Choose the right digital hearing aid

If you find yourself saying “what…� too many times a day, it may be time you get yourself a hearing aid. Hearing aids do not technically treat deafness but they amplify sounds and hence make them more audible. A digital hearing aid typically contains a computer chip with an amplifier that converts incoming sounds into a digital code. Based on your level of hearing loss and the ambient sounds around you, it amplifies the signals and reconverts it to sound waves. This is then played through speakers in your ears.

When it comes to buying a digital hearing aid, there is no universal solution and it must be customized to fit your ear size and lifestyle. There are six main types of hearing aids that you can choose between:

Completely-in-the-canal Hearing Aid: These types of hearing aids are molded to fit the inside of your ear and are virtually invisible. It is mainly used in cases of mild to moderate hearing loss.
PROs
• Smallest and least visible hearing aid
• Does not amplify background noises such as wind
CONs
• Highly susceptible to clogging by earwax
• No extra features e.g.: volume control
• Uses very small batteries with a short lifespan

In-the-canal Hearing Aid: This is a slightly larger hearing aid that is molded to fit inside the ear canal. It is used in cases of mild to moderate hearing loss.
PROs
• Larger in size and hence easier to maneuver
• Easy to insert and remove
CONs
• Susceptible to clogging by earwax
• Additional features may be difficult to control due to device size

In-the-ear Hearing Aid: These are prescribed in cases of moderate to severe hearing loss and are of two types: full shell and half shell. Full Shell hearing aids take up most of the bowl shaped part of the outer ear while half shell occupy only the lower half of this area.
PROs
• Easy to handle
• Easy access to volume controls and battery compartment
• Use a larger battery that has a longer battery life
CONs
• Is usually quite visible
• Picks up more background noise
• Susceptible to speakers being clogged by earwax

Behind-the-ear Hearing Aid: This may be used to deal with almost any type of hearing loss. This type of digital hearing aid consists of two parts, one which rests behind the ear and the other that is custom fitted to sit in your ear canal. A small tube hooks over the ear to connect the two parts.
PROs
• Capable of high levels of amplification
• Easy to handle and access
CONs
• Visible to the naked eye
• Picks up a lot of background noise

Receiver-in-canal Hearing Aid: This is very similar to the above mentioned hearing aid except that a tiny wire is used to connect the two parts in place of the tube. This type of hearing aid is a little less conspicuous than the Behind-the-ear type.

The cost of a digital hearing aid can start from around $1500 and go on increasing depending on the number of features it has, accessories, remotes, professional fees, warranty, battery life, noise reduction etc. Ideally, ask for a trial period before you decide which hearing aid suits you the most.

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