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Choosing a Hearing Aid

Have you found yourself asking people to repeat themselves? Turning up the volume on the TV? It may be time to start thinking about a hearing aid.

Hearing aids come in all shapes and sizes. And prices can vary by thousands. So here are some tips for choosing the right hearing aid for you.

Know your priorities. Why do you want a hearing aid? What are you not able to hear now that you want to be able to hear? It may be helpful to think that over and write down your answers.

Know the difference between hearing aids. Here are the most common types, in order of size (smallest to largest):

  • Invisible in canal (IIC). For mild to moderate hearing loss. This type fits in your ear canal and is not visible to others.
  • Completely in the canal (CIC). For mild to moderate hearing loss. This one also fits inside your ear, but is slightly visible to others.
  • In the canal (ITC). For mild to moderate hearing loss. This type, which also fits inside your ear, is more visible than the CIC, but not as visible as some of the larger hearing aids.
  • Receiver in canal (RIC). For most types of hearing loss. This type hooks over the top of your ear; the receiver rests in your ear. They’re hooked together by a small wire.
  • Behind the ear (BTE). For most types of hearing loss. This is the most common type of hearing aid. It hooks over the top of your ear and rests behind the ear.

Keep in mind that the smaller hearing aids may not be adjustable. And the batteries are small, so they may need to be changed more often.

Make an appointment. It’s a good idea to see an ear, nose, and throat doctor (ENT) to have your ears tested before deciding on a hearing aid. Your primary care doctor can provide you with a referral to a good Kansas City (or Overland Park, or Independence) ENT.

Ask for a demonstration. Your ENT should have equipment that can be used to simulate how different hearing aids work in a variety of settings.

Choose ad-ons based on need. For example, you may not need a directional microphone if you don’t spend a lot of time in places where there’s a lot of background noise.

Ask if there’s a money back guarantee. Some companies offer trial periods during which you can get a partial or full refund if you want to return your hearing aid.

Ask about a warranty. Make sure it covers both parts and labor.

Make sure your choice fits your budget. Some hearing aids can be pretty costly, and Medicare doesn’t cover them. Some private insurance companies will, but many don’t. So make sure you can afford what you’re ordering.

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