If you’re shopping for your first hearing aid and finding the process confusing, you are not alone. The publication Consumer Reports followed a dozen people over a period of six months as they shopped for their first hearing aid, and reported on it. After six months the disappointing results were in: these first-time hearing aid owners were left with ill-fitting hearing aids with volumes either too loud or too soft. 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. 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. In addition to their suggestions, here are ours:
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. The BHI guidelines will walk you through what you can expect at your first appointment and what questions you may need to ask your specialist.
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. Settling on the perfect hearing aid for you will take into account the type of hearing loss you are experiencing as well as your budget.
Step 3 – Do your research
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.
Step 4 – Locate a reputable vendor
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. 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. 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.