devices definitely win out over hearing aids which fit completely in the ear canal. Due to their larger size, other groups of people to whom BTE hearing aids have more appeal then CIC models include the elderly, arthritis sufferers and others with fine motor control disabilities and related issues.

Finally since CIC models necessitate the wearing of a heavier device in the canal then just the lightweight ear mold attached to BTE hearing aids, there tends to be less ear canal irritation with the former.

In the late 1800s the first commercially manufactured hearing aids were patented and became available to the public. The first behind the ear hearing aids came on the scene over fifty years ago.

Prior to this, hearing aids were basically amplifiers worn somewhere on the body and these were heavy and expensive, due in part to rapid battery consumption. With the advent of the smaller junction transistor in 1952, widespread BTE hearing aid use became more of a reality.

Due to improvements in the technology of circuitry,1964 saw another boom in use of BTE devices and the use of body worn hearing aids dropped to less then twenty percent. By 1972 prototypes for hearing aids which could be programmed to a variety of listening situations, were being created. The following twenty years showed continued improvements and advances in hearing aid technology.

Volume controls were added to most behind the ear devices in the 1990s and digital hearing aids started appearing in the mid nineties. There has been continued new arrivals in the hearing aid world since then such as remanufactured hearing aids, disposable hearing aids and over the counter hearing aids. Who knows what the future of behind the ear hearing aid technology holds, the possibilities are endless

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