Choosing a Hearing Aid
Hearing aids come in a variety of sizes and styles, and are available with numerous features and options to consider when choosing a hearing aid. Some are tiny enough to fit inside your ear canal, while others may be worn externally and are more visible. With so many choices you may be feeling overwhelmed, but keep one thing in mind: all hearing aids are built with the same basic components, and are designed to amplify sounds. Ultimately, the type of hearing aid you choose will depend on a number of factors including the degree and frequency of your hearing loss, the anatomy of your ears, your dexterity level, lifestyle needs, cosmetic preference and, of course, cost.
When choosing a hearing aid, there are steps you can take to help guide your decision-making. We suggest the following in order to simplify the process and make it less stressful:
- Don’t delay. Most people with hearing loss wait years to purchase hearing aids. Your best chance for success is treating your condition as early as possible; the worse your hearing loss is, the harder it will be for your brain to adjust to it.
- Have your hearing tested. While you may be aware you’re suffering from hearing loss, only an audiologist can determine the type and degree – critical factors for choosing an appropriate hearing aid. Not all devices will work for every patient.
- Find a hearing professional. You may be tempted to save a few dollars by purchasing from a “hearing instrument specialist,” a big-box retail store or even online. The bottom line is, an audiologist is better qualified than anybody else to treat hearing loss. He or she has earned a doctoral degree from an accredited university, is licensed and certified at both the state and national level, and provides full service care. An audiologist is more than just a one-stop dispensary.
- Try hearing aids out before committing to a purchase. Your audiologist is happy to provide a demonstration so you can experience how your hearing aids work, and see for yourself the positive difference they’ll make in your life.
- Determine which accessories you need. Today’s digital hearing aids are available with a number of options that enhance the communication process. Directional microphones, T-coils, feedback cancellation and Bluetooth compatibility are all extremely helpful, but can drive the price up. Figure out your budget and stick with it, selecting those options that will benefit you most.
- Don’t neglect follow-up visits. Wearing hearing aids takes some getting used to, and follow-up visits are crucial. Your audiologist will make sure your devices are meeting your needs, and make any necessary adjustments. Also, regular “clean and check” appointments will ensure your hearing aids are in optimal working order and extend their life.