How to Get the Most Out of Your Hearing Aids

Woman with hearing loss wearing hearing aids having fun with her friends in the park

A car isn’t really an impulse purchase (unless you’re very, very rich). Which means you probably do a ton of research first. You look at reviews, you compare prices, you evaluate gas mileage. (You’re on Google a lot.) This level of research makes sense! You’re about to drop tens of thousands of dollars on something–and spend years paying it off (unless, again, you are very rich). So you want to make sure it’s worth it!

Not only do you consider the objective factors (gas mileage, safety, etc), but you’ll also think about fits for your lifestyle. What style of vehicle do you enjoy? How much room do you need for weekly groceries? How much pep do you need to feel when you press down that accelerator?

In other words, to get the most out of your new car, you have to examine your options and make some choices. And that’s the same attitude you should take when selecting your hearing aids. They may not cost tens of thousands of dollars, but they are an investment. And getting the most out of your investment means figuring out which devices work best in general–as well as what delivers the most for your lifestyle.

The benefits of hearing aids

In just the same way that you can talk about the benefits of a car in very general terms (this model will get you from Point A to Point B, for example), you can also discuss the benefits of hearing aids in a similarly broad way. Hearing aids are pretty great!

Yes, they help you hear–but for most people, the benefits are more tangible than that. With a pair of well-working hearing aids, you can stay connected to the people in your life. You’ll be able to more easily follow conversations at the dinner table, listen to your grandkids try to tell you about cool new dinosaurs, and chit chat with the checkout clerk at the grocery store.

With all these benefits, it makes sense that you’d start to ask, “How can I make my hearing aids last longer?” You want to keep those benefits coming!

Do more expensive hearing aids work better?

There might be some people out there who would assume that the best way to make your hearing aid work better and last longer is to simply buy the most expensive device possible.

And, to be sure, hearing aids can be an investment. There’s a reason why some devices are expensive in the first place:

  • Hearing aids are designed to include very sophisticated technologies–and they have to make those technologies as small as possible. That means you’re paying for a very potent technological package.
  • Hearing aids are also designed to last for quite a while. Especially if you take care of them.

But that doesn’t mean the most expensive option will automatically work best. There are a lot of variables to consider (including the degree of your hearing loss and, well, your budget!) Do some hearing aids last longer than others? Sure! But that isn’t always dictated by how expensive the device was in the first place.

As with any other investment, hearing aids will require regular maintenance in order to continue working properly. What’s more, your hearing aids will need to be tuned to your ears and calibrated for your unique level of hearing loss.

Make sure you get the right hearing aids for you

So, what are your options? When it comes to hearing aids, you’ll have several different styles and types to choose from. You can work with your audiologist to figure out which ones are best for you and your hearing goals. But in general, here’s what you’ll have to choose from:

  • Completely-in-the-Canal Hearing Aids (CIC): These types of hearing aids can deliver high quality sound and tend to be very discrete (great for people who want to hide their hearing aids). The only trouble is that they tend to have a shorter lifespan and battery life. The small size also means you don’t get some of the most modern features.
  • In-the-Canal Hearing Aids (ITC): These hearing aids are custom molded to your ear canal–which makes them mostly discrete. Because they’re slightly larger than CIC models, they may contain more high-tech features. Some of these features can be a bit tricky to manipulate by hand (because the devices are still quite small). Even still, ITC models are great for people who need more features but still want to remain discreet.
  • In-the-Ear Hearing Aids: These devices are also molded to your ears. No part of the device sits in your ear canal–it all sits in your outer ear. Two styles are available (full shell, which fits the entirety of your ear, or half shell, which sits in the lower ear). These devices are more visible, but can contain sophisticated and powerful microphones, making them a great choice for noise control or complex hearing problems.
  • Behind-the-Ear Hearing Aids (BTE): In a way, BTE hearing aids are the best of both worlds. This style of device has one bit that sits in your ear (that’s the speaker), but moves all of the bulky electronics to a housing that sits behind your ear. The pieces are connected by a small tube, but for the most part, it’s pretty non-visible. These devices are popular because they offer many amplification options. These types are a great compromise between visibility and power.
  • Receiving-in-the-Canal (or in the Ear) Hearing Aids (RIC or RITE): This is a lot like BTE hearing aids, except the speaker bit sits in the ear canal. This makes them even less visible, with the added benefit of cutting down on things like wind noise.
  • Open Fit Hearing Aids: Open fit hearing aids tend to allow low-frequency sounds to enter the ear even while you’re hearing the device. This makes them a good fit for individuals who can hear those low frequencies pretty well (but have trouble with high frequency sounds). It’s not a good option for all types of hearing loss, but it does work well for many people.

What about over-the-counter hearing aids?

Over-the-counter hearing aids (or OTC hearing aids, to keep inundating you with acronyms) are yet another option to consider. The trouble is that OTC hearing aids are kind of like OTC medications–they work okay in a general sense. But if your hearing loss warrants a set of more powerful hearing aids or more specialized hearing aids, OTC devices may fall somewhat short. In general, OTC hearing aids can’t be specially tuned to your hearing in the same way that prescription hearing aids can.

No matter what kind of hearing aid you decide to purchase, it’s always a good idea to talk to your hearing specialist about what might work best for your specific needs.

Maintenance and repair

Of course, once you’ve gone to all the trouble to select your perfect hearing aid type, you need to take care of it. (Just like your car needs oil changes once in a while.)

So, now you’re thinking: how often should my hearing aids be checked? In general, you should schedule a regular maintenance and cleaning appointment for your hearing aids every six-to-twelve months. This gives you a chance to make sure everything’s working properly and as it should!

It’s also not a bad idea to be somewhat familiar with your device’s warranty. If and when you need repair, knowing what’s covered and what isn’t by that warranty can save you some cash! So now you’re wondering: how can I make my hearing aids last longer? The answer is sometimes simple: good maintenance and a great warranty.

So… what’s the best hearing aid?

There is no single greatest all-time-best hearing aid. If you go to twelve different hearing specialists and request the “best” hearing aid, they might provide you with a dozen different models.

The key is to find the best hearing aid for you–and for your needs. Some families will opt for a minivan–others for a sport utility vehicle. It all just depends, and the same is true for hearing aids.

But the more you know ahead of time and the better informed you are, the easier it will be to find the hearing aids that are perfect for you.

If you want your hearing aids to work their best for as long as they can, see a hearing specialist near you.

Want more information?

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