Digital Hearing aids can truly be a life changer for those with hearing impairment. While these assistive listening devices don’t cure deafness and don’t completely return hearing problems back to normal, they do offer a significant degree of hearing improvement for most users. The extent of the improvement is dependent on each individuals level of hearing loss, the hearing loss causes and upon the amount of nerve damage to the inner ear.
Remember though, hearing aids are not for everyone, and it is important that you find the right hearing aid for you to ensure that it works just the way that you need (Of course we recommend that you try The Hearing Fix first). Whether you are looking for cheap hearing aids or trying to find the best hearing aid prices, here are a few simple steps to follow to help you find a hearing aid that does the job to the best extent possible. And don’t worry, we have already done all the reviews for you.
What is a Hearing Aid?
First of all, you need to know exactly what a hearing aid is a how it works. Hearing aids are technical hearing devices that are usually placed inside of the ear to help people with hearing problems. They use a microphone in the electrical device to take in all sound from the surrounding area, then a speaker amplifies the sound inside of the ear. The volume levels can be changed, depending on how loud or quiet the location is, which determines with how loud the sound is amplified into your ear
Adjusting To A New Hearing Aid
Hearing aids have come a long way since the days of the ear trumpet but it can still take a new hearing aid user some time to adjust to their new device. While some first time hearing aid users have absolutely no problem adjusting to their new device, for others, it can even be a difficult transition. Many hearing aids completely or partially block the ear canal, causing unsettling sound reverberation that requires some getting used to for those with mild to moderate high-frequency hearing loss. Known as the occlusion effect, most users adjust to it after a few days, but some find that they can never adjust and end up giving up on the devices.
For those that don’t, there are hearing aid options that reduce or eliminate the occlusion effect, such as open fit hearing aids, or invisible in canal hearing aids, or most recently our own oral hearing loss treatment The Hearing Fix. In addition to the occlusion effect, the addition of amplified background noises for the first time can also be unsettling for some. For others, the initial fit and discomfort of the hearing aid can also be a source of irritation. While is usually something that simply requires an adjustment period, it can also be remedied with an adjustment to the fitting by your clinician. If you’re looking for a hearing aid for the first time, be prepared to face some initial, and possibly ongoing discomfort and inconvenience. Below are a few brief tips to assist you in your transition.
- Wear your hearing aid several times a day in 30 minute intervals
- Reduce the background noise in your environment by turning off unnecessary appliances and closing windows.
- Talk to yourself to adjust to the new sound of your own voice.
- Pay attention to your surroundings. Try to identify and recognize new sounds you may have not heard in a long time
- Make a gradual transition to noisier environments as you adjust to your new hearing device.
- If there is any pain, or the feeling of discomfort persists over several days, consult your hearing aid dispenser.
Types of Hearing Aids
With the immense progress that has been made in digital hearing aid technology over the last half a century, there is an overwhelming array of different assistive listening devices and both analog as well as digital sound technologies to choose from. While your audiologist can help you assess your situation and choose the most suitable device for your level of hearing loss and budget, below is a brief overview of the most common types of hearing aids today.
Behind The Ear Hearing Aids (BTE)
Behind the ear hearing aids consist of a small curved plastic case that sits behind the ear, and a small piece of tubing that runs from the behind the ear device to a customized ear mold that rests over the ear canal. The electronic control circuitry including the microphone, amplifier as well as receiver ñ all rest in the housing case that sits behind the ear. The advantage of these hearing devices is that they are easily accessible and controlled. Compared to the other types of hearing aids, these provide the most powerful sound amplification. Behind the ear hearing aids can be worn by people of all ages, but are usually targeted to children (due to a growing body) and those with the most severe hearing damage.
Open Fit Hearing Aids
Like standard behind the ear hearing aids, the open fit devices consist of a housing case that rests behind the ear and a tube that runs to the ear bowl. Unlike BTE devices however, open fit hearing aids don’t have a mold that rests over the ear bowl, rather the tubing ends in a small tip that allows a more natural sound and eliminates the occlusion effect. Additionally, open fit hearing aids boast a smaller case and thinner tubing, making them more comfortable than traditional BTE hearing aids.
In-The-Ear Hearing Aids
These are the most common type of hearing aids currently in use. These aids fit into the inner and outer ear. They can be used for all types of hearing loss, from a mild inconvenience up to somewhat profound hearing loss. They have a more stable fit than the behind the ear style, as well as offer easier setup. They are reported to not be effected by wind noise near as much as the behind the ear types. All of the in the ear hearing aids parts are contained into the single unit and do not have multiple pieces or wires and are generally considered to be easier to manage. ITE hearing aids are molded to fit in your outer ear bowl. Some of the newer iterations are extremely small and lightweight. Though in-the-ear hearing aids are visible from the side, and sometimes even from the front, they contain no external wires or tubes and are suitable for mild to moderate hearing loss. There are a small number of newer ITE hearing aids that may be appropriate for more profound hearing loss.
In-The-Canal Hearing Aids (ITC) & Completely In The Canal (CIC) Hearing Aids
These wonderful hearing aids have some serious advantages as well as a few drawbacks. As the name describes, inner canal hearing aids rest inside of the ear canal. This provides a hearing aid that can hardly even be seen by others. The downsides of these are that they are generally not recommended for those with very serious hearing loss as the small size reduces the ability to amplify sound. While in the canal hearing aids are extremely small, lightweight and visually unobtrusive, usage is limited to those with ear canals of adequate size. The ITC hearing aid class includes two hearing aid types: partially in the ear canal hearing aids, as well as completely in the canal hearing aids.
Both ITC and CIC devices are invisible when looking face to face with the wearer, but can generally be seen if the viewer looks directly into the ear. These hearing aids produce a stronger occlusion effect than other hearing aid types, thus they are generally not recommended for those with good low frequency hearing. ITC and CIC hearing aids are appropriate for both mild as well as moderately-severe hearing loss.
Invisible Hearing Aids (IIC)
Invisible In Canal Hearing Aids (IIC) are a type of CIC hearing aid that fits deeper into the ear canal. This discreet invisible design renders it invisible to the outside observer, even those observers looking directly into the side of the ear. Because of its placement deep in the ear canal, adjustment of IIC devices is usually performed wirelessly, with some models allowing the user to utilize their mobile phone to make adjustment to memory or volume. These hearing aids also usually utilize venting technology to reduce the occlusion effect and allow a more natural hearing experience.
The First Step: Visit An Audiologist
This is the first step before deciding on which digital hearing aid is for you. Once your doctor has diagnosed your problem, it is important to speak to an ear care specialist known as an Audiologist. Some problems are actually repairable through the intake of special hearing loss treatments, rather than the need of hearing aids. However, some causes of hearing loss symptoms are not temporary, and it is important to see a certified audiologist to see about find the right hearing aid or hearing loss treatment for you.
Major Hearing Aids Manufacturers
Below is a list of reputable companies that produce hearing aids. While not a complete list of hearing aid manufacturers, the following companies offer a wide range of the hearing devices equipped with the latest technology backed with a strong manufacturer warranty.
- Century Hearing Aids: Our #1 recommendation for inexpensive yet effective aids.
- Phonak Hearing Aids
- Oticon Hearing Aids
- Siemens Hearing Aids
- Resound Hearing Aids
- Widex hearing Aids
- Beltone Hearing Aids
- Rextron Hearing Aids
- Unitron Hearing Aids
- Costco Hearing Aids
- Walmart Hearing Aids
Hearing Aids Prices & Cost
Hearing aid cost will vary widely depending on the type of hearing aid, the insurance coverage available in your jurisdiction, and the pricing arrangements of your dispenser for fitting. In the United States, most private health care coverage does NOT cover hearing aids, though in some states, vocational rehabilitation programs can provide financial assistance for those with significant hearing loss. While cheap hearing aids can be ordered online for as little as $200, these generally have issues with over-amplification of low frequency background noise as well as comfortable fit. A general price range for a single hearing aid can range from $100 to $6000, though high-end devices can often cost significantly more.
The one exception we have found is Century Hearing Aids When selecting a hearing aid, keep in mind that every form of hearing loss is unique, thus it is vital that you consult with an ENT specialist and audiologist in order to select the right hearing aid for you. While there may be an initial adjustment period, assistive listening devices have the power to change lives. The most important part of the adjustment period is to be patient and simply focus on enjoying your new world of auditory experiences if you are one of the lucky ones that hearing aids work for.