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Ask MNCDHH: How Do I Find the Right Hearing Aid for Me?

You ask, we answer

11/14/2018 9:15:29 AM

Two silhouettes of a human face but with a cloudy sky as their skin. They are facing each other. In between them is an icon of a hearing aid in an ear and the following text,

I was born with nerve damage to both ears and have not had much success hearing with analog or digital type hearing aids. I hear low pitch, high db sounds, but struggle to hear high pitch sounds or noise. I also find most digital hearing aids are cost prohibitive and experience feedback and whistling from the two types of digital hearing aids that I purchased in the past. I would like to be more part-of-the-conversation in a group setting and one-on-one with my wife as she finds my hearing is more and more frustrating that she has to repeat things to me that she or someone else has said. I feel it is unfair to her and everyone else in that regard. Is it possible to obtain assistance in purchase of hearing aids or would MNCDHH recommend hearing aids that would help with my type of hearing loss?

Answer: We are sorry that you've been having trouble with current hearing aids. That's very frustrating. Some people need 4 or 5 tries before they find something that really works well for them. Almost all hearing aids are digital now (analog hearing aids are difficult to find), and they should be able to control the feedback now. Sometimes it has to be tried and tweaked and tried again. Hopefully, you have a great audiologist who will allow you to do that. If you haven't found such an audiologist yet and you are looking for other options, perhaps you can check and see if your local university has an audiology program that provides services to their local community.

Cost is a big issue, we know. There are efforts ongoing to try to find low-cost hearing aids for people, but there aren't many options right now, especially for people with more than a mild hearing loss.

You can check in with your local Minnesota Department of Human Services Deaf and Hard of Hearing Services Division (DHHSD) office and see if they have resources that can help you. On their website, they have a list of hearing aid financial resources, from which you might find financial assistance.  

There are some new devices on the market now for adults with mild to moderate hearing loss, and others coming soon, that are over-the-counter hearing assistant devices. One of these was recently in the news (FDA Approves Bose Hearing Aid) and it might be worth checking. We can't endorse this, but since it's so new, we thought you might want to be aware of it. They can be tried at a Bose store, such as at the Mall of America.

There are other over-the-counter devices, but it is not likely that they will work for you, as you describe your hearing loss.

Most importantly, we hope that you can find a trusted audiologist who can take the time with you to explore, try, reject, and re-try products to find the one that seems best for you. It can be life-changing. All the best in your efforts.

Additional information

  • Special thanks to Dr. Peggy Nelson, one of MNCDHH's board members and an audiology professor, for her help with answering this question. We also thank Mary Bauer from the Deaf and Hard of Hearing Services Division (DHHSD) for her guidance.
  • You can learn more on MNCDHH's website about hearing aids for adults with information regarding your rights while purchasing hearing aids in accordance with state and federal laws.
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  • Do you have a question for MNCDHH? Send us your questions!

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