How do I get a Hearing Aid?
At Eastside ENT Specialists, we understand that it is likely the first time you have experienced concern over your hearing. We help and advise you every step of the way to ensure that you gain the best possible results from our hearing assessment.
Your Hearing Examination & Evaluation
We begin with a comprehensive hearing examination performed by one of our licensed audiologists. This is followed by an assessment with one of our ENT physicians. These appointments are typically scheduled back to back. Our ENT physician will investigate whether there is an underlying medical condition that is causing or aggravating your hearing loss.
If it is decided by your audiologist and ENT physician that you may benefit from hearing aids, you will be scheduled for a hearing aid evaluation. This free appointment is where you and your audiologist discuss your hearing loss, consider your life style and needs, and review different hearing aid options to decide which hearing aid is the best fit for you.
After your hearing aids are ordered, you are typically fitted with your hearing aids within the next week or two. Your audiologist will continue to work with you to help you adjust to your new hearing aids as smoothly as possible.
Selecting a Style of Hearing Aid
During your hearing aid evaluation, we help you to decide on a style of hearing aid that best meets your needs. Several options are available:
- BTE (behind the ear) – a self-contained hearing aid that sits behind the ear and transmits sounds via a tube connected to a custom mold which sits in the ear.
- RIC (receiver in the canal) – this is a similar unit to the BTE hearing aid, except the receiver is fitted within the ear itself. The RIC is typically less noticeable than the BTE hearing aid and sound transmission to the ear is more direct.
- Custom hearing aids – several designs are available that are custom made to the profile of your ear and canal. Units vary in size from the ITE (inside the ear) hearing aid which sits just inside and may extend to the bowl of your ear, down to the IIC (invisible in canal) hearing aid which, as the name suggests, is unnoticeable to the casual observer.
Typically, the best choice of style is driven by the type of hearing loss – each design of hearing aid has its own strengths. However, certain other aspects such as manual dexterity, compromised vision or limited upper limb mobility need to be taken into consideration to make sure that your hearing aid is easy to manage on a daily basis.
It is important to have this discussion and to consider any limitations so that appropriate measures and accommodations can be made to set you up for success.
Hearing Aid Batteries
Next we decide if you would prefer rechargeable devices as opposed to ones with traditional hearing aid batteries.
- Traditional hearing aid batteries are relatively small, zinc-air batteries that are changed every ~5-10 days depending on battery size. Traditional batteries normally come in packages of 8 batteries. These batteries can be purchased from your audiologist.
- Rechargeable hearing aids come with a charging kit that provides 24 hours of battery life on a full charge, so they need to be placed on charge every night. Typically it takes 3 hours for a full charge.
Most models of BTE and RIC hearing aids offer both battery options. As yet, custom hearing aids are not rechargeable, but this feature will likely appear in the future as technology and miniaturization progresses.
Typically, the choice of battery type is based more on personal preference than the performance of the hearing aid – sound quality is not affected by the type of batteries used in your hearing aid. If you have dexterity and/or visual issues, you may benefit from the rechargeable option as you would not have to manipulate small batteries in and out of the unit.
Other Important Features
During your hearing aid evaluation we will discuss some of the features available with new technology. Hearing aids can be as simple or complex as desired. You may like the idea of put the hearing aids in and forgetting about them. However, there are hearing aids that can be connected directly to other devices such as your iPhone/iPad or Android device. This feature allows for any audio that the phone/tablet produces to stream directly through your hearing aids automatically.
The ability of linking your hearing aids to other devices can be beneficial as your hearing aids takes your hearing loss into account and applies your prescription simultaneously. This means that you are able to take phone calls or listen to music/audio books etc. with improved clarity.
Connectivity to other devices also allows for more control over your hearing aids. For example, some hearing aid models allow you to download an app that lets you make remote adjustments to the hearing aid’s microphone settings, directionality or sensitivity. You can also select volume/program changes and even find your hearing aid if you cannot remember where you left it!
Your life style will have a great influence on the best choice of hearing aids. Advances in sound processing technology have brought new features to hearing aids that can benefit you in certain environments. Typically, the majority of your appointment will be spent on deciding the best technology level to meet your lifestyle and hearing needs.
When we discuss your life style, we are looking to establish which environments you notice that you are struggling to hear in. For example, is it when you are out to eat, at social gatherings, at the book club, or in meetings, at church, family events, taking phone calls?
There are 4 “technology levels” that we refer to when matching needs to your life style. You can have any level of technology in almost any model of hearing aid (except for rechargeable hearing aids which are only available in technology levels 2, 3, and 4).
As you go higher up in technology level, the hearing aids become more automatic and, more importantly, they do a better job in difficult listening environments such as crowds, restaurants, churches, auditoriums, movies, cars or situations where acoustics are poor. Another consideration with higher technology is the increased access it gives your audiologist to most closely fine-tune the settings to your unique prescription.
The price of your hearing aid is mainly driven by technology level; the higher the technology level, the more expensive the hearing aid. Rechargeable and iPhone compatible hearing aids will also add a cost to the unit.
Medicare and other insurances do not typically cover hearing aid expenses, but it is always worth calling your insurance to see if you have access to any hearing aid benefits.
Some insurance companies are associated with a third party payer hearing aid benefit plan which we may be providers for. We also have financing options through Wells Fargo to help you manage payment for your hearing aids.
Please contact Eastside ENT Specialists today on 440-352-1474 if you wish to know more.
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