What are the best hearing aids?

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Tom goyne aud
Thomas Goyne, AuD - Doctor of Audiology in Wayne
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Several factors come into consideration when considering what hearing aids to choose from. It is important to find a knowledgeable and experienced hearing health professional -- an audiologist or hearing aid dispenser -- to help you arrive at the best devices for you. The case can be made that finding this professional is the most important part of the process. A competent and experienced audiologist or dispenser has the knowledge-base to narrow down the vast number of hearing aid makes and models to match your particular case and then configure the devices appropriately.

Once you have found a professional that you are comfortable working with, the factors that both of you should consider include:

  • Type, degree and configuration of hearing loss - Naturally, devices should be selected that are capable of providing enough amplification in the frequency regions where you have hearing loss. For instance, patients with greater degrees of hearing loss should not use devices that leave the ear canal entirely open.

  • Lifestyle and frequent listening situations - For people who spend a lot of time outdoors, highly water-resistant hearing aids may be preferable. For people who spend a lot of time in restaurants, hearing aids with directional microphones are certainly beneficial.

  • Cosmetics - Many patients will express little concern for the cosmetics of a device, they are more concerned with the performance, while on the other hand, some patients place more value on cosmetics and smaller devices. It is important that a patient feels comfortable with the appearance of the device since it is something they will be using on a daily basis.

  • Manual dexterity and/or vision - Hearing aids require maintenance and upkeep. Batteries need to be changed on most devices and all have to be cleaned on a regular basis. It is important to select devices that you can independently maintain and if that is not possible, then find someone to help you regularly.

  • Budget - A resourceful audiologist or hearing aid dispenser can provide options to improve your hearing at any price point. However, as with any purchase, the less expensive the device the more compromises you will need to make in terms of some of the previously mentioned factors.

Once you and the audiologist or hearing aid dispenser have discussed all of the factors above, there are then two decisions to make. The first is what form factor the hearing aid will take, such as a device that fits over the ear, one that fits in the ear. The next decision is what circuit or processor will you want inside the form factor that you selected. Generally speaking, form factor does not influence the cost of hearing aids very much, whereas the capabilities of the circuit or processor greatly influence the cost of the devices.

For more on choosing the right hearing aids and professionals for you, visit this article at Consumer Reports.

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