Hearing Aids

What are the differences between good, better, and best in terms of price? Why is one hearing aid more expensive than another?

Additional features (such as smaller sizes, Bluetooth® audio streaming capability, and multiple sound-clarity options and program modes) tend to increase cost.

How much do hearing aids cost?

Hearing aids typically cost between $1,500 and $5,000 each, with an average price of around $7,500 for a quality pair that uses the latest technology. Some companies may sell refurbished hearing aids at a lower price.

What should you consider when looking to buy hearing aids?

There are two primary considerations to make when you’re thinking about buying a hearing aid: finding a quality hearing care provider and deciding what kind of lifestyle you want to lead. It is not uncommon for individuals to become more outgoing once they have been fit with hearing aids, and certain systems allow for greater levels of activity than others. You should have an idea of how you’d like to use your technology when you visit a hearing care provider.

How long do hearing aids last?

As with any product, a hearing aid is guaranteed to work only as long as the manufacturer’s warranty lasts. Most hearing aid manufacturers offer warranties that cover defective components for one to three years. Few standard warranties cover normal wear and tear or lost/damaged hearing aids, although many companies offer extended warranties that guarantee repairs or replacements if something were to happen to the unit. Kept and cared for in optimal conditions, hearing aids should last most users four to six years, while seven or more years of reliable use is far less common.

What type of maintenance should I perform on my hearing aids to make them last?

Hearing aids should be cared for on a regular basis by keeping storage conditions optimal and cleaning them regularly. Aside from regular clean and checks by your hearing care provider, your hearing aids should be cleaned using a specific set of tools a few times each week. A dehumidifying storage unit is recommended for safe keeping when they’re not in use, and will help prevent moisture damage.

Why is it better to get two hearing aids and not just one?

The ability to hear with both ears, also known as binaural hearing, is essential to humans’ ability to understand speech, maintain balance, and localize noises. Hearing helps with spatial awareness and understanding where your body is in relation to objects around you. Knowing where sounds are coming from helps us keep our balance and identify where sounds are coming from. Our auditory system was designed to process information from all directions, and hearing with only one ear makes that process less than half as effective as hearing with both ears.

Can I sleep with my hearing aids in place?

Sleeping with hearing aids in place is usually a matter of comfort. While it may help some individuals hear their morning alarms a little better, there’s also a possibility that the units may fall out during sleep. The other question is whether sleeping while your devices are activated is a good use of battery life.

Can hearing aids get wet?

While many devices are built with the conditions of the ear canal in mind, units are typically not labeled as anything more than “moisture resistant.” This means that the units are not waterproof and probably won’t be protected against submersion (swimming, showering, or dropping them into water), but they will be protected from light moisture exposure.

What should I do if my hearing aids get wet?

Switch off your hearing aid immediately, remove the battery from the device, and dry the battery and hearing aid meticulously with a cloth. If you own a dehumidifier, place your devices in the dehumidifier and turn it on for about 24 hours, or three to four drying cycles. If you don’t own a dehumidifier, shake your hearing aid to clear it of water, place it on a newspaper or paper towel, and store it on a warm object with the battery compartment open for several hours. A space heater, fireplace, or warm stovetop can act as a dryer as long as the heat source is not too hot. Feeling warm to the touch — but not so warm that your hand cannot remain on the heat source — is the proper medium.

Hearing Care

I really don’t want to deal with how much time it takes to insert my hearing aids, perform daily maintenance, change batteries, and remove my hearing aids. What are my options?

Many practices offer clean and checks for your devices, in which the maintenance is done for you. Aside from promotional periods, or times that your provider offers to have your devices cleaned, it will likely be a service you’ll pay for. Maintenance is important to ensure your devices last and operate effectively. Inserting hearing aids and changing batteries should become part of your daily routine, and making time for doing those things is important for hearing your best. If you’d like to avoid inserting hearing aids and changing batteries, consider a surgically implanted device, which will operate without daily attention.

How do I clean my hearing aids?

Ask your hearing care provider to walk you through how to clean your devices, as each type of device will have components that are unique to that style of hearing aid. To clean the devices on your own, you’ll need a brush tool that can clean the small contours where dirt, dust, and earwax become trapped. The hearing aid should be cleaned daily with a moist cleansing wipe. If the microphone or earmold areas are blocked, use the brush to clear them.

How often should I be wearing my hearing aids?

You should wear your hearing aids for as long as you feel they are necessary each day, or for as long as they are comfortable. Most battery life expectations are based on wearing your devices for 12 to 16 hours each day.

Are hearing aids comfortable?

When you visit a hearing care specialist and get fit for hearing aids, your devices are molded specifically to the contours of your ear, meaning they should fit cleanly and comfortably. If irritation or discomfort becomes an issue, talk to your hearing care provider about using a new earmold material that does not irritate your skin, or having new molds of your ears taken so that your devices fit more comfortably.

Why do I have a problem with background noise?

Hearing aids with digital signal processing help to differentiate between speech and noise, and they turn down the volume of what they identify as noise rather than speech. But no technology is perfect, and none will completely remove the problems associated with trying to listen in background noise. In these cases, strategic positioning in listening situations can help alleviate background noise. Most hearing aid microphones are geared toward listening to sounds that are in your field of view. Positioning yourself to communicate with people face-to-face is one method you can use to help block out background noise.

Can hearing aids make my hearing worse?

Hearing aids that aren’t fit to your unique hearing needs can do more harm than good. Most hearing aids focus on helping the user hear better by amplifying specific frequencies that are problem areas for that particular user. Amplifying a wider range of frequencies than necessary can cause more damage by overstimulating the healthy hair cells in the inner ear. By amplifying more sound than necessary, the risks are similar to listening to music too loudly. A proper hearing loss diagnosis and an accurate hearing aid fitting by a quality hearing care provider are important in maintaining your current hearing health and improving your hearing deficits.

What is the best way to clean/remove wax from my ears?

Earwax cleaning kits are available for purchase at most supermarkets and some grocery stores, and they are effective at removing excess wax. Typically, they consist of a solution that sits in the ear canal for several minutes to loosen cerumen, as well as a rubber bulb used to squirt warm water into the ear canal to clear out the wax.

Is it bad to use cotton swabs in your ears?

Cotton swabs can cause damage if they’re pushed too far into the canal or pushed against the sensitive eardrum. Depending upon the consistency of your earwax, they can also clog the canal, making it difficult to hear with your devices. Other cleaning methods are recommended.

How often should I get my hearing evaluated?

Yearly hearing checks are recommended for anyone beyond the age of 45, and intermittently from childhood throughout adulthood. If you feel your hearing has changed for any reason, or if it has been more than three years since your last screening, schedule a hearing check with your local hearing care provider.

What is the best way to manage itchy ears?

Itchy ears are common for first-time hearing aid users and users who have just purchased a new hearing system. If itching continues for more than a few days, and you have no skin allergies, asking your hearing care provider for a different size of speaker tip for your receiver-in-the-canal or behind-the-ear hearing aids will often stop the itching. For custom earmolds, itching may be caused by moisture and bacteria on the shell, in which case a hearing aid dryer with a UV light will help kill the bacteria and alleviate the problem. Store-bought itch relief creams may help. If all else fails, talk to your hearing care provider about other options.

Hearing Aid Batteries

How long do hearing aid batteries last?

The size of your hearing aid battery depends on the size of the units you’re using — which is directly correlated with how long they’ll last. The smallest hearing aids, like an invisible-in-the-canal style, will use the smallest batteries and get the least amount of use time. Larger hearing aids will use larger batteries, so they’ll typically last longer. Batteries tend to last between three and nine days.

Are hearing aid batteries rechargeable?

Some manufacturers do make rechargeable hearing aid batteries in specific sizes that come with a USB charger, but standard zinc air batteries are not rechargeable.

Should I store my hearing aid batteries in the freezer?

No. Extreme conditions may shorten their life expectancy.