September 12, 2017
So you’ve gone to an audiologist and been diagnosed with a hearing loss. Your hearing professional has recommended a hearing aid and has let you try on a couple just to see what it could sound like. If you like the idea but still have some reservations about purchasing, keep reading.
There are several things to consider when purchasing a hearing aid. One hearing aid or two? Which brand? Which technology level? Do you feel comfortable with this particular hearing professional? What is your budget? The great thing is, there are fairly easy answers to all of these questions.
One hearing aid or two?
If you have a hearing loss in both ears, get a hearing aid for both ears. If you have a loss on one side, get one hearing aid or look into a CROS system (we’ll discuss CROS in another post). Our brains are meant to process sound coming from both sides of our heads, so if you amplify unevenly, you will hear unevenly and potentially encourage decreased hearing on the unamplified ear. If cost is something to consider, we would always recommend a pair of middle-priced hearing aids over a single top-of-the-line hearing aid.
Which brand should I go with?
This is sort of a tough one. There are many good brands out there that work well for the majority of wearers: Oticon, Phonak, Widex, Starkey, Siemens, and ReSound are a few of the most well-known manufacturers. The brand will often be determined by your own experience with hearing aids (what you’ve worn in the past), what brands your hearing professional is comfortable with, and which brands focus their research on your specific needs, such as tinnitus or music.
Which technology level?
There are typically four main technology levels for hearing aids: entry, basic, premium or advanced, and elite. Entry-level is for folks who don’t really do much; they tend to stay home, maybe watch TV or garden, and only occasionally see one or two friends at a time in quiet settings. The elite level is for the busy-bees; folks who are constantly on the go, on the phone, in meetings or classes, or who are regularly in very difficult listening environments. Chose the technology level that will work best for your lifestyle.
Do you feel comfortable with your hearing professional?
This is something folks don’t often think about. Try to keep an open mind while “shopping,” but if your professional is too pushy or you just don’t click, don’t be afraid to get a second opinion from someone else in that office, or even go to a new office. You want to be comfortable working with your hearing professional because your relationship with them should not end after you purchase hearing aids. You should be coming back regularly to monitor changes in your hearing and for maintenance on your devices such as cleanings, adjustments, and new software updates.
What is your budget?
Believe it or not, price is actually #7 on the national average of why people delay getting hearing aids. There is quite a range of prices, but the important thing is to remember that you get what you pay for. This means that if you pay only a couple hundred dollars on a device, you will not get the best quality of sound, programmable options, or opportunity to have them serviced or adjusted by most hearing professionals. On the other hand, if you have a demanding lifestyle then you may need to consider the more expensive (higher tech) options. If nothing else, just be aware that you are paying not only for the devices, but also expertise, care, and follow-up services.
Your hearing professional will be the best person to go over the different options that are available to you within your price range and lifestyle needs. If you have any other questions, we are always happy to schedule a consultation with one of our audiologists.
Fun Hearing Fact: Did you know that the inner ear is organized like a piano? This tiny snail-shaped organ is tonotopic, which means we hear high frequencies at one end and low frequencies at the other end, just like a piano.