The selection and purchase of a first hearing aid can be an overwhelming task for anyone. When Consumer Reports did a comparative report on hearing aids, they followed consumers for six months as they tried to figure out which one to buy. Their report was dismaying: two-thirds of the aids purchased ended up being misfitted, or amplified the sounds either too much or too little. Even within this small group of people the price range for these hearing aids was huge and they were not always provided the best information by the retailers. That said, there are tips that can help you when shopping for your first hearing aid, and in this article we’ll cover a few of them. 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. These guidelines are provided on the website of the Better Hearing Institute (BHI), a non-profit corporation that educates the public about hearing loss and what can be done about it. In addition to their suggestions, here are ours:
Step 1 – Consult a professional hearing specialist
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. 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 – 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. 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 homework
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.
Step 4 – Find a reliable vendor
This vendor may be your hearing specialist from Step 1 or someone they referred you to. The vendor should be able to make molds of your ears and fit the aids properly. While it is possible to buy hearing aids on the Internet, this is not recommended because most models have to be custom-fitted.
Step 5 – 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. Most reputable vendors will do this, and provide a “satisfaction guaranteed” warranty, complete with free followup fittings or adjustments, if necessary.
We are here to help you as you make the purchase of your first hearing aid and we wish you good luck on this exciting journey to better hearing!