How to get Hearing Aids
- How do I get hearing aids?
- What if I don't want to have a medical examination?
- Where should I go to get hearing aids?
- What questions should I ask before buying hearing aids?
- How do I choose hearing aids?
- How do I know if hearing aids work for me?
- How do I care for my hearing aids?
Before getting a hearing aid, you should consider having a hearing evaluation to determine the type and amount of your hearing loss. The process can begin with a medical and/or audiological examination.
- Medical examination. The medical examination may be performed by any licensed physician including your family doctor or pediatrician, but preferably should be done by an ear, nose, and throat specialist (an otolaryngologist). An examination of your ear, nose, and throat and possibly other testing can be done to rule out any medical reason for your hearing loss, such as infection, injury or deformity, ear wax in the ear canal, and, in rare cases, tumors.
- Audiological examination. An audiological exam, or audiogram, involves a hearing evaluation by a hearing health professional that specializes in evaluation, non-medical treatment, and rehabilitation of hearing loss (an audiologist) to identify the type and amount of your hearing loss, to determine the need for medical/surgical treatment and/or referral to a licensed physician, and to provide rehabilitation of the hearing loss.
The FDA believes that, in some instances, it could be in your best health interest to have a medical examination by a licensed physician—preferably one that specializes in ear diseases—before buying hearing aids. However, for consumers 18 years of age and older, the FDA does not intend to enforce the requirement for a medical examination prior to purchasing certain types of hearing aids. For hearing aid consumers younger than 18 years of age, the FDA will continue to enforce the medical evaluation requirement to rule out medical causes of hearing loss prior to buying hearing aids.
Typically, hearing aids are sold by a hearing health care professional (for example, an audiologist or a hearing aid dispenser), who can perform a hearing assessment and hearing aid evaluation. If you have concerns about a medical condition causing your hearing loss, we recommend that you have a medical evaluation by a licensed physician (preferably one who specializes in diseases of the ear, such as an otolaryngologist) before purchasing a hearing aid. The hearing health care professional will assess the person's ability to hear sounds and understand others with and without a hearing aid(s), and select and fit a hearing aid(s) to the person's individual communication needs. To find out if an audiologist or hearing aid dispenser is licensed, check with your local Better Business Bureau, consumer protection agency, State Attorney General's office, or the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA).
You also have the right to request your hearing evaluation records from your hearing healthcare professional, and may purchase your hearing aid elsewhere (ex: by mail order, subject to state regulations), if desired.
Before you buy a hearing aid, consider asking a hearing healthcare professional these questions:
- Which type and style of hearing aids would most meet my needs?
- What special features do my hearing aids need to have to fit my lifestyle?
- Will I need one or two hearing aids?
- What is the total cost of the hearing aids?
- Do the benefits of newer technologies outweigh the higher costs?
- Is there a trial or adjustment period for me to try out the hearing aids? (Most manufacturers allow a trial/adjustment period during which aids can be returned for a refund.)
- What fees are nonrefundable if I return the hearing aids after the trial/adjustment period?
- How long is the warranty? Can it be extended?
- What is covered during the period of warranty? Does the warranty cover future maintenance and repairs? Will loaner aids be provided when repairs are needed?
- How should I care for my hearing aids?
It is important to select the hearing aids that are convenient and easy for you to use, and provide the best compensation for your hearing loss. You will want to wear your hearing aids regularly. Other features to consider include parts or services covered by the warranty, estimated schedule and costs for maintenance and repair, options and upgrade opportunities, and the hearing aid company's reputation for quality and customer service.
You should ask a licensed dispenser if the hearing aids you choose provide a trial/adjustment period during which your hearing aids can be returned for a refund. Most states require a mandatory trial/adjustment period. A trial/adjustment period will allow you to test out your hearing aids to see if it works well for you.
It takes time and patience to get used to hearing aids. You should wear your aids regularly to help you maximize the benefits of your hearing aids. Get familiar with your hearing aids and their features. Practice putting the hearing aids in and taking them out. Learn to adjust the volume in different listening environments. Test your aids in various listening environments and determine where you have problems hearing. The FDA recommends talking to a hearing healthcare professional about any problems hearing with your aids, and have changes made to your hearing aid settings if necessary. We recommend that you work with a hearing healthcare professional until you are comfortable and satisfied with your hearing aids.
- Proper maintenance and care is important in extending the life of your hearing aids.
- Avoid using solvents, alcohol, or water on hearing aids because they can cause damage to the internal electronics of the hearing aid.
- Avoid exposing hearing aids to heat because this can damage them. For example, leaving them in sun or in the car, placing them in or near a microwave or conventional oven, or using a hair dryer on them.
- Clean hearing aids as instructed. Earwax and ear drainage can damage your aids.
- Avoid using hairspray and other hair care products while wearing your hearing aids.
- Turn off your hearing aids when not in use.
- Replace dead batteries immediately.
- Keep batteries and hearing aids away from children and pets.
- We recommend visiting a hearing healthcare professional on a regular basis to have your hearing aids inspected.