The Three Hallmarks Of The Best Hearing Aids

hearing aid - Hearing medical chart showing and hearing aid

The objective of a hearing aid is simple to explain but often surprisingly difficult to quantify, and this is one of several reasons why there are so many different types of devices available on the market and in the hands of experts.

These different types of hearing aids are more suited in terms of size, shape, form factor, features, audio level, power and functionality for different types of people with varying challenges to their hearing and lifestyle factors.

Some people need more powerful hearing aids to tackle particular hearing challenges, whilst others would like aids that are largely inconspicuous and/or can be worn for a long period of time.

Determining these needs and ensuring that someone is a candidate for hearing aids is part of the process, but determining if a particular device has helped is complex, and requires a mix of audiometry, real ear measurement and the experience of the person wearing them.

Particularly with regards to the latter, the best hearing aids for a particular person will succeed in these three ways.

 

Usage

Probably the easiest satisfaction metric to mention, the more willing someone is to use their hearing aids, the better they are serving that particular person’s needs and the more effectively they are helping to prevent further hearing difficulties.

Conversely, if someone does not want to wear their hearing aids on a regular basis, it could be a sign that there is something wrong with them that means they need alterations or even replacing entirely.

People opt not to wear their hearing aids for a range of reasons. These can include the fit, how comfortable they are not only to wear but to use, and whether they feel like they are having a meaningful effect on a person’s ability to engage with the aural world around them.

Most people will need some time to get used to their new hearing aids, and it can be common for people to build up to wearing them constantly, similar to how people take time to get used to their glasses.

However, if they are regularly not being used, this is a sign that they are not meeting a person’s needs, or in doing so is providing such discomfort that it is preferable to not wear them.

 

Recognising Speech

Much like how an eye test can determine in relatively consistent conditions how effectively a prescription pair of glasses is working, the best way to determine how well a hearing aid is working is by seeing how well it aids the recognition of speech.

A hearing instrument does more than merely amplify sound, and the complex interplay between the ear and the brain when it comes to processing speech means that the only way to know if it is installed and calibrated correctly is to have a conversation and see how easy or difficult it is to follow.

 

Satisfaction

Finally, the best judge of a hearing aid’s effectiveness is the person themselves. If they are happy with how they feel and the improvements in hearing, that is a good sign that the hearing aid is working as it should be.

This typically requires a self-report assessment in a follow-up appointment, talking about how it feels and any problems they have felt.