Learn about the types of hearing aids, who they benefit and how they work.
What are hearing aids?
Hearing aids are small electronic devices which capture and amplify sound. Some advanced hearing aids also have ways of processing sounds to help people with hearing loss hear and communicate better. There are different types of hearing aids - some are worn behind the ear, some in the ear and some in the ear canal.
Who can they benefit?
Hearing aids work best for people with mild to severe hearing loss.
What do they look like?
There are many different hearing aid designs to match different kinds of hearing loss. See the Types of hearing aids section for pictures and descriptions of the various types. Hearing aid technology is constantly improving, allowing for more sophisticated features, greater power and smaller and more stylish designs.
- Steps to getting hearing aids
Getting a hearing aid is a simple, straightforward and fairly speedy process. You can typically have your hearing test and hearing aid fitted, or at least a hearing aid trial initiated, in the same appointment.
1. Hearing test
Your audiologist will test your hearing to determine the type and degree of your hearing loss and if you may benefit from a hearing aid. They will probably also ask you questions about how hearing loss affects your everyday life and your medical history. The results of your hearing tests will be recorded on a graph called an audiogram, which your hearing specialist will explain in detail.
2. Hearing aid evaluation
If you have a hearing loss, your hearing health specialist will discuss what to expect from hearing aids. It’s important you understand the different types of hearing aids and their pros and cons before making a treatment decision. If you have hearing loss in both ears, your hearing specialist is likely to recommend you use two hearing aids (one for each ear). If you already have hearing aids, your hearing specialist will advise if your hearing loss has progressed to the point where you need new ones or should consider a different hearing technology.
3. Fitting and testing
Your audiologist or hearing specialist will fit your selected hearing aids and test them to make sure they are working well for you. Testing typically involves placing a tiny microphone in your ear alongside your new hearing aid to measure the actual sound waves your hearing aid produces. Your hearing specialist will know if the amount of amplification is correct for your hearing loss.
4. Trial period
Most audiologists and hearing specialists are required to provide at least a 30-day trial period.
If hearing aids do not work for you, their cost should be refunded if they are returned within the trial period, but the fitting/programming fee may not be. It is important to get the most out of this trial period by wearing your hearing aids as much as possible, in as many settings as possible. You should also note any hearing situations that don’t seem right, and return to your hearing specialist for any necessary adjustments.
You should visit your hearing specialist at a follow-up appointment a few weeks after your hearing aids have been fitted. They will check your progress and identify the sounds, tones and speech you can hear with your hearing aids, and provide fine-tuning if needed. They will also review how to wear, use and care for your hearing aids to get the most out of them and prolong their life.
6. Long-term use
Getting used to hearing aids takes time and patience. It may take a while to become accustomed to once again hearing all the sounds you have been missing, especially if your hearing loss has progressed over a long time. For best results, you should wear your hearing aids every day, not just for special occasions.
As hearing needs change over time, you should continue to visit your audiologist or hearing specialist for regular check-ups. The good news is that modern hearing aids are flexible and can be easily adjusted or upgraded to match your hearing needs.
It’s important to remember that hearing aids can’t restore normal hearing or completely filter out background noise. However, if sounds don’t seem right or you don’t think you are getting the full benefit of the hearing aid, you should speak to your hearing specialist about your concerns. If your hearing loss has progressed to the point where hearing aids are no longer enough, your hearing specialist may recommend a cochlear implant or a direct bone conduction system.
Learn more about types of hearing aids
Learn about cochlear implants
Learn about bone conduction implants
Learn about adult aural rehabilitation
Find a hearing specialist in your area to discuss how to get a hearing aid and whether they could benefit you
- Cost and insurance
The good news is that unlike hearing aids, hybrid implants, cochlear implants and bone conduction implants are covered by most insurance plans, Medicare and typically Medicaid. Also, the evaluations for both are typically covered by insurance.*
Insurance Coverage for Hearing Aids vs. Hearing Implants
Hearing aids Private Insurance Typically not covered Medicare By law are not covered Medicaid Typically covered Cochlear™ Nucleus® Hybrid Implant Private Insurance May be covered* Medicare By law are not covered Medicaid Typically covered Cochlear implants Private Insurance Covered by most insurance plans Medicare Covered Medicaid Typically covered Bone conduction plants Private Insurance Covered by most insurance plans Medicare Covered Medicaid Typically covered
What if my insurance denies me coverage for an implant?
Our insurance support team can help you seek cochlear implant insurance, including the Nucleus Hybrid Implant or bone conduction implant insurance coverage. We can also navigate you through the appeals process if you have been denied coverage. Simply give us a call at 800-633-4667 (option 4) to learn more.
Where do I go to find out if I’m a candidate?
The first step is to schedule an appointment with a trusted hearing specialist. They will be able to test your hearing to see if you need new hearing aids, better hearing aids or a hearing implant. Some hearing healthcare providers do not offer hearing implants, so you will want to schedule an appointment with a clinic that offers a full range of services and solutions. We can help you contact a Hearing Implant Specialist in your area.
*The Nucleus® Hybrid System may be classified as new technology by health plans and will be reviewed on a case-by-case basis until universal adoption. Cochlear is being proactive with working with the insurance companies to expand their consideration of coverage for the Nucleus Hybrid Implant System on an ongoing basis.
- What to expect
Improving your hearing with hearing aids is an exciting journey, but it’s one that requires your active involvement. Knowing what to expect before, during and after being fitted with hearing aids will help you to get the best results and better tackle any challenges. Remember that the first year after getting your hearing aids is a particularly important phase. During this time you will work with your audiologist to fine tune your hearing aids and learn how to listen and communicate again.
Hearing aids - after fitting
Most audiologists and other hearing aid providers allow a trial period of at least 30 days, during which time you should use your hearing aids as much as possible, in as many settings as possible. You should also note any hearing situations that don’t seem right, and return to your audiologist for necessary adjustments.
Hearing aids - follow-up
You will visit your audiologist at a follow-up appointment a few weeks after your hearing aids have been fitted. They will check your progress and identify the sounds, tones and speech you can hear with your hearing aids, and provide fine-tuning if needed. They will also review how to wear, use and care for your hearing aids to get the most out of them and prolong their life.
Hearing aids – rehabilitation
You will need to be patient and committed as your ear and brain learn how to hear new sounds. This may take some time, especially if your hearing loss has progressed over a long time. To get the most out of your hearing aids, you should wear them every day, not just for special occasions.
You should also work with your audiologist and other hearing and speech specialists on a range of aural rehabilitation activities. These will focus on optimizing your hearing aids, exploring assistive devices that might help, and learning new listening and communication skills.
It’s important to remember that hearing aids can’t restore normal hearing or completely filter out background noise. However if sounds don’t seem right or you don’t think you are getting the full benefit of the hearing aid, you should speak to your audiologist about your concerns. If your hearing loss has progressed to the point where hearing aids are no longer enough, your audiologist may recommend a more advanced hearing technology such as a cochlear implant or bone conduction system.
The information on this website is for educational purposes only and is not intended to diagnose, prescribe treatment, or replace medical advice. Please consult a hearing healthcare professional to diagnose or treat a hearing or health problem.