The Best Invisible Hearing Aids (For The Best Prices)
Let’s talk hearing aids. There’s so many models on the market – the bulky hearing aids that spring to mind are long gone, and discreet models which combine function, fit and style are now the norm.
In this article, we’ve teamed up with experts Hearing Direct to understand more about the different types of hearing aids, how to keep them working well and what we should expect to pay. So without further ado, let’s dive into the best invisible hearings aids that won’t break the bank.
Written in collaboration with Hearing Direct
How Bad Does Your Hearing Have To Be To Get A Hearing Aid?
Hearing loss is a natural and common part of ageing, and as we get older we adjust to not hearing well. You might have noticed your parent missing parts of a conversation or turning the TV volume up high.
Getting a hearing aid can be an emotional decision as people see these listening devices as an admission of age. But once bought, they can be life changing for anyone from mild to severe hearing loss as long forgotten sounds come flooding back.
Another real barrier to buying a hearing aid is price. The cost at in-store audiologists can run into the thousands and usually includes ongoing maintenance and repairs.
But when you consider that the average lifespan of these electronic devices is five years, your parent could be better off buying hearing aids online.
You’re not left alone when buying hearing aids online. At Hearing Direct, if you share the audiogram via email then the listening devices will be pre-programmed accordingly before shipping.
You can also arrange a remote fine-tuning service, repairs or speak with an audiologist if you have any questions after purchase.
Which means that when your parent puts in their hearing aid, they won’t have to fiddle around with the volume or noise reduction – it will match their audiogram results.
How To Select A Hearing Aid
Choosing the best quality hearing aids for your parent comes down to a few factors:
- How their hearing is: Invisible hearing aids are usually best for mild to moderate hearing loss. Behind the ear hearing aids can suit people with a more severe hearing impairment. But ultimately it comes down to preference and how they will use it too, this is just one factor.
- How techy they are: Digital hearing aids are bluetooth compatible, and can sync with your parent’s smartphone and TV. That doesn’t mean they need to use all the bells and whistles – they could choose a more basic model, or go advanced just for its sound quality and not use all the extras.
- How they will use it: Do they love listening to music? Do they spend a lot of time in a noisy environment? Or maybe they prefer to communicate on the phone. Take all this into account when choosing the best hearing aid.
- Dexterity: A hearing aid requires upkeep to work properly (that’s what hearing aid accessories are for – more on this below). Replacing the battery, dome and wax guards, or even just taking in and out of the ear can be fiddly for people with really limited hand dexterity and no carer, so this is something to consider. Often, people start with an in-ear hearing aid and then make the decision themselves to move to a behind the ear option.
Types Of Hearing Aids
The benefits of hearing aids are obvious, but nowadays the small hearing aids aren’t. This discretion element is so important to people, and hearing aids have been given a facelift with almost invisible in-ear hearing aids and inconspicuous behind the ear options.
Joan McKechnie, Hearing Direct’s lead audiologist, spoke with us about the different types and her favourite models.
In Ear Hearing Aids
These popular listening devices are so small they can’t be seen on the outside of the ear. It’s quite amazing, all the wires, programming board, chip and battery fit into a space measuring less than one inch.
Signia make some of the most advanced and smallest hearing aids in the world. They offer the clarity people are looking for and fit well into the vast majority of ears.
This micro hearing aid is the smallest in the ear casing that Hearing Direct has ever worked with – but it manages to house 32 sound processing channels.
The more sound channels, the more the sound is split which improves speech enhancement, noise reduction, fine tuning and matching to the hearing test results.
There’s three levels of sound smoothing which ensures loud noises are instantly controlled, and the fantastically-named ‘eWindscreen’ which is great for people who spend time outdoors as it dials down wind noise.
Plus, if your parent is a music fan then they will benefit from its ‘high definition music’ programme. If anyone suffers from tinnitus, a masking setting can be included which uses various types of generated noise to help alleviate the awareness of the tinnitus.
All Signia models are available in black or mocha – the black especially blends in well with the ear canal shadow.
Get it for £499 per ear, or £898 for the pair.
Easy to fit into the ear canal, this lightweight Signia hearing aid can be controlled via a smartphone app or a small remote control (the size of a key fob).
This means your parent can choose between listening programmes, volume and noise reduction. There’s 24 sound processing channels and it can be programmed specifically to help with tinnitus. It measures 15mm long, 4mm wide and 10mm high.
Pick up this invisible hearing aid for £399 for one, £699 per pair.
This is a great entry level in-ear option with a reasonable volume range to cope with mild to moderate hearing loss.
The same size as the above, there are no user controls on the aid – it can be controlled via app or remote control (changing the volume, frequency etc).
Super affordable, it costs £299 for one, or £499 for a pair.
Behind The Ear Hearing Aid
Behind the ear digital hearing aids are good for people with less hand mobility, or more severe hearing loss.
They’re easier to fit (as we get older, our ear architecture can change which can sometimes make in-ear aids uncomfortable) and have powerful batteries.
The beauty of this ergonomically designed hearing aid is that it can be tailored to your parent’s needs.
It can be used good to go as a straight forward listening device, set up with one programme and volume changes only, or the more advanced features can be activated.
It can be controlled via the Signia app, synced to a smartphone for calls to be streamed through and hooked up to the TV so audio is fed straight through.
There’s 16 sound processing channels, four listening programmes, noise reduction and feedback management.
It costs £399 for one, £699 for a pair.
Hearing Direct offers a 30-day returns policy, so if your parent doesn’t get on with it, you can get your money back.
Hearing Aid Accessories
You can extend the life of a hearing aid by taking good care. There’s three components of invisible hearing aids which will need replacing and maintenance – the battery, hearing dome and wax guard. These are known as hearing aid accessories.
Even if your parent bought their hearing aid from an audiologist, they can buy their accessory replacements online for ease. They can be returned unused if they don’t fit.
How Long Do Hearing Aid Batteries Last?
Hearing aid batteries are tiny cells so they don’t carry lots of storage power and need to be charged every four to five days. They come in sizes 10, 13, 312 and 675.
Some models have rechargeable batteries but most models (behind the ear and invisible hearing aids) come with the standard hearing aid zinc air battery that needs to be replaced.
You can buy hearing aid batteries online easily at Hearing Direct.
In ear hearing aids have domes that sit on the end of the product – they help with comfort and wax protection. Ideally, the hearing aid dome should be inspected daily to make sure it isn’t blocked with wax.
A simple brush over the top (we like this magnetised brush) will ensure it’s clear, or it can be wiped down with a wet wipe or specialist hearing aid wipe. Hearing aid domes are made from a soft material which is brittle and will break so need replacing every few months on average.
This sits underneath the dome and is the final barrier between the hearing aid component and the ear. Depending on how waxy the ear gets, the wax guard will need to be changed between every one to six months.
Why Do Hearing Aids Whistle?
This whistling is acoustic feedback and it’s the major complaint of hearing aid users. It happens when amplified sound is reflected back from the ear drum and escapes back out the ear canal, only to be picked up again by the hearing aid microphone and reamplified. This can create a high pitched whistle or squeaks.
To prevent amplified sound from being reamplified depends on a few factors:
- How loud the amplification is
- Where the sound is on the frequency level (higher frequency is more likely to be reflected back)
- The physical fit in the ear (changing the hearing aid dome could help here – a bigger dome means there’s less space for sound to escape)
Wearing a hat and talking on the phone can cause hearing aid feedback – the sound can’t get out so it goes back into the microphone.
Get your parent to experiment with different phone angles. A corded landline often works well when turned away from them to the front, or try a mobile on speaker.
As hearing aids are so delicate and easy to lose, it’s best not to take them out for a phone call. Joan’s heard lots of stories of them also being swallowed by pets – it’s thought that the high sound frequency intrigues them!
Are Hearing Aids Waterproof?
Few hearing aids are truly waterproof, so shouldn’t be worn in the shower. Each component has varying degrees of protection (for example there can be a nano coating on the electrical elements).
Hearing Direct often gets aids sent back to them to see if they can be dried out after direct water contact. They can often be sent back to the manufacturer for a circuit overhaul and will be OK (but not always!). It’s worth checking your warranty as this could be covered.
For other hearing aid repairs (such as the battery door coming off), Hearing Direct can again help. Whether there’s a cost depends on the warranty.
Is It OK To Wear Just One Hearing Aid?
Wearing a hearing aid isn’t the same as a pair of glasses – your hearing won’t go to the equivalent of 20/20 vision. So if your parent’s hearing test comes back to report hearing loss in both ears, then two hearing aids are recommended for maximum benefit.
The invisible hearing aids come with a water-tight case and are colour coded for left and right ears, so they’re easy to identify from each other.
Once your parent has made the big decision to get a hearing aid, it’s important to find a style that works for them. It is possible to get cheap hearing aids which can hardly be seen and work well, but it may be that a behind the ear model is a better solution.
The most important thing is that your parent is happy with their hearing aid and wears it, so that they can enjoy being part of conversations and hearing forgotten sounds again. We hope this guide has helped you understand more about the different types of hearing aids available and answered all your questions.
Go to www.hearingdirect.com to buy hearing aids online.