If you are experiencing hearing loss, you will be happy to learn that hearing aids are now designed to benefit your specific listening needs and lifestyle. They are not a one-size-fits-all solution and our audiologists work with you to help find the right hearing aid for your needs. Below, we answer the most common questions we hear about the selection and fitting of hearing aids:
Hearing Aid Styles
There are many different styles of hearing aids. It is critical to talk with your with your audiologist regarding which style will provide the most benefit for your hearing loss, listening needs, and lifestyle. Not all styles provide the same features and benefits, nor will they fit all hearing losses.
Completely-in-the-canal or mini-canal hearing aids are molded to fit inside your ear canal and can improve mild to moderate hearing losses. This type of hearing aid is the least noticeable of the in-the-ear styles, is less likely to pick up wind noise, and is easy to use with a cell phone or a home telephone.
In-The-Canal-hearing aids are custom molded and fit partially in the ear canal, but not as deeply as the smaller CIC/MC types. This style of hearing aid can improve mild to moderately-severe hearing losses, is less visible in the ear, is easy to use with a telephone, has directional microphones and can have Bluetooth wireless technology as well as a programming button.
The half shell/low profile is a larger version of the in-the-canal hearing aid. It is custom molded to your ear and fills the lower portion of the bowl-shaped area of your outer ear. This style is appropriate for mild to moderately-severe hearing loss, is easier to handle than the smaller hearing aids, and also includes features such as directional microphones, volume controls, programming buttons and Bluetooth wireless technology.
Today’s behind-the-ear hearing aids are very small devices which rest behind your ear and carry sound to your ear either through the use of a custom mold or through a small wire to a tiny dome or speaker in the ear canal. The Open Fit or RITE style leaves the ear canal relatively open providing a very natural sound quality to your own voice. Originally designed for high-frequency hearing loss, advances in technology mean they can now fit mild to severe hearing losses as well as have all the very best in features.
Choosing the Right Hearing Aid
How do you know which hearing aid is the best for you? What should you consider when choosing hearing aids?
There are many hearing aid manufacturers, each with different benefits and features. Working with a professional who offers several brands ensures that you have access to the best option for you.
In a North Carolina practice you may be seeing an Audiologist or a Hearing Aid Specialist. To practice as an Audiologist in North Carolina you must be licensed in Speech Language Pathology and Audiology and have a minimum of a Master’s Degree in Audiology. Hearing aid specialists are licensed by the North Carolina State Hearing Aid Dealers & Fitters Board.
It is vital to your hearing success that you and your audiologist select the technology which will best match the listening situations you find yourself in on a day-to-day basis.
Although not required by law in North Carolina, most practices offer a trial or adaption period and the ability to return the hearing aid within that time frame for a partial refund of your money. The trial period is a set amount of time for you to wear the hearing aid home, become accustomed to hearing once again and to experience how well the hearing aid is meeting your listening needs. Remember, it may take a while to get used to hearing and to wearing hearing aids. It may also take a few visits to your audiologist for “fine tuning” before you are hearing the best you can.
Hearing aids can not restore your hearing to “normal” nor eliminate background noise. Beware of advertisements or claims to the contrary. The function of a hearing aid is to make all sounds in your environment easier to hear, and it is your brain which process the sounds it hears and makes sense of these sounds.
The cost of hearing aids will vary based on level of technology and extend of services included in the care package, from several hundreds of dollars to thousands of dollars. Medicare does not cover the cost of hearing aids although about one in three private insurances in North Carolina cover some part of the cost. We have an on-site financial coordinator who can talk to your insurance company to ensure you have access to as much financial support as possible.
Hearing aids are an approved/eligible expense on the long form of your taxes under medical expenses and so qualify as purchases through your Health Flex Spending or Health Savings Account.
We also work with several financing options including Leasing through Allegro Health and Care Credit.
Hearing Aid Fitting Process
If the results of your hearing test and consultation indicate that you are a candidate for hearing aids, we create an individualized plan for the fitting of your hearing aids. There are several appointments involved in the initial hearing aid fitting process:
At this appointment, your hearing aids will be programmed specifically for your ears and hearing based on your hearing test and lifestyle assessment.
At Hearing Health Care Services, we follow best-practice recommendations by fitting our hearing aids using Real Ear Measures, which involves taking custom measurements of the hearing aids in your ear to create the most accurate and appropriate programming for you. Patients who are fit using Real Ear Measures are more comfortable and have better long-term results than patients who are fit using standard fitting protocols.
In addition to programming your hearing aids, we will educate you about the components of your hearing aids, how to put them on and take them off, what to expect in the first several days and weeks, and how to change the battery.
This appointment is the beginning of your 30-day hearing aid trial.
This appointment is scheduled for approximately two weeks after your initial fitting appointment. At this appointment, we will discuss the benefits of your hearing aid programming and make any necessary adjustment. We will also review the things we covered at your first appointment as well as learn about how to care for your hearing aid and some troubleshooting information.
Typically scheduled at the end of your trial period, this third appointment is to assess any changes that were made at the previous appointment, answer any questions you may have, and make a plan for routine care and maintenance.
Once your trial period is complete and you are satisfied with the physical fit, volume and sound quality of your hearing aids, we recommend that you return to the clinic every 3-4 months for a routine clean and check appointment. At this quick, 15-minute appointment, we will thoroughly clean your hearing aids, replace non-electronic components, and assess the sound quality. Should additional replacement parts or repairs be needed, this will be discussed with you first. These routine, proactive appointments will keep your hearing aids working properly, reduce the need for out-of-office repairs, and extend the life of the devices over time.