For almost everyone living with hearing loss, hearing aids are the most effectively and broadly used type of treatment available. Outside of the most profound levels of hearing loss, the improvements to your hearing and your quality of life, as a result, are not to be underestimated.

However, there is a very wide range of hearing aids available. Multiple styles, features and models are all available. Your audiologist can help you choose between them but learning the differences between the basic hearing aids and the more advanced types out there can help you get a better idea of what you’re looking for, too.

What are basic hearing aids?

Even basic aids have gotten a lot more advanced compared to what they were a decade ago. As such, most still tend to have some very useful features, but in general, they are simpler to use than advanced hearing aids. For instance, they tend to have manual controls, such as a dial that you turn upwards or downwards in order to adjust the level of noise amplification or a button that you must push in to activate certain noise cancellation features.

With those relatively simple controls comes a degree of inaccessibility. Basic hearing aids can be programmed to different profiles using a computer, but those profiles don’t offer the same level of customization as an advanced hearing aid would. Furthermore, they have fewer amplification channels, meaning that they can’t be adjusted for as many unusual patterns of hearing loss or for cancelling more specific types of background noise or feedback. Similarly, they don’t tend to make use of advanced speech processing features, which advanced hearing aids incorporate more often.

However, they are not entirely lacking in features by any stretch. Basic hearing aids can still come with directional microphones, which improve the amplification of noises directly in front of the wearer while dulling those from other directions. Another common feature in basic hearing aids is FM capabilities. This allows the hearing aid to connect to FM systems using attachments called boots, which allows users to hear sounds more directly from the FM systems instead of amplifying the noise travelling through the airwaves.

What are advanced hearing aids?

For those with more specific needs, it pays to know some of the impressive advances that hearing aid technology has made over the past few years. From automatic features so that your device and respond to changes in the environment to improving its ability to recognize and amplify speech, there’s a lot to like about advanced hearing aids.

Advanced models are a larger investment than basic hearing aid technology. However, users can benefit from a higher number of channels, with eight compared to the two found in basic hearing aids. As such, different frequencies of sound can be separated, adjusted and amplified at different levels.

They can also come with a range of advanced noise cancellation features, including wind cancellation and feedback elimination, that can help you hear much more clearly. Add to that their Bluetooth wireless capabilities, which allow them to connect to a range of modern devices, including laptops, smartphones and smart TVs, so that the sound is played directly from the hearing aid, rather than having to be amplified over the air.

Advanced hearing aids often don’t have as many manual controls as basic devices, but that comes with a more accessible level of digital adjustment. Many come with smartphone apps so that users can switch between different listening profiles on the fly. Some advanced hearing aids even log usage data to learn about the user’s preferences and to automatically switch between profiles depending on the noise environment that they’re currently in.

Don’t know which type of hearing aid is right for you?

Depending on your needs and other factors, such as your ability to operate and utilize all the features of the different hearing aids, either basic or advanced hearing aids could be right for you. Even then, you must consider the different styles, such as in the ear and behind the ear, as well.

If you’re not certain which style of hearing aid is best suited to your level of hearing loss, or you’re not sure whether you should have a basic or advanced hearing aid, your audiologist can help you clear things up. If you want to know more, have any questions or wish to make an appointment, don’t hesitate to call The Hearing and Tinnitus Center at 303-534-0183.