Once you realize you have hearing loss, and have spoken to your audiologist regarding treatment, the most likely avenue for you to take would be purchasing a hearing aid. These mechanisms can vary widely in shape, style, and visibility as well as battery life and effectiveness. Considering the many options you have, this choice can be a difficult one. While most hearing aids consist of the same parts: a microphone, an amplifier, a receiver, and a battery; these parts can be controlled in different ways and the placement of the device is very different from one model to the next.
Some helpful hints to keep in mind in your selection process:
The next thing you will want to consider is placement. This is one of the most important deciding factors when it comes to purchasing a hearing aid. The choices are:
Behind The Ear
These aids fit over your ear and rest on the outside in the back of your ear, and carry sound to a mechanism placed inside your ear. These can vary in level of visibility, as the newer models are quite small and streamlined, and are effective in almost all cases of hearing loss.
These hearing aids don’t plug the ear canal, and use a small tube or wire to conduct sound into the inner ear. They are small, and difficult to spot, but are usually only effective in cases where high frequency hearing has been lost, and low frequency hearing is still intact. These devices may also be less programmable due to their small size.
In The Ear (Full Shell)
This device is custom fit to your outer ear. These aids are the easiest to place, and may have easily accessible volume controls, however they are highly visible. Due to placement they may be more likely to pick up on wind noise, but are effective in hearing loss from mild- severe. The battery is larger in these aids and tends to last longer.
In The Ear (Half Shell)– Very much like the full shell version, this piece is custom fitted to the outer “bowl” of your ear, but will only occupy the lower half making it slightly less visible. It is easier to handle than a hearing aid that fits in your ear canal, and features directional microphones (better for conversation) and volume control. These aids are used for patients with mild to moderately severe hearing loss.
Completely In the Canal
These aids are the smallest available and are custom fit to the inside of you ear canal. They are very unlikely to pick up wind noise, and are very useful on the telephone. Due to placement, they lack volume control, and tend to run out of batteries much more quickly than other models. This device would be recommended in mild to moderate hearing loss.
In the Canal
These are very similar the above mentioned Completely in the Canal model, however they rest a little bit closer to your outer ear. They contain volume control options that may be difficult to operate due to small size. These are also easy to use with the telephone, and may be helpful in mild to moderate hearing loss.
The best way to choose a hearing aid for yourself is to remain informed. Any questions regarding features and fits should be directed at your doctor. After considering all of the options, you and your doctor can decide which would be the best fit for you and your lifestyle.