If you’re shopping for your first hearing aid and discovering that the process is challenging, you’re not alone. Consumer Reports published a comparative report on hearing aids after following over a dozen people for six months while purchasing their first hearing aids. Their report was dismaying: two-thirds of the aids purchased ended up being misfitted, or amplified the sounds either too much or too little. 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.
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. The Better Hearing Institute (BHI) is a non-profit that publishes information on hearing loss and its treatment, including this guide and many others. Here are our suggestions:
- Consult a professional hearing specialist – Make an appointment with us or with another certified hearing specialist in your area, and read the information in the BHI guidelines before you go. 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.
- Select the hearing aid that best suits your needs and lifestyle – This depends on the type and severity of your hearing loss, and should have been determined by tests performed by specialists during Step 1. The type of aids you choose should reflect which type is best for your particular hearing problems, and for your budget.
- Research hearing aids of this type – Once you know which type of aid is bested suited for you, go to the Internet. Your research should focus on any reports of problems or repairs, consumer reviews on comfort and reliability, as well as price comparisons.
- Locate a reputable 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. While it is possible to buy hearing aids on the Internet, this is not recommended because most models have to be custom-fitted.
- Ensure proper fit and performance – 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.
We wish you good luck with selecting your first hearing aid, and want you to know that we are here to provide help if you need it.