If you're shopping for your first hearing aid and finding the process confusing, you are not alone. 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. Customers wound up paying widely-varying prices for the same units, and did not always receive the kind of information they were looking for from the vendors. 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. We can't provide all of the information that would be useful to cover in such a short set of tips, so we refer you in advance to an excellent set of guidelines at Your Guide to Buying Hearing Aids. It is an article provided by a non-profit corporation called the Better Hearing Institute (BHI), which provides educational materials about hearing loss and how to correct it. Here are our tips:
Step 1 – See an audiology professional
Make an appointment to see one of our audiology specialists or any other certified hearing specialist in your area. You can be best prepared for your appointment by reviewing the BHI guidelines beforehand. Those guidelines will help you to know what to expect, and what types of questions to ask.
Step 2 – Determine which type of hearing aid you need
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.
Step 3 – Research hearing aids of this type
Once you know which type of aid is bested suited for you, go to the Internet. Your research should focus on any reports of problems or repairs, consumer reviews on comfort and reliability, as well as price comparisons.
Step 4 – Find a reliable vendor
The vendor may be the specialist you saw in Step 1, or can be 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 – Ensure proper fit and performance
The vendor should perform tests to make sure of a proper fit and that everything is working correctly during your first fitting. The vendor should also provide free follow-up sessions to fine-tune either the fit or the performance of the hearing aids, and should be willing to offer you a "satisfaction guaranteed" warranty when purchasing them.
We are here to help you as you make the purchase of your first hearing aid and we wish you good luck on this exciting journey to better hearing!