The Department of Health reports that around 3.6 million Australians suffer from varying degrees of hearing loss. Old age and excessive noise are the two top causes of loss of hearing.
Hearing aids come in different shapes and sizes. There are different types for different hearing conditions too. Preference, budget, and degree of hearing loss are some of the most important things to consider when buying hearing aids in 2021.
But, how do you know what type of hearing aid to buy? How much should you shell out for your hearing aid? This hearing aid buying guide will help you find the best hearing aid in terms of effectiveness and price.
Types of Hearing Aids
Choosing a hearing aid isn’t just about choosing a style. Some hearing aids work better for some hearing conditions. If you want to know what type of hearing aid you should buy, you should know the different types of hearing aids in the market.
Invisible Hearing Aids
Invisible hearing aids are pushed into ear canals, so no one except the person wearing them knows where they are. These are small and discreet, and they’re perfect if you don’t want other people to know you have a hearing condition. Most invisible hearing aids are custom-fit and come in different skin-tone colours. You can use remote controls or smartphones to control an invisible hearing aid.
Invisible hearing aids are great for extended wear. They come with small, replaceable batteries. There are three sub-types: Lyric, completely in the canal (CIC), and invisible in the canal (IIC). IIC aids can last for up to 7 days, while Lyric batteries are meant to last for months. IIC aids can also be removed at will, while you should only remove a Lyric hearing aid when it stops working or if it gets painful to wear.
BTE Hearing Aids
BTE stands for ‘behind the ear’. Most people recognise this type of hearing aid because it’s the most popular among those who are hard of hearing. The receiver sits behind the ear and amplifies the sound it receives into the ear canal. They’re usually large and hard to hide. But, their bigger size usually means longer battery lives, cheaper costs, and better sound amplification. BTE hearing aid batteries are typically rechargeable.
RIC Hearing Aids
RIC or receiver in the canal hearing aids look a lot like BTE hearing aids, only smaller and more discreet. They’re great for first-time wearers and you can fit them with rechargeable batteries as well. An audiologist may recommend an RIC hearing aid for people suffering from mild to severe hearing loss.
ITE Hearing Aids
ITE means in the ear, and ITE hearing aids are customised to fit your ear structure. They sit on the outer portion of your ear. They’re smaller than BTE hearing aids but larger than both RIC and invisible hearing aids. Since they sit on the ear’s outer portion, getting them in the right colour is key to hiding them better. Luckily, most ITE aids come in many different skin-tone colours.
Like BTE devices, rechargeable batteries power most ITE hearing aids. They may also come with more controls and features than smaller devices.
Costs of Hearing Aids
Lessened productivity is a result of hearing loss. It may be challenging for people who are hard of hearing to find stable jobs, too. This loss of productivity, and the tendency to retire prematurely because of hearing conditions, is estimated to cost the world around $135 billion every year. Communication difficulties, social isolation, avoidance, and stigma attributes to about $740 billion more.
Hearing loss can be costly, and these numbers from WHO prove it. Hearing loss can negatively affect someone’s mental well-being. Furthermore, hearing loss can only get more expensive if left untreated. But luckily, hearing aids provide a cost-effective solution.
How Much Do Hearing Aids Cost?
The cheapest and most basic hearing aid can cost less than $1,000. Additional or custom-built features can drive the prices upwards of $4,500. Hearing support devices are usable for up to several years, though.
Your lifestyle, ear structure, and degree of hearing loss determine what type of hearing aid may be suitable for you. The wrong type of hearing aid may provide very little relief from hearing strain and may even make matters worse. This makes it essential to get only professional assessments for hearing problems.
Price also depends on the brand. Phonak, Unitron, Oticon, Widex, Starkey, and Siemens & Signia (Sivantos) are some of the best and most popular hearing aid brands. Phonak Lyric invisible hearing aids, which some people call contact lenses for the ear, even come with yearly subscriptions.
Hearing aids can be costly. You can expect them to cost you at least $1,000. However, these devices can help reduce hearing strain and provide clearer hearing. They can improve your quality of life, and prevent other hearing complications.
Hearing Aid Features
Some hearing aids come equipped with features that may not be essential but can definitely make your life easier. For example, not all hearing aids can have rechargeable batteries. Some hearing aids, especially the smaller ones, can only run on disposable batteries.
Noise reduction is an essential hearing aid feature. But, some hearing devices have better noise reduction features than others. Some can even reduce wind noise levels. Noise reduction settings may be programmable, and some hearing aids have pre-programmed settings for meetings and many other social settings.
Directional microphones are used to pick up sounds better in a chosen direction. They may be used to pick up sounds coming from the wearer’s front, back, or sides. These are great to have in places where there are lots of background noises.
Remote controls allow hard of hearing wearers to change hearing aid settings without actually touching the hearing aids. You can even connect more modern hearing aids to smartphones. You just have to download apps so you can control a connected hearing device. Smartphone-controlled hearing devices are popular with those who use hearing aids for both ears because apps allow them to synchronise the changes made between two devices.
Hearing Aid Buying Guide 2021
You may already have an idea about which type of hearing aid to get and how much your budget should be. But, how right are you? Here’s a step-by-step guide of how to get a hearing aid:
#1: Get checked
Book an appointment and find out precisely what type of hearing aid you need. There are many types of hearing aids in the market, and it may get too overwhelming to choose the best one. Besides, picking the wrong hearing aids or setting them up the wrong way can worsen your hearing condition.
A team of clinicians, audiometrists, and audiologists can help you choose the best hearing aid. They can help you choose a hearing aid based on your budget, preference, and current and projected hearing condition. As certified health professionals, they are licensed to assess your hearing and help you make an informed decision.
#2: Get trials
Professional audiologists will recommend suitable hearing aids based on your hearing condition. But, how do you know if you’re making the right choice? Hearing aids can be costly, so it’s understandable that you’d want to try them out first.
That’s why it’s usual to get hearing aid trials. These trials are mostly for people to experience the difference that a hearing aid could make. But, they’re also designed to aid with the decision-making process.
Hearing aid trials usually last a week. This trial can help you get used to a hearing device. If you decide to return the device, clinics may refund you some of the amount that you paid. If you decide to go through with the purchase, trial fees may be deducted from your total bill. Ask your hearing specialist about getting a trial.
#3: Get guarantees
Natural hearing loss can be preventable. But once the damage has been done, hearing loss is typically irreversible. It’s normal for anyone with worsening hearing conditions to think about the future. Would their hearing aids still work after a few years? Would they need to get a new hearing aid then? Would hearing aids even work as their condition worsens?
Hearing aids normally have a working lifespan of 5 years. However, you can protect yourself from additional repair and maintenance costs by getting hearing aids with warranties.
#4: Get set
The costs of hearing aids can vary widely. You also need to consider the cost of professional fees, accessories, rehabilitation, and other options. It’s generally expensive to get hearing conditions treated. Fortunately, Australia’s Hearing Services Program can offer subsidies. If you’re eligible for the program, they’d be able to help you with hearing devices, support, and other hearing services. Some insurance companies also offer hearing aid rebates.
Hearing and Audiology is a registered provider under the Hearing Services Program. You can book an appointment online or call us at 08 9388 8003. Our friendly and professional audiometrists, audiologists, and clinicians can help you get the best hearing aid for your condition.