Selecting the best digital hearing aids for your needs starts with an audiometric evaluation at your doctor’s office. This exam will determine if your hearing loss is conductive (in your outer or middle ear) or sensorineural (nerve fibers), and identify the level as mild, moderate, severe or profound. If you happen to come across different hearing aid reviews, you can find the best device to suit your hearing requirement.
When both ears suffer hearing deficiency, two hearing aids (binaural) give you a more natural balance of sound. The devices can be adjusted for your environment (to hear distant sounds or tune out background noise). Single hearing aids (monaural) also can be adjusted.
Computer microchip and digital circuitry technology have significantly improved the quality of hearing aids. Digital devices analyze incoming sound levels and frequencies and tweak them to best fit your hearing needs.
Speech covers various frequencies (pitches) with low-pitched vowels transmitting loudness and high-pitched consonants carrying meaning. The best digital hearing aids divide the frequency range into channels, thereby allowing precision amplification. When hearing loss fluctuates over various frequencies, a device with multiple channels works best, whereas “flat” hearing loss requires fewer channels.
The best digital hearing aids are typically more expensive than analog models but they offer better performance and versatility. Digital processing can alter sounds, whereas analog devices simply amplify natural sounds. The adjustment is greater for adults who’ve never worn hearing aids than for children born with hearing loss.
When choosing the best digital hearing aids consider lifestyle factors such as comfort, control and appearance. For example, as ear shape and size varies, so does compatibility with hearing aid styles.
There are several different categories of the best digital hearing aids.
The Behind the ear (BTE) style is a custom earpiece molded to the shape of the wearer’s outer ear with smaller piece inside ear. This is best for children younger than 13, whose growing ears might not accommodate smaller devices. This type can be uncomfortable when wearing eyeglasses.
The In the ear (ITE) style which is a one-piece device custom designed to fit within the outer ear. There is also a Low Profile in the ear design that is essentially, a trimmed-down ITE.
The In the canal (ITC) fits almost entirely in the ear canal, and occupies about one quarter of ear for reduced visibility and a Completely in the canal (CIC) style, which is the smallest and least visible and fits deep inside the ear canal.
You’ll have to clean your hearing aid, adjust its settings and replace batteries, so make sure you can see, reach and operate a device’s controls. Smaller devices mean smaller controls. However, more programmable hearing aids can be programmed for automatic volume adjustment.
Consider, too, your activity level when researching the best digital hearing aids. Not only does a CIC best reduce wind noise, it’s also easiest to keep in place and out of sight. In loud environments, dual microphones or dual microphone ports will tune out noise behind you and amplify desired sounds. From a cosmetic standpoint, choosing a coloration that matches your skin tone (or hair color for BTE’s) will further reduce visibility.
Whatever your choice, ask about trial periods, which allow you to decide over time if you like the device. If not, talk with your audiologist and adjust your selection accordingly.