Hearing loss is a widespread condition that affects millions of people globally. Sadly, it is often overlooked, disregarded, or accepted as part and parcel of the aging process. But the mental, emotional, and physical effects of hearing loss can be devastating and should never be ignored, regardless of age or severity.
Before considering any type of hearing aid, it’s strongly advised that you seek out a professional diagnosis of your personal hearing loss. If you experience sudden hearing loss, consult a doctor immediately.
The brain’s adjustment to amplification is a difficult change and studies have shown better outcomes when under the care of an audiologist or hearing aid specialist. Hearing aids are better able to fine-tune to your specific hearing loss prescription, and no two hearing losses are the same. A huge component to success with hearing aids is how well your brain can process and understand speech, especially in the presence of background noise, which is degraded with hearing loss. The more advanced the technology, the better the hearing aids will allow you to discern speech within background noise, so if this is a concern, a personal sound amplification product, or PSAP, is not the answer.
Whether you’ve been diagnosed with severe hearing loss or simply need a bit of a volume boost, there are a number of devices available that are specifically designed to improve hearing and reduce the isolation you may feel as a person with a hearing impairment. The vast array of options is hope-inspiring, but finding the best hearing aid for your needs can be challenging. Don’t fret – we’re here to help!
If you find yourself struggling to hear in certain situations or feel that you could do with a little more volume, you’ll need to decide whether you need a true hearing aid or PSAP. A PSAP isn’t quite the same as the hearing aid your doctor would prescribe; it’s available over the counter.
Should you be experiencing more serious hearing impairment, we strongly recommend consulting a hearing healthcare specialist for a prescription-grade medical hearing aid tailored to your individual needs.
Our detailed guide below will help you better understand your various options, bringing you one step closer to finding the product that’s right for you.
How do prescription-grade hearing aids work?
Today, an estimated 90% of prescription-grade hearing aids on the market are digital. While there are a large variety of styles to choose from, they all work in more or less the same manner.
- A microphone picks up sound and converts it to electrical signals.
- A microchip translates these electrical signals into digital code, processing and optimizing them according to user settings before converting them back to electrical signals.
- An amplifier receives these fine-tuned signals and strengthens them.
- A receiver converts the amplified electrical signals into sound and delivers them to the ear.
In the case of traditional analog hearing aids, the microchip isn’t present. This means that all sounds are amplified – even the ones you don’t need to hear (like interference and wind) and those you don’t want to hear (like muffled conversations and background noise).
Although analog hearing aids do tend to be more affordable and are still used by some people, digital hearing aids offer a vastly superior overall hearing experience.