Are Expensive Hearing Aids Worth It?
When people choose a certain product, they typically consider a variety of factors, from quality to feature additions. These unique differences among products also apply to hearing aids. Hearing devices are typically prescribed for people with hearing loss from a hearing care professional. While hearing care recommendations are given, it’s up to the wearer which hearing aid manufacturer they decide to purchase from. Hearing devices range from basic to custom and high end, but are those devices with the high price tag really worth it? To decide which hearing aid is best for you, you’ll need to dive into the features, health benefits, and cost savings that come along with products in the hearing aid industry.
Type of Hearing Loss
The need for a hearing aid solution can arise due to a range of life factors and circumstances. For some, environmental influences lead to hearing loss, while others deal with congenital hearing issues.
Environmental Hearing Loss
Many suffer from hearing deterioration due to repeated exposure to noisy environments. This could be a particularly loud workplace or weekly trips to a local rock concert. While these negative impacts can be mediated with earplugs and noise cancelling headphones, many people don’t realize the effect their environment has on their hearing until it’s too late.
Congenital Hearing Loss
Some adults are simply born with hearing quality issues. Whether it’s from an underdeveloped ear structure or an infection early in life, there are many congenital factors that cause hearing loss. This can mean medical devices to aid with hearing can be needed from an early age.
Age-Related Hearing Loss
Average people experience some degree of hearing loss as they age. It is estimated that around one third of American adults over the age of 61 experience moderate hearing loss to some extent. Most modern hearing aids are aimed at this group of hearing loss sufferers.
Types of Hearing Aids
Hearing devices come in different ear hearing aid styles, sizes, and functions based on the wearers needs and preferences. The hearing aid industry has created these variations so users can determine the hearing aid price, function, and look that works best for them.
In-The Ear (ITE) Hearing Aids
For this type of hearing aid, the entire device and batteries are stored inside the ear canal. The hearing aid dispenser will send amplified sound wave vibrations down the ear canal and into the inner ear. This helps wearers take in the sound and speech in their environment without straining their ear and potentially causing further damage to hearing.
Behind-The-Ear (BTE) Hearing Aids
Unlike its counterpart, these hearing aids store the device and battery behind the shell of the ear. A small cord is sometimes then connected to the ear canal where the amplified sound is sent to the inner ear.
Each of these styles come with many variations in their look and functionality. While they all vary in average price and features, each device makes wonderful quality of life changes for their users.
Hearing Aid Features
The characteristics of quality hearing aids will vary based on the needs of the wearer. Your audiology expert will help you determine the best fit, features, and styles for your needs and budget.
Traditionally, hearing aids ran on one-use, disposable ‘button’ batteries. These batteries would run for a certain battery life and then need to be replaced. More recently, some hearing aids have been developed to run on a rechargeable battery. These hearing aid batteries do not need to be frequently replaced, but simply set on a charging station overnight to prepare for use the next day. While a rechargeable battery does come with its share of perks, it also comes with some down sides. Many rechargeable battery packs cannot be replaced by the user, but must be taken to a professional when they have hit their life expectancy. While they don’t require frequent changing, even these batteries must be replaced every few years. When that time comes around, some might be surprised by the price tag on those replacements.
Background Noise Reduction
Background noise reduction technology is becoming pretty standard in most hearing aids. The cost of a device will likely determine the quality of this feature. This feature is aimed at helping distinguish conversation from background noise. Extraneous noise, like wind, the clanging of dishes, or unwanted digital noise, is softened when sent down the ear canal, making these undesired sounds less potent to the listener.
One of the most advanced features of high end hearing aids is bluetooth connectability. This extra feature allows your hearing aid to connect with your phone to make calls easier or with your television to watch shows more comfortably. This helps vastly with quality of life and the feeling of being involved in your environment.
Maybe the largest indicator of hearing aid cost comes with the style. The base costs of some more sleek and unnoticeable devices start higher than some more affordable hearing aids. The most common reason hearing aids get put into a drawer and not worn is because users feel that others can see the aids on their ears. This issue can be solved with low-profile or invisible, in-ear hearing aids. While they look great, this style can also come with cost barriers for some.
Expense vs. Value
Are expensive hearing aids worth it? This question isn’t a simple one with a simple answer. With a breakdown of costs and what causes hearing aid prices to rise, each wearer will have to determine what their needs are. If there are certain features that are extremely important to you, then paying for a more expensive hearing aid might be absolutely worth it. If you don’t mind any style or don’t need certain upgrades, there may be more affordable solutions that won’t waste your money on things you don’t need. Each hearing aid user is different, so each’s needs are unique. Getting the hearing aid that best fits your lifestyle and needs is going to be worth it, no matter the cost.