Q: What types of hearing aids are available?

A: There are basically three types of hearing aids available today. These include the completely-in-the canal (CIC), the in-the-ear (ITE), and the behind-the-ear (BTE). One new alternative is the disposable hearing aid that fits easily in the ear can and can be discarded when the batteries wear out.

Q: How do I choose the right type of hearing aid?

A: When deciding which instrument is best for you, the audiologist considers your degree of hearing loss. Also, lifestyle and personal preferences contribute to this decision. Consult with a hearing professional for determining the right type of hearing aid for you.

Q: How does a hearing aid work?

A: A hearing aid has a small microphone in it, and this tiny device picks up the environmental sound and converts that to electrical energy. Modifying and adjusting circuits in the amplifier sends an electrical signal to a miniature speaker called a receiver. This small structure delivers the sound to the ear. Most new hearing aid technology amplifies frequencies and sounds tailored to specific types of hearing loss.

Q: How do hearing aids work when there is background noise?

A: Background noise is a common occurrence, and the brain unconsciously filters this out during the hearing process. With hearing loss, this filtering ability is weakened, and sounds often become inaudible. With the use of a hearing aid, all sounds can be heard and the brain retrains for the selective listening.

Q: What are scientific researchers doing to improve hearing aids?

A: Scientists and engineers are continuously designing hearing devices and special components that deliver sound and replace lost or distorted cues related to understanding speech. The main focus of most current research involves the nature of the amplifier and fidelity of the sound in noise.

Q: Where can I get a hearing aid?

A: Hearing aids are available for purchase from many different sources, like retail organizations and professional audiology practices. Most certified audiologist and otologist can test your hearing and provide you with appropriate sound devices.

Q: How much do hearing aids cost?

A: The cost of a hearing aid or aids really depends on the type of device required as well as added features and necessary professional services. Because everyone’s hearing problem is different, the price range varies from person to person.

Q: Does Medicare cover hearing aids?

A: Unfortunately, no.

Q: What are the federal consumer protection regulations in place concerning hearing aids?

A: All hearing aid dispensers must follow the comprehensive federal rules and regulations of the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). This agency governs hearing aid sales practices, and requires that a purchaser be advised to obtain a medical hearing loss evaluation within six months before obtaining a hearing aid or aids.

Once the FDA is informed of a necessity, they permit the purchase. The audiology company must test the customer’s hearing, fit for the hearing aids, counsel the customer on the use and adaptation to the hearing aid, and repair any damage to the hearing aid that occurs.

Q: What are hearing aid manufacturers doing to meet the FDA qualifications for advertising?

A: The FDA monitors the hearing aid manufacturers’ claims in advertising. Most manufacturers can and do compile information to meet these requirements, so the FDA does not question he safety and value of hearing aids.

Q: Can I try out a hearing aid before I purchase it?

A: Most hearing aid dispensers offer a trial purchase or rental option program. Prospective hearing aid customers can try the hearing aid for 30 days to evaluate it.

Q: Can I get a refund if I decide not to keep the hearing aid?

A: Before you complete the hearing aid purchase, you should negotiate an agreement with the dispenser concerning the transaction details. Most dispensers provide trial periods of around one month, and a refund is available if you decide not to purchase. Also, most manufacturers offer a comprehensive one-year warranty that includes replacement of the instrument if stolen, lost, or damaged.

Q: Who can I contact if I have a grievance with a hearing aid dispenser?

A: The Better Business Bureau processes complaints made concerning consumer grievances. Also, the Hearing Aid Helpline (1-800-521-5247) is available to provide contacts and sources for filing complaints.