Do I Even Need Hearing Aids? How Do I Know?
Hearing loss that occurs gradually as you age is quite common. About one-third of people in the United States between the ages of 65 and 75 have some degree of hearing loss. Once that age hits over 75, it’s one in two.
Some degree of hearing loss is very common in specific demographics, so it's normal if you think you are experiencing some kind of symptom. Let’s look at the signs of hearing loss.
Aging and chronic exposure to loud noises both contribute to hearing loss, but other factors such as excessive earwax can temporarily reduce how well your ears conduct sounds as well.
Taking that into factor, signs, and symptoms of hearing loss are characterized by:
- Muffling of speech and other sounds
- Difficulty understanding words, especially against background noise or in a crowd
- Trouble hearing consonants
- Frequently asking others to speak more slowly, clearly, and loudly
- Needing to turn up volumes of devices
- Withdrawal from conversations
Do any of the above ring a bell?
If so, what options do you have?
Are Hearing Aids or Sound Amplifiers (PSAPs) Better For Me?
Always remember that PSAPs are not hearing aids, but are sound amplifiers for those who do not have hearing loss.
The FDA does not regulate them and specifies that PSAPs are designed to “increase environmental sounds for non-hearing impaired consumers.” Considering that most PSAPs amplify all sounds (including background noise) within a given radius, if you have a sign of hearing loss, considering hearing aids may be the better choice.
On the other hand, some high end modern PSAPs (such as the Olive Smart Ear) use broadband technology to filter out unwanted noise and has the functionality to selectively amplify the sound frequencies you need to hear.
Keep in mind that while PSAPs and other hearing devices can be bought online, as of now, hearing aids can only be bought through prescription from hearing aid professionals.
Steps To Getting Your First Hearing Aid
Before we get into the points to consider when purchasing a hearing aid, we will walk you through the general steps to getting one.
Every solution to a health issue starts with understanding your state of health!
Get a check up and hearing test: By seeing a doctor, you can rule out correctable causes of hearing loss such as earwax or an infection. After that, receive a hearing test by an audiologist to get your prescription.
Look into what type of hearing aid you think will be most suited to your lifestyle. If the overwhelming amount of information on the internet is a little intimidating, ask your audiologist who can navigate you through the thick of it. There are so many types of styles and features that come with hearing aids that in the end, you may need professional assistance to understand.
Ask about a trial period: Most hearing aids grant you a trial period to get used to the device and decide if it is the right one for you. Have the seller or dispenser put in writing the cost of the trial, whether that cost will be added to the final amount, and how much, if any is refundable if you decide not to purchase the device.
Think if the device will meet your future needs: Will you be able to calibrate the device if your state of hearing changes?
Check for a warranty: Make sure that the hearing aid includes a warranty that covers for parts and repairs for a specific period.
Be careful of misleading claims: Remember that most hearing devices sold online that claim to be hearing aids are not.
Plan for the expense: Traditional hearing aids cost an average of $2,300and upwards of $5,000 to $6,000. Check your insurance policy since some private insurers cover hearing aids. If necessary, consider applying for financial aid.
Now that we understand the steps to purchasing your hearing aids, let's look at some tips to make your decision the best possible.
8 Things to Consider When Purchasing Hearing Aids
Do you want to have your hearing aid be as discreet as possible? The completely-in-the-canal (CIC) hearing aids will be virtually invisible from the outside. Keep in mind that small size comes with disadvantages like lacking key features. If features like volume control and Bluetooth connections are a must, it might be better to look for other sizing options. Healthy Hearing has a chart to put you in the right direction if you are curious as to where to start.
You read it right, the amount of earwax buildup a person has differs by everyone. Being honest and knowing how regularly you clean your ears will especially be helpful when choosing the size of your hearing aids. Because some types are more prone to damage by earwax and some are easier to clean, be sure to consider this point when choosing your hearing aid.
As mentioned above, features are what separates one hearing aid from another. If you listen to music very often, connecting to your music player through Bluetooth may be something that is of top priority. Some of the key features to look out for are: noise reduction, rechargeable batteries, wireless connectivity, and telecoils. Check out our article’s feature section for the listing.
Although somewhat like the above, some features may have different technology behind them. Take into factor noise reduction. One type may have a frequency threshold that reducing a certain range, whereas one type may have speech enhancement to counteract any speech that may have been reduced by that threshold. Be sure to ask your doctor the specifics of any feature so you know you’re making the best choice based on your lifestyle.
Think about any given day in your life. What do you enjoy doing? Are there any occasions that may come up in the near future? According to your daily life, your audiologist will be able to suggest you with the best style and features your hearing aid should have. This in fact will continue as you use your hearing aid. Taking notes about what you notice: the good and the bad, will serve as vital information when the audiologist tweaks your hearing aid settings.
There’s no way around it. Hearing aids are expensive investment pieces that you will need to set a budget for. There are ways to curve the cost by paying certain services as you go called the unbundled service. While leaving out services like repair may leave you paying more in the end than if you bought the hearing aids from a bundled (all-inclusive) service, it’s a way to lower initial costs. Keep in mind that there are ways to receive financial aid through public and private foundations. Also check out our article on how to receive financial support.
Have Reasonable Expectations
Be mindful that hearing aids will not return your hearing to normal. Because of this, some sounds you hear at first will seem abnormal which is actually completely normal. Allow time to get used to the hearing aid and remember that brains are muscles too, and the more you use the device, the more quickly you will adjust to the amplified sounds. Above all, always seek support from a professional if you notice any discomfort and stay positive by celebrating the small improvements.
Alternatives to Hearing Aids
The hearing device market is expanding rapidly as with the technology in the devices. Some devices are able to distinguish noise and speech, while only reducing noise to hear sounds that you want to hear. The most important thing is to understand where your state of hearing is. Unlike online hearing tests, in-person hearing tests with an audiologist will be able to rule out any physical conditions like earwax buildup and determine what kind of device you need. Be sure to seek professional help before making purchases online for hearing devices.
Although there are many articles online with great content, we cannot stress enough how important it is to consult with an audiologist or a hearing aid professional when considering purchasing hearing aids. Not only are prescriptions necessary for the purchase, but more importantly, they will be able to suggest solutions to your hearing issues whether that be sound amplifiers, hearing aids, or a good clean-up!
The information in this guide has been written using the following reliable sources: