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Boost your hearing aid success

The variety of hearing aid choices continues to grow: In the canal (ITC), completely in the canal (CIC), standard behind the ear (BTE), open fit mini BTE, in the ear (ITE), and receiver in the canal (RIC).

Insider tips to getting the device best for you.

Buying a hearing aid can seem as complicated as buying a new car. The devices range in price from a few hundred to a few thousand dollars. They come in a wide variety of styles: hearing aids that are worn behind the ear, or in the ear, or only in the ear canal. Hearing aids today are digital and programmable, including the capability to work with other, “assistive” devices, even your smart phone. It’s easy to be distracted by price and technology, so Dr. Chris Halpin of the Massachusetts Eye and Ear Infirmary Audiology Department has a few tips to help you stay focused as you work with your audiologist.

Tip #1: Loudness counts

Once you’ve been evaluated for hearing loss, your audiologist must determine how much power you need in a hearing aid. “Insist on a hearing aid that you can make too loud with no feedback [whistling]. Then, insist on a volume control so you can turn it down to the loudness you want in a given situation. You don’t buy a car that goes 55 mph if you floor it, you buy one that goes 95 and drive it at the speed you want using the gas pedal,” says Dr. Halpin.

Tip #2: Fancy does not replace power

Hearing aid manufacturers constantly bring out new models with new features. “It is very difficult for anyone to be sure that the newest technology actually provides meaningful improvement. I often recommend basic models, which are based on the same technology as more expensive models, but you must work with your audiologist to identify the features most useful to you,” says Dr. Halpin.

Tip #3: Function over fashion

“Patients always want the hearing aid that is less visible, and the entire industry revolves around that choice. But sometimes, a larger, more powerful aid will do the job better. The idea is to reduce the daily workload of communicating,” says Dr. Halpin.

Tip #4: Don’t forget comfort

You must tell your audiologist if the physical comfort of the hearing aid isn’t perfect. “You never have to put up with a hearing aid that hurts, falls off, or whistles. An audiologist will know dozens of techniques to fix these sorts of problems,” says Dr. Halpin.

Tip #5: Be careful with Internet sales

Hearing aids can be found at lower prices on the Internet. “Personal amplifiers” with speakers and components not matching hearing aid standards are also offered as alternatives. However, Dr. Halpin warns that a device alone is only part of what you need. “I firmly believe that you maximize your chances for success by working together—face-to-face—with a qualified audiologist. Getting the most out of these devices requires ongoing access to their expertise and plenty of input from you,” he says.

Posted by: Dr.Health

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