Choosing a hearing aid on a whim is not an intelligent thing to do.
A hasty decision can do more damage than good. You must have prior knowledge about all the different options before making an informed decision.
Hearing aids come in many shapes and sizes. That and a number of other factors play an important role when deciding on a hearing piece.
Let’s first discuss the different types of hearing aids before moving on to the seven tips on buying the right one.
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- 1 What are the Different Types of Hearing Aids?
- 2 Does Medicare cover the expenses of a hearing aid?
- 3 7 things you should consider when buying a hearing aid?
What are the Different Types of Hearing Aids?
Here are the most common hearing aids available across the world. Let’s discuss each one in detail so that you can thoroughly evaluate your options when making a decision.
Completely in the Canal (CIC) or Mini CIC
A CIC aid is made in such a way that it completely fits inside the ear canal of the person wearing it.
It’s the smallest hearing piece and hence, the least visible. It has the following features.
- Since it stays inside the canal, it doesn’t catch too much air and white noise from the environment.
- It’s susceptible to getting clogged with earwax from the ear.
- It comes with small batteries, and therefore, has a short working span.
- A CIC aid doesn’t have additional features like volume control options, owing to its small size.
- It works best for mild to moderate loss of hearing.
- It might be difficult to adjust inside the ear due to the size.
In the Canal
An in the canal hearing device is molded in such a way that it partially fits into the ear canal. It’s one of the smallest sized hearing aids available, but bigger than CIC.
- It can improve mild to moderate level of hearing loss.
- It is not as visible as the larger pieces, but you can see some part of it inside the ear.
- It can accumulate earwax over the speaker, which can clog up the device.
- It has some additional features that a CIC doesn’t have.
In the Ear (ITE)
An ITE hearing aid comes in two styles—one that fills most of the lower part of the inner side of the ear shell, and the second takes up the upper-inner side of the ear shell (also known as the bowl-shaped area).
- It’s one of the best options for improving mild to severe hearing loss.
- It comes with additional features such as a volume control dial
- Since it’s bigger in size compared to the smaller options, it’s easily visible.
- It can get clogged due to earwax.
- It may pick wind noises in which small devices do not.
- An ITE uses larger batteries and therefore has longer battery life.
- Due to the big size, it’s easy to handle and adjust.
Behind the Ear (BTE)
A BTE is the most commonly used style of hearing aid. It is anchored over the top of the ear and fits behind the ear taking up most of the area behind the upper ear shell.
A small tube connects the hearing aid with the custom made earpiece, called the earmold, which stays in the ear canal.
- A BTE aid can work for any type of hearing loss, from mild to severe.
- It can be modified according to the need of the user.
- It may pick up wind noises.
- It is considered as the largest hearing aid available. However, some newer and smaller designs are also available now in this style.
Receiver in Canal or Receiver in the Ear
This style is quite similar to the behind the ear style. Receiver in the canal or receiver in the ear also has the speaker or receiver inside the ear or canal which are connected by wire instead of a tube.
- It can improve mild to severe kinds of hearing loss.
- It is susceptible to earwax clogging.
- The outer part of this style is slightly more visible than in the BTE.
This style is a modified version of the BTE style.
Instead of a regular tube, an open fit aid uses a thin tube to connect the receiver with the speaker of the device. It keeps the ear canal open so low-frequency sounds enter naturally.
While the high-frequency sounds are amplified through the hearing aid before entering the ear canal.
- It’s a good option for mild to moderate loss of hearing.
- It’s less visible than a BTE aid.
- It keeps the ear canal open, making your own voice sound good to your ear.
- Even though it’s not one of the smaller options, it can still be difficult to handle due to small parts.
Before you start off on your quest to finding the right hearing aid option, you must be clear about one thing.
And that is that a hearing aid cannot restore your hearing, it can only amplify the sound entering your ears.
It’s a big investment and you don’t want to be disappointed when your hearing doesn’t come back after using the pricey device.
Keep in mind that a hearing piece is only going to ‘aid’ your hearing and not fix it.
Does Medicare cover the expenses of a hearing aid?
The short answer is: No, it doesn’t.
The Official U.S Government Site for Medicare clearly states that Medicare doesn’t bear or cover the cost of hearing aids or exams for fitting hearing aids. A person bears the entire cost themselves.
Hence, buying and fitting a hearing aid is not covered by the U.S government, and anyone planning to get a hearing aid must be prepared to take on the burden themselves.
Hearing aids range from $12,000 to $37,000 in price. Since it’s heavy on the pocket, choosing the right style of hearing aid is essential for the person looking for it.
Now let’s move on to what a person should consider when buying a hearing aid.
7 things you should consider when buying a hearing aid?
See a doctor first
Before you go to buy a hearing aid, consult a doctor.
You might be suffering from an ear infection or any other fixable condition that could be the cause of your impaired hearing.
Seeing a doctor or a hearing aid specialist (audiologist) will help you know for sure if you are losing your hearing ability, or if it is a treatable ear infection that is impairing your hearing.
Ask for a referral to a reputable audiologist
Once you have been prescribed by an ENT specialist to start wearing a hearing aid, ask for a referral to a qualified audiologist.
You don’t want to get stuck with a mediocre hearing expert for fitting exams. They would assess your loss and recommend you suitable options to pick from.
Ask for a trial period
A trial period is extremely important when fitting a hearing aid. You need to get comfortable with the device and that would require you to wear the device for some time before actually buying it.
Don’t forget to add that in writing to your total cost.
Keep possible future needs in mind
Ask your audiologist if the device you have chosen would suffice if your hearing loss worsens.
See if it has additional features to control the volume so that you can adjust it if the need arises in the future.
Check for a warranty
You don’t want to miss this. Make sure you ask for the warranty of the aid you are buying, as you never know when you might need it.
Don’t fall for false claims
We have already mentioned that hearing aids cannot restore your hearing, so don’t get tricked by such misleading claims. If any company or brand claims to fix your hearing loss, don’t purchase it under any circumstances.
Make a budget
Buying a hearing aid and fitting it costs hefty sums of money.
Make sure you plan out the expense ahead of time and keep some contingency money aside as well. There are some private insurers that cover the entire cost of getting a hearing aid.
From the cost of assessment to the cost of the device, every possible cost is covered in their plans. You might want to consider this option.
When you start wearing a hearing aid, it can feel pretty uncomfortable for a considerable amount of time. Although it’s not the same for everyone.
Some people get used to a hearing device quickly. Yet, it’s always a possibility that you struggle with getting comfortable with a hearing aid.
We’d suggest that you give it some time. Don’t take it off, and if you want to attune yourself with the device then wear it regularly.
You’ll adjust to enhanced sounds more quickly. Furthermore, wear it in different environments so that it’s easier for you to get used to different types of amplified sounds.
It’s just like getting used to wearing glasses. It takes time to get comfortable enough to keep wearing them all the time. But with time, you’ll barely notice them at all!