Because federal regulation prohibits any hearing aid sale unless the buyer has first received a medical evaluation from a physician, you will need to see your physician before you purchase a hearing aid(s). However, the regulation says that if you are more than 18 years old and are aware of the recommendation to receive a medical exam, you may sign a waiver to forego the exam.
An otolaryngologist, audiologist, or an independent dispenser can dispense aids. Hearing aids should be custom fitted to your ear and hearing needs. Hearing aids purchased by mail-order typically cannot be custom fitted.
Hearing aids vary in price according to style, electronic features, and local market conditions. Price can range from many hundreds of dollars to more than $2,500 for a programable, digitalized hearing aid. Purchase price should not be the only consideration in buying a hearing aid. Product reliability can save repair costs and the frustration of a malfunctioning hearing aid.
There are several styles of hearing aids:
Hearing aid options, which are appropriate for your particular hearing loss and listening needs, the size, and shape of your ear and ear canal, and the dexterity of your hands will all be considered in deciding what type of hearing aid is the best for you. Many hearing aids have special telecoil "T" switches to aid in use of the telephone and certain public sound systems. Discuss your need for a T-coil switch while you are considering hearing aid options.
Usually, if you have hearing loss in both ears, using two hearing aids is best. Listening in a noisy environment is difficult with amplification in one ear only, and it is more difficult to distinguish where sounds are coming from. If, however, the quality of hearing in one ear is very different from the other, one hearing aid may be better than two.