Hearing aids can literally change the course of people’s lives by giving them a better quality of life – and thanks to advances in science and technology, numerous options are available today.
For those with hearing challenges, some spend years unable to communicate with their family members, while others are unable to hold their jobs because they’re not able to hear well enough to do the job well. Not only that, hearing loss can be isolating – potentially leading to anxiety and depression.
This article offers a comprehensive look at buying a hearing aid, providing everything you need to know to make the right decision for your hearing needs. We’ve obtained input from three top experts for this topic, all of whom are Doctors of Audiology.
Keep in mind that this article is not intended as medical advice. Before you buy a hearing aid, it’s important to talk to your audiologist or medical provider, first.
Reasons Why People Need a Hearing Aid
There are many reasons why a person would seek out a hearing aid, from having trouble understanding words on television to asking people to repeat themselves, said Patrice Rifkind, a Doctor of Audiology, co-owner of Audiology Associates in Valencia California, and author of Hear Better: A Guide to Finding the Best Hearing Healthcare.
Additional reasons why a person would need a hearing aid include speaking too loud because they can't hear themselves, misunderstanding conversations and their inability to participate in social situations.
“Probably one of the most likely [reason] is a family member who is fed up with the hearing loss,” Dr. Rifkind said, adding that it takes the average person 7 years to go for help.
All age ranges may need hearing aids, she noted, from birth to 110 years.
“Seniors are the largest group of course, but children and many people in their 40s and 50s benefit from hearing aids more than ever before,” said Dr. Rifkind.
“The difference is how much the devices have improved and, with education, we are finally conquering some of the stigma surrounding hearing loss and hearing aids,” she said. “Many hearing losses are genetic or related to noise exposure and neither of these causes is restricted by age.”
Common Causes of Hearing Loss
This depends on the type of hearing loss, whether it’s sensorineural, conductive, or a mixture of both, said Renee Flanagan, a Doctor of Audiology and regional director at Connect Hearing, Inc.
A sensorineural hearing loss may be caused by:
- Exposure to loud noise
- Medicines that damage the ear (ototoxic)
- Illnesses, such as meningitis, measles and certain autoimmune disorders, among others
- Genetics – that is, hearing loss runs in the family
- Trauma to the head
- Structural malformation of the inner ear
- In rare cases, tumors
A conductive hearing loss may be caused by:
- Wax buildup
- Fluid in the middle ear due to colds or allergies
- Fluid in the middle ear due to poor eustachian tube function (The eustachian tube drains fluid from the middle ear and ventilates it to regulate air pressure there)
- Ear infection
- A foreign object lodged in the ear
- A ruptured eardrum (also called a perforated eardrum or a tympanic membrane perforation) which means there is a tear in the membrane that separates the outer ear from the middle ear
- Structural malformation of parts of the ear
- Trauma to the ear
Sensorineural hearing loss is the most common for adults, said Alison Burks, a Doctor of Audiology and co-owner of Second Chance Hearing Center, Inc. located in Westlake Village, California.
“This is referred to as nerve loss with damage inside the cochlea (hearing organ) or along the neural pathway,” explained Dr. Burks, further noting that this hearing loss can be assisted by use of hearing aids or cochlear implants.
“The second type of hearing loss is called conductive and the third type is mixed hearing loss which is a combination of sensorineural and conductive,” Dr. Burks said. “We would refer you to a specialist for medical treatment for conductive and mixed hearing losses (medications or surgical options).”
For Which Hearing Loss Causes Do Hearing Aids Help?
According to Dr. Flanagan, hearing aids can help the majority of patients with sensorineural hearing loss.
“With conductive and mixed hearing loss, hearing aids can help once medical intervention is ruled out and/or treatment completed and hearing loss remains,” Dr. Flanagan said.
All three types of hearing loss can be treated through the use of amplification, Dr. Burks said.
“In some cases, the patients cannot have surgical intervention for treatment,” she noted.
If you believe you may have a hearing loss, see an audiologist to find out for sure, Dr. Rifkind advised.
“Not all people who perceive a hearing loss have one,” Dr. Rifkind said. “The audiologist will help you no matter what the problem is. Do this sooner rather than later; early conditions are much easier to treat and will make you happier in the long run.”
Common Myths Surrounding Hearing Aids
For people with hearing challenges, one of the biggest myths is that if they get a hearing aid, they will look old, Dr. Rifkind said.
The reality is that not only do hearing aids often barely show, but people appear younger with hearing aids since they are more alert and happier when communicating, she said.
“‘Huh’ and ‘What’ – or especially answering incorrectly – does not do a lot for a person's image, or their confidence,” Dr. Rifkind said. “Depending on the person's hearing levels and how they wear their hair, hearing aids may be so discreet as to be invisible.”
There are several other myths regarding hearing aids, she said, such as most people just put them in the drawer.
“Not anymore, most people wear them every day,” Dr. Rifkind said.
Another myth is that buying the cheapest hearing aid will be a good idea.
“Part of the cost in a hearing aid is the experience and training of the audiologist,” Dr. Rifkind explained. “The cheapest types do not come with the best hearing care which will likely keep the person from doing well with hearing aids – which defeats the purpose of getting them.”
Many audiologists have models that are less expensive and usually offer financing to make it easier for you to afford – so if it is a problem for you to afford hearing aids, talk to the audiologist about it.
“People are concerned because insurance does not usually cover hearing aids,” Dr. Rifkind said. “Some companies do, but it is not the standard rule that they do. This ends up putting a value on hearing. Hearing is so important to health that anyone needing a hearing aid should have one.”
Hearing Aids Have Come a Long Way
In the 1950s and 60s, hearing aids were just starting to get smaller, Dr. Rifkind said.
Up until then, many people wore body hearing aids, like a transistor radio with a wire leading to a mold in the ear; or eyeglass hearing aids in which part of the earpiece was the hearing aid with a tube leading to the ear.
In 1995, when Dr. Rifkind became an audiologist, hearing aids were ordered pre-setup for the person's hearing loss.
“There was only a little we could adjust with a small screwdriver,” she said. “Unless their hearing was really poor, many people would not want to wear these hearing aids.”
Just two years later, she needed to buy a computer and start programming the devices and a couple of years later, all hearing aids became digital.
“By 2003, a slim tube hearing aid could be very well hidden and much more acceptable to the user due to a more natural voice and open ear feeling,” Dr. Rifkind said.
Now in 2018, and for a few years before now, another huge shift happened with made-for-iPhone hearing aids and adjusting hearing aids through cell phone apps.
“When the user’s iPhone rings, the sound is sent straight into the ears through the hearing aids,” Dr. Rifkind explained. “No additional device is needed and now the person is hearing the phone, or music from their phone, or a podcast or movie. At the end of the year, Oticon will be releasing an in the ear hearing aid with the same capabilities – another big first.”
How Do Hearing Aids Work?
Hearing aids help to bring the sounds and speech of the world into the ears, explained Dr. Burks, further noting that hearing aids are extremely sophisticated devices and are microcomputers.
“Hearing aids gather the sounds within the environment, analyze what it should amplify and what it should attenuate,” Dr. Burks said. “Through the multiple microphones, filters, and other components within the hearing aid, the hearing aids will provide a clearer signal into the ear canals.”
Once the sound is in the ear canal, the person will then process the sound through their cochlea (the hearing organ) and then up through the auditory cortex.
“Depending on the level of speech understanding within the person’s auditory system this will ultimately determine the outcome a person will have when wearing hearing aids,” Dr. Burks said.
Hearing Aid Types: Pros and Cons
Determining what style of hearing aid is most appropriate for the patient is determined by the Audiologist, Dr. Burks said.
“The audiologist will counsel the patient on the pros and cons of each style based on the person’s hearing loss, the anatomical structure of the ears and the persons’ listening needs,” said Dr. Burks. “Often patients will come into our practice and think they want a certain style or type of hearing aid, but that is not medically appropriate.”
Hearing aids come in different styles, such as behind the ear (BTE), receiver in canal (RIC), in-the-ear (ITE), in-the-canal (ITC), completely-in-the-canal (CIC), and invisible in the canal (IIC), said Dr. Flanagan, noting that there are advantages and disadvantages of each:
Behind-the-Ear Hearing Aids (BTE)
There are two types of BTEs, closed fit and open fit, said Dr. Flanagan, who offered details about the following:
Closed fit: These hearing aids use a fitted ear mold that fills the outer ear. Although they are larger than open fit hearing aids, closed fit BTEs are easier to handle because they seal the auditory canal, which minimizes the whistling sometimes experienced by hearing aid wearers.
Open fit: These contain a thin plastic microtube that extends over the outer ear and into the ear canal. In addition to being small and cosmetically appealing, the open fit tube avoids the “stopped up” feeling of in-the-ear hearing aids.
According to Dr. Flanagan, behind-the-ear hearing aids are easy to handle, insert and adjust; suitable for all levels of hearing loss, can fit many features, and have larger batteries for longer battery life.
The disadvantage of behind-the-ear hearing aids is that they are more visible than smaller models and more sensitive to wind.
“Behind-the-ear hearing aids are a great choice for most people with hearing loss,” Dr. Flanagan said. “They can be surprisingly discreet thanks to increasingly slimmer designs and the ability to match casing to hair and skin colors.”
Receiver-in-Canal Hearing Aids (RIC)
RICs are a type of open-fit hearing aids that use a thin plastic microtube that extends from the body of the hearing aid (housed behind the ear) over the outer ear and into the ear canal, Dr. Flanagan explained.
“A small, soft tip sits inside the ear canal without sealing it,” she said. “This way, air and sound can continue to flow to the ear canal naturally, reducing feelings of being plugged up.”
RIC hearing aids are extremely popular – even more so than tiny hearing aids that fit inside the ear canal, according to Dr. Flanagan.
“This is largely due to their physical comfort and cosmetic appeal,” she said. “When you are fit for an RIC hearing aid, your hearing care professional will be able to choose from a selection of tips to find the size that fits your ear best.”
In other advantages, an RIC hearing aid doesn't close the ear and the tube avoids the “stopped up” feeling of in-the-ear aids; and it minimizes the sounds of your own voice and chewing by allowing these sounds to escape the ear canal. Additionally, tiny casings are often totally obscured behind the outer ear; and nearly invisible tubing makes RIC aids virtually unnoticeable.
Though these devices are similar in some ways to behind-the-ear hearing aids, there are some small differences, Dr. Flanagan said.
“They are much less visible than BTE aids and more comfortable,” she noted. “But because the receiver is located at the end of a small tube, RIC aids require a bit more manual dexterity to properly insert into the ear canal. And their open feeling is certainly a plus, but this also makes them more sensitive to wind noise as well.”
Some other features to consider include:
- Only suitable for those with mild to moderate hearing loss
- Receiver end is vulnerable to moisture in the ear canal and can require frequent repairs
- Less intrusive than other hearing aid styles means it can be easy to lose them and not notice
“More than half of hearing care patients are good candidates for RIC hearing aids,” Dr. Flanagan said. “If your loss is in the mild to the moderately-severe range and you have the ability to manipulate small objects, these hearing aids may be a good option for you.”
In-the-Ear Hearing Aids (ITE)
The advantages of in-the-ear hearing aids include that they are easy to handle and insert, offer convenient controls, and they’re able to fit larger and longer lasting batteries than smaller styles.
The disadvantages include that they are somewhat conspicuous, can create a “plugged up” feeling, and they are more susceptible to moisture problems than behind-the-ear aids.
“In-the-ear hearing aids may be a good choice for you if you have mild to severe hearing loss and good dexterity in your hands,” Dr. Flanagan said.
In-the-Canal Hearing Aids (ITC)
In-the-canal hearing aids are discreet, and can create a natural hearing experience due to the microphone's placement close to the eardrum, Dr. Flanagan said. Additionally, they cut down on feedback due to placement and stay in place.
As far as the disadvantages are concerned, in-the-canal hearing aids have a short battery life due to small batteries; are more difficult to insert than larger styles such as in-the-ear hearing aids; they are prone to moisture/earwax build-up, and have fewer features than larger models.
“If you have mild to moderately-severe hearing loss, desire a discreet hearing device, and have good use of your hands, an ITC hearing aid may be a good choice,” Dr. Flanagan said.
Completely-in-the-Canal Hearing Aids (CIC)
CICs are the smallest hearing aid style except for invisible-in-the-canal hearing aids.
“They fit inside the ear canal, with only a small portion of the face visible, making them difficult to notice,” Dr. Flanagan said.
These one-piece hearing aids are custom molded to your ear canal.
“A small speaker rests on the back of the aid, while the microphone and battery door are on its face,” Dr. Flanagan explained. “A tiny cord helps you insert and remove the device.”
Advantages of completely-in-the-canal hearing aids include that they are very discreet, are custom fit, and stay in place. Additionally, they offer a natural hearing experience due to microphone's placement close to the eardrum and have low feedback due to placement.
The disadvantages include a short battery life due to small batteries and that they are more difficult to insert than larger styles such as in-the-ear hearing aids. They are also prone to moisture/earwax build-up, offer fewer features than larger models, and can be difficult to fit in some ear canals.
“If you have mild to moderate hearing loss, have good use of your hands, and require a discreet hearing device, a CIC hearing aid may be a good choice for you,” Dr. Flanagan said.
Invisible-in-the-Canal Hearing Aids (IIC)
Invisible-in-the-canal hearing aids are worn deep in the ear canal, meaning that virtually no one can see them, Dr. Flanagan explained. These aids are good for people with up to moderate hearing loss who don’t want their hearing aids to show.
The advantages of these hearing aids are that they’re the least noticeable, and their placement produces natural sound localization. Additionally, they reduce occlusion, which refers to that "in a drum" feeling you get when a hearing aid plugs up your ear canal.
As far as the disadvantages are concerned, these have a short battery life due to small battery size, are too small for directional microphones, are more vulnerable to moisture, and may be more expensive than larger models.
“Invisible in the canal hearing aids may be a great option for you if you have mild to moderately-severe hearing loss and require the most discreet hearing aids,” Dr. Flanagan said.
Digital Hearing Aid Features
The list of hearing-enhancing features grows daily, and most modern hearing aids include features designed to make speech easier to understand and reduce annoying feedback, Dr. Flanagan said.
They may also feature different programmable modes to suit diverse listening situations such as concerts, noisy restaurants, and talking on the phone.
She noted that popular digital hearing aid features include:
- Speech Enhancement
- Programmable Modes
- Feedback Reduction
- Whistle Reduction
- Automatic Volume Control
- Bluetooth Compatibility
- Accessories availability
- Binaural (Dual Ear) Synchronization
Hearing Aids Recommendations
The following recommendations were provided by Dr. Rifkind, who emphasized that this decision is an individual one.
“People vary greatly and there is no one perfect type,” she said.
“Currently I believe the best hearing aids for many people by far are the Oticon Opn 1 devices,” Dr. Rifkind advised. “They work much better in noise than the top of the line devices even a couple of years ago.”
Studies comparing them to previous hearing aids found that the listener was able to use 20% less listening effort, understood 30% more speech, and was able to remember 20% more of the conversation.
“The Opn also comes in two less expensive models, and a more powerful model for people with more severe hearing losses,” Dr. Rifkind said.
These all work directly with iPhones and iPads to allow phone usage easily and more clearly.
“Music or podcasts are played directly to the hearing aids and a remote app on the phone makes adjustments to the hearing aids,” she explained.
A few other companies make made-for-iPhone hearing aids, “and I believe the choice for brand depends on where a person lives, and the accessibility of an audiologist,” Dr. Rifkind said.
Some other really good hearing aids are the Resound Linx 3D and the Starkey Muse or Halo 2400.
“Also, for people who use Androids and want to be able to use the phone directly through the hearing aid, Phonak Audeo B90 Direct works very well,” Dr. Rifkind said.
For people that have special needs for hearing aids, “a BiCROS directs the sound from the deaf side to the hearing aid side – for this type of hearing aid, the best currently is the Phonak B90 Audeos,” she recommended.
For people with a cochlear implant on one ear who would like a hearing aid for the other ear, “depending on the brand of implant, they would need a Phonak Link or a Resound Enzo 2,” she said.
Hearing Aids vs. Personal Sound Amplification Products
Hearing aids are custom and prescriptively fit every degree of hearing loss from mild to profound, Dr. Flanagan explained.
“Hearing aids are highly regulated by the FDA to meet the American National Standards Institute’s standards, which includes controlling internal circuit noise,” she said. “Depending on the technology tier, they can address the most common complaint of hearing in background noise quite effectively.”
Personal sound amplification products can help with a mild to moderate degrees of hearing loss as an entry-level product – but are not custom or prescriptively fit to hearing loss, nor are they required to meet ANSI standards, she noted.
“These devices can be purchased directly by the consumer and self-fit without consultation from a licensed hearing aid provider,” Dr. Flanagan said.
Because hearing aids are regulated through the FDA, it takes several years for a hearing aid technology to come to the market for dispensing through a practice, Dr. Burks said.
“These have been vetted to make certain they are appropriate, they do what they claim and they do not provide detrimental or side effects to the end user,” she said.
The personal sound amplifiers are just that – “they simply amplify sounds,” Dr. Burks said.
“Most are labeled as not intended for use of hearing loss,” Dr. Burks noted. “If you have hearing loss, you should seek medical attention. The personal amplifiers are labeled for normal hearers who want to hear slightly better.”
Dr. Burks has personally tested many personal sound amplifiers in her practice.
“Some patients will bring them in for me to test – 9.9 times out of 10 they are not set to the appropriate needs/prescription of the patient’s hearing loss,” Dr. Burks said. “By not having the correct prescription, it can often result in further damage to the ears and hearing abilities. I have seen this in my practice.”
» For Further Reading: Personal Sound Amplification Products: A Comprehensive Buying Guide
Cost of Hearing Aids
Traditionally, buying a hearing aid required a prescription and would cost upward of 2.5K and insurance would often not cover it, making it difficult for people to get one.
“Hearing aids should be prescribed as they are medical devices,” Dr. Burks said. “You do not want to shove something in the ears without the proper fit and prescription.”
At her clinic, she is often asked about the cost.
“My answer is this – hearing aids are very sophisticated,” Dr. Burks emphasized.
For instance, they are microcomputers with even more filters and processors compared to your average household computer.
Additionally, they have been through multiple tests through the FDA studies as well as independent studies to determine patient satisfaction and product claims on features, durability and other factors.
“It has to start in development and engineering – all of those processes cost a lot of money,” Dr. Burks said.
Lastly, you are not just purchasing a hearing aid.
“You also need a competent audiologist to program and fit them appropriately,” Dr. Burks said.
You can buy the best hearing aid, but if not fit well and if the prescription is not correct, then those hearing aids are useless to the patient and end up in the drawer, she noted.
“Cheap hearing aids do not work and are a hassle for us, providers, to work with,” Dr. Burks said. “We can never program them to fit one’s hearing loss and listening needs. Furthermore, the patient often has to spend more money 1 to 2 years later for better technology until they are satisfied.”
Some insurance companies have coverage or partial coverage for hearing aids, she added. “We always call the patient’s insurance to determine benefits.”
As far as products online marketed to older adults to address this for a considerably smaller cost are concerned, “all I can say to address this is what I have seen and experienced in my practice,” Dr. Burks said.
“Patients will bring in these devices after months of use and state it was a waste of money and time – they did not provide adequate amplification,” she said. “When I test them in my audiological equipment, we find they are far from the correct prescription and often they further caused more hearing loss to the patient.”
Factors Affecting Hearing Aid Cost
The price range of hearing aid solutions ranges based on several factors, said Dr. Flanagan, noting that the criteria that can affect the price of hearing aids include:
- Technology level
- Style of hearing aid
“Hearing aids with the latest wireless technology tend to be higher in cost than models with less advanced features,” Dr. Flanagan said. “As with any purchase, you will need to weigh your personal budget against wants and needs. Your hearing care professional is there to advise you on which options will provide optimal hearing and include features that will truly improve your everyday usage.”
When considering the price of hearing aids, be sure to note the level of aftercare and ongoing service you will receive with the aid, Dr. Flanagan advised.
She said it’s important to determine what service program is included with your hearing aid purchase.
“Are there any hidden unbundled costs or is a lifetime in-office service included with purchase?” she said. “Some hearing aids are more intricate than others and may need multiple adjustments to maintain a perfect fit. Is this maintenance included? What about repairs? Does your new hearing aid take disposable batteries, or can it be recharged?”
What to Avoid When Buying a Hearing Aid
While seeking a hearing aid, there are several factors to avoid, Dr. Rifkind said, including getting the smallest possible hearing aid, especially if your dexterity is not the best.
You should also avoid buying the cheapest hearing aid.
“The better the hearing aid, the better it helps you in noisy environments,” Dr. Rifkind said. “If cost is a big issue for you, talk to the audiologist, they will know some ways around this problem.”
Also, don't assume that the more expensive hearing aids are harder to use.
“Many people ask me that because they think high tech is harder to use,” she said. “But it actually makes a hearing aid more automatic in reducing background noise so the person wearing it can more easily hear in noisy environments and forget that they are wearing a hearing aid.”
And remember, “you will be using this device for years, every day to live a better life – what is that worth to you?” Dr. Rifkind further emphasized. “Talk to the audiologist about a trial period to make sure you have time to adapt to the new device.”
5 Steps to Take When Buying a Hearing Aid
Dr. Rifkind suggested the following 5 steps to find the best hearing aid for your needs.
Have a hearing test. Most insurances will cover a hearing test. It is important to have an audiologist do this test. A hearing aid dispenser is trained to do this test, but sometimes there are medical indications with a hearing test, and it is important to get a clear diagnosis (hearing aid dispensers do not diagnose.) Dispensers also do not remove earwax. Earwax or cerumen is a frequent problem and audiologists are usually prepared to remove it if needed prior to doing a hearing test. If you know you have a wax problem, try cleaning it before you go (but never with Q-tips; they push the wax in).
Ask for recommendations from your friends who wear hearing aids, your doctor; read customer testimonials online on sites such as Yelp and Google. But you are the final decision maker so you must be comfortable with the audiologist who ends up fitting your hearing aids.
Discuss the results with the audiologist and bring a family member with you to help you understand and remember everything
Start a hearing aid trial. Don't put it off; it took you long enough to get here in the first place. You can't know how you will do if you don't try now.
Make lots of notes about what you like or don't like about the devices. What sounds you hear you like and don't like. The audiologist wants you to do well, but they are unlikely to know if you aren't, unless you tell them.
Negative Effects of Not Wearing a Hearing Aid
For those who need a hearing aid, but are reluctant to get one, there are many potential negative outcomes, Dr. Rifkind warned.
These include an increase in depression, anxiety, paranoia and isolation, as well as an increase in tinnitus. There can also be an increase in medical problems.
“Anything that causes increased depression and anxiety is not helpful to any other conditions the person is fighting,” Dr Rifkind said.
One of the worst conditions that has been recently identified is dementia, she emphasized.
“This has been shown in a few studies, one at John Hopkins and another longitudinal study of aging,” Dr. Rifkind said. “The people with mild hearing loss have twice the incidence as compared to those with normal hearing or those with hearing aids.”
Tips for Best Use of Your Hearing Aid
Dr. Flanagan offers the following tips for the best use of your hearing aid:
Hearing aids will be color-coded to indicate which is right and which is left. Red is right and blue is left.
Hearing aids should be inserted when you awake and removed before going to sleep (after you have successfully adjusted to wearing hearing aids).
At the end of the day, hearing aids should be cleaned and placed in their case or drying kit with the battery door open to help reduce moisture.
Protect hearing aids from moisture and dirt, which can damage electronic components. Never wear hearing aids while bathing or swimming.
Store your batteries away from heat and humidity, but avoid placing them in the refrigerator. Safety Note: Batteries can be deadly if ingested. They should always be stored out of reach from small children and disposed of carefully.
Do not remove battery tabs until you are ready to insert them. Allow hearing aids to sit for one full minute before inserting them to let them absorb oxygen and become activated.
Open the battery door when hearing aids are not in use to preserve battery life and reduce moisture.
Batteries should last 5 to10 days. Talk to your hearing care professional if yours last less.
Additionally, Dr. Burks said to find a good audiologist to appropriately fit the hearing aids, and wear them daily for adaption. As far as maintenance is concerned, Dr. Burks noted the following:
Keep your hearing aid clean of wax.
Keep your hearing aid away from excessive heat and moisture.
Open the battery door before going to bed at night.
Bring your hearing aids to your hearing care professional every 3-6 months for cleaning and/or adjustment, and periodic replacement of domes, ear mold tubing, ear molds, mic screens, receivers and wax guards, depending on the style.
The Bottom Line
Dr. Burks said it’s important to find the best audiologist who has the appropriate equipment to fit hearing aids to determine the prescription required.
“You can buy the best hearing aid, but if not fit correctly, it will be the worst outcome,” she said.
Some people understand that they need to hear better; while others get hung up on appearance and cost, or what their friend is wearing, and do not take the advice of the audiologist, Dr. Rifkind said.
“The audiologist is the one person in the best position to advise the type of hearing aid that would be the best for the particular person – and hearing aids are all sold with some type of trial period no matter where you live,” Dr. Rifkind said. “So, listen to what the audiologist recommends and try it yourself, or spend a lot of time discussing the ‘what and why’ of their recommendations.”
Better communication, thus better family and friend relationships, are some of the many benefits of finding the right hearing aid, she added. For instance, the ability to hear grandchildren allows “a fantastic relationship to grow,” as well as a better ability to understand and remember conversations.
Additionally, “people appear younger because they are alert and involved,” Dr. Rifkind noted. “‘What?’ and ‘Huh?’ are much more obvious than a hearing aid – many are hidden well by hair, even short hair.”
“And one very important benefit for the younger or working person is that people with untreated hearing loss earn less money over their lifetimes,” Dr. Rifkind added. “So the person with a well-fit hearing aid, who uses it, could potentially earn $12,000 to $15,000 more income every year.”