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Note from Philip: There is so much information out there about hearing aids and no shortage of questions. It can be very difficult to muddle through all the information to figure out what are the best hearing aids for you.

Our research tells us that people wait on average 7 years to get a hearing aid after they’ve been told they need one. I believe this is, in part, due to the overload of information.

Hopefully, I can help clear a few things up!

Digital Hearing Aids vs Analog Hearing Aids

Q: My friend has an analog hearing aid but when I ask around all I hear about are digital hearing aids. What does it mean to have a digital hearing aid? How do I know which is best for me? – Adam from Billings, Montana

A: Almost all hearing aids produced today are digital. If you look at the evolution of hearing aids they started out as analog circuits. However, over the years digital hearing aids have taken over. Having a hearing aid be “digital” indicates a more sophisticated circuit as well as a more flexible circuit. It also means that it can be programmed (and reprogrammed) according to your hearing loss. Additionally, digital hearing aids allow for a more precise prescription fitting and more volume to be amplified in the hearing aid.  So, for the most part, you are only going to see digital hearing aids available anymore. 

Bluetooth Hearing Aids

Q: I hear about Bluetooth in hearing aids. Is this something I need? Is it hard to use? – Amber from Austin, TX

A: Bluetooth can be a wonderful assistive device to help in various situations. Bluetooth devices can be hooked up to your car, phone, television, or computer as long as that particular device is Bluetooth compatible as well.

So, Bluetooth-compatible hearing aids could allow you to hear phone conversations through your hearing aids. . . they could allow you to hear your television through your hearing aids. . . they could allow you to hear music through your hearing aids.

Now, to your latter question. . . how hard is Bluetooth to use? This depends on how comfortable you are with the technology and how comfortable you are with the devices you are trying to hook it up to. Often times you will be tasked with handling most of the setup as it is difficult for a clinician or manufacturer to keep up with the thousands of phone, car, and computer models. If you enjoy gadgets and have a little time and patience to get everything set up then Bluetooth can be incredibly helpful to you!

Open Fit and Receiver-In-The-Canal (RIC) Hearing Aids

Q: I started researching hearing aids and see open-fit hearing aids and also receiver-in-the-ear hearing aids. What’s the difference and how do I know which one will work for me? – Cathy

A: The hearing aid style and classification is the same. Both have the main part of the hearing aid sitting behind your ear with a small, thin tube or wire attached to a dome, going into the ear canal which anchors the hearing aid. They are both considered to be an “Receiver in the ear” because the receiver (speaker) is in the ear canal, while the microphone sits on top of your ears and is built into the actual hearing aids.

Using the term open fit applies to the ability to allow low ambient noises to be released without compromising the volume needed in the higher tones.

If you’d like to submit a question to Dr. Philip Salomon please send it to [email protected].

by Philip Salomon