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The procedure for purchasing hearing aids was in the past a lot easier. There were only a few styles to choose from and they all in essence functioned the same way, which was to say not very well.

It wasn’t until digital technology was integrated into the design that hearing aids became viable solutions for the recovery of hearing. And with digital technology, a number of features became readily available to accommodate a multitude of listening scenarios.

But that’s the tradeoff—simple choices that produced inadequate results are now complicated choices with a number of options.

But difficult does not mean impossible, and the time spent is well worth the gains in hearing you can obtain. It’s also why it’s vital to partner with an experienced hearing specialist that can walk you through all of the important considerations.

Below are six things to look for when selecting hearing aids, along with the questions to ask your hearing professional.

1. Programmability

Hearing amplification products are not all created equal. In fact, the distinction between the cheapest personal sound amplifier and the highest end digital hearing aid is the distinction between a Ford Pinto and a Porsche.

While you may not require the highest end hearing aid model available, the primary difference you should be concerned about between a personal amplifier and a hearing aid is programmability.

Hearing aids must be programmed to amplify sounds according to your unique hearing loss. Otherwise, all sound is amplified equally and that’s not going to help you hear speech any better than before.

Ask your hearing professional about programming capability, including pre-programed settings you can use in a variety of circumstances, like at a restaurant versus at home.

2. Style

Hearing aids are available in several sizes and styles, ranging from behind-the-ear to entirely in the ear canal.

You’ll want to balance cost, functionality, ease-of-use, and appearance when making your decision on hearing aid styles. You’ll also want to work with a hearing professional on this one, as several factors should be taken into consideration, including the severity of your hearing loss.

3. Directional microphones

People buy hearing aids for a variety of reasons and to hear a mixture of sounds, but the foremost reason is to hear and understand speech.

If that’s true for you, you’ll want to inquire about directional microphones in any hearing aid you’re checking into.

Hearing aids with directionality contain two or more microphones situated at a specific distance from each other within the hearing aid. The variation in arrival time of sound to each microphone then dictates how the hearing aid responds to the sound.

This allows the hearing aid to target the specific sound source in front of you, which if it’s a person, will be the sounds of speech.

4. Background noise minimization

Background noise and feedback suppression are built into the majority of digital hearing aid models, but you’ll want to validate this with any model you’re considering.

Hearing aids contain a microprocessor that can discern between high-frequency sounds (like speech) and low-frequency sounds (like background noise). The microprocessor can then boost speech while curbing everything else.

5. Telecoils

A telecoil is a small copper coil integrated into the hearing aid. While that doesn’t sound all that impressive, what it can achieve definitely is.

Telecoils make it possible for you to speak on the phone without feedback and connect to hearing loop systems. For instance, if a hearing loop system is installed in a church or movie theater, sound will be transmitted directly to your hearing aid for maximum clarity.

Hearing loops can also be installed in home theater systems for the same effect. Ask your hearing professional for additional information.

6. Wireless connection

Did you just purchase a new iPhone or smartphone?

If so, you may want to consider investing in compatible hearing aids that link up wirelessly to these products. That way, you can stream phone calls and music directly to your hearing aids for optimal sound quality.

Your smartphone can even become your hearing aid remote control, where you can subtly regulate the volume and settings.


There’s a lot to take into account when choosing a hearing aid, which is why it’s vital to work with a trustworthy and knowledgeable hearing care professional.

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