If you are the type of person who researches a product before deciding to buy it, you have then many features to consider when buying your hearing aid. With new features added, this constant change of new technology makes it difficult to decipher what exactly you are getting and what is worth paying extra for.
Which of the features matter the most to you? Let’s take a look at the top hearing aid features that matter most and what the latest advancements in hearing aids are.
Omnidirectional/ Directional Microphones
Automatic/ Adaptive Directionality
Tinnitus Masking Features
Wind Noise Reduction
Data Logging and Learning
Fully Automatic/ Environmentally Adaptive
In the world of devices, new features are constantly added every day. As the level of technology increases, digital hearing aids become more automatic with more features to help communicate in different listening situations.
For people who look by themselves to do independent research, either before or after their hearing assessment, comparing different manufacturers’ hearing aids can be difficult and confusing. The reason why is that there are many similar features with slight differences between them, so the user will be confused about which to choose. Other unique features are available at certain technology levels only, so the user needs the help of a professional to make the right choice.
Seeing a hearing specialist or an audiologist for a comprehensive hearing assessment helps you narrow down all your options so that you find the most suitable hearing device for your condition. Your level of hearing difficulty, lifestyle, and hearing needs are taken into consideration. It is during this appointment that hearing aid features are well explained- their uses and benefits.
The number of channels in a hearing aid refers to the number of handles used to adjust the hearing aid to your hearing levels. More channels in the hearing aid mean greater flexibility in matching the hearing aid amplification to your hearing levels.
Omnidirectional/ directional microphones
Directionality in hearing aids helps to focus on important sounds. This is enabled by tiny microphones within the device, aimed in different directions in the ear canal. There are two types of microphones in a hearing aid:
Omnidirectional: This means using one microphone only to pick up sounds. The microphone is usually sensitive to all sounds around you.
Directional: This means having two microphones that are useful in situations where there is background noise.
They focus more on the sounds in front of you and help improve speech understanding in noisy situations by reducing competing sounds from the sides or behind you.
Automatic/ Adaptive Directionality
In automatic directionality, the hearing aid switches between omnidirectional and directional microphone modes by itself based on the listening environment, without you having to do anything. This feature helps the hearing aid automatically adjust its settings to optimize hearing in different listening situations, such as quiet conversations or noisy environments like crowded streets or restaurants. It ensures the user experiences a far more natural listening experience when moving around.
On the other hand, in adaptive directionality, the hearing aid switches into a directional microphone mode when required, while simultaneously adapting to the changes in noise in your listening environment.
This feature is more effective when the hearing aid has more channels.
This feature reduces the amount of feedback, which is the disturbing whistling that is familiar to many hearing aid wearers. If the amplification is large enough, the signals picked up by the hearing aid become louder, eventually resulting in high frequent whistling sound. This feature fortunately minimizes the problem of feedback by removing this signal part before it is reamplified. It prevents the occurrence of whistling or feedback sounds. It identifies and cancels feedback before it becomes audible to the wearer.
The most sophisticated hearing aids have been presented recently with tinnitus masking features. They provide generic background noises- white noise, pink noise, nature sounds, or other subtle sounds. They are helpful at night or in quiet environments when tinnitus is more dominant.
This feature draws your attention away from tinnitus so you can avoid it.
Background noise can be a major nuisance to someone suffering from hearing loss. Even while wearing hearing aids, background noise can cause problems, especially in noisy environments.
Hearing aid manufacturers use different algorithms in their hearing aids to achieve both increasing listening comfort and maintaining speech understanding. The noise reduction feature makes the background noise less annoying while increasing your listening comfort. For example, loud restaurants can be a problem for those with hearing aids so this feature might help in reducing the unwanted sounds so the wearer can enjoy the conversations taking place.
Hearing aids nowadays have rechargeable batteries, which allow the person to stop swapping out tiny button batteries every time. By eliminating the need for a regular battery replacement, rechargeable hearing aid batteries allow the user to maintain the device without the hassle of constantly replacing traditional batteries. They provide sustainable and reliable solutions to those living with hearing loss.
Advanced lithium-ion rechargeable batteries offer some of the longest entertainment times because they enable users to enjoy a full day of uninterrupted use without needing to charge or replace the batteries halfway through the day.
Most of today’s advanced hearing aids come with smartphone apps, which allow the user to make the right adjustments, monitor battery life, and contact their hearing care provider/ audiologist. They work by routing phone calls or other sounds directly to the user’s hearing aid. Some apps convert speech into text and translate different languages.
Many settings in hearing aids can be programmed for you to access in case you want to override the automatic directionality setting. This is usually done via a push button on the hearing aid itself or via remote control.
This wireless feature enables hearing aids to connect to mobile phones, smartwatches, and other devices that use Bluetooth, usually through an intermediary device. It can eliminate feedback from the microphone.
It also has additional functions. For example, with your hearing aid now, you can take phone calls or listen to music right through your device. This means you don’t have to take your hearing aids out if your phone rings or swap them for earbuds to play music.
Wind noise reduction
This feature is available to help reduce the annoying sounds made by wind blowing over the microphones, thus reducing or avoiding the amplification of it. It is suitable for those who spend a lot of their time enjoying outdoor hobbies, like boaters or golfers.
Data logging and learning
Data logging records how you are using and wearing your hearing aids: the length of time, what types of listening environments you have been in, and how you have been adjusting your hearing aid. If consistent changes to the volume are made, then data learning will apply your preferences over time.
The audiologist in this case can access this information when you return for a follow-up appointment.
As you can see, numerous features are available in hearing aids. They create incredible comfort, clarity, and ease of use. Researching your options can help prepare you for a more informed decision. However, this doesn’t exclude the importance of face-to-face discussion with the audiologist, who has all the expertise and training needed to recommend the most suitable option for your case.
It is not only important to understand what each feature does, but also to understand which feature is the most suitable for you. If you are interested in learning which hearing aids are right for you, checking what features you need, or upgrading your hearing device, contact our team or schedule an appointment.