How to buy a hearing aid: a step-by-step guide
If you’ve ever wondered how to buy hearing aids, where to buy hearing aids and whether you can buy hearing aids online, this guide should help answer all your questions.
1. First step to buying a hearing aid: book a free hearing test
If you’re concerned about your hearing in any way, you can book a hearing test with a private hearing healthcare supplier.
At Hidden Hearing, all of our hearing tests are free. While you can get your hearing tested on the NHS, you might have to wait a little longer to see a specialist who’ll do the test for you.
2. What happens at a hearing test
At Hidden Hearing, we test many aspects of your hearing, including frequency and intensity tests to see how well you can hear high- and low-pitched noises. We also carry out speech-in-noise tests to see how well you can hear in everyday, real-life scenarios.
One of the main complaints of people with some degree of hearing loss is difficulty keeping up with conversations in busy environments. Speech-in-noise tests are designed to see how well you can hear with background noise.
If you bring a loved one with you, we can also do a familiar voice test to see how well you can hear a voice that you’re used to.
This means you can test your hearing against a voice you’re most likely to be listening to on a day-to-day basis. This is more useful than simply checking how well you can hear an audiologist’s voice, which will be a lot less familiar.
Bringing a family member or loved one with you is important because they might also have an idea of how well you can hear.
According to the World Health Organization, they could have even noticed your hearing problem before you, “It often takes 10 years for an individual to recognize that they have a hearing problem (but a shorter time for significant others).”
3. Only registered specialists can sell and fit hearing aids
Our experts, who are more correctly known as ‘Hearing Aid Dispensers’, are all registered with the Health & Care Professions Council. This ‘Hearing Aid Dispenser’ title is protected, meaning they have to be registered to fit and sell hearing aids.
Some ‘over-the-counter’ hearing aids you may see advertised online or in classified newspaper ads are probably nothing more than hearing amplifiers. They usually only have one programme and won’t be custom-fitted to match your specific hearing needs. All they do is make every sound louder.
Other hearing aids you can buy online won’t be programmed to suit you. This requires the skill of a registered and highly trained professional.
4. Results of your hearing test
After your hearing test, one of our experts will go through your results with you. This will be in the form of an ‘audiogram’. This is a graph which shows your hearing threshold in terms of frequency and intensity for each ear. If you have a hearing loss, it’ll show the level of loss in detail. Taking your level of hearing loss, your lifestyle and your stylistic preferences into account, our experts can then begin recommending solutions that are right for you.
5. Choosing which hearing aid to buy
Hearing aids are sophisticated pieces of technology, but they aren’t ‘one-size-fits-all’ solutions. Some people might prefer an invisible or in-the-ear (ITE) hearing aid, which either sits inside the ear canal or outer part of the ear without external wires or tubes.
But this will depend on your level of hearing loss and the shape of your ear canal. To wear invisible hearing aids, you’ll need a mould taken of your ear canal.
Some people’s ear canals are simply too narrow for invisible hearing aids. Other people might not like the feeling of having a device deep in their ear, while for others this will feel like the most comfortable option.
Hearing aids that sit ‘behind-the-ear’ (BTE) can be more powerful than their ITE counterparts, meaning that they’re more suited to people with higher levels of hearing loss. They also have more connectivity options (like Bluetooth®), so you can connect them to your phone, tablet or TV.
Some ITE hearing aids, at the moment, are just too small to incorporate this technology.
Finally, you’ll have to wait a little longer (about a couple of weeks) for custom-fitted in-the-ear hearing aids since they’re made from a unique mould of your ear. BTE models, however, are ready-made and then programmed to your prescription.
In some cases, BTEs can even be fitted on the same day.
6. Final step – buying your hearing aids
Once you’ve been through your hearing test results and been shown the different types of hearing aids, you can then decide which one is right for you, your lifestyle and your budget. With the advice of our experts, and talking it over with your loved one or friend who, you’ll then be able to make your hearing aid purchase.
At Hidden Hearing, all aftercare and follow-up appointments are included in the price, as well as three years’ worth of batteries for non-rechargeable aids.