What to Consider When Looking for a Hearing Aid
Hearing aids are medical devices that can be purchased through a hearing professional (audiologist, hearing aid specialist, or ENT); or for adults with mild to moderate hearing loss, hearing aids can be purchased without the assistance of a professional from online resources, through the mail, or in certain brick-and-mortar outlets that sell consumer electronic devices.
Hearing aids, like any other medical device, should be carefully considered before making a selection. The following guidelines can help you find the device that is right for your hearing and lifestyle needs:
- Get your hearing tested: Hearing loss can be caused by aging, extended exposure to loud noises, an underlying medical condition, medical treatment, or even earwax. Knowing the details of your hearing loss is the best first step to finding the right treatment option. A hearing professional can test your hearing, diagnose your hearing loss, and answer any questions you may have about choosing the correct hearing aid device if a hearing loss is diagnosed, as well as provide any troubleshooting and follow-up services.
- Knowing the avenues of treatment: If your hearing test shows that you have mild to moderate hearing loss, you can consider purchasing over-the-counter (OTC) hearing aids or prescription hearing aids through a licensed hearing professional. Those with greater than moderate hearing loss should only treat their hearing with prescription devices and the guidance of a licensed hearing professional.
- Your priorities: In order to find the best technology suited for you, a consideration of your lifestyle and hearing needs is critical. What do you want the hearing aid to do for you? Are you active and social or do you tend to stay home? Do you attend church or other gatherings where there is projected sound? Do you enjoy watching television or talking on the phone? Take note of your answers and do your research. Consider sharing your answers with a licensed hearing professional to help you narrow down available technology that would best suit your hearing health needs.
- Trial periods: Before making a purchase of either prescription or OTC hearing aids, be sure to know about the trial period offered for the selected device. Many manufacturers and hearing healthcare professionals offer 30-, 45- or 60-day trials for hearing aids so that you can test how the hearing aids will work without making a full monetary commitment.
- Battery usage: Batteries are an additional cost and responsibility to continue successfully using your hearing aids. Each hearing aid style and your daily amount of hearing aid use will determine how frequently the batteries need to be changed. Completely-in-the-Canal (CIC) hearing aids have the lowest disposable battery life lasting between 3-7 days, while Behind-the-ear (BTE) hearing aids can last between 9-20 days. Rechargeable batteries also exist in many hearing aid models and require an overnight charge to power the hearing aids throughout the day.
- Additional features: Many hearing aids available today come equipped with wireless technology to allow you to connect with televisions, cell phones, and audio streaming. Most also offer telecoil and directional microphones to assist in noisier settings. Consider your hearing needs and priorities to select the features that will benefit you most, and research the product, manufacturer, and reviews of the device you are interested in purchasing. You can learn about new technology innovations here.
- Cost: On average, prescription hearing aids purchased through a hearing professional range from $1,000 to $4,000. The total price includes the cost of the hearing aids (whether it be basic, mid-level, or advanced technology), the professional fitting, follow-up treatment, maintenance, troubleshooting visits, and sometimes batteries for the lifespan of the hearing aid(s). Because over-the-counter (OTC) hearing aids do not require the service of a hearing professional, many may be available at reduced prices.