Finding the right hearing aids is a bit like finding the right pair of running shoes. Although a friend might recommend a certain brand or model of shoe, you might find that it doesn’t work very well for you. Even if you wear the same size, the running shoe that works for one person is not guaranteed to work for another.
Hearing aids are very similar; the fitting is completely personal. A review of a particular brand or model of hearing aid may not be useful because two people may have the same hearing loss but different preferences for a hearing aid. A better way to find a suitable hearing aid for you is to directly compare different pairs of hearing aids. Ask your hearing health professional for a demonstration of a couple of different brands or models.
Comparing hearing aids
Hearing aid comfort is related to both physical and acoustic qualities. Demonstration hearing aids will not be custom-fit for your ear canal, but they can be programmed for your hearing loss. It will usually only takes a few minutes for the hearing care professional to hook the hearing aids to the computer and program them for you to try. They may even do this before you arrive for your hearing aid consultation appointment.
If it’s your first pair of hearing aids, it may be difficult to figure out how to distinguish between the options. Everything will sound louder and you’ll be hearing things that you haven’t heard in awhile! It can be helpful to plan a strategy for evaluating each pair. Consider the following list of ways to compare hearing aids and pick a couple of ideas to use for each set of hearing aids that you try. Be sure to take a few notes as you discover preferences.
Listen to the sound of your own voice.
When you try a pair of hearing aids, your voice will sound louder than you expect. There is always an adjustment period for new hearing aid wearers to grow accustomed to hearing their own voices. You can use this to your advantage as a comparator if you speak aloud the same sentence or paragraph for each pair of hearing aids. Recite a poem you know or read the same paragraph from a magazine for each pair of hearing aids that you wear. Are there differences in the way you perceive your own voice?
Listen to the hearing aid in different program settings and environments.
Most hearing aids have programs for listening in quiet and listening in noise. Find out how to change between these programs with each set of hearing aids you wear. For listening in a quiet setting, you can just talk with the hearing care professional. For listening in a noisy setting, you will need to find a noisier place. Try going to the waiting room to talk with the receptionist or a loved one. The clinician may also have some sound samples that she can use to simulate a noisy situation, like a restaurant or a party. You may even want to walk outside and see if you can tell a difference when features like wind noise are turned on or off.
Try it with the phone.
If you use your mobile phone every day, pull it out of your pocket or purse and try it out during your in-office trial. You don’t have to call anyone; you can just call in to your voicemail or call for the local time and weather. Determine how you need to position the phone in order to hear the signal through the hearing aid. Ask your hearing care professional about options for phone connectivity that may exist with model. Also try a landline telephone, if there is one available to you to try. If there’s a telecoil in the demonstration hearing aids, see how that sounds with the landline phone.
Practice changing the battery.
There are four common battery sizes for hearing aids and they’re all relatively small. A larger hearing aid can accommodate a larger battery that usually needs to be changed less often. Each pair of hearing aids might have a slightly different design to the battery door. Getting a jump-start on learning how to change the battery will help you make an informed choice in hearing aid size and style.
Ask about compatible or recommended accessories.
Hearing aids are a big investment in your quality of life. Find out if there are things you’ll want to purchase to keep them operating well for years to come, like a system to dry them out overnight or a set of filters that protect the microphone from excess earwax. Today’s hearing aids are often capable of wirelessly connecting to other audio devices, like music players, televisions and mobile phones. You might also consider assistive devices that can go beyond what the hearing aid does, like a system for flashing the lights when the doorbell rings or a bed shaker to wake you in the morning.
What are the best hearing aids for you?
Hearing aid reviews
Although your friend’s well-intentioned shoe recommendation wasn’t a good fit, the review you got about the customer service he experienced at the running store will probably be a good indicator of whether you want to visit that store to pick out your shoes. Now, this is a recommendation you can use!
Patient satisfaction with hearing aids is related to the quality of the hearing healthcare experience. Look for a professional in your area who will listen carefully to your needs, preferences and previous experience so that they can help you find the best hearing solution for you. If you don't have a friend that can provide a personal recommendation, online consumer reviews can help you compare the clinics in your area.
The Healthy Hearing clinic directory contains consumer reviews that are submitted by real patients via mail, online or phone survey. All reviews are moderated in order to assure quality and validity. If you have visited a clinic that's listed on Healthy Hearing, please take the time to write a detailed review so you can share your experience with other visitors to the site!