Hearing aids: Ensuring you get what you pay for

April 20, 2009

Are you or someone you know looking into the purchase of new hearing aids? Here are some considerations to make certain you get the hearing aids with the quality you need at a reasonable price.

What do I look for in the person fitting the hearing aids? Ask if they are a certified audiologist. If so, you can be assured that the individual is educated in medical hearing problems as well as the fitting of hearing aids. The audiologist will communicate with your primary care physician if any medical concerns are evident. Select a person you feel comfortable talking to, someone who really listens to your concerns.

What happens during a hearing test? The audiologist will take a medical history and look into your ear canals. If your ears are clear of debris, then a pure tone test, bone conduction test, speech clarity test and possibly a middle ear function test will be performed. Then the audiologist will sit down and discuss the results with you and any family members you bring with you. If you have a hearing loss and would like to have a trial period with hearing aids, the audiologist will discuss the pros and cons of the variety of hearing aids available for your degree of hearing loss.

What is the best outcome I can expect with hearing aids? This is a difficult question to answer. Each person has differing amounts of damage in the hearing organ, in the parts of the brain that understand speech and even their ability to cope with changes in their life. Your audiologist should be able to give you an idea of what your success might be in understanding running speech in a quiet room vs. a noisy room.

I see a lot of different types of hearing aid technology available. Which is right for me? The audiologist will ask questions about your lifestyle, ie: do you hike, bike, go to church or meetings? Are you around children or in an echoing house or office? From your answers the audiologist can determine if you really need the most expensive hearing aid or if a more moderate priced hearing aid would meet your needs.

How do I know if I am paying market value for the hearing aids I am trying? Shop around, just as you would for any major purchase. In Northern Arizona, there is a very large difference in price for the exact same hearing aid and service policy.

What do I do if I am not happy with the hearing aids? The dispensing audiologist is able to return the hearing aids to the company for credit, but there is a time limit on this. The return must be made within 30 days of purchase.

Is there anything else I can do to help make the purchase of hearing aids more successful? Trust yourself! You know your body better than anyone. Take a friend or relative with you to your appointments and discuss your concerns with the audiologist. If you are still uncertain, wait a few days to think about the purchase.