Do I Need a Hearing Aid?
If you find yourself straining and fatigued to hear or feel isolated and left-out of social activities and gatherings because you miss parts of conversations, a hearing aid is strongly advised. Similar to eyeglasses for near or far-sightedness, a hearing aid will provide significant physical and emotional relief from the strain of struggling to hear, especially in groups when there is more background noise.
More importantly, most individuals report that after 1-month of hearing aid use, they feel more connected to others socially and experience a lift in energy and well-being with the world around them.
An added benefit is that treating hearing loss may contribute to maintaining healthy mental health, as recent neurological studies reveal a strong correlation between hearing loss and cognitive disorders like dementia.
Types of Hearing Aids
Virtually all of the major hearing device manufacturers design hearing devices that look nearly identical. In fact, they look so similar that only an experienced hearing care professional can easily identify a hearing aid brand by how it looks.
The image at the top of this page displays the type of hearing device that most individuals are successful with. Over the years, hearing devices have evolved towards being much smaller, and available in different colors to match hair, which makes them more discreet.
Also, today’s devices automatically adjust to sound so there is no need to turn the volume up or down as with older hearing devices, although an “app” is available through iPhone and Samsung cell phones to change the hearing aid settings, monitor battery life, adjust the volume and have a cell phone conversation in stereo. Using Google maps, you can even locate the hearing aids if you misplaced them.
How are hearing aids PRICED?
Hearing devices marketed through the internet or magazines to provide extraordinary hearing benefits and state-of-the-art components at bargain basement prices are a red-flag for concern. The old adage “if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is” applies to such advertisements and promises.
Hearing aid manufacturers design different “tiers” or technology levels for hearing devices. These levels have nothing to do with the size or appearance of the devices, but rather with the computer chip inside. While all the technology tiers are capable of providing an excellent improvement in hearing, the more advanced level tiers are marketed to provide ease of comfort in louder listening situations like restaurants.
Look for high quality devices from one of the top 6 reputable hearing aid manufacturers dispensed by an experienced provider who will custom fit devices to your unique ear shape and use “real-ear” technology to ensure the devices are appropriately adjusted to your hearing test results. Generally, costs for devices between manufacturers is very similar. Hearing aids are priced by tier or level of technology, from standard to advanced to premium levels.
Generally speaking, each upgrade of technology provides more comfort and features for improved hearing in background noise like restaurants. Each jump in tier costs on average an additional $600/device.
However, many people find the standard technology to work excellent for them, including noisy environments. Any new set of hearing devices from a reputable manufacturer should last for many years and can be serviced inexpensively should they later need repair.
Today’s hearing devices sound more natural, are smaller and more discreet, have significantly improved noise suppression and are less prone to malfunction than hearing devices from yesteryear. However, expect the hearing nerve and brain to require 2-4 weeks to adapt to the devices until they sound natural.
Selecting A Hearing Healthcare Professional
Experience-it takes years of education, training and experience to become skilled with the assessment, selection and fitting of hearing devices. Because of this, rarely are even the most experienced hearing professionals able to proficiently dispense more than 2 brands and reliably stock inventory for them.
Education-most audiologists have a Doctorate in Audiology and all must pass a national exam to practice. A hearing healthcare professional you feel confident and comfortable with who has been fitting hearing devices for a minimum of 5 years and responds to your direct questions with direct answers is essential.
Customizing hearing devices-look for a hearing healthcare professional who uses “real-ear measurement” technology to customize devices to your hearing exam results. This procedure is the “gold-standard” for fitting hearing devices, which validates the devices will perform optimally based on your hearing test results.