A hearing aid is not like other electronic devices -- To be truly effective, a hearing aid needs to be fit and fine-tuned to your particular hearing needs. If you're in need of a hearing aid, the search should begin with looking for an audiologist.
Start Your Search for a Hearing Aid
Your search for a hearing aid should begin with finding a trusted audiologist who is well-versed in fitting and dispensing hearing aids. If you already have an ENT or primary care physician, ask them for a recommendation and referral. You might also ask a friend who has had a positive audiology experience or look for audiologists on the American Academy of Audiology Website.
Read more: An Audiologist's Perspective on Hearing Aids
Who to Trust
Once you've found an audiologist, your vetting should not stop there. Things to look for include the following:
- Confirm that you are being cared for by a Doctor of Audiology (look for Au.D. in their title, the highest professional degree for audiology), or an audiologist with a Master's degree in audiology.
- Look for certifications with the American Academy of Audiology (AAA), the American Speech Language Hearing Association (ASHA) or the American Board of Audiology (ABA).
- Look for other credentials, including a certificate of clinical competency (CCC-A) or other board certifications.
- Before you are fit with any hearing aid, have a thorough hearing evaluation performed by that audiologist. It's critical to have hearing loss diagnosed before a hearing aid is prescribed.
How to Use the Internet
The Internet can be a valuable tool for researching providers or if you want to research a particular product via the hearing aid manufacturer's official website. However, there are some pitfalls you should be diligent to avoid when shopping for a hearing aid. Be wary of:
- Online sales. A hearing aid is a medical device and should be fit in an audiologist's office. It must also be fine-tuned and adjusted over time to reflect changes in your hearing loss or hearing needs.
- New or Used hearing aids sold via consumer marketplaces such as eBay, Craigslist, Facebook, etc.
- Consumer reviews should be taken with a grain of salt. Just because a hearing aid worked (or didn't work) for someone else doesn't mean the same will be true for you. Types of hearing loss, lifestyle, budget, cosmetic concerns, and dexterity all come into play when choosing a hearing aid -- that's why having a relationship with a skilled audiologist that understands your hearing needs is so important.
What to Avoid
As above, be cautious if your hearing health care provider doesn't have the credentials listed. It’s also important to note that some insurance companies may cover a portion of hearing aid costs. Just make sure the provider that is in-network is someone who puts your overall hearing health first.
Also, be wary of any high-pressure sales tactics when shopping for a hearing aid -- this should be a personalized process to determine the best fit for your needs, not an "upsell" to the most expensive device.
Who to Talk To
It's important to build a rapport with your provider and feel safe and comfortable asking questions. Ideally, you want to leave your consultation feeling educated and informed, not pressured or confused. If you have any doubts, always feel free to seek a second opinion.
With all the options on the Internet and in sales offices, there's plenty out there to confuse the consumer. But the bottom line is this: to find the best hearing aid, you need to find a qualified and competent audiologist. If you have any questions regarding hearing aids, or just want to discuss your options, contact Virginia ENT today to schedule an appointment.
From the Audiology team at Virginia ENT: Helping you hear your best is our passion, and we would be honored to provide you with hearing care.