People often think that a high price tag automatically implies a superior product. High prices are often associated with good quality, whether it is products or services, but is this true? Are expensive hearing aids better than more affordable options? With advancements being made in technology and cost-reducing strategies, providing good quality products at affordable prices is now possible. Hearing aids are no exception.
How do hearing aids work?
A hearing aid is an electronic device that makes sound loud and clearer for the user to hear. Hearing aids have a microphone that picks up sound and changes the sound into electrical signals. The amplifier then increases the volume of those signals. Changes to those electrical signals are based on your hearing loss, listening needs, and program settings selected for the hearing aids. The receiver then changes the signals back into sound and send it to your ears.
Does the price matter?
When you start looking for the right hearing aid for you, your budget will be one of the most relevant factors. Different hearing aid users have different hearing needs based on their lifestyles and preferences, that is why it’s important to buy a hearing aid that meets those hearing needs. Expensive hearing aids may not necessarily meet your needs or expectations, and you may end up being unhappy to use them. Just because a hearing aid is more expensive does not mean that you will be more satisfied with the outcome of wearing it, or that it is a better hearing aid. There are, however, some questions you should ask yourself to find the right pair for you.
What to consider when shopping for a good hearing aid
- The digital signal processor, that changes the incoming sounds to what you hear. A good quality digital signal processor allows the hearing aid to produce good quality sound. The advancements of digital signal processors allow for good quality digital signal processors to be manufactured at a reduced cost. You can speak to your hearing health provider for a hearing aid evaluation session to hear the sound quality of a hearing aid you are interested in.
- Compare the least expensive hearing aids to more expensive hearing aids. During your hearing aid evaluation session, test both the least expensive hearing aids and then the more expensive hearing aids. It is possible that you will not notice any difference in sound quality, comfort, and usability.
- Check if there is a refund policy. A hearing aid brand that offers a refund on their product is usually confident in the performance of their hearing aids. You can also ask your hearing health provider about the complaints and compliments other hearing aid users have given on that hearing aid. This will give you an idea of what others’ experiences were with that particular hearing aid brand. However, it would be best if you still tried the hearing aid as everyone’s experiences and hearing needs are different.
- Hearing aid durability. Check the IP rating of the hearing aid, if the hearing aid is nano-coated and which parts are nano-coated, and does the hearing aid have wax filters – these are some protective features that help to prolong the usability of the hearing aid.
- Whether the hearing aid is suited to your lifestyle. An expensive hearing aid might come with many features, but is that what you need? Let’s consider some scenarios:
- Scenario 1: An elderly retired person that does not go out much to social events might need a basic hearing aid that makes sounds loud and clear enough to be able to hear, and have easy to use buttons for on/off, and volume control.
- Scenario 2: A person who lives an active lifestyle, loves technology and has a job that requires them to attend many meetings and social events. They might need a hearing aid that cuts out background noise, adjusts the volume automatically to different environments, allows them to hear clearly over the phone, and perhaps a hearing aid that comes with an application – to enable them to make changes using their phone.
- Scenario 3: A person who prioritizes their appearance. A less noticeable hearing aid such as in-the-ear and completely-in-the-ear hearing aids that match their skin’s color could be an ideal option—provided that it offers good sound quality, produces sounds loud enough to hear comfortably, and meets their hearing needs.
Questions to ask a hearing healthcare practitioner
- Which hearing aid is appropriate for me?
- Will the suggested hearing aid be able to cater for changes in my hearing levels?
- What can I expect from the recommended hearing aid?
- How long would it take for me to adapt to using a hearing aid?
- Do I need two hearing aids or one?
- Which type of hearing aid would be best for me?
- What other alternative hearing aids are available that fit within my budget?
Factors which may affect your choice of hearing aid includes
- Type and degree of hearing loss.
- Shape and size of the ear.
- Cosmetic needs.
- Hand dexterity- Are you able to use your hand and fingers well? It is important to inform your audiologist if you experience any problems with the use of your hands and fingers. You would need your hands and fingers to remove, insert, clean, and change the battery of your hearing aid.
- Listening goals: What you expect from your hearing aid.
Expensive hearing aids are not always better, for you. Find what works for you, what suits your pocket, and what gives you confidence in knowing you can follow conversations with ease.