By Dr. Noël Crosby, Au.D.
Investing in hearing aids can sometimes be an overwhelming process. Below are 10 Important Facts You need to know and consider before You Purchase Hearing Aids.
FACT #1: THERE IS A DIFFERENCE BETWEEN AN AUDIOLOGIST AND A HEARING AID SPECIALIST.
Audiologists are certified, licensed professionals who have obtained a master’s or doctoral degree in the field of audiology. They are trained to diagnose and treat disorders of hearing and balance, which includes diagnosing the type and degree of hearing loss as well as fitting hearing aids. Hearing Aid Specialists, at a minimum, must be high school graduates. They are licensed to perform a hearing test for the purpose of selling hearing aids.
FACT #2: BEWARE THE FREE HEARING TEST!
When you see an ad offering a “free hearing test,” it is important to realize two things:
1. The business owner is promoting a free test to encourage you to come into his office to buy hearing aids from him! As a result, are you sure your “free” test results will be unbiased?
2. The free hearing test usually advertised is often nothing more than a hearing screening to determine whether or not there is a hearing loss, rather than a complete diagnostic hearing examination. A hearing screening may not determine the degree, type or configuration of the hearing loss and a complete hearing examination (for a fee) is often recommended after this initial test.
By paying for a diagnostic hearing evaluation, not only will you have a thorough understanding of your type and level of hearing loss, you will also have an audiogram depicting your loss, should you decide to purchase hearing aids elsewhere.
FACT #3: DO NOT SHOP FOR HEARING AIDS BY PRICE ALONE!
Extremely low priced hearing aids are often used as advertised incentives designed to encourage you to call and make an appointment. The correct hearing aid for you is determined by 1) your level of hearing loss, 2) the activity level of your lifestyle, 3) your cosmetic preferences and 4) your budget.
FACT #4: BEWARE INTERNET HEARING
If you are considering purchasing hearing aids online to save money, remember this before you purchase: Your satisfaction with your hearing aid purchase depends on the skill and the follow up services of your audiologist…not on the hearing aid itself! Even the most expensive, name-brand hearing aid can fail to satisfy if it does not have the technologically advanced features you need to improve your ability to understand in difficult listening environments, if it is not programmed or fitted correctly, if verification testing is not performed after fitting and if it is not cleaned and adjusted regularly by a professional.
FACT #5: DON’T WAIT FOR YOUR HEARING TO WORSEN TO PURCHASE A HEARING AID.
A 1999 National Council on Aging study showed that those with untreated hearing loss were more likely to report depression, anxiety and paranoia and were less likely to participate in organized social activities, compared to those who wear hearing aids. In addition there is some research that indicates that an ear that hasn’t been stimulated due to untreated hearing loss can lose its ability to understand. If you suspect that you are experiencing signs of hearing loss, see your audiologist right away.
FACT #6: DON’T LIMIT OPTIONS WHEN
CHOOSING THE BEST HEARING AID FOR
YOUR HEARING LOSS AND LIFESTYLE.
Your hearing loss is unique; therefore the hearing aids your friend wears may not be the right choice for you! Only your audiologist, after a thorough diagnostic hearing test and an in-depth discussion about the various listening environments in which you have trouble hearing, can make a proper hearing aid recommendation for you. It is in your best interest to choose an audiologist who offers a wide variety of hearing aid brands as opposed to a hearing professional who only sells one brand.
#7: HEARING AIDS ARE NOT THE ONLY SOLUTION.
Assistive listening devices such as telephone amplifying devices, TV listening systems, or alerting devices can also help you hear and communicate more effectively.
FACT #8: TAKE THE TIME YOU NEED TO MAKE
THE BEST DECISION.
Do not let someone pressure you into making a decision you are not ready to make. Purchasing a hearing aid is a major investment and requires research and understanding.
FACT #9: YOUR SATISFACTION WITH HEARING AIDS REQUIRES COMMITMENT FROM YOU.
Getting used to hearing sounds that you may not have heard for awhile may take some time. The average adjustment period is usually 30-60 days. You must commit to wearing your hearing aids every day and keep in touch with your audiologist if you feel your hearing aids need to be adjusted.
FACT #10: YOU HAVE THE RIGHT TO A 30-DAY TRIAL PERIOD IN THE STATE OF FLORIDA.
If you are not satisfied with your hearing aids, you can return them to your provider for a refund.
These facts can be very helpful as you begin the process of investing in hearing aids. You must remember that you are really investing in YOUR HEARING HEALTH.
Dr. Noël Crosby, Au.D., owner and audiologist at Advanced Hearing Solutions in Englewood, FL is a licensed professional whose 26 year career has been devoted to helping people of all ages hear and understand more clearly. Dr. Crosby received her BS and MS degrees from FSU and her Doctorate in Audiology from UF. Her credibility as an authority grew during her tenure as the Director of Audiology at the Silverstein Institute in Sarasota, FL from 1991-1998. Today, in addition to managing a successful audiology practice, Dr. Crosby is involved in creating hearing loss awareness through her jewelry and accessory company AuDBling.com. She has served and is serving on various professional boards and committees and was president of the Florida Academy of Audiology in 2000 and 2010. She has been married to Michael for 23 years and has one daughter.
For more information contact Noël’s office at 941-474-8393 or you can visit her website at www.advancedhearingsolutions.net.