Hearing Aids – Now High Tech and Affordable

digitalhearingaidsAs expensive as a diamond ring, yet so inconspicuous friends and relatives seldom notice they are being worn, it is often difficult to spend thousands of dollars for something as tiny and unnoticeable as a hearing aid. The hard-of-hearing are known for delaying the purchase until everyone around them insists they must wait no longer. For some the delay results from a denial of need, for others it is strictly a matter of dollars.

Get Hearing Device Price Quotes As with any major purchase, it is wise to get quotes from at least three sellers before actually buying a hearing aid. Ask each vendor questions and learn all the features of different brands and models just as you would when making any other major purchase.There are significant differences in cost between brands and identical hearing aids may vary in price depending upon where they are purchased. Few insurance policies cover the total cost of hearing aids and Medicare doesn’t cover them at all. Depending upon the degree of hearing problem and whether one or both ears need a hearing aid, the hearing impaired consumer might spend several thousand dollars to re-enter the world of sound.

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How to Buy a Hearing Aid

Hearing Aid1Behind-the-ear hearing aids, in-the-ear hearing aids, completely in the canal hearing aids, binaural hearing aids…and the list goes on. With so many types and hundreds of brands to choose from, what is a senior to do? First and foremost, don’t go it alone. Too often, seniors are wooed by a catchy ad or a pushy salesman and wind up with an expensive hearing aid that they shove in a drawer and never use. Work with a qualified audiologist who can conduct a thorough hearing evaluation, determine the type and degree of hearing loss and recommend the appropriate hearing aid, says Dr. Phillip L. Wilson, Au.D., Head of Audiology at Callier Center for Communication Disorders, University of Texas at Dallas.

The first thing the audiologist will do is to perform some basic hearing tests, including:

Pure tone air conduction audiometry. Patients listen to a range of beeps and whistles (called pure tones) and indicate when they can hear them, by pressing a button or raising their hand. The softest sounds they can hear (hearing thresholds) are then marked on a graph called an audiogram.

Pure tone bone conduction audiometry. This test helps determine where in the ear the hearing problem lies. If in the middle ear, the hearing loss can usually be treated medically. But inner ear hearing loss means the sensory cells are not working properly, and that problem is permanent.

Speech audiometry. Patients are asked to repeat words and sentences in quiet and in noise to help the audiologist understand the practical affect of the hearing loss.

Tympanogram. A test of how well the middle ear system is functioning and how well the eardrum can move.

After conducting the tests and isolating the hearing problem, if a hearing aid is the right solution, Wilson says an audiologist should perform a lifestyle needs analysis to determine the type of hearing aid that will work best for your loved one. Some questions the doctor should ask your loved one:

  • How active are you?
  • Do you have trouble communicating in noisy places?
  • Do you live alone? In an apartment? In a large home?
  • Do you talk on the telephone a lot? Watch TV often?
  • Do you regularly go out to eat at restaurants?
  • Do you have trouble hearing certain family members such as women or children?
  • Do you have trouble hearing at religious services, at lectures and at movies?

Features to look forHearing aid technology is constantly improving, and new products are being introduced all the time. To understand what your loved one needs, you first must know how a hearing aid works.

A hearing aid has three basic parts: a microphone, amplifier, and speaker. The hearing aid receives sound through a microphone, which converts the sound waves to electrical signals and sends them to an amplifier. The amplifier increases the power of the signals and then sends them to the ear through a speaker. The hearing aid can be programmed on a computer to customize the amplification specifically for your hearing loss.

According to Dr. Wilson, here are some of the newest advances in hearing aid technology that you can discuss with your audiologist:

Open fit aids. A common complaint among people with hearing aids that fit into their ear is that they hear distractions, such as an echo when they speak; or hearing themselves chew. A new class of hearing aids addresses this issue. Called “open fit”aids, these hearing aids sit behind the ear, with only a wire and tiny loudspeaker going into the ear.

Digital feedback reduction. New hearing aids have good feedback reduction, to reduce or eliminate another common hearing aid complaint: whistling noises.

Digital noise reduction. Using complex algorithms, this feature is making hearing aids “smarter” and able to tell the difference between speech and background noise.

Directional microphones. The directional microphone allows the user to focus on whoever is directly in front with reduced interference from conversations behind and to the sides.

Automatically adaptive. With this technology, the hearing aid changes the way it works when the user walks from one place to another. The hearing aid detects sounds exceeding a certain loudness level, and then self-adjusts to reduce the amplification. For example, in a quiet place, volume level will increase. In a noisy environment, directional mics will kick in as well as noise reduction features.

Bluetooth compatible. The user doesn’t have to hold the cell phone up to their ear, which alleviates the feedback some people hear when they answer the phone. When a call comes in, it rings through the hearing aid itself, instead of ringing from the phone. To answer, the wearer simply presses a button.

Even after selecting the right hearing aid, don’t expect your loved one to adapt immediately. Wilson says it often takes a month or more for patients to get used to their new device.

“Often, people who are using a hearing aid for the first time will be startled at how loud the world is,” he says. “Sounds may seem loud and disturbing. Suddenly, the refrigerator makes a roar, the newspaper rattles, even the turn signal in the car becomes disruptive. I recommend that people wear the hearing aid all day, every day. If you wear it only sporadically, you will never get used to the volume of new sounds, and the brain will be confused. It takes at least several weeks for the brain to put those new sounds into perspective.”

So be patient. It requires time to adjust to hearing aids. Your loved one’s listening skills should improve gradually as he or she becomes accustomed to amplification.

The whyaremyearsringing.co.uk is manufacturers that provide a 30 day trial period for all hearing aids, so take advantage of it. Ensure your loved one uses the hearing aid for more than a few days, especially since there’s no risk involved. It can be returned for up to 30 days. Being an effective “matchmaker” does take time. But it’s time well spent.

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How To Find Cheap Hearing Aids

Most people who suffer from hearing loss can benefit from wearing hearing aids. Although hearing aids cannot restore normal hearing, they provide amplification so you can hear and communicate better. Hearing aids are available from a myriad of companies. They come in various models and styles to suit individual needs and budget.

For those whose insurance does not cover the cost of hearing aids or who simply can’t afford the more expensive models, there are plenty of other affordable, good quality models available. If you search and compare, you can certainly find hearing aids at reasonable prices.

Hearing AidPrice reduction – The large hearing aid companies often offer sale prices on older models. Newer technology forces production to focus on newer models while older models may be afforded lower prices. Check out the company website or call its customer service. There are often special promotions and unadvertised offers that you might not know of unless you ask.

Basic model – Most of the large manufacturers produce 3 categories of hearing aids: basic, intermediate and top. The basic model offers great function and quality at an affordable price. You won’t get a lot of the advanced features that come with higher range models. You will, however, still receive the same great customer service and guarantee that come with all the models.

Style – The most common style of hearing aid is behind-the-ear, also known as BTE. Since this style does not fit into the ear canal, it requires the least amount of special fitting and is easy to adjust. Most BTE hearing aids come in a standard size which don’t require additional fitting appointments and are therefore cheaper.

Internet – If you are willing to make a purchase over the internet, there are many companies that supply high-quality, low priced hearing aids online. Make sure you know the type and model of hearing aid that you want so you can compare prices across the various companies.

Customer service – The leading manufacturers of hearing aids offer extensive customer service and use hearing care professionals to help fit hearing aids. If you are willing to forego that extensive service you can potentially save quite a bit of money. Nevertheless, you should still buy from hearing aid companies that have a good reputation.

When shopping for a hearing aid, check out information on the websites of hearing aid companies. You can contact their customer service should you have any question or require more information. If you are not new to the wearing hearing aids, it is even easier to find replacement online through reputable hearing aid companies. Finding an inexpensive hearing aid is not difficult but does require some time and knowledge in order to get the best deal you can.

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