Hearing Aid Shopping Guide
Hearing aids improve the hearing and speech comprehension for people with hearing loss. The hearing loss can be the result of disease, aging, medications or injury. Regardless, almost all forms of hearing loss benefit from the use of hearing aids and other assistive technology.
If you have hearing loss, hearing aids will magnify the sound vibrations that come to your ears. The greater your hearing loss, the greater the need to amplify or magnify the sounds. Since not all hearing aids are designed to be worn in the same fashion, shopping for hearing aids can be confusing. The purchase is an investment in your hearing experience, so you want to choose wisely. Here’s what you need to know.
Different hearing aid styles
Hearing aids are designed to be worn outside the body. They do not involve surgery like cochlear implants and are usually removed at night. While there are a variety of types and styles, most hearing aids fall into three basic categories.
- In the ear: In-the-ear (ITE) hearing aids fit completely inside the outer ear. A mold of your ear is used to custom-make the instrument to fit your ear precisely. ITE hearing aids are some of the larger models, but they are also the easiest to insert and remove. They are prescribed for mild-to-moderately severe hearing loss. Because of their larger size, they are more powerful and use larger batteries, generally requiring less frequent changes. A telecoil may be included with this type of hearing aid. Telecoils allow sound to be received through the hearing aid circuitry instead of the hearing aid microphone. This feature comes in handy with the loop systems used by churches, schools, airports and auditoriums.
- Behind the ear: Behind-the-ear (BTE) hearing aids consist of a case that hooks over the top of the ear and is situated behind, while tubing or wire connects to the piece that sits in the ear. Available in both mini and larger varieties, BTE hearing aids are prescribed for mild-to-profound hearing loss and are appropriate for people of all ages. They are lightweight, budget friendly and are also available with telecoils.
- In the canal: In-the-canal (ITC) hearing aids fit partially into the ear canal. The size and shape of the hearing aid are custom-made to fit your ear exactly. A completely-in-canal (CIC) hearing aid is the most discreet variety and is hidden inside the ear canal. Both of these hearing aid types are used for mild-to-moderate hearing loss. They are popular for people that want to minimize the appearance of wearing hearing aids.
Questions to ask the audiologist
The audiologist will recommend the best hearing aid style to fit your level of hearing loss and lifestyle. However, each style has many models and each model has many different features. Here are some questions to ask to make sure you get the most from your hearing aid buying dollar.
Questions about hearing aid models
- What features do I need and which ones will be most helpful?
- Do the benefits of any new technology outweigh the higher costs?
- What is the total cost of the hearing aid?
- How long is the warranty? Exactly what does the warranty cover?
- What are the instructions for using and caring for the hearing aids?
Questions about the audiologist’s services
- Do you offer a trial period to test the hearing aids? (Some manufacturers offer a trial period to test out the hearing aids.)
- If you offer a trial period, are there any nonrefundable fees?
- Who will make adjustments to the hearing aids?
- Does the audiologist provide service and minor repairs?
- Are loaner aids available if repairs are necessary?
With the many styles, models and features on the market today, your audiologist is your trusted partner to help you select the hearing aid that fits your hearing needs, your lifestyle and your budget.