The selection and purchase of a first hearing aid can be an overwhelming task for anyone. 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. 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. The Better Hearing Institute (BHI) is a non-profit that publishes information on hearing loss and its treatment, including this guide and many others. Here are our suggestions:
Step 1 – 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. It will help you to ask the right questions and know what the right answers are.
Step 2 – Decide which type of aid is best for you
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.
Step 3 – Do your research
After selecting the type of hearing aid that is best for your situation use the Internet to research different models. Look for price comparisons from different vendors, reports on the frequency of problems and repairs, and most important, reviews from users as to the unit’s comfort and reliability.
Step 4 – 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. The vendor should be able to make molds of your ears and fit the aids properly. You can buy hearing aids over the Internet, but because most models must be custom-fitted, we do not recommend this.
Step 5 – Your hearing aid should fit comfortably and sound great
This should be done before walking out the door after your first fitting, and the vendor you select should support this. Most reputable vendors will do this, and provide a “satisfaction guaranteed” warranty, complete with free followup fittings or adjustments, if necessary.
Good luck, and know that our specialists are here to help you in any way that we can.