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How to Select a Hearing Aid

A hearing aid is the first and most important thing to help you hear better.

Millions of Americans with hearing loss could benefit from hearing aids but have not obtained them.

Consumers are sometimes concerned about the appearance of a hearing aid, but a hearing loss is much more conspicuous than a hearing aid.

There is no Consumer Reports type of matrix comparing specific brands or models of hearing aids. That is because it is not like buying a washing machine. Everyone's hearing loss is different.

Do not rush into buying a hearing aid. Spend time researching this major purchase, just as you would a car.

First get a thorough evaluation of your hearing by a qualified hearing health professional. See free SHHH How To Get Help brochure for a description of professionals who are trained to evaluate your hearing.

Audiologists can advise you on which hearing aid is best suited for your lifestyle and listening needs. Another consideration will be what you can afford.

Most hearing aids are programmed, so the skill of your provider is an essential factor in determining your satisfaction.

Therefore, ask, which speech processing strategy is best for me, rather than which hearing aid is best.

Hearing aids with digital circuitry are the newest type. They may be a good choice for your particular hearing loss. However, they are the most expensive.

Programmable aids can be customized to fit your needs and there are a wide range of features to consider, such as directional microphones, telecoil, direct audio input and remote control.

There are two ways of acquiring information about hearing aids the method of reason and the method of personal experience. It is good to read articles and speak with savvy consumers and professional educators. However, eventually you will want to try out a hearing aid on your own.

Know your rights about a trial period as you adjust to an aid.

There will be provider return policies but there may be state laws to protect you as well.

Ask the audiologist about the possibility of trying one hearing aid for a while and then trying another one out for a while to compare.

Be aware that it may take a while for the brain to adjust to a hearing aid, so you can't always determine right away if you will like it.

Bring appropriate expectations: hearing aids may help you cope more effectively in communication, but they will not restore normal hearing.

Be aware that hearing aids do not work well in all situations.

Assistive listening devices, such as FM, infrared and loop systems, used in conjunction with hearing aids, improve hearing aid effectiveness in difficult listening situations, such as noisy restaurants.

SHHH PUBLICATIONS (See SHHH Publications Catalogue for details) Recommended for beginners. Some reports are part of an information series.

Articles/Reports Developments in Technology Digital Hearing Aids An Update Digital Hearing Aids You Asked the Questions, We Found the Answers Getting the Most out of a Visit to a Hearing Aid Specialist (Info Series) Great Expectations Regarding the Performance of Hearing Aids Hearing Aids and the Consumer Current Wisdom Hearing Aid Technology What Consumers Need to Know Telecoils in Hearing Aids Selecting a Hearing Aid (Info Series) Troubleshooting Your Hearing Aid Why People don't Acquire and/or Wear Hearing Aids You've Done Something About it Hints to the New Hearing Aid User

Books

The Hearing Aid Handbook: Users Guide for Children Hearing Aids: A Users Guide The Consumer Handbook on Hearing Loss and Hearing Aids OTHER RESOURCES (do not expect a comparison of specific brands/models)

AARP - NEW Guide on Hearing Aids Consumer Reports - general article on hearing aid selection Consumer's Digest - general article on hearing aid selection Washington Consumer Checkbook - article on DC area hearing aid dispensers Beyond Hearing Listserve - discussions among consumers about hearing aids.

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SPECIAL THANKS to SHHH (Self Help Hard of Hearing) for allowing us to republish this excellent guide. Please visit their website at http://www.shhh.org/

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