Choosing a hearing aid is the most important step for hearing impaired to regain an active and happy life. The right medical device affects the result and restores the ability to hear and understand external sounds and the voices of your relatives. In fact, choosing and purchasing a device is an investment in your health. Therefore, finding a hearing aid should not be taken lightly. Some Americans, wanting to save time and money, look for medical devices on their own.
As a rule, they don’t get the results they want and spread the myth about the low effectiveness of the device. Are you worried about your hearing health? Then don’t try to self-medicate. The only right solution is to make an appointment with an audiologist. In addition, today there are some new effective methods of analysis and choice of medical devices which take into account the individuality of each patient! Let’s talk about it in more detail.
How do I choose a hearing aid?
So, before you start wearing hearing aids daily, you must undergo treatment and select the proper medical device. Many centers and clinics today use a standard approach to selecting a hearing aid for a patient. They follow a roughly similar pattern and include the following evaluation criteria in varying order:
- Type and degree of hearing loss
- Device type
- Set of features and functions
- Hearing aid costs
- Individual needs and desires of the patient
It is also commonplace that repeated visits to a hearing care professional are necessary since the corrective and rehabilitative measures for hearing loss do not end with the selection of medical devices. Medical follow-up and aftercare (adjustments and maintenance) are also necessary.
“Choosing the right hearing aid is crucial for success with amplification. A good hearing aid is one that fits your hearing loss, your lifestyle, and your budget.” – Dr. Mead Killion, Adjunct Professor of Audiology at Northwestern University.
Such an approach has proven to be effective. Audiologists have restored hearing to millions of Americans. However, progress is not standing still. Digital technologies and innovations are rapidly evolving and penetrating our lives. Such technologies are changing the way we treat hearing care.
Many clinics and hearing centers have revised their hearing aid-choosing methodology and standards by computerizing the process from diagnosis to the selection of an appropriate hearing aid. The computerized fitting of medical devices is done using special software on professional equipment. Such an approach speeds up the hearing aid fitting process and reduces the chance of making a wrong choice.
Disadvantages of the classical approach
First of all, computerized hearing aid choosing does not imply a complete rejection of previous methods. They are still effective and have their advantages. However, several disadvantages must also be acknowledged:
- The choice of a hearing aid depended largely on the personal experience of the hearing care professional. It’s quite a subjective factor
- The results are based on averages rather than on the individual characteristics of the client. Accordingly, the result is averaged out
- It’s difficult to predict how a particular hearing aid would “behave” in the client’s ear. As a result, the selection process consisted of going through a series of different models
- The audiologist often suggests the most expensive model
Computerized hearing aid selecting
A hearing aid choice based on computer simulations can predict with a high degree of accuracy the suitability of the hearing aid to the client’s physiological characteristics, individual needs, and personal requirements. Furthermore, it can show how well the hearing instruments will perform in typical situations to provide the best possible sound quality and comfort. The prediction is very precise and allows a professional to calculate the percentage of speech information that’ll be correctly perceived in a given situation. There is another important advantage of this method. The software is constantly being improved and updated which makes the procedure even more effective!
The method is great for comparing different models of hearing aids. It allows you to find the best option out of the hundreds of available models in a short time. Choose the best prescription hearing aids with high performance and ease of use!
With a computerized hearing aid choice, the system and the audiologist consider various factors.
Each body and the structure of the hearing organs are individual. Therefore, the audiologist uses special equipment so as not to miss anything:
- Client’s ability to recognize speech in a quiet environment (speech audiometry)
- Signal-to-noise ratio. A measure of the ability to understand speech in background noise
- Articulation index
- Speech intelligibility
- Binaural redundancy
- Auditory sensitivity of each ear to sound at different frequencies
Acoustic environment factors
When selecting a hearing aid, it is important to consider how the patient’s hearing responds to the various acoustic situations they are exposed to daily. The hearing care professional considers the following factors:
- Type of noise. The system uses patterns of different acoustic situations by varying the volume and frequency of the noise depending on the nature of the hearing loss
- The number of people in the group. The more interlocutors – the higher the noise level
- Lombard effect
- The distance to the speaker. The closer you get, the louder his speech becomes, and vice versa
- Speech volume (whispering, normal speech, shouting)
- Visual information (lip movements, facial expressions). The system takes into account how well you can see the speaker’s face
Finally, the technical features and functions of each model must be considered. There are different manufacturers today. They offer different hearing aids with lots of features. What technical factors are the most important?
- Technological level
- Type of microphone: omnidirectional (picks up all sounds) and directional (focuses on a specific sound source)
- Type and subtype of hearing aid
- Presence, location, and size of the ventilation hole
- What kind of noise-canceling technology is used in the hearing aid. The system determines the differences between different models
- Comparison of unilateral and bilateral hearing aids
- The effect of various features and accessories on the performance and effectiveness of a hearing aid for a particular user
- Hearing aid program settings: how they respond to changes in the environment
All these factors help an audiologist choose the most effective and comfortable hearing aid for each American. An individual choice increases the likelihood of effective medical device use!