Most patients who are experiencing hearing loss can benefit from a hearing aid. But choosing the right one is no simple task. Today’s hearing aids are smaller and more feature-packed than their predecessors, offering an array of options. Narrowing the choices down can be tough but there are a few important things that should be taken into consideration before choosing a hearing aid.
First, patients need to have an audiologist assess their hearing loss. Severity is measured in degrees, based upon their hearing loss range in decibels. It ranges from normal (-10 to 15 dB) to profound (91+ dB), with a total of seven different degrees.
Equally important is the frequency of a patient’s hearing loss. Conductive hearing loss resulting from damage to the outer or middle ear affects low frequency sounds, while sensorineural hearing loss, in which damage occurs to the inner ear, results in a loss of high frequency sounds. Patients need to choose a hearing aid that targets the frequencies they have trouble comprehending.
Functionality is an important consideration. With so many available features, patients need to decide which ones matter most to them. Popular features include directional microphones, feedback suppression, amplifiers, digital noise reduction, wax guards, automatic volume control and Bluetooth® connectivity. Extra features cost money, so speak with an audiologist to get an idea about the pros and cons of these features.
Patients also have to take into account their lifestyle needs. Whether they enjoy quiet, intimate gatherings with a few close friends or an active outdoors lifestyle that includes a lot of background noise, there is a hearing aid designed specifically for their activity level.
Cosmetic preference is a key factor in choosing a hearing aid. Since patients will be wearing it every day, it’s got to not only feel good but appeal to their confidence. Hearing aids are available in a variety of sizes and styles, some visible while others are implanted deep within the ear canal, rendering them virtually undetectable. Many are custom-molded to fit each individual’s ears.
Finally, there is cost. Hearing aids can range in price from a few hundred dollars up to several thousand dollars apiece. Price will be a factor, but it is important for patients to consider their specific hearing needs when making this decision. Investing in a cheap hearing aid that is ineffective is a waste of money; conversely, they don’t want to overspend on features that won’t benefit them. An audiologist can offer suggestions that will point patients in the right direction.
Call Southern Utah Ear, Nose, Throat, Allergy, and Facial Plastics at (435) 628-3334 for more information or to schedule an appointment.