Whether you are looking for an upgrade from your current hearing aid or you are just starting to address hearing loss, choosing the right hearing aid can be a daunting task without all of the information available.
Get a Check-Up
There are several steps to take in your search for the perfect hearing aid, most important of which is going to see your doctor to assess your degree of hearing loss. If you are experiencing sudden hearing loss it may be a result of excessive ear wax or a tumor.
If your hearing loss is natural and can be helped with a hearing aid, your next stop should be a visit with an audiologist. This specialist will find how severe your hearing loss is and what strength of hearing aid would be right for you.
Weigh your Options & Pick a Style
There are numerous styles of hearing aids, each with its own positives and negatives. Some hearing aids are quite discreet and better for mild or moderate hearing loss, while others are more visible but last longer and are more powerful. Depending on what your needs are, you can pick from any of the following:
(RIE) Receiver-in-Ear: The RIE hearing aid is extremely discreet and carries sound through very small wires from the casing on the outer ear to the receiver in the ear canal.
(BTE) Behind-the-Ear: This is the most popular style hearing aid (more than half of the aids sold in the U.S.) — and is made up of a discreet flesh or hair-colored tube that hides behind the ear and connects to the ear canal. It is ideal for mild to moderate hearing loss.
(MIC) Microphone-in-Concha: This style of hearing aid consists of a microphone that rests in the curved part of your outer ear, a tube which directs the sound from the microphone to your ear canal, and a custom-fit receiver that stays hidden inside your ear canal.
(CIC) Completely-in-Canal: By taking a mold of the ear canal, the CIC is not visible to the naked eye and can be helpful to those with some hearing capabilities. Small batteries can make this device trickier for those with big fingers and poor vision.
(ITC) In-the-Canal: Slightly more discreet than the ITE, it rests in the low outer ear near the ear canal and has an impressive battery life.
(ITE) In-the-Ear: For excessive hearing loss, this device completely fills the outer ear and has a long battery-life, large receiver, and has some special features (directional microphones, for instance).
There are also some helpful offers including adapters to make telephone hearing easier, directional microphones, remote controls, and bluetooth-enabled devices.
Test and Adjust
It will take some time to adjust to your hearing aid, and it will not return your hearing to what it once was. Allow several weeks (sometimes months) to get used to how it feels and figure out if it is right for you. Many hearing aids offer a trial-period and you should take advantage of this.
Be sure to schedule a follow-up appointment with your audiologist to assess how your new hearing aid is helping you and what adjustments need to be made. Wear it consistently to get an accurate feel for what your needs are and if they are being met.
Hearing aids can cost anywhere from several hundred dollars to several thousand. While you may not be able to afford the best, your hearing is important and you should spend the money necessary to your safety and health.