Getting Hearing Aids? Here's What to Expect
Around 13% of Americans over 12 years old experience hearing loss in both ears. For adults between the ages of 65 and 74, the number is even higher, at 25%. However, many people who could benefit from hearing aids never try them due to cost, lack of education and other factors.
If you're considering using hearing aids for the first time, understanding what to expect can help make the process less daunting.
There are several steps involved in getting hearing aids. Typically, you should expect to attend several appointments to assess your hearing, select the correct devices and have the audiologist tune your hearing aids.
The first step in getting hearing aids is attending a hearing test conducted by an audiologist. Your audiologist will assess the extent of your hearing loss and how it affects your communication.
Generally, you'll need to obtain medical clearance from a healthcare professional following your hearing test before your audiologist can fit hearing aids. Medical clearance is a statement that hearing aids are medically necessary, and this step is mandatory for people younger than 18. Alternatively, you can sign a medical waiver if your audiologist can't find a reason for your hearing loss, but you still wish to have hearing aids.
A hearing aid evaluation is a separate appointment to discuss your options with your audiologist. They'll outline the different hearing aids available and explain the implications of each option. You can select the most appropriate aids for your needs and budget during this appointment.
During your hearing aid fitting appointment, your audiologist will fit and program your hearing aids. They'll explain how to use and maintain your hearing aids to prolong their lifespan and get the most out of using them.
Following your fitting appointment, you'll usually attend a further hearing aid dispensing appointment where the audiologist officially dispenses your hearing aids. This appointment occurs during the right-to-return period and allows you to raise any issues you experience while using your new hearing aids.
Your audiologist will respond to your feedback and make any necessary adjustments. Once completed, you usually can't return your hearing aids for a refund.
Following your dispensing appointment, you may require further hearing aid checks. You can schedule these appointments whenever your aids need fine-tuning, or to discuss any issues with your doctor.
How much hearing aids cost depends on several factors, including the type and brand. Without insurance, most people pay between $2,000 and $7,000 for hearing aids, according to Good Rx. However, you could pay significantly less out of pocket if your health insurance covers hearing aids.
According to a Consumer Reports survey, around 75% of hearing aid users take less than a month to get used to wearing hearing aids for the first time. New hearing aids can feel strange initially, but they shouldn't hurt. You should tell your audiologist if your aids are painful during your HAF appointment, so they can adjust the fit.
You may find that everything sounds excessively loud at first, especially if you waited a long time between the onset of your hearing problems and getting hearing aids. Therefore, your audiologist may set the volume lower to start with and gradually increase it as you grow accustomed to your hearing aids. Book an appointment as soon as possible if you can't bear to keep your aids in for the entire day due to an uncomfortable fit or volume.
Prices for hearing aid batteries vary significantly, depending on the brand, size and type. Forbes says single-use batteries cost as little as 25 cents per battery, while rechargeable brands could cost up to $10 per unit.
Various factors can affect how long hearing aid batteries last. Batteries for wired hearing aids typically last for around two weeks, while wireless aid batteries could last between 48 and 72 hours. How much you use your hearing aids and the battery type can also affect their lifespan.
Hearing aids can cause side effects, especially if you're new to wearing them. Waiting a long time to get hearing aids increases the likelihood of experiencing issues, as you become accustomed to low sound volumes.
Side effects usually improve as you adjust your new hearing aids. However, you should consult your audiologist if any of the following side effects persist:
- Sore ears
- Itchy ears
- Whistling, scratching and buzzing (feedback) while using your hearing aids
- Ringing in the ears
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