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Selecting New Hearing Aids

When selecting new hearings aids, many considerations should be taken into account.  Our audiologists are trained to discuss your specific needs to help determine the best solution for your needs.  Hearing abilities, lifestyle demands, physical and cognitive limitations should all be considered before a final decision is made.  The decision should be a cooperative effort between you and your audiologist.

Do I Need Hearing Aids in Both Ears?

Consider the fact that hearing takes place, not only in the ear, but in the brain.  Sound from both ears is heard by the ears, but then ascends the auditory pathways to the auditory cortex where understanding takes place.  Understanding takes less effort when sound comes into both ears.

There are many advantages to wearing hearing aids in both ears.  There is a slight increase in the volume of sounds at the cortex when it enters both ears.  Listening in groups is easier with two ears because the brain has information about the direction that sound comes from and tells you where the speaker is.  Your attention and your eyes will more readily go to the next speaker. Hearing from a distance is better when both ears participate. People who wear two hearing aids also report that the sound appears more balanced.  When the sound is balanced, the perception of hearing is in the center of the head, a sense of stereo hearing.  When not balanced, it is perceived closer to the louder ear.   Advanced hearing aids will communicate with each other when two are worn to better manage background noise.  Finally, studies have shown that binaural hearing aid users are more satisfied with their hearing aids than people who wear only one hearing aid.  Most of the people we see that add a second hearing aid comment that they should have done it sooner.          

What Will the Hearing Aids Look Like In The Ear?

The size and shape of the hearing aid is chosen based the hearing loss, the size and shape of the ear canal, dexterity and ease of use, need for user controls such as a volume control, alternate program button, or a telecoil.  Styles range from tiny hearing aids placed completely in the ear canal to hearing aids that hang over the ear with tubing or a wire going into the ear canal.

Daily wear hearing aids can be either in the ear or behind the ear with a wire or tube leading to the ear canal.  These are the most common and are removed at night.  Lyric extended wear hearing aids are deeply seated in the ear canal and replaced every few months by the audiologist.

Just as contact lenses have both advantages and limitations over eyeglasses, some hearing aids styles will have advantages and limitations over others.  You and your audiologist should discuss what styles will work for your best hearing outcome. 

What Is The Difference Between The Most Expensive Hearing Aids and The Least Expensive?

Today’s hearing aids take advantage of computer processing after the sound enters the microphone.   This digital processing in constantly changing the sound coming out of the hearing aid in response to the environment.   

In general, the more advanced hearing aids respond to the environment more often and more aggressively to manage background noise, control feedback (whistling) and music inputs.         

Will I Need Accessories?

Accessories include remote controls to change the hearing aid volume or program as well as streamers to bring in TV, telephone, ipods directly to the hearing aids so they act as speakers.  FM systems are also available to  carry a voice from a distance or through noise straight to the hearing aid to improve reception.

Should I Wear My Hearing Aids Full Time?

Full time use is always recommended unless medical considerations contraindicate it.  The brain needs as much experience hearing as possible to strengthen the auditory connections from the ear.    There is a benefit to wearing the hearing aids even when you don’t think you need them, because the brain is constantly hearing environmental sounds,  interpreting them, and deciding which sounds to attend to.  Because it is hard to predict when you “need” to hear, full time use gurarantees you always have them when you need them.  Finally, full time users are more satisfied with their hearing aids than people who wear them part time.


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