Shopping for and selecting your first hearing aid is a daunting task, and not just for you. 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. 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. 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 suggestions:
- Seek professional help– You can do this either by calling us for an appointment, or by consulting another certified hearing specialist in your area; either way we suggest you read the BHI guidelines before your first appointment. 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 depends on the type and severity of your hearing loss, and should have been determined by tests performed by specialists during Step 1. Which type of hearing aid is best for you depends on the nature of your hearing loss, combined with your budgetary constraints.
- Do your research – Once you know which type of aid is bested suited for you, go to the Internet. Look for price comparisons from different vendors, reports on the frequency of problems and repairs, and most important, reviews from users as to the unit’s comfort and reliability.
- Find a reliable vendor – This vendor may be your hearing specialist from Step 1 or someone they referred you to. Whoever you select as the vendor, make sure they have the proper training to make molds of your ears and fit hearing aids 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 – 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.