Advancements in hearing aid technology have transformed what used to be an array of bulky, awkward devices into sleek, high-performance instruments. “These aren’t your grandfather’s hearing aids,” is said by hearing aid dispensers the world over, as the stigma around hearing aids is gradually replaced by admiration for their ever-decreasing size and growing capabilities.
With the expanding list of impressive hearing aid models available, shopping for the best hearing aid for your needs can be a bit overwhelming. As you review the various options your hearing professional recommends for your specific type of hearing loss, there are some important features and details about each model worth inquiring about. Keep in mind, as you try on different models in-office, that they might not be as comfortable as they will be once fitted to your actual ear canal. Most hearing aids involve a custom-fit earmold to sit inside of your ear canal perfectly, and although the demonstration aids won’t have that option, they can be programmed to your specific hearing needs.
As you shop for your favorite device, follow the tips below to get a clear idea of how each hearing aid compares to the next.
Try out different settings and environments
Most hearing aids have specific settings for quiet environments and noisy ones. Try talking with your hearing professional in the quiet office setting, and then try listening to a conversation in the lobby or outside to take advantage of any background noise. Your hearing professional may even have some background noise sound files to help you experience the difference of these two listening environments. It’s also important that changing the setting from quiet to noisy is easy for you to do on your own, if the hearing aid doesn’t do it automatically.\
Listen to your own voice
Don’t be surprised if your voice is louder than you’d expect when you first talk with the hearing aids in. It takes time to adjust to a new pair of hearing aids, and eventually your voice will sound normal again. Use the sound of your voice as a barometer to compare the different models you’re trying on. You’ll quickly notice the varying levels of amplification that each model presents.
Use your phone with them
Hearing aids today are able to connect wirelessly to your mobile devices, which proves to be very convenient for hearing phone conversations clearly. Since talking with your hearing aids will be very new, it’s a better idea to call your voicemail or to an automated menu than to call another person. This will give you an idea of how well the hearing aids catch your phone’s signal, which will be an important feature if you use your phone often. Different hearing aid models have unique features for connecting with mobile and landline phones, so ask your hearing professional to review the phone connection features for each one you try on.
Try changing the battery
Changing your hearing aid battery will be a common practice no matter which model you choose, but the sizes of the batteries required and the ease of getting them in and out will vary from model to model. Generally, the larger the batteries needed, the longer it will keep the hearing aids charged. While this detail isn’t necessarily a deal-breaker, it can be helpful to compare all of the pros and cons of each model you’re considering.
Learn about recommended accessories
Just as the technology within hearing aids has rapidly advanced in recent years, so has the technology supporting hearing aids. There are more accessories to enhance your hearing aids and your hearing today than ever before, and it’s important that you know what accessories come with each model. Some hearing aids hook up directly with specially designed software applications for mobile devices, like smartphones and tablets. There are also unique features available in certain models for helping to manage tinnitus (often called a “ringing in the ears”). Ask your hearing professional to review the full array of extended features for each model you’re considering.
After comparing different models and selecting the one you feel will serve your needs the best, don’t be intimidated about bringing it home. As required by law, every pair of hearing aids comes with a money-back-guarantee. This enables you to try them out in various real-life scenarios and confirm if they are indeed your best option. Remember to take notes about your preferences as you try on the various models, as these can be helpful if you want to swap out for another model during your trial.