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Ultimate Hearing Aid Guide.
Steps to buy a hearing aid
If you have experienced a loss of hearing ability in one or both of your ears, it could be the right time to think about buying hearing aids. Doing so can be a big step for anyone, but the results are often well worth it. The process of actually getting hold of the right pair of hearing aids isn't that complicated, but there are certain things that need to be included. And there are also ways to ensure you source the perfect device, at the right place. So let's run through the six steps to finding a hearing aid to get your hearing back to where it needs to be.
Checklist For Buying Hearing Aids
The first stage in obtaining a hearing aid is actually establishing whether or not a hearing aid is required, and what degree of hearing impairment you are currently suffering from. Before you can move onto a full hearing examination, you'll need to arrange an appointment with your physician, or an otolaryngologist (an ear, nose, and throat expert). When you attend that appointment, the medical professional will discuss your hearing loss, and try to confirm the causes. In the process, they should be able to rule out causes like short-term infections or, in rare cases, tumors. There may also be a physical reason for your impairment, such as a percussive injury sustained in a car accident or while playing sports. Again, a licensed physician or otolaryngologist will be able to ascertain whether this is the case. Technically, the FDA have not made a medical examination mandatory for those seeking hearing aids. However, it remains a sound move to ensure that every angle is considered. It's also the best way to make sure that your hearing problems cannot be resolved through other means, so it's generally in your own interest to make the appointment.
After you have arranged and completed the preliminary medical examination, it may then be necessary to move onto the second stage: organizing an appointment with an audiologist. Many people who have never required hearing aids before may not yet have a regular audiologist, and selecting the right practitioner is an important decision. Pick one who is certified via a Doctor of Audiology diploma, and make a call to the practice concerned. Don't be afraid to speak with the expert before you even make a first appointment. You can tell a great deal about their communication abilities and tone without seeing them face to face. And take advice from people you know who have had hearing aids fitted. Their feedback can often be the most reliable information about the quality of an audiologist. When you find the right expert, book a consultation. When you get there, the audiologist will administer a hearing test to find out what kind and degree of hearing loss you are suffering from. Part of this will involve carrying out an audiogram. This test will find out your optimal range of hearing, and establish which registers you struggle to hear. It's a very simple process. Your audiologist will usually play sounds, and your role is simply to inform them when you hear a tone. The data that emerges is then plotted on a graph (the actual audiogram), and your audiologist will run through the results. The most important metric is probably your hearing level (measured in decibels). This is the softest sound you can hear, and it largely determines whether and what kind of hearing aid you'll need.
After the audiogram has been carried out, you will have to discuss with your audiologist whether a hearing aid is needed. Sometimes, this isn't clear cut. It could be that your hearing isn't quite poor enough for a hearing aid to help - but your audiologist will let you know whether this is the case. If you do need a hearing aid, the next stage is selecting an appropriate provider. This could be the clinic that provided your audiogram. In that case, you'll be able to try out various devices with your audiologist in attendance, and calibrate their settings to suit your hearing needs. However, this isn't the only option, and it's not always the cheapest. Remember, you'll be paying for the time of the audiologist, and the clinic may not offer the most competitive prices. They may also have arrangements with certain hearing aid companies, restricting the choice of hearing aids available. Then again, it often helps patients to discuss their needs with an expert. That way, they can balance things like cosmetic issues, finding a device which works well with digital music devices, or purchasing a hearing aid which handles noisy environments particularly well. Everyone has different requirements, and finding a hearing aid is a highly personalized process. So, it's always wise to take expert advice. That doesn't stop you actually buying the hearing aid from a cheaper provider, though, which is where online providers might come in handy.
These days, there's no need to feel that you are limited to purchasing a hearing aid from your local audiologist and the providers that they recommend. The hearing aid market is diverse, with major brands like Starkey, Phonak, Signia, Oticon, Widex, and ReSound all competing for the attention of patients. And as with many items in the age of eCommerce, the best way to access this wide range of choice is often to make your purchase online. If you do choose to go down the online route, explore all of the vendors available. Reputable sites include Hear.com, Miracle-Ear, HearingDirect, and HearingPlanet. They don't just offer catalogs of up to date hearing aid models, but also tend to provide guidance and background information to help buyers find the right model. Providers like Hear.com and HearingPlanet offer a throughout consultation via phone before you will need to arrange the first appointment with an audiologist. For many potential hearing aid users, this concept has proven to be very comfortable, as they can easily seek an expert’s advice without the need to leave the house or to arrange a fixed appointment.
However, be careful. Try to decide with your audiologist which brands and specific models are relevant to your needs. Each brand will have a variety of different hearing aids to pick, and each model will have sub-varieties. So, for example, the Phonak Virto B-Titanium hearing aid comes in a 70 and 90 version, and there's a $500 difference between them. Make sure you pick one that meets your needs, as well as your budget. Choose wisely, and you'll get the perfect product, with great pre and after-care.
When you've picked the ideal hearing aid brand and model, as well as the ideal place to make the purchase, the next stage is to book a hearing aid fitting appointment. This is an absolutely crucial part of the process for a number of reasons. Firstly, it's a great chance to decide whether you are more comfortable with behind-the-ear (BTE), in-the-ear (ITE), receiver-in-canal (RIC), or bone-anchored hearing aids. Not everyone will like the sensation of wearing an earmold, or find the level of sound quality is sufficient. And not everyone will like the look of a BTE unit behind their ear. Secondly, it's vitally important to get the physical setup right when you have settled on a type of hearing aid. Poorly fitted devices can result in problems relating to moisture damage or infections, not to mention simple discomfort and poor sound quality.
Then there are things like achieving the right sound balance. This is particularly critical if you have differential hearing loss and need what are known as CROS or BiCROS hearing aids. In that case, a poorly fitted pair of hearing aids will result in a very frustrating auditory experience. Finally, the fitting is also a chance to try out accessories like apps and external microphones, to check that they deliver what you need. It's an opportunity to ensure that you can hook up your hearing aid with your iPhone or mp3 player. And, above all else, it's a chance to double check that the hearing aid you've chosen actually lets you hear properly. So, don't cut corners. Use your favored audiologist, and ask them any pertinent questions. They will be happy to answer your concerns as they fit your hearing aid, so don't be shy.
Now that you've been assessed, picked a hearing aid, found the right retailer, and organized a hearing aid fitting, you're almost ready to complete the purchase and become a happy hearing aid user. If all has gone to plan, you should have an in-depth knowledge of your hearing requirements, and a device to match those needs. However, there may still be some choices to be made regarding pricing. If that's the case, you may need to balance costs against more advanced features like Bluetooth streaming. With a huge difference in price from entry-level hearing aids to the most advanced models, it's a choice that everyone has to face. But don't feel that you've made a completely final decision. You can always upgrade your hearing aid as and when your needs and budget changes. When that's been resolved, and your hearing aid is in the mail, use the time to prepare. Read through maintenance guides for your specific hearing aid, and think about purchasing batteries or cases to keep your new device in good working order. Remember: you'll value your new hearing ability extremely highly. So, look after your hearing aid, and give your hearing a new lease of life!
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