Do you need a hearing aid or, a hearing amplifier? Do you understand how to choose hearing aids that will not cause more damage to your hearing?
The first step is to get your hearing tested by a hearing professional. You think you hear sounds around you reasonably well, but wish the volume could be enhanced a “tad bit”.
Before rushing off to buy a hearing aid, it is helpful that you understand the difference between a hearing aid and a hearing amplifier.
The Result of your Hearing Test
You’ve had your hearing test. Now your hearing professional interprets the result of your hearing test plotted on a chart (audiogram) to you. It indicates that you suffer from mild hearing loss. Generally, hearing amplifiers are recommended for mild hearing loss.
Now comes the moment of decision for you.
Should you buy an expensive, programmable hearing aid certified by the FDA or, settle for a considerably less expensive hearing amplifier which will enhance surrounding sounds?
Note that hearing aids vary in size, color, special features and the way they fit in your ears.
Additionally, while your hearing professional can assist with your selection of a hearing aid that will fit your lifestyle and needs, they generally will not help you select a hearing amplifier which is a device not approved by the FDA
How To Choose Hearing Aids – Factors to Consider Prior to Buying a Hearing Amplifier
Hearing Severity and Lifestyle – Consider
Your Type of Hearing Loss
The nature and severity of your hearing loss will play a large role in determining which hearing devices will provide you with the best hearing experience.
Typically, hearing amplifiers are recommended for those with mild hearing loss.
Some amplifiers on the market are described as catering to mild and moderate hearing loss.
What is the nature of your lifestyle? You will need to evaluate the characteristics of your work, home, and free-time environments and activities.
Does your hearing loss make any of these challenging? The characteristics of your primary listening environments will help you narrow your technology options and style.
Technology Requirements – Consider
Your Technology Needs
Ultimately, sound quality will be your topmost requirement. After all, that is the reason you are in search of a hearing device to buy.
Most true hearing aids process sound digitally and can be programmed to suit a wearer’s specific hearing needs. Many hearing aids come in a wide range of designs and degrees of technological functioning.
Some have manual volume controls while other models can automatically adjust to the listener’s environment.
Depending on the level of sophistication, some hearing amplifiers come with 1 – 4 program modes such as Everyday mode. Moderate Noise Reduction mode, Noisy mode or. Quiet mode and Noisy mode.
Some also have manual volume controls.
Identify the programs that will suit your lifestyle
Battery Run Time
What is the battery run time for the device? This can range anywhere from 2-4 hours. 20-24 hours and 45-80 hours.
Are the batteries rechargeable? How long do they take to recharge? Is the charger portable? Does the device allow for a USB recharge?
You do not want to find yourself in a situation where you run out of battery time and are unable to quickly recharge the device!
Physical Factors to Consider
How To Choose Hearing Aids
1. Shape and Size of Your Ear Canal
The shape and size of your ear canal can make a particular style difficult to wear for some people. For example, if you have an ear canal that is very narrow, you will find an in-the-canal device uncomfortable and not the best fit.
2. Does Your Minor Hearing Loss Affect One Ear or Both Ears?
If your hearing loss affects only one of your ears, you may only require one hearing amplifier.
Although age- and noise-related hearing loss tend to affect both ears, your hearing profile for each ear will likely be different.
Generally, a two-ear amplifier (binaural) is more effective. It helps to balance incoming sounds more easily and identify the direction it is coming from.
3. Ease of Amplifier Use
Note that smaller amplifiers while they are more discreet, are also the most difficult to operate. The larger, the instrument the easier it is to operate especially if you have dexterity issues.
4. Aesthetics of the Hearing Amplifier
Many people shy away from using hearing aids or amplifiers for as long as they can.
This inaction sometimes cause further damage of their hearing simply because of they are concerned about the aesthetics or the “look” of these devices.
Fortunately, modern day hearing devices now come in different styles and sizes to accommodate lifestyle and fashion needs (Refer to a previous article – Top Rated Hearing Amplifiers – Are There Any?)
Some devices simply fit very discreetly behind the ear, while other devices are almost completely hidden in the ear canal because they are so small, while others look like Bluetooth ear pads.
Digital Personal Hearing Amplifiers are becoming more common because of their sleek appearance and the options of audio accessories.
A simple entry-level PHA for people just beginning to experience hearing loss is the affordable, lightweight and discreet Response Amplifier from Bellman & Symfon. It is designed to pick up one-on-one conversations and comes with simple buttons and no complex menus..
The stereo Earbuds in this package are equipped to minimize sound leakage and risk of feedback. The Response Personal Amplifier is a good option as an entry-level of hearing amplifier for people who are experiencing hearing loss.
How Much Will My Hearing Amplifier Cost Me?
What factors have you selected from the listed criteria above? These factors define your requirements, and will result in a cost implication.
You will find that you need to pay more for instruments with newer programmed technology designed for personal comfort, or ease of use.
Hearing aids are generally expensive because they must be certified as being safe before they can be sold in the marketplace.
Prices reflect the research, technology and the quality of components used to build the device.
These prices start from several hundred dollars and can run into thousands of dollars. Prices of the same product can also vary considerably between different hearing professionals.
Why? Because the hearing professional must fit and program the instrument for the individual.
Hearing amplifiers are considerably a lot less expensive than hearing aids with prices rarely ranging above $300.
The difference in prices between models in most cases are due to the factors discussed above. Most Personal Hearing Amplifiers are generally under $400.
Your hearing aid is therefore an investment in your quality of life and ability to actively engage in your activities, lifestyle, and relationships.
An Often Overlooked Factor – Warranty and Return Policy
Many people tend to overlook the importance of a warranty and return policy when they purchase their hearing device.
Most hearing aids come with a warranty and return guarantee because of their high costs. Not all hearing amplifiers do. Check for the following:
- Length of the warranty
- Details about what is covered and what is not
- Whether replacement devices are issued
- Return policy
Most reputable manufacturers usually provide a 30-day return policy.
Buying a hearing device requires some upfront evaluation of your requirements based on your needs. This article provides guidance on how to choose hearing aids.
Although the focus is on hearing amplifiers, the same criteria may be applied when choosing professionally recommended hearing aids.
The market is flooded with different kinds of hearing amplifiers. Following the guidelines in this article will ensure that you purchase a quality hearing amplifier that will meet your needs. Cheapest is not necessarily the best!
What are your thoughts about this? Leave your comments in the Comment box below.
Frank Lin & Luigi Ferruci (2012) Hearing Loss Linked to Three-Fold Risk of Falling https://www.hopkinsmedicine.org/news/media/releases/hearing_loss_linked_to_three_fold_risk_of_falling