How to Find the Best Hearing Aids [2021 Recommendations]
Getting older and needing hearing aids are almost synonymous with each other. It’s almost inevitable that your hearing will start to fail as you age, but the severity of this can vary greatly from person to person. Your job and your lifestyle can have a big impact on how well you can hear, but ultimately it’s mostly down to the luck of the draw. Hearing aids can be a great tool in helping to improve the quality of your life, so this guide is dedicated to showing you how to find the best hearing aids.
Typically, hearing aids are small, battery-operated devices that fit either inside or behind your ear. They have a built-in microphone that picks up sounds to help you hear them more loudly or clearly. To do this, they take the sounds, process and amplify them, pass them through to a receiver and then convert the sounds into something that you are able to hear. Most hearing aids are digital. This is because they’re more effective at canceling out feedback, reducing noise (including wind and transient sounds) and amplifying sound to its strongest levels.
The level of technology you’ll need in your hearing aids will depend on the severity of your hearing loss, but luckily there are many models available that will cater to your needs. You might be struggling to hear because of too much background noise, or you might be finding it hard to catch the words of the people right next to you; if this sounds like you then a hearing aid is likely to help.
If you’re not sure where to start or need a bit of advice in choosing the right hearing aids for you, stick with this guide as it will be full of handy tips and hints to help you understand a whole lot more about what they are, what they can do and how they can slot right into your lifestyle.
Key Signs of Hearing Loss
If your hearing is starting to dwindle, you may experience the following:
- Not hearing people the first time and needing them to repeat themselves. You might also find it hard to follow a conversation that involves more than one person.
- Hearing a mumbling sound instead of words that you can make out as speech.
- Feeling completely disconnected from noisy, busy situations.
- Not fully understanding what the conversation you are involved in is about.
- Having people complain about your TV or radio is too loud.
- Headaches from where you’re concentrating too hard on what people are saying.
Why Might You Benefit from Hearing Aids?
While hearing aids can’t restore your hearing, they can make a world of difference. You might not realize the health benefits at first, but once you’ve started to use your hearing aids for a while you’ll definitely start to feel the changes to your life. If you don’t, get in touch with your audiologist as you may have the wrong hearing aids for your needs.
You’ll begin to hear sounds more clearly, and it will be easier to maintain a conversation with your friends, family, and peers – especially if you’ve been struggling to catch what the people around you are saying. Hearing aids can also promote a general sense of wellbeing within yourself. They can help you feel more empowered, independent and ready to tackle difficult situations you may have otherwise tried to avoid because of your hearing loss.
If you’re still in work, hearing aids may even help you to achieve more in your job and create more meaningful relationships with younger colleagues. Of course, hearing aids aren’t the answer to everything. They won’t fix all the issues you may be facing in your life, but by tackling such an important part of your life that is your hearing, you’ll be on your way to leading a more normal way of life if you’ve been suffering from hearing the loss in the past.
Types Of Hearing Aids Available
There are many different types of hearing aids available for a wide range of hearing loss severity, so we’ll make it easy to understand with this short guide. Read on for more information.
In-the-ear and in-the-canal hearing aids
Both in-the-ear (ITE) and in-the-canal (ITC) hearing aids sit inside the bowl area of your ear. They’re probably not suitable for the more severe cases of hearing loss, or if you suffer frequently from ear infections, although you can find these types of hearing aids in a wide range of strengths. The controls are quite small too, so you might need a remote control if you find them too fiddly. However, they are comfortable to wear and can’t really be seen by anyone around you.
Completely-in-the-canal hearing aids
If you’re looking for a hearing aid that’s discreet and hard to spot, then CIC hearing aids are a good option. As the name suggests, they sit right inside the ear canal and are generally very tiny. Because of this, expect to find fewer features so they’re best for mild to moderate hearing loss.
Invisible-in-the-canal hearing aids
IIC hearing aids are generally quite new. They’re only really available to buy privately, but they fit deep into the ear canal for a few months at a time. Your audiologist will remove them to clean them, but they’re a great option if you don’t want to keep taking them off and putting them back in frequently. IIC hearing aids are more suitable for mild to moderate hearing loss.
CROS/BiCROS hearing aids
These are perfect if you only need a hearing aid in one ear. CROS hearing aids work by capturing sound from the ear you can’t hear from, and then feeding that sound into the ear that is able to register noise. BiCROS, on the other hand, amplifies sound from both aids and feeds it into the ear that can hear.
Bone conduction hearing aids
If you suffer from severe hearing loss or even deafness, bone conduction hearing aids deliver sound straight to the cochlea. They use vibrations through the skull to enable this to happen. There are two ways to wear a bone conduction hearing aids. The first way is simply through a pair of glasses or a headband. The second is by undergoing an operation to have one fitted.
Hearing aids with tinnitus masker
Tinnitus is a condition where you hear a constant ringing sound in your ears – just like if you’ve ever been to a loud concert. The ringing can be heard in the ears or inside the head, but it can be debilitating to those suffering from it. Tinnitus maskers are designed to mask the ringing sound, lessening the impact it may have on your life.
Things to Think about before Choosing Hearing Aids
When it comes to finding the right hearing aids for you and your lifestyle, there are quite a few things to consider before making your decision. Your best starting point is to speak to an audiologist to try and determine the kind of hearing aids you might need. However, we’ve got some top tips to help get you started.
How they will fit into your lifestyle
Are you someone who likes to go out frequently with large groups of friends, or do you prefer staying alone? This will have a big impact on the hearing aids you choose as with might need hearing aids that reduce background noise.
Today’s technology has advanced so much that you can find hearing aids that connect to your TV and radio, playing the sound directly into your ears. If you enjoy listening to the radio or watching TV but find that it’s becoming more and more difficult to hear, this could be a fantastic option for you.
Like anything, your budget will have a big part to play in the hearing aids you’ll ultimately choose. They’re very much an investment, so our biggest piece of advice would be to think carefully about the long-term benefits and choose the ones that will give you the best results. Sometimes, paying a little bit more is worth the improvement your hearing aids will make to your life.
Frequently Asked Questions about Hearing Aids
It’s best not to. For a start, it can be really uncomfortable on the ear the hearing aid is in, especially if you move around a lot in bed. There’s also a higher risk of you losing the hearing aid while you sleep. However, the biggest reason you shouldn’t wear a hearing aid in bed is that you need to allow the skin inside your ears to breathe. Night-time is the perfect time for this to happen while maintaining the battery life of your hearing aid.
Most hearing aids will come with some sort of indicator so you can clearly see which one is for the right and left ear. A red mark typically indicates the right side, while blue marks the left. You can also figure out which side each hearing aid is designed for yourself. For behind-the-ear models, hold your device with the part that sits on top of the ear facing back. The earpiece should face forward. If the hearing aid you’re holding is designed for the right ear, then the earpiece will point to the left. If it’s for the left ear, the earpiece will point to the right.
Once you’ve figured this out, you can use a permanent marker pen or drop of nail polish to mark out the left and right hearing aids. Make sure it fully dries before you place them back in your ear.
Commonly known as a hearing doctor, an audiologist is a fully trained, licensed professional that specializes in diagnosing and treating all aspects of hearing loss and its associated conditions. They are able to carry out hearing tests, fit, adjust and maintain hearing aids, and offer treatment options to help any long-term problems. They’re also great for offering advice as and when you need it, so don’t hesitate to get in touch with yours if you have any questions or concerns. They’re here to help.
It really does depend on person to person. A few factors will contribute to how quickly you take to your new hearing aids, including how long you’ve left your hearing loss to go untreated, and how severe it actually is. The quicker you act, the easier it will be to get used to them.
Around 3-5 years, as long as you look after them according to the manufacturer’s instructions. Always look after your devices properly and clean them regularly to get the most out of them, as they could deteriorate quickly if not cared for.
Most hearing aids use zinc-air batteries in a range of sizes to fit your specific device. If you have a non-rechargeable device, you can generally find batteries in most pharmacies and grocery stores. However, as technology advances, you will find many hearing aids use batteries that are rechargeable so you can use them over and over again.
The Best Hearing Aids on the Market: Tried and Tested
Now you know a bit more about hearing aids, their function and how they might be able to benefit you, it’s a good idea to learn more about some of the best models that are actually on the market right now. Whatever your preferences, budget and hearing loss severity, we’ve picked three hearing aids that we think are worth taking a closer look at.
|Best for||Mild to severe hearing loss|
- Easy to assemble: Click Sleeves simply click on to Silk hearing aids and sit securely in the ear.
- Sit invisibly inside the ear.
- You can stream TV or radio audio directly into your ear.
- They come with their downloadable touchControl app so you can control your hearing aids directly from your iOS or Android device.
- They come with a large easyPocket remote with clear features to control your hearing aids.
- They come with an additional mini pocket remote that you can fit onto your keys.
- 100% mercury-free, environmentally friendly batteries.
- They include in-built Notch Therapy, which can reduce the effects of tinnitus and may even make it disappear completely.
Claimed to be one of the world’s smallest hearing aids, the Signia Silk is a revolutionary new hearing aid that promises to deliver exceptional sound quality. They use OneMic directionality, which means that the ear will be able to focus on specific sounds from the front while filtering out annoying noises from behind. If you find it hard to hear people directly next to you, then Silk hearing aids are ideal for helping you hear them more clearly and engage in more meaningful conversations.
They also utilize wireless connectivity. This means you’ll be able to get audio sound directly to your ears. As they come with remote control, you can adjust the noise levels with a simple click of the button; you don’t have to miss out on your favorite music just because you need to wear hearing aids.
When it comes to how Silk hearing aids fit, there’s no need to have them custom made as the silicone sleeves mean they can be adjusted to suit you on the spot. They’re also super soft and super small, so they slot right inside the ear with minimum fuss. And the best bit? No-one will be able to see you’re even wearing them!
As mentioned above, they’re color coded so you can easily see which hearing aid is suitable for which ear. Blue is for the left, red is for the right. However, because they’re so small you need to keep them safely stored when you’re sleeping or if you’re giving your ears some time to breathe, as they could very easily get lost.
Pros and cons:
|Super small and super soft||Very small so can get lost easily|
|Color-coded so you can see which hearing aid goes in which ear|
|Wireless connectivity to stream audio|
|Best for||Mild to profound hearing loss|
|Price||From $2,000 per hearing aid|
- Fit comfortably in the ear.
- Connects directly to your iOS or Android smartphone or other Bluetooth® enabled phones.
- Available for hands-free calling.
- The batteries are rechargeable.
- Get 16 hours of battery usage a day.
- Get remote support and give your hearing care professional the ability to customize your personal listening experience in real-time.
- TV streaming available.
- A range of different colors are available.
- Suitable for mild to profound hearing loss.
With improved sound performance and a whole host of technological features, Phonak Marvel hearing aids are becoming a hugely popular choice in the hearing aid market. One of their biggest features is the ability to stream TV and audio sound directly into your ears. This works through Bluetooth, so as long as your smartphone or Android device has this enabled then you can listen to pretty much anything with clarity.
You also get clear, rich sound when using the Phonak Marvel hearing aids. They’ve really upped the ante on this technology in the last year or so, so expect to feel fully immersed in conversations and chat wherever you are.
One of the most unique things about these hearing aids is that they can be adjusted in real-time through a video call, which is done through a professional on the other side of the video. This will ensure that the sound levels work for you perfectly. Phonak have also developed an app called myPhonak App, which allows you to give feedback about your experiences with your hearing aids. This will help to fine-tune the entire service.
The downside to these hearing aids is that if you don’t tend to use technology very often, or prefer to use a mobile phone for calls and texts only, these might be too complicated to use – especially at first. They do require some sort of knowledge in this field to get the most out of them.
Pros and Cons:
|The batteries are rechargeable||If using them for streaming, you’ll have to remember to charge them daily|
|Great sound quality|
|You can stream all forms of audio using Bluetooth|
|They work with more severe hearing loss cases|
|Best for||Mild to severe hearing|
- Studies prove Oticon Opn S users experience speech understanding at the same level as people with normal hearing.
- Comfortable behind-the-ear fit.
- Compact design.
- Improved technology, giving your brain access to relevant sounds around you.
- Wireless connectivity to your favorite devices.
- OpenSound Optimizer technology detects and prevents annoying whistling before it even happens.
- Water resistant coating.
- Available to try with a free trial.
According to research, Opticon Ops S allows you to understand speech on par with normal hearing. They’re ideal for people who enjoy being in big groups, as these hearing aids are designed to help you hear better in noisy environments where listening to others is particularly difficult. You also get access to all speech that’s around you rather than from just one speaker. This creates a much more realistic environment for you to enjoy.
The Opticon Ops S fit behind the ear in a discreet style that’s incredibly comfortable to wear. They also come with a water resistant coating to help them last a bit longer. All models have dedicated volume control and are perfectly suitable for mild to severe hearing loss. This makes them a versatile option that you can use to fit you at any given time.
Like the other two hearing aid devices we’ve reviewed, you can easily connect these hearing aids to your phone and other devices. You can make hands-free calls, stream music, stream sound from your TV and boost hearing with the app.
Feedback is an annoying downside to hearing aids that many hearing loss sufferers have to deal with. However, Oticon Open S has improved its technology to stop this feedback before you hear it. Hopefully, the end result is that you’ll forget they’re even in.
Pros and Cons:
|You get a free trial period||Not as discreet as the other two devices|
|Super comfortable fit|
|Stops annoying feedback|
See How This and Other Oticon Models Compare Here:
The Verdict: Which Hearing Aid Is the Better Option?
Our guide is designed to act as more of an informative piece to show you what kinds of hearing aids are on the market right now. As you can hopefully already tell, technology has come such a long way in recent years, and many devices have supporting apps that allow you to tailor your sound with a simple tap of a button. Many also allow you to stream music and TV shows straight to your hearing aid, so you don’t miss out on doing some of your favorite things.
When you’re looking for a hearing aid, choosing one that can live up your sound needs is the most important factor. Some will only be suitable for mild hearing loss – which might be enough for you – but others are better suited to dealing with more severe hearing loss. Make sure you have a hearing test before you purchase anything, one that is carried out by a specialist audiologist so they can advise you on exactly what you need to look for in a device.
Hearing aids have also gotten a lot smaller over the years, fitting inside the ear much more snugly so that they’re hidden from those around you. This is great for your self-confidence and wellbeing if you’re a little bit conscious about your hearing aids being seen.
The Bottom Line
Hearing loss can be a difficult thing to learn to live with, but it needn’t lessen the quality of your life. Even if you require a more specialist hearing aid than what’s on our list, or want to branch out and discover some other devices for yourself, there are so many available to you that can cater for your exact needs. If you need more help or advice, your audiologist will be armed with heaps of information to help you make your choice.
We really hope this article has helped you make a decision. Please get in touch with any feedback or further questions you may have. If you liked this article or want to delve into the world of hearing aids further, why not discover more about hear.com? This is a great, up-and-coming service that allows you to connect with a wide range of service providers to find your perfect pair of hearing aids. We’ve also got a review on Miracle-Ear hearing aids for you to discover.