Shopping for and selecting your first hearing aid is an intimidating activity, and not just for you. Consumer Reports published a comparative report on hearing aids after following over a dozen people for six months while purchasing their first hearing aids. 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. 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:
- Seek professional help– Make an appointment with us or with another certified hearing specialist in your area, and read the information in the BHI guidelines before you go. Those guidelines will help you to know what to expect, and what types of questions to ask.
- Decide which type of aid is best for you -This is decided while working with the specialists, who will use tests they conduct during Step 1 to determine your type and severity of 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 selecting the type of hearing aid that is best for your situation use the Internet to research different models. Your research should focus on any reports of problems or repairs, consumer reviews on comfort and reliability, as well as price comparisons.
- Search for and select a vendor you can rely on – This vendor may be your hearing specialist from Step 1 or someone they referred you to. Your hearing aid vendor should be trained and equipped to make molds of your ears to fit your hearing aid properly. You can buy hearing aids over the Internet, but because most models must be custom-fitted, we do not recommend this.
- 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.
Good luck, and know that our specialists are here to help you in any way that we can.