7 tips for buying a hearing aid

With so many types of hearing aids on the market, which one is right for you? The answer depends on many things. The main consideration is the nature of your hearing loss, its cause, and its severity. The results of your hearing tests will guide your audiologist or hearing aid specialist in making recommendations. Here are seven things you should know as you evaluate your options.

  1. If you have severe hearing loss, you may need one of the larger hearing aids.
  2. If you are prone to an excessive buildup of earwax or to ear infections, small hearing aids are easily damaged by earwax or draining ear fluid and so may not be the best choice for you.
  3. You may want to be able to reduce some types of background noise and boost the sound frequencies you have the most trouble hearing — something not all small hearing aids can do.
  4. If you use electronic devices like cell phones, music players, or laptops that are capable of sending a wireless signal, then you may want a hearing aid that is compatible with wireless devices that are important to you.
  5. If you are concerned about how you'll look wearing a hearing aid, let your audiologist know. She or he can help narrow the choices to what will best suit both your hearing needs and your appearance.
  6. Hearing aids range in price from about $1,200 to $3,700 each, depending on size and features. Unfortunately, Medicare and most other insurance plans don't cover hearing aids, so your budget may be a factor in your decision.
  7. Finally, consider your dexterity. If you have arthritis, you may find it difficult to insert and remove small hearing aids, and gladly opt for a larger one that's easier to handle.

For additional advice on diagnosing hearing loss as well as the best ways to treat it, buy Hearing Loss, a Special Health Report from Harvard Medical School.