An updated model (but still Class II Medical Grade Hearing Aids) with redesigned Flexi TetraPalms for a lightweight, comfortable experience. Sound is crisp, clear, and natural-sounding. Discreet design makes them virtually unnoticeable, even close-up. Boasts superior noise filtration and feedback reduction. Comes with lifetime licensed support, critical for long-term success as hearing changes over time.
Occasional reports of feedback. The most expensive option on our list.
Offers access to a hearing test, adjustments, and audiologist care online from home. Comfortable design is compact and comes in several colors. Compatible with the Lively app to guide you. Rechargeable batteries. FDA-approved hearing aid that comes with a custom support from an audiologist.
Rare reports of the sound occasionally lacking clarity, but the majority of customers are happy with the clear sound quality.
Class II Medical Grade Hearing Aids. Very small and discreet. Fit is so comfortable that many customers forget they are wearing them. Rechargeable. Clear sound quality is backed by lifetime tech support — including help from an audiologist.
Sound can be tinny and background noises amplified if the settings aren't tuned well.
Equipped with improved noise reduction technology. Near-invisible design. Class II Medical Grade Hearing Aids that come with support from an audiologist. Silicone Flexis fit comfortably inside ears and allow air circulation around the ear canal. Offers four sound profiles with easy one-touch transition between them.
Some wearers felt the hearing aids move or slip out of their ears while flexing their jaws.
We purchase every product we review with our own funds — we never accept anything from product manufacturers.
We purchase every product we review with our own funds — we never accept anything from product manufacturers.
Hearing loss is a widespread condition that affects millions of people globally. Sadly, it is often overlooked, disregarded, or accepted as part and parcel of the aging process. But the mental, emotional, and physical effects of hearing loss can be devastating and should never be ignored, regardless of age or severity.
Before considering any type of hearing aid, it’s strongly advised that you seek out a professional diagnosis of your personal hearing loss. If you experience sudden hearing loss, consult a doctor immediately.
The brain’s adjustment to amplification is a difficult change and studies have shown better outcomes when under the care of an audiologist or hearing aid specialist. Hearing aids are better able to fine-tune to your specific hearing loss prescription, and no two hearing losses are the same. A huge component to success with hearing aids is how well your brain can process and understand speech, especially in the presence of background noise, which is degraded with hearing loss. The more advanced the technology, the better the hearing aids will allow you to discern speech within background noise, so if this is a concern, a personal sound amplification product, or PSAP, is not the answer.
Whether you've been diagnosed with severe hearing loss or simply need a bit of a volume boost, there are a number of devices available that are specifically designed to improve hearing and reduce the isolation you may feel as a person with a hearing impairment. The vast array of options is hope-inspiring, but finding the best hearing aid for your needs can be challenging. Don't fret – we're here to help!
If you find yourself struggling to hear in certain situations or feel that you could do with a little more volume, you’ll need to decide whether you need a true hearing aid or PSAP. A PSAP isn’t quite the same as the hearing aid your doctor would prescribe; it’s available over the counter.
Should you be experiencing more serious hearing impairment, we strongly recommend consulting a hearing healthcare specialist for a prescription-grade medical hearing aid tailored to your individual needs.
Our detailed guide below will help you better understand your various options, bringing you one step closer to finding the product that's right for you.
Today, an estimated 90% of prescription-grade hearing aids on the market are digital. While there are a large variety of styles to choose from, they all work in more or less the same manner.
A microphone picks up sound and converts it to electrical signals.
A microchip translates these electrical signals into digital code, processing and optimizing them according to user settings before converting them back to electrical signals.
An amplifier receives these fine-tuned signals and strengthens them.
A receiver converts the amplified electrical signals into sound and delivers them to the ear.
In the case of traditional analog hearing aids, the microchip isn't present. This means that all sounds are amplified – even the ones you don’t need to hear (like interference and wind) and those you don’t want to hear (like muffled conversations and background noise).
Although analog hearing aids do tend to be more affordable and are still used by some people, digital hearing aids offer a vastly superior overall hearing experience.
Should you be prescribed a hearing aid, you'll have no shortage of styles to choose from.
BTE hearing aids are popular for their versatility and are designed to fit behind or on top of the ear. An ear hook is attached to a tube which runs from the hearing aid to the ear canal where it is secured by either an ear tip or earmold.
Traditional BTEs are the largest in this category. Featuring a custom-fit earmold and a long body, this type of hearing aid is capable of accommodating more power, features, and controls than its smaller counterparts. This style is a good option for children, as the unit is easily reprogrammed and the earmold can be replaced as the child grows.
A mini BTE (mBTE) is a more compact version of a traditional BTE. These hearing aids are also known as “open-fit” hearing aids. They feature an ultra-thin transparent tube with a small, soft ear piece that doesn't block the ear canal. This design allows low-frequency sounds to enter the ear naturally while higher frequencies are amplified by the unit.
RIC hearing aids, also known as receiver-in-the-ear (RITE) hearing aids, are similar in appearance to BTE hearing aids but are even smaller and more discreet. This is due to the fact that the receiver is situated in the earpiece (rather than in the casing behind the ear) and connected to the unit’s body by a thin wire. These hearing aids are also open-fitted, and the combination of reduced occlusion and direct delivery of sound to ear (thanks to the receiver being placed into the ear) produces markedly clearer sound for most people. However, as the receiver is placed in the ear canal, it is also exposed to earwax and moisture which can affect performance.
As the name suggests, ITE hearing aids are placed directly in the ear. All ITE hearing aids are custom-molded and come in varying sizes and designs.
Full-shell ITE hearing aids are the largest and most visible ITE type of hearing aid. These hearing aids fill almost the entire hollow of the ear (concha). Due to their added size, many people are reluctant to wear these, but they do have benefits, including long-lasting battery life and easy-to-navigate controls.
Half-shell ITE hearing aids work the same as full-shell hearing aids do, but they only fill half of the concha. While not as large as full-shell hearing aids, half-shell hearing aids still offer good battery life and easy-to-use controls.
ITC hearing aids are sought by many for their compact, low-profile design. As they fit in the ear canal, these types of hearing aids need to be custom-molded. While their reduced size is a huge plus for those seeking an inconspicuous option, they're not without drawbacks. Reduced size also means they have a shorter battery life, and because of their placement, they are susceptible to malfunction due to microphone clogging or moisture.
CIC hearing aids are smaller than ITC hearing aids and are placed deeper into the ear canal. These types of hearing aids are not only less noticeable, but thanks to their placement, they also pick up less wind noise.
Placed completely out of sight deep within the ear canal, IIC hearing aids are the smallest type of prescription-grade hearing aid available.
Understandably, there is a lot of confusion regarding the difference between prescription-grade hearing aids and PSAPs. Let's start with some basic information.
PSAPs do not require a doctor’s prescription and are available over the counter. They come in many of the same designs that the prescription-grade hearing aids mentioned above do. But keep in mind that in-the-ear and in-the-canal varieties won't be custom-molded, and a behind-the-ear model may be more comfortable.
Both amplify digitally processed sounds before delivering them to the ear. So if they both ultimately do the same thing, what exactly is the difference?
Prescription-grade hearing aids are regulated by the FDA. True hearing aids are categorized as medical devices and are FDA regulated. Before diagnosis, the patient must take a comprehensive hearing test.
PSAPs are not regulated by the FDA. To buy a hearing amplifier, you do not need a prescription from a doctor. Anyone who needs generalized sound amplification can purchase one of these devices over the counter. PSAPs are like drugstore reading glasses (not customized to the person).
So why not just use a PSAP? Well, as with any medical condition, individual symptoms and their underlying causes vary from person to person. For this reason, a hearing test is required to rule out any potentially serious underlying conditions, identify the patient’s unique needs, and if needed, program the hearing aid accordingly.
Whether you're weighing your medical-grade hearing aid options or considering the purchase of a PSAP, the following are some of the most important factors to take into account.
Medical requirements should always come before cosmetic or personal preference. Not all types of hearing aids are suitable for every condition, and it's always a good idea to discuss viable options with a qualified health care professional. While the increased volume offered by PSAPs can help many, they may not be suitable for those affected by severe hearing loss.
Size is an important factor and one that means different things to different people. While some may be unwilling to sacrifice the discretion provided by smaller models, others might need a larger option with controls that are easy to see and manipulate.
Larger models tend to have extended battery life simply because of their added capacity. If battery life is a concern, you may wish to consider a rechargeable option or a replaceable battery in a medium or large design. Generally, the smaller the unit is, the less power, controls, and battery life it offers.
Hearing aids certainly aren't cheap, and if you purchase a medical-grade hearing aid, you'll understandably want it to last as long as possible. Durability is generally determined by manufacturer standards and build quality – elements which are typically reflected in the price.
Surprised? Don't be. Just like other forms of technology, hearing aids and PSAPs are constantly evolving, and today, many are able to link to your Bluetooth-enabled device. This feature allows users to seamlessly connect to televisions, phones, and mp3 players for added convenience.
Hearing aids can be notoriously expensive; they generally range between $2,000 and more than $4,000. If you suspect that you are suffering from hearing loss, seeking the correct treatment is essential.
Q. How do I determine whether I need a hearing aid or a PSAP?
A. If you've noticed a decline in your hearing ability, it's always best to visit a hearing loss professional for an assessment. We recommend going with companies that offer you a customized approach that adjusts with your hearing needs as time passes.
Q. I've heard I should open the battery door on my prescription-grade hearing aid at night. Why is this important?
A. This is recommended to extend battery life and promote air circulation. Leaving the battery door open overnight helps to prevent corrosion by allowing moisture to escape.
Q. Why does my hearing aid/PSAP keep beeping?
A. There are a number of factors that could cause your hearing aid or PSAP to beep. Among the most common are a low battery, a change in settings/programs, or volume adjustments. If you've ruled out these causes and are certain that you haven't unintentionally pressed or jammed a button, contact your hearing healthcare professional or product manufacturer for device-specific information and assistance.
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