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The process of buying hearing aids used to be much easier. There were only a small number of styles to select from and they all in essence worked 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 practical solutions for the recovery of hearing. And with digital technology, a variety of features became readily available to regulate a multitude of listening circumstances.

But that’s the tradeoff—easy choices that led to poor results are now difficult choices with several options.

But complicated does not mean impossible, and the time invested is well worth the gains in hearing you can attain. It’s also why it’s essential to partner with an experienced hearing specialist that can guide you through all of the relevant factors to consider.

Below are six factors to look for when selecting hearing aids, together with the questions to ask your hearing specialist.

1. Programmability

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

Although you may not need the highest end hearing aid model in the market, the main difference you should be worried about between a personal amplifier and a hearing aid is programmability.

Hearing aids must be programmed to enhance sounds according to your distinct hearing loss. Otherwise, all sound will be amplified uniformly and that’s not going to make it easier to hear speech any better than before.

Ask your hearing specialist about programming capability, including pre-programed settings you can use in different scenarios, like at a restaurant as opposed to at home.

2. Hearing aid style

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

You’ll need to balance price, functionality, ease-of-use, and aesthetics when making your decision on hearing aid styles. You’ll also want to work together with a hearing professional on this one, as numerous factors should be taken into consideration, including the severity of your hearing loss.

3. Directional microphones

People buy hearing aids for a variety of reasons and to hear a mixture of sounds, but the foremost reason is to hear and understand speech.

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

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

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

4. Background noise reduction

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

Hearing aids contain a microprocessor that can discern between high-frequency sounds (like speech) and low-frequency sounds (like background noise). The microprocessor can then magnify 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 remarkable, what it can accomplish undoubtedly is.

Telecoils make it possible for you to speak on the phone without feedback and connect to hearing loop systems. For instance, if a hearing loop system is installed in a church or movie theater, sound will be transmitted directly to your hearing aid for optimum clarity.

Hearing loops can also be installed in home theater systems for the equivalent effect. Ask your hearing professional for additional information.

6. Wireless connectivity

Did you just purchase a brand new iPhone or smartphone?

If so, you may want to think about purchasing compatible hearing aids that link up wirelessly to these devices. That way, you can stream phone calls and music directly to your hearing aids for optimal sound quality.

Your smartphone can even be used as your hearing aid remote control, where you can subtly regulate the volume and settings.

There’s much to take into account when choosing a hearing aid, which is why it’s crucial to work with a reputable and experienced hearing care professional.

Are you ready to find your ideal hearing aid?