Hearing Aid Consumer Guide
Unaided Hearing Loss
Mental Illness And Social Isolation
Unaided hearing loss can lead to isolation, depression, and a less stimulated brain. One national study conducted in 2018 showed that the rates of depression were significantly higher in those with hearing-impairment, compared to those with normal hearing.
A more recent systematic review supported these findings; indicating that hearing loss was associated with a 1.5-fold higher risk of developing depression. Unfortunately, hearing loss has also been shown to be associated with an increased risk of suicidal ideations.
If you or your loved one has hearing loss, it would be in their best interests to ameliorate this worrisome symptom as soon as possible. Hearing loss may superficially appear to be an organic symptom, but in reality, it can adversely impact on one’s mental and psychosocial health as evidenced by these studies.
Vestibular Dysfunction – Balance
Increased Risk Of Falls
How Much Do Hearing Aids Cost?
- Type of hearing aid (ITE, BTE, ITC, CIC or RITE)
- Number of channels (<16 or >16)
- Customizability (e.g. personalized to your audiogram, custom-moulded to your ear)
- Terms of Warranty
- Additional features (e.g. wind-proofing, reverberation cancelling or noise cancelling)
Low Quality vs High Quality Hearing Aids
How To Tell The Difference From High Quality Hearing Aids & Low Quality
Number Of Channels
- Channels in hearing aids are the ranges of frequencies that are created by digital filters to enhance your hearing experience.
- The higher the number of channels, the greater the quality of the hearing aids.
- Channels are responsible for expansion, compression, noise reduction and feedback suppression, amongst other features
- Quality hearing aids typically start at 16 channels onwards, whereas poor-quality hearing aids have between 0 to 8 channels
Benefits Of Having More Channels
Customize Hearing Aids With Your Hearing Test
- Quality hearing aids are fitted with an audiogram (your hearing test) functionality
- Audiograms are graphs which display your customized hearing level and is a visual representation of your hearing loss
- Quality hearing aids are able to tweak their performance to fit with your audiogram, in order to produce a tailored hearing aid experience
How To Tell If You’re Dealing With Professional Hearing Aid Providers
- Quality hearing aid providers, offer licensed hearing aid specialist or audiologist to help you through the entire fitting process (whether online through telecare or in person). This is very important because your hearing is directly corelated with your brain. The specialist is there to answer any questions you may have and teach you what to expect as your brain acclimates to your new hearing aids.
- RIC (receiver in the canal) are newer and preferred in the hearing industry. If the hearing aid provider online or in person don’t offer RIC hearing aids, then they probably don’t offer quality hearing aids.
- Exceptions of when a BTE is better than RIC, chronic ear infections or profound hearing loss
- RIC hearing aids have the latest sound processing technology, are more discreet and comfortable than BTE
High Quality Affordable Hearing Aids $780 & Up
Signia Hearing Aids $780 – $999 per hearing aid online
Basic Level Affordable Hearing Aids $149 and up
$149 – $749 per hearing aid
How to Read an Audiogram
Degrees of Hearing Loss
Hearing Aid Styles
Behind-the-Ear (BTE) Hearing Aids
BTE hearing aids hook over the ear and pick up incoming sounds before they reach the pinna – a part of the ear that funnels sound further into it. This leads to a compromise in some sonic cues, resulting in a poorer localization of sound . The main benefit of BTE hearing aids is that it has the most power which is great for severe to profound hearing loss. They hold larger batteries for extended performance life compared to most hearing aids. .
Completely-in-the-Canal (CIC) Hearing Aids
CIC hearing aids fit entirely within the ear canal and are moulded to fit each individual. They are barely noticeable and are resistant to wind-noise because of their hidden location. However, they generally do not have as many features or offer as much power as the BTE or ITC hearing aids . This solution works best for mild hearing loss people.
In-the-Canal (ITC) Hearing Aids
ITC hearing aids are similar to CIC hearing aids, in that they are also custom-moulded. However, they only fit partially within the ear canal which means they are very visible.
Receiver-in-the-Canal (RIC) Hearing Aids
RIC hearing aids have a receiver instead of a plastic tube like BTEs. They are typically smaller than BTE hearing aids and sound is usually clearer as the speaker is positioned closer to the ear canal .
Environment Influence the Quality of Sound
The location of the primary talker to whom you are listening to, the presence and absence of background noise, and even the type of background noise can influence the quality of sound processed by your hearing aid .
Hearing Aid Environment Features
- Can you put the hearing aid on correctly? If not, then the hearing aid may cause feedback and intermitting sounds if it’s not on correctly. This will cause a very pleasant experience with the hearing aids.
- Are you able to change batteries every 3 to 10 days? Hearing aid batteries are small and can be difficult to insert if you have dexterity issues. If this is you then you may want to think of buying rechargeable hearing aids The Cellion and Signia Charge and Go are rechargeable hearing aids that you never have to change batteries.
Talk To A Licensed Hearing Specialist
Causes of Hearing Aid Feedback
Hearing aid feedback management
The main causes of hearing aid feedback
Hearing aid is clogged with wax:
Most of the time earwax is the problem. You will generally hear a distorted or intermitting sound. Make sure to clean your hearing aids at least twice a week to receive the best sound and no feedback. Sometimes the hearing aid’s click dome is so full of wax, its best If you replace it all together. Here is a video on how the clean your hearing aids including replacing the RIC (receiver in the ear) hearing aid click dome for Signia, Rexton, Miracle Ear, Hansatan. Here is a link where you can buy click domes
How to clean your RIC hearing aids so they won’t get clogged with wax
Failure to insert hearing aids fully or correctly:
- Place the hearing aid behind your ear
- Insert the hearing aid in the ear canal
How to insert a RIC hearing in your ear correctly.
Poor fitting hearing aids:
Troubleshooting poor fitting hearing aids:
- You may have incorrect receiver length if you have big or small ears
- Gain or loss weight? This can change the size of the ear canal
- If you are using domes, consider trying a larger size dome or adding a retention lock.
Excessive hearing aid gain (volume):
Ear wax in the ears:
How to Clean Hearing Aids
How to Clean RIC Hearing Aids (Receiver in the Ear)
Follow these steps to clean your RIC hearing aids:
- Use the black brush that came with your hearing aids alternately a toothbrush to brush the hearing aid exterior case. Pay special attention to the microphones which are on the top side of the hearing aid.
- Use a tissue or cloth to wipe wax off the dome and receiver area.
- Use the wax loop of your black brush to gently remove any wax that you see from center hole of the dome. Be careful not to poke into the wax trap underneath.
- Deeper clean – For a deeper clean you can use a dental toothpick to retract wax from the click dome and receiver.
- If the dome is very soiled, remove the click dome and clean it with the brush or replace it altogether.
- If you have taken the click dome on and off more than twice, put on a new dome and throw away the old dome. Over time, dome plastic stretches and does not adhere to the receiver as well.
- Before you put the hearing aid in your ear, make sure that the click dome is secure on the receiver. We do not want the click dome to get stuck in your ear.
- If you have a custom mold instead of a dome, use the wax loop end of the black brush to remove wax from the hole where the sound comes out.
- If you have disposable hearing aid batteries, make it a habit to inspect the battery compartment when you change your batteries. Gently brush out any debris that you see in the compartment.
Remove/Replace Click Domes – Signia/Siemens/Miracle Ear/Rexton
- The new dome package has a removal tool indicated by an arrow. Wedge this slot tool in between the dome and the receiver.
- Twist the click dome
- Select a new dome. Make sure that it is the same style and size as your old dome.
- Press the dome on to the receiver. You will hear a “click” when the dome is fully seated.
- Tug on the dome to make sure that it is firmly in place.
- Grasp the dome with your fingers and pull it off the receiver.
- Select a new dome. Make sure that it is the same style and size as your old dome.
- Press the dome on to the receiver firmly.
- Lift the dome’s edge slightly and look at the center stem part that slips on the receiver. Make sure the stem has fully covered the attachment area of the receiver. This is usually a narrow part of the receiver.
How to Clean Hearing Aids (Instant Fit CIC Style)
How To Remove & Replace Click Sleeves Instant Fit CIC Style
How To Put On Hearing Aids
RIC Hearing Aid Style
- Visually inspect your hearing aids. Make sure you have cleaned off any wax. Check that the parts of the hearing aids fit together well. Domes should be tight against the receivers
- Remember that the right hearing aid usually has a red marker (Red is Right) somewhere on the body. The left hearing aid has a blue marker (Blue is Left).
How To Put on A Hearing Aid (RIC style)
- Place the body of the hearing aid on the ear first, and then place the receiver wire inside of the ear. A few patients prefer to place the receiver in the ear first, especially if they have custom-made molds attached. Use a lighted three-fold makeup mirror to help you see what you are doing.
- Place the body of the hearing aid over the top of your ear.
- You may need to use your other hand to pull back on your ear to straighten your ear canal. If you have a retention tail or concha lock, tuck it inside the bowl part of your ear.
- Make sure the hearing aid dome is snug inside your ear so you do not hear feedback.
CIC Instant Fit Hearing Aids
How To Put On A Hearing Aid (CIC style)
- First, visually inspect the hearing aid and make sure the click sleeve is firmly attached. Close the battery door of the hearing aid.
- Red hearing aid goes into the right ear (Red is Right) and the blue hearing aid goes into the left ear (Blue is Left)..
- Hold the hearing aid in your fingers. Remember that the click sleeve goes into your ear.
- Oriented so that the microphone is towards the top and the pull string is on the bottom. There is also a bend in the hearing aid. The outer smooth curve of the bend should be towards the front of your ear.
- Push the hearing aid into your ear.
- Gently wiggle it back and forth until it is fully seated in the ear.
- Check your ear in a mirror.
Given that at least 30% of adults in the United States of America have hearing loss, it comes as no surprise that millions of Americans face the challenges that come with hearing loss. From orientation, to cleaning, maintenance, and troubleshooting, we hope that you have gleaned some useful insights from our hearing aid consumer guide.
Still have a burning question that was unanswered? Schedule an appointment here here!
1. Surr, R.K., et al., Influence of environmental factors on hearing aid microphone preference. J Am Acad Audiol, 2002. 13(6): p. 308-22.
2. Zakis, J.A., Wind noise at microphones within and across hearing aids at wind speeds below and above microphone saturation. J Acoust Soc Am, 2011. 129(6): p. 3897-907.
3. Madsen, S.M.K. and B.C.J. Moore, Music and hearing aids. Trends in hearing, 2014. 18: p. 2331216514558271.
4. Husstedt, H., A. Mertins, and M. Frenz, Evaluation of Noise Reduction Algorithms in Hearing Aids for Multiple Signals From Equal or Different Directions. Trends in hearing, 2018. 22: p. 2331216518803198-2331216518803198.
5. Xu, J. and W. Han, Improvement of Adult BTE Hearing Aid Wearers’ Front/Back Localization Performance Using Digital Pinna-Cue Preserving Technologies: An Evidence-Based Review. Korean journal of audiology, 2014. 18(3): p. 97-104.
6. Winkler, A., M. Latzel, and I. Holube, Open Versus Closed Hearing-Aid Fittings: A Literature Review of Both Fitting Approaches. Trends in hearing, 2016. 20: p. 2331216516631741.
7. Akeroyd, M.A. and W.M. Whitmer, Spatial hearing and hearing aids. ENT & audiology news, 2011. 20(5): p. 76-79.
8. Cox, R.M., J.A. Johnson, and J. Xu, Impact of advanced hearing aid technology on speech understanding for older listeners with mild to moderate, adult-onset, sensorineural hearing loss. Gerontology, 2014. 60(6): p. 557-568.
A 1. Walker, J.J., et al., Audiometry screening and interpretation. Am Fam Physician, 2013. 87(1): p. 41-7.
A 2. Chien, W. and F.R. Lin, Prevalence of hearing aid use among older adults in the United States. Arch Intern Med, 2012. 172(3): p. 292-3.
A 3. Fischer, M.E., et al., Determinants of hearing aid acquisition in older adults. Am J Public Health, 2011. 101(8): p. 1449-55.
A 4. Blustein, J. and B.E. Weinstein, Opening the Market for Lower Cost Hearing Aids: Regulatory Change Can Improve the Health of Older Americans. Am J Public Health, 2016. 106(6): p. 1032-5.