Hearing Aids_Ear Institute of Chicago Banner

Choosing a Hearing Aid

The type of hearing aid device best suited to an individual’s needs will greatly depend on the nature and extent of individual’s hearing loss, and the size and shape of the outer ear canal. Some conditions (i.e. chronic ear drainage) may prevent a person from wearing hearing aids that would block the ear canal and worsen the ear drainage (one option for treatment of hearing loss in cases of chronic ear drainage is a bone-anchored implant. For more information regarding a bone-anchored implant or Baha, please click here.)

A few other factors should be kept in mind when choosing a hearing aid:

  • Aesthetic considerations play a large role for some wearers, who may prefer wearing nearly invisible aids.
  • Some people prefer a hearing aid that is visible but blends with their skin tone.
  • Small hearing aids (in-the-canal or completely-in-the-canal styles: see Types of Aids) also have tiny batteries and an individual with limited dexterity or vision problems may find small hearing aids difficult to operate. Small batteries also have less battery life than larger batteries.
  • It is a good idea to carefully examine the hearing aid's warranty; each manufacturer has a different warranty terms for repair, loss and damage.
  • Check first with your health insurance provider to find out if the device is covered for loss or damage.
  • All hearing aid manufacturers offer trial periods to ensure the person is happy with their new hearing aid. But, make sure to ask whether or not there will be a charge for this service.
  • In case of future problems, where can your new hearing aid be repaired? We offer loaner hearing aids for a small fee to use while your hearing aid is out for repair, if needed.

Assistive listening devices are compatible with certain aids, so it is best to determine what functions will be needed to ensure that the aid has the capabilities that will suit the user both now and in the future.

click here for a discussion of Frequently Asked Questions regarding Hearing Aids.

Basic Digital
  • Most communication is in quiet settings
  • Fewer types of listening situations (interacting with friends, family or quieter, leisure activities like gardening)
  • May only have one microphone
  • Noise canceller
Standard Digital
  • Mildly active lifestyle
  • Circuitry flexible enough for fluctuating hearing losses
  • Directional microphone(s) to help with noise behind you
  • Digital feedback suppression (controls annoying whistling)
  • Up to two memories/programs
  • Bluetooth accessories available
Advanced Digital
  • More demanding lifestyle
  • Varied listening situations on a regular basis (group meetings, dinner in noisy restaurants)
  • Circuitry can “read” the environment and switch between settings automatically
  • Directional Microphone(s)
  • Digital feedback suppression
  • Flexible noise reduction
  • Cosmetically appealing options
  • Multiple memories/programs
  • Bluetooth accessories available
Premium Digital
  • Most advanced digital signal processing available
  • Occasional challenging listening situations (small gatherings, church/synagogue)
  • Tinnitus programs available
  • Circuitry can actively "read" the environment and make changes to help understand speech
  • Adaptive directionality with two microphones to help with moving noises (restaurants, classrooms, outdoor cafes)
  • Fast acting noise reduction
  • Digital feedback suppression
  • Echo-blocking to help with reverberation (e.g. large auditoriums, warehouses)
  • Records and stores listening situations for more customized programs
  • Two hearing aids can communicate with each other for optimized noise reduction
  • Multiple memories/programs
  • Cosmetically appealing options
  • Bluetooth accessories available