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What To Look For on Your Next Hearing Aid Purchase

Hearing Aids Can Make A Huge Difference

 

Finally hearing aids that can make a huge difference for people that suffer from a hearing loss are available.  People, with or without a hearing loss, hear the best when it’s quiet.  So the reason most buy a hearing aid is to hear better when they are in a situation when any noise or sounds drown out the words of someone talking.  For example, someone with a hearing loss turns up the TV louder, but when someone talks to them, they have to turn the TV down or off to hear what is being said to them.

 

People who have normal hearing can understand someone talking to them, even with interfering noise that are louder than the voice they are listening to.  So to really make a true difference helping someone with a hearing loss, the instrument has to create what is called a signal to noise ratio that means bringing the voice (the signal) of someone talking above the noise level. 

 

Why Analog Hearing Aids Didn’t Perform Well: 

Analog hearing aids amplified all the noise and words at the same level, resulting in hearing better in quiet situations, such as when one person is talking, yet not being able to understand speech better when there was any background noise or sound interfering.  The most common complaint was:  “I can hear everything louder except the person sitting right next to me”.  Many would just take their hearing aids off in noisy situations because all the sound around them seemed overly amplified.

 

New Digital Instruments Are Getting There:

Some manufacturers using sophisticated Digital Technology are capable of making a measurable difference.  The instruments can actually bring the speech of someone talking above the noise level and the improvement in clarity or word understanding is noticeable and can actually be measured on each patient.   Imagine how sophisticated these instruments have to be, to identify and recognize speech from all other sounds or noise, then either raise the speech or lower the noise and sound or both!  What an achievement.  The only problem is that many hearing aids can’t do this.  In fact, even many of the major brand name hearing aids don’t do well when it comes to measured performance on patients when tested with background noise.

 

What to look for when you buy a Hearing Aid:

Most hearing health care practices use only the fitting software provided by the manufacturer to program the hearing aids when you first get them. My advice to anyone purchasing a hearing aid and regardless of who you purchase it from, insist on clinical verification and testing.  You would think everyone would be doing this, however, very few perform these essential measurements.  There are verifying methods available to check and measure accurately, the performance of each hearing aid with respect to sound and speech performance, in both quiet and in noise.  Remember, all hearing aids will sound good in quiet, but so does a very inexpensive analog product.  Many hearing aids even sound good because they reduce the noise but provide very little help in understanding speech clearly in noise.  The true test is when you are in any noisy environment.  What is most important is how well your hearing aid performs in these circumstances.  Does it truly help you hear and understand conversations better?

 

Purchasing a hearing aid is a major expense, so please inquire and make sure you are shown the actual and scientifically measured benefit from your hearing aids.  Having hearing aids that can help, especially in noisy environments, will make the difference between just hearing sounds and enjoying a meaningful conversation with someone. 


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