Choosing the right hearing aid can make all the difference in social interaction, completing daily tasks and overall comfort. When someone comes to the decision that they need additional support to hear the things around them, understanding how to choose the right aid is as essential to the long-term success of the device.
The first step in selecting an aid is consulting with an audiologist. This appointment can set the stage for opening up a whole range of new sounds and interactions. The audiologist will typically conduct tests to identify what type of loss or damage has occurred within the ear. This exam helps determine the type of aid that will be most effective.
When it comes to selecting the right aid, the audiologist will recommend the type that best corrects the exact problems discovered in the exam. There are many forms of hearing aids to choose from, each with their own unique benefits and considerations. Consider each of the devices recommended by the audiologist before making a decision.
A device designed to fit completely in the ear canal is typically custom-molded to fit each particular patient. This style is the least noticeable of all options because it inserts directly into the ear canal. Because it sits inside the ear, it also reduces interference and noise from the wind.
An in-the-canal piece fits in the ear, but not as deep as the completely-in-the-canal models. This model includes adjustments and features that won’t fit in the completely-in-the-canal models, but is slightly more visible as well. The features can be hard to adjust due to the small size of the aid.
The half-shell and full-shell devices fit the bowl-shaped area of your ear. The half-shell is smaller and less obtrusive than the full-shell, but both are more visible than the in-the-canal styles. These are larger, and typically fit additional features such as directional microphones, volume adjustments and more. Due to the way these attach to the ear, wind noise and other interference is more common.
The design that hooks over and positions behind your ear is the most visible of all of the available designs. This particular aid amplifies the sound around you and sends it to a mold fitted inside the ear canal. This type can amplify sound to a greater level than many smaller devices.
Based on the functionality needed, the audiologist may recommend any number of these designs. In some offices, trial aids are available to test, helping patients identify which model is the best fit for form and function.
Some devices have available features that can be added when the piece is molded and built. Features such as a directional microphone can help isolate the important sounds in a noisy room. A tele-coil can reduce the interference that makes phone calls a struggle. Noise cancellation is a consideration as well. Talk to the manufacturer about a trial period or a warranty to protect the device over time.
Before leaving the audiologist’s office with a new hearing aid, test it thoroughly for the right fit and sound amplification. Address any concerns right away, as it is essential for the aid to work properly.