How to choose a hearing aid

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QUICKREAD

• Do a PRICE COMPARISON and check to see if the hearing aid cost is covered by your insurance company.

• People almost always need TWO HEARING AIDS to make the sound better balanced.

• Decide on the BEST MODEL for your needs.

• There are BEHIND-THE-EAR hearing aids and very small in-the-ear hearing aids to consider.



There are many different types of hearing aids to pick from. Most hearing aids are digital. They come in all different shapes and sizes, and yes, even colors. True digital hearing aids are sound-processing amplifiers and are programmed on a computer.

The hearing aids have small micro-processors. The acoustic signals are transformed into a binary code at high speed and with great precision. They make soft sounds louder and loud sounds comfortable.

With the introduction of digital hearing aids in the past 10 years, there has been a deluge of claims about which company has the best.

Regardless of company preference, the industry is coming closer to the claim that within the next few years, the majority of all hearing aids purchased will be digital.

In some cases, the instrument can differentiate between speech and noise. You need to hear surrounding sounds, but today’s digital hearing aids manage conflicting noise better than before.

Other things to look for are number of frequency bands for maximum adjustability, multiple programs for different listening environments, directional microphones for comfort and clarity in noise, noise reduction and feedback cancellation.

Basic digital hearing aids start under $1,000 per hearing aid, while the most advanced instruments should be around $3,000 per hearing aid. There are many choices in between.

The higher priced ones have greater capabilities, but even less expensive digital models are better than the older analog hearing aids.

Twenty years ago, the majority of hearing aids were the behind-the-ear type. With introduction of miniaturization, people are opting for less-noticeable in-the-ear models. This trend has come full circle with the introduction of mini behind-the-ear digital aids.

In many cases the ear canal remains open to relieve the wearer of any plugged up feeling.

Vanity is taking a back seat to performance. When people invest in hearing aids they are seeking the best possible hearing they can achieve. But you’ll never hear as well as you did before you needed a hearing aid.

Hearing aids are similar to eyeglasses — they can compensate for the hearing that you still have just as glasses do for your sight.

Is one enough? In most cases, no. The more severe the hearing loss, the more the second hearing aid is needed. The second aid will give you a better-balanced sound and directionalization — the ability to determine where a particular sound is coming from.

Two hearing aids are generally better than one — not because they make the sound twice as loud, but because they provide a more natural perception of sound. Also, you will have improved speech understanding in the presence of noise.

Don’t make snap decisions

Surely, you’ve heard the saying, “If it sounds too good to be true, then it probably is.”  That’s the case with some hearing aid advertisements. One ad claims: “Hearing loss? It may just be wax.” The fact is, it is very rare for the cause of long-standing hearing loss to be simply earwax. Yet, it is common to suggest this idea as a way of getting people in the door. Be aware of discounts off the manufacturer’s suggested retail price. Hearing aids are routinely sold for significantly less than the MSRP. Also watch out for “buy one, get one free” gimmicks.

The bottom line is that a hearing aid purchase is a very important decision and one that often takes a great deal of time and consideration. You should never feel pressured to act quickly.

If possible, consult with your friends and family members. There are no earth shattering sales when it comes to hearing aids. Ask for a 30-day trial period with a 100-percent refund policy.

If the specialist is so sure that this product is what you need, then they shouldn’t be afraid of offering this type of return policy.

Most of all, if you are not completely satisfied with your hearing aids, return them during your trial period.

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