Shopping for and selecting your first hearing aid is an intimidating activity, and you aren’t alone in that feeling. When Consumer Reports did a comparative report on hearing aids, they followed consumers for six months as they tried to figure out which one to buy. Their report was dismaying: two-thirds of the aids purchased ended up being misfitted, or amplified the sounds either too much or too little. Even within this small group of people the price range for these hearing aids was huge and they were not always provided the best information by the retailers.
That said, there are tips that can help you when shopping for your first hearing aid, and in this article we’ll cover a few of them. This article is too short to provide all the tips that would be useful, so to supplement it we recommend Your Guide to Buying Hearing Aids. The Better Hearing Institute (BHI) is a non-profit that publishes information on hearing loss and its treatment, including this guide and many others. In addition to their suggestions, here are ours:
- See an audiology professional – You can do this either by calling us for an appointment, or by consulting another certified hearing specialist in your area; either way we suggest you read the BHI guidelines before your first appointment. Those guidelines will help you to know what to expect, and what types of questions to ask.
- Select the hearing aid that best suits your needs and lifestyle – This depends on the type and severity of your hearing loss, and should have been determined by tests performed by specialists during Step 1. The type of aids you choose should reflect which type is best for your particular hearing problems, and for your budget.
- Do your research – After selecting the type of hearing aid that is best for your situation use the Internet to research different models. You should be looking for user reviews of the units’ reliability and comfort, price comparisons, and reports on the frequency of problems encountered with them.
- Locate a reputable vendor – This may be the hearing specialist you went to in Step 1, or someone recommended by them. The vendor should be able to make molds of your ears and fit the aids properly. Though it is tempting to purchase your hearing aid over the Internet, you would be skipping the critical step of having a custom fitting that would increase the likelihood of your hearing aid’s comfort and suitability.
- Make sure the aids fit and work properly – Your first fitting should include tests by your vendor to ensure comfortable fit and good function of your new hearing aid. Most reputable vendors will do this, and provide a “satisfaction guaranteed” warranty, complete with free followup fittings or adjustments, if necessary.
We wish you good luck with selecting your first hearing aid, and want you to know that we are here to provide help if you need it.