When hearing aids will help

By Gary Friedman | Jun 20, 2014
Gary Friedman

Do you ever find yourself listening to your granddaughter who is speaking, but you can’t understand what she’s saying? Or are you tired of conflicts with your spouse because she/he is pleading with you to turn the TV volume down every day?

You realize that now is the time to get some help for your hearing, something you’ve been putting off for a long time. You take the first step by contacting your trusted physician for an exam and advice. Your physician’s exam shows no ear wax obstruction and refers you to an audiologist for a hearing evaluation. During the counseling session following the testing, the audiologist enthusiastically states that you are likely to succeed with hearing aids if you are motivated to give them a month’s trial. But which hearing aids will be best for you?

Here are the common terms used to differentiate among the styles available:

  • CIC (completely in canal), mini-canal, canal, half-shell, full-shell
  • BTE (behind-the-ear)
  • RITE or RIC (receiver-in-the- ear)

Your hearing aid provider should recommend one based on your cosmetic preference, as well as one that will provide the best hearing and comfort results. By far, most people find the receiver-in-the-ear is the most comfortable to wear.

Price differences are less dependent on what the hearing aid looks like and are more dependent on how sophisticated the sound processing functions in the hearing aid itself. Based on 35 years of experience, it is my opinion that even the lower priced hearing aids can work very nicely for many people. At the same time, it is more likely that a patient will consider spending more money on higher levels of technology the more socially and/or professionally active they are.

Here are some starting points to help guide you in choosing a hearing aid:

1. Because a state law gives you a 30-day trial usage period, it makes sense to consider that the professional selling the hearing aids has a mutual interest in your success. Simply put: you want this to work and the seller doesn’t want an unhappy patient returning the hearing aids.

2. The three key ingredients for a successful match with hearing aids are: physical comfort, obvious improvement in hearing and customization of the product to your unique needs. You are likely to find success if you are given clear and reasonable expectations about these factors.

3. Be careful about comparing your hearing aids to someone else’s. What works for your friend may be completely wrong for you.

4. Ask questions about follow-up care and maintenance costs, product warranty for repair and loss/negligent damage replacement, remote control and Bluetooth pairing for mobile phones. Write down your questions in advance of your visit so that you may have all your concerns addressed.

5. Check with your health insurance provider to see if you have hearing aid benefits. Medicare does not provide financial benefits for hearing aids, but some other plans do have full or partial coverage.

If you have difficulty hearing and would like more information, contact Pen Bay Speech & Hearing at 230-6380.

Gary Friedman, M.S., F-AAA, is an audiologist at Pen Bay Speech & Hearing with extensive experience in audiometric testing, hearing aid dispensing and videonystagmography (VNG) evaluations.

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