How do you know which hearing aid to choose? Which hearing aid is best? Aren’t they all the same? I get this question asked often. Let’s just break this down to clear up the confusion. All hearing aids DO NOT have all the same components. They have microphones, receivers, amplifiers, and some type of power source. Some will have computer chips, and some may not. The most advanced hearing instruments also have AI sensors (artificial intelligence and gyroscopes). The AI sensors provide valuable machine learning for the instruments in your specific day-to-day environments. The gyroscopes provide head movement so that along with the AI sensors and all the other background noise processors they can work together to determine where you are looking and who and what you are trying to understand. The AI sensors, gyroscopes, and multiple sound processors provide optimum speech understanding in noisy environments.
So... as hearing aids pick up sound and amplify it, then send it out the receiver or speaker and into the ear canal. The components can be supplied by many distributors or perhaps made by the company itself. Not all components are created equal. Better quality mics and receivers will simply sound better and last longer. The amplifier must provide the needed power for specific needs. Some companies can build more powerful hearing aids than others and still provide clear sound reproduction. There are not just 2 or 3 combinations of these components. There are hundreds based on specific hearing loss and correction needs. These components along with the amplification needs of the patient provide the “matrix” of the hearing loss. Within this Matrix, there is a formula to help calculate your prescription needs. Some companies will automatically provide this matrix... thus the professional doesn’t have to pick. Hopefully, the hearing health care professional you are working with has been well trained in the importance of calculating and picking the type of components and matrix that is necessary to help you hear and understand your best.
Hearing aids have many different features and capabilities. These differences are due to the capabilities of the specific technology that is used. There used to be a user volume control on the hearing aid so you could turn it up to hear better and turn it down when it wasn’t what you wanted to hear. Today we now have; channels, bands, memories, volume controls, wireless, wired, Bluetooth, accessories, and more. Therefore, you need to work with a hearing health care professional who will spend the time doing a thorough diagnostic hearing evaluation. Checking your speech understanding capabilities in noise during the test and again with hearing aids. This test is called QuickSIN and provides valuable information to the professional as to the technology level, style, and accessories that would give the very best hearing. QuickSIN is just one of many different diagnostic tests that should be utilized before a hearing instrument is chosen. It was very eye-opening for the patient and your hearing health care provider. You may be able to understand that list of words in quite just fine... but add some background noise and see what happens.... sometimes it is not pretty!
There are also many different styles available. They range from behind-the-ear hearing aids with big molds to tiny little invisible aids that sit down deep in the ear canal. There are specific reasons for which a hearing instrument is chosen. Many times, you may have a choice between a couple of different styles... sometimes only one is best. Again, you need the help of a qualified reputable hearing health care provider to make sure your test results and your personal needs are the reason for the final decision and not just the price of the instruments.
Finally, the manufacturer makes a difference. There are several hearing aid manufacturers and the and they all make quality products. Starkey Hearing Technologies has differentiated their hearing aids from the others with their exceptional sound quality, reliability, best in class feedback, canceller best in class music reproduction, AI sensors, gyroscopes, “fall detection technology” and expansive sound processors for noise control. Their easy state-of-the-art connectivity to wireless & Bluetooth accessories and a nationwide network of the best-trained hearing health care professionals that the industry has to offer. The founder of the company, Bill Austin who is in his 70’s still runs his company (and fits hearing aids) that employs approximately 4500 (including a lot of his family) people worldwide with 3000 of them at the Global Campus in Eden Prairie, Minnesota. Because they know that there are many variables, and some may not be evident even with the best intentions... Starkey offers us a 90-day exchange option. If you are fit with a style or level of technology that just isn’t working well for you, we can exchange the aids for a different instrument within 90 days. With no additional fees, that means you can’t make the wrong decision!
So... how do you know which one is the best? Which one to choose? You don’t until you get a complete hearing evaluation and consultation. Make sure you are working with a knowledgeable and capable hearing health care provider. To Hear Better Is To Live Better!