Hearing aids: How to choose the right oneMany types of hearing aids exist. So which is best for you? Find out what to consider when choosing a hearing aid.
Perhaps you've thought about getting a hearing aid, but you're worried about how it will look and wonder whether it will really help. Knowing more about the hearing aid options available to you, what to look for when buying one and how to break it in may help alleviate some of your concerns.
Before you buy a hearing aid, ask your audiologist these important questions:
- What features would be most useful to me?
- What is the total cost of the hearing aid? Do the benefits of newer technologies outweigh the higher costs?
- Is there a trial period to test the hearing aids? (Most manufacturers allow a 30- to 60-day trial period during which aids can be returned for a refund.) What fees are nonrefundable if the aids are returned after the trial period?
- How long is the warranty? Can it be extended? Does the warranty cover future maintenance and repairs?
- Can the audiologist make adjustments and provide servicing and minor repairs? Will loaner aids be provided when repairs are needed?
- What instruction does the audiologist provide?
Paying for your hearing aid
The cost of hearing aids varies widely. A quality analog model can cost from $900 to $1,200, while a digital aid can range from $1,300 to $3,000. Talk to your audiologist about what your needs and expectations are. If cost is an issue, there are still good instruments available at reasonable prices. Medicare and most private insurance policies usually don't cover the cost of hearing aids, though some Medicare plans known as Medicare Advantage plans might. Qualified veterans may be eligible for free hearing aids through the Veterans Affairs.
Before you make a purchase: Follow these tips
When looking for a hearing aid, explore your options to understand what type of hearing aid will work best for you. Also:
- Get a checkup. See your doctor to rule out correctable causes of hearing loss, such as earwax, an infection or a tumor, and have your hearing tested by a hearing specialist (audiologist).
- Seek a referral to a reputable audiologist. If you don't know one, ask your doctor for a referral. A good audiologist works with you to find a hearing aid that best fits your needs and desires. This person takes an impression of your ear canal, chooses the most appropriate aid and adjusts the device to fit well. Be cautious of free consultations and people who sell only one brand of hearing aid.
- Ask about a trial period. A hearing aid should come with an adaptation period. It may take you a while to get used to the device and decide if it's useful. Have the seller put in writing the cost of a trial and whether this amount is credited toward the final cost of the hearing aid.
- Check for a warranty. Make sure the hearing aid includes a warranty that covers both parts and labor for a specified amount of time.
- Beware of misleading claims. Hearing aids can't restore normal hearing or eliminate all background noise. Beware of advertisements or salespeople who claim otherwise.
How Does a Hearing Aid Work?
Sound enters the hearing aid through a tiny opening and is picked up by the microphone. There is an amplifier inside the hearing aid that makes the sound louder. The amplified sound comes out of the hearing aid through a speaker (receiver) and is directed into the ear canal. A tiny battery supplies the power to the hearing aid. Depending on the hearing aid model, the volume can either be adjusted automatically by the hearing aid or by the user with a small control on the hearing aid.
How Long Should a Hearing Aid Last?
A hearing aid's life expectancy is typically three to five years.
What Should I Know Before Purchasing a Hearing Aid?
First, see a hearing care professional for a complete hearing evaluation.
Discuss with the hearing care professional whether a hearing aid is of potential benefit. If so, determine which hearing aid style and circuitry is right for you.
Be an educated consumer. Find out what brands of hearing aids the hearing care professional offers and ask for literature. Consult the manufacturers' websites for further information. Find out if there is any research on the products the hearing care professional recommends that confirms the benefits the hearing aid manufacturer claims to offer.
See your physician to rule out any medical problems and obtain medical clearance for the use of a hearing aid. Note: Some states permit a medical waiver that indicates an adult has opted not to consult a physician prior to the use of amplification.
Request a trial period and continue to ask questions until the purchase and warranty terms are understood. Ask the hearing care professional to document the terms and conditions in writing.
Take a relative or friend with you to your appointments. Any medical condition can be overwhelming. Chances are good that you will receive a great deal of information at once. Having another set of ears to listen and possibly take notes will make all the difference once you leave the professional's office.
Keep all of the follow - up appointments that your hearing care professional schedules for you.
Stay in touch with your hearing care professional after the initial fitting and adjustment period. Call them immediately if the hearing aid is not working, it hurts your ear or it squeals when it is in your ear.
Take advantage of other services that your hearing care professional offers, including lip reading classes, aural rehabilitation programs, literature on hearing loss and amplification, guidance on how to adjust your hearing aid and hearing aid repair. If information is not readily available, ask your hearing care professional what services they provide.
Keep a journal of your daily listening experiences, both good and bad. This will provide valuable information to the hearing care professional during any follow-up visits.
Remember you are your best advocate. Be assertive during your appointments. Write down any questions you have in a notebook prior to your appointment and bring the notebook with you. Ask the questions you have listed in your notebook and write down the answers.
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