Which type of hearing aid is best for me?

The choice of what hearing aid to choose is perhaps not as straightforward as one may think. The usual procedure is that the hearing aid dispenser recommends a particular model and the client ultimately decides whether or not they are prepared to pay “that much money” and frequently a compromise is sought. This may sound very crude but it is a reality. I would like to provide the potential hearing aid wearer with an insight into the selection criteria that the hearing aid audiologist will most likely employ.

The main factors to consider when selecting a hearing aid are

1)      Cost – what is the client’s budget.

2)      Cosmetics – how important is it for the client that the aid is as discreet as possible.

3)      Lifestyle – what are the needs and expectations of the client

4)      Usability – Are they able to physically handle the technology (remote controls etc)

5)      Audiology – what type and level of hearing loss does the client have

Cost. My advice to any and every prospective hearing aid purchaser is always the same. Always invest in the best technology that you can afford. Only you really know your budget. Sadly, many dispensers are afraid of offering the very best hearing aids to their clients. This may sound strange but many hearing aid companies charge excessive prices and their dispensers know it. They therefore suggest lower technology hearing instruments at a more palatable price.

Cosmetics. There’s little point in buying some hearing aids and then not wearing them because of embarrassment. There are plenty of cosmetic solutions out there so this really shouldn’t be a problem.

Lifestyle. More demanding lifestyles require more clever features. There are many hearing aids that offer wireless connectivity to devices such as the television, telephones, mobile telephones and hands-free car telephones. Although you may not need these straight away you may wish to consider hearing aids that can perform such functions at a later date. Your aids should last at least 5 years and the accessories are actually quite cheap in comparison to the hearing aids themselves.

Usability. Make sure you are comfortable with handling the batteries, inserting and removing the aids, using the remote controls etc.

Audiology. If you have a severe or profound hearing loss then you may require a more powerful hearing aid. This could substantially reduce the options available to you and rule out the smaller hearing aids. Certain rarer types of hearing loss may indicate other specialist technology such as conductive hearing losses requiring bone conduction hearing instruments.

In summary. Discuss your needs in depth with the hearing aid audiologist and ask them to make their recommendations to you. Don’t be afraid to challenge them and ask them to explain their thought process. Ask them to quote you for the very best hearing aid that would be suitable for you. As a general rule, the very best technology should cost no more than around £1600-£1700 per hearing aid inclusive of a 5 year extended warranty. If they’re asking for more than this write down the aids they have quoted then compare prices on the internet.