What you need to know when buying hearing aids?

Hearing aids can’t restore perfect hearing. They help you use the hearing you have left to improve your speech understanding.

They make sound louder so that you can hear it, but will not necessarily always make everything clear.  Hearing aids will benefit most people with a hearing loss, but any clinician or company that promises to give perfect hearing is giving you unrealistic expectations.  Remember when you are buying a hearing aid you are buying a process and not a product.

Things you need to consider if you are thinking of getting a hearing aid:

If you think you have a hearing loss, see your ENT specialist or audiologist first who will check your ears to see if you need further medical examination or treatment.

Be very wary of responding to adverts offering free or cheap listening devices, or information on better hearing. Some companies use high pressure selling tactics and may try to sell you expensive hearing aids.

Don’t be afraid to ask questions, and you can request for quotations before you decide to purchase. A good practice will explain the nature of your hearing loss and will emphasis the necessarily of habilitation and make provision for review after fitting. 

Whether you visit the audiologist / Hearing Care Professional, or are visited by them in your home, you may want to have someone with you for support and to make sure you don’t mishear something. Good practices will recommend this.

If you know someone who has bought a hearing aid, ask them if they would recommend the clinician they dealt with.  What was the back-up service like?  Remember that their hearing loss is unlikely to be the same as yours, so their hearing aid may not necessarily be the right one for you.

Avoid ‘dispensers’ who hold ‘exhibitions’ in hotel etc.  Be careful when buying from a ‘dispenser’ who is ‘visiting’ your area without a regular clinic.  Check that you will be able to contact them easily In the future. You will need to be able to see them if you have a problem with your hearing aid and need to get it adjusted, repaired or serviced.

What happens when I see the Audiologist or Hearing Care Professional?

You hearing will be assessed. The range of tests carried out can vary, but they must include:     

An air conduction hearing test: In the test, you can listen to tones (bleeps) through headphones and tell the audiologist which ones you can hear.

A bone conduction hearing test: In this test, you wear a special headband that conducts sound through the bones of your skull.  When the results are compared with what you heard through the headphones in the air conduction test, they show whether you have a problem with your eardrum or middle ear.

In addition to these speech tests may be performed which check your understanding of lists of words.  You will get your results in an audiogram. This is a graph that shows how well you hear low, middle and high tones.

Once you hearing has been tested, a discussion will follow as to which kind of hearing aid will be best for you.  Most people benefit from wearing a hearing aid in each ear, rather than just one. Ask for information about all the different types of aids that might suit you and their prices, be wary if you are not given any choices.

If you decide to buy a hearing aid, an impression of your ear will be taken.  It will be sent to laboratory for the ear-mould, or the casing, if it is an In-the-ear aid to be made.

When this is ready, you will need another visit to the hearing centre.  This is to have the hearing aid fitted and programmed to suit your hearing loss and explanation as to how to use it.

After-care appointments should be arranged after fitting your hearing aid.  It is important that you keep these appointments, as it may be necessary to adjust or fine-tune the hearing aid for you to get the best results from your system.

It is important that qualified audiologist / Hearing Care Professional carry out audiological assessment and the prescribing and fitting of hearing aids.  This is necessary to ensure that a treatable medical condition, or a medical condition which requires intervention, is not missed.  It also ensures safe impression taking procedures are utilized and appropriate amplification is prescribed following audiometric evaluation so as not to put at risk the patient’s residual hearing.

Contact InnoHear Centres for more information