The selection and purchase of a first hearing aid can be an overwhelming activity for just about anyone. Consumer Reports published a comparative report on hearing aids after following over a dozen people for six months while purchasing their first hearing aids. What they found was less than satisfying, because they found that two-thirds of the aids were either improperly fitted or that they provided either too much or too little volume. Prices varied widely, and the people selling them did not always provide the kinds of information the shoppers needed.
To spare you this experience, in this article we’ll try to provide a few tips to help you when shopping for your first hearing aid. 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. These guidelines are provided on the website of the Better Hearing Institute (BHI), a non-profit corporation that educates the public about hearing loss and what can be done about it. 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 – Your certified hearing specialist will help you determine which hearing aid is best for you. During your examination in Step 1 they will conduct an examination and hearing tests to diagnose the type and severity of any hearing loss. Which type of hearing aid is best for you depends on the nature of your hearing loss, combined with your budgetary constraints.
- Research hearing aids of this type – After determining the type of hearing aid you need, use the Internet to look up information about 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.
- Search for and select a vendor you can rely on – This may be the hearing specialist you went to in Step 1, or someone recommended by them. Your hearing aid vendor should be trained and equipped to make molds of your ears to fit your hearing aid properly. While it is possible to buy hearing aids on the Internet, this is not recommended because most models have to be custom-fitted.
- Ensure proper fit and performance – This should be done before walking out the door after your first fitting, and the vendor you select should support this. A “satisfaction guaranteed” warranty and free follow-up appointments for fine-tuning and adjustments are standard with reputable vendors.
Good luck, and know that our specialists are here to help you in any way that we can.