How to interpret your hearing test results…January 21, 2021
Off to home with your new hearing aids…January 21, 2021
What to know before buying a hearing aid & questions to ask your audiologist
When you are buying any electronic device or a house, a car or a cellphone – you probably will not buy the first thing you see. With the cost implication and considering that you will be using these instruments for some time to come, it is advisable to make an informed decision in the selection process.
That’s why we are here – to help you understand what to look for in a hearing aid. Delving into spec sheets of hearing instruments might leave you confused, or very much impressed by marketing and technical jargon that might be deceiving!
We will touch on the basic considerations that we recommend you take into account when deciding on the hearing aid for you. As much as we would like to cover all the considerations in this process, you would still need to consult with your qualified and registered audiologist with extensive training in MORE THAN ONE OR TWO PRODUCT LINES in order to find the best possible solution for your individual needs.
Type and styles of hearing aids?
Two main styles of hearing aids are available BTE (Behind-the-ear) or RIC (Receiver in the Canal) and custom (In-the-ear) products:
The choice between behind-the-ear instrument vs a custom instrument is a decision that should be made in collaboration with your audiologist. The advantages and disadvantages of each should be considered as well as individual factors such as:
- Type & Configuration of hearing loss
- Size of ear canal
- Wax build-up
- Communication/lifestyle needs
- Age & Dexterity
- Previous experience with hearing aids
Technology levels and cost of hearing aids
Hearing aids are available in different technology levels – it is the technology inside the hearing aid that determines the price of the hearing aid. Your communication needs and lifestyle determines the technology level you need. The features and technology includes these factors amongst others:
- Sound quality
- Reduction of background noise
- Preservation of speech in background noise
Read our post on why all hearing aids are not created equal here.
The good news is that there are affordable options available! Good hearing aid features have filtered down to the bottom price range which enables you to buy a good quality hearing aid even with a restricted budget. You can read more about the cost implication of hearing aids in this post. (Kindly note that we won’t be discussing specific prices in this post – but it gives you some understanding of what it is that you pay for when buying a hearing aid.
One vs two hearing aids?
Two ears really are more natural. Why do people have two ears?
Basically, it is to widen the scope of your hearing so you can find out where sounds are coming from, and from what distance. In reality it is not your ears that do the listening, but your brain. And to interpret sounds correctly, the information it receives must be as accurate and as detailed as possible. You will have the following benefits with 2 hearing as compared to one:
- Where is that sound coming from
- Speech will sound clearer
- Better understanding in noise
- Your ability to locate sounds will improve
- You can respond more naturally
- Your ears will stay in shape
- You will enjoy better sound quality
- You can communicate with confidence
To read and watch more about why two is better than one – click here.
What else can your hearing aids do and what accessories can be used with your hearing aids?
Hearing aid accessories are optional extras which enhance and enrich your hearing aid experience. Fantastic advances in technology have enabled companies to provide the hearing aid user accessories to use with their hearing aids in order to enrich the hearing experience in different situations.
Typical hearing aid accessories / compatibilities includes:
- Smartphone applications – This enables you to use your phone as a remote control for your hearing instruments – adjusting the volume and some settings on the devices.
- Bluetooth compatibility – A wonderful and very handy tool to use when making a phone call and transforming your hearing aid into a state of the art handsfree bluetooth headset.
- TV adapter – Streaming sound from the TV to your hearing aids while the rest of the house doesn’t have to listen to the very loud TV constantly.
- Remote controls – Remote control units are typically used to make minor adjustments to the hearing aid such as volume and listening programs. These functions were previously only available on the hearing aid itself. Remote control units enables you to adjust your hearing aid easily and discreetly.
- Remote microphones – Selected devices are available acting as an external microphone which will stream sound directly to your hearing aid. If you are for instance having a conversation with someone in a restaurant, the external microphone can be placed in front of your conversation partner and the conversation will be heard clearly. These systems typically maximizes the speech to noise ratio.
- Rechargeability– Traditionally, hearing aids work with disposable Zinc air batteries. The latest technology allows you to recharge your hearing aid, using a specific charger manufactured for your hearing aids
Will my medical aid pay for audiological services?
Hearing aids are generally covered to a certain extent by medical aids in South Africa, although benefits differ depending on the benefit level of you individual medical aid plan. The initial hearing test is usually covered by most medical aids with “day-to-day” benefits. Hearing aids are often covered from a separate “appliances” fund, whilst others use the benefit from the savings fund. It is best to contact your audiologist to explain the procedure with your medical aid. Medical aids generally do not cover the costs of services, repairs and batteries. We will also contact with your medical aid on your behalf should you prefer.
Are there any “hidden costs” I should be aware of?
The cost of your hearing aids typically includes the mould / slimtube / speaker unit (the part that connects the hearing aid in the ear). It also includes the fitting and some follow up appointments. During the fitting the audiologist may want to do a procedure called ” ïnsertion gain” or “Speech mapping” which has an extra small fee (This is typically covered by most medical aids). Maintenance costs include buying batteries and drying capsules, annual servicing of hearing aids (free of charge within the warranty period), and buying wax filters (If you have a custom or receiver in the canal hearing aid). After some time, it might be necessary to replace your mould/slimtube/domes. An annual hearing test and fine tuning of your device is recommended where there would be a consultation fee applicable.
How often do I need to replace batteries?
Most of the latest hearing aid ranges are available in rechargeable options, but traditional batteries are still available. Hearing aid batteries are Zinc Air batteries and available in 4 different sizes (10, 312, 13, 675). The size of the battery, the severity of hearing loss, the noise in listening situations and the amount of hours used per day determines the amount of days that the battery will last. On average a battery will last anywhere between 3-22days. Most rechargeable solutions will last at least 1-2 days with a full charge.
What after sale service can I expect?
Your hearing aid can carry a warranty of anything between 1 and 3 years, depending on the style and brand selected. During this time, all services and repairs are free of charge, with the exception of misuse. During your service time (which usually takes around 3-5 days), you can request a loan pair of hearing aids to ensure that you aren’t without your ears for a few days. Some follow up appointments are usually complimentary. and we encourage you to attend these appointments so that your audiologist is able to do the necessary fine tuning for you. This will ensure optimal hearing and comfort.
Need any clarity or have any questions about your choice?
Let us know!
Wierdapark – 012 653 3830
Saxby Medicross – 087 944 1803
Benoni – Northmead – 011 425 0171