Buying a hearing aid: know your options

It’s a natural sign of aging: one in three people over age 60 and half of those older than 85 have some hearing loss. But with ever more sophisticated technological advances, you can dramatically improve your hearing, no matter how old you are.

Buying a hearing aid: know your options

Getting started

If your doctor recommends a hearing aid, see an audiologist to determine which type best suits your needs.

  • The one you get will be based on how much hearing you have, your daily activities, cosmetic concerns and cost.
  • Most dealers offer a free 30-day trial period for hearing aids, and you may require several adjustments before yours feels comfortable.

Types of hearing aids

There are three main types of hearing aids, including these.

  • In-the-ear (ITE). This model fits completely in the outer ear, and all of the components are contained in a hard plastic case. It can be used for mild to severe hearing loss.
  • Behind-the-ear (BTE).The components are held in a case behind the ear, connected to a plastic ear mold that fits inside the outer ear. A BTE hearing aid is for mild to profound hearing loss.
  • In-the-canal (ITC). This is customized to fit in the ear canal, and hardly shows. It treats mild to moderately severe hearing impairment.

Types of circuitry

Three types of electronic circuitry are also available.

  • Analog/adjustable. This circuitry is built by a laboratory to specifications based on volume levels and other information your audiologist sends them. Only slight adjustments can be made once the hearing aid is delivered. This is generally the least expensive mechanism.
  • Analog/programmable. Programmed by a computer, this type can handle more than one program at a time. It lets the wearer change settings depending on the listening environment, such as a walk in the country versus a dinner in a noisy restaurant.
  • Digital/programmable. Digital circuitry is programmed by computer, and sound quality and response time can be calibrated for you. The digital microchip provides the most flexibility, so your audiologist can make individual adjustments. This is typically the most expensive circuitry.

Keep this guide in mind and know your options to choose the perfect hearing aid.

The material on this website is provided for entertainment, informational and educational purposes only and should never act as a substitute to the advice of an applicable professional. Use of this website is subject to our terms of use and privacy policy.
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