Buying a Hearing Aid
Finding a provider:
Our suggested choice is a licensed Audiologist or licensed Hearing Aid Specialist who can fit and dispense hearing aids. Audiologists must have a doctoral degree (generally Au.D.), pass national and some state tests, and have more 1,000 hours of clinical training. Hearing Aid Specialists generally have a four year degree and have six months to two years of supervised training and in most states must pass a licensing test. It doesn’t matter whether you visit an Audiologist or hearing aid specialist. Audiologists have broader training and, unlike hearing aid specialists, can treat auditory conditions that might be better addressed without hearing aids, such as balance problems. But both types of professionals you can get a product that best fits you and your lifestyle. Consider some other things, as well, in your choice of provider. Check with your state to make sure the professionals’ licenses are current, and with the Better Business Bureau or state attorney general’s office for complaints. Look for a location and office hours that are convenient. Ask if the office does walk-in repairs rather than requiring you to make appointment. Ask about hearing rehabilitation services or support groups for after you get your hearing aids. Make sure you have a rapport with the specialist or Audiologist, that they make you feel comfortable. You will be spending some time with him/her of the course of the fitting of the hearing aid. For long-term satisfaction it is usual to see the specialist several times. And regularly every six months for clean and checks, to make sure you are still getting the full benefit of the hearing aid.
Most independently owned dispensaries carry a variety of brands of hearing aids. Three or four different brands, of which can be serviced by providers across the nation. Beltone and Miracle Ear handle only their brand. We have found the same to be the case with Walmart and Costso brand aids, they do not have a very long warranty available as to entice you to purchase new aids more often rather than having them serviced regularly with maintenance for longer life of the product. Our recommendation is to go with a wider more nationally known brand. Educate yourself about the product you are shopping for. For example, digital hearing aids, which capture 90 percent of the market. In these types or aids, the sound goes in the microphone and is digitally processed by a chip, amplified, and delivered into the ear. These aids also have features to modify the sound, making it more lifelike and correcting for other problems.
Everyone is different, because an individuals’ sound perception is, individual, a hearing aid that thrills one person may not serve another with the same results. Even within brands, there are differences within brands and models. Your provider will be helpful at helping you decide which brand and model is best for your hearing loss. Be aware that you may need to temper your expectations of the features, you need to be specific about he features that are most important to you.
A hearing aid provider is only as good as their evaluation, it’s how they determine your hearing loss and prescribes the aid particular to that loss. At your first appointment, the provider will establish your hearing loss profile with an audiometry test. You’ll sit in a soundproof booth and indicate whether you can hear the words voiced into a microphone to your headphone, as well as tones played at various pitches and volumes. A graph, called an audiogram, will be presented for you to see which parts of the sound spectrum you’re having the most difficulty hearing to calibrate your hearing aid accordingly. A good evaluation includes more tests, which may include you being asked to listen to speech while a noisy recording is played. Or you could be asked to repeat words the provider says, with and without being able to see their lips move. You might be asked personal questions about your hearing difficulties and how it relates to your daily life. You should at this time tell the provider about your hobbies, physical activities, your employment, your hearing life. Again be specific, do you go out to dinner a lot, do you go to sports in the gym often, do you stay home a lot, where are you most challenged with your hearing difficulties. Discuss all of these things. The more information you give the provider about you, the better the provider can assign a hearing aid that best fits your lifestyle. Next comes the “match”. The provider should have a few different options and give you the option to choose. If your style includes an ear mold, he’ll make an impression of your ear canal. When you return to pick up your aids, about a week or two, the provider will do several tests to verify that the fit and comfort are best for you.
Practice Makes Perfect:
Once you have your new hearing aids, be patient. Slow goes it! It takes time for your brain to get used to the hearing aids and hearing again. Go to the follow-up appointments. Most providers include the follow up appointments at no charge. Don’t be discouraged if it takes a few times to get it perfect. Follow up appointments help to fine tune the aids, changing the electronic settings, reworking the programs to fit you, or sometimes getting a completely new hearing aid. Practice makes perfect, practice everyday activities using your new hearing aids. Wear them a little bit more each day until you get to use them all day without thinking about them anymore. It takes some time to rehabilitate your new found world of hearing again.
I hope this has been helpful information. if you have any questions, please call the office (719)543-2116.