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Questions to ask about potential hearing devices

After your initial appointment with an audiologist, when you're ready to go back again and get fitted for hearing aids, you'll definitely have many questions. Here are some of the most important questions for your hearing health care professional, as well as an explanation for why to ask each one:

After the audiogram

How can hearing aids help?

This is an important question because the audiologist will explain how hearing aids work to improve your listening, speech comprehension and overall communication.

Will my hearing be back to normal?

Many people ask this question. Hearing aids will not restore your hearing to how it was before you experienced hearing loss because they don't function exactly like our ears do. Instead, hearing aids magnify sound vibrations that enter the ear, and surviving hair cells can more easily detect these larger vibrations and turn them into signals in the brain.

talking about hearing aid options

What should I expect at my next appointment?

During the initial hearing loss assessment, some people will choose right away to explore their hearing aid options. But others will want some time to consider their options and will set up a later appointment with the audiologist to move forward in finding the right hearing aid. Here are the components of this appointment:

  • The audiologist will make hearing aid style and feature recommendations based on an examination of your ears and the results of a battery of hearing tests.
  • You will learn about treatment options (hearing aids, cochlear implants and other devices) as well as facts about hearing loss and the consequences of living with untreated hearing loss.
  • The hearing health practitioner might also show a live demonstration of modern hearing technology so you can have an idea of how hearing aids can help.
  • The audiologist will present clinical evidence for his or her recommendations about technology options.
  • An earmold will be taken for certain types of hearing aids. This only takes between five and 10 minutes.
  • You will agree on terms and sign a purchase agreement after you've made a decision and your questions are answered.

When selecting hearing aids

Which type of hearing aid is right for me?

This question is the root of the appointment, and it will no doubt get answered. It all depends on your degree and type of hearing loss, your lifestyle and your cosmetic preferences. For example, if you're worried about people noticing your hearing aids, you might opt for the completely-in-canal variety. If you have a very active lifestyle, you might choose something that is water-resistant. It all depends on your hearing needs and lifestyle wants.

Hearing aids are not all the same, though all have the basic components: amplifier, microphone, speaker and power source.

What features do I need?

Again, this depends on preference and your typical environments. Hearing aids today have everything from multiple, directional microphones to wireless capability.

What should I expect at my fitting appointment?

The fitting appointment will last between 60 and 90 minutes. The audiologist will fit you with the programmed hearing aids designed especially for you. He or she will spend at least 45 minutes orienting you to the maintenance, care and use of your hearing aids, as well as what you can expect. He or she will make sure you know how to put them in and take them out, as well as use each of the settings.

The hearing health practitioner will also likely provide you with a wearing schedule to help you adjust to your hearing aids. He or she will also spend time testing the hearing aids and will advise you about following up for adjustments.

How do I know when my hearing aids need to be adjusted?

Ask the audiologist this so you know when to go back again for a follow-up. He or she will likely advise you to call or stop in if you have significant problems like discomfort or excessive feedback, or to make an appointment for an adjustment a few weeks later.

Before purchasing hearing aids

Is there a trial period?

Many audiology offices will let you try out hearing aids before purchasing them. Most trial periods last between 30 and 60 days to give you plenty of time to learn if it is the right device for you. Ask your audiologist if there is a trial period when purchasing hearing aids; if not, you might want to consider going elsewhere because hearing aids are an expensive investment, and you want to make sure you don't buy devices that just don't work for you.

How much do hearing aids cost?

The price of hearing aids depends on the type you buy - whether it's a basic model or something with many features and programs. Since this all depends on your individual needs, the question can be tricky to answer. Generally, hearing aids cost a few thousand dollars each. Medicare does not cover hearing aids, but some insurers only cover partial costs, so check with your insurance company.

How long do they last?

This is an important question because you want to know at what point you might have to make this large investment again. Generally, hearing aids last around five years, though sometimes longer. You might need to make a few small repairs during that time period as well.

About accessories

Which accessories are vital?

Aside from purchasing new hearing aids, ask your hearing health practitioner what else you might need to accompany them. The most important accessories are a cleaning kit, which comes with things like little brushes and a soft cloth to get rid of wax and dust. Most likely, you'll also want to purchase a dehumidifier - many people remove the batteries and keep their hearing aids in these overnight to make sure there is no moisture, which could damage the devices and batteries.

You'll also want to purchase the correct batteries, which cost between 50 cents and $1.00 per battery and last between six and seven days typically.

What are some other accessories that might fit my lifestyle?

Ask about non-essential but helpful accessories. Many people can benefit from personal amplifiers in conjunction with their hearing aids. Those with an active lifestyle might want to purchase hearing aid covers to keep them sweat-, dust- and moisture-free during outdoor activities.

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