How do I choose the best hearing aid?
Asked by C Buckland on 28 March 2019
I'm searching to buy my first hearing aid, they are expensive so I want to get the best, how do I choose what to buy?
Answered by Steve Claridge
There's a few things to consider when looking for a hearing aid:
1. How bad is your hearing loss and will that affect the type of hearing aid you can wear?
2. What style would you prefer? What are you comfortable wearing?
3. What price are you prepared to pay?
4. What features are important to you?
First things first, you should visit a hearing aid provider and get your hearing tested and ears checked, seeing as you are looking at hearing aid options I'm guesing you already have done this, but if not then stop everything get a hearing test and have someone shine a light in your ear. Best case for you is you have earwax and don't even need a hearing aid.
Now you know what type of hearing loss you have and how severe the loss is. This may impact the type of hearing aid that is available to you, for example, a more severe loss may require a molded ear piece that fits tightly in your canal whereas a mild hearing loss will be able to have a much more loosely-fitting and softer ear piece.
There are many different types of hearing aid, but basically you can either get one that is small and fits in your ear canal (depending on your loss you can get an invisible one or may require a bigger one), or one that has a part behind your ear with either a tube or a wire into a small piece in your ear. I wear a RIC/RITE hearing aid, so I have a unit behind my ear and an almost-invisible wire connecting it to the speaker in the ear, works brilliantly for my severe hearing loss.
The latest hearing aids all have bluetooth connectivity, which means you can stream audio from an iPad/tablet/smartphone straight into your ears, you might think you don't need this, you really do! I ignored bluetooth for a long while, now I couldn't live without it, phone calls are now a breeze for me. Most of the main manufacturers are now also offering rechargeable hearing aids but only the very newest models offer this.
Price is of course a big issue, you will be able to purchase last-season's hearing aids, which in many cases are as good, or nearly as good, as the latest in terms of sound quality but may lack bluetooth or any extras. You don't necessarily have to buy the latest and greatest, just as a two-year-old TV set looks great for most people, a two-year-old hearing aid also sounds amazing. Every year the manufacturers bring out new models which improve on the last, with better sound quality and more features. Depending on your lifestyle and expectations you may be happy with a cheaper model that is a few years old.
Don't forget to also consider what happens after you buy the hearing aid, the aftercare, the is just as important as buying the right model, if not more so. Getting used to listening with a new hearing aid can take weeks or months and you will need your hearing aid provider to alter your aids over the first few months as you use them more and want tweaks and fine-tuning to get the sound just right for you.
Good luck! Don't rush into a decision, get fitted with hearing aids that you find comfortable, use your trial period to test them out as much as possible and return them if you are not happy but remember that it does take time to get used to the new sounds so wear them as much as possible and in as many different scenarios as possible.
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