Have you noticed just how many different hearing aids there are on the market today?
Wireless ones, invisible ones, basic, advanced, premium! Does more expensive necessarily mean better?
Where is the best place to buy them from? There are so many different things to take into account it can turn choosing a hearing aid into a nightmare.
To help you find your way through the tricky world of hearing technology the team at YourHearing have put together this simple guide.
It tells you what to consider when buying hearing aids and, more importantly, what to be wary of.
We’ve put this one first because this can often be a major contributing factor in your decision to buy hearing aids. At the beginning, we mentioned the question, ‘does more expensive necessarily mean better?’ The simple answer is No!
Of course, you are likely to find more advanced technology in the more expensive hearing aids, but is that what YOU need? The best hearing aid is the one that is right for your hearing loss.
The one you find most comfortable, in short, the one you are going to wear. Hearing aids vary quite widely in price depending on the technology inside so, when buying one, make sure you are not paying for something that you don’t need.
Ask questions, find out why they have recommended that particular hearing aid and why it is the best for you.
Also, when it comes to prices, the best advice we can give you is ‘shop around’. Just because you recognise a company or have been with the same one for years, does not necessarily mean you are going to get the best deal.
An unfortunate fact of this industry is that many companies will put ridiculously large mark-ups on their products which could potentially lead to you paying thousands more than you would have paid elsewhere.
You will, no doubt, have seen all the different abbreviations used when looking at hearing aid styles, but what do they really mean?
BTE – Behind the Ear
This has a casing that sits behind the ear and is connected to an ear mould via a tube.
RIC – Receiver in Canal
Also referred to as RITE (Receiver in the Ear) or CRT (Canal Receiver Tube). This has a small behind the ear casing with a very thin tube attached to a soft vented dome.
ITE – In the Ear
Can be referred to as HS (Half Shell) or FS (Full Shell). It is the largest of the custom hearing aids and sits just in the ear and covers either the full or half concha.
ITC – In the Canal
Slightly smaller than the ITE, sits just inside the canal
CIC – Completely in Canal
Even smaller than the ITC, it sits completely in the ear canal so it is very discreet.
IIC – Invisible in Canal
This is the smallest hearing aid available. It sits deep in the ear canal, making it ‘invisible’.
There are many things to consider when choosing a style such as comfort, appearance and technology. Some people find the larger behind the ear models uncomfortable, while others do not like the feel of custom in the ear models.
The smaller hearing aids also sometimes cannot accommodate the same technology as the larger models. Another thing to consider is that not everyone is suitable for the very small in canal aids due to things like ear canal shape or wax production.
You may think that a large high street retailer will be your best option. This is not always the case. Larger companies often have bigger overheads which can be reflected in the prices.
You may end up paying more than necessary for your hearing aids. Some of them will also be associated with certain retailers meaning that your choice could potentially be limited.
Smaller independent retailers can often offer lower prices and more personal service but you need to ensure they are fully qualified and registered.
Hearing aids today come in a wide range of technology levels from basic to premium, with each one able to manage different situations. It is important to take your lifestyle into account as this can influence the technology you require.
Most hearing aids have programs to manage things like feedback and background noise which can affect everyone. Some, however, have been designed for things like swimming or going to concerts which does not apply to everybody.
Most people want the latest technology, whether it is at a basic or premium level so you need to ensure that is what you are getting. As we mentioned, some companies are associated specifically with manufacturers so will deal primarily with their products.
This also means they sometimes use ‘special offers’ to sell the older models from that manufacturer. So while it may look like a fantastic deal, make sure you are not being sold out of date technology without your knowledge.
Many online companies offer full product lists that disclose the age of the hearing aid so you can check these if you are in any doubt.
Wireless technology is quickly becoming standard for most hearing aids. It allows the hearing aids to communicate to give a better sound quality and also lets you connect to things like phones, music players and televisions.
You can also have wireless remote controls that allow you to easily change things like programs and volume level on your hearing aids.
Nowadays, most wireless models are the same price as non-wireless so it’s worth considering one of these hearing aids, even if you don’t think you need this technology at the moment.
As we mentioned before, it is important to ‘shop around’ when buying hearing aids.
Price is obviously an important factor but you also need to think about service. What is the company you buy from actually offering you for your money?
Your initial test should be free and any reputable company should also offer the fitting at no extra cost. But what about after the sale is over, what happens if something just isn’t right?
If you look around, there are several companies who offer free aftercare for the life of the hearing aids. They will take care of re-tuning, minor repairs and follow up appointments without charging you any extra.
You should also check the length of the manufacturer’s warranty as, depending on the company, this could be anything from 2 to 5 years.
Finally, before you commit to a purchase, check what happens if you change your mind. Some companies could possibly take a penalty charge if you need to return the hearing aids.
Again, if you look around, there are several companies who offer a full 60 day money back guarantee if you are unhappy and they cannot resolve the issue.
Author Bio: Paul Harrison has over 20 years experience in the hearing aid industry working at both retail and manufacturer level in the UK. His website www.yourhearing.co.uk attracts predominately UK hearing aid users wanting to receive the best aftercare and service whilst at more realistic prices.