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Questions to Ask When Shopping for Hearing Aids

You may be shopping for hearing aids for yourself or helping a parent choose the right hearing aid. For whatever reason, shopping for hearing aids can be tricky. There are a variety of styles, sizes and features available and knowing which questions to ask will help you pick the perfect hearing aid for you or your family member.

1. Ask whether the hearing aid you want is best for your hearing loss. Although you may want aid that is completely in the ear, if your doctor or hearing specialist says that your hearing loss is profound, this probably isn't the best choice. Don't sacrifice your ability to hear because of vanity. Some hearing aids aren't designed to amplify enough to overcome severe hearing loss. Others are particularly well suited for this type of hearing problem.

2. Ask if the hearing aid has a noise reduction feature. This is a newer technology in hearing aids [] that allows for "noise reduction" that muffles background noise and interference. This allows you to more clearly hear speech without it being drowned out by background noise. This is achieved through a digital noise reduction circuit that reduces the amplification to cut down on background noise.

Noise reduction can be a particularly nice feature if you frequently dine out or attend events where there will be lots of background noise. By essentially "turning down the volume" on the background sound, these hearing aids provide users with a more comfortable listening environment.

3. How many bands or channels do the available hearing aids [] offer? In general, the more bands or channels a hearing aid has, the more finely tuned it will be to pick up and enhance sound without distortion. Multi-channel compression will split sound into several parts, using a different frequency for each region of the hearing spectrum. With the right compression applied to each channel, volume levels are fine-tuned and then the signals across each channel are recombined. If you vary in the amount of hearing loss you suffer from, which most people do, a multi-channel hearing aid may be a good choice.

4. Ask if there is feedback cancellation on any of the company's hearing aids. No one likes to hear the high-pitched whistle of a hearing aid that is experiencing feedback. If you're the person wearing the hearing aid, the screech you hear can be painful, so more and more hearing aids today feature feedback cancellation to prevent this irritating and loud sound.

5. Ask if the available hearing aids have noise smoothing technology that controls sharp noises such as dishes clattering and doors slamming.

6. Make sure you ask about directional microphones in your hearing aids. These tiny, finely tuned microphones are designed to pick up sounds in front of you while minimizing sounds behind you. There is no other feature that will help you more with hearing in noise. It's ideal for church services, noisy restaurants and other situations where you want your hearing aid to focus on the person you're conversing with or your television program you're watching, not what is going on behind you. Directional microphones are not available on all styles of hearing aids.

7. Ask about the whether your hearing aid has a volume control or a remote control option. For some patients this can be a very valuable accessory because sometimes they find the hearing aids are not loud enough or too loud. A volume control provides a very easy to use remedy. Patients with dexterity issues may not want this feature.

8. Don't forget to ask if any of the hearing aids you're considering are covered by a warranty. Most reputable hearing aid providers offer a warranty that will cover most, if not all, of the parts in your hearing aid for a year or longer.

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