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Hearing Aids: What You Need to Know

Where is the best place to buy hearing aids?

It is not where you go but who you buy your hearing aids from. That person should be interested in helping you to live life more fully with hearing aids; not just interested in selling you hearing aids.

You should have a sense that this person is trustworthy and that you feel comfortable talking to him or her. After all, you will rely on the audiologist’s or hearing instrument specialist’s expertise to help you adjust to your hearing aids for years to come.

It is important to get your hearing aids from a place that is within comfortable driving distance for you. During the first 30 to 90 days you may need a number of visits to fine-tune your hearing aids.

Click here for more information.

What do I need to know before buying hearing aids?

Before buy hearing aids you need to find out a few things.

  1. Do you have any medical conditions that can restore your hearing? See your family physician or an ear, nose, and throat specialist (ENT) for a medical examination.
  2. What kind of hearing loss do you have and how severe is it? See your audiologist for a hearing test.
  3. What kind of hearing aids are the best for me? See your audiologist or a hearing aid specialist to discuss your options. They should take the time to talk to you and find out about your specific hearing needs, then give your options about the hearing aids that you can comfortably afford.
  4. Should I get my hearing aids from hearing aid specialist or an audiologist? Ask your doctor or ask someone you know who had a good experience with their hearing aids. You should feel comfortable with and trust your hearing care provider. You want to have a sense that he or she has your best interests at heart.
  5. Is your hearing care provider licensed and have there been an complaints against him or her? Check the credentials of your hearing care provider with the Better Business Bureau, your state Attorney General’s office, and your state licensing board.
  6. What are the office’s policies regarding return or trial period, warranty, loss and damage coverage, and office services?

Do Your Homework.

You should check on the internet for general information about hearing aids and hearing loss. Some trusted websites include the Better Hearing Institute, Healthy Hearing, and the Hearing Loss Association of America.

• DON'T WASTE YOUR TIME LOOKING FOR WEBSITES THAT RATE HEARING AIDS. There is no single hearing aid that is #1. There is no single brand that is the best. That is because there is no specific model or brand that works for every hearing loss.

There are at least 27 brands or manufacturers of hearing aids. There are seven that are the largest and oldest. This is important to know because cost and quality are equally linked in the world of hearing aids. 

There are clear differences between brands. Not only do hearing aids sound different but the workmanship, quality, quality control, durability, and service vary. So with the larger the manufacturers you may pay more but the hearing aid workmanship and accompanying service are superior. These companies are listed as follows but not in any particular order: Oticon, Widex, Phonak, Siemens, GN Resound, Unitron, Sonic Innovation, and Starkey.

Click here for more information.

Is it okay to buy hearing aids on the internet?

Mail-order hearing aids or hearing aids that you buy on the internet are illegal in New Hampshire. Purchasing hearing aids through this method are potentially harmful to you since there is no way to ensure appropriate and safe amplification and fit of the device.

I saw an advertisement for hearing devices that are inexpensive. Will they help me?

There is a law against “Bait and Switch” advertising. It is deceptive advertising to lure patients into a hearing aid store on the premise that they can buy the advertised hearing aids. Often the seller will tell you that you should have a better and, of course, more expensive modell.

What are implantable hearing aids?

Implantable hearing aids are specifically designed for people who have medical conditions that prevent them from using traditional amplification. Cochlear implants are available for severe to profound hearing loss where acoustic hearing aids do not provide benefit. Click here for detailed information. 

Middle ear implants are for sensorineural hearing loss where the middle ear bones are vibrated by an electromagnet. This type of implant is useful when acoustic hearing aids are unable to provide optimal volume without feedback squeal or whistle. Click here for detailed information. 

Baha bone anchored (osseointegrated) devices provide bone conducted amplification to the inner ear. These are appropriate for patients who cannot use acoustic hearing aids because of chronic middle or outer ear problems, absence of an external ear or ear canal, or single-sided deafness.

Will my insurance pay for hearing aids?

Alliance Audiology does not participate with health insurance companies. However, if your insurance has hearing aid benefits we ask for you to pay for the hearing aids and then you may submit a claim for you to get reimbursed.

Does Medicare pay for hearing aids?

No. Medicare does not cover hearing aids. However, some health insurance carriers have hearing aid benefits. It depends upon your employer’s specific contract with your health insurance. Call your insurance company and ask if your policy has hearing aid benefits. Usually the customer service number is on the back of your insurance card.

How much do hearing aids cost?

Hearing aids range in price depending on the level of technology and the office where you purchase the aids. The prices range from $850 for one entry level digital hearing aid up to $3,000 for the top of the line, Bluetooth compatible digital hearing aid.

Why do hearing aids cost so much?

First of all, hearing aids that were made before 1998 were simple amplifiers with tone controls that did very little to compensate for individual hearing loss patterns. They were incapable of controlling squealing, whistling feedback sounds. They also could not filter backgrounds noises.

Now the common hearing aids are digital. That means a miniature computer digitizes the sound, analyzes it to determine if the sounds is speech or noise, then processes the noise and the speech to reduce the interference of noise. It automatically adjusts for changing listening environments and controls annoying feedback squealing and whistling.

Your grandmother’s hearing aid couldn’t do that. So why do you expect to pay a few hundred dollars for a couple of tiny, digital signal-processing-in-real-time computers that are expected to run 14-16 hours per day in your humid, wax producing ears?

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What is the best hearing aid for me?

The best hearing aid for you is the one you can afford with the level of technology that best suits your hearing needs. If you are retired and don't have many demands on your hearing you won't need a Bluetooth-compatible hearing aid designed to optimize your hearing in a noisy board room. Your hearing care provider should discuss your hearing needs and expectations with you. Then together, you can decide what level of technology is best for your hearing and your pocket book.

How long do batteries last?

The smallest size batteries (10A) will need to be changed every 3 to 4 days. The larger sizes last 7 to 10 days (312 and 675 sizes) and 7 to 14 days (size 13).

Why don’t hearing aid batteries last as long as watch batteries?

Remember, a hearing aid battery powers a miniature computer that makes millions of calculations during your busy listening day. It also runs an amplifier to deliver customized digital signals to you. This takes a lot more power than making a watch hand move around a watch face.

Where can I buy hearing aid batteries?

Hearing aid batteries can be purchased at our office, any drug store or through AARP.

Are two hearing aids better than one?

Generally speaking two ears are better than one. Two ears allow for “stereo hearing,” better localization, and better noise suppression when listening in background noise. Two ears give more normal hearing capabilities. After all, you have lived your entire life hearing from both ears. Don’t expect your brain to make sense of what you’re hearing if you are only getting sound from one side of your head.

Where can I get custom made earplugs for swimming and noise protection?

Custom swim plugs and hearing protection, including musician plugs and snore plugs are available at our office at 194 Pleasant St. Concord. Call for prices at 603-224-2353

Do you repair hearing aids?

Alliance Audiology, LLC repairs all makes of hearing aids no matter what the age of the aid. We are able to make some in-house repairs, routine cleaning, earmold re-tubing, and modifications. We are able to program all makes of hearing aids; however we cannot program franchised hearing aids like Miracle Ear and Beltone.

Why do my hearing aids whistle or squeal?

Hearing aids whistle or squeal when the amplified acoustic signal escapes the ear canal and gets back to the microphone of the aid causing the internal parts of the aid to vibrate and feedback. This can be the result of wax in the ear canal, a loose fitting aid or earmold, too much volume - the aid is up too loud - or some internal problem with the aid that requires a trip to the manufacturer for repair.

What is a Baha?

See section on “What are implantable hearing aids.”
Also click here for detailed information.

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