Time and time again I get asked “What is the best hearing aid?” My answer is usually “How long is a piece of string?” How can you begin to decide on the best hearing aid? My guide will help you to make that decision.
First things first. Purchasing a hearing aid is a major decision. It will literally have a massive effect on your quality of life. It is a decision that needs careful consideration, a bit of research and an ability to see through a lot of sales BULL S**T.
There are companies out there that will try and sell you the most expensive hearing aid that they stock. Some will try and convince you that you absolutely need this one or that one. The ONLY one you need is THE RIGHT ONE FOR YOU.
You have just been told you require a hearing aid?
Hearing this news can be a pretty big shock to the system. Understandably you will be concerned, anxious, annoyed and even a little bit overwhelmed. These are all perfectly understandable reactions.
You should also think about being relieved. Yes, seriously!! Having to get a hearing aid is going to open a whole new world of sound to you. Even if your hearing loss is only mild, you will have missed out on so much.
Now you have to begin the journey of picking a hearing aid. There are a number of guidelines that will steer you in the right direction and make sure that you get the maximum potential from your new device.
Type of hearing loss and lifestyle.
This is the first and most critical step you will take. I recently asked 10 people in a hearing loss focus group if they knew what their level of hearing loss was. Only two (Thats right ONLY TWO) knew what it was. When I asked how they chose their hearing aids, they told me that they were chosen for them. Crazy, Crazy, Crazy.
There are 4 main levels of hearing loss. Mild – moderate – severe – profound. Ask your doctor, health professional or audiologist so that you know and have the information when you go to buy your device.
Different types of hearing aids are suitable for different levels of hearing loss. ITE (In the ear) models are generally for mild to moderate loss and BTE (Behind the ear) models for moderate and above. Profound loss of hearing may require specialist treatment so if you have this then only consult a hearing specialist.
Your lifestyle is also very important when making this decision. If you are a sports person then you will want a device that can stand the rigors of lots of exercise. If you listen to lots of music then you will be looking for something that allows you to stream the sound into your device wirelessly or if you go to lots of meetings in work then a model with the telecoil or “T” function will be best if your employer has a loop system in place.
Different types of hearing aids.
As mentioned above there are different types of hearing aid available. These are broken down into categories. I am going to keep them to the two broadest groups here but there are variations within both groups.
ITE (In the ear) Hearing Aids.
These are generally very small types of hearing aids that fit snuggly into the ear. There is very little and in some cases nothing showing outside the ear at all. Because they are so small the electronics inside them are tiny and not so powerful. Therefore, they are generally used for people with a mild to moderate level of hearing loss.
BTE (Behind the ear) Hearing Aids.
With this group, the bulk of the hearing aid sits behind the ear, with the receiver ( a small bud or mould) sitting in the ear. The part (casing) behind the ear has more room for the electronics and they tend to be more powerful than the ITE models. These are generally more suitable for people with moderate hearing loss and above.
Now you are ready to research.
Once you know your level of hearing loss and know the type of hearing aid you want then you can begin to look at specific models that will suit your individual needs. I currently have 4 pairs of hearing aids. Here are the steps that I follow to do my research.
This step simply involves typing in a few words into google or any of the search engines. For example I have typed “BTE HEARING AIDS FOR SEVERE HEARING LOSS” into google. Here are just some of the results,
There will literally be thousands of results. Just take a bit of time and click into a few pages to get an idea of the type of device you want. Try and pick about 5 models that you like and would be suitable for you. Write them down in a list.
Review the models you have chosen.
Once again the internet will be your friend in this. Simply type the model of your hearing aid into google and put the word “review” after it. Check out my example. I have typed “Oticon Dynamo SP10 hearing aid review” into google.
Once again, you will find hundreds if not thousands of reviews for whatever product you enter. When doing your reviews at this stage try and steer away from sales companies and look for independent reviews as these will give you a better understanding of the product.
Essentially what you are after at this stage is personal reviews from people who have actually used the device themselves or from someone who is experienced in hearing aids and has a reputation for being impartial. (Someone like myself).
You really cannot do enough research into the type of device you want. The more reviews you read the better you will understand the device that you are going to purchase. RESEARCH, RESEARCH, RESEARCH.
Now you need to look for a reputable company.
You now have a very solid idea of the device you want. You have done all the above and are ready to buy. Not all hearing aid sellers are the same. You want to find the best one with the best reputation.
All good professional hearing aid suppliers will have the following 4 key elements. If they don’t then move on to someone else. There are plenty of very good suppliers and they all want your business. REMEMBER THE BUYER IS KING.
Good customer service.
Simply send them an email enquiry or lift the phone and talk to them about your needs. A good company will talk about you first and what you want before they even mention any devices.
A manufacturer’s warranty.
Any hearing aid supplier should be able to tell you off hand, if the device comes with a warranty. It should be a minimum of 12 months.
A good supplier will offer a money back guarantee. This will give you the peace of mind that you can get the device and try it out for a period of time to make sure it suits you.
All good hearing aid suppliers will have an after sales service that will include repairs and maintenance. Some excellent suppliers will provide this service for the whole life of the hearing aid.
Switch on your Bull S**t filter.
Congratulations, you are almost there. If you have followed the steps I have outlined then you are ready to buy your hearing aid. By this stage you will,
Know your level of hearing loss.
The type of hearing aid you want/need (ITE or BTE).
You will have researched the model you think is best suited.
You will have researched the best company to buy it from.
Finally just make sure your bull s**t filter is on. If, at any stage of this whole process, someone begins to act like a salesperson then RUN. Supplying a hearing aid is not simply about selling someone a product. It is a medical device aimed at improving someones quality of life. If the person shows more interest in the sale of the device than they do in you then move on to another supplier.
This is a very important decision for you. The right hearing aid will be your friend for a long time. Only you know what you want and need. Don’t be influenced by anyones sales patter. At the end of the day you are the one who has to live with it.
As always, thanks for dropping by. I am here to help with all hearing issues, big or small. Drop me a comment below and I will reply asap. You can also contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org