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The procedure for buying hearing aids was in the past a lot easier. There were only a small number of styles to choose from and they all fundamentally functioned the same way, which was to say not very well.

It wasn’t until digital technology was incorporated into the design that hearing aids became realistic solutions for the restoration of hearing. And with digital technology, a multitude of features became readily available to control a wide variety of listening situations.

But that’s the tradeoff—simple choices that led to poor results are now complicated choices with a number of options.

But complicated does not mean impossible, and the time invested is well worth the gains in hearing you can obtain. It’s also why it’s important to partner with a reputable hearing specialist that can walk you through all of the important factors to consider.

Below are six factors to look for when buying hearing aids, in conjunction with the questions to ask your hearing specialist.

1. Programmability

Hearing amplification products are not all created equal. In fact, the distinction between the cheapest personal sound amplifier and the highest end digital hearing aid is the distinction between a Ford Pinto and a Porsche.

While you may not require the highest end hearing aid model on the market, the principal difference you should be worried about between a personal amplifier and a hearing aid is programmability.

Hearing aids must be programmed to enhance sounds based on your unique hearing loss. Otherwise, all sound will be amplified equally and that’s not going to help you hear speech any better than before.

Ask your hearing expert about programming potential, including pre-programed settings you can use in different scenarios, like at a restaurant versus at home.

2. Hearing aid style

Hearing aids come in many sizes and styles, ranging from behind-the-ear to entirely in the ear canal.

You’ll want to balance cost, performance, ease-of-use, and appearance when making your decision on hearing aid styles. You’ll also want to work with a hearing specialist on this one, as many elements should be taken into consideration, including the severity of your hearing loss.

3. Directional microphones

People invest in hearing aids for a range of reasons and to hear an assortment of sounds, but the foremost reason is to hear and understand speech.

If that’s true for you, you’ll want to ask about directional microphones in any hearing aid you’re interested in.

Hearing aids with directionality contain two or more microphones installed at a specific distance from each other within the hearing aid. The difference in arrival time of sound to each microphone then determines how the hearing aid reacts to the sound.

This allows the hearing aid to focus on the specific sound source in front of you, which if it’s a person, will be the sounds of speech.

4. Background noise minimization

Background noise and feedback inhibition are built into the majority of digital hearing aid models, but you’ll want to verify this with any device you’re considering.

Hearing aids contain a microprocessor that can differentiate between high-frequency sounds (like speech) and low-frequency sounds (like background noise). The microprocessor can then boost speech while curbing everything else.

5. Telecoils

A telecoil is a small copper coil built into the hearing aid. While that doesn’t sound all that impressive, what it can achieve undoubtedly is.

Telecoils allow you to talk on the phone without feedback and connect to hearing loop systems. For example, if a hearing loop system is installed in a church or cinema, sound will be transmitted directly to your hearing aid for maximum clarity.

Hearing loops can also be set up in home theater systems for the same effect. Ask your hearing specialist for additional details.

6. Wireless connectivity

Did you just purchase a brand new iPhone or smartphone?

If that’s the case, you may want to give some thought to purchasing compatible hearing aids that link up wirelessly to these products. That way, you can stream cell phone calls and music directly to your hearing aids for optimum sound quality.

Your smartphone can even become your hearing aid remote control, whereby you can discreetly regulate the volume and settings.

There’s much to consider when selecting a hearing aid, which is why it’s crucial to work with a trustworthy and experienced hearing care expert.

Are you ready to find your optimal hearing aid?