Best Hearing Aids Guide

Guide to Choosing the Best Hearing Aids

Finding the right hearing aid to suit your needs depends on your level of hearing loss, budget, and lifestyle. Learn how to choose the best hearing aid for you.

How to Choose the Best Hearing Aid For You

It’s only once you begin your search for the best hearing aids that you quickly realise just how many options there are. While all hearing aids work by amplifying sound for easier hearing, there are several different styles, features and technologies to consider.

Approximately one in six people in New Zealand have some level of hearing loss from which hearing aids can benefit. These small electronic devices can greatly improve simple things like joining in conversation or enjoying a TV show.

When it comes to the best hearing aids in New Zealand, knowing what will suit your personal needs is key. From the different types of hearing aids available to options to suit your budget and lifestyle, below is a guide to help you find the best hearing aids.

Level of Hearing Loss

Far from being one-size-fits-all, you’ll first need an audiologist to perform a hearing test to determine your level of hearing loss. This will help guide you towards the best hearing aids for your specific needs.

An adult with no hearing loss can generally hear sounds above 25 decibels (dB), while levels of hearing loss consist of the following categories:

  • Mild – 26-40 dB. Difficulty hearing soft sounds or softly spoken people. It may only be noticed in situations where there is background noise.
  • Moderate – 41-60 dB. Significant difficulty hearing softly spoken people. Speech, in general, may sound unclear or mumbled. Higher volume levels may be required for TV, etc.
  • Severe – 61-80 dB. Hearing speech at any level is difficult. Environmental sounds such as telephone ringing are inaudible. Hearing aids are necessary to understand speech, but may still be difficult with background noise.
  • Profound – >80 dB. Difficult or impossible to hear even very loud sounds like fire alarms and airplane engines. Hearing aids can help with speech but can still be difficult if the speaker is not facing you, or the environment is noisy.

Budget

Even if your level of hearing loss is as mild, hearing aids can have a significant impact on your quality of life. So, when it comes to price, the best hearing aids are the ones you can afford. Don’t put it off or wait until your hearing loss gets worse — the benefits of hearing aids are far too great for that!

Certain technologies and features contribute to the price of hearing aids, with different designs to suit your lifestyle and budget. Regarding financing for hearing aids, the Ministry of Health entitles all New Zealand citizens and permanent residents aged 16 years and over to a government subsidy. The subsidy contributes towards a pair of hearing aids, though additional costs, such as diagnostic hearing tests and maintenance, should also be considered.

At Bay Audiology, we not only provide the best hearing aids NZ has to offer but also any other continuing support you may need. Most of our hearing aids include AfterCare Plus for ongoing care at minimal cost. The service includes free cleans and checks, complimentary adjustments, a 3-year warranty and battery discounts.

Hearing Aid Types and Styles

After your hearing test, the experienced team at Bay Audiology will be able to talk you through the best hearing aid options for you. This includes the following types and styles:

Behind the ear (BTE)

When picturing a traditional hearing aid, a BTE is the style that often comes to mind — with the behind-the-ear speaker connecting via a clear plastic tube to an ear mould within the ear canal. Because the speaker is housed in a hearing aid case behind the ear, the electronics are less susceptible to moisture and ear wax, making it one of the best hearing aids for a long life span. Although it is visible, today’s modern designs are sleeker and slimmer than they used to be. BTE hearing aids are best suited to those looking for something easy to use, comfortable and long-lasting. They can be bigger than other hearing aids (with a larger battery for longer battery life), which may not suit those looking for something discreet.

In the ear (ITE)

If you’re looking for a hearing solution that goes completely unnoticed by others, ITE hearing aids are the best hearing aids for the job. Tiny and sophisticated, ITE hearing aids are moulded to fit precisely inside the wearer’s ear canal, with customisable technology to suit individual hearing needs. All electronics are held within the small in-the-ear device, with no external casing or wires necessary. One important thing to consider when choosing an ITE hearing aid is the size. While the smallest can be undetectable, a larger size may be easier to insert and remove. Overall, ITE hearing aids are ideal for those who’d like a bespoke, barely-there design, utilising all the latest technologies.

Receiver in the ear (RIC)

While the main housing of an RIC hearing aid sits behind the ear (encasing the microphones and amplifier), they are typically smaller and sleeker than BTE hearing aids. This is because the speaker is placed inside the ear, allowing the casing portion behind the ear to be smaller. The two are connected by a thin, translucent wire which is near-invisible and discreet. It’s a popular design as it combines the benefits of being easy to use with a subtle appearance. They’re typically the best hearing aid style for those looking for a compromise between the BTE and ITE designs.

Hearing Aid Technology

Today’s hearing aids take full advantage of the latest technologies, allowing you to enjoy a range of features without compromising on small, sleek designs. Some of the top features worth noting include:

  • Noise reduction and speech focus – Depending on your level of hearing loss, these features can improve sound quality for a more personalised hearing experience. Noise reduction technology can help reduce the distraction of busy settings or wild weather, while speech focus technology zones in on the person talking so you can hear them more clearly.
  • Bluetooth connectivity—If you’re looking for the best hearing aids for listening to music, watching TV, or answering phone calls, look for a pair with Bluetooth connectivity. This allows you to stream audio directly from smart devices for easy entertainment.
  • Rechargeable batteries — Gone are the days of having to replace fiddly batteries with the latest hearing aid technology featuring rechargeable designs. Charge them overnight or take advantage of fast-charging capabilities when you’re on the go.

You can learn more about the latest in hearing aid technology here.

Lifestyle Factors

Enjoy exercising regularly? Being social? Playing music? These are all important factors that’ll help you find the best hearing aids for the job, so don’t forget to think about the activities you love.

If you lead an active lifestyle, you may consider hearing aids that are less susceptible to sweat and easier to clean. Hearing aids may also need to be removed for certain sports, so keep this in mind and choose a pair that’s easy to insert and remove.

For social butterflies, prioritising speech enhancement features will allow you to hear speakers more clearly in social settings. Meanwhile, speech and music are quite different in terms of their richness and volume. So, if you play an instrument, your idea of the best hearing aids will have music settings to provide better sound quality and differentiation.

Other Factors to Consider

It can take up to 6 months to get used to living with hearing aids, so don’t be disheartened when you first begin wearing them. Your body will soon become accustomed to your new hearing abilities, and it won’t be long before you wonder how you lived without them.

It can be helpful to retrain your hearing by practising conversation with family and friends, reading aloud, or watching TV with subtitles (until you no longer need them). Even with the best hearing aids on your side, you may benefit from taking breaks initially and only wearing them for a few hours at a time. Assistive listening devices can also be handy — whether during the adjustment period or ongoing — such as special alarm clocks, telephones or TV streamers that can amplify sound.

Things will soon become more comfortable, but if you ever experience any ongoing tenderness or pain, reach out to your audiologist to ensure your hearing aids are fitted properly. With the right warranty, adjustments and any necessary repairs will come at minimal cost.

Conclusion

Now that you’re armed with all the information you need, you’re one step closer to finding the best hearing aids. Next, get the ball rolling by booking a session with an audiologist for a hearing aid fitting. See our locations below to find a clinic near you.

Sources

  1. NewZealandTrak 2022 Final Report. (2023, May 1). New Zealand Hearing Industry Association. Retrieved June 25, 2024, from https://nzhia.org.nz/wp-content/uploads/2023/06/NewZealandTrak-2022_Final-Report.pdf
  2. Decibel Chart: What You Need to Know. (2024, June 17). National Council on Aging. Retrieved June 25, 2024, from https://www.ncoa.org/adviser/hearing-aids/decibel-levels/
  3. Guide to Getting Hearing Aids - Hearing Aid Funding Scheme. (n.d.). Ministry of Health NZ. Retrieved June 25, 2024, from https://www.health.govt.nz/system/files/documents/publications/guide-to-getting-hearing-aids-hearing-aids-funding-scheme.pdf

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