Hearing Aid Resource for Consumers

How to Purchase Hearing Aids

What should you think about when buying hearing aids?
Following is a list of factors to consider. Most importantly, your hearing aid must be a good match for your loss characteristics, fit comfortably and be adjustable, either manually, by you, or automatically. Read through these factors and make some notes as to your priorities so you can discuss them with your hearing professional.

Loss Characteristics
The nature and severity of your hearing loss will play a large role in determining which hearing aids are ultimately recommended to you. Your hearing professional can help you understand your unique loss characteristics, and explain the models that would best suit your needs.

Consider your life, work, free-time activities. What are the things you do that are most affected by hearing loss? What are the things, if any, that you're not able to do because of a hearing loss? Define your needs and set priorities. Your job may also be a factor. If you work outdoors in the elements or travel frequently, and are concerned about a hearing aid's durability, you may want to consider a back-up aid.

Sound quality is perhaps the most important consideration'it's why you're even considering purchasing hearing aids, after all. Not every technological advance benefits every hearing loss, and it's safe to say that even basic hearing aids can deliver appropriate sound quality. Consult your hearing professional ' he or she will help you assess the level of sophistication you need based on a range of issues.

The smallest hearing aids are the most discreet, but they are, well, small. If your eyesight or dexterity are less than what they used to be, size may indeed matter. Alternatively, some new aids adjust automatically or via remote control. Your hearing professional will instruct you as to your best choices.

Hearing aids come in a variety of sizes, from tiny, completely-in-the-canal models to those that sit behind the ear. Many people are overly concerned about appearance, and it's wise to remember that others will be far less aware of your aid than you. Most hearing aids are quite discreet. Keep in mind that hairstyle can also play a role.

Physical factors can also influence your selection of a hearing aid. The shape and size of the outer ear and ear canal can make it difficult for some people to wear particular styles. For example, if your canal is extremely narrow, in-the-canal aids may not work for you. Your hearing professional will help determine which hearing aid options are appropriate for you.

One Ear or Two?
Two ears are better than one, since binaural, or two-ear hearing, is what helps us determine where sounds are coming from, and to distinguish between competing sounds more easily. If you have a hearing loss in only one ear, you may be fine with one hearing aid. Age- and noise-related hearing loss tend to affect both ears, but your hearing profile for each ear is probably different. If there is a loss in both ears, then you will benefit more with a binaural approach. In addition, some of the benefits of digital technology require two hearing aids.

Today, about two-thirds of new purchasers opt for dual hearing aids, and as a group, they report a higher level of satisfaction than purchasers of a single aid. Discuss the pros and cons with your hearing professional.