Hearing loss affects millions of people in the U.S., but it’s estimated that only one-third of adults experiencing hearing loss actually use a hearing aid. This can be attributed to many different factors, such as misconceptions about hearing aids, concern about their visibility, or lack of access to an audiologist. With the release of new hearing aids in 2023, though, the technology behind these devices has never been better. There are many hearing aid brands to choose from and many different styles to consider, too. If you’re on the fence about investing in an auditory support device, read this guide to understand your options better and find the best hearing aids for your needs.
Types of Devices That Provide Hearing Help
If you’re shopping for new hearing aids in 2023, you may be surprised by the breadth of the selection that’s available. People often think of hearing aids as the only type of auditory support device available, but in reality, several options can help people at all stages of hearing loss. The following are three of the most common hearing help devices on the market.
Sound amplifiers are over-the-counter devices that work by indiscriminately amplifying all sound in a user’s environment. This type of hearing help device is unique because it isn’t actually intended to address hearing loss at all. Rather, a sound amplifier is created for personal use to make all incoming sound louder than it naturally would be. For this reason, they aren’t always the best solution for an individual experiencing hearing loss — and in fact, a sound amplifier may worsen the problem. Still, they are popular because they offer some of the same features as hearing aids for a low price and without a prescription.
Hearing aids are made specifically to assist people suffering from hearing loss. Unlike sound amplifiers, they often feature a directional microphone, which makes it easier for users to hear the sounds closest to them — like a person they are talking to. There are many new hearing aids that have improved upon this technology and offer other features, too, such as connectivity to smartphones. Hearing aids can be bought over the counter for individuals with mild to moderate hearing issues, and for those with more severe hearing loss, the best hearing aids are available by prescription from an audiologist.
Cochlear implants are reserved for individuals who experience profound hearing loss. These devices are anchored to a person’s bone and mimic the function of a cochlea by stimulating the auditory nerve with electrical impulses. The device features a microphone and speech processor on the exterior and an electrode array implanted within the inner ear. These parts work together to allow the user to hear sound, though sound processed through a cochlear implant does not sound the same as sound processed by the ear. Still, cochlear implants are a wonderful innovation for the deaf and hard-of-hearing.
Growing Popularity of Customized 3D Printed Hearing Aid Devices
Some people suggest that 3D printing is the key to creating the best hearing aids. Indeed, 3D printing has become an increasingly popular tool for creating hearing aid products that are custom-designed to a person’s needs. With a 3C printer, the creator can customize the finished product to be perfectly shaped to the wearer’s ear bowl and suited specifically to their unique degree of hearing loss. If this trend continues, it may lead to hearing aids that are more affordable, accessible, and easily customized to meet individual users’ needs.
Differences Between OTC and Prescription Hearing Aids
Some new hearing aids promised for 2023 will be available over-the-counter, and others will be available by prescription only. Manufacturers have yet to reveal further details about many of the new models, but there will be plenty of options to serve consumers with a diverse set of needs. Some of these options that you can expect to hit the market are as follows.
Self-Fit vs. Custom-Fit
In recent years, there has been an influx of high-quality over-the-counter hearing aids, many of which have offered technological innovations to users. The latest innovation is the availability of self-fit designs that allow wearers to adjust the hearing aid’s levels to suit their level of hearing loss. This is attractive to users seeking to save money that would be spent to obtain a prescription hearing aid that’s custom-fitted. Custom-fitted hearing aids still offer many unique advantages, though, because they are expertly calibrated by an audiologist who can ensure that the user’s hearing is optimized effectively.
Technology differences are another factor promising to change hearing aids in the 2023 market. Many hearing aid brands have invested in innovative new features such as rechargeable batteries, Bluetooth audio streaming, feedback control, or telecoils. These are just a few of the features that are improving the technology of hearing aids and providing users with a better experience. Prescription custom-fitted hearing aids are often customizable, so users can select which features they do and don’t want.
The Price Difference
The price difference between over-the-counter and custom-fitted hearing aids cannot be overlooked. It’s true that in most cases, an over-the-counter device will be more affordable than a custom-fitted device. It’s worth noting that this is largely due to the comparative lack of features that over-the-counter devices offer. The cost difference can also be attributed to the additional services of an audiologist that a custom-fitted hearing aid requires. Though saving money is important, hearing aids are important to address the effects of hearing loss. Opting for the cheaper option may leave you with a subpar device that doesn’t offer an optimal improvement.
Hearing Aids in Houston, TX
Hearing aids are one of the most important innovations in healthcare technology, but many people who need them are still unaware of their options. Luckily, in 2023, there are many options available from a range of hearing aid brands, and you can find the best one by visiting an audiologist. Memorial Hearing has been serving clients throughout the greater Houston area since 2009. Let us help you address your hearing loss concerns and find the best solution. Learn more by calling (713) 984-7562 or reaching out to us online.
Image Source: Africa Studio / Shutterstock