Hearing aid selection guide by Berkeley Hearing Center

How To Choose Which Hearing Aid Is Best For You

by | Jul 1, 2021 | Hearing Aids, Patient Resources, Technology

Our new patients often ask us which hearing aid we recommend the most, assuming that because of our 70 years of serving the hearing needs across Berkeley, CA, and the East Bay community, we have a favorite.

However, when it comes to choosing hearing aids, there simply is no “chosen one.”

Choosing a hearing aid is similar to choosing where to go on vacation. Your decision rests entirely on your needs and what you prefer in a vacation.

Do you go glamping near the California redwoods, or do you fly to another country and stay in a luxury hotel with three pools?

It’s a very personal decision based on your wants and needs.

To help you with your decision, I’ll outlay all the factors to take into consideration below.

Which Hearing Aid Manufacturer Is The Best?

Just like choosing a vacation, we don’t consider any manufacturer as being the best. Instead, we match manufacturers with each patient’s needs and desires for optimal hearing results.

By and large, all of the manufacturers make good products. Not only that, I would even go so far as to say that all of the manufacturers should be lauded for the work they do and the products they produce and support.

They want their products to serve the people who purchase them well. And the support and service they provide are typically attentive, reasonable, and understanding.

Every audiologist has their preferred manufacturer(s). Although we work with and support all of the major manufacturers, we do feel some manufacturers’ overall product portfolios are better than others in terms of the physical design aspects of the products (hearing aids, transducers, ear molds, Bluetooth accessories, chargers, etc.) to the programming software, digital sound processing, app design/function, and assistive technology.

If I could cherry-pick what I feel is the best aspect of each manufacturer’s portfolio and create my own product, I certainly would. But our first recommendation is typically ReSound, with Oticon, Phonak, and Widex being great backup options if indicated.

In general, we believe ReSound’s overall product portfolio is the best in the industry. Do they do everything right?

Of course not.

But in my experience, some people’s brains take better to one manufacturer’s sound processing than another. Going in, there’s no way to know this, so you have to start somewhere, and that’s typically ReSound, which we have great success with.

Ultimately, whichever manufacturer’s product we fit on a given patient is based only on what is best for them, considering the totality of that person’s case.

Hearing aid technology banner by Berkeley Hearing Center

Unique And Specific Needs In Hearing Aids

Sometimes I need to use one very specific manufacturer because of a unique or precise aspect of a patient’s case. For instance, recently, we fit a new patient with multiple sclerosis with a rechargeable, custom, in-the-ear (ITE) hearing aid, which will facilitate her being independent longer. For her, currently, there’s only one game in town that can meet her requirements: Starkey.

Only Starkey has a rechargeable ITE hearing aid. And I feel comfortable recommending and fitting it on her because I know Starkey makes fine hearing aids that they rigorously support.

Another patient has a genetically predisposed nerve hearing loss, referred to as a “reverse slope” configuration, which is not a typical type of hearing loss. In my experience, I have had better results from Oticon’s sound processing for this type.

This is just another example of why it’s important to have access to multiple options for patients. But again, I’m very comfortable recommending/fitting Oticon.

This is merely my opinion on the product portfolio of any given manufacturer based on the feedback I’ve received from our patients.

It’s critical to remember that these products are only a tool in the hands of a provider to treat the patient.

Without a doubt, what’s most important is the provider. Their knowledge, experience, expertise, compassion, and desire to provide the best care for each patient make great hearing healthcare.

Before Recommending A Specific Hearing Device

The top factors I take into consideration before recommending a hearing aid to any manufacturer are the following:

  • Your desires regarding style
  • Your degree and configuration of hearing loss – your hearing issues and needs, and your communication situations or environments
  • Your dexterity, vision, and/or ability to understand how to operate the hearing aids – for example, you might have had a recent stroke that affects your ability to adjust the settings manually.
  • Your cost considerations
  • Outside support – both from the hearing aid manufacturer and the support we offer here at Berkeley Hearing Center

First Step In Choosing Your Hearing Aids

If you haven’t yet been given a diagnosis of what’s causing your hearing loss and a treatment plan, the first step is to have a comprehensive hearing assessment by a hearing care expert.

If you are based in the Berkeley area, contact us to book your hearing assessment or to have any of your questions about hearing aids answered. We’re happy to help you in making this important decision to better your hearing health.

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The Team at Berkeley Hearing Center

Our patients come to us because we are experts in what we do. We have put together a team focused on providing the most advanced audiological care available in the area. Our combined expertise ensures that our patients have their hearing healthcare needs met at a professional, compassionate, and comprehensive level.

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