How to Select the Hearing Aid that is Right for You
More than 48 million Americans have some degree of hearing loss. Among 65-year-old Americans, one out of three has some type of hearing loss. Even so, hearing loss is not a problem that is limited to older Americans: It is estimated that 30 out of 1,000 school-age children have hearing loss. For the majority of those who are hard of hearing, a hearing aid can go a long way toward helping them communicate effectively with others.
BUT WHAT TYPE OF HEARING AID SHOULD YOU CHOOSE?
Just as technological innovations have created an almost infinite array of smartphone and tablet choices, hearing aids now come in multiple varieties, from those with Bluetooth capability to those specifically designed to make cell phone conversations easier. There are even bone-anchored hearing aids that utilize titanium implants to direct sound vibrations to the inner ear. When it comes to hearing aids, it’s important to speak with a professional who can provide accurate advice.
While both audiologists and hearing aid dispensers can evaluate hearing and fit hearing aids, audiologists must have a doctoral or master’s degree, pass national and state exams, and have more than 1,000 hours of clinical training. Hearing aid specialists generally have from six months to 2 years of supervised training. An audiologist, particularly one affiliated with an otolaryngology practice, is best suited to provide the level of expertise needed to help you find the right hearing aid.
WHY IS IT IMPORTANT TO VISIT AN AUDIOLOGIST WITH AN EAR, NOSE AND THROAT PHYSICIAN PRACTICE?
Because certain hearing problems may be caused by an obstruction or structural problems with the ear itself, and a physician can work with the audiologist to find the best solution. Following are some steps that will help you work with your audiologist to select the appropriate hearing aid:
- Make a list of items that are important for you to have in a hearing aid. You may wish to consider how active your lifestyle is and whether or not you want to have a hearing aid featuring the latest technology.
- Consider what type of hearing aid may be best for you. Would you prefer an in-the-ear hearing aid work, or would it be easier for you to adjust one that fits behind the ear?
- Ask your audiologist what type of hearing loss you have. Certain hearing aids work better with certain types of hearing loss.
- Consider where you have the most difficulty hearing. Do you find it difficult to understand when you are in a crowded restaurant? Do you find it hard to hear during conference room meetings?
- How much are you willing or able to spend? Hearing aids vary widely in cost, and some insurances companies will not cover all (or any) of the cost involved. Hearing aid prices can range from a few thousand to several thousand dollars per hearing aid.
- Is there a “test drive” period? Many audiologists will allow you to have a trial period to see how well the hearing works in various settings. Be sure to ask the company what their return policy is, and be sure to understand their procedures for returning a hearing aid or getting it adjusted.
- How important is technology to you? Almost any hearing aid style can be customized with the latest technology. However, the more advanced the technology, the more expensive the hearing aid becomes. Decide how important certain features are to you, such as digital speech enhancement, feedback suppression and wireless capabilities.
Most important, realize that the best hearing aid in the world will not help if it does not fit or if it is not adjusted correctly. That is another reason why it is so important to work with an audiologist that you trust.
For more information on hearing loss, visit hearingloss.com.